The High Cost of Eating

Photo of a woman at the produce department putting vegetables in her basket.

Food prices in Canada are rising. If you’re not careful, simply feeding yourself and your family can become an outsize share of your monthly budget. Here are some ideas to help keep your food costs in line.

  • Plan the week’s meals. Try to get into the habit of planning the week’s meals in advance. Decide which recipes you want to make and use those recipes to build your grocery list. Check your fridge and pantry for ingredients before you shop, so you don’t accidentally buy things you already have. 
  • Always shop with a list. With a grocery list to guide you, you’ll avoid impulse purchases - things you don’t need, won’t use, or already have. 
  • Avoid food waste. When food is expensive, it’s important not to waste any. Don’t forget to check the expiry dates of all items - and then buy the longest dated ones you can find. When the produce in your fridge is no longer at its freshest, make a vegetable soup! 
  • Comparison shop. Consider buying store brand and private label products instead of the more expensive name brand if the quality is roughly equivalent. Check flyers, coupons or use the flipp app to take advantage of promotions and deals. 
  • Don’t pay for convenience. While it may be quicker and easier to run into your neighborhood food shop, the prices will usually be much higher than the big grocery chains, or big box stores like Walmart. 
  • Buy in bulk. If you have a large family and lots of storage space, it may be worthwhile to shop in bulk at stores like Costco. However, the savings from bulk purchases can quickly evaporate if the food isn’t used and goes bad. 
  • Learn to love cooking at home. As long as you try to stick to simple recipes, cooking at home can be fun. It can also be relaxing if you do a little advanced preparation, like chopping vegetables and pre-measuring spices the night before. When you get home from work, you can get straight to the cooking (and eating!) 
  • Cook in bulk. Consider cooking large batches of recipes like soup or chilli that can be frozen for use at a later date. You can also take leftover for lunch to work or school. 
Try to minimize take-out, prepared foods and restaurant meals. Cooking at home is much less expensive, and usually more nutritious, than buying take-out like fast food or prepared foods from the grocery store. Cutting down on the number of restaurant meals will also save a lot of money. But it’s probably not realistic to eat at home every night of the week, so give yourself some nights off each month as a treat.
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