#FinancialFridays: Reducing Your Grocery Bill

With increasing inflation and soaring food and gas costs, many people are struggling these days and putting food on the table is a common challenge these days. Plain and simple, grocery just don’t go as far.

As part of our #FinancialFridays series, we are sharing a recent article in The Globe and Mail – “How to reduce your grocery bills in seven easy steps” offers creative ideas to stretch those food dollars during this trying time.

The full article can be found at: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/article-7-ways-to-save-money-cooking-at-home

We have provided the highlights of that article below:

1) Ditch hard and fast meal-planning:
Meal planning is often suggested as a strategy to combat food costs, but going to the store with a specific shopping list doesn’t give you the flexibility to take advantage of sales. Pick up good deals when you come across them, if you’re able, and come up with ways to use those items when they’re more affordable

2) Think seasonally and support your local farms:
The pandemic has brought into sharper focus the appeal and convenience of what grows and is produced locally, and how supporting small local farmers (and in turn their staff and associated businesses) can in turn nurture the local economy. These items are more likely to be seasonal, and have far less distance to travel, so are not as affected by energy costs and shipping delays.

3) Game-ify your dinner plans:
So often we approach mealtime with a dish in mind, and source the ingredients for it, rather than looking in the fridge and pantry and coming up with ways to use what we already have. This is a useful skill to develop with kids – think of it as a black box challenge. Half a cauliflower, a single sausage and a few eggs? How about a frittata, or some killer fried rice? Locally, many grocery stores participate in a “Food Rescue” program in which foods are donated to community meal programs which turns donated foods into delicious and nutritious meals.

4) Eat wallet and planet friendly “pulses”:
Whether they’re dry or canned, pulses – dry peas and beans, chickpeas and lentils – are inexpensive and shelf-stable, and an incredibly versatile source of protein. Pulses are fantastic in soups and curries, and are delicious added to salads – straight from the fridge.

5) Upcycle your leftovers:
Instead of simply reheating a plate of last night’s dinner (or letting it linger in the back of the fridge until it winds up in the compost bin), smaller quantities of leftovers can be stretched into something new; spoon saucy curries and stews over a baked potato or piece of toast, or use cooked meats, grains and veggies to fill omelettes or quesadillas.

6) Cook from your countertop:
As our utility bills are also on the rise, it makes sense to utilize the energy we’re already paying for. Smaller appliances like toaster ovens and air fryers draw about half the energy of a full-sized oven, and generally don’t require preheating. When you do use your full-sized oven, there’s likely space to cook something extra while you’re at it; tuck a few potatoes or foil-wrapped beets directly on the oven rack, or roast a whole squash and you’ll have a head start on future meals. Also, pre-soaking beans and lentils helps reduce cooking time which equates to less utilities used.

7) Freeze everything (even milk and yogurt):
Virtually any food can be frozen, extending the life of most leftovers or raw ingredients to use at a later date. If an item’s texture is going to change once thawed – think of fresh veggies, which can be tossed into the freezer raw if they’re getting limp or wrinkly – they can be used in soups, stews, chilies, curries and other cooked dishes. Similarly, the fat in dairy products might separate once thawed, but though milk and yogurt may not look as appetizing, they’re perfectly fine and still perfect for pancakes, baked goods, smoothies and the like.

For more information on stretching those grocery dollars, gardening and other food security related topics, visit our dedicated “food related” website at: www.FoodThoughts.ca