Updated: Feb 11, 2021
As Canadians we pay more for our food than our American neighbors because there are less of us and we are spread out over a great distance. We also have less selection compared to our American friends.
“Food is expensive and prices keep going up! Since groceries are one of the average family’s main expenses, it is important to find ways to save money when next you are at the grocery store so you can cut your food bill. The average Canadian household (a family of four) is expected to spend a total of $11,948 in 2018, while in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), an average household spent $7,203 on food in 2016.”
(https://www.savvynewcanadians.com/practical-ways-to-save-money-on-groceries-shopping/). This is definitely an accurate amount for our family for the year.
Anyway, there I’ve said it! Now get over it! And work on saving money on groceries as best as you can! In fact, make it a game to save $1000 on groceries this year and then $1100 next year! I'm dreaming of what I could do with an extra $1000 a year.
Here are some tips on saving money for groceries:
Especially for those products or items that you don’t care about the taste as much.
I'm a bit of a "cheese snob." I like my Cracker Barrel and I will buy name brand cheese when I'm going to taste the flavour of the cheese by itself but not for a recipe where I won’t, like lasagna for instance. Also let's face it, if you have little kids they might be picky eaters but they do not have refined palates.
I have found online shopping to be useful in saving money even after paying the service fee because if I have a set weekly amount that I want to spend, I can easily remove items from my online cart without the embarrassment of realizing that I've spent too much at the till and have to return some items in person. Instead, I can easily remove items online as soon as the total cost is calculated. Sometimes you can avoid the online service fee by picking up groceries during certain timeframes like between 5-7 pm. So plan ahead to have the groceries the day before.
Buy in bulk
and do the re-packaging yourself. For example my fruit bags for my smoothies. You can buy pre-made smoothie packages at Costco but you always pay more. The same goes with veggies and meat. Pre-cut or pre-packaged food always costs more.
Don’t forget to stock up on items that you always need especially when they are on sale.
Ex toilet paper, laundry soap, etc.
I have one friend who meal planned like a boss and she calculated that she saved $2000 in one year and used that money to pay for a repair on her home.
Sometimes it seems like grocery shopping is just a part of life and you just have to shell out the money but when you plan simple easy meals, it can save you money.
Personally, I think the best purchase is those whole chickens for $5-8/chicken at Costco because you can roast them and then you use the leftovers for sandwiches the next day!
I have one friend who has a weekly dinner schedule and her kids know that the menu is the same based on the day of the week. For example, they always eat broccoli on Mondays. This makes it easier for making a grocery list because you always know what you are going to need.
Garden Co-ops or Neighbours
Look for people giving away food from their gardens whether it be neighbours or friends. People usually grow way too much in their garden and are usually looking to give away their produce by the end of the season. So, pay your friend a visit and then prepare the food for the winter yourself. Make sure to give them a gift in exchange for their hard work. I have no idea how to can fruit or veggies but I know how to freeze food! I found this summer that with just a few small fruit bearing plants in my yard, that I probably saved myself $20-50 by freezing the fruit and later using it in desserts and smoothies.
I’m convinced that my garden lettuce saved me at least 2 months of buying lettuce and at $6/week for romaine heads, that’s $50 in savings right there.
Clean out your Pantry or Deep Freeze
Be organized with your deep freeze and clean it out every once in a while. Have a clean out your pantry or deep freeze day. Get creative. See what disgusting concoction you can come up with! My dad used to make his "special recipe" on days that he would clean out the fridge and it usually tasted pretty nasty. However, maybe you can come up with something unusual or add a little extra "fancy" cheese to make it edible.
Look at the price breakdowns
The stores provide the price breakdown per gram or per item right on the price tag for you. You don’t even have to do the math. All you have to do it look at it and make your decision.
Make several meals at the same time or for the week. Try and make your groceries multi-task for more than one meal. If you make a whole chicken, use the rest of the chicken the next day for another type of meal.
I also use this method weekly for divvying up veggies for the kids and preparing salad jars for myself. This way I know which child has not eaten their veggies by what containers are left over at the end of the week! Or at least I pretend to know. Once the kids get to school its up to them to actually eat the veggies.
Buy Frozen instead of Fresh
Frozen is usually cheaper than fresh depending on what you are using the produce for. If it's a salad then of course you can't eat a frozen salad. But maybe you chose to eat frozen veggies in the winter and fresh salad veggies in the summer...
Buy seasonal produce
I know that it sucks because it limits our selections especially in the arctic north!
My dad has repeatedly said this “When I was a young kid, all we had during the winter months for fruit were bananas” (remember to say it with an old man voice). However, we can always still go back to buying frozen produce when the desired item is not in season.
Stop buying drinks
We stopped buying juice boxes for the kids except as a rare treat. Water bottles are the way to go for school and travelling. We only buy milk. Not only does this save us money but it also saves on calories and sugar and prevents diabetes.
Eat your perishable goods first
I detest throwing out fruits and veggies because it's like throwing money in the garbage. We all start out with good intentions of eating healthy but in reality sometimes we don't actually eat the food before it spoils. To combat this occurrence, sometimes I have to hide the non-perishable snacks until the perishable ones have been eaten because my family just naturally reaches for the non-perishable, easy to go to items first because the healthier perishable items require more work. This is also why we prepare our veggies in small packages ahead of time for the whole week, so that they are easier to grab on the go!
I hope this has provided some ideas on how to add value to your grocery budget by reducing spending on the things that you don't want to spend money on so that you can save up for those items that you do want to spend money on like travelling or gifts etc.
Who knows! while you are on your journey to save money on groceries, you might even lose a little extra weight in the process!
Now Go and Be Intentional!
What are your methods for saving money on Groceries?