You’ve probably noticed that your grocery bill has been getting more and more expensive. Over the long-term, climate change, and technological change will transform agriculture and food prices. In the short-term, however, Covid-19 and the resulting supply chain disruption are contributing to soaring prices, with the inflation rate reaching 4.7% in October, the fastest increase in 19 years.
The increase is significantly higher in some sectors. Statistics Canada has released monthly average food prices for 2021, and in Ontario, from September 2020, to September 2021, beef stewing cuts rose 12.3% from $14.60 to $16.40 per kg. Chicken breasts rose 11.7% from $11.56 to $12.91 per kg. The cost of food for livestock, grains, have increased, producing higher meat costs overall.
Saving money on your grocery bill doesn’t mean you should be forced to eliminate a great deal of food. You just need to have a resourceful mindset. Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you gain control of these rising rates.
Have a List
Having a clear list helps you stay informed of what you need to buy. Nothing is worse for your budget than going into a grocery store with no clear plan of what you are going to purchase. You’ll end up piling things in your cart that you think you need, only to find out that you already have it at home, or that you really won’t have any use of it that week.
In addition, sales prices can be tempting, but if it’s not on your list, you’ll know you probably should not buy it. Having a list helps you remember what it is you need, and helps you avoid overbuying unnecessary things.
On the other hand, if you like higher-priced non-perishable (ie. canned) foods, keep an eye out for opportunities to stock up when you can.
Don’t Go Shopping Hungry
I think I speak for everyone when I say we’ve all gone to the store hungry and ended up buying more than what we needed — especially in the snacks category. Don’t go to the store if you are hungry. You will be tempted to purchase more because all you want is food.
If you don’t have time to eat a full meal before you leave, just having an easy snack like an apple or granola bar can help tie you over for a while. Shopping after you have eaten reduces your interest in food at that moment, and your grocery bill.
Have Recipes Planned
Before you make your grocery trip, understand why you are going there in the first place. What are you going to use those tomatoes for? Knowing exactly what recipes you are going to cook for the week allows you to have a reason for purchasing food. It also eliminates the potential for food waste. You’re buying food for a specific purpose, instead of buying what you think you may use that week.
Eat Less Meat
Meat has had the highest inflation rate. Droughts have damaged grain farmers’ crops, the source of food for livestock. This means the cost to feed cows and pigs is higher, resulting in higher meat prices. And from an environmental perspective, meat is energy intensive, especially beef, which could contribute to much higher costs in the future. Changing your diet now may save you money in the future.
Eating less meat for the time being will help you save money on your grocery bill. This doesn’t mean you are skipping out on protein, because there are great alternatives available. While you can opt for simulated meat products, sometimes these can be a bit pricey. Tofu, tempeh, lentils, and beans are great affordable sources of protein.
Remember, you don’t need to eliminate meat entirely, but consider cutting down to save food costs.
Look At Flyers
There are always deals each week, you just need to find them. Take a look at your grocery stores weekly flyers, which can usually be found online, before you shop. Flyers will show you all sorts of deals, which may help you determine what you should focus on buying for the week.
Buy In Season
In-season produce is always more affordable, because it’s grown in abundance. When supply is higher, the price is lower. Do some research on what is in season, and focus on buying this produce.
Look at the Reduced Section
A lot of grocery stores will have sections or carts filled with soon to be expired items. Even though these items have an expiration or best before dates, it does not always mean they are not safe to eat. Many manufacturers put these dates on their products to let customers know how long the food will maintain the best taste and texture.
Additionally, some grocery stores have sections with reduced produce prices, because of their unappealing appearance. Regardless, they’re more than okay to consume, and most of the time they don’t even look that bad — they may just be a bit misshapen or have some extra lumps and bumps. Loblaws companies, for example, sell a no-name “Naturally Imperfect” brand with a discounted price of 30%.
Finally, grocery stores place items they want to sell at eye level — check the bottom and the top of the shelves for better priced, or better, quality alternatives.