Written by Anita Saulite
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018
I don't know about you, but lately I've been feeling the pinch on my grocery bill. According to Statistics Canada, the average household spent $8,784 in 2016 on food. This includes food purchased from stores and eating out.
The price of food keeps rising, too. Food inflation is ~1.4% in Canada, with fresh fruit (5.6%) and fresh veggies (3.6%) driving up prices.
Canadians Love to Eat Out
It's not just our grocery bill that's chewing away at our wallets. On average, Canadians spend around 28% of food costs on eating out. A recent survey by Dalhousie University found that nearly 42% of Canadians are either buying ready-to-eat meals or eating at a restaurant once or twice a week, while another 3 per cent admitted to doing so on a daily basis.
Money aside, there might be some unintended health consequences. Many of us are skipping breakfast or opting for unhealthy cheap & cheerful nibbles. According to a news report by CBC, time starved Canadians are making the breakfast sandwich a go-to food of choice. Add a hash brown and coffee, and not only do the calories add up, so does the cost. Yet according to the Food Network, there are some pretty mysterious ingredients in fast food. What you eat shouldn't be a mystery, nor should how much money you're spending on convenience goods or eating out.
Try going to farmers' markets during produce season or buying directly from farmers. The concept of "farm to table" — buying food directly from local producers so you know where it's coming from — is mainly associated with restaurants, but you can apply that same mentality at home too, and you'll know exactly where your food came from.
You can save money at the farmers' market when you're buying directly from farmers and cutting out the middleman. By shopping at the farmers' market instead of a supermarket, you might also be less inclined to overspend. Some farmers' markets only take cash, so it's easier to stick to a budget by taking only the cash you need.
Grow at Home
For a few dollars, you can try some easy-to-grow veggies (like carrots and cucumbers), herbs or fruits during the summer. All you'll need is a few small starter plants, soil and a sunny area to grow. And if you're limited in space, planter boxes work nicely too.
At the end of the season, pickle or freeze fresh fruit and vegetables to enjoy in the winter months when produce is more expensive.
Waste Not, Want Not
Reduce food waste and rethink your leftovers. That meatloaf or lasagna you cooked has value. Not only will you save money the second time around, but it's healthier for you as long as the meal you initially prepared was made with nutritious ingredients. You might be surprised to learn that households in Canada on average waste $28 worth of food each week, or $1,456 annually. You might not even realize you're spending more on food than you have to. Imagine what you could do with an extra $1,500 a year – pay down debt, save, or go on vacation!
Most households are looking to save when it comes to the grocery bill, but most would also like to eat healthier when possible. By shopping at farmers' markets, growing at home and reducing food waste, it's possible to eat better without spending too much.