Tips to help combat the rising cost of groceries.
As inflation increases, so does the price of food in Canada. The 2021 edition of Canada’s Food Price Report, forecasts food price increases of 3 to 5.5 per cent for bread, muffins and other baked goods, and even higher price increases for meat and vegetables at 4.5 to 6.5 per cent. An average family of four is now shelling out about $700 more than they did in 2020, with groceries accounting for nearly $14,000 of the annual household budget.
With food purchases taking a bigger financial bite, finding ways to trim the fat is more important than ever. We’ve compiled some tips that may help to give you a bit more bang for your buck in the grocery aisles.
Sidestep temptation with good planning
Grocery store design is psychologically clever and intended to help you spend more money than you might have planned. Soothing music lulls you into a relaxed mood, exotic fruits, fancy cheeses and beautiful flower arrangements are enticingly displayed, and the wonderful aroma of gourmet pizza grabs your attention the minute you walk through the sliding doors. Without a bit (or a lot) of willpower, your quick trip for a few essentials can quickly become derailed, sending you to the checkout with a cart full of impulse purchases. Planning your shopping trip ahead of time can help you stay on track.
Make a list: Rather than aimlessly wandering the aisles and collecting whatever grabs your fancy, a shopping list can help you stay focused and on budget. Not to mention it’ll help you to remember that carton of eggs so you can avoid making a second trip.
Take the shopping list a step further and consider a weekly meal plan. It’s a bit of extra effort, but figuring out the menu for the week can really help you zero in on necessary ingredients. And eliminating the guesswork from ‘What’s for dinner?’ might help to curb the desire for delivery – another major household budget saver.
Avoid hunger pangs: Has your mission to stock up on fruits and vegetables ever turned into a beeline for the snack aisle? Have you ever popped a can of peanuts to enjoy while you shop? It can take a lot of discipline to stick to your grocery list when hunger pangs strike, so be sure to fill up before you head out. Dealing with a rumbly tummy in advance can help you avoid the added expense of chips, cookies and caramel popcorn that aren’t on your list.
What a deal!
Sometimes the best advice can seem pretty basic, but if you want to reduce the amount you’re spending on groceries, it’s time to get serious and embrace your inner savvy saver.
Compare and save: It’s worth your while to have a flexible mindset and shop where the sales are. As you’re making your list, check out who has the best deals. Many grocery stores will price match as long as you can show proof of a competitor’s lower price. There are some handy apps that help to make price matching a lot easier.
Coupons: Love them or hate them, coupons can really add up to big savings. Cleaning supplies, personal care items and baby products often offer a steady stream of coupons. You can find them in magazines, newspaper flyers, online sites and apps, as well as in-store – often right beside the product. Extreme couponers have the art of saving down to a science, sometimes applying so many coupons that the store actually owes them money! However, be mindful of just how much you are getting for those coupons – do you really need 10 tubes of toothpaste?
Points: Supporting stores that offer a rewards system can be another way to save. The dollar amount spent translates into a certain number of points, with extra points sometimes offered on featured products. With a bit of discipline, those points can really add up, giving you a much-needed break on the grocery bill when you choose to redeem.
Even more ideas …
Buy in season
Drilling down a bit further, you can realize more savings by taking advantage of seasonal shopping. Canada is fortunate to enjoy an abundance of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and when the harvest comes in, this bounty can mean significant savings. Whether you choose to buy bushels of tomatoes, vats of peaches or a boatload of corn, there are plenty of ways to preserve the harvest so you can enjoy some cheap but delicious eats during the winter months. Check out this article to learn more.
When it comes to groceries, sometimes more is less: the larger the volume purchased, the cheaper the price. This can be a great strategy if you have a large family and that box of 100 granola bars will be gone in short order. But there is also an opportunity to adopt a shopping club mentality. Wholesale-type stores or liquidation stores may allow you to purchase large amounts of everything from flour to rice to laundry detergent. In some cases, pallets of product can even be delivered to your driveway for you to distribute among your own personal shopping club members at significant savings.
What’s in a label? When it comes to food, often brand marketing is the only thing giving a product a higher price tag. If savings are what you’re after, then sticking with the generic brands for basics like beans, pasta and even ice cream can really add up.
Groceries are expensive and may gobble up more of your money these days, but a bit of planning can help to reduce the impact on your wallet. Here are a few more savings tips to keep in mind.