Whether you are waiting for your next paycheck or simply want to save a few dollars, here’s how to make the most of your grocery budget.
Shop the deals The Flipp app/website makes it a breeze to see all the ads for your area for groceries and anything else. If you see anything you want you just need to click to add it to your grocery list. If you don’t want to browse through the ads you can search whatever you want and it will show you all the sales for that item for the week so it’s easy to compare. You can also easily add items to your list that aren’t in the flyers. If you like to price match it is also a great app to use.
Try different stores While Superstore and Wal-Mart are generally thought of as the cheapest places to shop, some of the non chain grocery stores offer cheaper produce. The biggest concentration of these small grocers is in the Northeast with Freestone Produce, H and W Produce, Daily Fresh Produce (Sunridge Farmers Market) and Lucky Supermarket.Unfortunately their deals are not listed on the Flipp app but Freestone Produce, H and W Produce and Daily Fresh Produce all post them on facebook and Lucky posts them on their website.Be aware though if you want stellar customer service and organization this is not where you are going to find it. They can also run out of things fast and their produce is usually pretty ripe so don’t plan on storing it for too long.
There’s also DJ Market in south which sells produce from Alberta and BC. They’re like a farmer’s market but are usually much cheaper and are only open in the spring, summer and fall. The Crossroads Market is also a great place to get produce, particularly on Sunday afternoons as they try and clear out anything that they couldn’t sell.
Newly launched this year is the Community Mobile Market. Run by the Leftovers Foundation they offer bread and produce at below market prices in communities where grocery stores aren’t nearby. You can see where they’ll be here. The market is open to everyone from any community and income level.
If you want to do a stock up the annual Harvest Sale at Heritage Park features rock bottom pricing on fruits and vegetables with all the money raised going to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. As with the farmers market, prices get lowered from Saturday to Sunday and will be the lowest for the last few hours of the sale. The one downside is that you do still have to pay for admission into the park.
For those that don’t like to grocery shop frequently or at all, the Good Food Box is a program where you can purchase a large box of fruits and vegetables for an affordable price every month. They have 3 sizes of boxes, a $25 small box with approximately 20-25 pounds of fruits and vegetables, a $30 medium box with 30-35 pounds of fruits and vegetables and a $35 large box. There are more than 50 pickup locations including some just outside Calgary.
Another source for bread is McGavin’s Bread Basket. They typically carry a wide variety of bread, english muffins and buns. Everything is usually $1-$2. If you’re looking for something sweeter and more gourmet the SAIT Campus Bakery is well priced and if you come before they close they’ll have deals on whatever they have left.
Use some of the best bang for your buck foods: Chosen based on their nutritional value, versatility, and of course price.
Protein: Lentils/Beans, eggs, turkey (particularly around holidays), chicken, Canned tuna, Peanut butter (or other nut butter)
Grains: Flour, bread, oats, rice, pasta
Vegetables: Potatoes, Frozen vegetables, carrots, canned tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce
Fruit: Bananas, apples, pears, oranges, frozen berries
Dairy: Plain yogurt, milk (dairy or other)
Use Budget Friendly Recipes:
Spending less on food doesn’t mean compromising on flavor. While recipes aren’t going to have a 20+ ingredient list, they can still taste delicious and nuanced. There’s plenty of recipes and inspiration for low budget cooks.
Budget Bytes: One of the best websites for recipes and inspiration for low budget cooking. Recipes have step by step pictures and approximate cost with most things costing under $2 per serving. They also have vegetarian, vegan and gluten free recipes.
$5 Meal Plan: For $5US a month, you’ll get 8 recipes using seasonal ingredients that should come to under $5 per meal for a family of 4. The recipes are kid friendly and you also have access to previous recipes so you swap out anything that you don’t like. It can also create a calendar of meals and it will build your grocery list. There’s a 14 day free trial so you can try it out and see if it works well for you. A vegetarian plan is also available but costs extra.
Brokeass Gourmet: Brokeass Gourmet also offers cheap recipes with step by step picture directions. It’s clear from the pictures that they aren’t from a professional cook as things will be slightly burnt or unevenly cut which is a refreshing change from most cooking sites. It also includes the price though unlike the other sites it factors in the cost of the whole ingredient even if only a portion of it is used so prices appear much higher.
Reduce your food waste. It’s estimated that the average Canadian consumer wastes around $1100 worth of food, hurting not only your finances but also the environment.
If you have a couple of ingredients that are going to go bad plug them into Big Oven leftovers, My Fridge Food, Supercook or Allrecipes to find some recipes to use them up. Both the Love Food Hate Waste .com and .ca sites are also good for portion planning, food storage and leftover recipes. If you do windup with food that you don’t/can’t use and it is not a donatable product Everything Free Calgary group.
Hopefully these tips help you save some cash. If you want to save time on your groceries or food prep check out this article.