Ten Ways to Trim Your Grocery Bill

The whole family can take steps to budget and beat rising grocery costs together.

The whole family can take steps to budget and beat rising grocery costs together.

I felt a momentary sense of panic recently, after reading that Canadians can expect the price of fresh fruits, veggies and meats to increase again this year; especially for those of us living in more remote and northern communities. Our dropping loonie is mostly to blame forcing prices as high as $8 for a single head of cauliflower in some places!

To avoid that kind of sticker shock, and rising food prices in general, I’ll be sticking to frugally inspired habits that help us save money and feed our family of five on one full-time income in Northwestern Ontario.

Here are our family’s top-10 tested ways to stretch each grocery dollar.

1) Set realistic goals: Cutting your grocery bill in half right away might not be easy; it’s more realistic if you give yourself a few months of practice to save 20–30% on your current spending. There is also only so much fat to be trimmed from a grocery budget before taste and nutrition will suffer.  Finding your own sweet spot between frugality and practicality is key.

2) Track your spending: there’s a reason this tip is so often repeated by the experts—it works! By saving your grocery receipts for several months, you’ll see where your biggest costs are, and what you can—and can’t—cut out. From there, you can set up a realistic budget based on your income, expenses and cost-cutting goals.

3) Shop with a list: Try planning meals 7–10 days ahead.  Make detailed grocery lists and research where the best prices can be found. You’ll shop less often, but more strategically. Remember to compare the price-per-unit between brands while you shop, usually found in fine print on store shelves, to figure out what the real savings are.

Frugality is at your fingertips! Find coupons or use apps to price match.

Frugality is at your fingertips! Find coupons or use apps to price match.

4) Cut those coupons: Whether you clip from flyers, subscribe to online services such as Save.ca or use an app like Flipp, using coupons is a time-honoured way to save money on popular brands. Even shopping at a store that offers a points system, or similarly a credit or rewards card that you can eventually cash in for a rebate against your groceries, is a savvy way to cut costs while you shop. We use the PC Plus app and typically save at least $100 on groceries every year.

5) Buy in bulk: The simple premise is that buying more costs less per unit, so this is an absolute must for any cost-conscious grocery shopper. If you have the space, investing in a small freezer will make storing some bulk foods—think 10 lbs of ground beef, 4 loaves of bread, litres of seasonal fruit etc.—actually doable. Don’t have extra space?  Find a friend or relative to go in together on buying bulk items, sharing the food and the savings.

6) Stock up on sales: Buying multiples of your staple items when they are on sale, is a long-term saving strategy. We max out on canned tomatoes and beans; pasta and grains; sugar and flour etc., when they are marked down, knowing the occasional larger grocery bill for discounted staples still equals more savings overall in a year.

7) Cook more homemade meals: Not everything homemade will save you money (and certainly not time), but most are worth the effort in both taste and price.  Homemade pizza dough and sauce, muffins and pancakes, meatballs and burgers, and the humble casserole are all easy wins. If you’re spending time to cook from scratch, double the batches, put some leftovers in lunchboxes and thermoses, and freeze the extras.

Homemade savings: cooking from scratch can help cut costs.

Homemade savings: cooking from scratch can help cut costs.

8) Make some sacrifices, but not all: Saving shouldn’t feel like a punishment, so while my kids love cereal for breakfast, we compromise by serving less expensive things like toast or oatmeal half the week. We also drink more water than milk or juice, buy more generic than name brands, and eat meatless meals regularly. But we also like our organic produce and free-range eggs, and we don’t scrimp on coffee beans; following our other money-saving measures makes these choices easier.

9) Eat more local, in-season produce: Generally speaking, buying local fruits and veggies when they are in season will cost less than exotic, imported varieties. For those of us living in more northern locales, this comes back to needing a freezer, or a few spare shelves for canned preserves, so you can stock up when its cheap, and still get your vitamins all winter long.

10) Grow your own food: For pennies a seed packet, you can feed your family with fresh produce from a garden, or even just simple pots on the balcony (lettuce and tomatoes flourish in my containers). Other no-fuss gardening I enjoy is growing fruit trees, raspberry bushes and rhubarb patches in our yard. Fresh herbs planted in empty jam jars on a windowsill are also a fun and cheap way to reap the benefits of home-grown food.

Whatever approach your family takes to saving money on groceries, I can attest that tackling it together will be an excellent opportunity to teach your kids about budgeting, saving, and best of all, eating good food!

More info on combatting Canada’s rising food prices:

  • University of Guelph Food Institute’s annual food report
  • StatsCanada’s breakdown of household spending on food: how does your spending compare?
  • Carmen’s favourite book for frugal inspiration (available for free at your local library, naturally): The Complete Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczyn

Carmen Kinniburgh

Carmen Kinniburgh is a freelance writer and editor exploring topics and ideas about parenting and families, Canadian science and research, health and medicine, as well as travel and lifestyle. Born and raised in Alberta, Carmen has also lived in Southern Ontario and Manitoba, where she worked in professional communications for a university and a national health charity. Currently living in Thunder Bay, Ontario, she gets all her best ideas and insights for Parentwise from her own three delightfully precocious children.

You may also like...

35 Responses

  1. I simply want to tell you that I’m beginner to blogging and seriously enjoyed you’re web page. Most likely I’m likely to bookmark your website . You really come with wonderful articles and reviews. With thanks for sharing your web site.

  2. I just want to tell you that I’m new to blogs and seriously enjoyed this web site. Very likely I’m likely to bookmark your website . You absolutely come with exceptional posts. Appreciate it for sharing your website page.

  3. It’s perfect time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or advice. Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read more things about it!

  4. Hello, i think that i saw you visited my blog thus i came to “return the favor”.I’m trying to find things to improve my web site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  5. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article author for your blog. You have some really good posts and I feel I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please shoot me an email if interested. Many thanks!

  6. I have realized some essential things through your blog post. One other subject I would like to state is that there are lots of games that you can buy which are designed in particular for preschool age small children. They contain pattern recognition, colors, creatures, and forms. These often focus on familiarization as an alternative to memorization. This helps to keep little ones engaged without experiencing like they are studying. Thanks

  7. porno says:

    you’re really a good webmaster. The site loading pace is incredible. It sort of feels that you are doing any distinctive trick. Also, The contents are masterwork. you have done a fantastic task on this topic!

  8. I precisely wanted to appreciate you once again. I’m not certain the things I could possibly have carried out without those aspects discussed by you regarding such a field. It had become an absolute alarming difficulty in my view, but coming across the professional manner you resolved the issue forced me to cry over fulfillment. Now i’m happier for your service and even hope you know what a great job you were doing training others through a web site. I am sure you haven’t come across any of us.

  9. I simply want to mention I am very new to weblog and absolutely savored this website. More than likely I’m going to bookmark your blog post . You definitely come with perfect article content. Thanks a bunch for sharing your web page.

  10. Hey there! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding one? Thanks a lot!

  11. At this specific charge, you can premiere as a copy writer. I’m so touched. I am content to meet you. Give thanks to you.

  12. 예스벳88 says:

    Best view i have ever seen !

  13. Best view i have ever seen !

  14. Thanks for your handy post. Through the years, I have come to be able to understand that the symptoms of mesothelioma cancer are caused by the actual build up associated fluid involving the lining of your lung and the torso cavity. The disease may start from the chest vicinity and get distributed to other areas of the body. Other symptoms of pleural mesothelioma cancer include fat loss, severe breathing trouble, temperature, difficulty taking in food, and inflammation of the neck and face areas. It needs to be noted that some people with the disease do not experience every serious signs and symptoms at all.

  15. The subtle (but hilarious) underlying lament of these characters is they all reminisce over their past lives as hardened assassins and pine just to kill one more little ol’ person.

  16. Of course, what a splendid blog and informative posts, I definitely will bookmark your website.All the Best!

  17. What a fantastic post, appreciate it very much, was wondering do you have a RSS feed where I can register and follow your future articles?

  18. Excellent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just too magnificent. I actually like what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it smart. I can not wait to read far more from you. This is really a tremendous website.

  19. very good post, i actually love this web site, carry on it}

  20. Best view i have ever seen !

  21. Best view i have ever seen !

  22. Great post. I will be going through many of these issues as well..

  23. Best view i have ever seen !

  24. After looking over a few of the blog articles on your web page, I truly like your way of writing a blog. I book marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my website too and tell me your opinion.

  25. If you are looking for the best pest control company, look no further. These guys dominate!

  26. An impressive share, I just given this onto a colleague who has been performing a little analysis for this. And then he in truth bought me breakfast since I stumbled upon it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for that treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending any time to discuss this, I feel strongly about this and really like reading more about this topic. If at all possible, as you become expertise, could you mind updating your blog with increased details? It is highly great for me. Huge thumb up with this writing!

  27. lipsticks says:

    I really like it when individuals come together and share views. Great site, stick with it.

  28. I do not know the things I could possibly have implemented without these methods shown by you over such a area of interest. T

  29. Great post! We are linking to this great article on our website. Keep up the great writing.

  30. Having read this I believed it was very informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put judi mickey mouse cards this article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and commenting

  31. Tim Jones says:

    Great article! I’ll return to view your next piece! Thanks!

  32. free horror says:

    An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been conducting a little research on this. And he in fact bought me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this topic here on your web site.

  33. I used to be able to find good info from your blog posts.

  34. Good info. Lucky me I found your site by chance (stumbleupon). I’ve book-marked it for later!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *