It only makes sense to keep the amount of money we spend on food as low as possible. Reducing the cost of food is even more important for those of us on low or fixed incomes. And we need to do this without sacrificing taste or nutrition, which can be a pretty tall order!
The good news is that you can eat well even on a small budget. With a bit of planning, taking advantage of sales, and preparing more food at home, you too can enjoy tasty and healthy foods.
Planning Your Shopping
Have a Plan.
- Plan healthy meals and snacks for the coming week based on your budget. Develop a grocery list based on your meal plan, and stick to it. Buy only what you truly need.
- Shop Infrequently. The more times you visit the grocery store, the more you are likely to spend. Keep expenses down by limiting trips to the grocery store to once a week.
- Buy Bulk When It Makes Sense. Foods like oats, rice, dry pasta, legumes, and dried fruits can be kept for a long time and are often cheaper when they are sold in bulk. But not all bulk or large-size foods offer huge savings. For example, if extra-large cans of vegetables or fish typically contain more than your family can eat, you may end up wasting unused portions.
Taking Advantage of Sale Prices
- Shop the Sales and Compare Prices. Many grocery stores offer special discount days that can significantly reduce your grocery bill. Read flyers that highlight sale items, and compare prices between stores before you leave the house.
- Buy Produce in Season. Produce prices vary by season. Save money by looking for vegetables and fruits that are locally grown and in season. Avoid imported or out-of-season items.
- Ask Questions. Grocery stores may sell slightly bruised fruit and vegetables or day-old baking at reduced prices. Others offer discount pricing on end-cuts of deli meat rolls or meats approaching their “best before” dates. These kinds of sales are rarely promoted, so take a minute to ask the store staff if deals like this are available.
Preparing Food at Home
- Do It Yourself. Convenience foods such as frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables and fruit, and snack foods can be expensive because most of the preparation has been done for you. Cut costs by preparing and cooking ingredients at home.
- Manage Your Meat Budget. Buy smaller amounts of meat, and use them in dishes such as casseroles that contain other, less expensive ingredients. Buy cheaper cuts of meat, and then tenderize them by slowly cooking them in water or broth.
- You can eat well, even if your budget for food is tight. Keep food costs down by planning your purchases, taking advantage of sale prices, and preparing delicious, home-cooked meals from scratch.
Eat Delicious Healthy Foods on a Budget
Alberta Health Services provides tips to help you get the “biggest bang” from your grocery shopping budget.
Eating Well on a Budget - Recipes
The University of Alberta offers simple tips for recipes that call for low cost ingredients, are quick and easy to prepare and have excellent nutritional value
Healthy Eating Is in Store for You
Want to learn more about using food labels to make healthy choices? Healthy Eating Is in Store for You provides a variety of resources that make food labels make sense.
Let’s Make a Meal
Dietitians of Canada’s Let’s Make a Meal feature allows you to plan healthy meals and snacks quickly and easily.
Virtual Grocery Store
Dietitians of Canada’s Virtual Grocery Store is the place to learn more about shopping tips, meal planning, and label reading.