1. Avoid Food Waste
On average, we waste 14% of our food purchases per year, and the average family in the United States throws out over $600 of fruit per year. Most of the food we waste is due to spoilage. People are buying too much and using too little of it.
Instead of watching food go to waste, try to make some small changes:
- Check for such foods in your refrigerator daily, your freezer weekly, and your cupboards monthly for expiration dates and spoilage.
- Ensure your produce is stored safely in the fridge and turn older bread into breadcrumbs.
- Use leftovers to create different soups, stews, salads, and casseroles.
- Freeze leftover vegetables to make soup or a vegetable stock.
- Freeze ripe fruits to use in baking.
2. Meal Planning 101
This is where many families go over budget. If you do not have anything prepared, then most people would order a pizza or takeout.
Meal planning sounds like a lot of work but if you have a schedule the house will run more smoothly.
Each Sunday, we plan the meals for the week based on the sales items from the flyers. We plan our lunches, dinners, and snacks. This makes us more organized because we are not spending extra time ordering food or worrying what is in the fridge to eat.
3. Shop in the Right Season
My wife loves strawberries and blackberries. Fortunately, we can stock up on these seasonal fruits when they are in season locally at incredible savings.
This means that we don’t eat cherries, mangoes, or watermelon in the winter, however, it saves money and allows us to enjoy what’s fresh and seasonal during each season.
If a fruit or vegetable is on sale that can be frozen or will stay fresh for longer than a week, I try to buy extra to freeze or to enjoy the following week.
4. Clean Out the Pantry
Some families have enough food in their pantries to make meals. It makes sense to clean out your pantry because as a cook you can get creative and start concocting new recipe ideas.
When I do this in our house, I often find we have a lot more food on hand than I thought!
5. Use Cash
There is so much temptation at the grocery store to spend money.
For this reason, my family recently went to a cash-only envelope budgeting system. We take our entire budget ($250) for the month in envelopes and when it is gone, we can’t spend anymore money on groceries.
Using cash forces you to spend less money at the grocery store. If you don’t believe me try it for a week, and see if you bought less and were more careful where your budget went. Using cash makes you realistically stick to your budget.
6. Alternative Meat Cuts
Many Canadians love meat and eat it on a regular basis. An alternative to eliminating meat from your budget is buying a cheaper cut of meat like a hanger steak or flank steak or even a Chuck Tail Flat.
You can turn a Chuck Tail Flat into into strips for fajitas or noodle bowls or a steak sandwich.
A flank steak or “skirt steak” is significantly tougher than the other beef cuts; but if you use a moist cooking methods like braising or sauteeing it will taste delicious. It is an underrated cut of beef but it has great flavour, and is extremely tender when cut and prepared properly.
You can tenderize tough cuts of meat using a hand tenderizer or wrap up a heavy object in plastic and use as a replacement.
7. Find Alternative Stores
Have you ever heard of McGavin’s Bread Baskets store?
The McGavin’s Bread Baskets are discount bakery outlet stores for Canada Bread Company Limited. They carry a large variety of bread, bagels, buns, English muffins, and tortillas. They carry brands such as McGavin’s, Dempster’s, Smart, and Villaggio.
They sell discounted bread (bread with only a couple of days of shelf life), surplus bread from over productions, and fresh bread. You can buy in singles or in multiples to save.
The Discount Bread area offers you up to 70% off our regular prices for all the popular brands.
Have you considered shopping in your local Chinatown or ethnic supermarkets (even small cities in Canada have these)? These stores rarely advertise so they pass their savings onto you with some great bargains on produce or more specialty items.
8. Avoid Certain Items at the Grocery Stores
Some items are best not to purchase at the grocery store.
I love to cook curries but did you know that I buy bulk spices from natural food stores or ethinic stores at cheaper prices than the supermarket. Some spices like cumin, bay leaves and cracked pepper are even available at your local dollar stores.
Convenience products like batteries are pricier at the grocery store.
Unless you can find a sale, the best deals for products like shampoo or toothpaste are at drug stores like Shoppers Drug Mart or Rexall.
9. Best Bulk Buys
Grocery stores are starting to stock their bulk section with a better selection of products. This is important when you need a small quantity for a recipe and do not want to purchase a larger container.
I have found that certain items like grains (rice, barley, bulgur, quinoa), pasta and dried fruits bought in bulk are much less expensive than their prepackaged counterparts.
Always compare price per unit and if the size makes sense go for the best price per unit.
10. Use Your Freezer
Our family saves hundreds of dollars annually using our freezer. Our local grocery stores often have clearance prices on meat, cheese, fruit, and even milk.
We often take advantage of our freezer by batch cooking. An example is cooking a large quantity of chicken breasts (that we purchased on sale and clearance) and chop and freeze them in freezer bags. These are used in casseroles or stir-frys. We use the milk for pancakes or a cream substitute.
Frozen fruit is perfect for french toast, baking, or even smoothies.
By stocking up on items when they are at great prices and then freezing them, it gives me more variety to work with when planning our menus and saves us money, too.
About the Author: This is a guest post by Steven Zussino, President of GroceryAlerts.ca, Canada’s Source for Grocery Deals, canadian coupons, and printable coupons. They match coupons with the latest grocery flyer specials.