According to Statistics Canada, the food inflation rate rose 8.7% in the last year. Skyrocketing food costs make it tough to shop for groceries and budget healthy food into our diets.
Calgary Foothills PCN dietitians can teach you how to stretch your meals – from spending less on nutritious food to getting creative with leftovers. Try their money-saving tips to plan nutritious meals and snacks without breaking the bank.
1) Create a grocery list and set a budget
Buying only what is on your grocery list will help you cut down on impulse buys. Consider eating before you hit the supermarket – that will decrease the urge to impulse buy or order groceries online to minimize throwing extras into your cart. Review what you’ve got in the fridge, freezer or pantry to help plan meals and make sure you’re not doubling up on ingredients when you hit the store.
2) Shop sales
Check store flyers and compare prices to stretch your dollars and consider buying generic or store brands.
3) Buy in bulk and batch cook
Bigger is better – buying in bulk often comes with cost-savings. You can even split up bulk items with a family member or friend. Portion out meats and then freeze for later meals or batch cook dishes and throw in the freezer dishes for easy mid-week meals.
4) Shop in season
Produce is less expensive when they’re in season, while frozen and canned fruits and vegetables can limit food spoilage and waste. If it’s an option, plant a garden or join a community one to grow your own favourites.
5) Think plants for protein
Aim to have one plant-based meal a week, if you’re able to.
Calgary resources for purchasing lower-cost foods
There are a number of options for Calgarians looking to buy groceries, from price-matching apps to stores that sell at a discount. Here are some of our favourites:
- Good Food Box – buy boxes of fresh fruit and veggies at an affordable price through this offering from the Community Kitchen Program of Calgary.
- H & W Produce – a store with fresh fruits and vegetables and weekly specials.
- Flashfood – this app scans for local deals on near-expiring groceries at a number of stores, then allows you to purchase directly and simply pick up your order.
- Flipp – browse flyers for deals through this app, which can also create grocery lists.
Freestone Produce – this produce distributor in Calgary’s northeast offers reasonable prices.
- The Alex Community Food Centre – through their weekly Affordable Produce Market, people can purchase fruit, veggies and more at a discounted price.
- Kin Market and Kin Café – Operating out of the Shawnessy and Saddletowne YMCAs, this pop-up market and café allows people to pay what they can afford for fruits and veggies.
1) Peanut tofu noodle bowl – $2.60/serving
- For alternate sources of protein, substitute a fried egg, chickpeas, or leftover meat, such as chicken.
- Other grain options include brown rice, quinoa or whole-grain spaghettini.
- Use any vegetables you have on hand.
2) Tuna noodle casserole – $1.14/serving
- Choose whole-grain noodles to increase fibre content.
- Substitute shredded or canned chicken for tuna.
- Other vegetables that could be used include grated zucchini or chopped spinach.
3) Chicken kale Caesar wraps – $2.14 per wrap
- Try using leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.
- Not a fan of kale? Opt for spinach, lettuce or sliced vegetables like cucumber, grated carrot and peppers.
- Increase the fibre by choosing whole wheat tortillas.
- Use lite Caesar dressing to reduce to fat.
4) Beef taco pasta – $1.72/serving
- Try substituting a whole-grain pasta noodle for more fibre.
- For alternate sources of protein, swap out half or all of the ground beef for lentils.
- To increase the fibre content, add more vegetables, such as diced mushrooms, peppers or frozen peas. Make a salad with seasonal vegetables (carrots, cucumbers etc.) to increase the vegetables in this meal.
Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your diet and how to fit more nutrition into your life.
If you need help setting personal nutrition goals, learn how to book a one-on-one appointment – or attend a group workshop – with a PCN registered dietitian.
For more great tips on how to lead a healthier lifestyle, register for a health workshop provided by Alberta PCNs.