Many of you by now have heard about the rising costs of food, so I thought I would provide you with some simple solutions to help keep cost down at the grocery store, while continuing to feed your family healthy satisfying meals. Now I realize that some of these suggestions may not be doable for everyone, such as pre-washing and cutting vegetables, so use whatever suggestions work for you and your family. Well here goes!
- Buy Local and Seasonal (when possible)
Living in Canada, it definitely is much more difficult to buy local and seasonal foods in the dead of winter, as most of our produce does come in from sunny California. Having said that, many locally grown vegetables such as, cabbage, carrots, onions, leeks, cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes and squash are still available this time of year. Several famer’s markets are open year round and offer local and seasonal vegetables. For a complete list of what is in season, see the Foodland Ontario Availability Guide and visit www.edibleontario.com for a list of farmer’s markets that are open year round.
Also, consider buying fruits such as apples, oranges and bananas, which are available and reasonably priced this time of year. For fruits that are not in season consider frozen.
- Buy in Bulk
Buying some foods such as nuts, dried beans, nut butters, and grains from the bulk department of the local grocery store or a bulk food store, allows you to purchase only what you need and often at a lower price.
- Buy Canned or Frozen Produce
Frozen fruits such as mango, pineapple and berries are readily available and tend to be just as nutritious, often more, than their fresh counterparts at this time of year. They can be added to yogurt, oatmeal or fruit smoothies. Stay clear of canned fruits however, as they often have added sugars.
There are also many frozen vegetables available, many of which are local and more affordable. Opt for frozen peas, corn, kale, broccoli and spinach. In my opinion, they defrost well, and can easily be added to soups or stews. Canned beans are also a great option and are easy to use, especially when you do not have time to soak and pre-cook your own. Look for BPA free cans where possible, with no added salt. And always rinse before using!
- Be Organized
Create a meal plan for the week and shop for the ingredients that you need. This will save both time and money and will help you minimize waste. Also, keep a running list of additional ingredients that can be picked up mid-week as you run low. And do not shop while hungry, as that may result in over shopping and buying things that are not needed.
Although pre-cut and pre-washed fruits and vegetables are convenient, they do cost more. If possible, and time allows for it, buy whole fruits and vegetables and spend an afternoon or evening cutting, washing and storing, for easy to reach snacks and meal prep.
- Cook More
Again, although more time in the kitchen may not be an option for everyone, buying whole foods verses pre-packaged or pre-made foods is more economical and more nutritious on the whole. To save time, cook large batches of soups, stews, or chili for example, or cook a few extra pieces of chicken, that could double as lunch or an additional meal the following day.
- Consider Going Meatless 1 Day/Week
Involve your family and try going meatless at least one day per week. Not only is this more economical, it reduces your carbon footprint and is better for you. Increasing consumption of plant-based foods, with a reduction of animal sourced foods, helps reduce the incidence of chronic preventable diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Consider building meals around eggs, beans, grains, tofu or tempeh.
- Love Your Leftovers to Minimize Waste
I know that for many of you, including some of my own family members, leftovers get left behind only to be tossed away at the end of the week. Instead, plan on making extras and incorporate the leftovers into your weekly meals in new and creative ways. For example, any leftover pieces of salmon are added to a salad the following day for lunch or turned into a salmon pasta dish (pasta tossed with salmon, olive oil and fresh parsley), for dinner the following night. Extra rice, beans or chicken are great for an easy taco dinner or even a vegetable or chicken pot pie. You can also change up soups by combining them with different grains or noodles.
Another helpful tip is to use up any old odds and ends such as carrots, celery, onions, fennel, herbs and leeks to make stock. So rather than throwing out produce that has been stuck at the back of your refrigerator for weeks, throw it all in a pot, cover with water, add salt and any other herbs you have, and simmer for 1-2 hours.
Well, there you have a few suggestions to help you shop and eat well while on a budget. If you have any other ideas, please share them!
Linda @ The Wholesome Kitchen