In these times of food insecurity and rising inflation, it’s more important than ever to be savvy when shopping for nutritious and wholesome food. A great variety of food sources are competing for your wallet and when armed with the right knowledge, you can make better decisions and save money, all without compromising food quality.
Before sourcing quality places to shop, research what constitutes a healthy diet. Check out the new Canada Food Guide to learn about nutrition and the best food choices.
Here are five shopping methods with helpful tips for eating well on a budget in the GTA.
- Supermarket chains
Coupons, coupons, coupons. They are a great way to save money and plan your shopping. It’s easier than ever to collect them today with apps like Flipp, where you can search deals by brand, item and category. The app Flashfood helps you finds discounts and combats food waste. Look for generic products, which are up to 30% cheaper, and stock up when items like meat go on sale. Supermarket trips are good times to carpool with friends, and save on transportation costs.
- Small grocery stores
Small, local chains and corner stores can be great sources for discounted food such as fruits and veggies. Buy what’s in season and look for deals on produce with small blemishes, as they are often cheaper. If you buy items just before they expire, they are often discounted, and you can cut and freeze them. Buy frozen fruits, veggies, and meat. Frozen food can be highly nutritious and is a good winter option when many local foods are out of season. If you prefer organic, consider that a study out of Stanford University found organic food isn’t always healthier or more nutritious. Do your own research, especially since organic is often more expensive. When comparing similar items, check out the unit price to find the better deal. Small stores are often closer to home, so you can enjoy big savings on transportation.
- Bulk foods
Bulk stores are great for buying foods that are usually much more expensive at chain stores. The offerings are plentiful – nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coffee beans, oatmeal, rice, spices and the occasional sweet treat. Many of these foods are key ingredients in healthy meals, and keep them flavourful. Buy only what you need to avoid waste, and some bulk stores allow you to bring your own containers. Also bring a calculator and pay attention to the unit cost to ensure you’re getting the best deals.
- Online shopping
Since the pandemic, online shopping has become popular and can be a great alternative to in-person shopping, depending on your situation. The choice of stores is plentiful and it’s easy to find sale items while relaxing at home with a cup of coffee. Prices tend to be cheaper, but compare carefully. Big savings (and reduced stress) also comes from the time and cost saved by not having to drive and park or take public transit. If you watch grandchildren, live far from stores or don’t have a car, buying groceries online can be a great option, even after factoring in delivery charges.
- Eating out
Eating well on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a healthy meal out sometimes. The GTA is loaded with affordable eateries spanning a variety of cultures. Check out BlogTO and its list of 100 essential cheap eats to experience a world of cuisine, often for under $10. Homemade food with fresh and healthy ingredients are the order of the day at many spots, allowing you to keep fit and enjoy our multicultural city.
And here are five more quick tips for shopping on budget.
- Shop on a full stomach to reduce impulse buying
- Plan your meals
- Stick to your list
- Make large meals and split them up for time-saving and cost-saving benefits
- Skip prepared foods and pre-cut produce