Save money at the grocery store with these tips to beat rising food costs
Got a bit of a queasy feeling?
Brace yourself for a kick in the stomach at the grocery checkout: Food prices are expected to rise.
Some economists predict food prices may shoot up by as much as 4% by next year as extreme drought conditions in the U.S. have destroyed crops.
Indigestible for many Canadians, rising food prices will impact what consumers put in their shopping carts and possibly lead families to eat cheaper, less healthy food.
“Global demand, severe weather, higher fuel and production costs all play a role in the price of food and the predictions can send waves of panic,” says Mary Carver, Ottawa-based professional home economist.
Statistics Canada reports food prices have been increasing steadily since the second quarter of 2010.
John F.T. Scott, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, reports “Canadian consumers can expect a 3-4% increase in 2013, which is much better than what other markets can expect.”
Canada is a very competitive market with very strong operators and manufacturers all vying for consumer loyalty and patronage, says Scott, so expect a healthy roster of new players with food offerings galore. Customers will “continue to be extremely well served in 2013.” And you can still serve up good family nutrition. “There’s no need to jeopardize nutrition to save money,” says Carver. “Healthy eating is possible on a budget by careful menu planning, strategic grocery shopping, less food waste and using fewer convenience foods.”
Bean, lentil and egg recipes are economical and nutritious main course options, adds Carver.
Stretch your food budget by making home cooked meals a priority, experts say.
Jennifer MacKenzie, of Foodworx, recommends cooking from scratch at home and “double up on recipes when you have time to cook; then refrigerate or freeze the extra for another meal.”
Having a meal waiting will help families avoid the temptation to stop for take-out during the after-school activities rush, says MacKenzie, a professional home economist based in Lakefield, Ont., and author of The Complete Root Cellar Book.
A fast-food fix won’t help your wallet or your waistline. “When on the run pack healthy snacks for on-the-go munching like nuts, dried fruit, cheese strings or snack bars,” advises Tara Dellolacona Thies, registered dietician and nutrition strategist for Clif Bar.
Joyce Parslow, a professional home economist with Canada Beef Inc., suggests focusing on nutrient-rich foods. Lean meats, fish and poultry, seasonal fruits and vegetables and whole grains give you the best nutritional value per calorie/serving.
Go for the least processed foods, advises Parslow, and pack a lunch from home – the $8 per day savings can be better spent on weekly groceries.