On average Canadians spend around $200.00 a week on food, and of course that amount varies from household to household and across provinces. The Nutritious Food Basket is a survey that tracks the affordability of nutritious foods using a 67 item grocery list that contains nutritious food items.
Based on the survey in 2015, the estimated cost for a family of 4 was $195.00 per week or $847.00 each month. Since 2010, there has been an increase in cost of 18.4% for the nutritious food basket and these increases continue to climb each year. In fact, the Canadian Food Price Report is predicting a 1-3% increase in food prices this year, with vegetables and foods purchased at restaurants expected to increase most (at 4-6%).
Today I am sharing with you my top 5 tips for healthy eating on a budget. I encourage you to give these tips a try to help you eat healthy and save more!
The example above is not comparing the same product, but intended to show you a cheap and healthy meal option. Healthy eating can be expensive, but there are cheap options available. The chickpea stir fry makes 4 servings for under $12.00 versus the cheeseburger combo (1 serving) for almost $10.00.
1. Plan your meals and stick to them
I cannot emphasize enough how important meal planning is! This doesn't necessarily mean preparing all your meals in advance but having a plan of what you are going to make. This will alleviate some of your evening stress but will also help you save money. We often shop with good intentions of cooking certain meals but when we don't have a plan those intentions can quickly become wasted food. Who else has done this?
The next time you go grocery shopping start by planning your meals for the next week and then making your grocery list based on those meals. If you need help with this, please fee free to connect with me (it is my speciality).
Tip: be realistic in your meal planning. If you know certain evenings are busy, plan a simple and quick meal (e.g., frozen fish, frozen veggies, and quinoa) or have leftovers (perhaps you make a big batch the evening before (e.g., tacos) and save the rest for the next busy evening. Start small, perhaps you only plan your Monday/Tuesday dinners....do what works for you.
2. Use plant based protein sources more often
Meat can be expensive, especially when you are feeding a family of 4+. In addition there is a lot of research that supports following a plant based diet from improved health outcomes and sustainability, so why not incorporate more vegetarian meals? A can or bag of beans cost anywhere from $1.00-2.00, making it a super cheap yet healthy meal option.
Plant based meal ideas:
Chickpea Stir Fry (recipe coming soon)
Lentil Sloppy Joes - click here to download the recipe
White Bean Soup and Grilled Cheese - click here for white bean soup recipe
3. Eat seasonally
Eating seasonally can save you money, especially when it comes to fruits and veggies. When produce is in season there is more to go around, which drives the prices down. In addition to being cheaper, the produce tastes better and is typically has its peak nutrient content. Think back to early summer, there is nothing like a fresh local tomato or strawberry, right?
What's in season now?
- Sweet Potato
Learn more about what fruits and veggies are in season by clicking here for Foodland's availability guide.
4. Buy less convenient food items
Convenient items cost more, hence the word convenience (that is what we are paying for). Buying less convenient items will help you save money. For example, buying 2-3 sweet potatoes cost approximately $2-3, however buying a package of diced sweet potato cost close to $7.
I usually always buy pre-washed salad or baby spinach (convenient purchase), but the rest I try to stay away from. If I know I will be really pressed for time, I buy frozen instead. Frozen veggies are a great option that are cheaper and convenient.
5. Create a budget (look for sales)
Set a food budget and try to stick to it. Having an amount in mind helps ensure you don't over spend every week. It may even help to take out cash, that is specific food spending money to keep your spending accounted for.
Things to try:
- Meal plan around sales, look at your local flyers or apps and see what's on sale. Based on the sales you can plan your weekly meals. If it's a great deal, stock up and freeze!
- Use cash for food purchases. Pick a weekly or monthly limit and take out cash. Do not bring your credit card or debit card shopping (forcing you to stick within your budget).
- Identify how much you are spending on fast food and think about potential ways to cut back (the coffees/teas, lunches, and dinners out, can quickly add up).
I hope this provided you with some ideas before your next grocery shop. Please connect with me if you have any questions or need any help budgeting your healthy meals.
Cheers to happy and healthy eating (all winter long)!
Until next time,
Eat Right Feel Right- Angela XO