Fight back against rising food prices with smart grocery shopping
You likely don’t need an official report or statistics to tell you that the cost of food has risen – and is expected to keep going. You’ve had the experience of ringing a few groceries through the checkout, paying the bill and wondering “I only got this much for that much?”
It’s not just your local grocer that’s passing on the rising costs to you; restaurants are reportedly following suit as well, as they grapple with rising food costs. According to recent data, 65 percent of restaurants are reporting a sharp rise in their food expenses and a little more than half of the respondents said that they are considering raising their menu prices to keep pace.
Restaurants and home cooks are both feeling the pinch particularly when it comes to meat and poultry, which has seen some of the greatest price increases.
Now that eating out is potentially going to take a bigger bite out of your budget, you may be tempted to eat at home more often. Skipping the restaurants doesn’t make it a budgetary slam dunk though; to really maximize your savings and stretch your grocery budget dollars you’ve got to be strategic.
“Buying groceries, especially if you’ve got a family, usually eats up a major portion of your monthly spending. Smart shoppers not only plan their grocery shopping in detail and take advantage of sales and coupons, but they plan out their cooking as well,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director at Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
Schwartz notes that a lack of planning can result in a lot of food waste, which is tantamount to throwing money into the compost. You’re not unlike those restaurant owners who are getting squeezed by thin margins and you need to do everything you can to maximize your food dollars.
Here are some ways to reduce food waste:
As part of your shopping strategy, do a full inventory every week. To get even more efficient, develop a method of tracking items as you run out (i.e. a list on the fridge) to make this part of your process even quicker.
Work backwards to make your list
As a rule, try to use up what you’ve got before you buy new items. Canned goods and non-perishables will keep for eons, but try to use them and then replace them. Rotate your inventory in your cupboards, so that you’ve got older stuff (or perishables) in front: easier to see, and more likely to get consumed.
Plan menus, not meals
When you develop your shopping plan for the week, have your flyers in one hand and your recipe book in the other. Plan specific recipes around sale items. It’s handy (easier and less likely to produce waste) to use recipes that only use a few ingredients, or that have ingredients that can do double duty for other meals.
Buying in bulk is a great way to reduce your grocery bill because you benefit from the economy of scale. But only buy in bulk if it makes sense – it has to be food that you know you’ll use in a reasonable amount of time. Take advantage of meat and poultry bulk-buying by portioning and freezing to get the best bang for your buck.
Be proactive when you are unpacking your groceries and store things properly. Keep potatoes and onions in a cool, dark place. Store tomatoes on your counter top. Wrap broccoli and cauliflower in damp paper towels in the fridge. Cut tops off of carrots and store in a jar of water in the fridge. Clean lettuce and store in a ziploc bag with a damp paper towel.
Is your budget under pressure from rising food prices? Are you finding it harder to make ends meet? Call one of our trained credit counsellors at [PHONE _NUMBER] or check out our free online debt analysis tool to get back on the road to financial recovery.