Stretch your grocery budget by looking for nutritious alternatives

If you are living on a tight budget, you are no doubt familiar with the rising cost of groceries, particularly if you are trying to feed a family. A new study  done by Dalhousie University shows that these rising prices are having an impact on consumer behaviour and are causing many people to re-think the contents of their grocery carts altogether. grocery budget

Some findings include:

  • Twenty-five per cent of Canadians worry about how they’ll be able to afford groceries
  • In response to fluctuating prices, 53 per cent of respondents indicated that they’ve changed their shopping habits, particularly when it comes to selecting pantry staples
  • Some common strategies from respondents to deal with these rising prices are: looking for grocery sales (59.5 per cent), stocking up on sale items (56.9 per cent) and pre-planning their grocery shopping trips (50.9 per cent)
  • Forty-one per cent looked for alternatives for healthy eating, like substituting frozen vegetables for fresh

“The rising cost of food continues to take a big bite out of Canadians’ household budgets. The results of this survey show that, while the cost of food is a concern for many, people are proactively trying to manage their grocery budget  smart shopping strategies,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.

“Results of the survey  indicated that frozen fruits, veggies and juices can be a less costly alternative. This shows that you can realize even more savings by being creative with the contents of your shopping cart,” says Schwartz.

Discover the “alternatives”

If you really want to save money on your groceries, clipping coupons and scanning flyers are great smart shopping habits, but you can save even more by making some fundamental changes to your diet.

No question, one of the highest costing items on your grocery list is meat. Meat represents your protein intake generally, but there are a number of alternatives to protein that are significantly less expensive.

In order to get your daily intake of nutrients and protein, the Canada Food Guide groups together meat and alternatives. Non-meat protein packed foods include tofu, quinoa, lentils and legumes, broccoli, green peas, nuts and nut butters.

No one is saying that you have to cut meat out altogether, but even if you swap meat out a couple of times a week for a selection of these protein packed items, you’ll save money.

Save even more on meat

For those meals that you’re going to consume meat, choose tougher cuts (e.g.  chicken legs vs. chicken breasts, blade or flank steak over striploin, etc.). If you cook tougher cuts slowly in more liquid (e.g. braising, cooking on low heat in the oven or in a slow cooker) they tenderize, are tasty and are much cheaper!

Soup’s on

Respondents indicated that they were turning more and more to frozen veggies in order to eat healthy. Another great (and cheap) way to consume your veggies is through soup. One can of soup often contains several servings of vegetables for a very low cost.

Rethink your pantry

Want to do more with less in your grocery budget? Think versatility when it comes to what’s in your pantry. Always have a few cans of tuna or beans on hand for a quick, nutritious staple. Always have rice and pasta as well. Peanut butter is also a good protein-packed staple. Canned tomatoes can be added to almost anything to boost your fruit and veggie consumption and will add instant flavour.

Is the rising cost of living, including groceries causing you stress? Are you relying on credit to make ends meet? Coming up with a plan to reduce your debt load will increase your cash flow and help you develop a budget that works.  Call one of our trained credit counsellors at or visit our online debt analysis.

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