Say what? You spend $450/month on food? Join the club. Groceries in Toronto are stupidly expensive, and it doesn’t look like food prices will be going down anytime soon.
For the record, the best way to save money on food is to stay away from restaurants. But what should you stock your fridge and pantry with to stay well-fed with food that you’ll actually like, and won’t cost a fortune?
Here’s what you should buy to save money on groceries, but still eat well:
Rice, beans, lentils and chickpeas
It’s the staple food that’s served the world over, and still extremely tasty. By buying a big bag of rice and a few bags of beans (very cost efficient, since even a small bag of beans will last for several meals!) you’ll always have a delicious and nutritious fall back whenever you’re hungry. By adding your favourite meat or some good seasonings, you can really up the taste, but even by itself, beans and rice are incredibly nutritious and filling. Beans, lentils and chickpeas are all high in protein, too, so you’ll feel full for longer.
Frozen fruits and vegetables
While obviously not as optimal as heading to your local market for fresh produce, the great thing about these products is that they keep extremely well in the freezer and are generally much cheaper per pound than their fresh counterparts. Taste is certainly a factor and a basket of fresh blueberries will beat a bag of frozen ones any day, but it still tastes remarkably similar when you throw it into a blender for your morning smoothie.
A simple switch with lasting financial benefits, if you try something as easy as swapping to the store’s brand instead of a famous one, you will definitely save your money. Most of the time, the products between the two brands are exactly the same, so there’s really nothing to worry about. Are you really scraping the bottom of the barrel for buying pasta noodles in an unmarked bag, compared to a branded one?
When you do decide to buy fresh, it’s always in your best interest to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. Not only because they are cheaper, but also because that produce has to come from somewhere – if no one in Canada is growing it, it just gets imported! Here’s a great chart that lets you know about the availability of certain types of produce. There are even great apps for your phone! By understanding the seasons for food, you’ll have a much cheaper, and tastier, diet every day!