“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” -Warren Buffett

Choices: Food

This week we're talking about making choices related to the food we eat. Take out, fast food, fine dining, groceries, all of it! One fairly large area in many household budgets is food. Especially if you live in a rural area, choices can be limited and you may feel
like you don't have many choices. With a bit of creativity and planning, you can have a healthy, varied diet even when produce prices feel exorbitant, and you are choosing to forego take out.

Tip # 1: Our first tip for food aligns well with Canada's new Food Guide. Cook at home, and eat with friends! Make a plan to try one new recipe each week. Trying new recipes can make meal planning and prep feel more like a treat, without spending at a restaurant. Restaurant food will almost always cost more, and have less nutrition than foods you are making at home, so consider where you might be able to bulk prep once a month and freeze lunches, snacks, muffins and so on to stretch your grocery budget and improve your health! 

Tip # 2: Discount produce and meat are available at most stores 50% off as foods approach their best before date. Larger groceries chains (I'm looking at you SuperStore) also carry lines of seconds quality produce. One of the best deals I scored lately was 9 Naturally Imperfect peppers from SuperStore for $3.99 - and only one pepper had a tiny blemish on it!! Around here this time of year it's closer to $2.50 per pepper. Get to know when your store marks down produce (typically evenings and I find here Monday mornings too) and try to plan your shopping then. If you are a big user of online grocery shopping (like SuperStore's PC Express) you can make a note in your comments to get pink sticker items (50% off). They aren't allowed at my local store to pick pink sticker items for you unless you request it specifically. My guys know now that's what I like, so even if I forget to note it they will usually ask. 

Locally there is also a program called Square Roots aimed at addressing food insecurity so once a month you can get 10 lbs of produce for $10 (seconds quality), or $5 if you can't afford $10. I'm thrilled each month to pick up my bundle, knowing I'm helping someone else get theirs as well, reduce global food waste and support this important initiative.

Tip # 3: Buy off-brand where it's cheaper. Sometimes with coupons or discounts brand names can be cheaper, but often I find it's cheaper to buy a store brand of many products. The quality doesn't tend to vary that much. I always shop by unit pricing, and it's one of my favourite parts of online shopping that I am able to more easily compare unit pricing without standing in the middle of a store aisle trying to do mental math!!

By using a few of these tips, and paying a bit more attention to our meal planning and food usage we've been able to lower our grocery budget by a couple hundred dollars each month, without even feeling an impact! Can you imagine how much more we could do if we continue to question the status quo?

What's one way you will try to tackle your food bill this month?

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