One in ten Torontonians now rely on food banks – twice as many as the year prior. For many of us, the soaring cost of food over the last few years has meant finding ways to stretch grocery budgets or simply going without. As Food Services Manager, Michael Greenberg oversees Daily Bread staff and volunteers as they prepare close to 220,000 meals annually for our 207 member agencies. Finding ways to keep the cost per meal low is a key job part of his job – you could say he’s an expert!
Here are his top five tips to trim your grocery budget without sacrificing nutritional value:
1. A smaller price tag doesn’t always equal bigger savings:
When it comes to meat, considering the yield can be a game-changer. While extra lean ground beef may seem pricier upfront compared to higher fat options like medium ground beef, it’s important to consider how much of that fat will be rendered during the cooking process. In the end, you are left with far more on your plate when you choose lower fat options, ultimately saving you money in the long run. The same holds true for pricier air-chilled chicken versus water chilled chicken.
2. Buy produce in season:
If you have storage room, a simple solution to cutting down on the cost of produce is to buy fruits and vegetables in bulk during peak seasons when prices are lower. You can preserve produce by freezing or canning to enjoy affordable, nutrient dense produce during the off-season when prices are at their highest.
3. Process it yourself:
Look for ways to shed some of the processing costs by doing it yourself. Opting for whole, unprocessed foods can be a wallet-friendly choice. For instance, the cost per pound of a whole chicken is generally lower than boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Similarly, purchasing a block of cheese and shredding it at home is often more economical than buying pre-shredded alternatives.
4. Brand name versus no-name:
A simple switch to quality no-name brands can make a significant difference in lowering costs without compromising nutrition. Look for manufacturers that package both brand name and no-name products as they are often the same product with a different label, so you get the same quality without the hefty price tag. A brand name can of diced tomatoes might cost $2.47, while the same product with a no-name label can run as low as $1.77.
5. Simplicity is key:
Embrace the beauty of simple meals. Not only are they often quicker to prepare, but they can also be more cost-effective. Focus on staple ingredients and explore recipes that make the most of what’s in your pantry, reducing the need for frequent and expensive grocery trips.
With inflation having such an impact on grocery prices in recent years, it’s important to look for ways to cut costs to help ensure you and your family can continue to meet your nutritional needs. We hope you find these tips helpful.
If you or someone you know needs emergency access to food, please visit dailybread.ca/foodprograms to find a food bank location nearest you.