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Nine tips to save money on groceries

Financial, health and shopping advice for buying food

4 min read
caption Food costs are expected to rise up to seven per cent higher in 2023, leaving grocery prices at record highs.
Brad Chandler

Food costs are up 11 per cent from last year, according to the latest Consumer Price Index Report, and grocery shoppers are spending more at the checkout.

The report predicts grocery prices will increase up to seven per cent more in 2023.

The Signal contacted a registered dietitian, an everyday banking director and a grocery vlogger to find out how to save on grocery bills.

Eating healthy  

caption JM Nutrition dietitian Austin McNally
JM Nutrition

It’s more important how much or how often you eat healthy food rather than ‘what’ it is you eat, said Austin McNally of JM Nutrition in Halifax.

“The idea of healthy eating extends far beyond food choice alone,” he said in an email. “Healthy eating is not about dichotomizing food into ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Rather, it describes our collective eating behaviours and overall diet pattern.”

In order to maintain a healthy diet on a budget, McNally offers shoppers these tips:

  • Opt for frozen fruits & vegetables

Canned and frozen items are often cheaper than fresh ones. Despite popular belief, McNally said they can also be “equally nutritious” as fresh items and are a “cost-effective option” while shopping.

  • Incorporate plant-based protein sources

Adding plant-based items such as lentils and beans to your grocery list for protein can be “cost-efficient” and “versatile,” McNally said. They can also be used in many recipes.

  • Limit highly processed food items

These are often more expensive and have “little to offer from a nutritional standpoint” compared to non-processed items, said McNally. 

Spending less 

caption Ratehub’s director of everyday banking Natasha Macmillan.

Shoppers can keep more money in their accounts by strategically planning each time they enter a grocery store, said Ratehub’s director of everyday banking Natasha Macmillan, based in Ottawa. The site compares rates on mortgages, credit cards, insurance, etc.

Here are three tips from Macmillan:

  • Pay with rewards points

Shoppers can save by capitalizing on cash back systems and loyalty programs, she said, and programs like PC Optimum points and cash back Visa credit cards refund percentages of grocery purchases to shoppers each time they check out.

  • Look for generic brand items

Name brand items are often strategically placed at eye level on grocery store shelves to get  shoppers’ attention, said Macmillan. “If shoppers focus on the lower parts of shelves, they are more likely to find more affordable, no-name items that often have the same amount of nutrients as the name brands.”

  • Don’t fall for promotions

Macmillan said grocery stores will promote items as part of temporary deals, but those deals may not always save you as much as you think. Multi-purchase deals that ask for customers to buy in bulk for a reduced price often lead to food waste and overspending, she said.

In the aisles   

caption Nova Scotia grocery vlogger Melanie Seamone
Photo submitted

Melanie Seamone, 48, lives in New Minas and runs a Youtube channel called Adventures in Groceryland. She shares shopping techniques that help her spend less in Nova Scotia grocery stores.  Here are her tips:

  • Shop the sales

Seamone said while it sounds simple, taking advantage of weekly sales can save shoppers more than they think. “If you want to buy beef, but that week chicken is on sale, then buy chicken. Then you can use it multiple times that week in different meals,” she said.

  • Buy whole ingredients

Paying for the convenience of food items is something many shoppers may do but not realize, Seamone said. Instead of buying prepared, prepackaged items such as assorted fruits, she said to buy whole ingredients that will last longer and will prevent overspending. “If you buy a melon you can cut it up yourself at home. Do the work yourself and you will cut out the convenience costs that many items carry.”

  • Download digital grocery flyer apps

In order to find the best deals nearby, Seamone says to take advantage of mobile apps. Apps like Flipp can compare the same item at local stores and find the best deal.

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About the author

Brad Chandler

Brad Chandler is an aspiring video journalist from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia with a special interest in sports reporting and broadcasting. He...

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