How to save money on groceries when inflation is so high

Although overall inflation in Canada has slowed to 5.9 per cent — the price of groceries continues to skyrocket.

Black woman customer shopping for groceries at supermarket or grocery store discount price on healthy fruit brand products. African girl or shopper at beverage shelf to buy sale offer groceries drinks
These money-saving tips can help offset the rising price of groceries.

Although overall inflation in Canada has slowed to 5.9 per cent — the price of groceries continues to skyrocket.

According to Statistics Canada's latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) report, food prices – which includes both groceries and food from restaurants – increased 10.4 per cent year-over-year in January, up from 10.1 per cent in December.

How to to save money on groceries in Canada

Needless to say, the rising price of groceries has left many Canadians with sticker shock. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to save money even amid soaring grocery prices. Check them out below:

Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk can help you save on groceries by reducing the per-unit cost of items. When you purchase larger quantities of a product, the unit price is typically lower than when buying smaller quantities. This is especially true for non-perishable items, such as canned goods and certain types of packaged foods. Purchasing bulk items can also help reduce the number of trips you need to make to the grocery store, saving time and money on transportation. Another tip? Make sure you compare the unit price to ensure your bulk buy is truly a deal.

Freeze food

Freezing food can help you implement many of the other money-saving strategies we suggest. Just make sure you follow food safety guidelines. Here are a few specific ways freezing food can help you save money:

  • Buying in bulk: When you spot a good deal on perishable foods, you can buy them in bulk and store them in your freezer.

  • Reducing spoilage: Freezing food can help to preserve its quality and prevent spoilage, reducing the amount of food that needs to be thrown away. This can save you money by reducing the need to purchase more frequent replacements.

  • Saving on meal planning: Having frozen food on hand can help you save time and money when you're meal planning. You can thaw what you need for a meal, reducing the need for last-minute grocery runs or expensive takeout meals.

  • Taking advantage of sales: You can take advantage of sales on frozen items, stock up and save money over time.

  • Avoiding food waste: One of the biggest advantages of freezing food is that it can help to avoid food waste. If you have food nearing its expiration date, you can freeze it to extend its life.

Use coupons and rewards points

Before shopping, check the weekly ads for your local grocery stores and list the items that are on sale and that you have coupons for — this will help you save money on the items you were planning to buy anyway. Many grocery stores offer loyalty programs that allow you to earn points or rewards for purchases made at the store that can be used to redeem discounts on future purchases. If you have a coupon for an item that is already on sale, you can save even more money by using the coupon in addition to the sale price.

Many grocery stores now offer digital coupons that can be loaded onto your loyalty card or smartphone. This makes it easier to keep track of your coupons and use them at the store. Some websites and blogs specialize in finding deals and matching coupons to the current sales in your area.

Plan your meals

Meal planning can help you save money on groceries by allowing you to make a list of the specific items you need for the week, so you can purchase only what you need, reducing food waste and unnecessary impulse buys. It also allows you to take advantage of sales and discounts. Plan meals around what you already have on hand to save money. A meal plan will help you avoid impulsively eating out, which can be a significant expense.

Shop at discount stores

Think outside the grocery store when it comes time to shop. Compare prices so you'll know you're getting the best deal, but you can often find better prices for groceries at discount stores such as:

  • Dollar stores

  • Warehouse clubs such as Costco

  • Outlet stores

  • Wholesale retailers such as WholeSale Club

Buy seasonal produce

Fresh produce is being particularly hard-hit by inflation. Produce that's in season in Canada is typically less expensive than imported produce. Buying locally-grown produce can also save money because it does not have to be transported long distances, which can reduce the markup. Seasonal produce is also at the peak of freshness. Focusing on seasonal fruits and vegetables can help you eat a healthy diet without breaking the bank.

Grow your own

By growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs, you can reduce your dependence on expensive store-bought produce and enjoy fresh, healthy food from your garden. It will take some time to reap the rewards of growing your own food, but it's a fun and rewarding experience that allows you to connect with nature and develop new skills. An added benefit is that gardening can have significant benefits for your physical and mental health.

Cook from scratch

Cooking from scratch allows you to control the ingredients used in your meals, which can help you save money on groceries by reducing the amount of processed or pre-made foods you buy. When cooking from scratch, you can purchase ingredients in bulk, which is often cheaper than buying pre-packaged or pre-made foods. You can also opt for cheaper substations — such as making pesto with sunflower seeds instead of expensive pine nuts. When you cook from scratch, you can use leftovers to make new meals and reduce food waste.

Use leftovers

With today's grocery prices, throwing out food is throwing out money. When you go through all the trouble of planning and preparing food, make sure you get the most out of your efforts. Here are some ways you can get the most value from your leftovers:

  • Plan your meals: Before you go grocery shopping, plan out your meals for the week and make sure to include leftovers in your meal plan. This way, you can ensure you're using up what you already have before buying more.

  • Get creative with leftovers: Leftovers don't have to be boring! Get creative and come up with new ways to use them. For example, leftover cooked chicken can be used in a salad, a sandwich or a stir-fry.

  • Store leftovers properly: To ensure they stay fresh and safe to eat, store leftovers in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer.

  • Plan a weekly leftovers night: Set aside one night a week where you only eat leftovers. This is a great way to use up what you have and save money on groceries.

  • Use leftovers as ingredients: Leftovers can be used as ingredients in other dishes — for example, leftover rice can be used as a base for a fried rice dish.

Saving money on groceries despite rising inflation

With high inflation rates, it is more important than ever to find ways to save money on groceries. By implementing these techniques, you can maintain a healthy and varied diet and stay on budget. A bit of effort and creativity will help you save money on groceries without sacrificing the quality of your food.

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