1. Menu Planning.
Planning ahead helps you make a grocery list of foods you need for the week, preventing you from impulsively grabbing random items when you go shopping. You will also waste less food because you will need to make your meals instead of forgetting about the bag of beans you bought and shoved in the back of the crisper.
2. Make a price list.
This takes some effort initially but this old school method of tracking food prices really will pay off! Until I started doing this I assumed (falsely) that everything was cheaper at Bulk Barn than at the grocery store. I was shocked to learn that Bulk Barn peanut butter was a rip off. Once I started keeping track of unit prices ($/kg) I could see where the smartest buys were. Your price list will also help you know when a sale is a good deal or not. You can also take your list to the Farmer’s Market to find the best quality and the best price among local farmers.
How to start: 1. Make an excel file and list the foods you buy regularly (organize however you wish) in the first column. Across the top, list the various grocery stores close to you. 2. Print out your sheet and head to the stores. Write down the price and the quantity of each item on your sheet. 3. Use excel to enter prices and calculate unit prices (for example, a 10kg bag of rice that costs $5 would be $0.50/kg).
3. Clip coupons and wait for sales.
Although most coupons are for processed foods that I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole, sometimes there are coupons for frozen fruit, yogurt or egg whites out there too. If you combine the coupon with a sale, you will usually save a few dollars off your purchase.
4. Buy in bulk.
If you have a deep freezer purchase high quality meat straight from a local farmer (I order my pork from the Van Ray family in SW Ontario. It is super high quality and they even deliver: www.thewholepig.ca). Giant bags of brown rice and beans can cost a lot less than those little bags (again, use your price list to find out). Make sure you can store these items properly in air-tight containers to prevent spoilage or grain flies getting in there.
5. Order supplements online.
It is hard to neglect the benefits of taking protein supplements. While your body can make energy out of your fat stores if you are running low, in order to meet your protein needs you have to eat enough protein daily. Supplements Canada and Supplement Source are two websites that often have good deals on protein powders, BCAAs, omega 3 oils, and much more. Usually there is free shipping if your order is over $100 so you can either gather some friends and order together or stock up.
6. Loosen up
Just because your favorite fitness magazine says you should eat x amount of protein, carbs, and fats every 3 hours doesn’t mean you should obsessively weigh and measure your food and carry a family-sized cooler around with you. Keep it simple: have protein at every meal or snack, load up on fresh veggies, add in some fruits, healthy starches (grains, starchy veggies, etc.), and healthy fats (nuts, avocado, fatty fishes). Eat when you are hungry, not by the clock.
7. Only buy food at the grocery store
Not only will you save money, you will also know exactly what you’re putting into your body. Of course it’s nice to go out to enjoy a meal with friends and family now and again, but not if you can’t afford it. Why not invite people over for a backyard barbeque and potluck instead?
Hope you find some of these tips helpful!