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How to Spend Less on Food

A recent joint report between Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph states that “The average Canadian family is going to spend $411 more to fill the grocery cart.”

That’s a huge increase in your household budget – equivalent to receiving an extra heating bill or two.  Many people believe that this is a relatively fixed cost and that they would have a hard time reducing it without sacrificing greatly at the dinner table.  We don’t think that’s entirely true. Here are some things you can do to reduce the cost of feeding your household next month:

Cook at home instead of eating out

This is the number one, most effective way to reduce food costs.  Dining out, whether fast food or fine dining, cost a lot more than preparing your own food.  As a bonus, you’ll likely be healthier, and when you prepare your own meals, you always know that they’re made to your liking.  You might miss the convenience of fast food, but after a few weeks of home-cooked meals, you won’t miss the food.

Take your lunch to work

This is an extension of the above rule – buying lunch at an average cost of ten dollars per day will add up to over $2000 per year to the budget.  That money can buy a lot of sandwiches, and perhaps pay down debt. When you’re preparing your own meals at home, it’s possible to cook a little extra every night for lunch the next (or even the following) day, which will help you reduce your costs even more.

Trade Out Meat

Meat is often the most expensive part of your meal.  Consider swapping it (for even one night a week) for a more economical form of protein, like beans or eggs.  The North American diet tends to include an abundance of meat, so it’s possible you’ll welcome the change.

Shop Wisely

There are a lot of things you can do to keep the cost of your grocery cart down.  Choose a grocery store with good prices on foods you like, and forego as many “frills” as you can.  Use reusable grocery bags and don’t go to the store without a list. Make sure that you actually need all the items you buy.  Buy store brands whenever possible, and use coupons to purchase items that you regularly use.

The way you eat, and the way you shop, can have a huge impact on your monthly budget.  Costs for food items and dining out are always increasing, so adopting a proactive approach will not only save you money now but will help to “future proof” your budget against rising costs.