Feeling Cash Strapped?

 By Mary Carver, P.H.Ec.

One year ago, the cost of the Montreal Diet Dispensary (MDD) food basket was $7.46 per person per day (click here for the report).

How does that compare with what you spend?

Keep track for a couple of weeks or better yet – a month – to determine what you spend on food. Remember to omit non-food items including alcohol from the bill and count meals eaten out of the home.

5 Tips To Reduce Food Costs & Maintain a Healthful Diet:

1. Smart Planning is Essential
The first step is to plan menus one week at a time. Take inventory of what’s on hand and what’s on sale. From your menus and advertised specials, make a grocery list. Avoid browsing for groceries – be on a mission to find only what you need. Over-buying and poor management of produce leads to expensive waste. Each trip back to the store adds to the cost and an empty pantry results in costly take-out. Avoid impulse buys by sticking to your plan.

2. Go light on expensive processed food
Why pay for added sugar, sodium and preservatives that contribute to poor health?  Packaging adds to the cost. Choose a variety of foods from each of the four food groups of Canada’s Food Guide: vegetables and fruits, meat or alternatives, bread and cereals and milk or alternatives.

3. Put yourself on a cash allowance when food shopping. Studies show that consumers that use plastic generally spend more. It’s much easier to be disciplined with a limited amount of money in your pocket. Advance planning  provides a guideline on how much cash to carry.

4. *Get in the kitchen and cook is the surest way to ensure the best nutritional value for your buck. Eating well on a budget requires basic cooking skills. Designate one day per week to prepare large batches of comfort food such as soups, stews, muffins and cookies to freeze. Make it a family event to ease the workload and maximize the fun. Having delicious home-made food on hand reduces the temptation to eat out. *Look for Get in the Kitchen and Cook – a super cookbook by Emily Richards, P.H.Ec.

5. Eat vegetarian meals more often.  Plant-based diets are increasing in popularity for good reason. They are economical and healthful.  Discover quinoa, a complete protein, affordable, easy to prepare, super nutritious and yummy. Look for The Vegetarian’s Complete Quinoa Cookbook by the Ontario Home Economics Association in major bookstores and libraries.

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by Mary Carver (an Ottawa-based Professional Home Economist). Mary’s tips were picked up by the Vancouver Sun (Finance Section) on Jan. 7, 2013.