19 March 2011

Ways to Cope with Rising Food Prices

Mary Carver of the Ontario Home Economics Association recommends the following ways to deal with the rising prices in foods (read the entire media release here).

Determine what you spend on food; it may be less than you think. Keep track for a couple of weeks. Canadian farm groups celebrated Food Freedom Day on Feb. 12, 2011 marking the date by which the average Canadian earned enough to pay the entire year's food bill. Note that the reference is for ‘food’ only - not for the sea of other items available in your supermarket.

Plan! Smart planning is the first step to saving money on food. Plan menus for a week at a time. From those menus and advertised specials, make a list. Remember to check the pantry and fridge so as not to miscalculate your needs. Over-buying and poor management leads to food waste - something that we as Canadians are too guilty of. Every trip to the store adds to your cost. Many times an ‘empty pantry’ leads to expensive take-out options.

Learn to cook. Home cooking is the surest way to save and to get the best value for your food dollar. A new book, launched for Nutrition Month is entitled Cook! (Robert Rose Publishers) Produced by Dietitians of Canada, it contains 275 healthy recipes using Canadian food. Basic cooking methods, the latest nutrition advice and ‘kid approved’ recipes make this cookbook a good investment for families that need to get back to basics. Look for it in your library if you want to save the $29.95.

Try paying for food with cash. It's estimated that those who use plastic spend more and Canadian families are already carrying too much debt according to the stats

Buy real food from all four food groups. Choose fresh or frozen produce (yes frozen veggies are nutritious), whole grain breads and cereals, dairy, meat, fish or poultry (or alternatives). Write your grocery list in the same order as the food is presented in your store, reducing your chances of getting distracted by items that are not on your list.

Check availability of local produce year round: http://www.foodland.gov.on.ca/english/availability.html

Buy in season or join a local crop-sharing program - an emerging trend.

Buy in bulk. Many cereals, rice and rolled oats are less expensive without fancy packaging.

Do it yourself for less. Prepared or semi-prepared food is more expensive per serving. Homemade dressings, cookies and pasta sauces are much less expensive than ready-made.

Quench your thirst with water, not pop.

Shop with a calculator. Check unit price on shelf labels to help determine the best buys.

Look beyond eye level. Often better buys are located above or below eye level.

Ask for and use rain-checks if a store runs out of an advertised special.

Organic is a choice that can be more expensive. Some produce with the least likelihood of pesticide residues are sweet onions, avocados, corn, asparagus, mango, cantaloupe, pineapple, peas, kiwi, grapefruit, cabbage, broccoli and eggplant.

Resist last-minute temptations at the cash register. Be vigilant at the check-out. Mistakes happen where products are scanned twice or even left behind unnoticed.

Avoid waste. It’s estimated that Canadians waste at least 10% of the food they buy. Off-set rising prices by increasing your effort to avoid food waste.

Ask if your grocer will match a competitor’s price to avoid driving across town.