Feeding Your Family On A Budget

2016-02-10   minute read

Leah Drewcock

Lifestyle Debt

According to Statistics Canada, the annual inflation rate in Canada jumped 1.6% in December. Much of this increase can be attributed to the rising costs of groceries. With the plummeting Canadian dollar, we are seeing an opposite trend in the costs of red meats and fresh fruits and vegetables. A recent Huffington Post Business article lists five of the popular foods that have suddenly jumped in price.

So how can we manage our budgets and keep our families fed without being put in the position of having to turn to food banks and ‘junk foods’ that are cheap but full of empty calories?

Here are some tried and true tips along with some new ideas for feeding your family on a budget.

The Simple Tips:

  • Never shop hungry
  • Make a list and stick to it: This sounds simple, but we often forget this tip According to dietician Brooke Bulloch in a recent Global News article you can still eat healthy on a budget with a bit of planning
  • Car pool to the grocery store. There is nothing wrong with making an outing of grocery shopping with your friends (try to leave the kids at home as they tend to double the grocery bill when they tag along).
  • Buy bulk for non-perishable items when they are on sale
  • Avoid convenience and pre-packaged foods
  • Have a list handy of the staple goods, those non-perishable ingredients you always seem to need. The most common ingredients in your recipe arsenal. Purchase these ingredients when the stores have their ‘bulk goods or warehouse sales’
  • Consider buying in-season produce from farmer’s markets
  • Buy generic or no-name brands rather than the more expensive name brand goods
  • Kerry K. Taylor of the Globe and Mail recommends buying at discount or wholesale grocers rather than the premium grocers Buy canned or frozen fruits and veggies when the ones you want are not in season
  • Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables – canning or freezing pre-cooked casseroles is a great way to stock up on these foods to eat over the winter months when these foods are more expensive to purchase fresh
  • Split the cost of a side of beef or pork. Some butchers even offer mixed-meat bulk purchases where you can buy a box of a variety of cuts of meats for your freezer
  • To cut back on food waste - don’t buy more fresh goods than you will eat in one week (see meal planning tips below)
  • If you have the ability to hunt or fish and freeze the meat, this is a great option for adding protein to your diet when the price of red meat is too high
  • Try adding canned beans or fresh eggs to your meals as a substitute for red meat. This is a healthy alternative for your daily protein intake

Up for a Challenge? Try these creative ways to reduce the cost of filling your pantry with nutritious foods:

Field Trip!!

Take the whole family to a local U-Pick farm where you pick your own produce and / or berries.

Meal planning

Ugh, ‘more planning’ you say? Yes, the whole family can join in the fun! Everyone pick 5-10 of their favorite meals they’d like to eat in the month. Make an ingredient list and start looking at the flyers. Narrow the meals down to the ones with the most cost-effective ingredients or ingredients you can buy in bulk for multiple recipes. Fill in the remaining meals with food stores you have on hand or the go-to meals that fill your family on a budget. With this trick, everyone gets to eat what they like at least 5 times in a month.

Do you ever find yourself standing in front of the fridge or pantry, door wide open, thinking to yourself ‘there’s nothing here to eat’? Coming up with easy, creative, cost effective and tasty meals can seem like an insurmountable task, especially if you have picky mouths to feed. Like most Canadians, there’s probably a can of chick peas or water chestnuts in the back of your pantry that you have been ignoring for months. You’re thinking “Why on earth did I buy water chestnuts anyway?”. Well, with the increasing cost of groceries we can no longer afford to ignore the chickpeas in the cupboard. Challenge yourself to consume these foods rather than letting them expire at the back of your cupboard. Look on-line for a good recipe using the ingredients you have on hand.

For the Techy in your family:

Not sure where to start? There are many mobile apps available for Android, Apple and Windows that all allow you to input a list of ingredients into the app which will generate a recipe for you. Do this once a week and you’ll find you are wasting less food and making the most of what you’ve already got on hand. In addition, many of these apps also offer meal planning and grocery list functions.

When reducing the grocery bill isn’t enough to help pay the bills:

Sometimes all your best efforts in trimming the fat from you budget just isn’t enough to keep your head above water. When the stress of paying the bill is too much, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) can help you find a life-changing solution to your debt load so you can get back to living your life and filling your fridge without debt weighing you down.

Leah Drewcock is a Bankruptcy Trustee within our Prince George location. To learn more about how MNP Debt can help

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