Last updated on July 12th, 2016 at 12:51 pm
Experiencing a feeling of shock as you watch every item from your grocery cart be scanned to a never ending total at the checkout lane lately? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Prices on food, especially fresh produce, are continuously growing at a scary rate. This is largely due to the lower Canadian dollar which earlier in 2016 hit an alarming 69 cents per U.S. dollar. Although the exchange rate has gotten better, the prices of fruits and vegetables are at the most risk to currency fluctuations because they are largely imported.
As Grocery Inflation Rises, Learn to Shop on a Budget
At the University of Guelph, a recent study showed that fresh vegetables have gone up in price averaging at 14% higher, and fruit at 11% higher, all in the last year. This outdid general inflation so much that the University of Guelph’s Food Institute estimates the average Canadian household will spend $8 631 on food this year which includes groceries and restaurants. That shows a rattling increase of $345 from last year.
Where to Start?
There are definitely ways to cut the cost of grocery bills without giving up on the nutritional value. When a particular fruit or vegetable jumps in price, products which are frozen or canned can work as great cheaper alternatives. Try experimenting with new recipes, give a chance to using less seasonal vegetables which are still rich in nutrients like sweet potatoes, beets, parsnip and squash.
There are organizations made to aid you in grocery budgeting. FoodShare has for a long time been filling food hampers and school lunch programs with fruits and vegetables that were denounced unfit for store shelves. The so called “unattractiveness” of these fruits and vegetables does not make them any worse nutrition wise. Try searching for imperfect shaped onions, apples, carrots, peppers and etc. they are often on sale, and although may look a little funky, still do the trick of delivering the same great taste and nutrients.
Don’t Forget Your Grocery Dollars
There are many loyalty programs out there. Make sure to use these to your full advantage. AIR MILES and PC Plus are great for saving up on groceries, every dollar helps.
For example, the PC Plus program: You can earn points in many ways by using custom offers which cane be emailed to you, offered in-store, or by using a PC Plus debit or credit card. Earn points with a PC Financial MasterCard: 10 points per dollar. This results in 1000 PC points equalling one dollar in savings.
You can also use your Air Miles to earn points. You earn one mile for every $20 you spend. You may also receive bonus offers through the mail and email; as well as earning extra reward miles in-store and in weekly advertised flyers.
Look for Credit Card Offers
To help with your points even more, you can sign up for an Air Miles-branded credit card like the BMO AIR MILES MasterCard. However, remember to shop around and check out all your options to find which card offers the best rewards for grocery shopping. Some operate on a cash-back basis with specific grocery stores, while others work around accumulating more miles.
Another card to get you deals is the SimplyCash card from American Express. It has no annual fee and 1.25% cash back on everything you buy. Furthermore, it stretches your grocery dollars to the max: When you sign up, you’ll also get a 5% cash-back on all eligible purchases at grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants in Canada (up to $250) for the first six months. If you refer a friend, you earn a bonus of $100!
Although rewards may help, the only way to really reduce your grocery bill is by becoming a smarter shopper! Focus your meals around rice and Potatoes, you’ll surprise yourself with what you can come up with! Use nutritional guides to help make healthy and affordable food choices, scope around for sales, and make sure you’re getting the nutrition you deserve!