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Eight Dollar Cauliflower and your Budget

You’ve likely seen increased prices at the grocery store recently and you’ve no doubt heard the news of the $8 cauliflower. While cauliflower prices have returned to more normal levels in many parts of the country, the underlying problem remains: many different foods are now more expensive. So how do you shop without blowing your budget?

According to a recent study, Canadians paid 4.1 percent more for fruits and vegetables purchased at stores in December 2015 than they did in December 2014. This is primarily due to weather issues in many food-producing regions as well as the sinking Canadian dollar. Approximately 81 percent of all fruit and vegetables purchased in Canada are imported, so the current value of the Canadian dollar has a big affect on prices.

Tips for Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Remember that you don’t have to turn to processed or unhealthy foods in order to save money. It is still possible to eat a healthy diet while sticking to a budget. Here are a few tips.

Look for Alternatives

Shop based on price. For example, if cauliflower is expensive, buy broccoli or Brussels sprouts instead. If strawberries cost a great deal, try other fruits. You can replace nuts with seeds to save money. Choosing alternatives can reduce your grocery bill and help you stay on budget.

When it comes to meat, buy cheaper cuts and use them in soups and stews instead of buying more expensive cuts. By experimenting and choosing foods that are currently in season or on sale, you can save quite a lot.

Cut Back on Meat

Meat can be expensive. In order to reduce your grocery budget, try eating half as much meat. This can be accomplished by having vegetarian meals on certain days of the week (such as the popular “Meatless Mondays”) but it can also mean reducing portion sizes. You can fill the rest of your plate with other proteins (such as lentils or beans) as well as vegetables and whole grains. This helps cut costs.

Look for Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

In the vast majority of cases, frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh ones, and significantly cheaper. Plus, they last longer, so you can buy in bulk when there’s a sale and keep them in the freezer for later. Just be sure to avoid those that have added salt or sugar in order to have a healthier meal.

Have a Plan

One of the most important ways to control your grocery budget is by having a plan. If you shop without a plan, you are more likely to buy food that you won’t use. This is costly and wasteful. Before you go grocery shopping, make a list of what you are planning on buying. It’s a good idea to think of the foods that you’re going to cook for the next week and plan your list based on this menu. This will also prevent you from eating out when you don’t have suitable ingredients at home. Eating out at restaurants can be quite expensive and hurt your budget.

Shopping with a list also prevents you from purchasing “impulse buy” items. These are usually expensive and unnecessary, so buying them can increase your budget a great deal.

It’s also a good idea to write down everything that you buy and the cost, in order to keep track of what you have and how much you spend. Not keeping track can result in buying things that you already have at home and overspending.

As you can see, there are a number of things that you can do to keep grocery shopping affordable. Following these tips will allow you to purchase healthy food for your family without going over your budget. Since many food items are currently rising in costs, you’ll likely want to control spending and keep your grocery budget affordable.