How to stretch your grocery budget in the wake of food inflation

As the prices of food soar due to inflation around the globe, I’ve been looking for ways to cut my monthly grocery bill down. Eating healthy shouldn’t cost so much. What I’ve started doing to lower my costs, is to find foods that will last a long time, can be easily frozen, and are loaded with protein. Protein is a great way to fill up so you don’t feel as hungry throughout the day.

Take inventory and meal plan ahead of time

The first thing I do before ordering in groceries, is take good inventory. This helps to prevent over spending. I’ll also rotate stock just like they do in grocery stores.

The other thing I’ve started doing is adding items to my online order as I run out or notice that I’m getting low on stock. I’ve also started thinking about meal prep and research new recipes that I want to try. I’ll wait until ingredients go on sale and stock up on those items then.

I turn to YouTube or TikTok for inspiration. There are a lot of great cooking channels out there geared for healthy eating.

Checklist, Goals, Box, Notebook, Pen
Photos from Pixabay Library

Buy bulk and price compare

Buying bulk on a regular basis doesn’t make sense for a single person like me. What I’ve started doing is comparing prices using Instacart and wait for sales. When sales hit, I’ll stock up on goods like canned beans, spices or seasonings and dried foods.

For paper goods and cleaning supplies, I’ll either place an order using Walmart or Amazon. I find that prices on Amazon can sometimes be cheaper for things like face cream or hair products. I’ve also started ordering my vitamins from Amazon as I often find our stores are low in stock or the prices are insane.

I’ll stock up on toilet paper and have enough for 2-3 months. That’s usually 2 packages. For feminine hygiene products, shampoo, conditioner, etc – I try to have at least an extra bottle on hand of each so I’m not rushing to the store in a mad panic. Same with soap and hand sanitizer.

Foods that I regularly stock up on:

  • Canned beans and lentils
  • Frozen veggies (corn, peas, beans)
  • Pasta, rice, noodles (carbs)
  • Eggs, tuna for protein
  • Spring onions (cheap), celery and carrots

Supermarket, Stalls, Coolers, Market

Create online shopping lists

What I like about shopping online is being able to see what items are on sale and how much I’m spending. I’ll compare between Superstore, Walmart and Save On Foods. When money is tight – I’ll use Walmart for cheap canned goods and dried foods. I find No Name and Great Value products to be pretty decent.

When I want quality food, I’ll use Superstore or Save Ons Food. There is a No Frills across the street but their prices are about the same compared to Superstore. I also find their quality of produce isn’t great. They don’t have a deli or bakery. I used to use Loblaws downtown but their prices have skyrocketed.

There are apps out there where you can create online shopping lists and get a good idea of how much your haul will cost you. For me, as I don’t drive, delivery is just the best for winter months.

I also give myself a weekly budget. I tried shopping every two weeks but I run out of produce so fast, that I’m going back to weekly orders at least 3 times a month.

Shopping, Food, Purchasing, Load

Food storage

When it comes to storing food, I am slowly switching from plastic containers to glass containers. I save old pickle and jam jars for things like leftover soups and stews. I’ve started storing things like celery and carrots

I use mason jars for grains – pot barley, quinoa and pasta noodles. I picked up some large jars for only $12 from Superstore. I’m looking for good options for freezing as well. If you have a preferred brand, let me know!

Storing food will obviously depend greatly on your climate. Where I live, the weather is extreme and temperatures range from -40 in the winter to plus 40c in the summer.

Jam, Fruit, Jars, Fruit Jams

One thing I love about my kitchen is that I have tons of storage for dried food and cans. My cabinets are fully stocked of supplies to get me through the next few months. I tend to stock up on baking essentials and things like cooking oils, spices and seasonings around Christmas time. This supply should last me at least 3-6 months.

I don’t have a lot of counter space – but the kitchen works for me. I have a small Ikea pantry off to the side that I use for my dried foods. This was taken when I moved in – trust me when I say my kitchen is not this clean – I need to work on decluttering this week.


Kitchen organization and reuse

To keep things organized, I love these Starfrit baskets from Walmart. I need to order a few more. I keep my tea and coffee supplies on my counter as I use them daily. I also have cannisters for baking supplies that I use often like flour, sugar, quick oats, etc.

I recently discovered that you can reuse some spice bottles. I’ve started buying Good Value spices and seasonings and am just -refilling the bottles I already have. This produces less waste for the environment which is always a good thing!

I do recycle on a weekly basis. We have a big blue bin here. I try to reuse canned jars and bottles a few times before discarding.

I overdid it with canned goods this month. My cabinets are packed. So, I’m still working on organization and budgeting issues for myself. But when cans are only $1 each, it’s a good deal that is hard to pass up!

This was taken in October – it’s expanded since then

Batch prepping and cooking

I love my crockpot as you can probably tell. I’ve used it so much this month for soups and stews. I’m looking for newer recipes to try and will share those with you. What I love about my crockpot, it’s a 7 quart pot and can make a lot of food.

What I will do is prepare at least 1-2 soups or stews each week. One batch will make enough for 4-5 meals. After about the second day of leftovers, I can get pretty tired of eating the same foods. This is where freezing and labelling containers really comes in handy.

I’m still toying with the idea of buying a compact freezer for my kitchen. They’re really expensive. My freezer is on the bottom of the fridge and I find it hard to bend over for long with my back. I tend to forget about what’s in the freezer. I’ll go through it about once a week and check expiry dates.

You can head over to my cooking page for my list of favorite resources for cooking tips and recipes.

Learning to cook and use a crockpot has been the key to survival in this current climate. When money is tight, you can pull out a few cans of beans and broth and turn it into something really delicious.


Summary

I think I’ve covered the basics when it comes to stretching the food budget as far as it will go. I do order in pizza once in a blue moon but try not to do that too much. Even the price of ordering in has gone up. I used to be able to spend $25 and get enough food that would last a couple of days. Now, that barely covers a burger meal and fries plus delivery and tip.

This is where learning to cook and eat healthy at home comes into play. It can save so much money. I’m also saving money by not buying my lunch daily like when I was working. Cooking throughout the day and making my own meals is cheaper in the long run.

I’ll write more posts like this as I come up with creative ideas. I am going to try and grow more herbs this summer to cut down on costs that way. I’ve also got a leaf of kale trying to grow in a jar right now but I have little faith in that. I don’t think I’m in the right climate.

Herbs can grow easily like chives, and spring onions. Mint is also easily grown indoors and outdoors. I’m also going to shop around for ways to decorate my balcony this spring so that I can make use of it again when the weather warms up.

Anyway, that’s enough for now.

How has inflation impacted your shopping habits? Let me know in the comments!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Hilary Tan says:

    This is a very informative blog post. I’ve noticed that inflation is crazy here too, and I’m less inclined to go shopping these days. My fridge is more bare than usual and I don’t go out much. Right now I’m sick, but it’s not covid 😷

    Did you know that you can grow bean sprouts in a jar? They’re packed with nutrition and they grow very well near a sunny window. There’s YouTube tutorials online and it’s easy to grow them – and much cheaper than buying bean sprouts at the store! All you need is a bag of dried mung beans, some paper towel, a sieve, and a jar. 🙂 They grow quickly too so that’s a bonus!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel you on that! The weather makes it hard to want to go outside too. I haven’t even left my unit since last Sunday lol. I think I had a cold too there’s lots of stuff going around.

    My major point here is trying to reuse and reduce waste. I feel guilty if I don’t eat all the food in my fridge. Seems like a waste. And that’s good to know about beans! I learned you can grow celery easily and am giving that a go.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hilary Tan says:

    I feel guilty too about wasting food. I try to buy only what I need and often, I will find recipes using the food that I have by “shopping the kitchen cupboards.” It forces me to get creative 😛

    It’s cool being able to grow your own food. I love that bean sprouts are inexpensive and tasty. They’re really good in salads and pasta dishes. I have yet to try growing celery – I’m a big fan of celery and fresh veggies. They’re expensive at the grocery stores and it would be nice to grow my own.

    Like

  4. There are lots of videos on it on youtube. If you cut off the bottom roots, let it sit in water until leaves start to sprout. Then plant it in a big pot. I’m trying this now – will let you know how it turns out!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hilary Tan says:

    Thanks for the tips, Wendy! I’m very curious to see how your celery plant turns out 🙂

    Like

  6. Bloglifenstuff says:

    Absolutely bulk!

    Like

  7. I can see that for families, or paper goods etc. I’m so glad we have food delivery now.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bloglifenstuff says:

    I’m old school.. I’d rather go get everything. So many times I’ve had my order wrong 🤦‍♂️

    Like

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