Sarah is a mom of 5 beautiful children and enjoys life and family. Living within her means has always been important to her.
What Are Canadians Spending on Groceries?
According to Statistics Canada, as of 2016, the average family of 4 is spending $8,784 a year on food. I’m sure as of 2018 that number has risen closer to $9,000 a year. Also according to Statistics Canada, the average take-home income (after taxes) for 2016 was $57,000. Therefore, we can conclude that Canadians are spending an average of 15.4% of their annual take-home income on feeding their families.
According to Global News and their data analysis posted in November 2017, the average household spends $220 per week on food.
Personally, for my family of 6 living at home, I know that if I do not follow my personal grocery savings and budget, I can easily spend $300 a week. With an average take-home of $1,200 a week as a family, that can quickly add up to 25% of our household income, and that doesn’t include eating out, or—as Canadians are famous for—Tim Hortons.
What Does Your Grocery List Include?
When I think groceries, I'm thinking about every item I purchase that is eaten or used in my household. Here is a list of items I shop for every month:
- Vegetables (Fresh and Frozen)
- Fruits (Fresh and Frozen)
- Bread and Pasta
- Canned Goods
- Cleaning Products
- Animal Care Products
- Laundry Products
- Baby/Childcare Products
- Self-Care Products
Does your grocery list include the same items? It takes a lot of items to run a home and family! Let's look at ways that we can reduce your grocery bill and save your family money.
9 Ways to Save on Your Grocery Bill
Spending 25% of my income or more on groceries each week is not an affordable option for my family. This is what our family does to save hundreds of dollars each month!
1. Menu Plan
I plan our entire week's menu before I shop, including breakfast, lunch, and dinners. I also plan snacks, desserts, and any special occasions. I plan my menu around sale items and seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. I build my grocery list from there, and if an item is too costly at the time, I switch to another option. Menu Planning reduces waste, reduces stress, and can save you tons of money!
2. Budget a Small Amount to Stockpile
Every season brings different specials and prices in stores. When items hit there lowest prices, it's a great time to stock up. For example, my son loves taking alphagetti for lunch. Regular price for alphagetti runs around $1.29/can. In September during back to school promotions, it goes on sale for $0.88/can. It's the lowest price all year.
If my son eats 4 cans a month at regular price over a year that costs $61.29. If I stockpile those 48 cans it reduces my cost to $42.24/year. That's a savings of $19.05 a year on only 1 of many items I purchase in a year. If you can budget $10-20/week for stockpiling, after 6-8 weeks you will start to notice huge savings.
3. Look for Coupons and Sales
Coupons are cash! Combine coupons with sale prices and sometimes you hit the jackpot. Coupons can be collected in so many places. Paper inserts, grocery shelves, product packaging, online coupon sites, newspapers and magazines. If you start watching for them you will be surprised at how many resources there are for them.
ONLY clip coupons for products you actually use. Get yourself a baseball card holder binder and keep them organized. You will start to get used to sale patterns and when you use coupons and sales together, sometimes you can even get items free, like toothpaste, toothbrushes, and many more items as well.
4. Price Match
Can you say hello to great savings! Price matching saves me a minimum of $25-$75/week. Many stores price match, such as Walmart, Super Store and No Frills. Stores like Canadian Tire and Home Depot, they not only price match but also give you an additional percentage off as part of their lowest price guarantee.
My greatest savings comes from price matching meat. I often save more than 50% on meat purchases. I stock up each week with a family package of whatever meat is on sale that week. My Goal is to always have my freezer full with all different meats so that I can menu plan with ease and not have to worry about what's on sale. My favourite price matching app is called Flipp. It makes matching so easy and convenient.
5. Practice Meatless Mondays
It doesn't have to be a Monday. Choose any day you like. We try to prepare at least 1 meatless meal a week. For our family of 6, this reduces my grocery bill by at least $40/ a month. We enjoy pancake dinners, crepes, soups, grilled cheese sandwiches with raw veggies. Not every single meal has to be gourmet!
6. Check What's in Your Cupboards
Every 8-12 weeks I try to go through my pantry, fridge and freezer and I make a list of things that need to be used up. I then try to plan my menu around using up these items. That extra can of beans? Bag of rice sitting in the back corner... odd pieces of frozen meat, perhaps 1 chicken breast is frozen alone. Using up odds and ends reduces waste and saves you money!
7. Prepare Freezer Meals
Last minute grocery trips can be costly. They are unplanned and usually happen when we are unprepared. I combat this problem by stocking up on homemade freezer meals. Usually, in the fall a friend and I get together and we prepare family freezer meals. We make chilli, lasagnas, cabbage rolls, and stews.
Let's face it, we all have those days that we don't feel like cooking or didn't make it to the grocery store yet. Having go-to meals for your family to just grab and heat in the oven, prevent costly last minute shops or spending a fortune eating out.
8. Join Loyalty Programs
Often stores have loyalty cards or programs you can take part in free! My favourite is our PC Optimum program. Every week I receive offers based on my previous shops. These offers allow me to collect points on items I purchase and redeem them for free groceries. Every year I earn enough points for approximately a free weeks worth of groceries!
One great way to use the Pc Optimum program is with meat when it is on sale and I have a rewards offer. I can even price match the meat on sale from somewhere else at the Superstore. I usually get offers for 200 points for every dollar spent. I quite often earn $20 or more a month on my rewards card alone just from meat purchases!
9. Freeze Fresh Produce
Plain and simple, buy produce when it's in season and cheaper, and freeze it. Many vegetables and fruits can be frozen from fresh and used throughout the year. Some may need to be blanched first, but it's worth the effort and again can save you money and allow you to enjoy some of your favourite vegetable offseason.
A prime example of this is asparagus. When in season it sells for as low as $1.88/lb, when not in season it sells for as high as $6.99/lb. That's almost 3 times the price. My family loves asparagus. Buying it in bulk when it's in season, blanching and freezing it, is huge savings for us!
Start Saving Today!
Think outside the box. Take the extra time to prepare and you will be amazed at what you can achieve and save! I hope you enjoyed these tips. I would love to hear your money saving tips below!
Think About it!
Victoria Cook from Ontario on September 16, 2018:
Wonderful article, very informative!!