Food is an integral part of adult life – and that’s both a bane and a benefit.
On the one hand, you get to enjoy the dishes that makes your taste buds sing. You can have smoothies every day for a month. You can even eat dessert before dinner – and no, it won’t spoil your appetite.
But on the other hand, you have to actually pay for food. And that’s going to get a lot more expensive in 2017, since Canada’s Food Price report announced that food prices are going up by between 3% and 5%.
To help, we’ve put together a couple of hacks that will help you eat well without eating into your wallet.
A coffee here, a takeout lunch there. It doesn’t seem like a lot at the time, but over the month those little meals out add up. So if you want to keep your food bill down, but you still want to eat well, then you’ll have to spend some time in the kitchen. And that means you’ll need to keep your groceries under control.
The most important part of saving money when it comes to food is knowing what you need to buy. And the only way to do that is to plan your meals ahead of time. Love Food, Hate Waste, a campaign by Metro Vancouver to reduce food waste, has actually put together a menu set to help you plan your meals. The set gives you five different recipes each week for 12 weeks, as well as a shopping list for each week – so you know exactly what you have to buy.
The best way to keep your grocery bill down and avoid repeats? Know what’s in your fridge – and don’t let it go to waste. Keeping certain types of food in specific spots in your fridge not only lets you keep track of what you actually have, but also helps your food last longer. The middle shelf is the coldest part of the fridge, so that’s where you should keep eggs and dairy products. The high humidity drawer is where you should keep vegetables that wilt, while the low humidity drawer is best for fruits and vegetables like peppers.
When food goes bad, you know it’s bad. But what about those iffy in-between dates, the time between the best before date on the packaging and the day the mold begins to grow? Best before dates typically indicate food quality, while expiry dates indicate food safety. If you store foods properly, many fresh foods like eggs, milk, and yogurt, can be safely eaten soon after their best before dates. However, it’s best to use your judgment, so if you think food may have spoiled, don’t eat it.
According to nutritionist Leslie Beck, this is how long your refrigerated food should last:
Generally, you can eat fresh foods a short time after the best before date has passed, and packaged foods can last for much longer. You can find out more about “best before”, “expiry”, and “package on” dates through Love Food, Hate Waste.
It’s cheaper to buy in bulk. But if you’re living by yourself, it’s not always possible to eat in bulk. To prevent food from going to waste, you can freeze it to keep it fresh for longer. You can freeze most foods – everything from bananas and eggs to yogurt and meat – although some foods freeze better than others. Different types of food may require specific treatments to get the best results from freezing, but it shouldn’t be too hard once you get the hang of it.
Love Food, Hate Waste is trying to combat a problem that affects our planet and wallets: food waste.
Every year, households spend about $700 on food that’s just thrown away. That means every day, Metro Vancouver residents throw out the equivalent of 16,000 heads of lettuce, 40,000 tomatoes, or 70,000 cups of milk. Avoidable food waste accounts for over half of all the food waste we produce, and that has a major effect on the environment and our economy.
So by following a few simple steps to save money on your grocery bill, you can also take a few steps towards helping out the planet. If you want more tips and tricks on how to reduce food waste and save money, visit Love Food, Hate Waste, or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.