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Grocery shopping hacks: Saving money and reducing food waste

posted on March 21, 2024 in money saving tips

This planet has a huge food waste problem. But together, we can tackle it if we make smart choices and change our bad habits for the better. When it comes to changing habits to reduce food waste, there's a lot you can do -- especially when it comes to grocery shopping. Use these clever grocery shopping hacks to reduce food waste and save some money in the process. 

Start meal planning and prepping

Ok, this hack is not specific to grocery shopping, but it's definitely related and key when it comes to savvy grocery shopping. There are many benefits to meal planning and meal prepping. Both enable you to reduce food waste and save money because you will know exactly what you're going to be cooking all week, so you can buy exactly what you'll need at the store to cook your planned meals and avoid overspending on grocery items that may just go to waste in your fridge or pantry. Meal prepping also saves you time, which is priceless, and meal prepping can help you adhere to a special diet or healthy eating habits more easily.

Write a grocery list

Whether you meal prep, meal plan or just eat what you want when you want to, using a grocery list is key. It helps you buy strategically which saves you time and money at the grocery store. A grocery list can even help you make healthier food choices. If you don't buy what you should avoid, you won't eat it! You can create a grocery list the old-school way with pen and paper, or do it virtually. These apps help you create grocery lists easily.

Buy in bulk

There are many benefits to buying food in bulk. When it comes to reducing food waste and saving money, you can buy the exact amount of a food item that you need (by weight) when you buy in bulk, so nothing will go to waste before you can make use of it. You can also cut down on food packaging waste when you buy items in bulk by bringing your own reusable containers. The food sold is generally loose in bins or buckets and you can scoop it or pour it into containers or bags to purchase your share. When it comes to what foods to buy in bulk, we recommend shelf-stable dry staple items like grains, beans, flours, sugar, snacks like crackers, pastas, and nuts and seeds. You can also buy bulk candy and even pet food and treats. When it comes to wet items to buy in bulk, nut butters and oils are good options.

Buy “enjoy tonight” foods

The next time you visit the grocery store, ask a clerk if they can direct you to discounted “enjoy tonight” foods. Depending on the store, these may be scattered in various aisles or grouped in one section all together. These foods are often still within their best before date range but are soon to expire and heavily discounted. Depending on the nature of the item, it may be a great and affordable option for you -- like a box of salad greens you can eat for dinner that night or a jar of pasta sauce you can cook in the next day or two. Try not to purchase large quantities of something soon to expire that you won't use up quickly. Check for signs of spoilage or damage before buying the item like visible mould, a dent in a can or wetness in the case of salad greens.

Buy imperfect fruits and vegetables 

For many years, grocery stores threw away imperfect produce. By imperfect we mean bruised, oddly shaped or ugly fruits and vegetables. This practice was widespread and a huge contributor to food waste. Thankfully we've evolved and now more grocery stores are selling imperfect fruits and vegetables to consumers at great prices, both fresh and frozen. Look for imperfect options from brands like No Name in the produce aisle and freezer section of Zehrs, Valu-mart, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore and Loblaws.

We hope these hacks help you save money and reduce food waste at the grocery store. Do you have any grocery shopping hacks you swear by? Let us know in the comments.