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How to feed your family on a tight budget

posted on January 26, 2023

Money is tight for many Canadians this winter thanks to the current recession and inflation. The cost of groceries has also skyrocketed across the country, making it a real challenge to put food on the table for many families. If you need some help right now, here are our best tips for stretching your dollars to feed your family this winter.

Meal prep your food

Meal prepping is a great habit to adopt when your budget is tight because it helps you buy exactly what you need without overbuying and letting good food (and your money) go to waste. It's also great for saving time as you will be pumping out several days worth of meals in one cooking session. You'll need to set aside some dedicated time each week to shop and cook large batches of food, then portion them out for the days ahead of you. Many people do their cooking on Sunday afternoon or night so the coming weeknights are taken care of. Here are some great meal prepping recipes for families to get you started.

Try an app

If you're up for a bit of bargain hunting, try an app like Flashfood. It connects Canadian consumers with high-quality groceries at amazing discounts. It shows you nearby grocery stores with foods marked down up to 50% off. The food is generally nearing its best before date. It's also great for the planet because it helps fight food waste which is a huge problem.

Make food from scratch

If you rely heavily on ready-to-eat meals, restaurant meals, takeout and processed foods, consider making the switch to home cooked meals. Cooking from scratch can save you a lot of money on food. 

Lean into vegan cooking

Vegan cooking is far less expensive than cooking meaty meals. So instead of building your plate around red meat, chicken, fish or dairy, try to build nutritionally balanced plant based meals instead. Focus on affordable nutrient rich vegan foods like dried beans and pulses, rice and other whole grains, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, vibrant veggies and fruits. Plant based food is healthy for you and the planet.

Shop at more affordable stores

Where you shop for food impacts your bill. If you're trying to save, shop in grocery stores like No Frills, Walmart, Superstore, Costco and Valu-mart. They can be considerably less expensive than stores like Whole Foods, small shops and health food stores, Loblaws, Zehrs and Sobeys. If you live in a major city, be sure to check out Asian food markets, farmers markets and fruit and vegetable stands as they tend to have great value as well. Wherever you shop, check if the store has a sale rack of items due to expire soon. You can find some pretty amazing deals!

Buy in bulk

You pretty much always save when you buy food items in larger volumes. Instead of hitting the grocery store, visit your local health food store or bulk store to stock up on staples you can include in many meals and snacks. Try to buy things like flour, sugar, nut butters, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, spices and seasonings in bulk to save big. The same principle applies for canned and packaged foods. Reach out to customer service in any store you shop in to see if you can save by buying items with a long shelf life by the case. Things like canned vegetables, beans and soups are great options to stock up on. Some stores will sell you fresh food by the case for a discount too.

Shop online

One of the great advantages of the internet is online shopping. Shopping for shelf-stable food items online can potentially save you money. You can also easily compare prices online by googling the products you're interested in or shopping in an online marketplace like Amazon or eBay. Amazon offers free shipping on many items but many other online stores and markets do not, so be sure to make sure you take note of the shipping cost before you buy. If you're buying shelf-stable food online in bulk, place a large order on or around a holiday as you're more likely to benefit from a special promotion or discount.

We hope these money-saving tips help you stretch your dollars to feed your family well this winter and beyond. 

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