Reduce your grocery bill without depriving yourself: mission possible

Reducing your grocery bill without depriving yourself: mission possible

UPDATE DAY

All Quebecers are hit hard by inflation. The pressure on the wallets of Quebecers is very real and no one can escape it. In order to help our readers deal with the repercussions of rising food prices, among other things, our new collaborator Myriam Gendron, creator of the site Just food, will offer weekly a menu at a low price from the best grocery discounts of the week.

Last July, inflation for the past 12 months reached 7.6% according to Statistics Canada. That's huge, but what's amazing is that it was actually the first drop in over a year… Food prices were up 9.9 %. This increase is felt in the budget of Quebecers and it is difficult for many of us to reduce this expense item. It is still possible to reduce your bill by adopting simple habits such as going through flyers or making a list before going to the market.

Reducing your grocery bill without depriving yourself: mission possible

Myriam Gendron

Almost two years ago, I launched the Simply Food website with the goal of helping people eat well at a lower cost. Little did I know that the need would be so urgent today. Since then, I have made it my duty to popularize, whether we are talking about grocery shopping, food waste or even organization or the menu in general. All this so that everyone has the tools to make informed choices on a daily basis and to lighten the mental and financial burden that accompanies it. There is nothing magic, but I can assure you that with a good methodology, we put the odds on our side. So… where do we start?

The start of the school year is, in my opinion, the best time of the year to start on a good basis. After a short break from the frantic routine during the summer, we often have a little more motivation and a boost of energy; the excitement is tangible. Now is the time to take advantage of this to get organized in an efficient and sustainable way. And that's good, I have lots of tips for you! 

10 habits to adopt at the grocery store to save money 

  1. Make a grocery list and stick to it.
  2. Don't go when you're too hungry.
  3. Choose house brands.
  4. Check the regular price on the labels (despite this we are led to believe, these are not always “real” discounts).
  5. Compare prices by weight or by quantity (per 100 ml or per 100 g).
  6. Choose family sizes or economy packs.
  7. Buy fewer processed or ultra-processed products (the more production steps there are, the more expensive it is… and the last ones are usually taxable!).
  8. Look carefully at the conditions of a discount (when buying how much? Do you need a coupon or a loyalty card?).
  9. < strong>Check your bill quickly before leaving the grocery store to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  10. Limit yourselfto one visit per week. 

Grocery budget

 

The famous budget… This is obviously not the most fun part of adult life, but it is nevertheless essential. Considering that food expenses come in third place for Canadian households, the grocery budget is not to be neglected. Respecting it is not rocket science… provided it is realistic! That's the key. Because to know where to cut, you have to do an honest self-examination.  

How to make a realistic budget? 

  1. List list of your regular purchases and their current price (or the maximum price you are willing to pay). To do this, you can use the sites of the various grocery stores you visit and consult your old invoices. Then add the amounts. This is when you will be able to draw the true portrait of your needs… but also of your unnecessary expenses.
  2. Separate everything into categories more general and allocate a budget for each of them. 
  3. Reserve a small amount for unforeseen purchases or according to your desires of the moment. Pleasure and satisfaction promote budget maintenance.
  4. Don't be afraid to adjust the amounts(up or down) over the weeks if necessary. That's how we find our winning recipe.  

Reducing your grocery bill without depriving yourself: mission possible

Reducing your grocery bill without depriving yourself: mission possible

Inventory

< p>A faulty organization and storage system ends up being expensive, either because we waste, or because we end up buying back products and food that we already had and that we ultimately do not need. Managing your inventory is therefore fundamental when it comes to saving, whether we are talking about the refrigerator, the freezer or the pantry. Not to mention that it also avoids bad surprises when it comes time to make a recipe and we finally miss an ingredient!

Unfortunately, we have no power over the increase in the grocery basket , but at the cost of food, might as well not feed the trash! Reducing our waste goes precisely through the management of our inventory. Thus, we maximize each penny invested. First you have to do a good cleaning, but in order not to lose control, here are some tips. 

Did you know that

According to RECYC-QUÉBEC, in Canada, the average household would waste 140 kg of food each year, which would be equivalent to approximately… $1300! 

By where to start? 

  1. Have a good overview. Organize products by categories and avoid stacking them too much . 
  2. Make a list of what you already have. Use a format that you find practical (paper, digital, on a board…) in order to keep it handy.
  3. Update the list regularly, whether for products to check out or to redeem. Make it part of your routine (like making your grocery list every week). : first in, first out (based on expiry date).
  4. If you transfer the products to other containers, identify them clearly .For the freezer, also enter the freezing date to help you find it. 
  5. Put in a prominent section what must be consumed first (this applies to the contents of the fridge as well as the pantry). 

The famous list

 

< strong>I conducted a survey of my subscribers to find out the average cost of their grocery basket and what was found there most often in order to present you with a representative example. For the amount (regardless of the number of people), the majority spent between $100 and $200 each week on groceries, for food only. 

As regular prices differ from one place to another, I went from an average price. Same for the discount prices, while I excluded the lowest, which is less common and accessible. As for the quantities, they are for information only. 

Of course, all these foods are rarely on sale at the same time, but the reverse is also true: our basket is rarely made up solely of items at regular prices. The idea is to show you, concretely, how we can get a lot more for our money by targeting products on sale.

The importance of the menu

It is often underestimated, but the menu of the week is the cornerstone of maintaining the budget. Our choices influence the total bill before we even set foot in the grocery store. It is possible to eat varied and according to our desires without breaking the bank… you just have to be strategic and plan well! 

I recommend always having featured foods, whether we're talking about protein or fruits and vegetables. These foods are the basis of a coherent menu, while they can be declined from one recipe to another. Thus, we use them to the maximum, and above all we waste less. Because forgetting half a bell pepper here and two carrots there also ends up being expensive.

And how do we choose the featured foods each week? It depends on both the discounts of the week and what you have left to spend at home! It is important not to get carried away by the big prices in red in the flyer if the fridge is still full and to consume according to our needs. With this overview, it is easier to determine which foods to use as a basis for the menu.

But above all, keep in mind that eating a variety of foods can also be done over the weeks. No need to buy 20 varieties of fruit during the same visit to the grocery store to take advantage of their benefits and vitamins! 

How to choose the recipes on the Menu?

Of course, even when the featured foods of the week are chosen, it is not always easy to build your menu. That's why we created a precise fridge-emptying tool where you can put all your ingredients and criteria to find recipes that match them! 

In this regard, the perfect recipe for our ingredients do not always exist. Here's the best tip I can give you: think of recipes as basic templates. Never hesitate to adapt them and replace an ingredient with another that you have. It also saves you having to go out to the grocery store!  

Do economic cuts still exist?

Certain cuts of meat, such as pork tenderloin, have long been considered affordable. Ground beef now hovers around $6 a pound at list prices. It quickly increases the price of a portion of spaghetti sauce! In my opinion, just about any recipe can be economical… if you plan well and cook them when the necessary foods are on sale!  

Lengthen the food dollar

As the cost of meat has risen as fast as the cost of living, I have a little tip for you that doesn't require you to completely rethink your diet: stretch your food dollar.

Concretely, what does that mean? That without ceasing to buy animal proteins, you can also supplement them with more economical vegetable proteins. By accompanying a portion of salmon with chickpeas or by adding textured vegetable protein (TVP) to ground meat for tacos, for example, you have as much or more… for less! 

Groceries

Okay, the featured foods according to the discounts of the week… but what do you do when these are ordinary or not is not in our tastes?

The key here is in storage. And I'm not necessarily talking about having a grocery store in your basement! We can store without falling into excess (which is a double-edged sword, while it can cost even more if we have too much for our consumption and waste). The idea is to have products that you use on a regular basis available at all times. 

Again, you have to be strategic! Discounts are cyclical. They come and go, but usually rotate between grocery stores and, depending on the product, are bargain-priced from time to time. In other words: no need to buy ground beef for the year, only to be able to consume it at a good price (according to your habits, of course) until the next promotion. The more one has access to a wide range of shops, and therefore varied discounts each week, the less the need to stock. 

We can keep a part of the budget each week to buy a little more than we need for the week. It often ends up balancing out if some of the purchases go to the freezer, but we also dip into the reserve. At home, it's part of my “filling” budget, more general purchases. It's not extra.

However, I would like to point out that storing is a luxury that not everyone has: you need to have a little leeway in your budget, but above all space (pantry, fridge and freezer). 

How to target what or when to store?

< p>You can find a sample of the best deals each week in your Journal. Otherwise, every Wednesday on my site, I prepare a list of grocery discounts where I highlight those that are worth the most!

Keep in mind that usually the best prices are on the first page flyers. 

Plan better to save time and money 

Making a menu not only saves time, it also allows you to better manage the cost of groceries. The best way to plan your menu well is to go methodically, using flyers and weekly specials.

Every week, I go around the flyers of the various grocery stores to try to offer you a varied and accessible menu. As much as possible, I will try to include seasonal and local foods. And in any case, I will give you tips to limit your waste or save time. All this, I hope, with a view to saving you time and money, and to make your life as easy as possible!

Bon appétit! 

DISCOUNT THIS WEEK

 

Monday 

< p>PORC TENDERLOIN AND GRILLED CORN SALSA
Zest 

  • Servings: 4
  • Total time: 2 h 27
  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Cooking: 12 min
  • Marinade: 2 hrs

INGREDIENTS

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)

1⁄4 cup BBQ sauce

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme

1 tbsp. fresh sage, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Enough salt and pepper

Salsa

3 Italian tomatoes, cored and cut into small cubes

2 corn cobs grilled on the BBQ and deseeded

1 Lebanese cucumber, cut into small cubes

1 tbsp. lemon zest

3 tbsp. lemon juice

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro

PREPARATION

  • Trim the pork tenderloin, removing the white membrane with with a thin-bladed knife.
  • In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce.
  • Place the fillets in a bag in airtight plastic and add half of the sauce.
  • Leave to marinate in the fridge (1 to 2 hours).
  • Preheat the barbecue to high heat.
  • When cooking, drain the fillets and cook them on the barbecue (10 to 12 minutes).
  • Brush the meat with the marinade two to three times during cooking.
  • While cooking, combine all the salsa ingredients in a bowl and serve as a side dish with the pork tenderloin. 

GOOD TO KNOW!

Don't forget to let the pork marinate for at least an hour. If you want some for your lunches, cook 2 fillets! 

Tuesday 

CHILI CON CARNE< br>Zest 

  • Servings: 8
  • Total time: 4h15 
  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Cooking: 4 hrs

INGREDIENTS

1 onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 lbs ground beef

4 c. chili powder

A drizzle of olive oil

1 can of whole tomatoes

1 can of tomato soup< /p>

1 can corn

1 cup chicken broth

1 can 540 ml kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Cilantro to taste

2 tbsp. honey

Salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION

  • In a large skillet, sauté the onion and peppers in a drizzle of olive oil until softened. Add the garlic, continue cooking for 2 minutes, then season well. Set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, brown the meat.
  • Add the chili powder, salt and pepper, then mix well.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and return the reserved onion and peppers.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Adjust the seasoning if necessary then serve with fresh coriander. 

GOOD TO KNOW!

This recipe can also be made in a slow cooker (after step 4). Cook on Low for 8 hours or 4 hours on High. 

Wednesday 

PEPPERS STUFFED WITH TVP AND LENTILS
Zest 

  • Servings: 4
  • Total time: 50 min
  • Preparation: 20 min
  • Cooking: 30 min 

INGREDIENTS

1 onion, finely diced

2 cups vegetables of your choice, finely diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 can 284 ml sodium-reduced tomato soup

1 cup no-salt-added vegetable broth

1 can (540 ml) lentils

1 cup non-hydrated textured vegetable protein (TVP)

2 tbsp. herbs de Provence

1 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce

1⁄4 cup grated parmesan cheese

4 bell peppers, halved and seeded

1 1⁄2 cups cheese light, shredded

PREPARATION

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  • Heat a skillet over medium-low heat with vegetable oil. Add onions and diced vegetables. Make one work hard. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
  • Add the tomato soup, vegetable broth, lentils, TVP, Provencal herbs, soy sauce and Parmesan cheese. Simmer for 7 to 8 minutes, until the TVP is completely rehydrated.
  • Garnish the half peppers with the lentil preparation. Add the grated cheese and bake for 30 minutes. 

GOOD TO KNOW!

Take the opportunity to spend your tired vegetables. 

Thursday 

WRAPS LETTUCE WITH SALMON
Zest 

  • Servings: 4
  • Total time: 25 mins
  • Preparation: 15 mins
  • Cooking: 10 mins

< strong>INGREDIENTS

1 head Boston lettuce

1 cucumber

1⁄2 cup dried cranberries

1⁄2 cup Wafu mayonnaise

3⁄4 cup cashews

2 green onions

2 tbsp. sesame seeds

2 tomatoes

1⁄4 cup maple syrup

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 portions of rice vermicelli

2 salmon fillets

PREPARATION

  • Cut the cucumbers into julienne. Chop the cashews, cranberries and green onions. Cut the tomatoes into quarters. Separate the Boston lettuce leaves.
  • Place the vermicelli in a large bowl and cover with about 3 cups of boiling water. Leave in the water for 4 to 6 minutes and drain.
  • In a skillet over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of olive oil. Cook the salmon 4-5 minutes on each side. Halfway through cooking, add 2 tbsp. tablespoon maple syrup.
  • In a bowl, shred the salmon. In another bowl, mix the tomatoes with 2 tbsp. maple syrup, 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and half the sesame seeds.
  • In the bowl with the salmon, add the cashews, cranberries, green onions and sesame mayonnaise. Mix well.
  • Top Boston lettuce leaves with vermicelli, cucumber julienne and salmon mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds. Serve with the tomato salad. 

Friday 

GROUND BEEF TACOS, CORN SALSA
Help 

  • Servings: 4
  • Preparation: 20 min
  • Cooking: 6 min 

INGREDIENTS

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 cloves finely chopped garlic

3⁄4 lb extra lean ground beef

2 tbsp. tablespoon tomato paste

2 tbsp. chili seasoning

1⁄4 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. black pepper

1 avocado, diced

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

1⁄2 cup cherry tomatoes, diced four

1 green onion, sliced

1 tbsp. grated lime zest

1 tsp. lime juice

8 white flour tortillas, warmed (6-inch/15 cm diameter)

1⁄4 cup sour cream

1⁄3 cup grated cheddar cheese

PREPARATION

  • In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for about 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Add the tomato paste, chili powder and half the salt and pepper and mix. Remove skillet from heat. Keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the avocado, corn, tomatoes, green onion, lime zest and juice and the rest salt and pepper.
  • When ready to serve, spread the reserved beef filling on the warm tortillas. Top with corn salsa, sour cream and cheddar. 

GOOD TO KNOW!

Got leftover chili or even corn salsa? You can use them to garnish your tacos! 

Lunch 

SANDWICH WITH PORK Tenderloin FROM THE DAY BACK
Recipes from Quebec 

  • Servings: 1
  • Preparation: 10 min < /li>

INGREDIENTS

75 g cooked pork tenderloin, thinly sliced

1 bun of your choice

2 lettuce leaves

2 tbsp. mayonnaise

1 tbsp. tablespoon honey

1 C. old-fashioned mustard

pepper

garnishes of your choice

PREPARATION

  • Slice the cooked pork tenderloin as thinly as possible.
  • Mix the mayonnaise, old-fashioned mustard and honey.
  • Spread the homemade honey dijonnaise on the bread. Assemble the sandwich with the lettuce, slices of pork tenderloin and toppings of your choice. 

GOOD TO KNOW!

Do you have any pieces of peppers or cucumber left in the fridge? Add them to your sandwich! 

What's on the menu?

Each time I pick featured foods that the menu revolves around. Thus, we use them to the maximum (and we do not waste!). My selection is varied and always offers three recipes based on animal proteins (two meats and one fish or seafood), one vegetarian and one that varies and uses one of these proteins (or to do with leftovers, when possible!). I also include a lunch, also ideally to be made with elements from dinners.

GOOD TO KNOW!

The best tip I can give you to save time on weeknights: prepare and cut your vegetables in advance. No need to spend a day in the kitchen… and assembling dinners will be much faster! 

For more inspiration, visit zeste.ca, coupdepouce.com and recipes. qc.ca