Everyone seems to be complaining about the cost of food these days, and certainly prices are going up on a regular basis. There are a lot of news stories about the “average” cost of groceries for different size families across Canada. I always think these pretty much do everyone an injustice, since the average means half of Canadians spend more and half spend less.
This is also determined by peoples’ budgets. People with excellent incomes don’t tend to shop by price, and will often choose way more expensive items, feeling, rightly or not, that the quality is reflected in the price. I also think that most people really have no idea at all what they are spending on groceries. When is the last time you went through your credit card statements and tallied up all the entries for your local grocery store? What about all those extra trips for milk or an item you ran out of, and paid for with cash?
Many people say it is impossible to eat healthily due to the rising price of fresh produce. For people on very low incomes of course this will impact them the most. There are still many ways to eat healthfully and for less and you could lose some unhealthy weight in the process.
The first thing is to get rid of processed foods or what I like to call “Food-Like Products”. The processing strips foods of its nutrients and adds many unwanted chemicals and substances such as high fructose corn syrup, which as we have learned from an earlier column, just stimulates cravings. This attribute is relied on heavily by the food industry to make you come back for more of their product. The next time you can’t put down that bag of sweet and salty popcorn or similar junk food, have a read of the ingredients and you will see why! When people ask me what to look out for on food labels, I usually respond that if you are reading the label, put it down and go buy some real food that doesn’t need a label. There are some exceptions to my rule, such as spaghetti sauce which is a staple in my kitchen. In this case, you want to see as few ingredients as possible on the label, and you should be able to pronounce them all!
Stats Canada tells us that 25% of Canadians’ food bills goes on things like soda, candy bars and TV dinners. Start drinking water and make nutritious and extremely economical dinners such as vegetable based soups and stews and you will be amazed at how much further your money will go. I am not buying the excuse that so many people use of not having time to cook. How much time are you spending watching TV every night? Or binge watching Netflix on the weekends? Get the family involved. My daughter was helping me chop veggies when she was five. Teenagers should be enlisted to cook one meal a week. You will be doing them a favour sending them out into the world with a valuable skill!
Another 20% of the average Canadian’s food budget is spent on red meat and chicken. You know my feelings about those from a health perspective. Replace meat in your stews and soups with incredibly cheap lentils or beans and you will save a fortune, save your arteries and decrease your risk of cancer on a daily basis!