How a Vancouver couple spends $230 a month on food

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How to save money on food
WATCH: You've probably noticed some higher numbers on your grocery bill and unfortunately, it's only going to get worse. Consumer reporter Anne Drewa has some money-saving advice – Feb 1, 2017

A Vancouver couple has found a way to save hundreds of dollars on their grocery bill every month.

Since 2012, Stephanie Williams and Celestian Rince’s grocery bill hasn’t increased. Despite soaring food prices, they’ve managed to spend only $230 a month on food while living in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

“It’s a reflection to how we eat,” Williams said. “We like to eat just simple things. We like to have everything homemade and minimal processed stuff and kind of make everything from scratch. I think pretty low costs will reflect that.”

The Vancouver couple live in co-op housing and pay $787 per month in rent. They don’t own a vehicle and rarely eat out at restaurants. But it’s their monthly grocery bill that is making the biggest difference financially.

The two have mastered the art of shopping smart.

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“For a lot of people they don’t bother to find out if I buy products A, B, and C every week and every month, what’s the place where I can get that for the cheapest? We’ve actually done that and that’s probably one of the most important things you need to do to get your grocery costs lower,” Rince said.

That means shopping at different stores for the best price and paying close attention to grocery retailers with points programs.

Meal planning is also a key strategy.

“Having the intention of cooking most of your food and not buying frozen pizzas or dinners. Go with the intention of making your own meals. It drives your costs down,” Williams said.

It’s something to consider when annual food costs for the average Canadian family are predicted to increase this year by $420. According to Dalhousie University’s Canada’s Food Price report, fruits and nuts are estimated to climb between three and five per cent; vegetables, meats, and other food items could rise by four to six per cent.

UBC registered dietitian Melissa Baker says to cut costs at the checkout counter, consider what you’re throwing away.

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“We waste almost three times as much food as our bill is going up, so really look at that food waste at a restaurant level and at a household level,” Baker said.

Baker also adds to check best-before dates.

“Just because food is past its best- before date, doesn’t mean you can’t eat it. Of course, use your best judgment, but it doesn’t mean it’s not safe for you to eat.”

With the money they are saving every month, Williams and Rince are able to travel nine times a year, including two vacations overseas. They’re also planning on early retirement.


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