When you live alone, it can be hard to stick to a grocery budget and not overspend.
According to a recent study by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph, the average Canadian family is going to spend $411 more next year on groceries. Roughly, this means food prices are projected to increase between 1.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent. If you’re the type of shopper that tends to overspend, this could mean spending even more in 2019.
Last year, we did create a grocery list for a week of healthy eating for one for $50. This year, keeping the new research on grocery budgets in mind (as well a bit more wiggle room), we decided to set a budget of $65.
Shahzadi Devje, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator based in Toronto, told Global News when you’re planning trips to the grocery store for a single-income household, try buying dried goods like rice, pasta and beans in bulk.
“Only buy the items you enjoy eating though,” she explained. “Frozen fruits and vegetables are a great budget-friendly option, and you don’t have to worry about eating them before they go bad. With a little bit of planning, you don’t have to eat the same thing every single day.”
Shopping for one
There’s often the advice for freezing everything for people who live on their own, but Devje said it is important to mix things up.
“If you’re not keen on freezing everything, shake up your lunch routine with layered meals in jars. They’re super easy, can be made ahead of time and you can have fun creating balanced meals.”
It’s also a good idea to stock up on canned beans and lentils, as well as roasting a bunch of vegetables at the same time.
“These can be thrown in to all sorts of dishes like soups, salads, casseroles, pasta and more,” she said. “Roast a bunch of vegetables at once and store in your refrigerator. That way, they’re ready to be used in simple recipes like in an omelette or sandwich.”
When it comes to produce, opt for loose vs. packaged goods. “Prepackaged fruits and vegetables tend to cost more. Most fruits and vegetables are readily available all year-round, but seasonal tend to be more affordable.”
How to not overspend
Avoid overspending by meal planning in advance.
“As food prices are projected to rise next year, meal planning becomes even more critical in order to save money,” she said. “Pick one day in the week to scan your fridge, freezer and pantry to create your grocery list.”
Planning ahead of time means knowing what you need versus buying what you think you need. “You don’t want to resort to throwing away produce that you don’t use.”
Devje recommends avoiding grocery shopping when you’re tired — you end up choosing “convenient” food that is often pricier and not as nourishing as fruits and vegetables.
And sometimes, it’s OK to go with a cheaper option.
“Enjoy more plant-based sources of protein. Many of these are lighter on the wallet, and are an integral part of many healthy eating patterns. Think tofu, beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas,” she continued. “If you enjoy meat, poultry and seafood or opt for cheaper cuts.”
Below, we break down a grocery list with a budget of $65 for one — of course, this can change depending how many people you have in your household as well as where you live in Canada. The prices of these items can also change depending on where you live.
Devje has also included some recipe ideas.
Condiments and flavours
One to two of your favourite dried herbs
Protein and dairy
Fruits and vegetables
Frozen mixed vegetables
Overnight oats with milk, apple, cinnamon and dash of maple syrup
Breakfast smoothie bowl with oats, frozen berries and milk
Omelette with potatoes
Tuna sandwich with a cabbage slaw
Soup with tofu
Brown rice and lentil bowl
Tomato-based mixed vegetable pasta
Tuna bake with vegetables on the side
Smoothie with banana and a handful of berries and water