We’re dealing with two issues at home that have made a realignment in our grocery shopping: a limited budget and a desire to buy only Ontario produced food. I should say up front that organic is not a target: we’re happy with provincially grown produce and meat.
To stick to any kind of budget and reduce your food spending requires you to make a weekly menu, buy what you need for that menu and don’t deviate or buy extra. I couldn’t believe how much we saved when we stopped picking up whatever looked good and actually planned ahead. It doesn’t have to be hard and fast listing each item for every meal: you can say $5 for fruit and then get whatever is on sale or fresh but that’s part of the budget and part of the weekly menu.
Don’t pay for convenience: the more produced the goods are the more you’ll pay. That means you’ll be spending more time preparing food, but we all know time equals money so either you do it or you pay someone else to do it. If you prepare food you know what goes into it; if you buy it prepared you really don’t know.
Let’s look at produce and meat separately and start with the latter. Only buy meat when it’s on sale, period. Don’t plan a menu that requires you to buy meat at regular price: work with what you have. When something comes up at a good price I pick up a good amount and it all goes into our standing deep freezer. I buy as whole a cut as I can and break it down myself. Whatever I can make myself I do: home made bacon, ham, sausages, cold cuts (large roasts slow cooked and sliced), hamburger (grind my own). This year whole pork loins have been on sale every few weeks so I pick up a bunch and use them for bacon, sandwiches, sausages, stir frys, schnitzel.
Vegetables and fruit we pick up weekly at our local farmer’s market. I know how many meals we have and buy what will fit into those slots. Spring to fall has lots of variety and is relatively inexpensive: winter not so much but root vegetables and canned or preserved fruit gets you through. Take advantage of what’s in season, get it while it’s cheap and freeze or preserve for when it’s not available, just like we used to do before global availability.