2. Try the non-branded items
Store-label or no-name brands of everything from pasta sauce to frozen vegetables are often cheaper than well-marketed national brands. Are they inferior? Not necessarily. In fact, sometimes they’re the same product: Many grocery companies will buy branded products and simply slap on their own label. Read ingredient lists of any product to make sure you aren’t sacrificing nutrition for lower costs.
3. Swap some meat for other proteins
Try inexpensive protein sources such as lentils, beans, eggs and tofu in place of some meat choices. Beans and lentils are low in calories and high in fibre, protein, iron and many other nutrients including folate, meaning they’re a great meat substitute, says Calgary-based registered dietitian Sarah Remmer. At the national food store where I shop, for example, dried bulk lentils are ridiculously cheap at just 25 cents per 100 grams; tofu costs 42 cents per 100 grams. The same amount of lean ground beef costs 70 cents per 100 grams. And at roughly 25 cents per serving, protein-packed eggs remain a bargain for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
4. Go for cheaper chicken
“Boxed, frozen seasoned chicken breasts are expensive and often loaded with sodium,” says Remmer. Instead, save big by selecting drumsticks, thighs and legs in the meat section. Contrary to popular belief, these flavourful options have only one more gram of saturated fat per serving than breast meat, and they’re nutritious as long as you choose skinless or remove the skin after cooking. Whole raw chicken is the cheapest choice, at more than a dollar less than breasts per 100 grams. Roast it and use as needed for stir-fries, soups and salads. Use the bones to make chicken broth.