Even if your culinary skills are still a work in progress, the sharp rise in the prices of vegetables, dairy, and meat due to inflation hasn’t gone unnoticed. According to the latest insights from Canada’s Food Price Report 2023, the average annual food expenditure for a family of four has surged to $16,288, which is $1,065 more than in 2022.
Given the implications of the “singles tax,” which emphasizes the higher cost of living for individuals managing expenses without a partner or on a single income, it’s more important than ever to find ways to save money.
As someone who’s lived alone in Toronto for the past three years, I’ve picked up tips and tricks that cut down on food waste and help keep grocery expenses as low as possible.
Freeze Fresh Food
It’s a common problem to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables with good intentions, only to end up with spoilage before you can consume them all. To reduce food waste, I’ve started freezing some fresh fruits like strawberries and bananas so that I can add them to my smoothies later. I’ve also started a habit of chopping a medley of vegetables like onions, celery, and carrots, creating a versatile mirepoix mix that I store in the freezer. I love the convenience of throwing this mix into pasta sauces and soups, saving me precious time in the kitchen.
Buy an Air Fryer
Investing in an air fryer is a game-changer, particularly for people living alone. Unlike traditional ovens that require advanced preheating time, air fryers facilitate cooking single portions quickly. With this handy appliance, you’ll be less likely to give in to the temptation of ordering takeout (and you can satisfy those chicken nugget cravings by preparing them at home), ultimately saving time and money.
Eat More Eggs
Incorporating more eggs into your diet while living alone can be a practical choice. Despite the recent rise in egg prices, their single-serve convenience remains an affordable and accessible source of nutrition for solo meals any time of day (breakfast sandwiches for dinner, anyone?)
When facing a hectic week, I like to buy a premade quiche at the grocery store, which provides a convenient and versatile meal option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Buy Meat on Clearance
Meat has always been one of the more costly items on grocery bills. Still, with the current inflation, the prices of staples like chicken breasts at certain grocery stores have skyrocketed.
For this reason, I’ve started a new routine of going grocery shopping first thing on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Arriving early in the day provides ample time to peruse clearance sections and broadens your choices when selecting cuts of meat, whether steak, lamb or even skinless, boneless cuts of chicken. When I get home, I portion them into single servings in freezer bags, ensuring they remain fresh without any risk of spoilage. As for safety concerns – you don’t need to worry. According to Health Canada’s Safe Food Storage guide, most cuts of freshly frozen meat can last up to a year.
As explained in an article for the Washington Post, “Freezing meat and poultry does not affect the nutritional value,” says CiCi Williamson, a food safety expert with the USDA meat and poultry hotline.
Head to the Prepared Food Section
Though not always the healthiest, relying on the prepared food section frequently offers me a cost-effective alternative to cooking. It’s a more economical option than ordering through Uber Eats, which is a big win in my books. On days when cooking feels like a burden, the prepared food section of a grocery week is a form of self-care. And for specific cravings, this saves me money: It’s more affordable to buy a $6 single-serve piece of homemade lasagna than buying all the ingredients and taking the time to cook it.
Go to Costco With Friends
Bulk stores such as Costco provide significant savings on drinks, pantry essentials, and snacks. Consider making it a group outing with friends or family to split the cost of larger bulk packages. This is particularly useful in smaller living spaces like studio condos, where storage may be limited. Don’t forget to split and share the expenses for household staples like toilet paper and paper towels, which are often overlooked but can result in overspending at regular grocery stores.