Money & Career

Eat more, pay less

Try these cost-cutting tricks and shave hundreds – or even thousands – of your annual grocery bill

You gotta eat, and sometimes you might even have to feed others. Wouldn’t you love to hear that it’s possible to get delicious meals on the table and save a few bucks on your grocery bills? Well, you can trim your food budget without surviving on bologna, processed cheese and Wonder Bread. When I started this assignment, I was shocked to learn that my husband and I spent more than $150 a week on groceries for just the two of us (especially when I discovered that the average Canadian couple spends $83!). After three weeks of using the tips I’d gathered from regular women and bargain experts, I had cut our food costs by about 30 per cent. Read on for advice on how you can start saving, too.

· Kimberley Clancy, founder of, knows how to use coupons. Last year, she went on a shopping trip with a TV journalist to showcase her skills. They each bought the same stuff, but Clancy used coupons. She spent $24; the journalist spent about five times as much. To maximize savings, combine sales with high-value coupons, says Clancy, which can often be found in newspaper flyers and in stores near the products being promoted.
· If you always buy the same brand of, say, popcorn, check the package and call the company’s customer service line: many manufacturers have coupon mailing lists you can join. Also check, which sends out coupons on behalf of manufacturers.

Where to buy it

Stock up on the right items at the right places and you’ll save all around:

Bag-your-own grocery stores
You might not be able to buy your favourite imported coffee at discount bag-your-own grocery stores, but you’ll save at least 30 per cent on your weekly grocery bill.
What to buy here Canned goods, frozen meals, packaged foods (such as crackers) and household supplies (such as paper towels)

Warehouse clubs If you don’t buy enough to make up the $50 annual fees these stores typically charge, skip them and shop at places such as The Real Canadian Superstore. Sandra Phillips, author of Smart Shopping Montreal, is wary of warehouse-store fees and points out that people can shop for free at superstores, which now sell items in bulk.
What to buy here If you do buy enough to warrant the fees, look for deals on meat, frozen shrimp and big blocks of cheese

Dollar stores Score deals at dollar stores on stuff you might be currently getting at a grocery store.
What to buy here Toiletries, cake decorations and food containers

Bulk food stores Why buy an entire jar of cloves if you only need a teaspoon? Stock up on loose pantry staples at a bulk food store in amounts that you’ll actually consume.
What to buy here Dried herbs and spices, nuts and coffee.