The best foods to buy on sale amidst inflation, according to a nutritionist

Amidst inflation, many Canadians are grappling with skyrocketing food costs.

Cropped shot of woman carrying a shopping basket, standing along the dairy aisle, reading the inflation food sale nutrition label on the bottle of a fresh organic healthy yoghurt. Making healthier food choices
Read on for how to shop for food on sale amidst inflation. (Photo via Getty Images)

Amidst inflation, many Canadians are grappling with skyrocketing food costs.

From unusually prices chicken breasts to people dramatically altering their diet to save a few bucks, it can be difficult to figure out how to eat well on a budget.

Moreover, the 2023 forecast from Canada's Food Price Reporta yearly publication about the trends in food prices — predicts that Canadian families will spend up to $1,065 more on food in the next year — a sum that many people cannot afford.

While we can't change the current food market, there are ways to fulfill your nutritional requirements while sticking to a budget. For example, stocking up on certain ingredients when you find them at a lower prices can help you in the long run.

"Take the time to see what's on sale in the flyers, both online and in-store."Abbey Sharp

However, things aren't as glum as they seem. According to Canadian nutritionist Abbey Sharp, there are many ways to save big at the grocery store — you just have to shop smart.

"Produce prices are through the roof, especially leafy greens. Staple animal proteins like chicken breasts are also particularly expensive right now," she said in an interview with Yahoo Canada. "Load up on beans or other plant-based proteins to save money and shop in bulk! There's so many options."

Sharp added that one thing people don't look at enough is the "sales and flyers."

"When things are on sale, stock up. Take the time to see what's on sale in the flyers, both online and in-store," she explained.

Read on to learn the best foods to buy on sale amidst inflation to help you save money.

Money off shopping in supermarket basket.
Read grocery store flyers to find food items on sale. (Photo via Getty Images)

First steps to shop on sale

Before shopping, Sharp recommends coming up with your recipe list for the week and see if any of those foods are on sale. If not, be willing to change things up.

"Before shopping make a list of the items you need and stick to your list when at the store so you don't buy things on impulse," Sharp explained. "Buy only what you need, but be willing to make substitutions if something is more expensive than expected. For example, if you wanted peaches but strawberries are on sale, make the swap and make a new meal plan."

The dietitian suggests choosing recipes that utilize some of the same ingredients so you aren’t buying a special sauce or bulk item that you only use once.

"Choose a few veggies, a few proteins and a few starches for the week and make large batches that you can incorporate into multiple meals," Sharp said. "But before you choose, scan the flyers for what's on sale and go from there."

Woman pushing a cart and checking a grocery receipt, grocery shopping and expenses concept
Before shopping, create a recipe list for the week based on foods that are on-sale. (Photo via Getty Images)

Foods to buy on sale

While there's no hard-and-fast rule about what to buy — especially because many people have dietary needs and preferences — there are certain items in different food groups that Sharp says are best purchased on sale.

Dairy and dairy substitutes

While many Canadians are a sucker for cheese and milk, they're one of the many food groups that are expensive to purchase.

However, certain staples like butter often goes on sale during major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, so keep an eye out during that time of year.

Moreover, Sharp recommends shoppers look for dairy products that have a long shelf life to go on sale.

"Cheese generally has a pretty long shelf life so if you see it on sale, it’s worth stocking up," she revealed. "Same with non-dairy milks like almond and oat."

Shot of a mature man shopping in the cold produce section of a supermarket
Frozen produce is cheaper and often goes on sale. (Photo via Getty Images)


According to Sharp, frozen produce can be much cheaper than their fresh counterparts — and sometimes can even be healthier.

"Choose more inexpensive frozen produce to save big and it also goes on sale a lot. Frozen produce is flash froze at peak ripeness, so it's often super nutritious," Sharp shared.

If you prefer fresh, she suggests choosing items that last longer in the fridge.

"Cabbage, carrots, root veggies, apples and pears are great when on sale because they keep longer than greens and berries so you could buy in larger quantities without them rotting so quickly," Sharp said.


"One of the biggest expenses at the grocery store right now is animal protein (meat and chicken)," it's nuts," Sharp revealed.

As such, if you’re able to find "portioned poultry like chicken breasts on sale," it’s great to stock up and store in freezer bags to use for months to come.

On the plant-based side, proteins like "beans and legumes (either dried or canned) are good for many months so they’re a great option to buy on sale."

Piles of a variety of healthy organic legumes.
Beans and legumes are a great option to buy on sale. (Photo via Getty Images)


Similar to frozen food, Sharp explains that canned and pantry foods can be very nutritious and convenient for the price, especially when on sale.

"Oats, nut butters, nuts, canned or dried legumes are all nutritious staples that will keep a long time," she recommended.

Sharp also said that canned seafood like salmon and tuna can be cheaper than fresh fish when on sale, but double-check the nutrition label for sneaky additions of sodium or other preservatives you're trying to avoid.

Take advantage of bulk sales

Most of the time, buying in bulk can be cheaper than the supermarket because you aren't paying for excess packaging or brand names.

Sharp explains that buying items like oats, nuts, seeds and grains in bulk can reduce the cost per unit and you have the freedom to buy how much or little you need.

"If food is on sale or cheaper in bulk and can be safely stored for many months, you can buy when the price is right and enjoy over the more expensive out of season months," she said. "Buy what you need, nothing more and that can help you save over time. Every little bit helps."

Different varieties of different seeds, beans and nuts on local supermarket shelf. Zero waste shop bulk containers and dispensers with beans and seeds.
Most of the time, buying in bulk can be cheaper than the supermarket. (Photo via Getty Images)

General tips to save money

While buying on sale is a surefire way to save on groceries, it's not always possible to shop the sales due to busy schedules or availability of products. When this happens, Sharp has a few tips to get you through — starting with going veggie.

"Go vegetarian more often! Plant-based proteins are nutritious and much more cost effective than animal based proteins. They also are easier to buy in bulk when on sale and are often available at amazing prices at cost effective stores like dollar stores and bulk stores," she said.

Another way to save money is to extend the shelf-life of your groceries by taking proper care of them.

"Try to avoid washing and chopping fruits and veggies until you’re ready to eat them. And freeze any meats and poultry that you’re not going to use immediately."

Inflation-friendly recipes

Now that you've got some ways to save money while shopping for food on sale, it's time to put them into action.

Cooking on a budget or with certain products you don't normally buy can be overwhelming. However, Sharp believes that budget cooking can still be tasty and nutritious.

For examples of inflation-friendly recipes that don't skimp on flavour, try Sharp's vegan beans on toast and her frozen vegetable soup.

Let us know what you think by commenting below and tweeting @YahooStyleCA! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.