A Canadian dietitian is hoping to help shoppers make their money go further amid rising food prices across the country.
Even though grocery store prices are the highest they've been since 1980 and Canadians families are expected to spend more on food in 2023, Toronto-based nutritionist Abbey Sharp explained that there are ways to feed your household without breaking the bank.
Low-cost stores such as Dollarama now offer aisles of "nutritious foods," Sharp noted. While most items are priced higher than one dollar, she explained how shoppers on a budget should be filling their grocery baskets.
"My main tip, to get your best bang for your buck, I like to focus on two main criteria," she told Yahoo Canada in an interview. "So, looking for your sources of protein ... and also doing big batches of grains."
Sharp explained that dollar store shoppers should be looking for protein like canned tuna and beans, as well as grains such as rice, pasta and quinoa.
Furthermore, she added that Dollarama is a good location to find foods under the fats category, including olives and cooking oil.
"I also love to get some snacks there," she shared. "If you're going to get snacks anyway at the grocery store, you might as well get them for a great price. ... Often, you can find lots of great options that are more nutritious for the kids and for the family, as well. Things like unsweetened applesauce, crispy chickpeas, freeze-dried fruit and berries."
At larger grocery stores with fresh produce, baked goods and meats, Sharp noted that shoppers should be more careful about how they're buying food.
"We want to make sure that if we are spending money on produce that we are actually going to use it," she explained. "Only buy in bulk if you know for sure that you can freeze it or you can immediately use it. ... That goes for meats, poultry, fruits and vegetables."
For instance, if a grocery store has berries on sale and you buy four packs but two go to waste, you're technically losing money despite snagging a deal.
Sharp recommended that people shopping on a budget focus on choosing heartier vegetables that are more shelf-stable.
"Life gets busy and, more often than not, we forget about what we have in the fridge," she said. "That's why I love things like cabbage, brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips. These are more cost-effective vegetables, but they also keep longer."
For shoppers who have a bit more money to spend, Sharp suggested "super sprinkles" are a great healthy item to "bump up" nearly any kind of meal with more nutrition. Her personal favourite is Hemp Hearts, since they're packed with protein, fibre and fats, but chia seeds, wheat bran and flax seeds are good options, too.
But if you're not restricted by a tight food budget, Sharp gave an "unconventional" suggestion to shoppers who can spend a bit more cash.
"Splurge on a food that you love," she shared. "If you love ice cream ... that's a more premium item, but you know you're going to really enjoy it and, therefore, not feel the need to feel so unsatisfied that you need to order in UberEats or go out for dinner more often.
"At the end of the day, splurging on a $6 ice cream as opposed to a $60 UberEats [order] is still going to save you money, and you're still going to feel satisfied."
Still, shoppers who are easily swayed by exciting new treats and flashy marketing on grocery store shelves might want to follow Sharp's last tip on saving money.
"If that's you, I do recommend shopping online," she suggested. "It's much harder to be swayed by impulse decisions because you have to manually search for things that are on your grocery list, add them to your cart.
"You're not being constantly bombarded by all the new, cool snacks and things that are popping up. So, you're really more likely to just buy the things on your list."