How to Buy Food Cheap
Food, as you all know, is something that we need to survive. Whether you eat too much, too little or the right amount for your body type, here are some tips on how to cut down on your grocery expenses without starving.
If you are on a really tight budget, food banks are a great way to get free food. Some people volunteer there to stock on groceries. This could definitely be a great way to meet some interesting people with fascinating life stories as well. One new friend of mine named Greg who I met on my way to meet an old friend Simone, told me about his experience volunteering at a food bank not too far away from where we both live. He said that the people he met there were great and he also got a lot of free food.
Speaking of free food, Greg is a cook and gets a lot of free stuff from the restaurant he works at. If you are looking for a job and need to make ends meet, looking for something in the food industry may be a good way to earn an honest living and stock those empty shelves in your kitchen.
Also, a lot of restaurants and grocery stores throw away food at the end of the night. The Loblaws, close to where I live, have their sandwiches with healthy stuff in it like tuna, egg, cold meats and different kind of cheeses that are half price at the closing time. You can get a $4 CDN sandwich for half the price and have all your meals set for the day.
If you are like me and you are a breakfast person who enjoys eggs, bacon and some home fries – check out governmental cafeterias. They often have food at discount prices that do not compare to the food you will find in other restaurants for the same price. Remember, it is public property.
For dining out, there is always the failsafe “all you can eat buffet.” If you allow yourself to starve enough in the morning and go at a time when you know you will not need to eat again for the day, you can visit one of these places (the ones in Chinatown and Indian villages are especially good). Actually, you cannot go wrong checking out the food of the world wherever you may be located.
Now for the traditional grocery shopping – flyers and coupons are your friends. Plus, if you can stand the attitude at times (with the exception of local grocers) try going to places where you can bring your own bags or they may provide boxes for you to take your stuff. I was with a girlfriend Joan of mine and we saw a man riding his bike carrying another bicycle. If that could be done, imagine the strength you could build up carrying your groceries with your bike.
If you are blessed to have a car, you need to work out if it is worth it to drive to a supermarket with great deals, or just walk to the nearest one and save on gas. Let us hope the exercise will not kill you.
You can also take advantage of the fact the weather is still good and enjoy an old-fashioned farmer’s market. If you avoid the ones in the ritzy neighbourhoods, you can get great deals on everything from jams to corn. Sometimes these farmer’s markets have such amazing deals that it’s worth it to take your car, or rent one, to get out of town and do some shopping in a place a bit out of the way.
One of my fondest memories growing up was my Dad taking me and my siblings out to do apple-picking outside of Toronto. They say apples keep the doctors away, so stock up. It would be hard to live on apples alone, but at many of the orchards, you can get a number of fruits dirt cheap and in large quantities.
If you are ever really starving and there is just nothing in the fridge and in the cupboards, there is a Chinese proverb that says “one can go without eating for many days, but needs green tea.” Mind you I received this proverb from my friend Steve and I do not know about its scientific basis. I would advise you not to try this at home, but green tea (which you can find inexpensively in China Town) is a great way to suppress your appetite, thus keeping your food costs down.
If you have a large family, buying in bulk is always an option. Places like Costco can be a good way to support an army. If you just basically need to support yourself, good advice I got from my friend Joan was to not stock on food. You can end up finding your shelves filled with things you will never eat. Buy what you need and then maybe the rest of the world will have more too.
I hope that helps since $100 can go pretty fast on food. I have seen it happen in the blink of an eye and not really understood what the woman in front of me in the grocery line was buying. Always check the prices of the food, remember flyers and coupons can be your friends if you are into that sort of thing and think cheap and be cheap.
Donna Kakonge is a freelance writer/communicator/professor in Toronto. Her books can be bought at http://stores.lulu.com/kakonged. She is working on another book she is hoping will be published in 2008.