Food & nutrition Sunnybrook Academic Family Health Team

Budget-friendly healthy eating: practical tips

From the rising food costs and inflation, many are having more challenges with seemingly a tighter budget. Here are some tips to stretch your budget a little further.

Grocery Shopping

Plan ahead:

  • Have three to four recipes you plan to make in the upcoming week.


Before you go to the grocery store, take stock of what items you have already and which items you will need to buy. Check your pantry, fridge, and freezer.

  • Flyers – Use grocery flyers or apps like Flipp® or Reebee® to help find deals.
  • Price match – Some stores will price match the lower advertised price from a competitor. Provide the retail clerk with a digital or print copy of the competing offer (flyers are helpful here), they will sell you the product for a lower price. You can check online (or ask in store) if a grocery store will price match.
  • You can “rain check” at grocery stores if an item on sale is out of stock.
    • This allows you to return at a later date to purchase the item when it is back in stock at the sale price. The standard is that this offer lasts 30 days, but check with your store.
  • Wait for pantry items to go on sale, then stock up!

Preparing Foods

  • Be flexible — if recipes call for certain ingredients, look up substitutes or alternatives. For example, if a recipe calls for asparagus but it is not asparagus season, you can consider using another vegetable such as broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
  • Don’t throw out all your scraps!
  • Keep seafood shells, bones of meats, and odds and ends of vegetables in freezer bags. You can turn these into broths.
  • There are online resources for how to use food scraps, check them out!
  • Make extras, especially vegetables and grains. You may find other ways to repurpose this. For example, sautéed veggies can go into a salad for lunch the next day. Leftover meats can be cut up to be included in a wrap the next day. Last night’s stir fry can be cooked with farro or barley as a new side dish.

Storing Meals

  • Freeze cooked meals into portions you will likely consume in a week. (e.g: two or three portions of chili or soup that you can reheat throughout the week and have with sandwich or salad).
  • Freeze meals already portioned into a balanced plate to create a homemade “TV dinner.”

About the author

Academic Family Health Team