During winter we Canadians are a hearty bunch. We make our way through, year in and year out with nary a grumble as we trudge through slush and snow. This year, thanks to El Nino, we were spared the brutal polar vortexes of years past and had a relatively pleasant season. We did suffer in another area though – the rising cost of food. With the dollar plunging and past drought conditions in the South, we saw food prices soar this winter. Fresh fruit and vegetables hit prices worthy of many social media photos and when cauliflower hit a high of $9.00, Twitter was abuzz.
Luckily, we only have a few more months and soon we will be happily eating seasonal fruit and vegetables from local farms. But, what to do before then? Here are a few suggestions to help with your grocery bills while still eating healthily.
Shop “Outside” the Usual Grocery Stores
There are many other stores to shop outside of the big grocery store chains and although this is especially easy to do if you live in a larger city, smaller cities have hidden gems too. Check if there is a restaurant supply store in your area. These stores are often open to the public and have excellent choices at great prices.
Visit your small Asian grocery stores for incredible deals on fresh fruit and vege. If you don’t recognize some of those greens they are selling, don’t let that scare you off. Ask how they are used and do some quick research. You may be pleasantly surprised at how tasty these fruits and vegetables are.
Don’t be scared of Frozen Fruit and Vegetables
Certain fruits and vegetables that are flash frozen can be used in recipes quite nicely and you will not notice much difference. If you are a smoothie drinker, any frozen fruit works well in a drink. Look for products that are grown in Canada. Many frozen vegetables are excellent in recipes including frozen spinach and peas.
Eat Dried Beans
Many people shy away from using dried beans in their diet. It seems like too much work to rehydrate them before using in any recipe and, yes, they do take some time. Here is a little tip. Buy your kidney beans and black beans and chick peas dried and soak and cook them. Freeze them in individual sizes for your recipes. They don’t lose flavour or texture and defrost quickly.
Using the Dreaded Can
For many of us, canned vegetables seem downright gross. Those mushy peas and green beans are just so unappealing. Canned fruit and vegetables can, however, have a place in your pantry. If you are making stews, puree a can of peas and throw them in. This works well with canned carrots also and don’t forget about canned corn. One vegetable in a can that kids seem to love. Jarred foods are a great alternative to cans. Always buy your tomato puree in jars. They are a great deal and the puree tastes so much better than canned. If you don’t use a whole jar, you can freeze the extra and use it at a later time.