Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Shop During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Stay Healthy

I’ve always been a pretty frugal grocery shopper. I try to keep my weekly shop between $125 and $150, which is great for a family of three.

Emphasis on WAS.

Then COVID-19 hit and now the three of us are struggling to stay within that budget.

Food is not as available as it once was. Reports of meat shortages, prices of some of our favourite items have gone up in price or are sold out completely.

We’re also eating everything, save for one take-out meal a week, at home. Everything we eat and snack on comes from our kitchen. And we’re going through food faster than ever.

Another item on the WAS list: Meal prepping.

Every week I’d plan out our meals and prep lunches and snacks for the week. I needed this to stay on my health track. When the pandemic hit our area, I wanted one less restriction on our family. I wanted dinners to be fun and feel like we were trying something new.

We had nachos. Or fish fries. Panzerottis.

Apryl in the kitchen

It was fun, but I think it was a mistake.

Now my body is rebelling, and it wants me to go back to the way we used to eat. Craving greens like crazy. Now that our income has taken a hit, we need to be careful.

I asked you guys what your big tips were for this period in our lives where there’s little room for extras. I compiled this list, and added a few of my own frugal ideas, to help everyone through this time.

Frozen Fruit

I ran out of fresh fruit, so I had to thaw things out. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I usually save the frozen fruit for smoothies, but thawed frozen fruit with some yogurt on top is delicious and is my go-to now.

Price: Appox. $10 for a big bag depending on where you shop.

frozen berries in a bowl

Frozen Vegetables

I always have frozen veggies in the freezer, but lately the regular broccoli is always sold out. This is a great time to experiment with other stuff. Frozen Brussels sprouts, or green beans (we love these) and so much more.

Price: $3 approx. per bag

In-Season Veggies

Think root vegetables that are in season right now. They also last longer, so stock up. Carrots, beets, potato, squash. Give them a go!

We were also told of some great local businesses that are doing porch drop offs of veggies, so definitely check those places out.

Meal Planning

Have an idea of what you want to make and when you grocery shop, only buy what’s on your list.

Exception to the rule: When meat is 50%, buy that and change your plan. Every dollar counts.

From Scratch

In our home we usually make everything from scratch. Mac and Cheese, burgers, etc. And sometimes it means bread is made from scratch too. If you can find flour (Bulk Barn is your best bet), grab a bunch and get baking. This is going to save you so much money.

We also make our own pizza this way. My family swears its better than take out. (I still love you take out!)

Apryl making food in the kitchen

Cans of Food

I usually turn my nose up to this, but cans can be a good. Don’t have apples for kids’ snacks, grab apple sauce. Fruit in water, not syrup is a good choice too.

Many of you suggested beans. I’m trying….really trying! Three bean salad is cheap and can be made in big batches. Or throw them in a veggie chili that will last a few meals.

Also Tuna. I hate the stuff, but for most people, it’s a great way to get some protein in your system!

Big Batches

Another one of our followers said plan your meals so that you can get two meals out of one. Spaghetti and meatballs one night and make meatball subs the second night. Tacos one night, Taco salad the next.

Use all the food you make. Honestly, this is no time for wastefulness, and we’ve seen a dramatic decrease and the amount of food we throw in the compost.

Make-Ahead Staples

One of my favourite meals when I was single and living by myself was steamed veggies over rice with soy sauce. Granted, back then it was minute rice, but now that I understand food better, I’d suggest making rice in the rice cooker or instant pot on a Sunday and keeping it for quick meals through the week.

Another go-to is hardboiled eggs. Eggs are cheap and we eat a couple a day.

Plant Based

We eat plant based a few times a week in our home, so we’re ok with this trend! Plus, if you look at the grocery store the Beyond Meat products are cheaper than regular meat right now, depending on where you shop.

Risotto, baked potato, curry, eggplant Parmesan and more can be made with a few ingredients. They’re also delicious.

With meat supplies dwindling, veggies are going to be our saving grace.

When to Shop

I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I noticed Tuesday and Thursday mornings are great times to shop. Most meat products are reduced in price, which is fine if you’re going to freeze them.

Bulk

I love Costco, but when your income has been reduced, it’s not the time to stock up. It’s the time to get creative.

The only thing I buy in bulk at this time is flour because so many meals and other items can be made from this.

No Extravagance

This means the thing I love the most: coffee. We would buy fun flavours and enjoy that cup so much. But it’s expensive and had to go.  Now it’s Folgers. The stuff that’s on sale and just tastes like regular coffee.

Goodbye Keurig. Just drip for us.

Apryl boss Babe This Kinda LIfe

Give Yourself a Break

This was my favourite piece of advice from a follower: You gotta do what you gotta do. Kids are alive, fed and relatively happy, so that’s a win.

Sure, I’m not doing a green juice every day and Cooper is eating goldfish crackers like crazy, but this is only temporary (we hope).  The fact that I care enough to make sure he’s eating well means I’m not going to let it get out of control.

I’m going to get creative and call on my 40 years of experience to keep us healthy and well fed.

We’ve been through lots in our lives and being knocked out of my comfort zone is something I always win at.

XO

Apryl

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