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Stretch your grocery budget – 7 foods that will help

Stretch your grocery budget.

Stretch Your Grocery Budget

These 7 foods can save you money and help stretch your grocery budget. There are many ways to save money on food, including purchasing only sale items, using coupons, and preparing food in bulk for the freezer.

To ensure that you are saving the most amount of money possible on your food items, try to always keep the following budget-friendly foods on hand.

1. Oats

A fantastic alternative to over-priced (usually) cereal, oats make a great breakfast option. A nice hot bowl of oatmeal is very satisfying on cold days (and even warm days if you are able to enjoy the luxury of air conditioning).

Avoid the individual packets at the store and buy oats in bulk. If you like having the packets for convenience, try making your own. It’s easy!

2. Beans

Beans can be used in just about every lunch and dinner meal. Eat them on their own, mixed in with chili’s & soups, or substitute for meat in some dishes (such as tacos or burgers).

If you don’t want to give up all of the meat in your meal, try using a combination of half beans/half meat. You will hardly notice a difference in taste.

3. Rice

Rice is very inexpensive and extremely versatile. Use it for stir-fry, in soups, stuffed peppers, or on its own. You can even make desserts with rice that is very yummy.

4. Potatoes

Potatoes are one of the most economical foods available. It’s not uncommon for 10-pound bags of potatoes to go on sale for less than $2.

Since potatoes are a produce item, they are cheaper at certain times of the year (July-March). When stored in a cold, dark area of your home, they can last for weeks.

5. In-season produce

You should always buy produce that’s in the season if you’re looking to save money on your grocery bill. Check out our in-season produce guide to know the best time to buy a variety of different products.

Once in season, buy produce in bulk and freeze, so those items will last you well into the seasons that they are not at their cheapest/freshest.

6. Pasta

We often have a pasta meal every week, because we know how much money it saves us to eat that type of meal.

Pasta is a very inexpensive (even more so if you buy it on sale and with a coupon) alternative to a big meat-heavy meal.

7. Eggs

Eggs are an inexpensive protein that can be used for many meatless meals such as omelets, boiled eggs, and other ‘breakfast for dinner’ type meals.

Eggs often last about 3 weeks in the refrigerator, so stock up when you see a great sale.

All of these foods are inexpensive and can really help to stretch your grocery budget further.

Watch for sales and stock up for as long as you can (be sure that you will be able to consume the items before their expiration date).

I recommend checking out The Bulk Barn for most of your bulk food purchases (we buy our oats, spices, and more from there). They are usually much cheaper than the grocery stores and often have great money saving coupons available as well.

Are there any other foods you would add to this list?


  1. krista

    I love these ideas thanks!!!

  2. Bonnie

    I always shop at the Bulk Barn..they have great deals..especially on oats and rice..NOT Minute rice it is VERY expensive..I use raw rice. Thanks for the tips as some young mothers may not know the ins and outs of my age I have learned over the years.

  3. Sara

    awesome thanks for the ideas!!!

  4. Michelle

    Instead of buying canned beans like chick peas, etc buy the dried beans sold in bags and soak as much of the beans as you require for your meal (do soak beans overnight).

  5. Stephanie

    I avoid Bulk Barn ever since finding out from an employee how many issues they have with moths and other little critters. I was advised to inspect everything for webbing if it’s not packaged.

    I definately avoid minute rice and just buy the regular stuff, it’s easy to make, just takes 15 minutes longer.

  6. Amanda

    I always buy fresh and local like for instance right now there is a 50lb bag of potatos on @ my local market, 50lb is too much for my family so we have split it 2 ways 25 lbs for $5 each 🙂 I always buy local veggies especially when they are on sale, then I flash freeze them and seal them up for the freezer then we have fresh local veggies through the winter with no out of pocket expense again until summer and spring. Saves us a ton of money!

  7. Sarah

    I remember Bulk Barn as a great money saving option from my money-scarce university days in Ontario. Sadly, when we moved out West we found it didn’t exist. Ten years later I heard of a Bulk Barn opening in Calgary. Took a decade but it finally came west! Love shopping there.

  8. connie

    It’s gross to hear the comment about Bulk Barn from Stephanie. I love that place, NOT SO MUCH NOW, Thanks for the heads up.. I thought that being a bulk store the inspectors would be on them, like flies on Sh*t, no pun intended.

  9. Betty

    all good choices. I’d like to add one more staple: PEANUT BUTTER if no one is allergic. It seems that whenever we don’t know what to eat, or we’re in a hurry, or whatever, peanut butter on toast seems to be out answer (with a nice cold glass of milk). (either that or it’s toasted tomato sandwiches).

  10. Jessica

    Does anyone know any store that would be the equivalent of Bulk Barn here in Lower Mainland, BC?

  11. christel

    FYI, all grains are treated for critters. Problems with them can and DO occur ANYWHERE, not just Bulk Barn. Grain being open and exposed can cause quicker spreading of an infestation, but bugs are determined and will eat through all paper and plastic type packaging. The larvae is always there in the grain, and given enough time, it will eventually hatch, even if it’s treated. The important thing to remember is to check purchased items when you buy from a shelf (package date), and if you’re buying from Bulk Barn, make sure it’s an item that’s very popular. I would be leery of purchasing flour there, because I’m not sure if they use a FIFO (first in first out) process or if they just dump new product on the top, and there may be larvae in some of the more unpopular items.

  12. Miranda

    We store potatoes from our garden and they stay good all winter long!

  13. Abbie

    Evaporated & powered milk. Regular milk just doesn’t last in my home and when I want it for cooking or baking, its not there. A can of evap milk lasts a week and I can put it in anything, a splash in my tea, the kids cocoa, etc…

  14. Abigail

    Good ideas. We incorporate most of them, but so glad to have this website to help me stay on track.

    On a related note, I am looking for instructions on how to store different fruits and veggies. I know tomatoes are better if not in the fridge, but what if I have half of one left? Should I store my bananas away from other fruit on the counter? (I heard that somewhere). And what prep do different fruits and veggies need before they can go in the freezer? And I am really confused about the best use of ‘crisper’ drawers in my fridge. It seems like some things like more humidity and some don’t. I HATE to waste things and it would be great to find all this info in one place. Can someone help? Thanks!

  15. Cassie Howard

    Abigail: Always store cut tomatoes in the fridge so they last longer. Yes, keep your bananas away from CERTAIN foods, especially bread, or the banana flavour will seep into it. Keeping bananas near other fruit is okay. As for prep for the freezer, most fruits just be cut (if necessary) and popped into a freezer bag. Most vegetables (like carrots and broccoli) will need to be blanched before freezing.

  16. eric

    Cassie, where do you get your coupons for the Bulk Barn?

  17. Cassie Howard

    eric: On the Bulk Barn website. There are not currently any coupons available though. Hopefully soon!

  18. Nicole

    I love everything about Cassie and this post but I do not eat a lot of these staples (grains/white potatoes/beans) because I try to practice a paleo lifestyle. I also find that a lot of coupons are for processed food or food with additives. It’s so hard to find coupons for fresh produce and meat 🙁 Keep up the good work.

  19. kaylie

    just title it “foods for prison”

  20. Jorina

    I try to limit white grains/pasta and processed foods. Any idea where we can get coupons for natural foods, or fresh produce and meat?
    Also, what is it about Bulk Barn that screams “Made in China – stay away!”? Am I the only one who is very leery about their products?

  21. Nicole W

    At this time of year, I find that many of my friends & neighbours are complaining that they have too many apples or zucchinis in their yards & gardens. I always offer take them & in return bake something nice to give back and freeze the rest of my baking for the winter. Many people don’t seem to bother canning or freezing their garden veggies. Don’t be afraid to ask!

  22. Sally H.

    As far as the Bulk Barn goes, Bulk Food Warehouse on Plains road in Burlinton, ON is much cheaper. The owner is very knowledgeable. I comparison shopped one day as she is not open Sunday. I ‘needed’ some things so went to the BB.
    When comparing, if I had bought all my items, about 12, I would have paid about $15.00 as opposed to $23.00 ! ! !

  23. Chris

    You can add to the list canned or frozen vegetables such as corn and peas.

    And if you need some tomato sauce for the pasta, passata di pomodoro (strained tomatoes) often sells tax-free for CAD <1.00/720-mL bottle.

    Also: don't forget the pulses (legumes)!

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