You may have noticed that you've been forking over more bacon for your bacon at the grocery store lately.
With food inflation in 2016 expected to outpace the general inflation rate, the University of Guelph's Food Institute estimates that the average Canadian household will spend $8,631 on food this year -- an increase of $345 over 2015.
Even though our appetite for imported produce and a weak Canadian dollar have driven food prices up, there are still a number of ways to beef up your savings at the check out:
1. Let the deals create your menu
Most people create their meal plans on the fly. Instead, take advantage of your grocery store's flyers and coupons and plan your meals around what is on sale. Create a shopping list based on the ingredients and stick to ONLY the items on your list.
Today it is easier than ever to view and use coupons using online websites and apps like Save.ca or WagJag. These tools allow you to view weekly flyers from hundreds of major grocery stores and retailers, create shopping lists and even store and use loyalty points directly from your smartphone.
The team at Save.ca analyzed more than 16,000 items found in 660 grocery flyers in 2015 and found Canadians could save 25.9 per cent on their average grocery bill using Save.ca flyers.
2. Buy low and store for a rainy day
If you find a great deal on items that freeze well -- think butter, cheese, berries and meats -- buy extra and store them in your freezer until you need them. WagJag Grocery alone could save you 40 to 60 percent off bulk meat purchases. Tracking daily specials and coupons is a simple way to capitalize on bargains now for the future.
3. Don't go to the store hungry
If you go shopping on an empty stomach, you WILL succumb to cravings and end up buying too much of everything -- meaning a lot will go to waste.
Try shopping after a meal or keep a healthy snack in the car to eat quickly before heading in for battle. Your wallet, and waistline, will thank you.
4. Crack out the crock pot
If you don't own one or don't use it frequently, what are you waiting for? Slow cookers save time and money.
Try buying locally grown produce in season or less expensive cuts of meat and get ready to stew. These soups and braises can be prepared easily and in advance for a hot, healthy meal that's ready for you as soon as you get home from work.
5. Drink more water
This might seem simple, but drinking a big glass of water before each meal will keep you full longer, meaning less consumption. If you drink a lot of juice or pop, replacing it with water (with a slice of lemon or orange for added flavour) will not only save you money at the grocery store, but you'll feel healthier and more hydrated along the way.
BONUS: If you want to add more money to your savings account, cutting back on grocery bills is an important place to start, but here are a few more habits you can start today to help save (or make) money each month:
1. Buy and sell used goods
Do you have old, yet perfectly good furniture sitting in your basement? Are you looking to buy some used hockey gear for your kids? Take advantage of local buy and sell networks with apps like Tradyo. You will find thousands of items for sale or barter right in your neighbourhood.
2. Install CFL or LED bulbs
Energy-efficient light bulbs might cost a bit more initially, but they have a much longer life than traditional incandescent bulbs and use far less electricity. Also, consider using timers around the house. This will ensure you don't accidentally leave the lights running all night.
3. Install a programmable thermostat
If you want to cut down on energy usage while you're not at home, or simply regulate the temperature in your home, it doesn't get easier than a programmable thermostat.
By setting it to heat or cool your home at certain times, you can ensure that you are not wasting money while you're at work or asleep.
4. Run a maintenance check on appliances
Look behind your major appliances and gently clear away dust around vents, especially on refrigerators, dryers and heating and cooling units. The less dust you have blocking these devices, the more efficiently they'll run and the longer they'll last - saving you money in energy costs and maintenance in the long run.