Here's how you can save money on groceries while inflation is high

Many shoppers in Metro Vancouver are looking for ways to stretch their grocery budget as they deal with the rising cost of food.

On Wednesday, Canada’s inflation rate hit 6.8 per cent, its highest level in 31 years. The latest increase is largely due to the rising cost of food and shelter, with prices at the grocery store reaching a 9.7 per cent increase since April 2021.

The rising cost has forced some shoppers to rethink their spending habits. Some now choose to stock up on sale items, while others are cutting back and buying less, like Vi Young.

"Every time I come in, it's getting higher and higher,” she told CTV News, gesturing to her ballooned grocery bill.

She said she usually splurges on groceries and takes advantage of the sales.

"I used to buy lots, you know, when there was a sale on. No sales on anymore,” she said. "When you're on a fixed income, you can't afford to spend. I'm worried what's going to happen in the future."

Other shoppers share her frustration, saying they can’t afford to buy like they used to.

"Well, it's not something I like … but what can you do?" said shopper Dave Walker, who’s cutting back on some of his groceries.

Another shopper, Teresa Vanbeek, said she’s going to stock up on cheaper items moving forward.

"We have quite a few kids. So, it costs a lot of money to feed them,” she said.

As Canadians feel the pressure of inflation, tens of thousands are using their smartphones to look for cheap food in the area.

Sam Kashani, the country manager of the Too Good To Go app, said he’s seeing thousands of new users joining every day.

"Obviously, inflation is a bit of a catalyst as more and more consumers are looking for alternate solutions to be able to reduce overall food costs,” he said.

The app – which connects users with local businesses offering "surprise bags" of leftover food that, while still good, would otherwise end up being thrown out – launched in Vancouver in September 2021. Kashani said there's a clear demand for affordable meals in the city.

"We’ve saved 400,000 meals across Canada and 110,000 of those are just in Vancouver,” he said.

Stuart Smyth, an associate professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of Saskatchewan, said another way shoppers can cut back on grocery bills is by sharing the cost with friends, family members and neighbours.

“For example, (if) you're buying 20 pounds of meat, but you're splitting that up between three to four households, you're saving some money that way,” he said.

He advises people should also pay close attention to what's not being used and adjust buying habits.

"If you find out that you're throwing out a lot of leafy greens, then change how you're buying that into smaller packages,” Stuart said.

While it might be a frustrating time for shoppers, he said there are ways to cut back on costs without compromising too much — shop wisely, buy in bulk and split.

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