Calgarians share tips to save money on groceries

·3 min read
Boxes of fruits and vegetables at the Alex Community Food Centre in southeast Calgary. (Elise Stolte/CBC - image credit)
Boxes of fruits and vegetables at the Alex Community Food Centre in southeast Calgary. (Elise Stolte/CBC - image credit)

With the price of beef and other grocery staples on the rise, Calgarians are looking for ways to reduce their food bills.

Consumers face higher beef prices due to a drought that has crippled cattle production, and Statistics Canada says items such as eggs, chicken and butter have also crept up since January.

One way Calgarians on a tight budget can save is by shopping at the affordable produce market run by the Alex Community Food Centre in southeast Calgary.

Staff at the centre say they saw business nearly triple during the pandemic, selling up to $1,000 worth of produce a day.

"One of the things we've noticed through the course of the pandemic, certainly, is definitely a rise in food insecurity," said Darrell Howard, the team lead for the Alex Community Food Centre.

"And certainly, we've seen far more families than we did before the pandemic hit."

In partnership with the non-profit Fresh Routes, the Alex offers the affordable market that gives local residents a chance to buy discounted produce.

CBC News asked Calgarians at the market for tips and tricks they use to keep grocery bills in check.

Baking

Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC
Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC

"I would definitely pay attention to grain prices because [of] the weather lately, for sure, and if you can bake, I would definitely suggest to bake," said Nerissa Jobe.

"Especially when the weather starts getting cooler, it saves a lot of money — and on your heat bill [too], because you just have the oven on."

Discount markets

"I save money on shopping through flyers for certain protein bargains. Otherwise, I will get my produce here at the Alex food market or H&W Produce," said Daniel Loiselle, a volunteer at the Alex.

Elise Stolte/CBC
Elise Stolte/CBC

"It's another great alternative to low-cost produce in the city. The best deal I got recently was a container of cherry tomatoes for $1."

H&W Produce is located at 3508 32nd Ave. N.E.

The Flashfood App

CBC
CBC

"It's all food that would normally go to a dumpster or be thrown away that is ready to expire. It's perfectly good food, and you can get it for, you know, half price or less, through the Flashfood app," said Laura Greenwood.

"You pay for it on Flashfood, you go to your local No Frills or Superstore — because it's Loblaws that does it — and pick it up.

"It's meat and fruit boxes and vegetable boxes — like a huge fruit box for $5, and you're getting probably $15 worth of grapes in this fruit box. It's insane. It's crazy.

"And if you have a deep freeze, man, it goes in the deep freeze."

The Good Food Box program

Submitted by Kolade Kolawole-Boboye
Submitted by Kolade Kolawole-Boboye

The Good Food Box program offers produce that comes directly from the vendors. It's run under the Community Kitchen Program of Calgary.

"You can buy bulk and for really cheap," said Jobe.

"So we get, I think, the 40-pound to 50-pound box [for] only $35, and that feeds me and my three kids for, like, two weeks' [worth of] produce."

With files from Elise Stolte and the Calgary Eyeopener.

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