Young Albertans feeling the pinch as grocery prices continue to rise

Calla Wright, 29, said she's looking into growing her own produce in her apartment to cut down on her grocery bill. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC - image credit)
Calla Wright, 29, said she's looking into growing her own produce in her apartment to cut down on her grocery bill. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC - image credit)

Food prices are still climbing across the country, and it's making life difficult for Young Albertans who are just entering the workforce.

According to numbers released this week from Statistics Canada, the average grocery bill has risen 10.8 per cent since last year.

It's the fastest increase since 1981, and some young people are struggling to stay in the black.

"[I] eat less," admits 20-year-old Steven Seitz, a hotel worker in Banff. Despite liking to cook, he said it's sometimes more expensive to eat at home.

"A meal at McDonald's is $12, and if you want to cook a full meal at home, I find I can never spend under $20 worth of groceries," he said.

Some experts suggest tracking grocery spending and making adjustments like not buying certain things, or shopping at different stores.

But that only goes so far, according to Toronto-based finance expert Barry Choi.

"Try telling someone who's on disability or single mother, yeah, you should cut your expenses, that's going to fix your problems," he said.

Many young adults CBC spoke with said they're worried about whether prices will cool.

They're doing what they can to make things work for now.

"I've tried really hard this summer to grow a lot of my own stuff, sort of like vegetables and stuff like that," said 29-year-old Calla Wright, who's now looking into ways to grow plants in her apartment this winter.

Contessa McDonald, 18, said she tries not to stray from the deals she sees.

"I basically go straight off of the flyer and make a meal based off that," she said.

Charities, food banks are options: expert

There are options like food banks, but not everyone feels like they should take from them.

But experts like Choi urge people to consider them.

"They're there for a reason," he said. "Get what you need, and if you're in a position later to give back, then donate in the future."

In Edmonton, other affordable options exist like collective kitchens, which allow people to pay a small fee to buy groceries and cook meals together for a fraction of the cost.

Other charities like WeCan provide fresh meat and vegetables for cheap, while still providing healthy food options.

"Sometimes food insecurity is just not getting your nutritional needs," explained program director Joshua Topliff.

Topliff said he's seen more younger people accessing services like WeCan. He added that many of the people they help have full-time jobs, but it's simply not enough.

Here are some other tips Choi had on ways to save at the grocery store:

  • Instead of going to different stores for the best deals, visit a single store that price matches so you see the same savings without an extra trip

  • Use apps like Flipp to compare prices before going grocery shopping

  • Substitute expensive meats for more affordable proteins like beans and chicken

  • Try to find less expensive alternative ingredients for some recipes

  • Avoid food waste when cooking; find free recipes online to use up food scraps and old produce