How to stretch your food dollar

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By Sabrina Almeida

Mississauga, January 15 (CINEWS): If you’ve made any resolutions about eating right this year, be prepared to increase your grocery budget. You’ll be putting a lot of thought and money into it! Fresh vegetables and fruits are going to cost more thanks to the falling loonie and oil prices, and our dependence on imports. We are not even talking about meats and fish whose prices have virtually doubled in the past five years yet! With some ominous predictions of the our dollar expecting to touch 59 cents vis-a-vis its US counterpart, we’d should probably plan to spend less time in the grocery store and more in the gym.
What does this mean for the many whose incomes won’t reflect the inflation—find ways to get more out of less, or just cave in to your sinful cravings? It might be easier and cheaper. My sons are always advocating the value meals at popular fast food chains and I have a sneaking suspicion that more people might be pushed in this direction.
Here are three suggestions that you might want to explore before you make an unhealthy commitment.

Switch to nutritious, low-cost pulses

The UN has designated 2016 as the Year of Pulses and it might be the perfect time to include more of these in your daily diet. Rich in proteins, fibre, vitamins and minerals (and low in fat) you could actually improve your health and save money at the same time. Pulses are typically the edible seed of legumes (veggies with a pod) and contribute to your 5-a-day. That’s another big incentive, isn’t it?
A wide range of choices including South Asian favourites like chickpeas, black-eyed beans, lentils and peas could add variety in your diet, and in a cheaper way.
See our food page (Page 12) for innovative recipes to change up the way you serve them each time. From appetisers to salads, main meals and even deserts there’s a lot you can do with pulses.
Years ago, we’d laugh at this group of IT consultants in the US who were able to get by on $100 or less a week because all their meals consisted of rice and pulses. Their goal was to save as much money as possible. Today I feel as though life has come a full circle and we might actually have to follow their lead in order to balance our household expenses.

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Use price comparison apps to save money

The savings can quickly add up, trust me I’ve tried it. In fact I’ve saved more than $5 to $10 on meat and fish as well as purchased veggies and fruit at bargain prices almost every week. Flipp is a very popular among mobile users and one that my whole family relies on. (Do share with us, if you know of any others.) If you’ve raised your eyebrows at shoppers who are constantly tapping their smartphones at the grocery store and exclaiming at their screens, their sweet little secret is about to become yours.
I’ve made quite a few friends while doing my groceries thanks to Flipp. We share our finds and learn about deals from one another.
From groceries to electronics and household items, you can compare prices of almost anything on Flipp. Even smart TVs on Boxing Day! The free app is boon to smart shoppers and can save you the time and effort of going through the many flyers that come with your community newspaper. Plus you’ll avoid the wrath of fellow shoppers who have a low tolerance for individuals who spread out all their flyers at the cash register and hold up the line.
Store managements have realized that they have more to gain from retaining your business than reducing their prices to match competing offers. A word of caution though, make sure you are comparing similar items (brand and quantity) or you are likely to be disappointed.

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Get creative with your leftovers

Be inspired by how many different meals you can create out of the leftover turkey at Thanksgiving. It’s what your mother tried to teach you –waste not want not. You will also be in with the hip recycle and reuse crowd.
I’ll bet you’ve never heard of ‘Chana Pasta’? But it’s a great way to use leftovers of your Chana masala in a totally different way. The kids might actually begin to like chickpeas.
And what about the old favourite ‘Dal Roti’? It’s time to bring it back.
Similarly leftover rotisserie or barbeque chicken can be used in soups, wraps and salads.
It beats battling the kids when a particular preparation has been served more than once. It’s also a great solution for recipes that don’t turn out the way you expect.
And if your family has this thing about leftovers, just don’t tell them how the mouth-watering new dish came about. It can be our little secret.

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Let us know if you have any ideas of how to stretch your dollars in the kitchen. We’d be happy to share them with our readers.

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