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A new study predicts that the average

Canadian family will need to find an extra $411 for groceries this year, as food prices are projected to rise.  Whether you’re already on a tight budget or have resolved to make this the year you spend just one minute a day planning healthier food, this presents a challenge.  Cooking healthy food with a variety of fresh and exotic ingredients can sometimes prove expensive and inefficient, but with a few simple changes to your routine, you can eat healthily without breaking the bank.

Fresh flavours

Around 75% of Canadians are currently not meeting government guidelines on daily servings of fresh fruit and vegetables.  From iron-rich dark leafy vegetables like broccoli and spinach to berries and oranges bursting with vitamin C, fruit and veg are packed with nutrients.  Seasonal domestically grown produce is generally cheaper, plus it doesn’t involve air miles to reach your grocery store, so it costs the planet a little less too.  You could also look at the discount sections of your grocery store for produce which may be bruised or misshapen but still tastes great. Root vegetables are often a little cheaper than their more exotic counterparts, but are delicious in stews, soups or oven baked as alternative fries.

The freezer is your friend

With one third of all food produced globally going to waste, a little thrift can go a long way.  If you can find ways to store your food for longer, not only does it reduce the eye watering amount of food thrown away, but it also helps your pocket.  Cooking in batches is a great way to shop efficiently; create stews, soups, pasta dishes or sauces which you can then use when the budget feels tight, or if you’re simply in a hurry to get a healthy dinner on the table.  For added efficiency, use your freezer wisely by storing dinner or lunch portions in small labelled containers.  You can also keep frozen fruit to add to smoothies and pancakes for the odd treat.

Filling up

Another healthy way to make your dollar go a little further is to add pulses, brown rice and wholewheat pasta to your meals.  These are relatively cheap and low fat, and will help you feel fuller for longer. A recent study has even shown that lentils can lower your blood glucose levels by 20%, as well as providing protein and aiding digestion, so look out for them on your next shopping trip.

At a time when food is becoming more expensive, finding ways to eat well for less is a really important skill.  Embrace seasonal fresh foods, prepare ahead and freeze, and look for cheap but nutritious ways to make your meals more filling.  Your health is well worth the investment.