Don’t let food take the bite out of your wallet

Alberni registered dietician Sandra Gentleman schools readers on healthy eating issues.

The rising cost of food has caused turmoil in many parts of the world and is a concern for people everywhere. There are many reasons for prices to be increasing worldwide,  and there are strategies for individual consumers to help save money on one of the most essential weekly costs.

Enough cannot be said for using part of the fertile soil in the Alberni Valley for growing food. The climate and conditions for agriculture are ideal even for the average homeowner. Many have available land to turn at least part of their property into food producing gardens.

There are so many fruit trees and bushes that bear luscious fruit throughout the summer and autumn. Harvesting the in-season produce really can be a healthy activity to utilize what is already available.

In addition, with more people growing and harvesting food, it builds capacity to become more self-reliant on Vancouver Island for food security. Also, venturing to the Valley’s various  farmers markets and supporting initiatives by the local agriculture community helps save money and allows you to feel “green”.

For packaged food items that have a shelf life, buying in bulk can help to reduce the cost per unit. Also, purchasing generic or store brand products will generally offer similar quality for less money.

For vegetables and fruits, it’s a better idea to buy only as much fresh produce that can be used within three or four days. After that, the nutritional value decreases.

In terms of produce, gold standard would be freshly picked and eaten within a few days. Frozen vegetables and fruits are picked at their peak ripeness, and therefore, are the next best thing to fresh.

Canned varieties still offer some nutrition, but with the processing, sodium (salt) in tinned vegetables, and added sugar in the syrups of packed fruit offer less nutritional value for your dollar. It is healthier to eat fruits and vegetables, than not have them in your diet, so, for those people who don’t eat fresh items, some processed options are better than nothing.

Many produce aisles offer overripe, discounted fruit, which can be purchased for the purpose of freezing and using in baking or other recipes, such as smoothies.

Planning for the trip to the grocery store will also help reduce the total bill. Making a list of what’s needed for the cupboard and fridge helps minimize impulse buying. Shopping after eating means hunger is not driving food choices. Research has shown that higher fat, more convenience “junk” foods are typically chosen if the shopper has a grumbling stomach while at the store.

Taking the time to read labels, and getting a good sense of the value and nutrition in packaged foods will help improve choices.

By sticking to the perimeter of the store, most of the food staples can be found in the four major sections: whole grain products in the bakery, lean meats, fish and skinless poultry in the deli, produce, and low fat milk products in the dairy section.

A couple of aisle stops to find cupboard grocery staples not typically around the perimeter include canned beans (an excellent protein source, convenient and easy to add to salads and soups).

Whole wheat noodles, brown, wild rices along with buckwheat, quinoa and other whole and ancient grains add low cost food variety to the grocery bag. Also, canned fish with bones, such as salmon, sardines and herring are nutritional powerhouse essentials that are found in the canned food aisle.

(Tinned fish packed with bones have high nutritional value, including elements such as; omega-3s, protein, calcium and vitamin D for bone health.)

With a few ground rules for shopping, these ideas, along with many other creative solutions of food purchasers over the years (with home economy in mind), the weekly grocery bill can be reduced to save hard-earned dollars.

Sandra Gentleman is a registered dietitian and has worked in a variety of settings on Vancouver Island. She is passionate about healthy, active living.

Just Posted

Septic truck rolls over without a spill west of Port Alberni

Single vehicle crash took place on Klekhoot Crescent

Vancouver Island partners sign hull design contract for floating LNG project

Steelhead LNG and partner Huu-ay-aht First Nations say the agreement was signed in Barcelona

RAISE A READER 2018: Port Alberni popup book event a success

First Book Canada brought 16,000 books for distribution in B.C.-wide event

ARTS AROUND: Port Alberni husband and wife team showcase their art

Art and Linda Campbell join the Rollin Art Centre until Oct. 12

Knacker’s Yard brings Celtic sound to Port Alberni

Eight-piece band will be returning to Alberni Valley for a west coast party

Sproat Lake hosts fall dragon boat regatta

Port Alberni’s Sproat Ness Dragons earn third place

Fresh-faced Flames fend off Canucks 4-1

Vancouver drops second straight NHL exhibition contest

Scheer pushes Trudeau to re-start Energy East pipeline talks

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer questioned the Prime Minister over Trans Mountain project

Mistaken identity: Missing dog claimed in Moose Jaw belongs to another family

Brennen Duncan was reunited with a white Kuvasz that was found in Saskatchewan

Abandoned kitten safe and sound thanks to B.C. homeless man

‘Jay’ found little black-and-white kitten in a carrier next to a dumpster by a Chilliwack pet store

Police chief defends controversial marijuana seizure

Advocates said cannabis was part of an opioid-substitution program in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

VIDEO: B.C. deer struggles with life-preserver caught in antlers

Campbell River resident captures entangled deer on camera

Trans Mountain completes Burrard Inlet spill exercise

Training required, some work continues on pipeline expansion

Supporters of B.C. man accused of murdering Belgian tourist pack courtoom

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance in Chilliwack

Most Read