How can I find low-cost, healthy food?

This article is an excerpt of a publication by Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services.

Healthy food does not have to cost a lot of money. You can eat healthy food and save money by using these tips:

Planning Meals

  • A good way to save money is to plan and make all your meals. Packaged foods cost more money.
  • Decide how many times in a month you must grocery shop. Going to the store less often will save you money.
  • Know how much money you can spend each month.
  • Decide on recipes for the week and then write out a grocery list.
  • Check the grocery store specials or sales when you are planning your meals.
  • Plan your main course first, because it costs more money. Add fruit, vegetables, bread and milk to round out your meals.
  • Try to plan your meals around meat alternatives such as dried beans, peas and lentils as well as tofu. These foods cost less money.

Shopping hints for the supermarket that will save you money:

  • Do not go to the supermarket hungry. When you are hungry, you buy more food.
  • Less expensive foods are at the top or bottom of grocery shelves. They are not always easy to see.
  • Check the cost of brand items compared to no-name items. Often these items are exactly the same product, in different packaging.
  • Check the day-old or the quick sale counter for good buys. Please use these foods right away so they do not spoil.
  • Look for weekly store specials or sales.
  • Use coupons only for food on your shopping list. Do not buy something just because you have a coupon.
  • If the food item on special is not there, ask for a "rain-check." This means you can pick it up at another time at the special price.
  • Only buy what you can use. To avoid having food from going bad, store it safely.
  • Do not go to 24-hour convenience type of stores. The food costs more money and you do not have the same variety.

Please do not change your cultural food practices, especially if they differ from the suggestions made in this article. We honour your cultural food practices. We invite you to appreciate, celebrate and learn from this article.

For More Information

  • Food Choices When Money is Tight [PDF] - Information on where to go for help when you don't have enough food and tips on how to eat healthy on a budget. From EatRight Ontario.
  • Locally-Grown Cultural Food Guide - Information on where to shop for locally-grown foods in Toronto. From the Toronto Environmental Alliance.
  • Peer Nutrition Program - This is a free nutrition education program for parents and caregivers of children six months to six years of age living in Toronto. From Toronto Public Health.
  • Organic Vegetable Gardening [PDF] - This guide has information about growing your own vegetable garden. It talks about how to prepare soil, what to grow and where. From the City of Toronto.
Last updated: May 12, 2023 4001287