A Lowest Price Nutritious Food Basket
In the month of May every year, Health Units all around the Province of Ontario, conduct a Nutritious Food Basket Survey. It is a mandate of the Ontario Government that Health Units try to calculate the costs of 67 food items.
The list of 67 food items was last updated in 2009. Health Units are given certain packaging sizes to gather price data on. They are expected to go into all of the grocery stores in their communities. Once all of the price data has been calculated they have to figure out the AVERAGE cost on each of those 67 Nutritious Food Basket items.
This means that these food items, when presented to their communities in final reports, are NOT the lowest prices. No, they are the average prices.
A Fairer Calculation Of How You Actually Shop
We will attempt to gather an idea of what these 67 items would cost at their lowest prices within the Muskoka region. After all, that is how I shop, and I hope you shop this way too. Purchasing items at their sale or low prices is what will EMPOWER you towards a HOPE and a FUTURE to put more food on your table for less money.
When you deal with Food Security Issues in your home, this is what you have to do. Fight back by shopping smarter. When you learn techniques such as these, you will free up that $100 a month within your own budget.
For instance at the time that this report was made there was a major lettuce crop failure. This has resulted in outrageous prices as a result. However, the thing to do is NOT to buy lettuce at those high prices. Instead, substitute other nutritious alternatives such as spinach or cabbage.
There is always a solution to your Food Security Issues—you just need to be adaptable.
A Fairer Representation Of 67 Food Items
We will also attempt to demonstrate a fairer representation of food items that low-income families can and are purchasing. Perhaps it isn’t an Inside Round Roast of Beef. But by buying the cheapest Beef Roast, money is freed up to purchase real butter and mayonnaise.
Oh, by the way, real mayonnaise or whipped dressing are the same price anyways if you look, $2.97 for an 890 ml jar, especially at the Giant Tiger. So why buy “whipped sugar” when you can have the healthier option of mayonnaise without costing any more?
The lowest price for meats here is Chicken Legs with the Backs Attached for $2.20/kg. A good second meat choice is the Pork Loin for $3.24/kg.
Beef for the past few years has been higher due to the “mad cow disease” situation that resulted in the slaughter of many herds. So until the beef stocks have been rebuilt, the beef will continue to be higher costs. So adapt, and eat other types of meat instead. Simple solution to Food Security Issues.
- Whole Chicken – $4.39/kg
- Chicken Legs with back attached – $2.20/kg
- Chicken Legs with NO back attached – $4.39/kg
- Beef—Inside Round Roast – $19.16/kg**
- Beef — Outside Round Roast — $6.59/kg
- Beef—Sirloin Tip Roast – $7.58/kg
- Beef—Inside Round Steak – $19.16/kg**
- Beef–Marinating Steak — $6.59/kg
- Beef—Lean Ground Beef – $7.69/kg
- Pork—Loin Rib or Sirloin Halves – $3.24/kg
- Pork—Loin Center-cut Chops, bone-in – $4.34/kg
- Bacon 375 g – $2 ($5.33/kg)
- Peameal Bacon – $6.59/kg
Processed meat—pre-packaged sliced ham (not low fat) 100 grams – $0.99 (750 grams – $3.88 = $0.52/100 grams $5.20/kg)
Fresh vegetables are easily the more cost efficient choice for your family. In fact, buying in season offers you the best prices and a wide variety year round. Asparagus is a nice change for the spring. Carrots, squashes, and cabbage are abundant all winter long. Green and yellow beans, zucchini and more, in the summer.
In fact the abundance of fresh vegetables at great prices year round makes the need to blanch and freeze carrots and the such an unnecessary task. The cost of the hydro alone to boil and blanch things down makes it no longer a good practice.
And keep in mind that fresh vegetables are actually cheaper than either canned or frozen varieties. So buy fresh whenever possible. If you still find the cost too high, then try the Fresh Food Basket Program or the Good Food Box program in your region.
- Asparagus 325 grams – $1.88
- Sweet Potatoes – $1.70/kg
- Potatoes 10 lb (4.54/kg) – $1.97
- Carrots – $0.87/kg
- Romaine Lettuce 3pk – $3.88
- Broccoli – $0.97 each
- Green Sweet Pepper – $4.39/kg
- Rutabagas (aka Yellow Turnips) – $1.70/kg
- Cabbage – $2.16/kg
- Cucumber, any variety – $0.77 each
- Celery – $1.97
- Iceberg Lettuce – $4.49
- Mushroom, any variety 227 grams – $1.67 ($7.36/kg)
- Yellow Onions – $0.43/kg
- Tomatoes – $1.92/kg
Fresh fruit is best when bought in season. Strawberries are now available year round and make a great snack anytime. However, it is always a great adventure to take your children and visit a pick your own berries farm.
Some fruits higher in sugar contents such as oranges and grapes are not choices we personally regularly purchase. Just for that very reason—too high in natural sugars. So if you suffer from issues such as diabetes you do not want to be buying or eating fruits such as these. Especially bananas, which are particularly high in sugar. There are other food options to make up for Vitamin C and Potassium without these sugary fruits.
- Apples, any variety – $1.81/kg
- Bananas – $1.23/kg
- Cantaloupe– $1.23
- Red or Green Grapes, seedless – $2.18/kg
- Oranges (NOT mandarin, clementine, tangerine, etc) – $1.81/kg
- Pears, any variety – $1.81/kg
- Strawberries 1 lb – $1.99 ($4.38/kg)
Cheese and Milk
Milk is a set standard price of $4.27 for a 4 Liter bag. Cheese prices fluctuate up and down, but because you can freeze cheese, we advise that when it is lower priced such as $3.77 for a 450 gram bar, that you grab extra. Do not buy bags of shredded cheese. It only takes a moment to shred cheese anyways.
As you save grocery dollars in other areas, you can find the money necessary to purchase real butter. Buying the unsalted varieties is best.
- Milk, partly skimmed, 2% M.F. 4 L – $4.27
- Processed Cheddar Cheese slices – $2.99
- Mozzarella Cheese Bar 450 g – $3.77
- Cheddar Cheese Bar 450 g – $3.77
- Yogurt, fruit flavored, 1-2% M.F. 650 g – $1.97
- Eggs, Large Chicken Eggs – $1.77
- Butter, 454 grams – $2.97
- Margarine, tub, non-hydrogenated – $0.99
Frozen Food Items
Although these are the items that the Health Unit will be pricing out in their survey, I personally would not buy the frozen vegetables, orange juice, or strawberries. However, we do purchase frozen fish fillets. We are particularly fond of Basa, Tilapia, and Salmon.
- Fish Fillets, the cheapest of Haddock, Sole, Pollock, or Halibut 400 grams – $4.99
- Frozen Fish Fillets, Basa 454 grams – $3 ($6.61/kg)
- Green or Yellow Beans, frozen 750 grams – $1.99 (1 kg = $2.65)
- Mixed Carrots and Peas, frozen 750 grams – $1.99 (1 kg = $2.65)
- Peas. frozen 750 grams – $1.99 (1 kg = $2.65)
- Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate – $1.99
- Strawberries, frozen, unsweetened 600 grams – $2.97
Dry and Canned Goods
With the increased problems with wheat allergies and gluten sensitivities, more and more people are ditching the wheat. Myself included. As a result there are very few items on this list that we even include in our pantry anymore. We prefer to keep fresh fruits, vegetables and meats in our diet instead. However, the canned fish is a daily item in our lunch.
- Lentils, dry 450 g – $1.79
- Arrowroot or Social Tea Cookies – $0.69
- Saltine Crackers, unsalted – $1.50
- Smooth Peanut Butter, with sugar and salt added 1 kg – $2.99
- Vegetable Oil, canola or canola blend 3 L – $4.99
- Whipped Dressing such as Miracle Whip, but NOT Mayonnaise 890 ml – $2.97 ($1.59/475 ml)
- Mayonnaise 890 ml – $2.97 ($1.59/475 ml)
- Regular Italian Salad Dressing – $1.97
- Spaghetti Pasta Noodles 900 grams – $1.98
- White Rice, long grain, parboiled, or converted 2 kg – $3.99 1.87 (7.49/8 kg)
- Peanuts, dry roasted 200 grams – $0.99
- Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce 398 ml – $0.59
- Canned Tuna in water 170 grams – $0.88
- Pink Salmon, canned 213 grams – $1.99
- Peaches, canned halves or slices in water, juice, or light syrup 796 ml – $2.75
- Whole Corn Kernels – $0.77
- Tomatoes, whole, not stewed 796 ml – $0.97
- Apple Juice, unsweetened, pure or from concentrate 1.89 L – $2
- Tomato Juice Cocktail, regular or Vegetable Cocktail, regular 945 ml – $0.99
- Bran Flake Cereal with Raisins – $2.99
- Toasted Oat Cereal – $2.99
- Regular quick cooking oatmeal, NOT instant 1 kg – $2.84
- Whole Wheat Flour 2.5 kg – $2.50
- White Flour 2.5 kg – $2.50
- Raisins, any variety 750 g – $5.49
- Whole Wheat Pita Bread 397 g – $1.49
- 100% Whole Wheat sliced Bread 675 g – $1.77
- White sliced Bread 675 g – $1.77
- Hamburger Buns 8’s – $1.77
Wrapping It Up
As you can see, a nutritious food basket of items is not that expensive. It is easily doable to keep your grocery costs down and still put real food on your table.
Dealing with Food Security Issues begins with you! By taking control and learning to shop smarter. Here at Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs we are trying to equip you with the resources you need to do just that. To help you be EMPOWERED towards a HOPE and a FUTURE.
Whether you need to learn to make your own Frugal Friday Flyer, join a Community Garden, or take part in the Fresh Food Basket program—there are many ways to put real food on your table and keep your grocery bill down. And remember, Food Bank Dependency Hurts Your Family.
Do you buy most of these 67 Food Items? Comment below and share your shopping tips too!