Saturday, March 5, 2011

You are what you eat

Last weekend, my Eye Candy and I commented that our weekly $240 grocery/household budget doesn't seem to go as far as it used to. Last summer, we were easily paying $170 a week and then putting our remaining $80 in our Mad Money fund. After only 10 weeks on this budgeting arrangement, we had saved up enough money to buy our puppy Fergie and pay for her flight from Texas to Montreal. But lately, only an extra $20 a week is going into our Mad Money and our grocery habits have not changed.

My EC initially said that it's because everything costs more in the winter, but it's more than just a seasonality effect. With George Weston reporting that they are passing the cost of rising commodities onto their consumers, I don't think we'll be seeing an extra flux into our Mad Money anytime soon. Canada is entering a period of inflation and it is buyer beware. We need to make smarter choices and shop smartly.

Granted, $240 a week on groceries for 2 adults may seem excessive when others could use that money to feed a family of 4 for the same period of time. But my boyfriend and I are novice nutritionists and we are conscientious about what we eat. Over the last 2-years, we've spent a lot of time learning about the food industry: from how the food is grown, butchered or picked, shipped, how it makes it way onto our store shelves, and how it is marketed to us.

We are also amateur athletes so we both subscribe to a melange of the ZONE and PALEO diets. The ZONE telling us how much we need to eat for our body size & fitness level, and the PALEO telling us what we should eat. Now, it doesn't mean we don't cheat from time to time on a pizza slice, but that's really an exception. For the most part, 35% of our intake comes from protein sources, 15% from good fat, and 50% from uncomplex carbs.

When it comes to grocery shopping, we shop the perimeter of the store and rarely make our way down the middle aisles. It's unfortunate, but healthy food is more expensive than junk food and it all started with the mass industrial usage of corn. Think about it... why does a bag of nachos cost less than 2 locally grown apples? Corn subsidies have allowed for food manufacturers to sell junk food at below their cost of production. The fewer the ingredients, the healthier the food is and unfortunately, the more expensive.

While I'm not going to start swapping apples for nachos as a carbohydrate source anytime soon, I'm going to shop 'by season'. Like most grocery stores in North America, my local Loblaws is always filled with exotic fruits and vegetables from faraway... but with snow and ice on the ground outside, it's obvious that pineapples are not a native food-source to Montreal.
Just like cargo kapris and gladiator sandals, fruits and vegetables have an 'in-season' and you can save money by purchasing them then as supply is highest so costs naturally tend to come down.
I've spent the last hour reading online about when my favourite fruits & veggies are ripest, what to look for when selecting a piece, and where in the world these really come from. Apparently, bananas are abundant worlwde and they are always in season. This isn't true for most fruits and veggies so I've put together a monthly guide that I'll use to plan my weekly grocery lists. I hope you also enjoy it!
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy asparagus, kiwi and oranges.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a wonderful post! It has been a great change of pace for me as i am always on the lookout for a whole new perspective on different subjects. Keep up with your hard work and dedication.