Columnist offers a variety of ways you can get your dollar going even further in the grocery store and at home.
Did you notice something at the grocery store?
Let’s talk about something that I think we’re all feeling right now: the drastic increase in the cost of groceries and food.
Every day there is a litany of articles and stories about a variety of commodity shortages, price increases and the struggle for food security in our communities. Even my own household bill has jumped from at least $ 100 to $ 200 per month.
With the training of a professional chef, I see the cost of food from a business perspective. Restaurant margins have always been notoriously slim. An industry average hovers around two to three percent profit for the average restaurant. Any increase in the base material of your kitchen can lead to catastrophic consequences. This year is just another kick to the teeth of an already prone industry.
Commodities such as canola oil, meats and dairy products are all experiencing historic price increases. All of these prices are influenced by many factors. Gas prices for shipping, labor costs in packaging and processing, and commodity market values can all negatively affect the price we pay. There is very little relief in sight. The best a chef can do is linger, sharpen the pencil, and unfortunately for the consumer, raise their own prices.
But what can we do at home to help get through this hectic time and help the family budget go a little further? There are a few tips and tricks that chefs use to help you manage costs around the home, too.
Meal planning – Taking the time to plan your basic weekly meals can really help. This gives you the guide you need to create shopping lists and know how to best use the items you have on hand. Even just choosing a protein for each night can help. Good menu planning and recipe development is the backbone of a profitable kitchen.
Reduce food waste – Using leftovers, reducing portion sizes, and proper cooking techniques can all help reduce waste in your kitchen and help you get the most out of your store. Taking notes on what you have and making a good shopping list can help avoid over-shopping. Save the scraps that can be reused or used elsewhere. Today’s roasted chicken bones become
the chicken noodle soup of tomorrow.
A great cook is very aware of the products and processes of his kitchen. Someone who is unaware of food waste can cost a restaurant large sums of potential lost profits.
Store and retain when available. Big sale on tomatoes? Jar some sauce. Good price on pork chops? Buy and freeze. Pickling, freezing and drying are all great ways to expand the availability of items. Knowing how to store and preserve food is what kept our ancestors alive during lean times.
Many chefs and cooks are rediscovering many of these skills and using them to their advantage to offer unique local products throughout the year.
Develop your own – Plant a garden. There was a reason the “victory gardens” were such a big thing for our grandparent’s generation. Gardening has so many positive benefits for health and happiness. It can help to supplement your family’s meals with inexpensive, fresh vegetables ready for you at the peak of freshness.
Growing your own connects you to the food chain and allows you to understand the time and effort it takes to produce our food.
Some hotels are now seeing the benefits of having on-site gardens or partnering with local producers to bring an ever-increasing variety of fresh foods to the table.
Unfortunately, our world today really makes this aspect of life difficult for many to deal with. The financial burdens of running a household and the stress of the post-pandemic world really get people thinking and forcing many families to reassess and prioritize their budgets. Once the rent is paid and the utilities are paid, food is next on the list. Many families struggle to cover all of these costs and must seek alternative ways to close the gap.
Here are some of these ways:
* The Sharing Place Food Center is a community-based, non-profit organization dedicated to helping residents of the Orillia area living with food insecurity. They see more and more people all the time.
* This demand is only increasing as the cost of living in our community continues to rise. With such huge demand and changing markets, the food bank relies on our food and financial donations to help feed our most vulnerable friends and neighbors.
* The Good Food Box is a wholesale fresh food shopping club that provides people with access to the reduced costs of buying in bulk. This arrangement also helps producers move their goods more efficiently.
* These boxes are available monthly and contain a variety of fresh, seasonal produce at the low cost of $ 17 per month. A few good things I like about this program are one that they offer a Georgian College student program for $ 10 / month with pickup available on campus, and two, there’s a pay-it box. -forward ‘that you can buy and the food goes to a local family in need. A win-win for me!
Hope all of you and your families can save a few pennies and get the most out of your next trip to the store.
Additional information about the sharing location can be found here.
You will find information on the Good Food Box and its program here.
Daniel Clements is the Chief Technology Officer at the School of Hospitality and Tourism at Georgian College.