Meat, fruit and vegetable prices are all expected to rise in 2016 and that scares Winnipeg single mom Shelley Sauvé.

Her food budget has been feeling the pinch over the last year and a half, she said.

The University of Guelph's Food Institute says vegetable prices could rise two to four per cent, while meat prices are set to go up even faster, at a rate of 2.5 to 4.5 per cent.


Cauliflower and celery at an Extra Foods grocery store show higher prices in early January. (Abby Schneider/CBC)

The average Canadian family should expect to pay about $345 more on groceries in 2016, according to the institute.

"It's so scary. I've got two teenage boys," said Sauvé.

"It's more important for me that they eat. Even if there's food in the house, I choose not to eat to make sure there's always going to be enough for them to eat."

Sauvé said she's cut down on buying milk, from seven litres a week to three per week, and she now avoids buying meat completely, instead opting for legumes.

"Salads have gone way, way up; fruit, vegetables. Meat has become non-existent for us. It's way too expensive," said Sauvé.

Her family is sensitive to gluten, said Sauvé, which adds an additional strain on her budget. Both her sons are on the autism spectrum and Sauvé believes wheat worsens their symptoms. Sauvé herself is gluten intolerant.

The money she would budget for a week's worth of food now covers about three days, she said.

Winnipeg Harvest and the occasional meal at a soup kitchen are filling the gap. Last year Sauvé found out she qualified to have Habitat for Humanity build a house for her family. She hopes to move into a new home soon.

"Next summer we're going to start a garden if we get in early enough," said Sauvé.

CP food prices

With files from the Canadian Press