With food prices rising, more and more families in Canada are struggling to keep the grocery bill low, while at the same time putting tasty, nutritious meals on the table.

Leanne Brown has some ideas.

"Really, it's about being able to embrace cooking and have the skills to put something tasty on the table, no matter what."

Brown is the author of Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day, a cookbook designed for people with very tight budgets.

What does a $4 day look like on your plate?

  • Brown suggested you might start the day with oatmeal at pennies a serving, followed with a simple salad or leftovers for lunch, and then a hearty Chili or rice dish for dinner. 

veggies

Billions of dollars of food goes to waste in Canada every year. (CBC)

The skills, Brown said, are not restricted to the kitchen. The food-studies scholar and avid home cook said much work has to be done in the grocery store. With prices jumping on items like cauliflower, lettuce and asparagus, Brown suggested being flexible.

"What are the pieces of produce that maybe are on sale?" she asked. "Maybe even look in the frozen section to see if prices are any different."

Basics for the pantry?

  • Brown suggests canned pulses, rice, and other basic legumes. Also eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Meat is often one of the most expensive items on any grocery list, but Brown insists that eating well on the cheap does not mean veggies only. But again, she said, it takes a fresh approach. To keep grocery bills low and nutritious, Brown said that meat can no longer be the star of dinner.

Butcher slicing meat

Meat doesn't have to be crossed off the shopping list just because you are on a budget, said Brown. (CBC)

"Just using smaller amounts and kind of having them as part of cooking, little pieces of ham or whatever with your onions at the beginning of your dish, things like that."

Brown's book is not simply meant to help shoppers save. It is also intended to bring new understanding to the issue of food insecurity in North America. When someone buys the book in North America, a copy is donated to organizations that work with low-income families.