OTTAWA -- With food prices expected to rise three to five per cent in 2021, an Ottawa nutritionist say there are a few simple things you can do to lower your grocery bill and eat healthy in the new year.

The Canada Food Price Report 2021 says the average Canadian family will pay an extra $695 for food next year, as the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires and changing consumer habits drive up grocery bills. The report says meat, bakery items and vegetables will rise between 3.5 per cent and 6.5 per cent in 2021.

Nutritionist Rachel Caven of Caven Nutrition Group tells the "most important factor" in reducing your grocery bill is to create a list and plan meals ahead of time before you go to the grocery store.

"Because otherwise you're just going to go and get whatever is looking good at the time and you're going to get home and be like 'why did I buy all this food?,'" said Caven.

"So you have good intentions when you're there and then you get home and if you don't already have a meal plan for them or if you don't have recipes picked out, then you'll realize you're missing a few ingredients and then you won't be able to use the food anyway."

Caven admits fruits and vegetables are a "bit more expensive" to purchase at the grocery store than other healthy items.

However, if you are worried about eating healthy driving up your grocery bill, Caven says, "there are definitely ways to eat healthy in a cheaper way."

Canada's Food Price Report 2021 says the average family of four will spend $13,907 on groceries next year, an increase of $695 from 2020.

Rachel Caven of Caven Nutrition Group shares five tips with to save money on your grocery bill over the holidays and into 2021.


"Legumes are not only inexpensive, but also nutritional powerhouses," says Caven.

"They are high in protein and fibre and they are super filing."

Legumes include chickpeas, beans and lentils.  Caven says instead of meat in a meal; add legumes as a filing substitute.

"Instead of just doing the meatless Monday, because I feel like some people are turned off from that, instead of taking something away let's just add something," said Caven, adding legumes are "super inexpensive."

Choose foods that are high in fibre, like legumes.


Caven says you can save "a lot of money per gram" by purchasing your favourite products in bulk.

"If you go to Costco or buying in the bulk section, usually larger sizes are more inexpensive per gram or per litre," says Caven about buying in bulk to save money.

"But the disclaimer here is only for things you use. So if this is the first time trying out a spice or a different kind of oil or salad dressing, buy the small ones first."


"In summer, fresh and local is always the best," says Caven.

"In Canada, unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of fresh, local items in the wintertime, so it actually is just as healthy to get frozen in the winter."

Caven notes Canadians throw away a "lot of produce" each year.

"If you feel like you're tossing vegetables that you don't eat each week, buy them frozen instead!"

Caven says frozen produce is picked when ripe and frozen right away, whereas fresh produce is often picked before it's ripe and ripens on the truck, "therefore it hasn't had the chance to set all the nutrients from the soil and sun in the ripening process."

grocery shopping


"Everyone always goes for the chicken breast, because it's been brought up on us," said Caven.

"But you can save a lot of money by buying other less popular cuts, like buying chicken thighs or buying some cuts with the bone on it already."

The nutritionist tells CTV News Ottawa instead of buying individual cuts buy a whole chicken.

"Roast it, use for a few recipes and then use the bone to make a chicken broth, which is so good for you."



"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail," says Caven, recommending you look at the flyers before planning your meals for the week and heading to the store.

"Shopping the flyers makes it really easy because you know what kind of meats are on sale or what kind of veggies are on sale that week. So you can look for recipes that contain those ingredients."

Caven also recommends looking in your cupboards, pantry and freezer before going shopping so you do not end up purchasing something you already have at home.

"I don't know how many times I've gone to the grocery store and brought home chilli powder – again, we have eight in the cupboard because I didn't look beforehand."

Grocery prices