Eat well on less? It’s certainly possible! Last week, we covered how precious little white domed protein balls (our long way of saying “eggs”) are your best friends when it comes to eating well, quickly and affordably, last week. But, what about saving money on non-protein sources? The good news is that regardless of where you live, whether it’s a big city, the suburbs or the country-side, you have affordable and plentiful options that won’t wreck your wallet.
If you live in a big city, there is most likely a Food Box/Food Share program in the works, or even a community (or several!) community gardens.
If you live in a rural, or smaller suburban area, you might still have a community or food share program, but also the benefit of being closer to farmers who sell their produce and other products directly to the community.
Food Box Programs & Community Gardens
Want a great way to meet new people, help your local community and get access to affordable, healthy food? Look for a food box program or a community garden! What are food box programs you might be asking? As a food box customer, you essentially purchase bulk produce items for less than retail cost. The produce is local and handled less, thus it travels to you faster as the chain of distribution is small. Produce is also seasonal, so you get to experience a variety of great grub on rotation! You pay a flat amount on the type of box you choose, and some farms, like Ignatius Farm in Guelph, offers various sizes depending on your family’s needs. Most food box programs also offer winter by-in opportunities, where you can feast on potatoes, kale, beets, winter squashes and more for a fraction of the cost at the grocery store. For example, an entire winter box share at Ignatius farms only costs $175 for the whole season!
Check out the following websites for Food Box Programs in Ontario to get you started:
Community gardens are also a great way of learning valuable growing skills and to meet new people! It’s a lot of hard work, so you may not have the time to put into a garden yourself, but many municipalities across Canada have garden programs you can buy into. Check your local municipality website for more information!
Have you ever experienced the thrill of being in a crowded open market on a beautiful Saturday morning? If not, we suggest finding a farmer’s market near you and giving it a try! Not only will you find local produce and meat, poultry and eggs, but other grocery-like products, such as honey, cheese, milk and more. Some markets are so big, like St. Jacob’s Market in St. Jacobs, ON, they’re practically an outdoor mall, with clothing, furniture and toys – all for great prices and locally made. And, let’s not forget the legendary St. Lawrence Market in Toronto! The food is fresh and often cheaper than a big grocery chain. The best part of a market is, if you’re a meat-eater, fresh meat is dollars-on-the-pound cheaper than at a grocery store. Farmer’s markets shopping can also become a fun family outing every weekend, and a delicious and healthy way to eat well on the go; some of the freshest “fast food” you’ll ever get is at a market.
Farmers markets can also put you in touch with farmers who offer meat-shares, which means you can buy a portion of a cow or a pig. The farmer does all the work and when it’s time to “harvest”, you have an enormous, fresh supply of protein. Of course, we recommend you have an enormous freezer for any kind of large food buying plan! Check out the Ontario CSA Farm Directory right here to find a farmer near you! Remember the golden rule of food savings : bulk is always cheaper!
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