Grocery challenge: These shrimp saved my bacon

The first week of my challenge to cut my grocery budget has gone well, even though I wasn’t quite able to hit my target of $170 to feed our family of three plus regular family drop ins.

My challenge is to reduce my monthly grocery spending of $815 by 15 per cent, bringing it down to about $700, or  $170 a week.

At my local Fortinos in mid-town Toronto, I bought some pork tenderloin ($6.59 lb. on sale) and chicken (family pack $17.59 good for two  meals) and fresh fruits and vegetables ($38). Then I stocked up on staples like pasta, rice, oats and crushed tomatoes ($35) which should last awhile. Midweek I bought fresh bread, lunch meats and snacks for lunch. So in total I spent $149. But towards the end of the week I ran into a bit of a problem with only $21 left.

On Friday, I usually buy fish or seafood for dinner, but $21 wouldn’t get me the halibut I wanted and the ingredients for a dessert I was bringing to a family function.  The fish was $12 per pound and I need at least a pound and a half.

Fortunately there’s a great Canadian substitute that doesn’t compromise taste or quality – President’s choice Atlantic Coldwater Shrimp. I like this product because it has all the flavour you remember shrimp used to have and none of the preservatives. They contain just shrimp and salt and are already cooked and peeled.

Most other frozen shrimp contain sodium tripolyphosphates which are a chemical generally viewed as safe for your health but may not be for your wallet. This additive helps the shrimp hold water and look plump, firm and glossy longer. If overused the shrimp will retain a significant amount of water which you pay for by the pound.

Most of the time I find these shrimp in Fortino’s but this past June Sobeys featured Nova Scotia seafood with their own version of Atlantic Coldwater shrimp so I think they are growing in popularity.

I have used these shrimp in pasta, noodle stir fries and on cold salad plates. One of my favourite summer recipes is a Shrimp, Avocado and Cucumber salad with lemon dill dressing. In addition they have lots of protein, healthy omega-3- fatty acids and are low in calories. A 340 g package is usually only $6.99 and that is plenty of shrimp for 4 to 6 salad plates.

These shrimp have in effect saved my bacon because they show how I will stay within my budget and still eat well. Fish for four to six people would have easily cost me $25 so these shrimp  saved me $18. So even though I was $5 over target for the week, next week I hope to make up for it with the help of our own local products.

The challenge so far:
Week 1: $175 spent, $5 over budget.

Published by maisievanriel

Welcome to my website. My name is Maisie Vanriel and I am a Registered Dietitian. I am a graduate of The University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Food and Nutritional Science and a Diploma in Food Safety from the Guelph Food Technology Centre. I realized a few years ago that some of the best times I have had in my career as a Dietitian have been those times when I was writing. For many years I was part of the Editorial Advisory Board of Diabetes Dialogue Magazine (The Canadian Diabetes Association) which afforded me the opportunity to write articles and editorials on diabetes. I contributed to the first Ontario Healthy Eating Manual and recently reviewed the lesson plans in the updated version launched this March 2012. In May of 2011, I won the Toronto Star’s MoneyVille section Next Blogger’s contest beating out 265 other contestants for the chance to write on nutrition and sensible shopping. My winning Blog was entitled: 5 things your grocery store won’t tell you. Writing is one of my favourite ways of communicating and like cooking it relaxes me; so in some ways your allowing me to communicate with you will contribute to my health and I hope in return I can contribute to your health and wellbeing. The inspiration for this website is my grandmother who lived 97 years and enjoyed excellent health for almost all of those 97 years. She believed in healing power of herbs, a plant-based diet and in paying attention to the type of fuel (food) that she put in her body. So my postings will be less about the constant stream of research and studies around what and how to eat and more about reminding us that we have always known how to eat. We just need to get back in tune with our bodies and focus on providing it with the best possible fuel, quality foods.

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