Can your budget cope with the cost of cauliflower?

In Regina, a local food program found that the cost of a case of cauliflower went up from $49 to $85between October and December. One restaurant in Toronto had to replace its popular roasted cauliflower dish with squash due to its soaring prices. And while the cauliflower crop might be hit especially hard by El Nino in the U.S. and Mexico, these higher prices north of the border are also an effect of a sinking Canadian dollar. Due in large part to currency fluctuations, Canadians are expected to add an additional $345 to their grocery bill in 2016.

For those who’ve decided to become vegetarian due to the high cost of meat, the rising cost of fresh produce could prove especially frustrating. The University of Guelph found that nearly 38 per cent of Canadians cut back on beef in 2015, with most (62 per cent) doing so for financial reasons. All told, prices of both meat and veggies could rise by 4.5 per cent this year. And that’s after fruits, veggies and nuts went up by 10 per cent in 2015. Now’s the time to review your food budget and adjust your expenses, if you haven’t already.

How to save more at the grocery store

The Globe and Mail offers five methods to save up to 40 per cent on groceries:

  • Buy fresh produce at discount grocers
  • Buy no-name brands to save money
  • Grab what you can at a dollar store
  • Cut back on food waste

Other sources suggest to avoid coupons, flyers (not everything is on sale) and buying the biggest box of something to get more bang for your buck. And while you’ll want to budget your food costs on a weekly basis, meal-planning might not be the best way to save money—you’ll often end up paying more for items that might be marked down on your next shopping trip.

But while Canadians have little control over the rise and fall of our currency, we can certainly curtail certain eating habits. In comparing cauliflower costs, a head of organic was selling for $8.99 in Toronto, as opposed to the $25 roasted, stuffed version that was recently removed from the menu at a local restaurant. As food costs rise, it’s pretty much a given that restaurants will be passing the costs on to customers—barring any radical menu changes. Therefore, the best way to reduce spending on food is to stop eating out; or, at the very least, choose more affordable options to avoid going over your food budget.

Judging by past history, the loonie should eventually recover from its recent lows and the cost of cauliflower ought to drop to a more reasonable level over time. But let’s make 2016 the year of the battle-tested budget; stress test your monthly budget to see how it copes with rising food costs, mortgage rates and emergency savings situations.

How much does cauliflower cost where you live? Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #BDOdebthelp #LetsTalkDebt