Calgary woman shares her tricks for coupons and others give tips to stretch a food budget

Calgary woman shares her tricks for coupons and others give tips to stretch a food budget

This story from our series on the high cost of food was originally published on December 14, 2021.


Annette Lowe goes shopping with two ring binders full of coupons.

Patience is the secret to getting great deals, says the Calgary resident, whose only income is a state disability check.

She does this by printing, cutting and looking for sales.

“We’re making a shopping list, and then I review the coupons,” she said in an interview with CBC Calgary’s project about the rising cost of food. “I want to go to the Superstore because they will match the price and use my coupons to make my grocery bill as low as I can.”

“You can make it fun. It depends on how serious you want to be with it,” Lowe said. “But it’s 100 percent necessary to make my budget work. Detergents are very expensive and I get most of my cleaning supplies for free, only from the printed coupons. I always get cheese very cheaply because these coupons are always available . “

“I do not know how I could afford groceries without them.”

Dawn Alberta19:22Three Albertans describe how they stretch their budget to cope with the rising cost of food


Inflation and pandemic-related supply chain problems have driven the price of food up to the point where many Calgary residents say they are struggling. CBC Calgary has invited people to share tips to save money on Facebook and through a texting app.

Whether it’s preservation and dehydration, shopping in bulk or cutting out meat, it seems that each person has a different technique to cope with.

Online coupon group shares secrets

Lowe recommends that you join the Canadian Savings Group on Facebook to read their primer for tips and links. The coupon-focused group now has 94,000 members.

She says she often gets items for free if she has a coupon for several dollars off and waits until the item goes on sale. Several stores let customers set up such offers, and companies often send coupons via email.

“Chapman’s will send you a $ 4 ice cream coupon every year,” she said. “You’re sending them an email and they’re sending you a coupon … My grandchildren, they like it juleis, so I’ll wait until it’s done and buy two.”

A dollar here, 50 cents there and so on. It quickly provides significant savings on a grocery bill. (Posted by Catalina Barrios)

Other Calgary and Southern Alberta residents shared their tips for conservatory gardening, shopping at discount stores, and using community programs such as Fresh Routes and Good Food Box.

AMA Discounts and Checkout 51

Community member Joan Karlowsky told Dawn Alberta host Russell Bowers about a class on reducing food waste she took from the Calgary Public Library. Now she is careful about how she stores products, ensuring that fruits and vegetables are separated, and she shop more often and buys just what she needs.

Others told CBC News that they share a Costco membership or they buy gift cards through the Alberta Motor Association to get five percent back.

Then there is the PC Health app. Tina Garstad says she got a $ 30 discount on groceries at the Superstore in November just by taking on a few health challenges.

On the topic of apps, several people wrote to say that they use the app Checkout 51. When they buy an item that is on the app, they upload the receipt and get money back.

“When you save $ 20, mostly with their online coupons, they send you a check. I’ve been using it for years with no complaints,” said Shauna Ogston, a single parent living in Calgary.

She lost her job under COVID and then focused on homeschooling her two children as one of them is immunocompromised. She says a child needs gluten-free food, and the federal help she received ran dry, so every penny counts.

Shauna Ogston stands with son Blayze Balmer and daughter Haylee Balmer. She says it has been difficult to plan each meal carefully to make her budget stretch. (Posted by Shauna Ogston)

“It’s hard. It’s time consuming and drains a lot of energy,” she told Bowers further Dawn Alberta. “Having to sit down and really plan every meal, making sure the rose you buy is enough for two days. Just such simple things, I think, have been mentally draining.”

Sharing mass purchases and dehydration

Meanwhile, others in Calgary are focused on preserving food and turning to each other for help.

Four people wrote about dehydration. It seems that it also grew in popularity during the pandemic, and now it pays off in savings for people who buy in bulk or just use it to preserve tired products that would otherwise be wasted.

Calli O’Brien says she bought a dehydrator from Cabela’s for $ 99 and went so far into it that she wrote a recipe book for rehydrated meals. It saves money when her husband travels and is not forced to go to restaurant.

Calli O’Brien bought a dehydrator at the beginning of the pandemic. She now uses it to make camping meals and meals for trips to save on restaurant costs. (Posted by Calli O’Brien)

Donna Dapp wrote a text message to say that she started saving money after she met a friend in similar circumstances who lived right down the hall in her building. They both live alone and now take advantage of offers by sharing an apartment with 30 eggs, a large brick cheese or five pound bag of tangerines.

“I met my neighbor in June when I moved in. When we got to know each other, we became good friends,” Dapp said. “For seniors or singles, it’s not just about saving money; it’s about not throwing food out or seeing it spoiled.”


CBC Calgary: The High Cost of Food

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