Sustainable Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Sustainable Grocery Shopping on a Budget

This blog was written by Mogo. Mogo (TSX: MOGO; NASDAQ: MOGO)  — a financial technology company — offers a finance app that empowers consumers with simple solutions to help them get in control of their financial health and be more mindful of the impact they have on society and the planet. 

Shopping local is good for the environment and our economy. We’re here to help you support small businesses while staying on budget.


From fresh foods to home goods, the products we consume may come from all corners of the globe. That’s why shopping locally and sustainably can have a positive impact on both your community and the environment.

Here are a few tips to keep your sustainable grocery shopping on budget.

Make your list ahead of time

One of our first tips for grocery shopping of any kind is to make a list—before you set out—and stick to it.

When shopping local and sustainable, your trip may involve visiting a few locations – rather than going to one larger store that has everything you need in one place.

This is where lists come in.

Decide early on which shops you’ll be visiting, and exactly what you’ll purchase from each. Without these lists, or a similar “game plan,” it is way too easy to overspend on things you don’t need, or purchase foods from shops where they are not the most cost effective (for example, the butcher may offer limited fruits and vegetables, but it will most certainly cost more!).

Buy in-season foods

Sustainable shopping is all about keeping in tune with nature’s growing seasons. This means you’ll probably not be able to procure strawberries in the dead of winter.

By purchasing fruits and vegetables at their peak season, you’ll be supporting the proper maintenance of local farmland and agricultural practices while treating yourself to high quality fruits and vegetables at a great price. 

Think about it: root vegetables are their best in the winter, so stock up and cook more stews, soups, and hearty dishes. In season, vegetables like this are their most flavourful and most abundant. 

Similarly, berries are their best in summer, so relish when they come back into season and enjoy them at their best. 

This strategy—buying in season—will not only get you fruits and vegetables at their best, it will save you money. Win, win.

Track your spending with MogoCard

It’s important to maintain great visibility into your finances when grocery shopping. This is even more true when shopping sustainably because prices can really creep up if you’re not mindful.

Using prepaid debit cards like the free Mogo Visa* Platinum Prepaid Card can help. You preload the card with a fixed amount of money, so it’s impossible to overspend. What’s more: with MogoCard, you get push notifications that remind you of your balance with every single transaction you make. Such transparency will help you stay on budget and stretch your money further.

As a bonus, when you make purchases with the MogoCard, Mogo purchases carbon credits to support the reforestation and maintenance of the Amazon rainforest. Talk about sustainability!

Buy ugly food

Consumers are notoriously fickle. One of the ways this manifests is in a real struggle for farmers and producers to sell “ugly” goods.

There is nothing wrong with ugly fruits or vegetables. “Ugly” refers to cosmetic quirks only, and yet these perfectly good and delicious food products often go to waste. Look for markets or local “direct to consumer” businesses that connect the public with farms for the purpose of “rescuing” this ugly food.

As it’s so hard to sell to mainstream markets, you’ll often get a great deal on purchasing from “ugly” food vendors. So buying “ugly” is sustainable in multiple ways: you’re decreasing food waste, supporting local farmers, and keeping your wallet in check.

Try an internet search to find a service like this in your area, or try connecting with local farms or vendors to inquire.

Bring your own shopping bag

In Canada, most shops have enacted policies where customers must pay up to $0.15 per plastic bag required for their shopping. The widespread use—and discard—of plastic grocery bags has a terrible impact on the environment, so attaching a price tag was meant to discourage frivolous use. 

Good for the environment, but bad for your wallet if you end up paying for bags.

Be sure to bring your own reusable shopping bags when you do your shopping to avoid these fees and to avoid contributing to the growing plastic pollution problem. 

This simple trick might seem common sense, but it’s surprisingly difficult to remember every time you go out: bring your reusable bags. Our tip? Hang your grocery bags on your front door knob, or keep them with your car or bike so you won’t forget them.

Sustainable grocery shopping on a budget

Sustainable shopping on a budget isn’t necessarily hard, but it does take some planning and strategy to get the most bang for your buck. But if you’re intent on supporting the environment, your local economy, your own health and wellness, and your wallet—well, it’s a no brainer. 

* Trademark of Visa International Service Association and used under licence by Peoples Trust Company. Mogo Visa Platinum Prepaid Card is issued by Peoples Trust Company pursuant to licence by Visa Int. and is subject to Terms and Conditions, visit mogo.ca for full details. Your MogoCard balance is not insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). MogoCard means the Mogo Visa Platinum Prepaid Card. 

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