How to cut your monthly grocery bill in half, from a woman who lived on $14,000 a year

Associated Press

Kathleen Elkins, Business Insider

A simple way to trim your grocery bill is to buy less meat. “Try substituting beans and wheat berries for meat in your favorite recipes,” Wagasky suggests. “Enchiladas, spaghetti, and casseroles taste just as good with the meat omitted.”

If you have a harder time parting ways with your meat, start by establishing one meatless day a week. Eliminating meat just once or twice a week can make a significant difference in your grocery bill.

Go generic

Go generic whenever possible. It will save you money.

“There are some things my husband and I have learned truly taste the same as the name brand, while others can’t compare,” Wagasky writes. “The only way to know if you’ll like a product is to try it.”

Her pro-tip when shopping for generics: “Make sure to look up and down the shelves of food. Most grocery stores put the name brand items at eye level. They want that to be what the consumer focuses on. Generic brands are usually on the bottom shelf or the top shelf, so keep those eyes open.”

Stock up seasonally

Sometimes, when you buy is more important than where you buy.

“Buying seasonally is a great way to save and build up a stockpile,” Wagasky writes. “Each month grocery stores offer certain sales on items.”

For example, in the summer, barbecue items will be at rock-bottom prices, making it the perfect time to stock up on chips, crackers, ketchup, relish, mayo, and mustard.

Along the same lines, seasonal fruits and vegetables are cheaper, and they also taste better.

Eat produce in order

Flickr / Jamie McCaffrey/Business Insider

Produce can be tricky to shop for, as their expiration dates are not very forgiving. To make fruits and veggies last significantly longer, eat them in order, starting with the things that will go bad the soonest.

Here’s Wagasky’s guide:

First: bananas, berries, cherries, kiwis, avocado, spinach, lettuce, and grapes

Second: tomatoes, mango, peaches, pears, melon, apricots, and zucchini

Third: cucumbers, pineapple, and pomegranates

Last: carrots, potatoes, celery, apples, grapefruit, and oranges

Go homemade


“Over the years, I have learned that the more we can make at home, the better off our grocery budget will be,” Wagasky writes. “In our home, we try to make as much from scratch as possible.”

One item she’s saved significantly on by going homemade is bread, a staple in her household: “If I were to buy bread from the store, I would be paying over three dollars per loaf. Thirty-six dollars a month is a hefty fee to pay for something I can make in minutes for one-third the cost.”

Wagasky also chooses to make homemade granola bars and trail mix rather than spending on prepackaged snacks, which tend to be pricey and unhealthy.

Harper commits to new funding to continue Terry Fox’s fight against cancer

The Honourable James Moore today announced that a re-elected Conservative government would continue its work to improve the health of Canadians by supporting three new measures connected to Terry Fox’s fight against cancer.

“Terry Fox is a true Canadian hero,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.  “His Marathon of Hope and determination to find a cure for cancer embodied values that Canadians hold dear – like courage, optimism and a belief that ordinary Canadians can achieve extraordinary things.”

Joined by Laureen Harper and Tim Laidler, Conservative candidate for Port Moody-Coquitlam, Moore announced that a re-elected Conservative government would:

match donations for this year’s 35th annual Terry Fox Run to a maximum of $35 million;

  • provide capital funding of $12.5 million to help establish the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Centre in Vancouver, in conjunction with other levels of government and private donors.
  • renew its commitment to the Canadian Partnership against Cancer, which works with cancer groups and experts across the country to treat and prevent cancer.

“Our government is committed to a publicly-funded, universally accessible and sustainable health care system,” said Moore, noting the government’s strong record of supporting ground-breaking research into cancer and other diseases as well as consistent, sustainable increases to the Canada Health Transfer.

“Justin is just not capable of managing Canada’s finances and ensuring health transfers keep increasing while budgets remain balanced and taxes stay low,” Moore said. “When the Liberal party was in government, it reduced the structural deficit it created by slashing health funding to provinces.”

“Mulcair and the NDP say that they will spend even more on health transfers but haven’t said how they will pay for it,” Moore said.  “Based on their record in numerous provinces, the NDP will wreck the economy and weaken the services that Canadians depend upon.  We cannot have a strong health care system without a strong economy.  That’s why Canadians simply cannot afford Mulcair and the NDP.”


Trunk of Golden Tree Monument Installed in Abbotsford

Abbotsford, B.C. – Mr. Charan Gill, CEO of PICS and Gurpreet Pabla , PICS Legal Advocacy Department, were on site as the trunk of the mighty Golden Tree Monument was installed in Abbotsford’s friendship garden this week.

The Golden Tree monument is built to pay tribute to three women farmworkers who lost their lives as a consequence of unsafe working conditions in 2007.

Sarbjit Kaur Sidhu, Amarjit Kaur Bal and Sukhvinder Kaur Punia were killed when the overcrowded van they were travelling in crashed on Highway 1.

The branches of the beautiful tree will show the figures of the three women and will serve as a powerful reminder of the sacrifices farmworkers make on a daily basis to put food on our tables.

PICS has played a key role in helping build this memorial. Not only is PICS a brass sponsor of the memorial, Mr. Gill played an active role along with other labour organizations, service providers and businesses in ensuring that this memorial is built.

With the trunk installed this week and the leaves and branches almost ready, the beautiful tree monument will be unveiled to the public on Saturday, October 3, 2015.

“As someone who has always been passionate about the rights of farmworkers, I am pleased that with the help of BC Federation of Labour and other organizations, we have finally managed to build this beautiful memorial which will remind us of the tremendous sacrifices farmworkers make on a daily basis,” said Mr. Gill.

Windstorm reminds British Columbians to prepare for emergency

VICTORIA - This weekend's windstorm that ripped through the Lower 
Mainland and Vancouver Island knocking over trees, power lines and 
leaving people in the dark for a number of days is a reminder for all 
British Columbians to make sure they and their families are prepared 
for any emergency.
"The recent wind storm serves as a reminder to British Columbians that 
emergency preparedness is a shared responsibility that starts in each 
of our homes," said Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness, Naomi 
Yamamoto. "We all need to have supplies on hand, like food and water, 
first aid kits and flashlights, so that our homes are ready for any 
potential emergency, large or small."
Yamamoto joined BC Hydro officials yesterday in a tour of impacted 
areas and the utility company's Emergency Operations Centre, commending 
work crews on their tireless, around-the clock effort to restore power 
to affected communities. The minister committed to exploring with 
partners, including local authorities and BC Hydro, lessons learned to 
help better prepare and respond to emergencies.
Emergency officials are using the recent windstorm to remind residents 
to prepare for more severe weather incidents, as well as make it a 
catalyst for preparing for catastrophic impacts should a large 
earthquake strike the coast. All British Columbians should have an 
emergency plan that outlines evacuation and family reunification 
measures, and an emergency kit to help sustain family and pets for a 
minimum of 72 hours.

B.C. Semi truck driver found dead in sleeper cab in Saskatoon

By François Biber

A grisly discovery in Saskatoon’s north end this morning after a lifeless body was found in a semi near Circle Drive.
Rick works at WRT Equipment on 43rd Street just one block north of Circle Drive. He said he noticed the same semi parked in front of his shop, idling day and night since Friday.
“And today it was still here so we banged on the door to see if anyone was in there and my boss crawled up on there and saw his legs sticking out,” he said.
Rick said the truck pulled up on Friday and was sitting parked on the side of the road and he said it hadn’t moved when he came into work on Saturday.
“Overnight it’s not unusual because they’ll crawl back there and go to sleep for the night and then take off but after four days of it running and sitting there,” Rick said, adding his suspicions grew bigger each day.
Upon discovering the body inside, they called the trucking company, Piston Transportation Ltd., and they were shocked to hear the truck was still in Saskatoon.
“We phoned the company and they’re going why is this truck still here because it was supposed to be in Alberta or something to pick something up there but they couldn’t get ahold of him or nothing,” Rick said.
Saskatoon police and the coroner were on scene and after an initial look inside the semi, police are calling the death not suspicious.
Police said the man is a truck driver from B.C. and they won’t be releasing the man’s name until his family has been notified of his death.

Labour Day Travel Tips for the Road

Vancouver, BC – The last long weekend before students head back to school is almost here! Labour Day weekend is one of the busiest times of the year for British Columbia highways. Sadly, an average of 4 people are killed this weekend every year on our roads, and several hundred people injured. ICBC says they typically see two thousand car crashes on Labour Day weekends. Your BBB has plenty of safety tips to keep in mind if you’re heading out for one final summer getaway.

“We at BBB do our best all year to protect the wallets of British Columbians and promote trust in the marketplace,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “We also like to do our part when it comes to keeping them safe on the road too!”

The BBB provides the following safety tips for traveling:

• Create a car safety kit. Basics for the kit include: a blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, radio, first aid kit, jumper cables, non-perishable foods like granola bars and nuts, bottled water, family medicine and emergency telephone numbers.
• Take the car in for a checkup. If your car is due for a checkup, take it in before making that long haul. At the very least, check the car’s fluid levels, wipers and tire pressure and tread.
• Know the weather. Check local websites for traveling information for states you may be traveling through to allow extra time for bad weather.
• Check your gadgets. Charge your cell phone and make sure your GPS is running properly.
• Get some rest. Tired drivers are a hazard to themselves, those in their vehicle and often fatal or devastating mistakes can be made to other drivers on the road.

On The Road:

• Buckle up. Make sure everyone is properly buckled up and that young children are in age appropriate safety seats, and are properly secured.
• Remember the rules of the road. Don’t tailgate and remember the three-second rule when following vehicles. Don’t rely just on mirrors when changing lanes; turn around to check your blind spot. Obey all traffic signals.
• Watch your speed. Law enforcement will be out to ensure everyone is obeying all speed limits and laws.
• Don’t drink and drive.
• Don’t text and drive. When behind the wheel, pull over if you have to do anything that would take your full concentration off of driving.

Get The Most From Your Gas:

• Monitor your speed. Stay within posted speed limits – gas mileage decreases at speeds above 100 kms per hour.
• Don’t frequently start and stop. Improve your mileage up to 5% by avoiding quick starts and stops.
• Avoid unnecessary idling. Turn off the engine if you anticipate a wait.
• Make the most of highway time. Use overdrive gears or cruise control when appropriate to improve highway fuel economy.
• Don’t carry extra weight. Remove items from your trunk; an extra 100 pounds can reduce fuel economy by up to 2%. Remove items on top of your car; wind resistance reduces fuel economy by 5%.

ICBC rates could go up by 6.7% due to fraud, rise in claims


ICBC says a spike in injury claims and fraud will likely force it to increase basic auto insurance rates this October by as much as 6.7 per cent.

The Crown corporation says its payouts for pain and suffering, future care and loss of wages rose 10 per cent last year to $2.17 billion.

CEO Mark Blucher says if ICBC were to ask for a rate increase today, it would seek 6.7 per cent — which is the maximum allowable under current legislation.

But Transportation Minister Todd Stone said on Monday such a hike would be “unacceptable” and he is working with the provincial insurance company to minimize the rate hike.

“While the number of crashes is relatively unchanged, ICBC is also reporting more crashes with multiple injuries than ever before, with more cases being potentially fraudulent,” said Stone.

“Just last month, ICBC released a media bulletin about a ‘jump-in’ scheme, where it was able to determine only one individual was in an accident, but two other relatives fraudulently filed bodily injury claims,” said Stone.

Govt launches new curriculum to prep students to succeed in changing world

B.C.-Students attending public school  in British Columbia are about experience a new way of learning, with new curriculum being launched this year.

The B.C. government says the  new curriculum starting this school year is the first phase of a three-year transition  for students in kindergarten to Grade 9.

The world is changing. Technology and innovation are reshaping society. Today’s students need the right skills to succeed in tomorrow’s world, says Minister of Education.

“Parents, teachers, educators all share the same goal – student success. With five years of labour peace, we can focus together on connecting students with the skills they will need tomorrow. The new curriculum will help ensure students have the skills they need to turn their dreams into reality in our constantly changing world,” says Mike Bernier, Minister of Education.

“That is why this fall the B.C. government is kicking off a three-year transition to a new curriculum in B.C. schools that will ensure students learn the basics like reading, writing and arithmetic in a way that connects them to the collaboration, critical thinking and communications skills they need to thrive in college, university and the work force,” say the Minister.

Curriculum is the game plan for teaching – it maps out what teachers teach, and what students are expected to learn. In the first phase of the transition, Kindergarten to Grade 9 teachers will have the chance to use the new curriculum in their classrooms.

Flexible learning is at the heart of the refined approach and it will help teachers tap into the passions and interests of individual students. Students can learn about core subjects while doing projects related to their interests, such as music, hockey, or dinosaurs. There are also more hands-on learning opportunities so students can see how classroom knowledge applies in real life situations.

The curriculum also includes:

  • renewed emphasis on environmental sciences;
  • Aboriginal perspectives integrated throughout all grade levels;
  • the history and ongoing legacy of the residential school system; and
  • new content regarding historical experiences of East and South Asian immigrants.

The plan was developed in collaboration with more than 100 B.C. teachers over the past three years, and for the first time, all subject areas have been developed at one time – by teachers.

Starting this fall, the government begins the three-year process of transitioning to the new curriculum, starting with Kindergarten to Grade 9. Teachers in those grades will have the option to use the new curriculum this school year, before it is fully implemented in all schools in fall 2016. The entire K-12 curriculum will be phased in by the 2017-18 school year and will continue to be presented by subject areas and grade levels, ensuring consistent province-wide learning standards for all B.C. students.

The new curriculum fits in with the key goals of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint to re-engineer education to ensure young people have the skills they need to qualify for in demand careers and is part of the larger transformation efforts outlined in B.C.’s Education Plan.

Quick Facts:

  • More than 500,000 B.C. students head back to school Sept. 8, 2015.
  • The teams of teachers that developed curriculum were formed in collaboration with the BC Teachers Federation, the Federation of Independent School Associations and the First Nations Schools Association.
  • Draft K-9 curriculum was posted online for review in October 2013 and garnered more than eight million views and more than 1,200 pieces of feedback from teachers, experts, parents and the general public.
  • Draft curriculum for Grades 10-12 has been developed and will be finalized this school year.
  • The provincial six-year completion rate has increased by more than 10% since 2001 and was at 84.2% in 2013-14 (public and independent schools).

Statement by Prime Minister Harper on the Department of Finance’s monthly report

Toronto – Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement in response to the Department of Finance’s monthly report on the state of the government’s finances showing a $5 billion surplus for the period of April to June 2015:

“The report shows that under our strong economic leadership, Canada had a $5 billion budget surplus for the first three months of the year. This means that we’re actually ahead of the game on our budget plan, while at the same time delivering historic tax relief directly to Canadian families. That’s good for Canada and good for the economy.

“While the global economy remains volatile, our Conservative Government will continue to deliver a low-tax, balanced budget plan to keep our economy moving forward.

“Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and Thomas Mulcair’s NDP have proposed massive increases in government spending and permanent, large deficits, paid for by tax hikes on middle class families, workers and seniors. Their approach would increase taxes, kill jobs, and wreck our economy.”

Hydro calls in extra crews from outside the Lower Mainland after storm cuts power to a half million customers



B.C. Hydro linemen Colin Cadger and Aaron Seaton got the call Saturday night, flew out of Terrace 5:30 a.m. Sunday and were on the job site in Burnaby by 8 a.m.

“This is the gig,” Cadger said Sunday afternoon, about halfway through his 16-hour shift repairing power lines on Shellmont Street near Simon Fraser University. “It disrupts stuff a little bit at home, but it’s pretty fun work.”

Cadger and Seaton were among the 250 line technicians working feverishly to restore power in the Lower Mainland after Saturday’s massive windstorm left more than half a million customers in the dark.

The storm, described as the biggest to hit the region in a decade, battered southwestern B.C. with 80 kilometre an hour winds bringing trees and branches crashing down onto homes, power lines, cars — and in Surrey, onto a woman in her 40s who sustained life-threatening injuries.

The storm cut power to 533,000 Hydro customers, said Greg Reimer, B.C. Hydro’s executive VP of transmission, distribution and customer service.It was B.C. Hydro’s biggest service disruption since a series of storms over a few days in December 2006 downed thousand of trees in Stanley Park and affected about 600,000 customers.But in terms of a single-day event, Reimer said, some senior Hydro employees couldn’t remember anything as large as Saturday in the past 35 years.

About 400 people were at work on the restoration effort Sunday, including 100 from elsewhere in B.C. — an all-hands-on-deck approach, said Reimer.

“We’ve called in all of our own crews, we’ve called in all the available contractor crews, we’re bringing crews over from Vancouver Island, we’re bringing crews from Prince George, Kamloops — we’ve got to get our customers back on,” he said.

Supervising the linemen’s work on the Burnaby site, sub-foreman Mike McMinn said Seaton, Cadger and other Hydro workers were ready to gear up and answer the call, whether that meant jumping on a plane or interrupting their summer holidays.

“That’s what we do,” said McMinn.

On Sunday night crews had restored power to about 421,000 customers, with another 112,000 still without service. Most homes are expected to have power restored by midnight, although some would have to wait until Monday.

Many Lower Mainland residents took to social media over the weekend to express frustration over B.C. Hydro’s website, which worked only sporadically as many customers tried to look for updates online.

Reimer apologized Sunday for the website issues, which started Saturday afternoon “as a result of increased traffic.”

Reimer said Hydro will conduct a “post mortem” on the website failure to learn from the incident and try and make sure the site can handle surges in traffic in the future.

The gale-force winds took many off guard.

Environment Canada issued a windstorm warning Saturday morning, about four hours before lashing winds of about 80 to 100 km/h started downing trees and power lines and shut down traffic lights at many intersections.

“We knew there was going to be wind, but the storm deepened quite a bit more than we had originally anticipated and more than what our computer models were telling us,” said meteorologist Greg Pearce.

Environment Canada recorded a peak wind speed of 80 km/h at Vancouver International Airport and 94 km/h at the Abbotsford airport.

Hydro spokeswoman Simi Heer said the utilities company expected heavy rain, not the intense wind.

“However, as the wind picked up, we were able to enact our storm response plans and start calling in crews from other regions for sustained coverage,” she said.

Crews started coming in from as far away as Prince George Saturday. On Sunday, reinforcements arrived from Terrace and Smithers. More are expected on Monday.

Back in North Burnaby, area resident Howard Wong walked along Shellmont Street Sunday with his son-in-law and two grandchildren, all of whom seemed to be taking the power outages in stride.

“You just gotta make do,” said Wong, who improvised a Saturday night candlelit dinner of salmon and potatoes on the barbecue. “It’s just like camping.”

Wong’s son-in-law Eric Olson, said their Coquitlam home was also still without power, but the family kept the little ones amused Saturday night roasting marshmallows on the fireplace.

Olson’s daughter Mackenna, 5, said she enjoyed their evening in the dark.

“Marshmallows! I had two of them,” said Mackenna, before pointing at pointing at her sister 3-year-old sister Viktoria and adding: “She stole one of them.”

Earlier on Sunday, a crowd gathered outside James Dickson’s East Vancouver home to watch City of Vancouver workers remove a tree that had crashed on his roof the day before. Standing on East Georgia Street outside his home of the last 52 years, Dickson, praised the work of the city crews.

“It’s not often we have this kind of excitement around here. Especially on a Sunday,” said Dickson, 85. “When we get the power back and get our tea on, we’ll be all right.”

If power restoration extends to Monday, crews will likely be working under pretty wet conditions.

About 60 to 80 millimetres of rain is expected to fall on Howe Sound by Monday night. The downpour can cause flash floods and possible washouts near rivers and creeks, warned Environment Canada, which issued a rainfall warning for Howe Sound, Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Sunday.

Heavy rain — as much as 50 mm — is expected for the North Shore and in high terrain areas north of Lougheed Highway. The rest of Metro Vancouver will also get soaked but not to the same extent, with only about 20 to 30 mm forecast for Vancouver by Monday night.