Four things Canadians can do to save money on their groceries during inflation

Canadians continue to feel the pressure of inflation as the rising cost of food is forcing many to rethink their shopping choices as a way to cut back on spending.

On Wednesday, Canada’s inflation rate hit 6.8 per cent, in comparison to March’s 6.7 per cent. The latest increase is largely due to the rising cost of food and shelter, with prices at the grocery store reaching a 9.7 per cent increase since April 2021.

“It’s certainly taxing Canadians,” associate professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics Stuart Smyth told CTV News Channel on Wednesday.

“Every time you go to the grocery store it seems like one of the staples that you buy on a weekly basis has gone up another couple of per cent,” he said.

Nonetheless, there are still ways consumers can shop strategically and look for wiggle room within their budgets. 

Check for unit pricing and sales

Checking for sales and discounted items is a no-brainer when shopping, however what can be overlooked is checking for unit pricing.

Personal finance expert Kerry Taylor says shoppers should look at unit pricing, which measures the amount of product per item, since shrinkflation is happening as inflation rates spike.

“Shrinkflation is when you’re buying an item for the same price but at a smaller portion size,” Taylor told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Wednesday.

By comparing unit pricing, shoppers are able to pinpoint where they might be spending more on groceries so in turn they can search for options that carry more product and last longer to avoid extra spending.

Taylor says checking for unit pricing between brands is especially important since some normally affordable brands might actually be more expensive depending on the quantity of product.

“It’s really sneaky because you can’t really tell. So you need to be on the lookout for shrinkflation because you could be overspending money on an item and not even realize it,” she said.

Non-perishable items have an extended shelf life so Taylor recommends stocking up on any products a household uses the most if the price is right.

Additionally, checking for sales doesn’t necessarily mean having to switch grocery stores.

Canadian food retailer Loblaws reported earlier this month that their discounted stores including No Frills and Maxi saw an increase in customers. However, Taylor says it’s important to only visit stores that are accessible since spending time and money on travelling to the next grocery store could end up costing you more.

“Ask yourself, is this a good use of time to save a dollar here and there? Or is it more worth your time to figure out how to use the ingredients you have in-house to the best of your ability,” she said.  

Finding alternatives and homemade meals

While nearly all food prices in stores have shot up, Canadians are still recommended to look for alternative items for their meals. Taylor says she was shocked to find the eight-pack of canned lentil soup she often buys went from $9 to $14.99 at her local grocery store.

“These are all the base ingredients that we use to build meals when we’re on a very, very tight budget and they have all gone up, so it’s frustrating,” she said.

Among the products that spiked in price the most included fresh fruits and vegetables. Pasta saw an increase of 19.6 per cent from April 2021, according to statistics Canada.

As an alternative, Taylor says she switched to purchasing a bag of lentils to make at home. A ritual she is now practicing more often as she says cutting back on packaged foods and take-out could help soothe costs.

“It’s always a hard one but there’s lots of fun recipes out there that include ingredients like cans of tomatoes, beans, so you can make something quick and nutritious.”

Cut back on food waste

Unlike inflation, food waste is something Canadians can control and can use to avoid the repeated cycle of over-spending on food for it to only end up in the compost.

“Canadians waste just over $1,000 a year per household which is about $92 a month, $21 a week or $3 a day,” Taylor said.

To avoid food waste, Taylor recommends gathering any leftover ingredients from meals into one bowl and taking one day of the week to use all those ingredients in a simple recipe that can be paired with any carbohydrate.

“Think, can you possibly expand this tossed away food with rice or a wrap? Can you add a sauce to it to make it more delicious? Maybe you can make it in an omelette or a stir fry?” she said.

Keep items necessary to you

Lastly, Taylor says Canadians do not have to completely cut off all products they deemed necessary.

“If buying certain products at the grocery store means a lot to you and enhances your life and makes you happy then you should go for those items and look at where you can cut elsewhere in your life,” she said.

In order to keep any items deemed essential, Taylor recommends looking at other expenses that hold less value which could be streaming services, old automated credit payments or the frequency of online shopping.

“There’s an opportunity cost to every dollar we spend and we just have to make these tough decisions but look at your budget, look at what you can cut or add.” 

Happy is an Asian elephant. But is she also a person?

ALBANY, N.Y. –

She has four limbs, expressive eyes and likes to stroll through greenery in New York City. Happy, by species, is an Asian elephant. But is she also a person?

That’s the question before New York’s highest court Wednesday in a closely watched case over whether a basic human right can be extended to an animal.

Her advocates at the Nonhuman Rights Project say yes: Happy is an autonomous, cognitively complex elephant worthy of the right reserved in law for “a person.” The Bronx Zoo, where Happy resides, says no: Through an attorney, the zoo argues Happy is neither imprisoned nor a person, but a well-cared-for elephant “respected as the magnificent creature she is.”

Happy has lived at the Bronx Zoo for 45 years. The state Court of Appeals is hearing arguments over whether she should be released through a habeas corpus proceeding, which is a way for people to challenge illegal confinement.

The Nonhuman Rights Project wants her moved from a “one-acre prison” at the zoo to a more spacious sanctuary.

“She has an interest in exercising her choices and deciding who she wants to be with, and where to go, and what to do, and what to eat,” project attorney Monica Miller told The Associated Press. “And the zoo is prohibiting her from making any of those choices herself.”

The group said that in 2005, Happy became the first elephant to pass a self-awareness indicator test, repeatedly touching a white “X” on her forehead as she looked into a large mirror.

The zoo and its supporters warn that a win for the advocates could open the door to more legal actions on behalf of animals, including pets and other species in zoos.

“If courts follow NRP’s demand to grant animals personhood for habeas corpus purposes, elephants as well as other animals at every modern zoo in this country would have to be turned loose or transferred to the facility of NRP’s choosing,” Kenneth Manning, an attorney for zoo operator Wildlife Conservation Society, wrote in a court filing.

Happy was born in the wild in Asia in the early 1970s, captured and bought as a 1-year-old to the United States, where she was eventually named for one of the titular characters of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Happy arrived at the Bronx Zoo in 1977 with fellow elephant Grumpy, who was fatally injured in a 2002 confrontation with two other elephants.

Happy now lives in an enclosure adjacent to the zoo’s other elephant, Patty. The zoo’s attorney argued in court filings that Happy can swim, forage and engage in other behavior natural for elephants.

“The blatant exploitation of Happy the elephant by NRP to advance their coordinated agenda shows no concern for the individual animal and reveals the fact they are willing to sacrifice Happy’s health and psychological well-being to set precedent,” the zoo said in a prepared statement.

NRP’s attorneys say no matter how Happy is being treated at the zoo, her right to “bodily liberty” is being violated. They argue that if the court recognizes Happy’s right to that liberty under habeas corpus, she will be a “person” for that purpose. And then she must be released.

Lower courts have ruled against the NRP. And the group has failed to prevail in similar cases, including those involving a chimpanzee in upstate New York named Tommy.

But last October, at the urging of a different animal rights group, a federal judge ruled that Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar’s infamous “cocaine hippos” could be recognized as people or “interested persons” with legal rights in the U.S. The decision had no real ramifications for the hippos themselves, given that they reside in Colombia.

Opponents hope the NRP’s string of court losses continues with the high-profile New York court.

In a friend-of-the-court brief, the New York Farm Bureau and other agriculture groups said the NRP’s “new-fangled theory of personhood” would sweep up pigs, cows and chickens. The National Association for Biomedical Research said authorizing such petitions on behalf of animals could drive up the costs of conducting critical research. State and national associations representing veterinarians filed a brief saying NRP’s lawsuit promotes animals’ personhood rights above animals’ welfare.

Supporters of NRP’s action include public figures such as Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe. Many of them see this case as a chance for society to take a step forward in the ethical treatment of animals.

“We believe this legal moment for Happy represents a key cultural crossroads for thinking more openly and honestly–and less selfishly–about what it would mean to treat the particularity of non-human animals with the moral seriousness it deserves,” a brief submitted by Catholic academic theologians read.

The court’s decision is expected in the coming months.

At least one animal rights advocate suggests a lone court decision won’t change society’s view of animal use. Rutgers Law School professor Gary Francione, who is not involved in the case, said that would require a broader cultural shift.

“I’ve been a vegan for 40 years. Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with animal use altogether,” Francione said. “Just to have the court start saying that non-human animals are persons under the law is going to raise all sorts of questions, the answers to which are not going to be amenable to many people.”

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4 Decorating Tips Everyone Can Use

Even when you are lucky enough to start with an empty room, it can be overwhelming to design an interior that you can enjoy for years to come. Following some basic interior design principles, you can transform your space into a relaxing room you will be comfortable and happy with. Decide what your focal point will be and build out from there.  For best results, keep proportion and scale in mind as you decorate as well as these tips!

 Deciding on Your Focal Point
Do you have a magnificent bay window with an incredible view?  Is there an ornate mantle that is the reason you fell in love with your home? Or is there something you absolutely MUST HAVE in the room? Situate your furniture around your chosen focal point to create balance and equilibrium. If your room does not already have an existing focal point, create one with oversized art or add an accent point like a free-standing fireplace, they come in a variety of sizes and styles. Symmetrically balance the room evenly so that both sides mirror one another.  This will help your chosen focal point stand out all the more! Use matching accent tables to flank your sofa or use different pieces of furniture to create a copacetic visual impact, like two similar armchairs to balance a sofa.
Repetition for Rhythm
Rhythm creates a flow and helps direct the eye to the differing visual elements in your room. Just as the notes of a favorite song repeat to create the rhythm, repetition in decor will create a rhythm throughout a home. Establish visual interests with a rhythm throughout your space by placing similar colours or patterns at intervals and repeat in artwork, cushions or area rugs.

Perfect Proportion and Suitable Scaling
Who doesn’t love a large, overstuffed chair? But if your room is on the smaller size it may look out of place and make your room seem even smaller than it is. Keep proportion in perspective. Proportion is the ratio between a piece of furniture and the size of a room. Scale is the size of a piece of furniture in relation to the other pieces of furniture in the room. A super large chair will overpower an apartment of loft size sofa or loveseat and create a sense of unbalance in the room.

Have your room humming harmoniously
Creating harmony will enhance how much you will continue to love your finished. Pull the room with a subdued colour palette for a pleasing, harmonious vibe.   together for a pleasing, harmonious look with a subdued color palette. You can also use a single colour for elements that vary in size and shape. Check out our blog on Doing White on White Right! for more tips!

What is the focal point in your room?  What is your best tip to find harmony and balance through your home?

5 Tips to Magnificent Mirrors

Mirrors are a handy decor tool, but did you know they also serve clever purposes? From making your space feel larger and lighter to providing an opportunity for guests to check themselves; mirrors can be found in more than just the bathroom.

You know that feeling when you finally get a chance to move into your first apartment and have total control over how it looks? The only downside is there are so many design decisions. It can actually be overwhelming! Well, fear not because we’re here with some of our favourite tips for hanging mirrors in an easy way.

I’m always getting mixed up when it comes to how high I should hang my mirrors. It’s not like they’re wall art, right? Ha! No one knows what height is best for them because everyone has different needs and preferences in their space. For example, if you have a tall piece of furniture like the chest over there (points) then 4-6 inches below that will be perfect so people can still see themselves while they walk by or look at anything on top of the chest without feeling uncomfortably close to a mirror hanging too low above them – but keep in mind this may vary depending on where most people are sitting around your room; such as with an end table next to your couch or chair.

There are two easy ways to introduce more natural light into your living room or bedroom – strategically place mirrors. Consider the angle of the sun and hang a mirror opposite south-facing windows, east-facing windows, or on both walls if you want even more sunlight shining through!
Coming or going, guests are certain to check their reflection in your mirror when they enter. Add a well-placed console table with some seating for comfort and style without sacrificing space of the entryway!

Make sure you mount hardware properly to keep mirrors safe. There’s nothing as tempting as adding wire to the back of a mirror, but each D-hook or keyhole mount on the back should attach to its own hook for safety and stability.

Finding a mirror that fits your space’s aesthetic can help you achieve the perfect cohesive design style. Whether it’s windowpane pattern in your modern farmhouse bedroom, wood frames for spaces with rustic style and organic shapes for mid-century homes or even textured glass to match an industrial loft – each one will make sure everything feels like it belongs together.

If finding the right frame is difficult consider how important light reflection is when choosing which type of mirrors are best suited to be placed on top of furniture such as dressers or side tables: if you want all reflections visible choose mirrored ones; If displaying decorative items atop then opt instead for framed options so they don’t get blocked out by glare from any nearby windows.
You don’t have to limit the use of mirrors to indoors.  Using old mirrored shower doors or adding shutters to a wood framed mirror can enhance your outdoor spaces and make your garden appear bigger and more lush!

Have you gotten creative with mirrors?  Share your ideas below!

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