There are “startling discrepancies” in the cost of basic, healthy food at grocery stores across Canada, according to a report released by the Heart and Stroke Foundation this month.

Some Canadians, depending on where they live, are paying between two and six times more money for the same grocery cart of healthy foods, the report found.

The cost of a package of whole-wheat pasta ranged from $2 in Barrie to $11.37 in Dawson, Yukon. While in Ontario, the cost of six medium apples ranged from $0.90 in Peterborough to $5.49 in Dryden.

The discrepancies in the cost of healthy food across Canada and across provinces is startling, said Stephen Samis, director of health policy at the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

“Access to basic healthy food should be a right, not a privilege,” Samis said. “Yet many Canadians have trouble affording, or even finding, healthy food where they shop. This is a problem that may get worse given the downturn in the current economy.”

For Canadians looking for more ways to cut back on spending but not nutrition, registered dietitian Amanda Schwartz offers these tips:

• Cook Seasonally Fruits and vegetables that are in season are cheaper than off-season fare. In the winter season try buying cabbage, carrots, garlic, kale, leeks, onions, parsnips, apples, kiwi, bananas and oranges.

• Purchase foods that provide more bang for your buck Examples of fruits and vegetables that provide a high nutrient to price ratio include cabbage, carrots, oranges, bananas, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables.

• Have breakfast for supper Eggs are a great, less expensive source of protein that can be eaten at any meal. Try making an omelet with a plethora of colourful vegetables and include whole grain toast or a sweet potato for a well balanced and filling dinner.

• Do the prep work Bagged salad mixes and pre-chopped produce may save time but that extra convenience will cost you.

• Make your own snacks Popcorn is one of the most commonly recommended snacks by dietitians and is a snap to make. Buy an air-popper and make your own air-popped pop corn for a great low calorie snack. Also, try making your own trail mixes by getting walnuts and almonds and other nuts from the bulk bins and include dried fruits and pretzels.

• Shop with a buddy If you live alone try buying bulk-sized items and splitting them with a friend(s).

• Use coupons Check out weekly fliers for great savings.