Grocery shopping seems to trigger sticker shock these days.
As the cost of some food essentials – like flour and eggs – continues to rise, many Canadians are feeling the strain of managing everyday expenses.
But before contemplating a flourless cake or an eggless omelet, we recommend taking a look at these tips to save money on groceries before sacrificing the things you love.
Don’t buy groceries without a plan.
Want to know how to go food shopping on a budget? First, figure out a reasonable number to spend on groceries weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, and try to stick to that number. And before embarking on a grocery-shopping adventure, take stock of what you have in your kitchen and make note of what needs replenishing. If the lettuce isn’t wilted, chances are you don’t need to replace it.
Tip: Coupon apps are a great way to keep track of deals regularly.
Penny pinch by price matching.
Price matching is when a store honours a competitor’s deal on a similar item. Not all supermarkets do this, but it doesn’t hurt to ask an employee.
Tip: Another point for coupon apps! They can make the process of price matching easier than looking up a flyer online or referencing a paper version.
Don’t shop on an empty stomach.
You might be tempted to overspend. Before you head to the grocery store, fuel up with a snack (so you don’t accidentally slip every flavour of ice cream into your cart).
Tip: Plan your meals ahead of time so you only purchase what you need.
Consider alternative sources of protein.
With the high cost of meat, getting your protein from alternative sources is another way you can save money on groceries. Canada’s Food Guide now recommends that Canadians consume more plant-based protein like legumes (lentils and beans), nuts and seeds. These items often have a longer shelf life and can offer big savings when purchased in bulk!
Tip: Try incorporating “meatless Mondays” into your weekly menu – a quick search of the term will serve up some yummy meal ideas, like refried bean tacos!
Shop imperfect – it’s perfectly fine.
Ever walk past a shelf of funny-looking fruits and vegetables at the supermarket? These little gems are just as nutritious as their conventionally attractive counterparts, but can be offered at a fraction of the price. This is likely due to the fact that your grocer has strict cosmetic guidelines. With the price of vegetables expected to increase by up to 8% this year, choosing “imperfect” is a great way to save when you’re food shopping on a budget. Speaking of unloved groceries, grocery stores will discount items that may be approaching their expiry date but are still safe to eat. You can prepare these items right away, or purchase them in bulk to freeze for later!
Tip: Check out online grocers that exclusively offer imperfect produce and packaged food at a discount. Do a quick search to find one that serves your area.
Add the dollar store to your supermarket hop.
You might be surprised to find popular food brands at your local dollar store. Try a price comparison between different dollar-store chains and supermarkets – while big-box stores may offer you the best deals on some items, you may uncover unexpected savings at the dollar store (and that’s part of the fun).
Tip: When doing a price comparison, don’t just look at the total price – always be mindful of the unit price.
When you walk into a grocery store, it might seem like there’s a generic (or in-house) counterpart to almost every brand-name product. And Canadians are loyal to the replicas. According to a 2022 Statistics Canada report, 47% of Canadians found themselves purchasing cheaper alternatives, brands or items due to rising prices. But don’t assume the quality isn’t there. Many in-house products at supermarkets are made by the same big manufacturers as other branded products.
Tip: Some grocery stores offer their rewards members bonus points for purchases made on in-house products, saving you more money when it’s time to redeem.