Grocery shopping is one of those experiences you either love or hate. Some find it fun to shop while others hate shopping, typically because of the expensive bills they rack up.
As the importance of a healthy diet is becoming more mainstream, many people believe it’s expensive to eat healthily.
We’re here to tell you that’s not true. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. There are plenty of ways to save money on groceries while maintaining a well-balanced diet.
24 Ways to Save on Groceries in Canada
Here’s a list of tips for how to save on groceries!
1. Go to the store with a grocery list
If you go to your grocery store with a list of things you need, there’s a better chance you don’t overspend. By sticking to the list, you can get all your items and get out without wandering around the store.
2. Never shop hungry
To set yourself up for success, never go grocery shopping while you’re hungry. That’s a sure way to end up buying things you don’t need and therefore overspend. Eat first. Shop second.
3. Make a grocery budget
Having a grocery budget to stick to helps you plan out your shopping. Over a month or two, you’ll be able to alter your shopping budget to accurately predict your spending. This doesn’t mean a set amount per trip to the store. Rather, keep a general idea of how much you spend on average per week or month.
4. Order groceries online
Although there may be fees added to order your groceries and pick them up, there’s potential to save. If you’re the wandering type (no grocery list) you’ll end up buying less online than if you walked in the store.
5. Look for the reduced section
A lot of times grocery stores keep a section to hold reduced items, especially in the afternoons. You’ll find produce and meat 50% off because it expires in a couple of days. Be careful not to buy things just because they’re reduced- make sure it’s something you’ll eat before it goes bad!
6. Eat less meat
This one hurts to see, I know. The fact is, meat is expensive. If you’re eating meat for every meal, you’re bound to have high grocery bills. Rather, try to eat meat only once a day or even less often if you choose. You’ll find you save a lot of money doing this.
7. Shop seasonally
This means don’t buy fruits and vegetables out of season. Shopping for fresh berries in the winter means you’ll be paying a steep price. Rather than buying expensive items in the winter, buy in the summer and store them in the freezer!
8. Buy frozen and canned food
Related to seasonal shopping, you can always buy frozen food and canned food. This isn’t just seasonal, though. All year round if you choose to buy frozen vegetables and fruit, you’ll save loads of money. Not only are they cheaper, but they contain the same nutritional value as fresh foods.
9. Choose your store wisely
Avoid small convenience stores, gas stations, and corner stores. Instead, stick to supermarkets and larger grocery stores as they’re sure to have lower prices. You can even search for the cheapest grocery store in your area. Once you find your go-to store(s) you’ll be set.
10. Buy in bulk
Find stores that sell bulk items or look for bulk options at your store. When you buy in bulk, you spend more money upfront, but over time you spend less. The price per individual item in a larger package is significantly less. If you can store the food and not let it go to waste, you’ll be saving money. However, buying in bulk doesn’t always save you money, so keep your eye out!
11. Look for sales
Grocery stores always have sale items. Sometimes you’ll find a “buy 2 for $5” instead of the normal 3 for $6. If the item is something you normally buy then buy 2. Don’t go out of your way to buy on sale items unless it is something you will eat. If you do find your go-to food on sale, you might as well stock up then!
12. Research cheap meals
Before shopping, research some cheap meals to cook. The average cost of food per month for one person in Canada is about $200. $200 a month comes to $2400 a year and $6.58 a day. Try looking at this number as your average daily spending on food. It may not seem like much, but think about the cost of pasta, rice, beans, and other items that are easy to make a quick cheap meal out of!
13. Buy store brands
By choosing store brand items over more popular name brands, you’re sure to save money. Although it is not always worth it to by store brands due to nutritional value, many items are worth it. Items such as baking ingredients, produce, and spices are cheaper and have no difference in nutritional value.
14. Always check the price/unit
This is one of the most useful tips for how to save money on groceries is checking the price/unit. Always look at the price per unit on an item and compare it to other brands around. You may find prices change a lot or little depending on the brand. Regardless, a penny saved is a penny earned!
15. Have a shopping routine
Whenever you go to the grocery store, stick to a walking pattern through the store. By becoming familiar with your method and the layout, you can pick up what you need seamlessly. Ideally, sticking to your shopping method allows you to stick to the items you need without looking at other high-profile items. Another way to get in and get out!
16. Don’t look at the eye-level item
Grocery stores always put the more expensive items at eye level. Look at the top and the bottom of the shelves to find cheaper brands of the same items. This is a classic marketing strategy but one that is easily avoidable!
17. Become familiar with prices at different stores
If you have multiple grocery stores in your area try to remember their prices separate in your mind. By knowing which store has cheaper produce, meat, canned food, etc. you can make multiple trips to save money. For example, you might buy your fresh produce at one store, and your bread, canned food, pasta, etc. elsewhere.
18. Look for coupons
Check out your local newspaper, online resources, or catalogs to find coupons. You never know how much those coupons help until you find them. You can even try emailing big brands for coupons. It doesn’t take too much time and you might just find yourself knocking off 10% at checkout.
19. Build your own garden
For those with a green thumb, you already know this is a great strategy for those learning how to save money on food. If you’ve never done this before, you’ll be learning a new skill while saving money at the same time. Do a little research and find some easy-to-grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs and you’ll be on your way to saving money.
20. Check out your local farmers’ market
Going to a farmer’s market is not only an enjoyable trip, but it’s also great for finding cheap food. In the summer you’ll find lots of great deals on fresh, high-quality produce. Buy here and even stock up for the winter to save money!
21. Use cash
This tip may seem different than all the others but it’s also effective. By purchasing groceries with cash you’re less likely to spend as much as you would with a credit card. Experiment yourself to see it in action!
22. Track your spending as you shop
Grocery shopping on a budget is tough. But if you keep your phone handy you can check what you’ll be spending as you shop. Being aware of your bill as you move around will make you less inclined to buy expensive items.
23. Use smartphone apps
Apps such as Honey and SnipSnap will help you find grocery coupons in Canada. Other apps like Checkout51 give you cashback based on offers it sends you. Do a little research on similar apps and see what works best for you.
24. Shop alone
The last tip on our list is shopping alone. Leave your kids, spouse, roommates at home while you go to the store. Without the influence of others, you’re more likely to buy only what you need. Try it out for yourself, ditch the kids and save some money!
After reading this list of tips, you should be ready for your next grocery shopping trip. Not all these tips will work for everyone, but there is something here for everyone. Figure out what works best for you and find ways to tailor it to fit your needs. Maybe you’ll find other tips worth sharing along the way!
Other Ways to Save Money on Groceries
In the past, when you would shop for groceries, most likely you would walk or drive to the local market, make your selections and that was it. If prices were high, there was not much that could be done. Buying groceries was a simple weekly chore for most people who could not control prices. Today consumers have many choices available to buy groceries. There is more control over how to save money on groceries in Canada. Here are some things to consider if you want to save money on groceries.
Weekend Farmers Markets
One of the options available to keep cost low are weekend farmers markets. You can find bargains on fresh produce, grains and dairy. In some farmers markets meats are available. The markets usually are an exciting atmosphere with something for the entire family. Some farmers markets include vendors. You are able to buy food, plus find aromatherapy products. When you shop at these markets there are bargains galore. Just about all the sellers do not want to end the day with products so they might negotiate a deal with you. Retailers cannot do that. They have overhead, payroll and other factors that are built into the cost of their products.
Food cooperatives, better known as Co-ops are still around. Although the market for non-traditional shopping is crowded you can still find good bargains. Some co-ops have successfully adapted to the present way consumers buy food. They are still able offer bargains on food items. Don’t pass shopping at a co-op up because they can still offer good bargains on quality products.
Gone are the days when you went to the local grocer to get everything. Today online shopping through large corporate websites and small niche websites has introduced another choice in the shopping world. Online pricing is very competitive. In some cases, the discount is based on volume. You might spend more but get a larger quantity. You can even find products that might be for sale in your local market. Overall you save.
This sector has become a good place to shop for things like cooking oils and dry goods. Some online retailers even specialize in specific brands of utensils and accessories. In some cases, the brands you want might cost more in your area. Most will give you free shipping when you buy a minimum quantity. The ideas is to save money shopping so consider your needs and wants carefully first. Usually with bulk or large quantity purchases your unit cost is less.
Big Box Stores that offer volume discounts
These ‘mega’ stores carry goods that are available in the local retail store with one difference. You usually have to buy a larger quantity. Similar to the online stores you may pay more but in the long run the savings is better since you do not have buy as often. You might find that you have to buy two large jars of mayonnaise instead of one. The overall savings when you compare prices in the long term usually makes it worth the purchase. Be careful not to buy large quantities that go unused beyond the expiration date.
A great suggestion for the big box shopper is co-shopping. Some families shop at big box retailers for two or more families. This is a great strategy to use with other family members. It’s sort of like the college days shopping but the quality of the food you buy is much better. While this strategy might work for families or social activities, it is not for everyone. If you are single, have a small family or just do not need to buy a lot of food there are other options. Big box store can work for buying toiletries and personal items. Big box and online stores are great places to buy toothpaste, soap, paper products and soap.
Compare prices before you go shopping
Retailers are competitive when it comes to building a loyal customer base. Chain stores as well as online and big box stores spend lots of money on advertising to attract customers. Many retailers offer weekly online and in store specials. It is a good idea to take time to look at them. This way you can ‘pre shop’ at home and eliminate the need to go to more than one location. Some make coupons available or discounts to member who enroll in a free membership program. Some even offer discounts after you spend a specific amount of money. When you take time to read the coupons you could earn additional savings.
Beware of Must have items
What exactly are ‘must have’ items? Are they a specific brand of potato chips? Are these must have items products that will change your life forever if your must have item is not available? Some consumers do not like to settle for a different brand if the one of their must have items is not available. Be flexible as possible.
Another type of must have item is the sampler. Samples are one of the best ways to get customers to try and buy a new product. Everything from apple chip snacks to zucchini bread at one time or another will show up as a sample. They can sometimes make the difference between spending money you have not budgeted and overspending. If you must have it, after you sample it, make sure it is within you budget before you buy it.
Do not Impulse Shop
Impulse shopping has to be the biggest destroyer of saving money while shopping. Temptation to refrain from buying anything you want, instead of only buying what you need takes practice for some shoppers. Retailers can be very clever in how they influence you to impulse buy. Some of their strategies include ‘while supplies last’, ‘20% off today only’ and ‘buy one get one free’. There are many more strategies to influence your decision to impulse buy. When you stick to the list you are usually safe against impulse buying.
Checkout line snacks and candy
Danger!!!! It’s an impulse buy!!!!
On average Canadians spend about $200 per person per month on groceries. Your monthly food bill should not be more than 10-15% of your monthly gross income. Consider how much money you spend per person on beverages, meats, vegetables, nuts and grains, fruits, fish and seafood, canned goods, bakery and prepackaged foods.
Stay within your budget. The better able you are to stay within your budget the more money you will save.
Tips that will help you save money on groceries
Keep in mind your eating habits sometimes change from week to week. Even if you do buy the same food every week, the actives from one week to the next might change, affecting how much you eat. There are things you can do at home to further help you save money on groceries.
Make dishes that have a refrigerator life of a few days. Some leftovers are really good. Dishes like tomato sauce will take on more character and flavor a day later. This is not to say that you should not eat it until a day after you make it. It’s more about how to use that same sauce to create a second dish.
Break food down into portions when you get home. The freezer is a great place for fresh bread. If you put portions of bread in the freezer and take out what you need, the remainder stays fresh longer.
Processed foods and meats cost more that fresh products. Turkey sandwiches for example, are great for lunch. Instead of buying prepackaged meat which is usually high in sodium, buy a breast, cook it, then slice it. You now have an awesome healthier and cheaper sandwich. Prepared and processed foods are expensive. Buy fresh vegetables that are in season. During the winter look for sales on frozen vegetables. Another alternative is canned. These days canned is not so bad compared to ten years ago.
Cut back on meat portions. Increase portions of legumes, vegetables and other alternative sources of proteins. On the whole North Americans eat a lot of meat. Pork or beef for breakfast, poultry, beef or pork for lunch and add to that more meat for dinner. If you’re a bear preparing for winter hibernation that might be OK. Try a smaller portion.
Become more aware of what your ‘comfort foods’ are. Get realistic about what foods you buy because you like them compared to their true nutritional value. If you have healthy comfort foods your family and healthcare providers will love you.
Price comparison shop before you buy. Even simple necessities like onions or potatoes can be as much as 20% cheaper at one store.
Food and water are the vital necessities of life. Where you buy food and how you much you eat are your choice. How much money you save on groceries is part of maintaining a budget. Everything comes down to lifestyle and money management.
The better you are at managing your grocery budget, the more money is available for other things. Bon Appetit.