How To Return Food To A Grocery Store

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

Step-by-Step, I will walk you through how to return food to a grocery store, so you know how to get your money back the next time you’re not a happy customer!

return food
How to return food to the grocery store successfully in Canada

Return Food And Stop Wasting Money

I don’t often return food, but when I do, I make sure I get our money back

How often have you eaten something new or food you were familiar with from the grocery store and didn’t like?

I’m betting you can count a few times on one hand in your life, but I want to know, what do you do about it?

Today, I will walk you through exactly how we would return food to a grocery store, including what we would say and do.

Can You Return Food To A Grocery Store In Canada?

When I first moved to Canada, there was no way I was returning anything to a store, whether it was food or something else.

I had no idea how to grocery shop in Canada, so I started from scratch.

I’m not alone; this happens daily, even with people born and raised here.

Today, my views and experience have greatly changed only because my wife motivated me to get in there and do it myself.

Sometimes it’s hard to return something when you aren’t familiar with the process or don’t want to look like a fool.

Trust me; you won’t.

I hope this inspires those who hesitate or feel cheap about doing this.

Don’t be, it’s your money, and you should be getting the best quality even if you buy no-name brand products.

Should You Return Food If You Don’t Like It?

Most people won’t return food to a grocery store if unsatisfied with their purchase, even if they shop weekly at the same store.

Below are 5 common ways consumers deal with the food they don’t like or is inedible from the grocery store;

  1. Throw it out
  2. Gift It or pass it on
  3. Hide it in other foods
  4. Feed it to the dog or other pets
  5. Return it- YES, you can return food you don’t like to a grocery store, depending on their return policy.

Related: Ultimate Guide To Grocery Store Return Policy Canada

No one should ever consider food waste as an option for getting rid of food when it is edible and someone else can.

This week, we emptied three large freezers of food and donated it to a needy family.

There is always someone out there who WILL eat it even if you don’t like it.

I’ve seen numerous times on buy and sell sites people offering food that they didn’t care about, near expiry, or hardly used.

People jump on this stuff because it’s FREE food, and food is food when the money is tight.

There is no room for being picky when food is limited and scarce, and you’re living with a slim budget.

If you’ve purchased food that went off before the expiry date, you should bring it back to get your money back.

Most people won’t.

Remember that expiry dates differ, and just because it says it expires in a day or a week doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be spoiled ahead of time.

Returning Our Kirkland Hamburgers To Costco

A few weeks back, we made a trip to Costco, where we purchased Kirkland Burgers for $19.99 on sale with Costco coupons for VIP members.

Mrs. CBB and I typically make homemade burgers but we thought we’d try them since we often see Costco customers loading up on them.

They can’t be that bad, right? 

WRONG, at least for us, and we didn’t want to eat the rest of the bag.

I know some consumers enjoy Kirkland burgers; like any product you like, you love some, and some will never touch your lips again.

They were a horrible mess for us, and my brother and sister-in-law agreed since they bought the same bag on sale as we all went together.

We did not put them on the BBQ first because we wanted to do the frying pan test, which was an epic failure.

Sorry, Costco, but those burgers look like big beautiful burgers and curl up like an upside-down turtle shell.

Haha, you know what I mean.

The Kirkland burgers lacked flavor; you shouldn’t have to add condiments to pretend you’re eating a burger.

They taste like cheap filler hamburgers when Kirkland 1/4lb burgers are expensive.

This was just another reminder that you don’t always get what you pay for, and homemade is best.

Costco Canada Return Food Policy

We like to learn and explore products so we can write about them for all of you, but the best part about Costco is its return policy.

If you purchase an item that is defective or with which you are not satisfied, you may return it for a full refund.

We ask that you return the merchandise:

  • Within thirty (30) days of purchase
  • In the original packaging
  • With a Costco receipt

Costco has what we’ve heard is one of the best return policies in Canada for everything they sell, including their membership if you are not a satisfied customer.

There are some restrictions, but you can bring anything back for the most part.

For big-ticket items like electronics and jewellery you will have 90 days from the date on your receipt to return them.

We don’t care about that because we’re learning to return food today!

Costco’s generous return policy for their warehouse also means that those horrible Kirkland burgers will return with us on the next trip to Costco.

The bag is open; we have the receipt, but they would still process it even if we didn’t.

Keep in mind Costco will track your spending and returns so they know what you are doing they can track those abusing the return policy system they have in place.

If you’re returning half-eaten food every week, I “m sure the red flags will start popping up.

How can I return an item purchased in a Costco Warehouse?

We are pleased to offer what we believe is one of the best return policies in the industry.

With a few exceptions, Costco has a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our merchandise.

If you are not completely satisfied with your Costco purchase, simply return the product to any Costco warehouse.

Please include the product packaging if you have it, although we do not require it for a return to be processed.

We also prefer that you provide your original receipt, but if it is not available, we will do our best to process your return without it.

If you’re unsure, you can call 1-800-463-3783 or go to and select Customer Service.

Grocery Store Return Policy

Whatever you do, please don’t throw out the food you purchased and still have a receipt because you most likely can bring it back.

Don’t view it as a hassle but as a part of customer service where your grocery store wants to see you as a happy customer.

Oddly, you will be making another trip to the grocery store for another shop, so don’t hesitate to bring the product(s) you didn’t care for along with your receipt.

I always tell my readers to keep their receipts because they aren’t just a piece of paper.

They are considered money in your pocket if you don’t like something you purchased.

Thankfully, almost all grocery stores in Canada will take back food you don’t like within a specified time frame by their return policy.

They may not be as simple as Costco, but if you aren’t happy with a product or service, you often just let them know why, and they will return your money or offer you an exchange or in-store credit.

Zehrs is another grocery store we frequent, and any time we’ve wanted to bring back food we didn’t like, their return policy gave us no hassle.

You must abide by their return policy rules comparable to almost all grocery stores in Canada.

Returns with Original Receipt: Merchandise may be returned for exchange or refund within 14 days of purchase with original tags and packaging.

Exchange only after 14 days. Zehrs also has a “Try It, and You’ll Love It Guarantee”.

The things you learn when you read the faqs of websites.

This is the fine print most consumers glance over or don’t read at all but offers valuable information to consumers. It’s your money.

The Try It You’ll Love It Guarantee™: If you are not completely satisfied with the quality of any President’s Choice® food or no name® food products, Teddy’s Choice® or Exact® products, simply return it along with receipt or original package for and exchange or refund.

The Return Policy Scenario:  How To Return Food

Always read the front or back of your receipt, where most grocery stores put a blurb about returns and exchanges.

If you are unsure, look online or make a quick phone call to the grocery store’s customer service where you purchased the item.

Don’t roll your eyes. It takes no time at all.

Falling within the policy timeline, bring the product in a bag with the receipt back to the grocery store and head straight to the customer service counter.

Customer service: Hi, How can I help you?

Customer: Hello, I’d like to return the food that we bought which my family did not like.

This is when you open your shopping bag and pull out the product to show customer service.

Customer Service: No problem sir, Do you have your receipt?

In this instance, we would also provide our Costco membership card.

They may ask you about your reasons for the return. Just tell it like it is.

Customer: You can tell them why you didn’t like a product or just shut your mouth.

Typically, only answer when they ask questions unless you want to ask your own.

Customer Service: Do you have the credit card you used to make this purchase?

Yes, or No- Sometimes they will give you back the cash if no or an in-store credit depending on the grocery store’s terms and conditions return policy.

You may also have to sign your name on a return receipt they produce for their records.

If, for example, they deny you their return policy, don’t be afraid to escalate and ask if there is a manager on site.

Talking to a manager sometimes clears up confusion, especially if the staff member is new and just learning.

Customer: Thank-You very much.

Customer Service:  No problem, sir; enjoy your shop.

That’s it! It doesn’t have to be complicated at all. Besides, customer service probably does many returns daily, and it’s just procedure.

As a consumer, you must remember that grocery stores want your business, so they will do anything to keep you coming back, within reason.

The smaller grocery stores and mom-and-pop shop variety stores likely won’t be so generous with returns, but it never hurts to ask, right?

I’m off to make an All-Beef Costco hotdog now. Those are hotdogs!! Delicious!

Discussion: What food products have you returned to a grocery store?

Did you have any problems? For example- they declined, you didn’t have a receipt, etc. 

Share your comments in the comment section below.


May Grocery Game Challenge

Free Money Saving Tools 2018

the ultimate grocery shopping guide cbb

Click, Save, and Print. It’s that easy!

This budget brought us to debt freedom back in 2013 and now I’m offering it to all of you for FREE.

We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.

Don’t pay someone for these services; I’ve done the work for you, along with some help from other amazing bloggers.

You can download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel. It’s FREE! 

We use it to budget and largely because we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years; check it out!

Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists created to get us on track working towards reaching our budgeting goals, and now we are sharing them with you.

Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list, and much more, all for FREE.

CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and our family budget spreadsheet—so many free resources are at your fingertips.

Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide 2018

Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is packed into this amazing FREE guide that has taken 6 years to create.

The Ultimate Grocery Shopping guide is ongoing, with new informative money-saving posts added every month.

Even if you don’t live in Canada, some amazing budget-saving tips will help put you on the path to more savings at the supermarket.

Share this guide with your friends and tell them about Canadian Budget Binder, especially if they struggle with their grocery budget.

The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries, so please enjoy the many money-saving posts in The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.

2018 Grocery Shop Results

Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2018: $3600 or $300/month (The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.

Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings or that you would like to track on your own)

  • Total Grocery Budget for this Month: $300
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $300
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
  • PC Optimum Points to Spend: 3,200,000
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0

Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)

  • Checkout51- $1.50

Our Grocery Shop This Week


  • 3 pack Dempsters Whole Wheat Bread $5.99
  • 3 pack seedless cucumbers $2.79
  • Monster bag of Spinach $3.59
  • Strawberries 2lb $4.29
  • 2 x Whipping Cream $4.15 each
  • 2 x Butter $3.99 each
  • 2l Hellman’s Mayo $5.49
  • Tasters Choice Instant Coffee $10.99
  • Double Brie $7.69
  • 2x 10% cream $1.95
  • Avocados $8.99 (large size)
  • 3 pk Pillers Salami $10.99
  • Manzanilla Olives $5.99
  • 2 pack Sour Cream $2.89

Total Our-of-Pocket $89.87

Note: All totals below already have tax factored into them.

  • otal to spend this month: $262.16
  • Stockpile budget 2018: $25.00/month
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $0
  • Christmas Reserve Fund : $35/month $175 Saved
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $1
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $0
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $116.54
  • Total spent this week: $89.87
  • Total spent so far this month: $268.87
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: over
  • Total left to spend for the month: -$6.71
  • Total Spent To Date 2018: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $323.04+Feb $169.42+March $228.70 + April $337.84+ May $ + June $+July $+August $+September $+ October $+ November $ + December $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

We went over this week but haven’t touched our stockpile budget, which leaves us an extra $25 if needed. 

This week was a quick stop at Costco to load up on some sales.

With traveling to the inlaw’s house so much, we are trying not to buy more food than we need in our house for now.

We made homemade keto wraps last night, and they are amazing and so simple.


2018 Coupons and Coupon Apps

Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons!

Related: Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?

If you notice I’m missing a valuable link, please message me, and I’ll add it below.

Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program, and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards.

I did this in the UK and loved it!!

Where can I find Canadian Coupons 2018?

Grocery Game Challenge 2018 FAQs

If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2018 get ready to look at your grocery budget by learning;

  • Where are you spending money?
  • How much money are you spending?
  • How much money are you saving every month?

If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

You’ve decided to take control of your grocery budget.

Now show me your shops and let’s get saving!

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2018!


Subscribe To Canadian Budget Binder


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  1. MAY 21-27
    Yearly Budget for 1 Adult $2400 or $200/mo
    Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $200

    -Eggs $2.00
    -Astro Yogurt $1.97
    -Heavy Cream $2.19
    -2 x PC Ice Cream Bars (@3.97 each) $7.94
    -Bananas (@0.66/lb) $1.34
    -Blueberries $2.00
    -Ace Ciabatta Demi Bread $2.00
    -Ace Garlic Oval Bread $2.00
    -2 Plastic Bags $0.10
    Total Out Of Pocket $21.54

    Total Gift Cards used to date: $41.21
    Total Rewards used to date: $42.61
    PC Optimum Points Balance: 3330
    PC Optimum Points Redeemed: 0
    Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0

    Checkout51- $6.95

    Total to spend this month : $200
    Total coupons used this week: $0
    Total coupons used to date: $0
    Total in-store discounts this week: $0
    Total in-store discounts to date: $0
    Total spent this week: $21.54
    Total spent so far this month: $164.04
    Total over/Under spend this shop ($40/wk): Wk1-3 Over $22.50 + Wk 4 Under $18.46 = Over $4.04
    Total left to spend for the month: $35.96
    Total Spent To Date 2018: Jan $217.46 + Feb $127.79 + Mar $124.18 + Apr $121.50

  2. Hi Mo
    They sure do, I’m in Ontario. I called for prices first and asked about the Optimum points. Then I high-tailed it into town and earned 45000 points on test strips and syringes. $45 rolls into my grocery budget!

    1. We just got her a bunch but she’s on Trillium so I don’t know how that would work. We paid the deductible. We’re still trying to sort it all out as they won’t talk to us. Going through the courts right now. It’s a process I don’t wish on anyone.

  3. When I have not been happy with a food product, I contact the manufacturer. The grocery store can only give you back what you have paid, but the manufacturer will usually give extra for your feedback. The last time I had issue was on fresh noodles, they were moldy before the expiry date. I contacted the company and was sent 3 types of their non-perishable noodles.

    1. We’ve contacted the company before and was sent a cheque for a refund not thinking we could have returned it to the store as well for a refund. That would be double-dipping and something we wouldn’t do. I do know that companies will offer coupons etc. for feedback on Quality and certainly contacting them is a great suggestion.

  4. MAY – Week #4 of 5- May 21-27, 2018


    •Total Grocery Budgeted For Year: $190.00 x 12 = $2,280.00 for 2 adults



    We had a lovely Victoria Day Weekend…including watering & enjoying our newly planted flower beds & planters. What a difference a splash of color makes!


    This is a NO SHOP WEEK! No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t motivate myself to go grocery shopping. Hubby in fact was giving me the gears on how long it has been since I did shop! Oop! LOL 🙂









    •Total Loyalty Card Price Reductions This Year: $238.06

    •Total Coupons/Rain Checks Used This Year: $0.00

    •Total Price Match Savings Used This Year: $0.00

    •Total More Points Earned This Year: 11027.76 Points

    •Total Air Miles Earned This Year: 397 Air Miles

    •Total PC Optimum Points Earned This Year: 11,900 Points



    $ 950.00 Grocery Budget JAN-MAY


    ($ 875.19) Actual CASH SPENT




    $ 117.74 Freezer Re-Stocking Fund

    $ 237.59 Holiday Season Fund + $270 PC Optimum Points ($230 Mary + $40 Larry) + $10 Dream Air Miles
    = $517.59

    $ 687.50 Summer Season Fund

    $ 611.87 US Shopping Reserve

    $ 88.80 GGC Savings Reserve

    $ 0.00 Points Redeemed Reserve

    OUR CURRENT TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES ARE $1,743.50. This means the 1,761.30 that we carried forward from 2017 PLUS AN ADDITIONAL $612.27 that we have added in 2018, LESS $630.07 that we have drawn out for use in 2018.


    1. Hi Mary,
      Looks like it might be you and I for the GGC… warriors!!! So far you’ve both spent under $1000 for groceries since the beginning of the years, impressive! What tips would you give to someone just starting out that would tell you that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to do so for a couple. There’s always the people that never believe it to be possible although we know it is. Mr. CBB

      1. I would say…watch my shopping. I never buy anything that isn’t on sale. If it’s not a “loss leader” in the flyer, it’s not on my list. I operate with a huge stockpile of the regularly used items (i.e. canned NO SALT tomatoes) but it’s not unusual for me to buy enough for a 12 week period when there is a good sale. Remember the last time Cloverleaf Tuna in water was on sale for $1 a can…and I bought 30? We go thru that much in 12 weeks.

        You’ll also notice that I tend to lean towards predominantly vegetarian meals with a little fish/seafood to liven up our weekly meal plan. It’s a lot cheaper than buying packages of chicken, pork and beef these days. You’ll notice that if I do buy an animal protein, it’s definitely not more than once a month and mostly for hubby’s benefit. I make oodles of homemade soups and it’s so easy to fill a soup pot up with all sorts of in season vegetables, a small amount of some sort of protein and lots of seasonings to make it taste yummy.

  5. I have done returns at a Grocery store from time to time with good reasons, ie. spoils quickly but I haven’t thought of returning something I didn’t like! Makes sense to me now.
    Newfound knowledge: Shoppers drug mart gives points on non-prescription pharmacy items like diabetic test strips which really adds up to something on bonus days!

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