Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
Searching for the best price on food products goes beyond a mobile app, requiring your eyes and ears.
Today, I want to review my top 5 tips for finding the best price so you can stretch your food budget to include more of your favourites.
Ignore Shoppers Who Disagree
While grocery shopping the other day, a young lady in line behind us gasped when she saw all the 50% off stickers on the items we were buying.
It almost looked like everything in our shopping cart was half-off.
Honestly, it was because we are shoppers with an eye for finding the best price on food at the grocery store.
The lady confronted us with an unnecessary question. “Aren’t you embarrassed with your shopping cart’s reduced-priced product stickers?”
Mrs. CBB and I both found it interesting when she said she hardly noticed any 50% off stickers and would be too embarrassed to buy reduced products.
This is the difference between a saver and someone who cares more about what everyone else thinks.
“Aren’t you embarrassed?” she asked us as we stood there shaking our heads; NOPE, not one bit.
Our money is significant to us, and what anyone else thinks doesn’t make a difference, besides I don’t know you, and I don’t want to know you.
You’re just a customer in line who I am being pleasant to until I motor out of here.
I’m also learning from her, but she doesn’t know I am a finance blogger.
The hard part for some people to understand is that just because you buy reduced-price products doesn’t mean you are a “poor shopper,” even if it did; who cares? Not us.
1. Know Your Grocery Store Inside Out
According to the weekly flyers, most grocery shoppers look for the best price, so they stroll into the store, list in hand, and leave.
The mindset is to get what is on the list according to what is on sale because that is the best price they will find for the food they will need. Right?
Wrong, not always is the weekly flyer your number one source to snagging the best price; your eyes and ears are.
Someone once asked me how on earth we accumulated nearly $3500 worth of PC Optimum Points.
The answer was simple; we watch what we buy and pair it with Optimum points.
Grocery Shopping Is A Game Of Chance
Saving money when grocery shopping can be somewhat of a game.
It takes more than walking into a grocery store and following a list.
- Knowing who to talk to
- Precision Eyes
Some shoppers have one grocery store they frequent, the only one they will visit when buying groceries.
That’s still perfectly fine if you want to focus on saving money and finding the best price at the store that suits your or your family’s needs.
Not everyone is interested in going store to store or price-matching to find the best price.
We tend to stick to the same grocery store week after week only because they are close to our house or where we need to go for the week.
Canada’s top grocery store picks are Zehrs, Costco, Food Basics, and No Frills.
No Frills is the only one out of the four we could price-match if needed.
We may occasionally pop into Walmart, but that doesn’t happen often.
In-Store Grocery Shopping vs. Click and Collect
If you order groceries online and pick them up, you likely have no interest in any of this because you already know what price you are paying.
The downfall with this option is that you don’t find the best price comparing other product prices like those who walk in and grocery shop.
2. Sourcing The Best Price To Balance Meal Planning
For those of you who create a grocery list finding the best price outside of the grocery flyer is easy to do as long as you know what you are looking for.
Remember that your weekly flyer may have the best price for a product, but you may find an even cheaper one when you shop around the store and compare.
The flyer price isn’t always the best. Keep that in mind when you are shopping.
So there are a few places to look and get the best price foods; in some cases, you may have to ask for help from a store associate.
Most often, you can find staff in every department, or a simple walk to customer service or the self-checkout area is where you can find some help.
The idea around finding the best price products that meet your quality standards and needs is to help offset other expensive items in your shopping cart.
For example, if beef or chicken is pricey this week, try to find ways to save money on produce or dairy, or if you’re lucky, find a deal on already sale-priced meat.
Mary makes a good point about waiting for a sale, stocking up, and utilizing a whole chicken for various reasons, such as broth and portioned meals.
If the protein you want is unavailable, go for legumes, beans, and other sources you can find in bulk and for less.
Loss Leaders Are The Best Price
You can save far more money doing it this way, and like Mary, who shops the grocery store loss leaders, you can take that one step further, which I explain below.
I eat what’s on sale…the cheapest way to have chicken is wait for whole chickens to go on sale at $1.99/lb and cook up 4 of them.
Strip the carcass into meal sized portions for the freezer and use the bones to make a homemade chicken broth.
So just because I like chicken doesn’t mean I’ll buy it until I can get it at $1.99/lb.
You could always butcher the chicken into 12 pieces and freeze in Ziploc bags until needed.Mary Campbell Facebook
The tips below will help Canadians stretch their grocery budget, allowing for various healthy foods to enjoy what they want without passing it up.
3. Date Codes = Savings
Not everything on your grocery list will be on sale, so finding the best price might mean you look for other cracks in the process.
Date codes are a great way to lower a product’s price, especially if it only has a few days left or even the expiry day.
Almost all products with an expiry date last longer than the date printed for various reasons.
You have to shop the sales and stock up when prices are low.
We preserve what we can by freezing, dehydrating and canning.– Cynthia Sunshine Biggs Facebook
In most cases, it’s just a best before, which means it’s best if you consume it before that date, but it doesn’t mean it will be rotten the day after.
As CBB reader Cynthia states, if you find a deal, you can almost always find ways to store it for longer so you can enjoy it later.
We can almost always freeze anything we buy with a date code that has been reduced in price, making it even more of a bargain for us.
If you find a product on the cusp of expiry, take it to the department associate to ask if they would reduce the price.
Almost always, they will.
4. Timing Is Everything
There have been times when Mrs. CBB and I go grocery shopping, and the amount of in-store deals and reduced-price stickers blows our minds.
We picked the right time to come, we would say to each other, but as excited as we may get, it’s important to remember our grocery budget.
Sometimes we fail at this because the deals are so good.
We work hard to catch up and keep the budget on target for the month and again for the year.
The best thing you can do if targeting prices is to learn, watch and talk to staff at the grocery store so you know when they come out to reduce costs.
You will find the best price in the evening or early in the morning if you look for reduced items in almost every grocery store.
Zehrs, for example, will come out around 8-8:30 pm each evening with stickers or early in the morning as the shop opens.
Before And After A Holiday
Aside from reduced stickers, you might find that before a holiday, you’ll find special deals because they want to get rid of food before the store closes or after a holiday.
Christmas, for example, is a great time to load up on deals before and after the holiday.
Most grocery stores stock shelves at night, meaning they might find out they have an extra product order they must get rid of because they don’t have the space to store it.
If this item is refrigerated or frozen, you may find an extra special best price to get it out of the store.
If the store calls the manufacturer who sent the extra product, they might tell them to flog it off cheaply at their expense to recoup the cost and not waste it all.
Related: The best time to go grocery shopping
The early morning shopper and the night shopper might find the best deals, in our opinion, but always keep your eyes open any time of the day.
5. End Of Bunker And Hidden Sales Racks
Don’t miss out on savings, especially at the end of bunker shelving and in the corners of the freezer.
This is where most grocery store stash reduced products or best-price items not in the flyer.
Always look to see what you will find, even if it is a quick scan of the products.
You might be shocked to find an item you just put in your cart for even less.
We’ve often picked up an item on sale only to find the same thing reduced in another store area.
We will take the reduced-price item as it would be the best price and savings for our grocery budget.
Another place to look is inside the deli counter for packages of reduced deli meats if you want fresh sliced meats and cheeses.
Before asking for something to be sliced, look to see if any specials are lurking in the windows of the deli counter.
6. Reduced Price Food Labels
We always shop with a list which means we already know what we want and the best price for it according to the flyer for the week.
What you want to do is keep in mind that what you find on sale might not be the best price.
Look around and see if there is a reduced-price sticker on the same products for the best deal.
For example, if mushrooms are on sale for $2.99 and you see some of the packs with 50% off stickers, grab those instead.
You can get twice as many or get what you came for and save half the money you planned to spend.
I don’t pay regular price for meat ever.
On sale or not at all…..hubby fusses but he is slowly learning.Christine Weadick Facebook
7. Price Check
First, know where the price check scanning machines are in your favorite grocery stores.
If your store lacks one, source customer service or floor staff for help.
Most stores have a checker, making it easier for staff to get on with what they are doing and not waste the day doing price checks for customers.
Just because the sign says a product is a specific price doesn’t mean it is.
We found reduced products with a sign and discovered they were even cheaper when we cashed out.
Sometimes the best price is even better.
This week, we bought some Gay Lea Roasted Red Pepper cream cheese regular $2.99 on sale for 50% off, only to find out it scanned at $0.50.
Our grocery list had cream cheese, so we thought roasted red pepper would do.
We could have picked up four containers for the sale price of one had we scanned it.
That was our mistake and one we learned from the next time we shop.
Eating a completely healthy diet (ah, we all cheat) and on a budget takes planning and an eye for the best price, even if that means waiting or supplementing another product.
Discussion: What other ways do you save money while grocery shopping for the best food prices?
Please share them below.
September 2018 GGC Posts
- 5 Costly Couples Grocery Shopping Mistakes GGC #5 August
- How To Make A Customer Complaint (with sample Letter) GGC #1 September
- Ontario Fall Fruits and Vegetables For Your Budget Meal Plan GGC #2 September
- Purchasing Weekly Groceries Offers The Best Customer Perks GGC #3 September
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-$42.74=$257.26
- 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: 3,500,000
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Zweet -$0
- Checkout51– $1.50
Our Grocery Shop This Week
- 6 x PC Not From Concentrate Apple Juice $7.98
- 3lbs Onions $0.99
- Mascarpone Cheese $8.99-50% $4.50
- 2 x large eggs $2.27 $4.54
- Bananas $2.22
- 2 x broccoli $0.98 $1.98
- 2 x light rye bread $4.49-50% $4.50
- Ziggys jumbo stuffed premium olives $6.99-50% $3.50
- 2 x PC Blue Sliced Turkey Deli Meat $4.99-50% $4.99
- 2 x PC Pack Chicken $4.99-50% $4.99
- 4 x butter $2.99 $11.96
- Gay Lea Roasted Red Pepper Cream Cheese $2.99 -50% but came up $0.50
Total Out-of-Pocket $43.57
PC Optimum Earned 4400 points or $4.40
- $17.08 4 x 4L Milk 2% plus $4700 PC Optimum plus points
Total Out-of-Pocket $17.08 to Stockpile budget
- Total to spend this month: $300.00-$42.74=$257.26 (includes over-spend from August)
- Stockpile budget 2018 : $25.00/month
- Stockpile budget used this month: $17.08
- Christmas Reserve Fund: $35/month, $280 Saved
- Total coupons used this week: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $1
- Total in-store discounts this week: $24.98
- Total in-store discounts to date: $202.42
- Total spent this week: $43.57
- Total spent so far this month: $212.12
- Total over/Under spend this shop: $1/57 under
- Total left to spend for the month: $1.57
- Total Spent To Date 2018: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $323.04+Feb $169.42+March $228.70 + April $337.84+ May $275.79 + June $271.88 +July $257.76 +August $342.74 + September $255.69+ October $+ November $ + December $
What a great week for deals, especially on items we would buy.
I wanted to make some chicken soup this week since we all feel under the weather so the reduced-price chicken will be useful.
I also found broccoli and onions on sale, perfect for another pot of broccoli and cheese soup.
The cream cheese was a great deal with the mascarpone, which we weren’t sure if we wanted to buy because of the price, but we found half-price solved that problem.
This week we hope to make some pumpkin cheesecake with the mascarpone.
Overall a great shopping month that we came in under budget.
See you in October!!
Note: All totals below already have tax factored into them.