Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Coast to coast, I don’t think you will find much price variance, whether shopping at a higher-end grocery store or the cheapest grocery stores in Canada.
I mean grocery shopping and comparing prices from high-end to high-end or the cheapest to cheapest grocery stores in Canada.
You’ll also find that where you save $1.00 on one item, you likely will spend it on another.
Although some intelligent people can turn savings into actual grocery budget savings.
Is that you? If not, now that you’ve found CBB, you will be a grocery-shopping pro.
Today, let’s explore the cheapest Canadian grocery stores and what you can do to reduce your grocery expenses.
Grocery Budget Savings 101
- Shop only the weekly grocery sales
- Use Coupon Apps such as Checkout51, Flashfood App
- Take advantage of rewards points
- Price match (where available)
- Shop various stores for the best deals
- Watch for price reductions
- Use Coupons
- Using a rain check
(See the grocery comparison chart below)
One of the most popular grocery posts on CBB is The Most Expensive Grocery Stores In Canada.
What about those who want to save even more money on groceries?
I wanted to explore this option more for those new to Canada or simply new to grocery shopping.
Related: How to reduce grocery store anxiety
Money In Your Pocket or Your Mouth
The answer to the question above is to find the Cheapest Canadian Grocery Stores to shop and save.
What I found interesting about the list of cheapest Canadian grocery stores I compiled was that almost all grocery stores’ prices matched other stores.
If you look at Canada’s most expensive grocery stores, you’ll find that many do not price-match.
They can’t afford to price match. Otherwise, it would eat into their overhead which is typically higher.
With all of the frills, packaging, marketing, and hydro they use to spruce up their stores for customers who want the frosted touch shopping experience, they pay for it.
I believe every grocery store has a certain clientage that will always shop there come hell or high water.
If prices go up, they will still go. Others may not have an option based on location and transportation, so they are stuck shopping wherever a store is available.
Then there are the shoppers who are not store-loyal; instead, they are budget-loyal, meaning they will if they can save money.
Do I blame them?
No, and you can pitch me into that bunch of Canadian grocery shoppers because saving is a wise investment, in my opinion.
When You Invest In Your Budget You Invest In Your Future
With the cost of living in Canada increasing (or so it seems), we must find better ways to save our money, so unless you have a surplus, you should probably get on the savings wagon.
They exist, and I can do without hearing why certain grocery stores disgust them, which has more to do with keeping up with the Grocerydashians than the price.
If customers can afford to grocery shop without looking at prices, they either have money to burn or are out of control.
Some people may complain that the cheapest Canadian grocery stores have the worst produce and meat and go without the frills, but this isn’t always true.
We’ve found better produce at Food Basics on occasion than at Zehrs, one of Canada’s most expensive grocery stores.
The ONLY reason we shop at Zehrs is for deals, and it’s close to our home and uses the Flash Food App.
The Flash Food App has allowed us to find fantastic deals reduced in price from 50-70%.
You’ll find that prices are low in the Flash Food App because they are close to expiry.
We hardly ever do a regular grocery shop at Zehrs as it’s far too expensive for our grocery budget.
Over the years, our grocery budget has been relatively low, but it was doable for us.
Increased Grocery Budget
However, we’ve experienced a budget increase for groceries totaling $400 for the three of us.
That’s not too bad, considering we started with $350 in 2018, which was a stretch most months.
Fast forward to 2023, and our three-person grocery budget is $950!
I was never the guy who said that living on a tight grocery budget was the challenge it was what worked for us.
There were many months when we struggled to stay on target because we got lazy and didn’t follow our advice.
It happens. You will never have the perfect grocery shop month after month.
With that in mind, we also spend more on purchasing items such as Nu Pasta, a zero-carb pasta that costs $3.99 per package and feeds two.
When we ate regular pasta, a pack for $0.99 would feed 4-6 people, so our grocery budget also reflects the Keto diet we enjoy.
On the other hand, buying less of one thing meant we had more money to spend on others.
For example, I am no longer buying big bags of flour as we’ve transitioned to almond or coconut flour instead.
However, there is a price difference, so part of our budget tracking meant finding the best deals for meals we enjoy.
The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide For Keto Products At Costco Canada – With Photos
Canadian Grocery Stores To Shop At
How do Canadians choose which grocery stores to buy groceries from?
It boils down to, first and foremost, PRICE, proximity followed by packaging and environment as to how consumers view the products they purchase to be reasonable, better or the best.
No one wants to buy a bruised apple or a mushy tomato, so they end up on the reduced rack.
Rock-bottom prices are great for customers who can make soups, purees, baked goods, jams, or prep and freeze for later use.
Even the meat department has incredible deals on meat, fish, and chicken close to expiry in every Canadian grocery store.
Buy it, and you may catch a deal (always check the reg price or current sales).
Let’s not forget that many consumers want excellent customer service, no matter where they shop.
It can be high-end grocery shopping or at any of the cheapest grocery stores, and the overall experience, including customer interaction and service, is vital.
Grocery Store Hopping
Over the years, we would shop at various grocery stores to find the best deals in Canada, but only those close to each other.
Like most cities, you’ll find at least two grocery stores in the same area, if not more, but that depends on where you live.
It didn’t bother us to grocery store hop to save money and perhaps scoop up some reduced sales or unadvertised deals.
However, you must still consider your grocery list because it’s effortless to get off track shopping this way.
Knowing you are already going to a particular store is a great time to tap into what sales are happening.
The best way to do that is by using the top grocery flyers apps in Canada, Reebee or Flipp app, to compare product prices.
Rewards Programs Boost Canadian Grocery Store Savings
I also suggest using the Flash Food App to find out if you can purchase any reduced products to lower your food budget.
For example, if we go to Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up a prescription, we check our PC Optimum app to see what points and promos are available and read the flyer for the week.
One of the biggest deals we always take advantage of is the milk for 20x the points or other promotions.
You get one bag for free back in points when you buy four sacks, which we do for $17.56, and $ 4845 back in Shoppers Optimum Points.
That’s a total of $4.85 back, slightly more than the cost of one 4L milk bag. Win!
They often have deals on bread, eggs, coffee, cereal, cookies, bacon, cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese; well, you get my point.
The idea is to check flyers before you shop and compare prices, so you kill two birds with one stone, sort to speak.
However, you can save money if you shop the sales and watch for in-store deals, reduced items, coupons, and coupon apps.
Also, tap into our Grocery Price Book, where you can price and compare so you know you’re getting the best deals.
Top 10 Cheapest Canadian Grocery Stores
My Top Picks in Ontario for the cheapest Canadian grocery stores are;
- No Frills (Price Match Yes)
- Food Basics (Price Match NO) Come on, Food Basics, get with the program.
- Walmart Canada (Price Match No) – Update 2020 – Unfortunately, Walmart has cancelled their PM program.
- FreshCo (Price Match Yes)
Budget Conscious Grocery Stores To Shop At In Canada
The others on the list below are some of the most affordable Canadian grocery stores to shop at if you watch your grocery dollars.
These would be the stores we shop at if they offer various flyer specials that we can’t price match at our regular grocery stores.
- Giant Tiger (Price Match Yes)
- Extra Foods (Price Match Yes)
- Real Canadian Superstore/Atlantic Superstore (Loblaws chain) (Price Match Yes)
- Coop (Price Match Yes)
- Save on Foods (Price Match Yes)
- Thrifty Foods (Price Match No)
Other Cheap Canadian Grocery Stores To Consider
A few ‘other’ cheapest Canadian grocery stores to target are;
- Dollar Store (Not a grocery store but a popular place to find inexpensive grocery items)
- Costco (pick and choose based on price and size as there are great deals)
- Shoppers Drug Mart (watch deals and pair with PC Optimum and coupons)
- Small independent shops or local farms – Shop Local
- International stores (Indian store, Chinese store, Asian grocery, Italian Store, etc.)
Related: 11 Costco Items We Buy To Save Money
Canadian Grocery Store Comparisons
SuperStore, Wal-Mart, Save On Foods
I found this grocery comparison posted on Reddit 6 months ago interesting because, again, the prices weren’t too far off each other, and what was pricey at one store was cheaper at another.
The user stated that associates had taken prices from online sources, which means in-store prices could differ.
I’m also not 100% sure if these were all regular price comparisons, which you would be looking for.
It was still interesting to see how a dollar here a dollar can all add up.
Remember that most people shop the sales, so regular prices mean nothing to them these days unless the item is a MUST.
Grocery stores hold their own, and prices change like gas prices in Canada apart from their big sellers, price freeze, or “won’t be beaten” prices.
A Grocery Budget Relies On Your Savings Plan
Overall, we’ve had no issue shopping at some of the cheapest Canadian grocery stores, but we are happy summer is around the corner.
Summer savings on groceries go beyond even the cheapest Canadian grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and gardening at home.
Save where you can and compromise when necessary to get the best prices on products in Canadian grocery stores.
Discussion: What are the Cheapest Canadian Grocery Stores and why?
Please leave your comments below.
Thanks for stopping by to read CBB!