Two of our staff members recently met with participants of our matched savings program over Zoom. Recognizing the cost of groceries, especially as we stock up to reduce trips to the store, the participants wanted to use what they’ve learned to create a list of money-saving tips for you.

Early in the conversation, Karen, a staff member, recalled a story from her childhood.

“I remember my mother handed me a $20 bill and said, ‘I need you to go into town and pick up these items that are on sale at the Superstore and these from Shoppers.’ In my mind, I was thinking, well, this is annoying. What, am I saving like $2 on food and spending $2 on gas? Well, my mother’s comparative shopping skills saved her almost $20 on what would have been a $40 purchase. I was so impressed and thought, what would savings like this (it’s not always 50%) look like over a month, a year and longer? Probably a fair bit!”

With that, the group was off, and together they’ve drafted quite the list of tips to save money while grocery shopping. We are very impressed with them, and they are proud to share this information with all of you.

Shopping Strategies

  • Use a list and stick to it.
  • Only walk down aisles that have the items you need—impulse purchases are hard on the budget!
  • Using cash or buying gift cards to the grocery stores when you get paid, can help you stay within your budget.
  • Use a calculator while shopping to stick to the budget you’ve set for yourself.
  • Shop when you’re full. You’ll buy less (including fewer snacks!)

Shop for Deals

  • Use grocery apps such as Flipp and PC Optimum to shop for sales.
  • Compare prices between stores, but also compare within the store. For example, if the same product is sold in 500ml and 1L sizes, compare the prices per 100ml. Often the larger size costs more but is less expensive per unit, and sometimes items on “sale” still cost more per unit than another size at regular price.
  • Use coupons—check the coupon board when you first walk in the store.
  • Sale rack/bin—look for sale displays at the ends of aisles or when you first walk in the store but remember, it’s only a good deal if you need it!

What to buy

  • Purchase produce that is in season.
  • Buy bone-in meat. It’s almost always cheaper than boneless, skinless meat.
  • Look for store brand/no-name goods, which are often a better price.
  • Avoid eye-level products—they’re usually more expensive (these stores are tricky!)
  • Buy less food that’s already prepared and cut it up yourself. Pre-made sandwiches, pre-cut fruit and salads, are often more expensive; shred your own cheese.
  • Buy frozen vegetables (especially right now). You get more for your money, and they keep longer.
  • Buy in bulk from the bulk section—but cautiously. Compare prices to ensure the bulk purchase is cost-effective. And only for foods that keep well, and you use regularly. Items such as rice, potatoes, oats, cheese, pasta, pasta sauce etc. go a long way!

Meal Planning

  • You can eat healthier and save money by cooking at home instead of eating out.
  • Share meal and recipe ideas with your friends. You get new ideas and a social connection.
  • Cook extra food for the next day or freeze it for later.
  • Portion out snacks in a bag, so they last longer over time – we need treats!
  • Take snacks with you if you go for a walk rather than stopping at a convenience store.
  • Portion up meat and freeze it to prevent it from spoiling.

Store Policies

  • Many stores will price match, which can save you from going from store to store. Use the Flipp app to show the cashier the lower price when you’re checking out at the till.
  • Scanner’s Code of Practice (SCOP) allows for a discount if an item scans with an incorrect price.
  • If the correct price of the product is $10 or less, the retailer will give the product to the customer free of charge; or
  • If the correct price of the product is higher than $10, the retailer will give the customer a discount of $10 off the correct price.
  • You usually have to purchase the items and then go to Customer Service for your refund/price adjustment.

Rachael Flett, BA (Psych) – Transition to Independence Program Coach