6 Expert Tips To Save Money On Groceries In Canada Without Cutting Out The Good Stuff

Watch out for these reward programs!

An aisle in a grocery store. Right: A Loblaws in Toronto.
Associate Editor

An aisle in a grocery store. Right: A Loblaws in Toronto.

Inflation in Canada might be slowing down just a bit, but the price of groceries is still very much on the uptick.

In fact, according to the latest Consumer Price Index, the cost of groceries in Canada increased by 10.8% in August — the fastest rise since 1981.

To help Canadians save some of their hard-earned money, Narcity Canada spoke to registered dietician and Toronto-based food blogger, Abbey Sharp.

Here's a look at some of her top tips to help shoppers make the most of those expensive grocery trips:

Use cooking oil wisely

In Canada, the price of oil jumped by a whopping 27.7% in August compared to the same time last year.

While this can seem alarming, Sharp says you can also save money by being careful with your usage and knowing which oils to use when.

"For everyday cooking, I recommend using moderate amounts of canola oil and putting it in an oil atomizer so you can evenly distribute it and reduce waste or overconsumption," she says.

While she acknowledges that canola oil often has a bad reputation, she adds that it has "a favourable fatty acid profile." Another perk? It’s often made locally in Canada, which makes it the more affordable choice.

Last but not least, keep the really expensive stuff for specific dishes or occasions.

Sharp "suggest[s] saving good quality avocado or olive oils for salad dressings, garnishes, or if you’re consuming a larger amount of it for greater health benefits."

Buy larger cuts of meat

This might seem like common sense, but as Sharp reminds us, "larger whole cuts of meat and poultry will always be cheaper than individual pieces that have been deboned or skinned."

"I love roasting a whole chicken on the weekend and then using the meat throughout the week," she says.

She also points out that, ironically, it can often be cheaper to buy a pre-cooked whole rotisserie chicken than buying the individual ingredients – this might be a good option to consider if you're ever in a rush.

However, if you really do want to cook, you could also buy ground meat and use that to make meatballs, burgers or casseroles.

Finally, "cooking pork shoulders or stewing beef in a slow cooker are also really affordable cuts that yield a lot of meat for multiple meals," she says.

Make veggies last longer

There are certain hacks that you can incorporate to make your greens last longer, which means you can waste less and ultimately buy less.

"For leafy greens, I recommend not washing until it's ready to use. Store in a container lined with paper towel, making sure there is some room in the container for air to circulate," says Sharp.

When it comes to bell peppers, store them in the crisper drawer. Keep broccoli in a container or closed bag with a slightly moist paper towel. Wrap celery in aluminum foil and place in the crisper drawer.

Sharp says cucumbers actually last a bit longer at room temperature, but once cut refrigerate and eat them as soon as possible.

As for asparagus, stand it upright in a little pool of water to keep it hydrated. She recommends putting them in "a tall glass with an inch of water covered loosely with a plastic bag."

Consider rewards programs

Almost all big retailers have rewards programs you can take advantage of that will help you earn points and save more in the long run.

Sharp recommends PC Optimum for those spending at Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart, or More Rewards for B.C. residents shopping at Save On Foods, or Metro & Moi, a points system in Quebec for Metro shoppers.

Think before buying bulk

We’re all conditioned to think that bulk-buying means we're getting a good deal.

But, before you spend your budget for the month on groceries, Sharp reminds us that "bulk buying is only cheaper if you actually need or can use all of the food before it goes bad."

If you do know you need the product and will be able to finish it off, Costco is the obvious place to try for bulk products.

However, if you're on the fence or are looking for smaller portions of dried goods, Sharp says shopping at Bulk Barn may help you buy just what you need.

Order groceries in

Sharp admits that this one might seem unconventional but if you want to save on groceries, a delivery option might be a good idea.

Why? Well, this could be helpful for people who spend money impulsively, or who have a habit of picking up store items that they might not want or need while scanning the aisles.

"There are a lot of grocery stores doing pick-up for $3-5 and the apps often remind you of your usual grocery purchases and essentials, so unless you go searching for a specific novelty product, you aren’t likely to be tempted by it," she explains.

"I find it a lot easier to stick to my grocery list because I can add ingredients to my cart as I notice I’m running low so I only buy the things I really need."

Good luck out there, shoppers!

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Janice Rodrigues
Associate Editor
Janice Rodrigues was an Associate Editor for Narcity Media focused on Canadian immigration and passports, and is based in Scarborough, Ontario.