I can't count the number of times that I've been asked how I can afford to live in a city as expensive as Toronto.
When pressed, it's hard to come up with an explanation because, the truth is, it just keeps getting more expensive.
Between public transportation, rising utilities, and soaring rent, Toronto is an objectively costly place to call home no matter your income — and groceries are usually no different.
Did you know that the average Torontonian spends around $285 on groceries every month? When you have rent and student loans to pay, that adds up to a lot.
But, as it turns out, there are easy ways to save on your groceries without clipping coupons.
I happened upon No Frills' new Haulerverse video, where, in short, a team of savvy comic book Haulers take part in a battle to fight frills and rack up savings along the way.
In a year devoid of Blockbuster franchise releases, the 60-second animated feature was entertaining — and kind of inspiring.
I wanted to get a lot for a lot less, too.
As I spend more time at home than ever before, my grocery bills continue to rise week after week.
So, I went to No Frills — the place where haulers go to haul — with $50 to see if I could buy enough food to last me the week.
(Spoiler alert: it's possible!)
In true hauler style, I prepared before my shop and used the weekly digital flyer to find the best savings through the store.
For a mere $50, my grocery cart wasn't just surviving, it was thriving.
Turns out No Frills is king when it comes to value.
I was able to snag tons of fresh vegetables and fruit (including a whole coconut), fresh ravioli on sale, pan-seared and pre-seasoned salmon, and a bunch of ingredients for dinners like tofu stir fry, Thai green curry, and tacos.
It was enough for a single person to eat nutritiously, even if I didn't make every single meal from scratch.
With ingredients from my No Frills haul, my week of food looked a little something like this:
- Breakfast: Fresh fruit with yogurt;
- Lunch: Vegetable stir fry or pasta with pesto;
- Dinner: Green curry and rice, tofu stir fry, tacos with Yves plant-based meat alternative, pan-seared salmon and veggies, or spaghetti.
It's important to note that, as someone who mostly eats vegetables, I've been able to avoid the soaring cost of meat in my weekly grocery shops. However, I noticed that No Frills' meat selection was both plentiful and affordable.
A two-pack of marinated steaks, for example, can be found for just $6 while a lot of the chicken can be bought for between $5 and $7.
If you're looking for charcuterie board ingredients on a budget, you can get 175 grams of prosciutto cotto and 125 grams of brie for only $3.27 each.
Meat eaters can also take solace in knowing that No Frills is built upon a "Won't Be Beat" guarantee.
If you find the same product somewhere else for cheaper, No Frills will price match — no questions asked.
Not to mention, the company is under the President's Choice umbrella, so not only can you gain and use your PC Optimum points (I don't have a PC Optimum card, but if I did, my receipt says I could have earned up to 500 points), but you can also count on a good amount of your grocery list to cost lower than average.
Before trying No Frills, I typically spent between $90 and $120 every time I went to the grocery store, about every week or ten days.
Although I live with my boyfriend, we don't typically keep track of things or split things evenly. It can get expensive.
With a few simple spending choices, I've learned that you can spend less and still enjoy your favourite foods for under $50 a week.