6 Easy Ways to Reduce your Grocery Bill

Grocery store prices are on the rise – in April, George Weston Ltd., owner of grocery giant Loblaw, increased prices by five percent. Whether you’re a student living on residence, a senior on a fixed income, or a young couple with two children, food prices affect everyone’s budget. If you can save even just $5 a week on groceries, it will add up to savings of $260 a year.

Having worked in the grocery industry for over seven years, starting as a grocery clerk working myself all the way up to a department manager, I’ve learned a thing or two about groceries. Let’s take a look at a few simple ways to cut your grocery budget.

Price Matching

Who doesn’t like one stop shopping? Instead of driving around to five different stores – and spending a bundle on gas – discount grocery chains like No Frills (“Won’t Be Beat”) and FreshCo (“Cheaper Guaranteed”) have introduced price matching programs.

The process is simple – show the cashier the flyer of a major competitor with a better deal and they will match or beat the price. Some restrictions apply – you won’t get a price match if it’s a different brand or package size. Here’s a word of advice – instead of fumbling through flyers at the cashier, use posted flags to mark the pages of the various flyers.

Stop Paying for Brand Names

If you’re in the habit of buying brand names then listen up – name brands can cost between 10 to 50 percent more than generic store brands. When you’re buying a name brand you’re paying for the product’s marketing budget. The savings from buying store brands can really add up; if you save $10 a week by buying store brands, you’re saving $520 a year – that’s like 5 to 6 weeks of groceries for free a year!

Discount Chains Can Save you a Bundle

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flipped through the so-called high-end grocery store flyers for Loblaw and Metro and laughed at how ridiculously high the prices are. Most of the time the sale prices at the high-end stores are the same or even higher than the regular everyday prices of the discount stores likes No Frills and Food Basics.

Having worked for a discount grocery store, I know that the discount stores and the high-end stores use the same warehouse, so essentially you’re paying $1 more for every item at the high-end store. If that adds up to $20 a week in extra spending, that’s $1,040 a year you could be saving by simply shopping at a discount chain.

Rewards Programs

Who said the best things in life aren’t free? PC Points is one of the best rewards programs out there. Whether you pay with PC Mastercard or a PC Financial debit card, every time you make a purchase you earn PC Points. Once you earn 20,000 PC Points you can redeem the points for $20 off your next grocery bill. Bring cloth grocery bags next time you shop – you earn PC Points for that too! PC Points add up quickly – you can easily get $20 of free grocery every month.

Watch that receipt!

Next time you’re in the grocery store be sure to review your receipt – price scanning errors happen more often than you think. Most major supermarkets are members of the Retail Council of Canada; they will honour the Scanner Price Accuracy Vountary Code: if an item for $10 or less scans incorrect, you will get it for free or it’s the price is over $10 you will get $10 off the regular price.

Some stores I’ve worked for try to “encourage” customers to pay the correct price; be persistent and politely assert that you would like the item for free as per the Retail Council of Canada and the store will be more likely to comply.

Reduce impulse purchases

Spending 5 to 10 minutes preparing a grocery list every week can save you time and money; you won’t be tempted to buy items you don’t need. Also, don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. Lastly, if you can, leave the kids at home; you’ll end buying sweets you don’t really need.

Do you have any tips to saving money on groceries? Share it with us.

About the Author: Sean Cooper is a single, 20-something year old, first time home buyer located in Toronto. He has experience in the financial sector as a Pension Analyst, RESP administrator and Income Tax Preparer. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce in business management from Ryerson University.

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7 years ago

Learn to cook. Dont throw anything out. I mean ifu onky need half an onion the dice the other half stick it in a containet and pop it in the freezer. U may apend $400 a month on groceries but start counting how much of that u throw out. Im a single person and i on average spend $50 a week on groceries. And i make fantastic homemade meals. Implement more beans into ur diet. Less meat is less money. Less dairy is also less money. Eat u leftovers. Make ur own bbq sauce, salad dressing, and cereal. Make your own soup and broth. Buy ur chickens whole and butcher them yourself.

8 years ago

clearance stickers, 50% off grains deserts and other items close to expiry date (easily frozen and portions taken out when need be), 30% off meats close to expiry (easily frozen and taken out when ready to eat). It is essentially buy three get one free. And we are lucky to have 3 grocery stores in about 10 blocks so between the clearance sales, price matching (when items are out of stock at one) and mid week shopping day/night out, along with coupons, as long as you are in store savy with coupons and clearence, you can save a bundle.

I agree with one person who said sometimes the taste of a brand name is well worth the price.

9 years ago

I used to agree with “stop buying brand names” until I had to go on a diet to figure out migraine food triggers. If you have any type of health issues that make you sensitive to things like MSG, you can’t avoid brand names. Store brands are cheaper because they include things like yeast extract and other additives that I didn’t find in the same brand name products. Even as I eat frugally, this means more buying fresh and not throwing out a lot of food. Cheap, store brand food is no longer an option.

9 years ago

I spend about 350$/mo for a family of four in Alberta. We make our own bread using a breadmaker, and eat from scratch wherever possible. Breakfast is usually oatmeal or toast during the week (family favorites), lunches are brown baged. We do 60$/ week on the basics, 10$ for grains, 20$ for fruit and vegetables, 15$ for dairy and 15$ for meats. The remainder is for any extras we need, or for sales to stock up on. We buy organic beef from a rancher nearby at 2$/lb for a 1/4 cow, giving us everything from steaks to ground beef. We do a monthly shop at Superstore for any nonperishables, and do a weekly trip for everything else at Co-op. Plus we walk to Co-op, and thus avoid the gas.
– Stephanie

9 years ago

I always try to avoid the brand names but there are times where it is a necessary evil. For me, things like soda and Ketchup, the taste difference between the Brand and the generic product is definitely there. So my taste buds in that case always side with the brand names. For the most part though I always go with the brand names as I dont enjoy spending extra money for essentially the same product.

One thing I try to do to save money is to try to make the least amount of trips to the store as possible. It used to be that we would make trips to the local shopping center just to purchase one or two impulse items but that was when the gas prices were lower too. Now we usually go every 2 to 3 weeks and always make one big purchase.


9 years ago

I only buy expensive steaks (and sometimes other cuts of meat, like stewing beef or veal) from Metro on Sunday evening. That is when they have marked down the beef that is about to run into the best before date. If I don’t save at least 30% then I don’t buy it.

It’s been fantastic – we get to enjoy really good cuts at low grade pricing.

I also have been known to scour the bakery racks for marked down goods there, too. Whether it’s cupcakes, bread, bagels, or pies, the savings can be quite substantial.

I love the SCOP – just got a free tub of ice cream last week from that. Now that’s truly a “sweet” deal.

Frugal Greenie
9 years ago

Jimmie McJimmie – sorry for not responding – I have been away. I have a 20 week vegetable share and a 20 week fruit share for about $900. (5 months) – feeds a family of 3 no problem and fourth mouth is currently enroute. :) I am having issues having too MUCH food and am managing by feeding extra inlaws. Here’s the link if you’re lucky enough to live iin or around Halifax. http://www.taprootfarms.ca

If you live in Ontario you will likely already have a significantly lower grocery bill than we do here – for example you probably pay around $4.99 for 4L of milk. We pay about $7.20 here in NS. It was shocking to move east from Ontario 5 years ago. Cost is about perspective and time as well. I figure I also save about 1 1/2 hours per week regained in travel time and grocery shopping time. Add in the reduced impulse shopping $$ – no opportunity to spend money and for me it’s worth it. I also like buying local and being green. I also know where and how my food is grown and by whom. (A lot of what we get is organic.)

9 years ago

We spend about $300 per month as a couple in Vancouver. However, we don’t buy meat or cheese. I’m sure that saves us a ton of money. Also, we buy from a small local grocery chain which is way cheaper than any of the major chains. We do include some organic produce in that budget.

9 years ago

Hi @Jolayn:

Seems to be me that the amount you spend is perfectly reasonable, especially for a family.

I am part of a couple and we try to spend about $100 per week which works out to about $430-$450/month, just like @nobleea but what gets us is the eating out on top of that… Probably an additional $200-250…

Just wondering if others could also comment on their grocery spending habits? Anyone?



9 years ago


We spend about $450 a month on food and groceries as a couple in Edmonton.
I have heard of numbers as low as $300/mo and as high as $1200/mo for a couple.