How to save money at the grocery store?
Radio-Canada recently informed us that food will be more expensive in 2021 and even more so in 2022. However, the grocery basket has already been steadily increasing for twenty years: by 240 % according to Statistics Canada. In a pandemic era, where many are experiencing a substantial drop in income, saving becomes an obligation. So it’s not good news to see the price of food go up.
According to experts, meat and vegetables will see the biggest increase: more than 6%. Climate change and forest fires in California do nothing to help the importation of fruits and vegetables and we can understand our government’s initiatives to increase Quebec’s food autonomy. Which should help us save money on groceries.
For our part, what can we do to get around this constant surge in grocery basket prices? Milesopedia offers different strategies to help you save. Everyone can then adapt the strategies to their profile.
Here are our grocery shopping tips.
1 - Before leaving the house
Before leaving home for the grocery store:
- You have reviewed Reebee flyers, Publisac, newspaper inserts, promotional emails and newsletters received from your subscriptions? Keep in mind that not everything is discounted. Many items are at full price in the flyers. Don’t forget, you want to save.
- You cut/printed a few coupons that you were interested in. There are several websites that offer discount coupons. All you have to do is Google “coupon” and the name of the product. And even easier, on some Canadian sites such as Voucher Codes Canada, Échantillons gratuits Québec, Save.ca, you will be able to take note of the virtual coupon codes and use them when ordering online.
- You checked the milesopedia Facebook group. Like for example this UGO tip which gives a 10% discount to many members at IGA!
In addition, when you use a manufacturer’s discount coupon for items that are already discounted at the supermarket, you will be doing what is known as a “double whammy” and will be on your way to being an expert at saving money. The opportunities are not the same as in the United States because some Canadian merchants refuse the double whammy. But it’s worth a shot.
- At this point, you have a good idea of what you want to buy and you even go so far as to make a shopping list. Choose 1 or 2 businesses in order to optimize your travel and your time while keeping in mind the price match policy in some concurrent major food stores.
Here’s your third strategy.
- Download on your cell phone applications such as Flashfood or FoodHero. They offer you discounted prices for “ugly” products or products whose expiration date is approaching.
- Finally, don’t leave on an empty stomach, as impulse purchases could negate your best intentions to save money.
2 - At the grocery store
Note the business configuration:
- Around the store perimeter, you will find refrigerated of frozen food products (fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy). These are the ones most needed for good nutrition. Your basket should fill up there. Fresh fruits and vegetables in season are affordable, but frozen or canned ones are still a good choice in the off-season.
- The prepared and processed products are usually located in central aisles and are more expensive. You really want to save money? Avoid them as much as possible. You know, the cookie, cake, and juice box aisle. Next.
- The products which are placed at eye level are often more expensive. Look on the top and bottom shelves. That’s where the cheapest products are placed. Remember, you want to save money. You’re not convinced? Compare prices per unit of measure (per 100 g/100 ml) by checking the labels on the products.
- Beware of ads that encourage you to buy several of the same item to get a discount. If you only need one, the cost price could be the same. Check the unit price of the item. Because 10 cans of tuna for $10 and one for $1 would come down to the same thing. Go according to your needs and try to buy private labels. There you go, you just saved.
- However, if you are one of those who are willing to buy more because you are the type to cook and then freeze, you’ll make better deals. Aim for bulk purchases according to the quantities required.
- It’s a marketing strategy to indicate that the quantity of a product is, for example, limited to four per customer. The consumer will have the reflex to buy more than one item if he believes it will be out of stock. This behaviour is contrary to our intention to save money. It reminds me of a story about toilet paper and flour sacks in the spring of 2020. Don’t be fooled!
3 - At your grocery store checkout
Once you get to your grocery store checkout:
- First, always pay with your credit card. Its goal is to save you money, and show your loyalty card if you have one.
And what are the best credit cards to save at the grocery store? It depends on your grocery store and the rewards you want to get.
You want AIR MILES ?
At IGA, Les Marchés Tradition or Rachelle Béry, using the BMO® AIR MILES® Mastercard®* (or one of the other free versions), you’ll earn 3 miles per $25 in purchases.
Update June 8th 2022: **Note: As of the beginning of 2023, IGA, Marchés Tradition and Rachelle Béry stores will no longer be linked to the AIR MILES program. See this article on Scene+ which will be the new rewards program of IGA, Rachelle Béry and Les Marchés Tradition.
You want travel points?
At Métro, Super C, Giant Tiger and some Traditional Markets using the American Express Cobalt® Card or the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Cardyou will earn 5 points per dollar at the grocery store.
If you are a fan of the PC Optimum program, we recommend one of the credit cards related programs if you shop at Provigo or Maxi supermarkets.
Do you prefer cash back no matter what the business?
The CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card, Scotia Momentum® VISA Infinite* Card or Desjardins World Elite Mastercard offer 4% cash back at all grocery stores.
Or if you’d rather have credit cards with no annual fee: the BMO CashBack Mastercard which offers 3% cash back, MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Plus® Mastercard® which offers 2% cash back (and 5% for the first 6 months) or the Tangerine MoneyBack Mastercard (if you choose the “grocery” category to get 2%).
For these three cards, you can get the same cash back rates in Walmart!
4 - Back home
The items are put away and you’re wondering what could save you more money? Here are two lines of thought:
- Reduce your meat consumption to lower your grocery bill. Protein is also found in legumes, eggs, fish and tofu, which are less expensive. It’s also saving you money.
- Plant your own garden or join a collective/community garden in your own town. You will combine business with pleasure and you will reach your goal of saving money while consuming locally.
Remember the price of fruits, vegetables and meats will increase by 6% in 2021.
Would you also like to share your strategies for better saving with our readers? Feel free to leave them in the comments and share the article. Or come and chat with members of the milesopedia community in the Facebook group.
It helps everyone!