If you are budget conscious then you are probably wondering which are cheap grocery stores in Canada and are they really cheap.
Cheap Grocery Stores
When thinking of cheap grocery stores, No Frills and Freshco or even Walmart come to mind. Costco, Loblaws and Sobeys are generally not considered to be cheap grocery stores.
Leaving prices aside for now, the main difference between stores such as No Frills, Freshco and Metro, Sobeys, Loblaws is that No Frills and Freshco offer very limited options. For example, let’s say you are looking for organic milk, a quick search showed that No Frills had 9 options while Loblaws showed 18 different options, this is what was available at the time of writing this post and you may find more or less options but you get the point. Also, there is a difference in the layout and look of the stores. Discount stores offer basic products with no additional services such as bakery or butcher on premises.
Now let’s get back to prices, there is generally a misconception that No Frills will sell the same item sold at Loblaws cheaper, this is not always the case. Don’t get me wrong, No Frills, Freshco, and Food Basics do offer great deals and if you are buying products based on deals then great you will get it cheaper. But for most items there is no price difference. Even most of the produce is priced similarly.
No Frills has ‘No Name’ brand and Freshco has ‘Compliments’ and Food Basics has ‘Selection’ and ‘Irresistible’. These brands offer a cheaper alternative to known brand names. Interestingly Loblaws also carries the ‘No Name’ brand priced the same as No Frills. This holds true for ‘Compliments’ brand at Freshco and Sobey’s as well as ‘Selection/Irresistible’ at Food Basics and Metro.
For the longest time, my family shopped at Food Basics thinking that we were saving money and we were (kind of…). Produce we bought from Food Basics didn’t last long, even in the fridge. Produce is one of the biggest grocery expenses for any family and at a glance No Frills, Freshco, and Food Basics offer produce at a much lower cost compared to stores such as Loblaws, Sobeys, and Walmart. This begs the question why? Why are they able to offer the same produce at a lower cost? Well, the answer is quality. While cheaper stores offer good quality produce, there is nevertheless a difference in quality. You will notice a difference in shelf life of produce.
Costco, on the other hand, is a different shopping experience, it is membership based. To shop there you need yearly membership. You can bulk items which is great for families looking for savings. Things like toilet paper, cooking oil, cereals, frozen foods, fruits and other products are great quality and cheaper than what you would pay at other grocery stores. Costco is our go to store for products I mentioned. The yearly membership is totally worth it and you recoup the membership fees in savings.
What is the Verdict?
So the question of which are cheap grocery stores depends on your personal preference. If you are ok with limited selection which can help you stay within your budget and don’t mind shorter shelf life produce then stores like No Frills, Freshco, and Food Basics are great options. The reason stores like Loblaws, Metro, and Sobeys seem expensive is due to the range of products they offer. With increased options we can be tempted to splurge on items we would otherwise not purchase, thus leading to higher grocery bills. If you are on a tight budget then stores like No Frills, Freshco, and Food Basics are better options. Just remember that cheap grocery stores are cheap for a reason.