Author Topic: Seeking advice on how to be Mustachian on Groceries in Canada...?  (Read 3583 times)

MMM_intraining

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Hi there everyone,

I am trying to be as mustachian as possible with the grocery bill but here in Canada it seems to be impossible to hit the $1/meal goal...or is it???  That is where i need help.  In true Mustachian terms, we should be hitting a monthly grocery bill of around $500 but ours averages to around $1000-$1200/month.  What are others able to achieve given the parameters below??

We live in Ontario for now but are moving to BC soon.

Here is my situation and any advice is appreciated...

* Here in Ontario i try to shop at a local grocery store called Freshco as it is much cheaper than Loblaws and Metro but the produce is still rather good.  Our second retailer would usually be Loblaws when we need the variety or ethnic options not available at Freshco...

* I am quite concious about shopping on a per gram and per serving basis and i am gladly willing to forgo the name brand for no name items when the quality is the same.

* We have 3 young kids - last one is still in diapers

* Our family is Gluten free so we also shop quite often at Bulk Barn to get the bulk flours so we can make our own products

* We have a garden so in season we can also reduce our vegetable purchase needs

* We eat as much organic food as feasible but when the cost is exorbitant or the item seems to not need the "organic" label we forgo.

What are other North of the Border MMM readers getting their grocery bills to?

Thanks

Marc

Gerard

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1357
  • Location: eastern canada
Re: Seeking advice on how to be Mustachian on Groceries in Canada...?
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2013, 01:22:41 PM »
You're doing a lot of stuff right! A few thoughts:
I would hit big "ethnic" supermarkets (often in the near suburbs), or Chinatown, for as much stuff as possible. Somewhere like Al Premium or Fu Yao in Toronto, but many other choices are available.
Buy dried peas/beans, flours, spices, and grains in large-ish sacks from Asian supermarkets, rather than loose from bulk barn. (Make sure you're storing and using and rotating them efficiently!)
Continue limiting your organic choices to those where the environmental or pesticide-eating delta is the largest.
Eat what's in season.
Try No Frills in addition to Freshco.
Eat waaaaaay less meat (assuming you're eating much now), especially if organic. Buy fattier, tastier meat.
Buy stuff from indie labels (like Unico, Clic, and Mr. Goudas)... you usually get premium-label quality for no-name prices.
Avoid pre-made food whenever possible (obviously).
Use your blender more to sneak healthy cheap stuff into your kids (dips, smoothies, "cream" soups).
Eat less cheese.
Stop giving your kids juice.


KMMK

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1472
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada
    • Meena Kestirke Insurance
Re: Seeking advice on how to be Mustachian on Groceries in Canada...?
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2013, 02:10:50 PM »
I'm in Manitoba and we spend about $600 a month for two adults. I'm vegetarian and gluten-free. He is not. We could spend a little less, but make similar choices to you, so I am comfortable with our spending levels.
What helps me is to buy hardly anything that is packaged/processed. I eat very plainly. DH buys more processed items like canned soup and packaged cereal, but I don't control his choices.
Also I buy legumes and rice dry in the Superstore ethnic aisle or at ethnic grocers. Spices at the local bulk store, never in the container. I generally don't buy the gluten-free or vegetarian replacement products. No fake meat stuff - yuck. I don't bake.

I eat very simply - just fresh produce, legumes from dry, some type of carb. Nothing fancy, but it's often organic/local and is definitely healthy.

Peter

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 112
Re: Seeking advice on how to be Mustachian on Groceries in Canada...?
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2013, 03:07:20 PM »
I'm in Manitoba and we spend about $600 a month for two adults. I'm vegetarian and gluten-free.

I eat very simply - just fresh produce, legumes from dry, some type of carb. Nothing fancy, but it's often organic/local and is definitely healthy.

I don't quite get how you guys are spending so much. Can you do a breakdown?

I live in Fort Mcmurray, eat TONS of meat, and about half my produce is organic (organic meat is difficult to find and extremely expensive) and we spend about $400/month for 2.

KMMK

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1472
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada
    • Meena Kestirke Insurance
Re: Seeking advice on how to be Mustachian on Groceries in Canada...?
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2013, 04:26:56 PM »
I'm in Manitoba and we spend about $600 a month for two adults. I'm vegetarian and gluten-free.

I eat very simply - just fresh produce, legumes from dry, some type of carb. Nothing fancy, but it's often organic/local and is definitely healthy.

I don't quite get how you guys are spending so much. Can you do a breakdown?

I live in Fort Mcmurray, eat TONS of meat, and about half my produce is organic (organic meat is difficult to find and extremely expensive) and we spend about $400/month for 2.

Well, I'm definitely not saying I'm doing things really low cost. Just a bit lower than the original poster. I absolutely could spend less. But food is one area that I chose to spend extra money on because it's important to me. I spend extra to support local businesses and buy organic. I think our main expense is fresh produce. We spend a ridiculous amount - $250-300 a month just on produce. Think 5 servings of fresh fruit per day + about 3 servings of vegetables per day PER person. Everything except bananas are routinely $1-2/lb so eating that much fresh food adds up. I'm not in a situation where I can garden, and right now I'd rather work more and pay others to do the gardening for me.

But like I said at the beginning of my first post, I could spend less if I had to, but I don't have to. It's easy to spend MORE money on food, without being wasteful.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2013, 04:30:41 PM by Kestra »

Matte

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 218
Re: Seeking advice on how to be Mustachian on Groceries in Canada...?
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2013, 01:26:48 PM »
Move close to the states, get a nexus card, cross border shop for non-perishable food, dairy, and top up on your vegetables at farmers markets.  Kind of like riding the best of both worlds.

swick

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2884
Re: Seeking advice on how to be Mustachian on Groceries in Canada...?
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2013, 04:12:09 PM »
Hi there everyone,

We live in Ontario for now but are moving to BC soon.

If you can post or PM me where you are moving to, I could give you some specific advice, as I have lived all throughout the province. It will vary widely depending on where you end up. The cool thing about BC is pretty much no matter where you will be, you can always find tasty wild things to forage if you want to learn about them - we are currently taking the dog for nightly walks and filling buckets of  alpine huckleberries:)

backyardfeast

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 899
  • Location: Vancouver Island, BC
    • My journal
Re: Seeking advice on how to be Mustachian on Groceries in Canada...?
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2013, 10:34:42 PM »
We're used to spending a lot on food because we're not in the city.  In BC, if you're in the lower mainland or Victoria, the Chinese groceries are the way to go for cheap produce.  But if you hunt around, you can also do very well at farm gates, rather than at the farmer's market.  Talk to the farmers and find out who farms with organic methods but isn't certified--much cheaper.

We have a few ways to keep costs down: the garden and a few chickens for produce and eggs, buying meat in bulk from farmers (1/2 pig, etc); we buy salmon in large quantities in season to freeze for the winter.  Lastly, I'm finding out that our local organic co-op has amazing prices if you buy in bulk: at grocery stores, organic rolled oats go for 39-49 cents/100g; if I buy a 22kg bag at the co-op, it's 30cents/100g!  Depending on your location, it's worth doing some digging.  I also think that CSAs and getting together with others for bulk buys are worth doing depending on your situation.

We're trying to stay out of grocery stores as much as possible, but for things like milk, cheese, etc that are harder to avoid running out for, we watch for sales and use Costco too.  Figure out what your real staples are and make sure you're getting the best price.  So Superstore/Loblaws is $1 cheaper on our soymilk brand here, Costco is the only place we buy cheese.  Our bulk cereal is $10/bag normally, but we know it goes on sale for $6 periodically, and we'll buy a case when it does.  Keeping the freezer and pantry full and heading into stores only when we need something specific has kept the impulse purchases WAY down--that might have been the biggest difference!

It sounds like a lot of effort, but we're spending so little time actually shopping, it isn't really! :)