Author Topic: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)  (Read 8885 times)

RootofGood

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Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« on: June 06, 2014, 08:17:39 PM »
Our family of five is headed to the great province of Quebec for the month of July.  We'll be spending a week or a bit more in each of: Quebec City, Montreal, and Gatineau (just across the river from Ottawa).  We will probably dine out once every day or two, but hope to cook at home for breakfast and dinner most days, and maybe pack a picnic lunch for the other days.  Geographically, we are staying within a couple of miles of the center of each city.

I was saddened to realize Aldi doesn't operate in Canada.  I found the No Frills store, but they appear to be only in Ontario province.  Is "Metro" a low cost store (I saw one near where we are staying).

To cross post from the farmer's market thread, any great values to be had at farmer's markets? 

Which grocery stores are considered the least expensive in Quebec?  Any tips on economizing on groceries?  Are any of the local butchers or bakeries cost competitive to the cheapest grocery stores? 

Are superwalmarts and supertargets in abundance?  In the States, they usually have fairly low prices on everything but never run any great sales (which would suit us just fine for a month). 

For reference, we don't care about organic, free range, sustainable, grass fed, etc.  We aren't big on buying processed foods like tv dinners or hot pockets, but rather raw meat, fresh produce, dry pasta, pasta sauce in a jar, etc and cooking mostly from scratch (like spaghetti with meat and veggie sauce, fajitas, chicken and rice, etc).  Breakfasts will be really simple like fresh fruits, yogurt, toast/bagels, coffee, cereal.   

centwise

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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2014, 08:31:12 PM »
Hi Root,

Sounds like a great trip! I wish I could come along.

I'm not in Quebec, but the No Frills chain does exist in Quebec, under the name "Maxi". If you have one near your lodging, it might be a good option. I can get excellent grocery prices at my local No Frills, but only if I pick and choose items that are on sale. Like any other store, if you have a list and want to get everything at the same store, you'll find some items to be overpriced, even at No Frills.
Sorry I can't give you any other Quebec-specific suggestions. Hopefully others will chime in.

Bon Voyage!

RootofGood

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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2014, 09:20:05 PM »
I'm not in Quebec, but the No Frills chain does exist in Quebec, under the name "Maxi". If you have one near your lodging, it might be a good option. I can get excellent grocery prices at my local No Frills, but only if I pick and choose items that are on sale. Like any other store, if you have a list and want to get everything at the same store, you'll find some items to be overpriced, even at No Frills.
Sorry I can't give you any other Quebec-specific suggestions. Hopefully others will chime in.

Thanks, I see Maxi's within 1 mile of where we are staying in Gatineau and Montreal.  The ones in Quebec are further out.  There's a Provigo really close to where we are staying (near Cegep Garneau and Maison de la Famille Louis Hebert).  Provigos show up when I search for Maxi.  Are Provigo markets the same chain? 

Gerard

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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2014, 09:32:18 PM »
Groceries generally will cost you more than in the US, but Quebec has a much stronger food culture than most of North America, so you might find some good stuff that's worth the extra money.

Metro is not particularly cheap. They might have a slightly more interesting/different selection of things than you get at home, especially the bigger ones (I remember one in Quebec City with multiple types of rabbit sausage). In addition to Maxi, Super C is a decent discount grocer, often with cheap more interesting cuts of meat (I once saw a package labelled "connective tissue"). Provigo is a competitor of Metro's.

Markets are worth checking out, although they really come into their own in August and September. In Montreal, the Jean-Talon; in Quebec, I think the Marche Centrale? In Gatineau you might need to cross into Ottawa to the ByWard Market, although it's not super cheap. All three cities also have smaller neighbourhood markets, often near public transit.

Montreal and Ottawa both have decent cheap Lebanese restaurants.

Bakers will cost marginally more than grocers, but the jump in quality is huge. Moisson Dore is a decent bakery chain, especially for baguette, croissants, and apple turnovers. There's one sort of attached to the Jean-Talon Market, another in Montreal's main train station, and a bunch more around. You might also want to score some Montreal bagels from the old traditional shops on St-Viateur or Fairmount, or some spanakopita and such-like from the few remaining Greek bakers around the corner on Parc avenue.

Liquor will definitely cost you more than back home, but there are some very very good local beers.

I hope you have fun! I'm spending the weekend after next in Montreal, and I'll see if I can scout out any more leads, or remember anything else.

<edited typo>
« Last Edit: June 06, 2014, 09:33:51 PM by Gerard »

Runny

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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2014, 06:02:12 AM »
We are in Montreal and usually shop at Costco or Super C about 1 a month or every 1-2 months. Even though we have a big Provigo not far away from us, we usually buy our regular groceries at Supermarche PA on Parc, because fruits and vegetables are a lot cheaper there. There are also a lot of great little fruit stores on Parc Avenue as well. Marche Jean-Talon is also usually a great option to buy local fruits and vegetables, meats and cheese. If you like bagels I would definitely also go to Fairmount Bagels. You will get half a dozen for $4 for fresh sesame ones, but they also usually have bagels from the day before for cheaper.

I hope you'll enjoy your trip!

RootofGood

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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2014, 07:44:37 AM »
Groceries generally will cost you more than in the US, but Quebec has a much stronger food culture than most of North America, so you might find some good stuff that's worth the extra money.

That's good to hear.  We're definitely up for trying new things and don't mind paying for it.  I just wanted to find a good base grocery store so we aren't paying $4 for a pound of artesanal pasta noodles that are indistinguishable from the $0.99 variety. 

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Metro is not particularly cheap. They might have a slightly more interesting/different selection of things than you get at home, especially the bigger ones (I remember one in Quebec City with multiple types of rabbit sausage). In addition to Maxi, Super C is a decent discount grocer, often with cheap more interesting cuts of meat (I once saw a package labelled "connective tissue"). Provigo is a competitor of Metro's.
Mrs. Root of Good might be up for some "connective tissue" meat.  Me, not so much!  Although a rabbit sausage smorgasbord does sound tasty.  I'll tell the kids they are eating Le Hot Dogs Canadien, a local delicacy. 

Thanks for the tip on Super C.  There are a few not too far from where we are staying in Montreal (Rue Fullum and Rue Rachel near Parc Baldwin).

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Markets are worth checking out, although they really come into their own in August and September. In Montreal, the Jean-Talon; in Quebec, I think the Marche Centrale? In Gatineau you might need to cross into Ottawa to the ByWard Market, although it's not super cheap. All three cities also have smaller neighbourhood markets, often near public transit.

I'll be on the lookout.  We're staying just a few miles from Jean-Talon in Montreal, so that will come in handy.  We'll probably explore these markets for the novelty factor, and if we can pick up some good fresh groceries while there, it'll be a bonus!

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Montreal and Ottawa both have decent cheap Lebanese restaurants.

Looking forward to that.  Gyros, shwarma, hummus, kebabs mmm.  Must be like cheap mexican food down south where we live :)


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Bakers will cost marginally more than grocers, but the jump in quality is huge. Moisson Dore is a decent bakery chain, especially for baguette, croissants, and apple turnovers. There's one sort of attached to the Jean-Talon Market, another in Montreal's main train station, and a bunch more around. You might also want to score some Montreal bagels from the old traditional shops on St-Viateur or Fairmount, or some spanakopita and such-like from the few remaining Greek bakers around the corner on Parc avenue.

We almost stayed on St Viateur near the bagel places.  Bagels are on our list.  We'll be doing a survey of bagels, and stop in Philly and NYC first.  :)

Baguettes and croissants, yes please!  Thanks for the heads up on Moisson Dore.  Our philosophy on groceries is that it's okay to spend up for delicious treats since it's usually still cheaper than eating in a restaurant.  If we can snag a couple bakery items and add some cheese, jellies, and/or meats, we'll have a perfect picnic or meal at home. 


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Liquor will definitely cost you more than back home, but there are some very very good local beers.

I saw the wine prices were $7.50 per 750 ml or so.  Back home, the store wine is $3 for same size.  Must be taxes or import tariffs?  And why are meat and cheese so expensive there?  It seems like the prices are double (well, 1.8x given the forex rates right now). 


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I hope you have fun! I'm spending the weekend after next in Montreal, and I'll see if I can scout out any more leads, or remember anything else.

Please do!  I have a spreadsheet where I'm keeping track of notes like this.  Thanks again.

RootofGood

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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2014, 07:48:48 AM »
We are in Montreal and usually shop at Costco or Super C about 1 a month or every 1-2 months. Even though we have a big Provigo not far away from us, we usually buy our regular groceries at Supermarche PA on Parc, because fruits and vegetables are a lot cheaper there. There are also a lot of great little fruit stores on Parc Avenue as well. Marche Jean-Talon is also usually a great option to buy local fruits and vegetables, meats and cheese. If you like bagels I would definitely also go to Fairmount Bagels. You will get half a dozen for $4 for fresh sesame ones, but they also usually have bagels from the day before for cheaper.

I hope you'll enjoy your trip!

Google says the Supermarché PA at 5029 Avenue du Parc is "permanently closed"?? 

Those bagels sound nice and that would be a good breakfast for the family one day.  We all love bagels! 

Runny

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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2014, 08:57:28 AM »
Supermarche PA on Parc has been so popular that it was always crowded. They moved to a new location, also on Parc, a few blocks further, just north of Fairmount http://www.mtlblog.com/2014/02/supermarche-pa-changes-location/. I would definitely go to Marche Jean Talon though, not just for grocery shopping but also for the experience.

RootofGood

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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2014, 08:59:46 AM »
Supermarche PA on Parc has been so popular that it was always crowded. They moved to a new location, also on Parc, a few blocks further, just north of Fairmount http://www.mtlblog.com/2014/02/supermarche-pa-changes-location/. I would definitely go to Marche Jean Talon though, not just for grocery shopping but also for the experience.

Thanks for the heads up on the supermarche PA move.  And we will definitely hit up the Jean-Talon market too. 


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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2014, 12:19:49 PM »
I'm in Gatineau, and we do most of our shopping at costco. The Ottawa side has Food Basics,  a decent low coast alternative (there is one close to Champlain bridge, depending where in Gatineau you are staying.)

I think i read that MMM might be in Ottawa/gatineau this summer ... so two famous ER guys ;)  Perhaps a meetup?




Gerard

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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2014, 03:04:05 PM »
I was at the Jean-Talon market on Saturday and was surprised how much local stuff is in already (I thought it would be late because of the cold winter). Strawberries and asparagus of course (including "wild asparagus"... I had never heard of it, but we bought some for an omelet and it was good!). But also lots of greens, radishes, spring onions, and little white hipster turnips.

I also was reminded that the Montreal Gazette (a newspaper so old it was founded by Ben Franklin!) has a column every Wednesday telling you what's good in the markets and what's on sale at the chains.

RootofGood

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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2014, 06:39:38 PM »
I'm in Gatineau, and we do most of our shopping at costco. The Ottawa side has Food Basics,  a decent low coast alternative (there is one close to Champlain bridge, depending where in Gatineau you are staying.)

I think i read that MMM might be in Ottawa/gatineau this summer ... so two famous ER guys ;)  Perhaps a meetup?

I'll add Food Basics to my list.  There's a Maxi (as someone else suggested) right up the street from where we are staying.  Our apartment is on Boul. St. Joseph's (Route 105) almost on the river (not far from Parliament Hill). 

We'll be there July 21-28 in Ottawa (and in Quebec and Montreal the weeks before, and Toronto the week after).  How do we get in touch with this Mr Money Mustache fellow?  There's a quiet looking park right across the street from our apartment/house in Ottawa that might be a nice central spot if there's interest.

By the way, I almost contacted you for the AirMnM stay you offered in that thread/spreadsheet but figured a week with my wife and I and 3 kids would be too burdensome (and Mrs. RoG wanted a place to ourselves).
« Last Edit: June 26, 2014, 06:43:30 PM by RootofGood »

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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2014, 06:59:35 PM »
The PA Supermarche is in our old neighbourhood and we miss it dearly.  The boxed stuff, like cereal, wasn't necessarily cheaper, but they had consistently high quality and inexpensive fresh foods.

Provigo is part of the Loblaws chain, and their prices are generally similar.  I still buy groceries at both, but just the loss-leaders, and milk.  The price of milk is regulated by law in Quebec, and most big stores will advertise that their milk is "the lowest price allowed by law" so it doesn't matter where you buy it.  Milk is much more expensive than in Ontario, which is my point of reference because that's where I'm from.

Super C has a pretty good quality:price ratio, but I tend to be careful when selecting their fresh fruit and vegetables since they're often too underripe or sometimes too overripe.  That said, I've also been disappointed with fresh produce from Metro and IGA and Provigo at times, so higher prices aren't a guarantee of quality (which of course we already know...).

RootofGood

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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2014, 07:40:05 PM »
I was at the Jean-Talon market on Saturday and was surprised how much local stuff is in already (I thought it would be late because of the cold winter). Strawberries and asparagus of course (including "wild asparagus"... I had never heard of it, but we bought some for an omelet and it was good!). But also lots of greens, radishes, spring onions, and little white hipster turnips.

I also was reminded that the Montreal Gazette (a newspaper so old it was founded by Ben Franklin!) has a column every Wednesday telling you what's good in the markets and what's on sale at the chains.

Hope the strawberries are still in season when we get there in a week and a half!  They are gone from the NC fields (too hot), as the season peaks in May probably. 


I'll have to check out the Montreal Gazette column for what's hot.

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Re: Frugal grocery shopping in Canada (Quebec mainly)
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2019, 09:06:16 PM »
If you visit the big city of Montreal, the least expensive groceries & supermarkets are : Maxi and Maxi & Cie, Super C, Supermarché PA downtown on Dufort Street (very good prices for fruits and vegetables) and also Adonis.

I prefer Super C and Maxi rather than Costco because you don't have to pay a membership card each year