How to grocery shop with increased inflation

Valu-mart on Oxford and Richmond in London, Ontario. CREDIT: ZOË ALEXANDRA KING
I've been to a few different grocery stores in London, and I've come to learn what matches my budget the best but also where to purchase certain products from.

The increased prices of items at the grocery store has been a massive shock to shoppers throughout the year. According to the Bank of Canada’s website, “Service price inflation rose quickly through the first half of 2022, reaching about five per cent this summer. With further increases in goods prices in 2022 and a rapid rise in services prices, total CPI inflation rose sharply, reaching 8.1 per cent in June.”

After this turn of events, it led me to completely start from scratch when it came to budgeting. I’m proud to say that with the use of my budgeting skills, I was able to meet my grocery expenses and have savings for additional household items. In my eyes, budgeting is an essential part of life no matter how much money is in your bank account.

Grocery shopping is one of my favourite activities to do as a young adult, which might have something to do with my love for cooking. With that said, I had to find a way to get the groceries that I needed affordably and learn how to make them last a long time. It was also important for me to learn about what grocery stores matched my budget the best.

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My first step in this process was doing a quick analysis of my income and expenses. Once I knew how much I was willing to spend on groceries, it was time to create a list of items that would equal what I was allocating to spend at the store. If you’ve read my previous meal prepping article (featured in our Geek issue), you will know that meal prepping can be a great way to not only create a healthier diet, but also to help with cutting back costs. Without having a list of items or a list of meals that you plan on making, it is very easy for people to pick things up that they don’t even need. Meal prepping may sound like a scary concept, but it doesn’t have to be. What I started off by doing was researching what meals I like to have or wanted to try making and would then come up with a grocery list from that.

Whilst creating a list of items and meals is an important part of grocery shopping (especially when you are on a tight budget), it is equally important to familiarize yourself with the different supermarkets to see what the cost of certain products are. Of course, you don’t need to know the exact amount, but an idea of price can be helpful when creating your list.

I’ve been to a few different grocery stores in London, and I’ve come to learn what matches my budget the best but also where to purchase certain products from. Food Basics is the perfect place to shop at when you’re looking to cut back on costs. Whilst the products tend to be cheaper than others, the quality isn’t at the same level. For example, whenever I have shopped at Food Basics, I would purchase dried goods such as cereal, snacks, canned goods, pasta, and rice.

Sometimes I would pick up juices and milk, always making sure to check the expiry date first. I did notice that some of the fresh produce wasn’t as appealing which led me to shy away from purchasing fruits, vegetables, and poultry from there. However, after familiarizing myself with a few of the supermarkets, I found that Valu-mart sold meat and fish for the cheapest.

Of course, going to more than one grocery store may not be ideal, but if you are looking to cut back on cost, this is one of the ways that helps me. Personally, I find that I get the best quality grocery items from Sobeys, and it doesn’t kill my bank account. I always take a list with me so I know exactly what I need and sometimes I even use the grocery carts that have a scanner built in, so that I can see how much I am spending whilst I am picking up. I do find myself getting the majority of my items from Sobeys with the exception of meats as I tend to purchase that at Valu-mart. There are other grocery stores that are worth checking out such as Loblaws and Real Canadian Superstore. However, I find their prices to be slightly higher.

Some of these grocery stores also give incentives for shopping with them such as points or student discounts. I tend to make my shopping day on Tuesdays as Sobeys offers a student discount and Valu-mart has a PC Optimum points program.

When it comes to making my groceries last, meal prepping has helped me in this area the most. However, for my fruit, vegetables, and bread, I keep them in the fridge to keep them as fresh as possible.

Utilizing this grocery method has helped me in so many ways. I find myself at the grocery store twice a month and usually spend under what I have allocated for my grocery budget. I know that before I implemented this system, I found myself at the store on a weekly basis and definitely spending way more than I wanted to. Not to mention, the surprise I would have at the cashier when I saw my bill at a price I wasn’t used to.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.