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When people find out that I live in Yaletown, eventually, the conversation topic of grocery shopping in downtown Vancouver comes up.  But isn’t it really expensive?  

If you’re comparing dollars to dollars, grocery downtown Vancouver is higher priced than the other side of the bridge.  The mentality is: if you want the hip and urban downtown lifestyle, you’ve gotta pay for it.  However, it doesn’t always have to be that way.  If you know what to look for, and you make an effort to shop smart, you can get more bang for your buck, no matter where you grocery shop.

Here are my Top 10 tips for getting more bang for your buck when grocery shopping:

Plan Your Purchases in Advance

Planning ahead can save you time and money.  Before grocery shopping, take a quick inventory of items already in your pantry, and make a list of what you need to buy.  There have been times where I accidently ended up with two bottles of ketchup, or spending double on way too many onions, simply because I couldn’t remember what I already had at home.   Also, having a list of necessities helps curb impulse purchases when you’re at the store.

Pay Attention to Grocery Flyers & Shop For What’s on Sale

On a weekly basis, grocery flyers are automatically delivered to nearby households – Urban Fare, Shoppers Drug Mart and London Drugs are the ones I receive regularly. Instead of putting them straight into recycling, take a scan through and note down any items you need, and make a note to buy them on sale.

If you didn’t look at your weekly flyers, there’s usually a copy outside the grocery store.  I always scan through the flyer before heading inside, and, when possible, make substitutions in the meals for items which are more affordable.  Or, try a new recipe for dinner, based on what ingredients are on sale at your local grocery store.

 Shop for In-Season Produce  

Buying fruits and veggies which are in season, tends to be more affordable than when they are out of season.  For the upcoming summer season, berries and tropical fruits are in season.  For winter, root vegetables and heartier produce, like brussel sprouts, are more common.

Buy Fewer Pre-Packaged Fresh Foods

Rather than buying pre-shredded cheese or pre-cut-veggies at the grocery store, do the work yourself and save!  A box of pre-washed spinach, for example, is typically around $5, while a bunch of fresh spinach is $2.

Purchase Only What You Need (for Fresh Veggies and Perishables)

That being said, there’s no sense in buying 4L of milk (even though it’s a better price per litre) when you know you’ll only be able to drink a fraction of it before it expires, or buying way more veggies when you need.

Buy in Bulk (for Freeze-ables and Non-Perishables)

Stock up on non-perishable items when they are on sale, like noodles, rice, jars of pasta sauce, dried noodles, canned beans, flour and chickpeas.  They have a long shelf-life, and are versatile items which can be incorporated into an endless combination of quick and easy dinners.    Meat is notoriously overpriced when purchasing single portions.  Take advantage of bulk deals, and freeze for future meals.

The Freezer is your Best Friend

This tip goes hand in hand with buying in bulk.  When you’ve purchased more than you need at the moment, the freezer is an amazing place to extend the life of certain groceries.

I recently purchased a dozen bagels from the local grocery store, but there was no way I could eat all of them before they would go stale.  So when I got home, I cut all the bagels in half and put them into individual ziploc bags, and put into my freezer.  If your workplace has a toaster, this is an extremely convenient breakfast item to heat up and eat for breakfast at work.

In addition to bread, some of my other favourite things to freeze includes meat and leftover pasta sauce.

Collect Reward Points When Grocery Shopping

Take advantage of free loyalty programs and credit cards that give you more rewards when shopping at grocery stores.  For example, the Scotiabank ® More Rewards®* Visa* Card offers 6 More Reward points per dollar spent at all participating More Reward Locations (and 4 points per dollar on all other spend).   Participating grocery store brands include Urban Fare, Overwaitea Foods, Save-On-Foods and PriceSmart Foods.

If you’re already a More Rewards member, you can ‘double dip’ and use your credit cards with the More Rewards Card for even more points.  Points can be redeemed for merchandise, travel, or spent back at the locations of participating grocery store retailers.

Check Your Bill

At the cash register, sometimes sale items don’t ring up properly so keep a close eye on the check-out process.  After you get your receipt, make a note of your most expensive purchases and think of ways to cut down in the future.  For example, could you swap these items out for a more affordable alternative?  When it comes to grocery shopping, every bit of saving counts!

Pop Over the Bridge and Shop Outside of Downtown

With better weather ahead, if you aren’t in a hurry, take a stroll over the bridge and shop outside of downtown Vancouver where grocery prices are more affordable.  For me, walking over the Cambie Street bridge gets me quite quickly to Save on Foods, and makes for a beautiful and leisurely walk.  Especially with better weather ahead for Spring and Summer, this is a great way to stretch your legs and get moving!

To start earning your own More Rewards, visit scotiabank.com/morerewardsvisa.

This post was produced in partnership with Scotiabank® More Rewards®* Visa* but all opinions expressed are my own.