Best Buys at the Grocery Store

young woman grocery shopping with grocery cart

It’s easier to save money when you know which foods can cost less. Taking the time to prepare and cook your own food is another great budgeting tip. Use this guide to help you save money whenever you go shopping.

 Vegetables and Fruit

Instead of buying…

Try this to save money…

Vegetables or fruit that are not in season.

Buy fresh vegetables and fruit that are in season. Check the Foodland Ontario Availability Guide to know what’s in season and when.

Buy plain, frozen or canned vegetables and fruit (rinse canned vegetables with cold water first to wash away the sodium).

Some vegetables and fruit are good buys all year round - like apples, onions, carrots, cabbage, beets, mushrooms and potatoes. 


Prepared fruit or vegetable platters.

Buy fresh fruit and vegetables, and cut them up yourself.

Fresh 100% fruit juice in cartons or bottles.

Buy canned or frozen 100% juice made from concentrate.

 Grain products

Instead of buying…

Try this to save money…

Sweetened instand oatmeal or cereal.

Buy plain, unsweetened oatmeal or cereal, and add your own fresh or dried fruit, cinnamon, nuts and seeds. Add honey or maple syrup for sweetness.


Quinoa, kamut, wild rice and other expensive grains.

Buy rice and barley.

Visit the bulk store so you can buy grains in the amount that you need. (If you have food allergies, be aware that bulk food stores are not always allergy-safe).

Store-baked muffins.

Try these recipes: Banana Muffins Two Ways and Pumpkin Raisin Muffins.

Ready-made bread crumbs.

Use crushed cereal or cracker crumbs.

Instant packages of rice or noodles

Buy plain rice and noodles. Rice can be made in large batches and frozen in individual portions for when you need an “instant” meal.

 Milk and dairy

Instead of buying…

Try this to save money…

Fresh milk in plastic bags or cartons.

Buy low fat evaporated milk or skim milk powder.


Flavoured yogurt or yogurt tubes.

Buy plain, low fat yogurt and add your own fresh or frozen fruit.

Grated cheese or cheese strings.

Buy block cheese and grate it or slice it yourself.

 Meat and fish

Instead of buying…

Try this to save money…

Pre-seasoned or marinated raw meat, poultry or fish.

Buy unseasoned items and add your own low sodium marinades and seasonings.


Rib steaks, prime rib, beef or pork tenderloin, and other expensive cuts of meat.

Buy pot roast, stew beef, chuck roast or pork shoulder – braise them or cook them in stew to keep the meat tender and juicy. 

Try meat alternatives such as beans, lentils, dried peas, unsalted nuts, seeds, nut butters and tofu. If using canned beans, peas or lentils, rinse them first to wash away some of the sodium. 

Extra lean ground beef.

Buy regular ground beef – drain off the fat after cooking.

Ground veal.

Buy ground beef or ground pork.

Chicken parts.

Buy a whole chicken and cut up the parts.

Chicken breast.

Buy chicken thighs.

Salmon or halibut.

Buy cod, tilapia, sole or rainbow trout.

Buy canned salmon and canned tuna.

 Prepared foods, condiments and drinks

Instead of buying…

Try this to save money…

Cans or jars of soup.

Make your own – try these recipes:

Minestrone Soup

Swiss Chard and Navy Bean Soup

Chicken and Corn Chowder


Cans or jars of ready-to-use spaghetti sauce.

Make your own sauce using canned tomatoes, herbs and spices or try this recipe.

Salad dressing.

Make your own – try this recipe:  Basil Vinaigrette.

Prepared frozen entrées

(lasagna, Asian dishes, etc.).

Make your own – try these recipes:

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Vermicelli with Broccoli and Grilled Beef

Chili Casserole with Polenta


Bottled water.

Sweetened bottled iced tea.

Tap water.

Brew a pot of your favourite tea and chill in the fridge. Add lemon slices and sweeten to your preference.


You may also be interested in:

10 Tips for Planning Meals on a Budget

20 Ways to Save Money on Your Groceries

Menu Planner Checklist

Last Update – August 12, 2019

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