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Food on a Budget in Vancouver: Coupons and Bulk-buying

It’s always one of the last things you think about when you’re moving to a new place, but actually it’s one of the most important.

It’s always one of the last things you think about when you’re moving to a new place, but actually it’s one of the most important – after rent, knowing where to shop and how to save on food is easily the most crucial element of planning your budget if you’re living on the cheap in a new City

Once again, we’ve enlisted the help of Toby, our consultant on all things Vancouver – hopefully this article will help clear things up a bit in terms of how to save on your grocery shop.

Supermarket Cheat-Sheet

Toby: After my rent, the most important thing I budgeted for was food. It took me a while to realise what the upmarket supermarkets were, and which ones were better value, but I got there in the end! Places like Urban Fare are more expensive, while Save-On and Safeway are definitely your best option in terms of budgeting for food. They’re some of the most common supermarkets around in downtown/central Vancouver, so they're the ones I used most.  

You’ll be more likely to find savings in Save-on and Safeway than in Urban Fare – the former are cheaper overall and tend to run two-for-one and buy-one-get-

one-free deals that you definitely wouldn’t find in the latter. However, regardless of where you go it’s pretty much unheard of to see food re-priced when it nears its sell-by date, which can be a bit of a letdown if reduced Tesco bakery items form an integral part of your diet.

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ll probably find Vancouver fairly reasonable for a weekly shop, or at least not extortionate. However, it’s one of the more expensive cities for meat and dairy – chicken and cheese are particularly pricey. In light of this, a lot of supermarkets typically do deals on these particular food items, so shop around and you might get lucky (a deli might even be a better option). 


Couponing is a veritable institution in the US and Canada, and it’s a great way to cut down on those dollars if you’re feeling extra thrifty. You can find coupons in newspapers and magazines, as well as getting them online and in supermarkets themselves. Granted, it’s a bit of an effort, and each coupon will probably only save you a few cents or dollars, but these savings ad up over time and are especially handy if you’re working on a budget. 

The average Canadian tax refund is $998



Clubcards are one of those things everybody knows about but no-one takes particularly seriously, even though they’re completely free and can end up saving you a huge amount of money if you regularly shop in the same place. So take the plunge – get a clubcard as soon as you’ve scoped out your local supermarket and start racking up those points. You’ll also get discounts which are only available to clubcard holders in some places, so it’s totally worth doing. 


Another thing that’s pretty synonymous with shopping in North America is the concept of bulk-buying. While for perishables it’s probably a bad idea, for preserved goods and other household goods (like toilet paper!) you could make a saving in the long run if you don’t mind spending a little more at once.

Toby: Bulk buying is great as long as you’re careful not to splurge – it’s pretty hard to control your impulses when you think you’re getting a bargain, but if you end up spending $50 on things you’ll never use it really defeats the point! Canadian Superstore is a great store for saving money in Bulk. The only downside is that it's located outside downtown, bordering between Vancouver and the neighbouring suburb of Burnaby, which is about 15 minutes on the sky train from the City – Then again, I’m talking about personal inconvenience here! Another bulk store you’ve probably heard of is Costco, but you need to purchase a membership for around $54 before you can even shop there, so it might be worth doing some research to see if it’s worth investing in.

About The Author

Lisa Gibbons - Business Development Manager @ Taxback.com

A motivated marketing/events professional. Ability to understand customer needs and develop customer relationships effectively. A passionate individual with the skills to drive business opportunities.

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