Grocery shopping in Ontario: a skyrocketing price thread

These frozen ribs at Loblaws used to be around $10-$12 a pack in 2020.


What prices have caught your attention lately?
:smiley:

3 Likes

I have noticed mainly the increased cost of fresh produce. Most vegetables or fruits are up a dollar or two per lb.

We almost never buy any packaged products except for crackers, so I’m less sure about price changes for those kinds of things. We only buy meat once per week and for the past few years almost exclusively buy discounted meat that is at or nearing its best-before date (trying to reduce food waste). Similarly, we are usually buying discounted cheese, most of which is totally fine or even riper, so it is hard to appreciate if the costs have gone way up (probably have). We don’t buy discounted seafood, but we usually shop at Hooked, where the prices are higher than the supermarket anyway.

4 Likes

I keep the fully cooked ribs on hand for emergency dinners :slight_smile:

When I shop in Toronto, I buy my meat at Sanagan’s. It is wrapped in butcher paper rather than plastic and styrofoam.

I’ve been impressed that Sanagan’s Ontario lamb prices are less than what I often was paying elsewhere for Ontario lamb. Farm Boy has stopped selling the boneless lamb sirloin I had been buying for close to 3 years, and most lamb at Farm Boy is Australian/ NZ, or from a packer in Alberta which I avoid after a bad experience. The lamb at Sanagan’s comes from Forsyth Farms in Wiarton.

Most of my other fresh meat and seafood comes from Farm Boy, a place called Mark’s Fine Meats in London, or a place called Remark Fresh Market in London.

I shop at Fiesta Farms, Loblaws, Metro and Sobeys once a month for the pantry items that aren’t available at Farm Boy or Remark.

One thing I do splurge on is meat and fresh seafood. I don’t buy any discounted meat or shellfish. I’ve had to throw out lamb, scallops, oysters and salmon that were spoiled this year. I buy the freshest, most recently packaged meat that I can.

Fish tends to be delivered on Thursdays at a lot of stores, so I buy fish and shellfish on Thu or Fri.

Produce prices are all over the map. Last week, cauliflower was back up to $7.99 each at Remark , but broccoli was back down to 2 for $5. Farm Boy has a lot of good deals on produce, and a good produce quick sale shelf at the locations in London. I suspect the quick sale at Farm Boy gets picked over very quickly in Toronto. For produce in Toronto, Fiesta Farms, and the 2 produce shops in Koreatown near Bloor and Palmerston, are my go-tos, but I realize they aren’t convenient for people living more than a couple km away.

I stopped by Harvest Wagon, to check for something last week. I’ve been paying $4.99 / lb for imported plums and nectarines at Remark, which are in better shape than the plums and nectarines selling for $3.99/lb at Farm Bou and Loblaws. Harvest Wagon was charging $7.99/ lb :joy::joy: Nice selection of overpriced plums and pluots!

2 Likes

Since last fall I have been buying discounted meat and fish. I won’t buy discounted shellfish but I eat it so seldom I don’t mind paying a little extra for it. Loblaws marks down their reduced items by 50%, Your Independent Grocer marks their items down by 30% and Farm Boy marks down their reduced items by 20%. I try and buy smaller cuts of meat since I live alone then freeze my meats in individual portions unless I am buying something specifically for a stew or a soup. I have always checked the reduced produce to really ripe bananas are used to make banana muffins or quick bread and slightly bruised apples are used to make applesauce. Really ripe veggies often go into soup. I have been buying cheese at an Italian grocer but the prices are going up. I bought some feta there last week that went up by $1.50 and found out Loblaws now sells the same brand of feta for a little cheaper. Ever since the prices started going up a few months ago I have been skimming the flyers for sales and if I need something that’s not on sale I can use flipp or check the websites of the grocery stores in my neighbourhood to find out who has the best bargains.

2 Likes

I should clarify that I do buy meat when it’s on sale, as a special, or at a good price. What I don’t buy is the reduced-for-quick-sale meat. I stock up when meat or duck is a good price.

2 Likes

You’re highlighting why I don’t shop at Loblaws. It’s as though they don’t understand there’s this thing called the internet where people can price compare. Here are 3 of those items from my regular store, Metro. It hits the sweet spot of decent quality at decent prices. Not the cheapest, but something I can live with.
https://www.metro.ca/en/online-grocery/aisles/meat-poultry/frozen-meat/pork/frozen-bbq-pork-back-ribs/p/066701008554
https://www.metro.ca/en/online-grocery/aisles/frozen/meat-poultry/meat-pie/frozen-chicken-pot-pie/p/066701009759
https://www.metro.ca/en/online-grocery/aisles/frozen/meat-poultry/pork/frozen-bbq-flavoured-pork-back-ribs/p/695676006205

5 Likes

I so agree with this! At the beginning of the pandemic when we were encouraged to pick one store and get everything you need from there I was able to price compare from the comfort of my living room to see who had the best deals then go there. The metro I go to has some prepared Indian food from a couple of local Indian catering companies, apple cider from a local orchard, and sausages from a local sausage maker. They probably have lots more locally sourced items that don’t come to mind right now.

3 Likes

I also get a CSA every summer and I find I save a lot of money during the growing season. I get a generous amount of veggies each week and it keeps me away from the attractively packaged displays at the grocery store.

3 Likes

I find discounted seafood to be really off from an odour and taste perspective, which is why I still only buy it as fresh as possible. However I have detected no problems with discounted meats, even when the beef is obviously oxidized (darker). I will sometimes buy several portions and freeze them (currently have some oxtail in the freezer).

With fruits and veggies it depends. Discounted tropical fruits are often at the right level of ripeness. Other ones are usually too far gone. Many discounted veggies are great for roasting or soups - currently enjoying a soup made from discounted crudités (carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower) and discounted chicken. I find that the veggies prepped at the store for easy use are at a fresher stage when discounted than the bagged prepped vegetables, which typically are a week or more old by the time they get discounted.

We also buy discounted bread for use as toast (we keep it in the freezer). Ace loaves get regularly discounted at Loblaws, so we just scoop up a bunch.

1 Like

In seafood, there is a massive difference between discounted and on-sale. I don’t mind buying discounted end-of-day seafood at, say, the St Lawrence Market so long as it looks and smells good. However, I’d much rather buy seafood from a grocer that’s on sale. They’re not trying to dump stock.

3 Likes

I like my local Sobey’s better than my local Metro, local Loblaws and Superstore. I have bought frozen ribs at all these places, but I’ve usually bought the ribs for $12 or less ( but not recently, apparently, if the going rate is $15.99 at Metro)

The other staple in our pantry is Carnation 2% canned milk (it’s a Prairie and Maritime thing)

The Carnation milk price increased to $2.49 per can at Loblaws, Sobeys, Superstore and Metro as a regular price, and it occasionally has been on sale for $2/can or $2.29/can. It happened to be 4/$8 yesterday at Loblaws, so I stocked up.

Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk was down to $2/can from around $4.29. It seems like there are some very good deals at Loblaws, but they balance it out by charging more for other stuff. Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Daz are also often on sale at Loblaws when I stop by to check the price of canned milk :joy:.

The Metro where I shop in London has a better than average seafood counter and a good bakery (specifically their cheese bread is better than Sobeys, Loblaws or Farm Boy).

The Metro just west of Bloor and Spadina in Toronto (which will be closed to be knocked down so a condo can be built on the site) is not a good Metro. Nice cashiers- that is the only nice thing I can say. I don’t like shopping there. I walk the extra 25 minutes to buy my stuff at Fiesta Farms.

I agree, discounted end-of-day seafood is totally fine - that’s usually fresh. Discounted seafood in grocery stores is days old after packaging. That’s where I have had bad experiences.

1 Like

I live in downtown Ottawa and I miss our metro. It closed 4 years ago since a condo is going up where the store used to be. There’s another metro in the Glebe (next neighbourhood down from centretown) but it’s small. They give the best customer service in Ottawa but they don’t have much in stock since they don’t have much room to work with so if I want to go to a metro I have to take a bus somewhere. Likewise we don’t have a Sobey’s or superstore anywhere near downtown. I wish we had more variety in terms of grocery stores… When the downtown metro closed one of the employees told me that either a metro or a Food Basics or an Adonis will be opening on the main level of the condo. The same company owns all three stores and they won the bid on the retail space so my wish may come true after all. If an Adonis opens there I might as well kiss my paycheque goodbye. Lots of nice offerings there.

2 Likes

Well the Metro where I used to pay and pick-up is functional, but not really designed for those who love to cook. The one from which I receive deliveries, though, is fantastic. Now, if I can’t go myself I only order delivery.

And thanks for reminding me. I think this is the week I try the mystery baked goods basket from Metro through the To Good To Go app. TGTG sells restaurant, bakery, and grocery store leftovers at 2/3 off roughly. Who doesn’t love pastries and surprises?

3 Likes

I visited the FarmBoy in downtown Ottawa on my last visit. I had a ridiculously salty Italian takeout the night I arrived (my fault , didn’t know how salty chicken parm could be, and shouldn’t have eaten the salad when the salad dressing tasted over salty- I also should’ve gottten takeout from The Whalesbone instead of the Italian place but I had a craving) after a really long drive the day before, and I had been up all night guzzling water, so I was thankful there was a nice store to buy juice and fruit a few blocks from my hotel on the Sunday morning.

I was under the impression Adonis had pretty good prices?

1 Like

That’s awesome. I didn’t know about that.

The FarmBoys have a quick sale shelf (again, prob better stocked in London where there is less demand, and I think London is over saturated with grocery stores right now) for baked goods, that are usually 30 % percent off. The $5.99 pie of the week at FarmBoy is one of the better loss leaders out there. Add 30% off and that pie is even cheaper.

1 Like

ottawaoperadiva, they deliver from their large, well-stocked stores. That may improve your experience. I got lucky. I bought in when they offered 6-months unlimited delivery for $25. I can’t even do it myself for less money than that.

2 Likes

When I was working from home last year and getting my Friday take-out lunches I tried a couple of their prepared meals since I live nearby. The chicken teriyaki was awful - the chicken and rice were all dried out and the sauce had sunk to the bottom of the bowl and tasted like a salt lick. I tried a chicken parm sandwich once and it was fine but could have used some flavour. There’s an Italian deli near my house and they make excellent sandwiches so they set the bar pretty high. All this to say the prepared meals at that Farm Boy are hit and miss. The sushi is really good. It’s prepared by Ah So sushi which seems to be a catering chain and highly recommended if you ever get to try their sushi.

Adonis does in fact have really good prices. But it’s tempting for me to overspend there hence the comment about kissing my paycheque goodbye. They have a really wide assortment of nuts and olives and pastries and a really nice take-out section. I go in to buy groceries to make dinner myself then pick up some take-out on my way out :slight_smile:

3 Likes

I didn’t like Farm Boy when it first opened in London. I admit, the ready-made meals looked boring and pedestrian.

I’ve become a big fan over the last 3 years (as you know from my other thread! ). The ones I shop at aren’t crowded, and the air quality is pretty good. I’ve gotten to know some staff. I don’t buy their ready-made meals. I don’t like the sandwiches I’ve tried from their hot table. I don’t like their burger or sausage on a bun. Rotisserie chicken is decent, same as Sobeys, Loblaws or Metro. (Sanagan’s in Toronto has a better rotisserie chicken, as they should)

I was happy with their meatballs that are in the meat department that one cooks at home, and the chicken kiev-type rolled chicken breasts that get cooked at home. I’ve tried some frozen things like the flatbreads, pizzas, lasagnas, dumplings, which I’ve found hit or miss. (I dislike the FarmBoy mayo.) Lately, I’ve changed my cooking style so I’m not buying or cooking those frozen foods that often.

I can’t say I buy refrigerated ready-made meals at any chain grocery stores. The mains and other food at the hot table at the Whole Foods in Toronto are quite lame, as well.

The only grocery store where I buy refrigerated readymades in Toronto is Eataly, which is a splurge.

I do buy quiches, meat pies, croque monsieurs, and Tourtières from some bakeries.

3 Likes

My oldest daughter texted me this morning, “If you’d have told me two years ago that I’d pay $10 (US) for a pound of butter and a half gallon of milk, I’d have said you’re nuts!”.

2 Likes