Like many big cities around the globe, Toronto has a huge selection of grocery store brands and types. Add to that, with the ethnic variety in Toronto besides, the types of food available are just as varied. And of course, you can pay a little or a lot. This article aims to explore the capacity of Toronto to deliver this variety on a budget. Challenge accepted!
Come with me as we explore the biggest city in Canada. On this tour, we will be searching out budget-friendly grocery stores that are worth those hard-earned dollars. And you don’t have to worry that the selection is substandard; Toronto’s grocery stores are as varied as the people. Many cultures, many tastes, many reasons to shop and save.
Toronto has a wide variety of great stores with friendly staff and appealing stock. Some may not have certain things that other stores do, but most of the time, they have something to make up for that. Today, I’ve listed some of the best stores with great ratings to fit your tastes.
Quick Peek At The Top 10 Best Places To Buy Grocery In Toronto (Cheap & Budget-Friendly)
1. No Frills
4. Galleria Supermarket
6. Do Rego Supermarket
7. Costco Grocery
9. Walmart Grocery
1. No Frills
First on this list is “No Frills”
If you are from Toronto or already moved here, you should have noticed “No Frills”. It is extremely popular amongst the local residents and the offers are quite as good, if not better. No Frills has less selection, deeper discounts, and spends less on merchandising (presentation, both of the store and the store contents). The actual food is the same, as the suppliers are identical. Produce grading may also be identical between stores, but Loblaws will almost always be more expensive.
The overall look and feel of each store are partly determined by the individual store manager’s preferences and practices; meaning you might have to search for a store that appeals to you within either the Loblaws or No Frills Brands.
No Frills is especially popular in the Greater Toronto Area, with seemingly several presents in each town.
It’s budget-friendly, but also has enough variety for the average shopper. The produce section presents good eating for the average North American, Caribbean or Asian shopper.
The aisles are stocked with value-priced items (100 teabags for $3 – wow!) and some stretching for non-native food. The freezer section is piled high with convenience foods, seemingly catering to the Canadian lifestyle.
I wouldn’t rule out some tasty lip-smacking Indian samosas or Jamaican hot patties there, though! It’s typical to find fresh meat packs for about $10; the joy is when you find them for even less!
Next on the list is the evergreen and popular “FreshCo”.
Getting fresh food is the joy of shoppers at this supermarket.
FreshCo is quite popular, and always busy, or so it seems. One shopper recommends shopping late to avoid crowds; so that’s not a factor keeping him away!
Clean surroundings encourage shoppers to make healthy nutritional choices. Affordability is an obvious draw, and patrons enjoy that in every section. It is often compared to Loblaws but wins over them for the prices.
Third on this list of the Best Places To Buy Grocery In Toronto (Cheap & Budget-Friendly) is “Metro”.
Often compared to Whole Foods stores, this establishment carries healthy foods alongside those that aren’t typically consumed by health enthusiasts.
But the service and environments are similar, and, I might venture to say, not as pricey. 24-hour shopping is a staple of several North American grocery store chains, and it is with this one.
Often crowded, the self-checkout may provide a faster flow out. Cooked meals and deli sandwiches help you add a ready dinner to the bag if you’d rather spend your evening talking with your family, and not slaving for them. Don’t forget to pick up a bouquet of flowers for the dining table!
4. Galleria Supermarket
Fourth on this list is “Galleria Supermarket”.
Fresh is the word often heard in the reviews for this store.
Fresh meats, fresh produce and fresh food in the food court are the main draws of its regulars.
Grab-and-go prepared foods are available all day long, and if you go late enough, a $3 prepared meal is happiness in a box!
It’s the same meals they made earlier in the day, just discounted to be rid of them by closing. The selection is about the same all-day sushi, soups, fried chicken, beef, and a variety of Korean appetizers. Asian snacks are also sold in abundant variety.
If you often cook Korean, this is a great place to consistently find ingredients. Helpful and friendly staff keep their regulars coming back.
Fifth on this list is “B.J.Supermarket”.
B.J.Supermarket is extremely popular with the Asian community, especially to the Indian, Chinese, Korean and Philipino crowd.
This store is stocked with food from Asia and North America. They also stock lots of spices and pastes needed for Indian cooking.
They’ve recently added gluten-free, vegan and organic varieties of their usual fare (they are quite responsive to the customers’ demands that way). Sweet treats are available fresh and without artificial ingredients. There’s no meat there, but the variety of other foods is still quite extensive.
Price levels are great. With few stores around like it, they aim to stand out and stay relevant.
6. Do Rego Supermarket
Sixth on the list is “Do Rego Supermarket”.
This Portuguese delight is run by a father and son. Produce stands out as the hallmark, but fresh is the order of the day for every section of the store.
They don’t use the convenience-store appeal to charge inflated prices, or their size to skimp on variety. Organic varieties are in short to none supply, but there’s so much to make up for that.
Toronto does not disappoint when it comes to people and food variety. I like shopping for my regular food stock in the heart of downtown Toronto so that I can immerse myself in all I can experience first-hand in my city.
Finding great deals on groceries within all this abundance of culture proved not to be a challenge, although the common food selections are Asian and North American. Try the stores suggested here; see if you don’t come across enough to satisfy your palate and your wallet.
7. Costco Grocery
How can we conclude this list without mentioning “Costco”? Costco is premium, wholesale, budget-friendly and extremely popular amongst the residents of Toronto and Canada overall.
If you are planning on buying bulk, Costco is the store to be in. You’ll not only end up saving a ton of cash, but the quality is super-premium as well. For Example – If you end up buying candy in bulk (62oz for $12, vs 15oz for $5 m&m’s) and peanut butter filled pretzels (4lb for $10 vs 5lb for $4-5). Cheese at Costco is quite cheap and freezes really well. I’ll recommend the 4-flavour pack of sliced deli cheese (freeze each flavour individually and thaw one at a time) or the goat cheese logs.
The other reason you may shop at the local Costco grocery is for fresh fruits. It is a lot cheaper unless it’s the season. Also, the Butter price is always a good dollar less than any other store’s best offer price, baking items like sugar, icing sugar or chocolate chips are half the local grocery store price. Cereals or crackers are usually half grocery store prices too.
Buying in bulk is only good if you use it. I usually shop for a family with teens who entertains frequently, Costco sizes are reasonable for us. Also, you can’t beat rotisserie chicken prices.
Next on this list is Loblaws.
When you compare Loblaws with No Frills, No Frills is definitely cheaper. But what about the quality and choice? Here’s where Loblaws wins. It might not be cheap but it is definitely worth checking out. After all, we are talking about groceries here.
I personally think Loblaws has more selection, some higher grade items and more variety in stock, but comparing apples to apples, the quality is on par with No Frills. Just that it is more on the expensive side.
Also, the quality between stores varies significantly. I have two No Frills near me and I won’t buy produce at one, but the other is great. In fact, I prefer the one No Frills to my local Sobeys.
No Frills and Loblaws carry the exact same brand for organic packaged products- President’s Choice. Produce wise, it depends on the individual location. I’ve seen Produce in poor condition in all major grocery chains. I find that Loblaws has a better range of organic produce, but No Frills has pretty good product quality as well. Honestly, there aren’t major differences between the stores except for decor and lighting.
9. Walmart Grocery
How can we forget Walmart? Walmart’s chain of stores is available in plenty across North America and especially In Toronto and Canada.
But, wait for a second, what is the experience of shopping for grocery at Walmart? How good is the quality and what about the freshness?
Walmart is very budget-friendly and a one-stop place for all your shopping needs. Be it grocery, medicines, shopping, utilities and so on and so forth. Also, they do the price match which is great. They have recently entered into the online shopping space and delivery services as well.
Fruits and vegetables are always fresh, they support the locally grown organic veggies. Also, the check out is extremely easy with self-checkout options for less than 12 items. You can shop until 11 PM which is really convenient for everyone.
Last on this list of Best Places To Buy Grocery In Toronto (Cheap & Budget-Friendly) is “Sobeys”.
Pricing at Sobeys is expensive compared to other grocery stores, I don’t find that the quality of the products is any different from others as well.
Their meat department is superior to most grocery stores. When they have prime rib on sale I can ask the butcher for a custom size (typically want bigger than what’s packed) and they’ll trim and tie it.
The Sobeys around us has one of the best cheese selections I’ve seen at a grocery store. Everyone is also always super nice. And it’s clean. And it’s really close to our house. And they don’t make me find a loonie for a cart. I never have loonies, it’s really annoying.
Everyone knows they’re going to pay more at Sobeys. I wouldn’t buy a packaged Good there unless I needed it right away or the sale brought it to a reasonable mark.
That was the list of the 10 Best Places To Buy Grocery In Toronto (Cheap & Budget-Friendly). I hope you liked the list and the content.
I find all the big grocery stores to be interchangeable. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Go to one place, for one thing, go to a different place for another. They basically fill in each other’s gaps. It also depends on the place you live in Canada and the stores operating near you. Some of them might be really good and others crap.
Let me know your thoughts and comments below. Also, if you found this content helpful do share it on social media and help spread the word.
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Sagar Sridhar is a personal finance blogger from Canada. His genuine passion for personal finance coupled with his unique style of writing is what stands out. Professionally, he is a computer engineer, agile certified and has a master’s degree in Project Management. His writing has been featured or quoted in the leading Canadian publications such as Credit Canada and many other personal finance publications. While he is juggling between his day job and blogging, he is the main author on this blog and has miles to go before making the final pit stop.