In this new year I am experimenting with going farther afield (on public transit) to buy good quality food rather than just my local grocer. Last week I shopped at a place called Young Bros. Produce which is across town on the way to the University of British Columbia. It was recommended by a neighbour in one our hallway chats. As it happens I have shopped here a few times before but it's been many years since I was last there and I did not know the store by name.
The photo below will show my produce haul. It cost $24 Canadian ($18 US, $27.50 Australian, 16.80 €, 2026 Japanese Yen and 1840 Kenyan shillings). I found the prices to be quite low compared to most other places in the city and the produce is fresh. All of this produce would cost two or two and half times more if I bought it at my local grocer. The downsides are that the store is very crowded with hardly any room to maneuver and they only take cash.
I bought about a quart of white mushrooms, 2 large English cucumbers, 2 large zucchini (courgettes), 1 small bunch of spinach, 6 small red peppers (capsicum), 1 big crown of broccoli, 1 small bag of green beans, 6 medium to large bananas, 9 small blood oranges, 6 navel oranges. All this cost $24 Canadian dollars. I still have a small bunch of spinach, some red peppers, broccoli, courgette and green beans left to use this week but am all out of fruits.
Yesterday (Wednesday) I tried a different place, called Persia. They have several locations in the city and have very good reviews.
This haul came to just over $34 Canadian ( $25.50 US dollars,$38.84 Australian dollars, just over 23 €, 2800 Japanese Yen, 2600 Kenyan shillings).
I bought: 6 bananas, 4 large mandarin oranges, 6 medium blood oranges, 4 navel oranges, 2 grapefruit, 1 sweet lemon, 2 pints of strawberries, 3 small jalapeno peppers, 2 small eggplants, 1 bunch of spinach, a small handful of grape tomatoes, 2 avocados, 1 sangak bread ($2.99), 1 container of smoked paprika $2.99), 900 gr bag of green lentils (not pictured) and one 454 gr bag of black eyed peas ($2.99). I have plenty of vegetables for the week ahead and lots of beans, lentils etc.
Cost wise it seems fairly similar to Young Bros. Produce on W. Broadway; maybe even a bit cheaper. It has the advantage of being a single bus ride from my home and more room to maneuver my shopping trolley while shopping. It also has alternative forms of payment which for me is far better than only having to pay by cash. I seldom have much cash on me.
This is my meat haul from a week ago. There is enough for 3 more dinners.
The meat (ground beef and roast) was packaged into portions for hamburger patties, spaghetti sauce, meatballs, stir fry (2) and a roast. I also bought a small package of chicken wings (not pictured). This was all purchased at the usual neighbourhood grocery stores and cost a total of $37 Canadian dollars ($27.75, $42.20 Australian, 25.36 €, 3054 Japanese Yen, 2802 Kenyan Shillings).
I bought 10 kg of flour a few days ago. It was on sale for $9.99 rather than the usual $13.99. This large bag will last for up to 6 months if I make bread every week or so. I'll need more yeast before I run out of flour.
It's still been cold at night. I like to have hot decaf tea or herbal tea to warm up and sometimes have a muffin. I made Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins last time instead of the usual Blueberry with white flour. I tweaked the recipe a bit and added bran to the mix of ingredients. They were delicious. I prefer blueberry muffins and also cranberry muffins and alternate between these two over the seasons when it isn't too hot for baking.
All in all I'm pleased with the prices I've managed to get on these last few shopping expeditions. I'm always keen to get a good price on foods and I'm also always curious about how much others pay for their foods.
What I've discovered over time is that while Canada doesn't have the highest food prices, we certainly are no where near the least expensive. Our neighbours to the south and some of our farther flung neighbours, like England, seem to pay a lot less for food than we do. Canada is also such a vast country and the food prices vary wildly depending on where you live. People who live in the far north, like Iqaluit, and other northern communities, pay an astronomical amount for fresh produce. In the Arctic one cannot grow fresh produce and it is very expensive to have it shipped in. I can also say that food prices have skyrocketed in the last few years but that is probably true of most countries.
Added: By the way, this is a bit off topic but I wanted to say that I am also trying to change my ways when it comes to plastics. I go through phases of doing well and then not so well with reducing the use of plastics in stores. It can be rather challenging. Then too I am using plastics when I portion out foods for freezing. If I use plastic bags to store breads and muffins I reuse these many times over. But if I use them to store meat I discard them.
I have actually purchased reusable net bags for my produce but right now I only have 3 of them. I need many more. I also intend to purchase silicone bags for freezing foods when my budget allows. I do use glass containers for storing food in the refrigerator when there are left over items. All in all, if one wants to reduce or eliminate plastics altogether it can be very challenging at the best of times. One does have to try though for the sake of our environment. You would be amazed that there are now even plastic particles in the air we breathe. Particles which you obviously cannot see. Beyond that, I'm sure most of you are now aware that there is so much plastic in our oceans that ocean life is ingesting it. The problem of plastics is enormous. I cannot get into the issue properly here but I just wanted to point out that I am aware of the issue and my contribution to it. I am trying to do something about it. Whatever plastics come into this household, are reused as much as possible before discarding. It would be better if stores and sellers did not wrap everything in so much plastic to begin with.