Top 12 “Best Value” Grocery Shopping Spots in Toronto
For our first blog post, we wanted to share our thoughts on shops in the city that offer the most value. If we missed anything or you don’t agree, let us know in the comments and we’ll check the place out.
What is value? Simply put, value is paying less and getting more. If you generally pay $4/lb for peppers at a big box grocery store, and $2/lb for those same quality peppers at a smaller market, then in our opinion, that’s great value.
Best value for day-to-day shopping
B-Trust. This may or may not surprise you that we picked an Asian grocery store as the best value for day-to-day shopping in the city. Between daily fresh fish arrivals, inexpensive fresh produce, hard to find Asian and middle eastern ingredients and inexpensive spices, we have not been more impressed by the selection, pricing and cleanliness of any other general purpose grocery store in the city.
The downside is that most of their employees do not speak English and can sometimes/often come across as rude. It may just be a language barrier, or it may be an attitude, we don’t know. I would not buy high end cuts (ie grilling steaks and chicken breast) of meat here, but BTrust is good for your lower end cuts (ground/stewing meats and pork shoulders, etc.). (Thanks blogto.com for the picture.)
There are many great butchers in the core of the city, places like Cumbraes, the Healthy Butcher, etc. all have very good reputations. But these places tend to be expensive. So we wanted to share those places that we thought still have great quality at a reasonable price.
In the west end, our top value butcher goes to Medium Rare. Call this big talk, but I would put Medium Rare’s meat up against any high end butcher shop in the city. These guys age their own meat for 30 days and sell it for about 30-40% less than similar quality stores in the Toronto core. (Thanks Yelp.ca for the picture.)
In the north our pick goes to the Friendly Butcher. Again, great selection and helpful staff at a reasonable price. (Thanks Yelp.ca for the picture.)
In the core, our go-to is Upper Cut Meat at St. Lawrence Market. This is where we purchase all of our meats for our Prepd meals. Generally, all meat is locally raised and grain-fed and aged (when appropriate). Simply put, their meat just tastes better. Not to mention that they sell their product at a very reasonable price, especially given their prime Toronto location. (Thanks whatfoodimade.wordpress.com for the picture.)
Places still to explore: East end butcher shops and Vince Gasparro’s Meat Market.
Our top value pick for fishmonger goes to City Fish Market. We have been to many of the City’s more well know picks; the St. Lawrence, Diana’s Seafood Delight and the fish shops in Kensington, and still think that City Fish’s selection, quality and prices win them the honour of best value fishmonger in the city. (Thanks clubmom.ca for the picture.)
This will not come as a surprise, but our top pick for where to get the most value when buying produce in the core of the city is Chinatown. Some people may turn their nose up at Chinatown, but the reality is, is Chinatown’s produce comes from the exact same places as Sobeys, Metro, etc., the Toronto Food Terminal. (Thanks occassionaltoronto.blogspot.com for the picture.)
In the north, we recommend Downsview Market on the weekends. This is not a true farmer’s market in that merchants do not necessarily grow their own products, but merchants do sell their produce for much less than a traditional grocery store and it is generally very fresh. (Thanks reurbanist.com for the picture.)
Throughout the city, visit your local fruit store. These stores often contain golden finds like 8 limes for a dollar, which is about 4 times more lime than you will get at a grocery store.
Organic and local meats/produce
Buying quality, local, organic meats and produce can be very pricey, sometimes double the non-organic equivalent . Our pick for best value organic and local meat/produce is the North Market of the St. Lawrence Market. If you haven’t been yet, then you’re missing out. It is often overlooked compared to its south side brother, but it houses true farmers, and artisans selling their great products. (Thanks greenbeltfresh.ca for the picture.)
The price of spices is one of those things that blows my mind when I look at them at traditional grocery stores. 50g of ground cardamom for $11, say what?? That’s why we don’t do that. We recommend House of Spice in Kensington. We haven’t been able to stump them yet with a request because their selection is truly out of this world, and their prices are very reasonable. Great place if you like dried herbs and spices. (Thanks Yelp.ca for the picture.)
There are many great bake shops doing really tasty and pretty things, but in our books the one that always impresses the stomach and the wallet is More than Pies in the west end. The pies, cookies, biscottis and squares rival the most high end bakeries in the city. Another great joy about this location, is that they’ll customize pies for you, which are made to order. Like your apple pie a little less sweet? Or with cranberries? Just let them know. If you find yourself there, try the lemon squares; they’re the perfect ratio of sweet to tart. I’m salivating just thinking about it.
Bulk food supplies
If you’re in the market for bulk food type things we’d recommend Johnvince Foods. I’m pretty sure it’s the biggest bulk store I’ve ever seen, by at least 100% compared to the next biggest and their prices are very reasonable. Looking for hard to find nuts, grains or candy? They’ll most likely have what you’re looking for at a price that’s half of what it is at the grocery store. (Thanks jennys-cookbook.blogspot.ca for the pic.)
The age old question of ‘should I shop at Loblaws, Sobey’s, Metro?’ etc is one that tends to depend on their weekly flyers. These stores know this so they wrangle you in with $4/lb chicken breasts (which isn’t great value in our opinion) in order to sell you $6 milk. Our solution for those looking for better value, is to go to No Frills. With strong authority, No Frills was rated as the least expensive chain on redflagdeals and we agree.
Can’t be bothered to scour the city or internet for good value and hard to find items? Let us help, that’s what we’re here for.
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