Location: Montréal, Canada
Number of people in household: 2 (me and my boyfriend)
Occupation: I work part-time as a copywriter for an online boutique; my boyfriend works full-time in the film industry
Where you shopped: Segal’s and Provigo
Weekly food budget: $80 to $100 (Canadian dollars)
Amount spent: $114.77 (Canadian dollars, which is just under $85 in U.S. dollars)
I shop most regularly at Segal’s and Provigo. Segal’s is a longtime discount grocery store in the heart of Montréal. It’s very small and crowded (only three long aisles), but it’s ridiculously cheap, especially for the produce. Items there are usually half the price of what they’d be at other stores, but they are more limited in their selection.
To buy the rest of my groceries, I go to Provigo, which is a chain owned by Loblaws, the biggest grocery retailer in Canada. Prices have increased dramatically at Provigo in the past year, so I try to only buy items from there that I can’t get at Segal’s. If I need a speciality ingredient, I’ll go to either the Korean grocery store or the Japanese grocery store near my house.
What’s your grocery strategy?
I’ve experimented with a lot of different grocery strategies. I shop on Thursdays, because that’s the day my stores get new sale items. I try to cook recipes that use similar ingredients in the same week in order to streamline my grocery list. I like to have a plan and a list, but I’m not afraid to go off-script if there’s a super-discounted item that I can swap into a recipe. We also limit the amount of meat we buy because it’s so expensive.
For produce, I buy items that last a long time in the fridge (apples, carrots, cabbage, kale) so that I don’t waste food or money. If I want to make a recipe with an ingredient that can turn more quickly (spinach, mushrooms, fresh herbs), I make it the same day I get groceries. I very rarely throw out food now, which I’m quite proud of. I also make sure to buy some frozen or convenience foods that cook quickly in case our plans change and we just need to eat something fast.
Every week my boyfriend typically cooks the same two meals: stir-fry and frozen dumplings, both served with rice. I really like cooking, so I cook four meals during the week, which I switch up to have more variety. I like to make bigger meals that give us leftovers to eat for lunch the next day (soups, stews, curries).
I base the meals I cook around the super sale ingredients I find at Segal’s and new recipes I see on food blogs. I watch a lot of YouTube cooking videos and they definitely influence me. We usually get takeout on the weekends.
Total: $51.36 (includes tax)
Thursday: Yogurt and Granola, Oatmeal with Apples and Peanut Butter, Leftover Japanese Curry, and Shawarma Chicken Bowls
My boyfriend has to be at work by 7 a.m., so he is long gone by the time I wake up. He usually has yogurt and granola (bought in bulk every month) along with coffee at work. I almost always have oatmeal with apples, peanut butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and oat milk. It’s cheap, fast, and super filling. I don’t drink coffee; I love tea, so I have a cup of Earl Grey and a cup of matcha, both with oat milk, every morning.
For lunch, I have leftover Japanese curry with quinoa, cabbage slaw, and a poached egg. My boyfriend also brings leftover curry to work for lunch. Throughout the afternoon, I snack on some cashews.
For dinner, I make shawarma chicken bowls with brown rice, chicken, crispy chickpeas, and roasted eggplant with za’atar and harissa, as well as a garlic-lemon yogurt sauce. The za’atar I have is from Les Filles Fattoush, a local company that employs Syrian refugee women. It’s delicious!
Friday: Yogurt and Oatmeal Again, Leftover Shawarma Bowls, Frozen Dumplings with Green Beans and Rice, and Microwave Popcorn
We both have the same breakfast as yesterday (yogurt and oatmeal). For lunch, my boyfriend and I have leftover shawarma bowls. In the afternoon, I snack on some dates. My boyfriend makes dinner tonight: frozen dumplings with green beans over white rice. I like to add kimchi to mine. (I bought during a previous week at the Korean grocery store on my block and it’s made in-house.) I really love spice, so I am always adding some element of heat to my meals. After dinner, we watch a movie and split some microwave popcorn we already have on hand.
Saturday: Pancakes, Eggs, Bacon, Jamaican Patty, Yogurt, and a Night Out for Smash Burgers and Fries
I really like to use the extra morning time on weekends to make a big breakfast; I cook pancakes, eggs, and bacon for us. For lunch, I need something quick before we go out to do some shopping, so I microwave a Jamaican patty I had in the freezer and eat it with some hot sauce. My boyfriend has some yogurt and granola.
We go out for dinner at a smash burger place called L’Hamburger. I get a double patty, my boyfriend gets a triple patty with cheese and we both get fries with house mayo. It’s very inexpensive for how good it is, so I’ll definitely be returning!
Sunday: Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches, Sausage Roll, and Chipotle Copycat Burritos
My boyfriend makes breakfast sandwiches with eggs and cheese for both of us. For lunch, we split a sausage roll from Ta Pies, a local shop that sells Australian and New Zealand hot food, sweets, and specialty items. My boyfriend loves Whittaker’s — a New Zealand chocolate brand — so this is where he buys it when he wants a treat.
For dinner, I make burritos inspired by Joshua Weissman’s Chipotle copycat recipe. They have chipotle marinated chicken, black beans with bacon, roasted bell peppers, and rice in them. I make this recipe at least once a month; it’s a bit time-consuming to make all the separate components, but super worth it and there are always a lot of leftovers. I’ve streamlined it to be faster by using the oven and stovetop at the same time.
Monday: Oatmeal, Yogurt, Leftover Burritos, Spaghetti, Pickled Cucumber Salad, and Boxed Mac and Cheese
I’m keeping things simple for the start of the week with my usual oatmeal breakfast and then a leftover burrito for lunch. My boyfriend does the same, but has his yogurt instead of oatmeal. For dinner, I go to my friend’s house. She makes us spaghetti with tomato sauce, olives and capers, plus a pickled cucumber and dill salad on the side. My boyfriend makes himself boxed mac and cheese.
Tuesday: More Oatmeal and Yogurt, Leftover Burrito, Breakfast Burrito, Red Lentil Dal with Caramelized Onions and Rice
Once again, I am eating oatmeal for breakfast. My boyfriend has yogurt and granola at work. I give my boyfriend most of the leftover burrito fixings to take for lunch, but there are still a few roasted bell peppers and beans left. I scramble some eggs for some more protein and eat it with the bell peppers and beans in a tortilla for a more breakfast burrito vibe.
For dinner, I make red lentil dal with caramelized onions and brown rice. This is another staple recipe in our house that I make at least once a month. It’s really cheap, filling, and easy to make; it also results in a lot of leftovers for lunches.
Wednesday: Oatmeal, Yogurt, Leftover Dal, Homemade Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Kale, Mozzarella, and Ricotta
You know what’s coming: oatmeal and yogurt for breakfast! For lunch, my boyfriend and I both have the leftover dal. For dinner, I make homemade pizza with the rest of the caramelized onions I made yesterday, plus kale, mozzarella, and ricotta. I tried a white pizza (one that doesn’t use tomato sauce) for the first time a few years ago and now they’re my favorite kind. I’m going to use the leftover cheese to make eggplant Parmesan over the weekend.
After dinner, we go out to a bar for our weekly trivia game. My boyfriend gets a cider by Rabaska and I get a black cherry sparkling water by Le Seltzer; both drink companies are Québec brands and extremely yummy. We win the game, so we get a round of tequila shots for free!
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