Ask the Expert: How to save money on groceries this holiday season

Yahoo Finance Canada consulted Certified Financial Planning Professional Kelly Ho with Vancouver’s DLD Financial Group Ltd to discuss strategies on how how to save money on grocery shopping this holiday season.

With high inflation taking a bite out of spare change, Canadians can expect to pay more for holiday essentials this year.

According to the Dalhousie University Agri-Food Analytics Lab, a traditional holiday dinner for four to six people consisting of turkey, with a vegetable side or meat pies, and a dessert will cost an average of $104.85 this year.

While food inflation is starting to dip, the analytics lab found prices of many traditional holiday foods remain elevated compared to last year, including turkey (up five per cent), potatoes (6.6 per cent) and carrots (12.8 per cent). The report is based on data from a sample of prices from different grocery retailers across the country.

There are ways to save money on grocery shopping without sacrificing that turkey.

Yahoo Finance Canada spoke with Kelly Ho, a certified financial planner at DLD Financial Group, and Natasha Macmillan, director of everyday banking at, to discuss the best ways to save money in the grocery aisle.

Create a list and stick to it

One of the easiest ways to avoid blowing your budget on groceries is to keep a shopping list and don’t deviate from it.

“What can be helpful is creating a meal plan for what you’re going to cook over the next week or two, a list of ingredients and then sticking to that as you go to the grocery store,” Macmillan said.

Even though delivery is often a surcharge, Ho suggests looking at grocery delivery apps like Instacart or Uber Eats, as you will be less likely to be tempted into making impulse buys through the app, compared to in-store shopping.

“I have a lot of clients who actually take advantage of online ordering and curbside pickup,” Ho said. “[The app] prevents them from browsing the store, so whether you do an app or you go directly to the store, that way you don’t deviate from your list.”

Take advantage of coupons, loyalty programs and credit card perks

Coupons, loyalty programs, money-saving apps and price-match guarantees are all ways to save a few bucks at the grocery store.

“We can’t be lazy, we do need to look at [flyers], especially given that everyone’s budget is tightening,” Ho said. “In my opinion, gone are the days where you just go to one store and pick everything up. I understand that’s convenient, but that can also be costly, depending on what it is that you’re getting.”

Macmillan recommends the Flipp app, which gathers flyers from major retailers in one place so users can compare the deals at different chains.

“That can actually rack up quite a lot of savings over time for your full grocery bill,” she said. “That’s a great way to save money and it also limits you from having to drive to three different stores to maximize those savings.”

Credit card benefits can also help. Certain credit cards are tailored to certain grocery chains to offer the biggest rewards, so doing a little research can go a long way towards greater benefits.

“With the right credit card in hand, you can actually rack up a lot of grocery points and rewards at your grocery store and stretch your dollar a little further,” Macmillan said. “A great option for this could be a cashback or store credit card, and it’s really about finding the credit card that maximizes your return, depending on the grocery store that you shop at.”

Avoid situations conducive to excess spending

Shopping while hungry, late at night or with kids in tow can all lead to unnecessary spending.

“After work is when you’re most hungry, you’re more likely to make a lot of impulse purchases that you didn’t intend on making compared to going let’s say first thing in the morning on a weekend,” said Ho.

The same goes for shopping with kids, Ho adds, as they tend to persuade you into buying some added items.

“You’re going to cave in and you’re going to add things you really didn’t need,” she said.