Sun. Apr 14th, 2024


As Canadians continue to feel the financial toll of inflation while grocery shopping, more are looking to their local discount store to find savings.


But while these stores are often stocked with cheap and ultra-processed food products, a Canadian registered dietitian says it is possible to get healthy foods at stores such as Dollarama, Dollar Tree and Great Canadian Dollar Store if you’re willing to plan ahead and do some extra label reading.


“I think you could absolutely still find nutritious, healthy foods at a lower cost,” Bailey Franklyn, who works in long-term care, told CTVNews.ca during a phone interview. “It’s just going to take a little bit of planning ahead and knowing what to look for and basically changing up your shopping style a little bit if you’re really looking to save some money.”


This, however, comes with a caveat, she warned.


If people are looking to save money by purchasing food at discount and dollar stores, “they might find themselves choosing those (ultra-processed products).”


“Some products that are ultra-processed often have higher sodium or higher fat or more sugar. They might have less fibre and other micronutrients that we look for when making healthier choices.”


Franklyn says the only way to avoid compromising nutritional value for cheaper options is to do a “little bit more label reading.”


“Comparing sodium, comparing fat, comparing fibre to see what’s within their budget, but also what is the healthier product,” she said.


According to inflation data released Tuesday by Statistics Canada, Canada’s annual inflation rate increased to 3.3 per cent in July. This follows a short-lived tumble in June, when Canada’s inflation rate went down to 2.8 per cent.


The Consumer Price Index found that the price of fruits, rice, flour and bakery goods have steadily climbed in recent months.


Franklyn noted that food shopping at dollar stores has some pros and cons.


“The pros are that you become a more savvy shopper,” she said. “You have to get a little more creative with the meals that you’re making and what recipes you’re going to use or what cooking styles you’re going to use.”


She added that, if you’re at the dollar store, items such as dried beans, legumes, chickpeas, canned fruit, canned beans, or canned tuna and salmon could all be nutritiously feasible options that are more affordable than they would be in more upscale grocery outlets.


“The cons are that some things are going to be more heavily processed,” Franklyn said.


“When it comes to label red flags, I think it depends person to person, but across the board, I suggest looking for lower sodium and lower fat while possible.”


Franklyn also advises shoppers to be cautious of checking best-before dates while considering cheaper options, particularly at dollar stores.


Nuts, seeds, beans, and peanut butter are also options that Franklyn says will maintain nutritional value at a cheaper cost, she adds.


“Other than that I think choosing more often things that are higher in fibre, higher in vitamins and minerals, iron and calcium. Also things that have less added sugar. Those are the things we want to choose more often.”


Franklyn added that, in general, convenience is what costs the most while shopping.


“Quite often we are paying for things to be a little more convenient,” she said.


“Things like chopped salads, chopped vegetables, and pre-made dishes come with a higher price point. And if people are looking to save some money at the grocery store, I would say convenience is the thing they are going to be compromising.”

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