Jul 152013

Earlier today Loblaw Co., Canada’s largest grocery chain announced they will buy Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada’s largest pharmacy chain.

The executive chairman of Loblaw (L:TSE,) Galen Weston, said this would create opportunities for brands from the two chains to appear in each other’s stores, and that the merger would give Loblaw greater buying power for health and wellness products. Not surprisingly Shopper’s (SC:TSE) stock price shot up 24% today which puts the value of the company very close to the $12.4 billion that Loblaw Co. is willing to pay for it. Shoppers own 1242 stores so on average each store is being bought for $10 million. No store closures are planned at this point.

Loblaw shares also went higher today. Normally when mergers are announced the larger company doing the purchasing loses some value in the short term because they are overpaying. But in this case the synergy works so well that both companies are looking to profit from this deal :0) Loblaw says they will save $300 million a year through efficiencies like by introducing their President’s Choice products into Shopper’s stores. Loblaws stock ended the day up $2.58 per share (5.43%) which adds about $725 million to the company’s market cap. The combined premium for both stores value is about $3 billion. So that’s like a 10% annual rate of return :0)


I don’t own either company yet, but now I’m thinking about buying some Loblaw because last year the combined revenue of L and SC was $42 billion but with this new merger I think they should be able to make at least 10% more per year. They will also have more buying power to lower their input costs like buying from manufacturers.

Here are some opinions from random people on the internet regarding this merger 🙂

  • “I hope this means Shoppers prices will decrease with the power of a big supplier through Loblaws. I buy medication that is non prescription, and it usually costs more at Shoppers than other drug stores right now.”
  • A few weeks ago Sobeys purchased Safeway. This week Loblaws purchased Shoppers. I am glad Canadian retailers are getting bigger and stronger instead of letting low life retailers like Walmart steam roll our Canadian home grown ventures.”
  • “Oh good, Galen Weston can control the food that makes us sick and the medicine that makes us healthy.” (this one made me lol)

Random Useless Fact:
If you started with a dollar and double it every day. In 48 days you’ll have enough to buy every financial asset that exists on the planet, about $200 trillion.

Feb 032013

One of my personal resolutions for this year is to eat healthier. Not only is it better for the body, but a healthier diet is also more affordable. Last year I posted how to save money by just shopping at ethnic grocery stores instead of big supermarkets. You can buy a bag of groceries for under $6 if you know where to look. Furthermore I find that I can cut my grocery bill by 25% or more by limiting the amount of processed or refined foods when I do my shopping. Not to mention pre-packaged or prepared foods are full of empty calories. One thing I like to do at least once a week is make a smoothie.

13_02_smoothieprep, smoothie

They’re simple to prepare, extremely nutritious, and very wallet friendly. There’s literally hundreds of recipes on the internet you can find for smoothies, so I’ll just show one I made the other day as an example. I used some raspberries for their anti-oxidant properties plus they’re full of vitamins and minerals. Next I used some blueberries because they contain vitamin K, manganese, potassium, dissolves bad cholesterol, and apparently even help to reduce belly fat. The yogurt is optional, but I like it for the dairy, protein, and fiber content. And finally half a cup of juice (or water) to keep the consistency nice and smooth.



13_02_smoothieglass, smoothie in a glass

Blend everything together et voila 😀  Each serving is less than a dollar. Drink some in the morning and you won’t even need to make breakfast. You can use ingredients that’s local and cheap. For example there’s a blueberry farm literally not even 30 minutes drive from my home. You can go pick them in the field yourself in the summer for cheaper than retail prices, then freeze them and make blueberry smoothies all year round :0) Food is one of our biggest expenses next to housing. By keeping our cost for groceries down, we can very easily save a lot more money than trying to scrimp on other things like hydro, transportation, or internet. The more savings we have the more we can invest and get closer to financial freedom (^_^) Depending on where you live you can set your own budget, but in Vancouver, I eat quite comfortably on a $100 monthly grocery budget 😀

Random Useless Fact: Near a West Vancouver elementary school a picture of a young girl chasing a ball is painted on the road. The optical illusion is being used to have drivers slow down near schools.

13_02_girlballdriving, pink ball is same color as my smoothie

Jun 032012

Last week I shared a couple of tips to buy food on the cheap. Now I will reveal another way to save.

I shop at Costco. Buying groceries in bulk is a great way to save money. A tray of 48 pork sausages only costs $13. Three loaves of bread for only $7. They always have food items on special as well. For bulk perishable items I would split them up into smaller portions and freeze them. Below are some groceries I bought from Costco this year. Some items have already been partially consumed. By the way, I don’t recommend reading the rest of this post on an empty stomach.

It costs $55 a year for the privilege of shopping there but you get two Costco cards, and it’s totally worth it if you split the cost with a friend. It’s good to know where to buy cheap groceries like those ribs from the previous post for only $3.08. And all those food from the produce market; 2 potatoes for just 65 cents. But what kind of recipes can we prepare from these cheap ingredients? Well by mixing together different items from different stores we can make some pretty cheap, healthy, and delicious dishes. I’m not a very good cook, but I’ve been taking pictures over the last week of what I’ve been eating at home to demonstrate some simple recipe ideas anyone can make.

As you can see these dishes used the ingredients mentioned earlier in this post and in the one before so the numbers are all calculated based on real prices. Most meals like these only cost around $1 to make. So if we eat 3 meals a day, plus a snack, then each month our grocery bill would only be around $100. But in reality it may fluctuate because sometimes we can treat ourselves and spend more. But other times we might skip a meal or go to a restaurant instead which won’t count as grocery spending. The point is if we wanted to, we could live quite comfortably on $100 a month for all our food needs. Not bad, considering the average Canadian spends over $300 a month for all food expenses, (includes eating out.)

My BMI is around 23 so I’m not underweight. I normally consume around 1800 calories a day so I’m not malnourished either. I would say my diet is pretty balanced overall. So spending less doesn’t necessarily mean depriving ourselves of anything important. Last week I mentioned the average consumer spends about $205 a month on grocery shopping but I only spend half as much as that. Now you know how. And you can do the same (^o^). Just remember these 3 simple suggestions. 1) Buy fruit and veggies from small produce markets. 2) Buy meat products when they go on sale. 3) Buy everything else from a wholesaler.  Just because we live in an expensive city doesn’t mean we have to spend a lot of money to enjoy what it has to offer (^_-)

May 312012

Saving Money on Groceries

This post is all about grocery savings. How much do you normally spend on groceries each month? According to an OSEC report Canadians spent about 84 billion on groceries in 2010. On average that’s roughly $205 a month per person. 🙂 According to the US department of Agriculture, the average American in 2009 spent around $150 a month from food stores. That’s because food is generally cheaper to buy in the States.

To save money on food we have to change our spending habits, not our eating habits. What we buy is not as significant as where and when we buy them. I eat just as much food as the average person, but I only spend about half the amount as the average Canadian on grocery shopping. How? It’s as easy as pie.

For fresh produce and grown foods most consumers buy them at large grocery chains (Save-On.., IGA, Superstore, Safeway, Sobeys, etc) But these mainstream stores are more expensive than those smaller, local markets you sometimes see around town. How much can you save if you buy food from a smaller store rather than a big retailer? I carried out an experiment earlier this month to find out.

First, lettuce look at the following items I bought at Safeway. I picked Safeway because it’s an international name that most people would recognize (I hope.) Click images below to enlarge them.

The total for 1 full bag of food came to $16.73. Close up of receipt on right.

Okay, not very cheap as expected. Welcome to Vancouver. You might find a better deal from IGA or a Loblaws but it still wont cut your monthly grocery bill in half. So now let’s see what happened when I bought the same goods from a small, independent produce store.

The total for 1 full bag of food came to $5.64. Close up of receipt on right.

I know the items aren’t exactly the same. But I did my best to create a fair comparison. I tried to keep the weights the same. Looking past the minor inaccuracies of this experiment it’s easy to see that the smaller independent store is cheaper, much cheaper, like literally 1/3 of the price of a large franchise. I’m not big on brand loyalty when it comes to food. As long as there’s nothing wrong with it, celery is celery to me, no matter where I buy it from. Sometimes the quality of goods in smaller stores aren’t the best, and you have to eat them quickly before they go bad, but if you make frequent trips to the store this isn’t a big deal. The other issues some people may not like about shopping in smaller stores, is the lack of choices, lack of sanitation, and lack of customer service. But if you know exactly what you want, don’t have to ask for directions, and wash your food before eating it anyway, then be a smart cookie and support your local small food businesses. Besides, their cheap prices just can’t be beet.

This is the small store I went to for the experiment. They’re called “Consumers Produce”

The Safeway I visited is the one on 3410 Kingsway. What’s interesting though is that the small produce market, Consumers Produce (above,) is located at 3388 Kingsway. The address is actually on the receipt if you look closely.  Yes, the two stores are literally on the same city block. And yet the goods in one store is 3 times as expensive as the other and they are still able to compete with each other. Either there are a lot of loyal customers who value Safeway’s shopping experience, or they don’t know about this little store just a few buildings down the street.

WTF? Huge price difference.

So now you know my secret. Saving money on your next food bill is literally as easy as walking into a cheaper store. I’ve heard other ideas like clip coupons, plan multiple trips, price match, or prepare a list, which all takes time, commitment, and energy. But by just going into a smaller independent grocer you automatically save more than all those other shopping tips put together, without even having to think about it. Piece of cake.

Examples of a couple other independent markets around town. They exist in other cities all across North America too. There’s probably one near you!

Of course I don’t mean to turnip my nose at large grocery chains. They still have a purpose after all. They may not offer the best deals on produce or groceries, but I do sometimes buy meat products from them, especially when they’re on sale.

The DVD is to show scale only. It did not come with the food.

The best part about most meat is they can be frozen and will last a long time. But I digest. The point is by buying food from the right places, and waiting for certain things to go on sale, we can already spend less than 50% of what most people are paying for food in this country. In part 2, I’ll write about how I buy other types of groceries for cheap and share some simple meal ideas with everyone. Continue reading part 2…