Are Groceries really cheaper in the USA?

market-893319_1920I read a lot about saving money. Especially when it comes to meal planning – this is something I love to do, and I spend time looking up recipes and comparing notes with other moms.

One of the things that keeps coming up is how inexpensive groceries seem to be in the USA – specifically meat – I wonder how much I would spend if I lived across the border. Are the deals really that great? Is there a place where buying boneless, skinless chicken doesn’t cost a small fortune?

I decided to look up some of the flyers to the south, and compare some prices (factoring in the exchange rates). This was tougher than I thought it would be, since many of the packages come in ounces (not grams), and I had to convert it. But the flyers were identical from state to state, so I picked a median state (North Carolina – grocery index of 99.3 – according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) first-quarter report) to make the comparisons. All prices are in Canadian dollars (I converted the US prices for comparison).

Here is some of the sale prices for this week, from Mississauga, and North Carolina:

Chicken:  Leg Quarters: $0.49/lb (USA)  $1.47 (Canada)

Boneless, Skinless Breast: $3.98 (USA)  $3.99 (Canada)

Milk: one gallon: $3.05 (USA)  $4.27 (Canada)  – this is for 4L, which is pretty close to one gallon

Eggs: one dozen $1.05 (USA)  $2.79 (Canada)

Butter: one pound $3.32 (USA)  $2.97 (Canada)

Cream (half and half): $2.65

Cabbage: $0.33/lb (USA)  $0.69/lb (Canada)

Pork Sirloin Roast: $1.32/lb (USA)  $3.99/lb (Canada)

Chicken Thighs: $0.92/lb (USA)  $1.77/lb (Canada)
Surprisingly, while going through the various flyers, I didn’t notice a huge difference in the sale prices between the countries. Many of the personal care items were just as expensive, if not more than what I would pay in Ontario.  The biggest difference was in meat, basic dairy/egg prices. These were consistently cheaper, and there were more ‘bulk’ deals.

Dollar General, which I have often heard has great deals, didn’t really have any prices that were better than what I could find here. In fact, many were more expensive than I expected. For example, they had bath tissue on sale for $5.66 for 12=24 rolls. This is a lot more expensive than the Shoppers Drug Mart sale price. Dial Body Wash was $4.33; higher than the sale prices here.

So there it is – there are some deals to be had, but it isn’t the huge difference I expected. I think you need to be careful, and understand where your food comes from. The big ‘hauls’ you read about online from the dollar stores – there’s no doubt they are great deals. But understand what you are buying. Make sure you are dealing with reputable stores – just because something is cheap – doesn’t make it a good deal. Check your expiry dates, and be cautious. Not all food is created alike – a pound of garlic powder for a dollar isn’t necessarily the same as the garlic powder that costs $15/lb. Be vary of your purchases, and continue to covet the great deal.






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