Food & Winter Clothing

How to Shop for Food in Canada

This article is for visitors, students, new Canadians, immigrants and first-time live-alone individuals, families or groups in Canada.

The first "How to Shop" decisions to make are:

1. what percentage of food will be consumed in restaurants,

2. what percentage will be purchased already made from a deli, grocery store or convenience store and

3. what percentage will be prepared and cooked at home.

Some people can not function in the morning. For them the best solution is to buy a coffee, orange juice and fibre-based muffin from their local coffee shop. If you always buy your breakfast at the coffee shop - there is no need to purchase breakfast groceries.

Some people like to wake up early - read the newspaper - eat a large and healthy breakfast at home. These people should plan to buy lots of breakfast groceries.

Lunch options depend on available facilities and maybe rules. Some business locations prohibit eating in the office. The workers or students have to go out to eat a "brown bag lunch" or buy it at a restaurant. You have to plan what type of lunch is possible and buy at the restaurant or buy lunch groceries.

Supper or dinner offers the same options as breakfast. Some people are too tired after working all day and then maybe going to the gym to cook supper. For them the 2 dollar frozen food dinner - in the microwave for 5 minutes is a good solution.

For those with time and energy the supper or dinner time could be an excellent opportunity to prepare a salad-based meal with chicken or fish and a fruit dessert.

Your available time - energy level - work/study rules - facilities and interest will determine what type of food is best for your lifestyle.

How to Budget for Food in Canada

When I prepare my monthly food budget I use some average numbers.

The cost of average restaurant meals are: breakfast $5, lunch $6 and supper or dinner $8. With 30 meals of each meal each month the total cost is: 150 + 180 + 240 = $570 for the month.

The premium restaurant meals can average $9 for breakfast, $15 for lunch and $25 to $100 for supper. These are options for special occasions, dates, and giving yourself a treat.

When I prepare my meals from groceries my average cost is $3 each meal and with 90 meals = $270 for the month.

When I use coupons and the flyer specials I usually reduce my cost by about $100 each month.

The flyer specials and coupons reduces my cost of food to $150 to $175 each month.

How to use Coupons for Food in Canada

There are lots of food coupons in Canada. The food coupons include all the fast foods, convenience foods, full meals at local restaurants, and all of the grocery products.

Coupons can be delivered in your mail, in the newspapers, magazines, newsletters, flyers and on the internet.

There are coupon clubs where you can trade coupons you do not need for coupons that you do need.

My food shopping ritual includes collecting the relevant coupons and trading the non-relevant ones.

Between the meal and grocery coupons I save $15 to 25 dollars each week using coupons to reduce the price of my food in Canada.

How to use Flyers for Groceries in Canada

There are lots of grocery stores in Canada and there is lots of competition for your grocery dollars.

The grocery stores use flyers to advertise daily or weekly specials. The grocery stores also have on-site unadvertised special food prices.

My weekly food shopping ritual includes collecting all the grocery food flyers and looking at the special prices.

If I can buy salmon, black forest ham, filet mignon, lobster, Alaskan crabs or roast beef at 50% off - then I buy more and if practical freeze some for later.

My grocery buying could be buying milk at No Frills because it is on special, buying bread at Mr Grocer because it is at half price, buying President's Choice Blue Menu salmon at Loblaws because it is on special, buying carrots, beans, peppers, lettuce and potatoes at Food Basics because their price is the lowest sometimes, buying spaghetti sauce and prepared pasta at Rabba because it is made fresh everyday, buying eggs at Shoppers because they always have the best egg price specials, buying salad dressing at Sobeys for their special price.

By food shopping once a week for larger quantities to freeze and shopping occasionally for the daily specials I am able to save $15 to 25 dollars each week using flyers to reduce the price of my food in Canada.

How to shop for Winter Clothes

The far northern and southern countries all have four seasons. In Canada we have names for the four seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall.

The changing weather means that students and visitors must be prepared for the seasonal changes in temperatures. Students must bring or purchase clothing suitable for each of the seasons that they will experience. If the student is staying longer than two months then they should be prepared for the change in seasons.

If the student is visiting during June and July be prepared for summer, if visiting August and September be prepared for Fall. The transitions from Fall to Winter can be dramatic as the temperature can drop from 20 degrees C one day to minus 5 degrees C the next. So this two month period requires students to be prepared both for Fall and Winter conditions.

In many of the countries located near the Equator where there are very little seasonal changes and the temperatures usually stay in the tropical range the available selection of winter clothing is usually non-existent. This can be a problem for students traveling to the northern countries during the winter season. It is difficult for the students to be prepared for the cold temperatures.

The other problem is that after the students have finished studying in the winter - the winter clothes will have no real use back in the student's tropical home.

For the very rich students and visitors - this is not a problem. They can go to the designer shops and pay $500 for boots and $2,000 for a custom winter coat and $1000 each for winter outfits and presto they are ready for anything winter throws at them. The rich can afford to put everything in storage - just in case they go on a North or South Pole expedition some day.

For the rest of the world buying clothes that you really need only once is a waste of money. My suggestion is to help a very famous Charity organization in Canada.

In Toronto there are several Goodwill, Value Village and Salvation Army Thrift Stores that sell used clothing that has been donated and refurbished by dis-advantaged workers and trainees. The money from purchases is used to fund the charities. They are excellent organizations and the price for the clothing is very low.

I suggest that students buy coats, sweaters, pullovers, pants, thermal wear, hats, gloves, scarves and some boots from the very large and low-priced selection of winter clothes.

When the winter is finished and there is no need for the clothing you can donate the clothes back to Goodwill - they will clean and fix anything up for the next person. This means that you do not have to pack and take this very heavy clothing back to where it is not needed.

You can be properly prepared for winter and help an excellent charity.

In Canada when the temperature drops to zero degrees C usually students from the warmer countries have to wear three layers. This usually consists of a thermal undershirt, shirt and sweater. When going outside students need a good outer coat able to insulate you from very cold temperatures. When outside at zero degrees you need three layers and a coat, hat, gloves and scarf.

When the temperature drops down to the minus 10 or minus 20 degree range then students start to wear four layers: thermal undershirt, shirt, sweater and pullover sweater. When going outside students need the four layers plus a good outer coat, hat, gloves and scarf able to insulate you from the very cold temperatures and any additional wind chill effect.

Remember that very cold temperatures are dangerous - you have to dress warmly.

Travel Language and Culture information and recommendations will assist visitors when shopping for winter clothes. Look for the ESL in Canada "How to shop for the best prices" Seminars.

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