Vancouver is a city full of ‘foodies’ and wanna-be chefs, so it’s only appropriate that proportionately, there are a lot of places to do some serious food shopping here!
Below is a quick run-down on some of the more popular (read: this doesn’t necessarily mean ‘better’, just convenient) places to shop for groceries. A lot of the big-name supermarkets have extra services like a florist, pharmacy or coffee shop, but if you’re looking for just the basics, there are stores for that too just not as frequently found.
Having said that, there are a lot of smaller corner grocery stores that offer great value so be sure to explore your neighbourhood and support your local business owner! (A tip: I’ve done my fair share of comparative shopping and am convinced that Young Brothers Produce at 3151 West Broadway has the best priced, local produce in the city).
Granville Island – One of the more livelier places to food shop, where you can get some of the freshest produce, seafood, meats and cheeses in the city. It’s such good quality that many of the city’s top chefs frequent the market. Try to get your grocery shopping done during the weekdays as the market gets swarmed by tourists on the weekends. Parking is at a premium so it’s best to come by foot or by bike. If you are coming from the Yaletown side of town, for novelty, you can get to the market by water taxi. Or, you can hop onto the free street car from the Canada Line Olympic Village station. Open until 7pm everyday.
Safeway – Large grocery store chain with several locations throughout Vancouver (so you’ll probably never be too far from one). It has all the typical departments (i.e., meats & deli, bakery, seafood, fruits & veg, household items, etc.) but also offers a pharmacy and even an in-store Starbucks (in case you get tired from shopping and need a coffee break!) Be sure to get a Safeway Club Card, otherwise items can be a bit on the pricey side.
Save-On-Foods – Similar to Safeway in that it offers the same departments but less locations (and alas, no Starbucks!). You’ll definitely want to get Save-On-Foods More Rewards card because items can be expensive here.
Note: personally we found that on the whole, items bought at Safeway – when purchased with a Safeway Club Card – were cheaper than those in Save-On-Foods (even when using their More Rewards card). However, unlike the Safeway Club Card, you can use the accumulated points from your Save-On-Foods More Rewards card towards travel and electronics.
Marketplace IGA – Again, similar to Save-on-Foods and Safeway, but it doesn’t have a pharmacy. However, it does have the best deli section out of all the big-name grocery stores listed here.
Nesters Market – A BC-based chain (but not that many locations), it is a great place to pick up pre-made items, like sandwiches and salads. Overall, their items are priced better here than a lot of grocery stores downtown, however their produce section is a bit lacking,
H-Mart – One of the largest grocery store chains in Korea with one of the best Asian food courts in town (and therefore quite popular with our local ESL – English as a second language, contingency) it has a great quality meats and produce. A great place to stock up on Asian ingredients at affordable prices. Take the escalator from the street level to get to H-Mart – you can easily miss it as it’s located on the 2nd floor.
T&T Supermarket – Another Asian food store catering to the Chinese community, it has an extensive produce section carrying Chinese produce, live seafood, a full Chinese bakery, and an Asian-food take-out section.
No Frills – You won’t get a fancy shopping experience here – a basic grocery store for those looking to get the best value for their dollar. It offers No Name products (a cheaper store-brand).
Whole Foods (formerly Capers Community Market) – Known for its vast selection of organic and health foods, they have a large organic and regular produce section (but beware, you’ll pay for it!) They also have a bakery-section to die for and lots of fresh, high-quality food items to go. A good place to get your environmentally-friendly household and toiletry items. Note: all their products aren’t organic, despite what some people think.
Choices – Similar to Whole Foods, but much smaller in scale. The place to go if you have dietary restrictions (they have a bakery specifically catering to those looking for gluten-free goods).
Urban Fare – The place to go if you’re looking for specialty items, but can get quite costly if you’re purchasing day-to-day items. It offers a large local and imported gourmet cheese, meats and deli section, along with artisan breads. It’s also a great place to go on your work lunch hour if you’re looking for a high-quality, hot lunch. Bring your Save-on-Foods More Rewards card (Save-On-Foods and Urban Fare are owned by the same company) to save on your purchases – you’ll need it!
For super savings…..
You can get some great deals at wholesalers like Costco and Superstore. However, unless you’re fine with lugging 40 rolls of toilet paper under your arm back home, you should probably take a car with you.
Costco – You’ll need a Costco membership (which costs money) but it pays itself off very quickly. A massive warehouse that houses a lot of the key day-to-day items you buy at the grocery store, insiders know to go for their very high quality meats and produce, as well as for buying toiletries in bulk. It’s also a good place to go if you’re looking to buy a new flat screen tv. Beware, you’ll be buying in large quantities so make sure you have ample freezer and fridge space, but it’s worth it if you’re buying for more than a couple of people.
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