Saturday, November 3, 2012

No Frills, the monthly shopping expedition

No Frills
Photo by Gary Wood
It's the beginning of the month, which means it's time to head to the supermarket to stock up on the basics.

No Frills is a popular chain for thrifty shoppers here in Canada, as their approach is, well, no frills. They forego all the usual advertising, marketing, and fancy displays in order to keep prices down. It's not a warehouse, like Costco or Sam's Club, so you won't be buying a jar of salsa that will last you six months, but they are all over the city and accessible by foot or public transit.

boeuf salé
No Frills generic corned beef
Photo by Danielle Scott
They stock their own generic, no name brand of many basic food items. You can find thousands of no name grocery items -- pasta, canned veggies, sauces, canned meats, frozen foods, cheese, household cleaners, pet food and litter, and more.  I'm a big believer in buying the generic brand of foods -- I'm told it all comes from the same factory, anyhow.

Although No Frills is cheap, they are NOT always the cheapest in town.  And here's where the web comes in.  No Frills has a price comparison website: Won't Be Beat. You can enter your local No Frills store, and then ask the site to compare the No Frills price against the other supermarkets in your town.

Dried Apricots
Dried Apricots - the inspiration
for the Armenian stew
I like to cook based on what's fresh at the veggie store, and what mood I am in that week. Am I craving Thai food? Curry? Soups?  Did I find an interesting veggie, new to me, that I want to try?

I am often trying new recipes, based on the ingredients I bring home, which I think is the opposite of many thrifty bloggers who rotate a standard menu of favourite dishes.

Yes, I have favourites, but there are so many new recipes to try out there! And new ingredients to explore!! Why limit myself?

So here's how I figure out what I need at No Frills -- I ask, do I need:
  • flour
  • sugar
  • butter or margarine (whichever is on sale)
  • tinned tomatoes
  • pasta and rice
  • salsa (cheaper at No Frills than making my own, except for summer)
  • dairy
  • pet food
  • pet litter
On a weekly basis I go to the veggie store, and around the corner to my local health food store, The Nut House, for small amounts of spices, herbs, and nuts. I only buy a small amount as spices and herbs lose their flavouring after a very short while, and why spend $3 or $4 on a jar of spices when you only need 1 or 2 tsp.

So here's what's I will be cooking this week, based on the ingredients I have on hand:

  • toasted bagels with green onion and chive cream cheese
  • scones
  • oatmeal

LUNCHES and DINNERS (I cook on the weekend, and reheat during the week)
  • lentil apricot stew w sesame rice (never tried this one before, but have lentils, rice and dried apricots in the cupboard)
  • carrot ginger soup (big bag of carrots in the fridge)
  • cornish pasties (with the rutabaga i bought last week, plus lentils, potatoes, carrots, and herbs)
  • jamaican patties (winter squash and hot peppers)
  • braised celery and mashed potatoes
  • quesadillas (winter squash, refried beans and cabbage, with salsa and sour cream)
  • eggplant and lentil chile mole (never tried this before, either)

  • apples
  • brownies

I will post the recipes, with photos, as I cook these items.


  1. I love No Frills buy most of staples there. Interesting menu this week. Interested also in the squash recipes as all kinds of squash is on sale at No Frills.

  2. I shop at No Frills most of the time as well... close & cheap! My hubby works at the highest end grocery store here & it costs a small fortune... we pick up a few things there, but 90% at No Frills!!

  3. Ahhhh, two more fans of No Frills. Kristy, stay tuned for squash recipes!! I'm a big fan of winter squash. In fact, I like to eat it all summer, too!!!

  4. We have Aldi's here and I see the same things, the exact same things as Trader Joe's! I love this blog so far and the cabbage in the quisidlla sounds really good becuase raw cabbage is basically tastelesss.

  5. thanks! i love cabbage, but you are right it can be very bland.... esp how my mum used to prepare it which was boiled -- to death -- in salty water...


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