Food Shopping in Canada to Satisfy Every Lifestyle
“Food shopping in Canada!”, said my colleague when I asked him what he wished he knew more of when he was a new immigrant. It’s completely understandable. Don’t we all need food for survival and comfort?
The thing is, regular people here have to do all household chores including meal preparation. Fortunately, there are many food shopping options in Canada catering to various culinary skill levels, budgets, and lifestyles.
Here are a few options apart from buying from restaurants and cooking from scratch.
Deli and Ready to Eat Food
Stores such as Real Canadian Superstore, Walmart, and Save-on-Foods offer salads, vegetable and fruit trays, and meat and cheese platters.
Regular groceries and big-box stores may even sell warm meals and even sushi. Walmart Supercentre sells sushi and warm food such as rotisserie chicken, samosas, and potato wedges.
Ethnic stores may have special treats. Hannam Korean supermarket has an assortment of sushi and sashimi as well as rolls named Kimbap. They even have a great selection of banchan or Korean side dishes that you can get for a discount if you buy three packs.
Cooking Skill Required: None
Advantage: Reasonably priced and convenient, may be great for food adventures without overspending
Disadvantage: Limited choices and no control over ingredients or nutritional content
There are endless choices of instant food from Canada and beyond for quick and cheap meals. For example, there are the usual instant noodles, canned food, and frozen food. There are also various options for microwaveable food.
Asian and other ethnic stores carry different brands to choose from. Stores may even carry interesting items such as stuffed vine leaves. The canned good featured in the photo was imported from Turkey and purchased at Superstore. There is also a huge assortment of Indian microwaveable meals. These options may help cure your homesickness or wanderlust.
Cooking Skill Required: Low
These may require basic knowledge such as boiling water for noodles and making sure these do not come out soggy. These may also require knowledge of safe microwave operation.
Advantage: Cheap and convenient
Disadvantage: No control over ingredients or nutritional content
Easy Meals and Instant Sides
Of course, a regular person would not survive on instant food and store-bought meals alone. At some point, one would go on a food adventure or improve their cooking skills.
Luckily, there are various semi-prepared food options in Canada. For example, taco kits are available wherever you do your grocery shopping. There is also an abundance of ready-made sauces for pasta and other dishes.
Some stores would also offer semi-prepared food such as hot pots and marinated meat from Hannam. The Hen Long Asian store in Surrey, BC, and T&T Asian Supermarket also import marinated or preserved food that is easy to cook. These taste like home-cooked meals.
Cooking Skill Required: Low
This food shopping option may require basic cooking skills. For instance, this 20-minute homemade tacos recipe requires browning the beef.
Advantage: Reasonable price, relatively quick, may be able to incorporate healthy ingredients
For some easy meals options, there is no control over ingredients and nutritional value.
Meal kits make food shopping in Canada more fun and convenient. A meal kit is a box of raw ingredients with simple recipes delivered to your doorstep.
Cooking Skill Required: Low to average
The Good Food recipes in the photo require cooking the noodles, baking meat and vegetables, and zesting lemons.
Meal kits provide several advantages.
First, it is convenient. Meal kits eliminate the need for meal planning and shopping for individual ingredients. It allows you to save time since all the ingredients are pre-measured. Also, there is no need to be home to receive the delivery as the box is stocked with reusable ice packs.
Second, it can be cheaper than dining in restaurants for the same quality of food. It likewise eliminates the need to buy a pack of spices if you only need a pinch.
Third, it helps improve your cooking skills and lets you explore other cuisines. For example, Chef’s Plate offers Sweet & Spicy Japanese Pork Rice Bowl and Moroccan Spiced Chicken that can be prepared in 30 minutes. I feel like a gourmet chef when I use a meal kit.
Also, meal kit options are available to suit your preferences or food restrictions. For example, Good Food has Easy Prep and Vegetarian options. Hello Fresh has the Smart Meals option for great-tasting food that contains less than 650 kcal or 50g of carbs per serving.
Meal kits are more expensive than cooking from scratch.
Also, I feel bad seeing the number of packaging materials used. Although these are recyclable, resources will be needed for these to be used again. I also do not think that all Canadian cities or towns have the facility to recycle all types of recyclables. But then again, some meal kits are better than others in terms of being environment friendly. So, it may be a matter of finding the balance between cost, quality, and other factors.
Moving to Canada requires immigrants to do everything on their own. Fortunately, there is always a food shopping option in Canada that matches our cooking skills, budget, and lifestyle.
I hope you have fun exploring!