Shopping for groceries

Fruit, vegetables, meat, bread, dairy products, non-alcoholic drinks and other household items are available at all the major grocery stores near campus. In Kitchener-Waterloo, major grocery stores are often open seven days a week between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., and some are open 24 hours. You can also find Chinese, Indian, Latin, and other specialty grocery stores, in the area. Larger grocery stores will sell additional items like clothes, small appliances, and electronics.

Many grocery stores offer free pick-up when ordering online, or you can have groceries delivered to your door for a small fee. Check with the grocery store nearest you to find out more. The first time you visit a Canadian grocery store, you may find the size of the store, and the variety of new foods, overwhelming. Here are a few phrases you should know before you shop in a Canadian grocery store.

Common phrases in Canadian grocery stores

Best before date

In Canada, 'best before' dates appear on pre-packaged foods and indicate the anticipated amount of time that an unopened food product, when stored under appropriate conditions, will retain quality characteristics, such as freshness, taste, or appearance. It is recommended that you do not eat food after this date. 

Debit machine

In Canada, a lot of people prefer to use bank cards, rather than carrying cash. At the grocery store, your cashier may ask you whether you’re paying with cash, debit, or credit. If you’re paying with a bank card, you use a debit machine to complete the sale. Your bank representative will show you how this works during your appointment to set up your bank account.

Expiration date

There are certain products sold in Canada that must have an expiration date on their packages. Foods should not be eaten if the expiration date has passed. Expiration dates are commonly found on packaged foods.

Generic brands

'No-name brands', also known as store brand products, are usually cheaper than many well-known brands. This is especially true for household cleaners, toilet paper, and other dry goods.

Reusable bag

Using reusable bags for your grocery shopping is better for the environment. You can purchase reusable bags to carry your groceries at all major grocery stores. Most grocery stores now charge you a small fee to pack your items in their disposable plastic bags.


A large store selling groceries and household goods.


Things to remember

  • There is no bargaining at grocery stores.
  • Many grocery stores will sell some ethnic food in their international aisle. 
  • You can save money by using coupons and looking for deals in store flyers, which can be found at the grocery store's entrance. Many grocery stores will also offer 'price matching' where they match, or beat, the lower advertised price at another store. 

Grocery stores near the university

Grocery stores near University of Waterloo