I am in Ottawa, and shop religiously at Produce Depot. I cannot get our groc bills under $850 (1000$ if we got to costco, for yogurt, cream cheese, sandwich bread, gluten free pasta, quinoa, etc) a month.
We are a family of 5 and I easily spend 75$ 2x a week at produce depot on veg/fruit/lunch stuff/bread.
I am really at a loss here.
Bread costs $3+ a loaf ($2.50 was the last price I saw for crappy Wonder Bread, even at Costco I doubt it is really cheap). Go to Value village / good will / kijiji, get yourself a bread machine. Buy rice flour (or whatever gluten free flour you want) at the Sultan Market (right across the mall from the Produce Depot near South Keys), Bulk Barn, or another cheap source. Buy it in 20 pound bags and store it in a 5 gallon pail (or rubber maid or whatever you have). Using proper Strong White flour (aka Bread Flour), a loaf of bread costs me less than $0.75. I have no idea what it would be using gluten free.
Yogurt is expensive. My wife and I go through $10 (one litre) of yogurt a week right now (we buy fancy greek yogurt). I am getting ready make my own. You can do it with stuff you already have for nothing more than 1 cup of yogurt you already have an a 4L bag of homogonized milk ($5 to make one litre of thick strained stuff, or so I'm told, I haven't done it yet). If you want it to be easier, you can buy a yogurt maker (I haven't found a used one yet).
Gluten free pasta is expensive. While some people geniunely need it, it is also a health fad. As said to me by a nurse friend - "Of course you feel better eating gluten free, it doesn't have all the Shit in it that regular cheap stuff has." If you have the time, pasta isn't hard
to make - but it does take more time than I am willing to put it. Look for other cheaper options that meet the requirements without being "in vogue". Failing that, the question is 'how gluten free does it need to be? Is the allergy such that you need 100% free, or are trace amounts okay? Can you buy rice pasta that isn't labelled as Gluten Free, check that it is wheat free, and then live with any trace amounts that make it through because the pasta was made in a facility that also processes wheat flour?
On the cheese front we've moved from buying national brands (or as my nurse friend calls them, "sodium bricks") for $5/lbs (when on sale) to good quality local cheese (Maple Dale) for $7.50/lbs. Because the better cheese has a much stronger taste, we use less of it. We're actually saving money.
We dont eat a whole lot of meat anymore but I refuse to buy it from Loblaws (for fear of killing myself and my family).
This gets a proper face punch from me. Any maybe it is just a poor choice of word, but I have no respect for being afraid
of a grocery store.
By and large, the Canadian food inspection agency and food laws do a very
good job. The whole reason meat recalls and mass food poisioning make it to the news is because they are so rare. Why are you willing to buy from Costco but not Loblaws? The food comes from the same source. I never buy meat from Loblaws simply because I get a better price for the same stuff at Produce Depot. Besides, E.Coli and many other meat related issues (Mad Cow withstanding) are entirely avoidable with proper cooking http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/ill-intox/ecoli-eng.php
BTW - I have been hospitalized for E.Coli. It isn't something I care to repeat. But when you look at how many people get sick from contaminated meat vs how many people are killed on the highways, you'd be better off eating meat from any grocery store and just not get in a car. (440 people are treated for E.Coli per year in Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/fs-sa/fs-fi/ecoli-eng.php
, vs 2200 killed and 11000 seriously injured on Canadian roads http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/roadsafety/tp-tp15145-1201.htm
in 2009). Since most people eat meat every day in Canada, and most people drive, this isn't that bad a statistical comparison.