... but how do you buy groceries?

How to do the big weekly grocery trip without owning a car

Ok, so let’s get right to it.  If you can’t get over the massively weekly shopping trip (and the insanity of it!) this is how you do it if you don’t own a car.

   1. Walk/TTC + Taxi

Exactly what I used to do 12 years ago.  We lived car-free in an old apartment building at Queen & John and we either walked to the giant monstrosity that is Loblaws at Jarvis & Waterfront, or if we were in a rush we took transit.  It was a 30 min walk if we walked directly there.  But we typically did our shopping on weekends so we’d lazy brunch somewhere downtown, and slowly end up in that area.  Grab a SmartCar sized grocery cart, load up, rack up a huge grocery bill. Then we’d taxi it home in 10-12 min.  Door to door service.

Effort: Easy.  And doable post brunch cocktails.
Cost: $1040 / year ($20 one way taxi x 52 weeks)

   2. Order Online Grocery Delivery

Toronto started doing the online grocery delivery long before it got mainstream in the rest of the world. We’ve got:

  • Grocery Gateway.  The original, they were doing this well over a decade ago before Longos bought them.$9.99 delivery fee
  • Grocerymarket.ca delivery $9.99 or free depending on certain delivery windows.
  • Mama Earth Organics. A one time $5 membership fee and then free delivery on orders over $30
  • Instabuggy will deliver for free on orders over $80.01 and shops from multiple stores like Sobeys, LCBO, and Costco.
  • Ubery will also deliver groceries and LCBO items.  Delivery fee is $9.99 for orders under $40 and free for orders $65 and up.

Effort: Easy and super lazy. The lowest effort way to grocery shop and the only (socially acceptable) way you can grocery shop in your pajamas
Cost: $0 – $519.48 (Grocery Gateway $9.99 delivery fee x 52 weeks)

3. Car Share

Toronto has many options.  The original Autoshare (established in 1998!) got bought by Enterprise and is now Enterprise Car Share, but it’s just as good as it’s always been. Zipcar and Car2Go are also serving Toronto.  it’s dead easy to grab the car and go do that monster weekly shopping.  If you really want to minimize the time and cost of your car share booking this is a great opportunity to do the click+collect grocery options from places like: Walmart grocery pick up or Loblaws Click and Collect. But I found I would reserve one for a few hours and plan some other errands while I was up burning gas and polluting the air.

Effort: Easy.  More effort to actually get in and drive a vehicle. It feels like owning a car, but without the fuss or need to get gas, or surprise repairs.
Cost: $600 – $780 / year (1 hour Enterprise car share rate x 52 weeks, car share rate depends on vehicle chosen)

4. Bike

Loading groceries on a bike is actually super easy.  I think the average person has such a mental block about carrying stuff on a bike. But once you look into it, it’s super easy.  With panniers, baskets and bungees you can fit a tone of stuff on a bike.  I’ll let these guys tell you the tips.  Bringing your shopping home on your bike is so common, it has a cheeky term: quaxing



And then, we can get into the wonderful world of bike trailers.  If you can carry major appliances on your bike, you can carry your weekly groceries!   And we’ll your pedaling your groceries home, you can probably think about scrapping that gym membership, huh?

Effort: Some but fun!
Cost: $0 – wear and tear / general bike maintenance

So there you have it.  Proof that in Toronto, you do NOT need a car to do the monster weekly grocery shopping trip.