Some people don't like Value Village because they think it has become overpriced, which I'll return to below, but I always shop Value Village for specific things and save SO MUCH MONEY!
Office supplies are so expensive new and are practically free (often brand new as well) at Value Village! The office isle at VV always has a large assortment of like-new file trays and folders, binders, calculators, labels, staplers, tape dispensers, mail sorters, pencil jars, clip boards, bulletin boards, etc.
Also, you can always pick up brand new and gently used art supplies at Value Village. To encourage my kids' creativity I have picked up stencils, stamps, palettes, canvases, empty sketchbooks, full pads of tracing paper, portfolios, etc., for next to nothing.
Finally, I have over-stocked my kitchen with multiples of utensils and other cooking accoutrements from VV. I have picked up like-new muffin tins (regular, and mini), glass measuring cups 1- to 4-cup sizes, extra large metal mixing bowls and quality dry goods containers of varying sizes, among other things. Check out this beautiful French-press coffee pot - it's a stainless vacuum bottle!
To me, Value Village is the epitome of the "Three Rs"
Reducing the amount going to landfills
Allowing people to Reuse a vast array of manufactures and
to Recycle many items, through repair or upcycling
I think Value Village has become more expensive in the past 20 years because they seem to put more effort (i.e., paid labour) into sorting and merchandizing the donations compared to back then. A VV actually creates paid employment for dozens of individuals in the community. For the charity sector, VV monetizes the household and clothing donations the collect.
What's to not like?
If anyone needs a new winter jacket or snow suit for sure next year, now is the time to score a great deal. Sport Chek/Experts has a huge range of jackets and pants marked down 50% at this point.
March is a good time to shop for winter stuff generally.
I purchased a beautiful and warm pair of leather mitts 60% off at Simons. People who walk a lot in Ottawa need mittens like these for -20 days.
Normally I hate a cheap plastic gadget and everything they represent, however, this one is so useful in the kitchen when cooking A LOT in one day.
I found this last week for $5 and thought I'd give it a try. It doesn't take up any counterspace and saves time compared to keeping a compost bin under the sink.
Three weeks later....
Nope, I can live without this in the kitchen. It's just one more thing to store while not in use. Can't leave it out because it has no lid - yuck.
Maybe it will be good in the bathroom for something.
Money tip: know thy best prices
It is common, but false, to assume that the best prices in town on groceries will be at Costco or Walmart. If you grocery shop at just these places every week, you are losing out on significant savings. I usually find that the major chain of grocery stores in Ontario (house brand: PC) will have better unit prices on meat, poultry and veg than Costco or Walmart on a given day. Now, I go to stores under three banners in that chain every week so I know that Costco's price is the highest price I might have to pay that week. For example, I regularly find beautiful, boneless skinless chicken breasts at Loblaws for $10-$12 per kilogram versus $14.99, which is the current regular price at Costco.
Here are examples of the deals that you are likely to find on quality fresh meat and poultry at a Loblaw or Maxi every week - so shop there before Costco and save $$. If you have room in your freezer, buy extra packages when you see extra low prices and save even more.*
Lean ground beef: $9.99 per kg (Costco, regular price currently) or less!
Absolute best price observed recently: lean ground beef on sale for $8.99 per kg at Costco biz centre (Innes) last week but the package was 5 kg! I find that amount of ground beef (in a tube!) rather daunting, however, so I passed on that deal...
B/S chicken breasts: $14.99 per kg (Costco, regular price currently) or less!
Absolute best price observed recently: family-sized packages on sale for $9.99 per kg at MacArthur Loblaws a couple of weeks ago
* Caveats: If you don't have freezer space, DO NOT buy more than you can store. Also, you must be able to cook and consume within a couple of months or $$ saved turns into $$ lost.
Time saver: store-bought bouillon
Great soup requires great stock or bouillon for depth of flavour. You would expect scratch to be better than store-bought ALWAYS in the culinary world but bouillon is the exception!
I have prepared homemade vegetable stock in various ways many times in the past. I thought it would be more economical and taste better. I found that it's neither! 1) "Waste" like peels and trimmings do not make good tasting stock 2) the veggie bouillon brand in the jar ("BTB") is better than any veg stock I've ever made. BTB (not pictured) is more expensive than others, but is worth the price because it tastes so much better. FYI Costco sells it for a few dollars less per jar than the other grocery stores.
An economist at heart, I love getting the most out of my budget as well as cooking delicious AND nutritious food.