First, the reason we make this trip each month is to save money. Food here can sometimes be as much as twice the amount I pay at Wal Mart in the US, and since we live just an hour from the US border, it's not a long trip. Several have asked if it's worth it, considering gas prices, especially last summer when they were extremely high. The answer is a resounding YES! When gas prices were near or over $4.00/gallon in the US last year, they were near/over $6.00/gallon here. We save, on average, about $2.00 per gallon; that's $40.00 savings for a 20-gallon tank. We drive two hours (one hour past the border) to the nearest Wal Mart Supercenter and use about 1/4 of a tank of gas, so it doesn't take that much to drive down, compared to what we save on a tank of gas.
Another question people ask is how much we can bring into the country without having to pay duty. For groceries, the answer is "almost unlimited!" There are restrictions on the amount of meat, cheese, milk, and eggs, but those restrictions (with the exclusion of the eggs) exceed the amount we would ever need to bring in. We are limited to two dozen eggs per person, but we've never been asked how many eggs we're bringing in. We still stick to that limit, though! We also buy some toiletries and cleaning products, although those things are usually available here for nearly the same prices. We tell the border guard that we're bringing in groceries, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, along with the amount we paid, and we've never had a problem coming in; they don't even bat an eyelash - which leads me to believe Canadians going to the US to buy food is quite common. We've also met cashiers at Wal Mart and Costco who say, "Let me guess - you're from Canada. You're buying cheese and butter!" And they're right! Cheese and butter are two things that are much cheaper there than here. The two things the Canadian border guards ask if we have are alcohol and tobacco. Being saved people who have definite convictions against using those two substances, we always say no - and away we go!
In my next post on this subject, I'll tell you how I prepare for these trips. It's not as hard as you might think; it just takes some planning!