How to Start Saving Money on Groceries in Canada


With the cost of living in Canada getting more expensive by the day, grocery bills are on the increase more than ever. For a lot of people, saving money on food is crucial and especially a priority for those who have large families and pets. Some people simply rely on coupons to put a hot meal on the table for their children and family. Grocery coupons go a long way to helping to cut down the cost of food and household items, but there are also several other things you can do to save quite a bit of money in this area.

Combining the use of grocery coupons with effective meal planning is probably the most effective technique, and these are habits that can be learned just by making a few simple changes in your daily routine. Making some simple sacrifices in the way you plan, shop and cook your food can substantially decrease your grocery bill if you follow a few simple guidelines.

Over the past couple of years I have worked towards making some simple changes to my shopping habits and now they’ve become part of my routine.

Where should you begin? Start by setting a goal… here’s how we did it.

  • I began by sitting down with my family and talking about how much we spend per month on  groceries.  An open and frank discussion about what money is being spent as well as  what potential sacrifices could be made can go a long way to starting off in the right direction. We also needed to answer the question, how much money should our grocery budget be?

It’s important to come to some compromises about what each family member might be willing to sacrifice or substitute and set a realistic goal of what you want to spend over the course of one month on grocery items.

  • Talk about your eating habits, such as how often you eat at restaurants or fast food establishments.
  • Get excited about the prospects of cooking more home-cooked, fresh foods which in itself should help to trim the grocery bill substantially.
My husband asked me not to use grocery coupons just because I had them in my grocery binder. Initially one of my downfalls when it came to couponing was to use coupons “for the sake of using coupons” although they do save us alot of money. We just needed to scale it down and understand what we consumed for our family. I understood his point and we agreed to only redeem coupons for select items and most importantly, food or household items that we would use anyway. The remaining coupons would be traded for useful ones or donated.
How has it worked for our family?
This simple technique has proven to be very efficient for our grocery budget. Becoming active on coupon trains and swapping events really helps to accumulate more great coupons  for healthy foods as well as meet new people and share stories and frugal tips. Coupons are distributed by various companies all over Canada. What one city has another might not so trading coupons allows us to get coupons not available in our own city.
  • The next step in saving money on your grocery bills is to really put your heads together and make a list of some simple switches that could be done which would save money and yet not leave you feeling too deprived on what you eat and drink.

Examples might be:

  • Pack (healthy) brown bag lunches to take to work and school instead of buying ready-made sandwiches or regularly visiting the vending machine for snacks or pop.
  • If you consider the purchase of alcohol to be part of your monthly food budget then buy beer from the liquor store (look out for packs that are on sale) instead of drinking at the pub.
  • If you’re having a family gathering, have a “pot-luck” feast where everyone brings food, rather than going to a restaurant to dine and footing a huge bill
  • Cook hearty and cost-effective family meals such as lasagna, chili and shepherd’s pie and then freeze portions for later use.  After a busy day, simply thaw, re-heat and serve with a delicious salad or vegetables.  Not only does it make a convenient family meal, but it will save the temptation of grabbing convenience food from the store.
  • Before you shop at the supermarket, take some time to look at the online flyers of stores such as Wal-Mart, Safeway, Sobeys, Save on Foods and so on.  You are likely to find many items on sale which can help you to plan your shopping list accordingly.  With a shopping list in hand, you will also be  more likely to stick to your budget.
  • Never shop hungry!  Shopping on an empty stomach is a big no-no if you want to save money. If you’ve already eaten then you can shop according to your list and not be dominated by your tempted taste buds!

With these few simple tips, you should be well on your way to saving money on your grocery bills!

To get hold of some free Canadian grocery coupons, online discounts and more tips on ways to save money in Canada visit CanadianCouponSaver.com.

Guest Post By:
Louise Fiolek is the author of CanadianCouponSaver.com, a website dedicated to helping Canadians save money with coupons, daily deals, free stuff and frugal living tips.  She enjoys encouraging others to live well and enjoy life to the fullest, while being savvy to money-saving opportunities.

You can Follow Canadian Budget Binder on Twitter HERE or Facebook HERE and Pinterest Here. 

You can also subscribe to Canadian Budget Binder so you don’t miss a blog post. It will come straight to your email inbox here. 

Come join the conversation, we’re waiting! Cheers Mr.CBB

Photo Credit all photos-Copyright (c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>

Mr. CBB
I’m from the UK and now a recent permanent resident in Canada. I bought my first house at the age of 21 after University then my second at the age of 24. I’ve always been fascinated with personal finance, savings, learning to make money and watch it grow while combating debts along the way. Canadian Budget Binder is a place where I get to share my experiences with personal finance and learn about yours along the way. I hope you stick around and check me out on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest where I am active on all social media sites. Cheers, Mr.CBB
Mr. CBB
Mr. CBB

Comments

  1. Great post! Some great tips! I think we all at one point or another have made the mistake of buying something just because we had a coupon :-)

  2. Great post-I definitely need to start using coupons and cooking in bulk. At the end of the day I rarely feel like cooking. http://www.lbeeandthemoneytree.com

    • I hear ya about the end of the day cooking. We try to cook in bulk and then make salads with every meal. We like to have alot of veg with each meal and then a portion of protein. Cheers darlin for your comment.. love your blog! Would love to showcase it in a guest post one day if you are interested! Mr.CBB

    • Hi queenlbee, thanks for reading my guest post – glad you liked it! I’m grabbing a rotisserie chicken for supper tonight – it’s so much cheaper and quicker than cooking a chicken from scratch. Add a quick salad and hey presto supper will be ready! I usually freeze some for quick sandwiches later in the week, too.

      Your blog looks great :)

      Best wishes,
      Louise.

  3. Mary F Campbell says:

    Thanks so much for your article! I am a newbie to coupons but I have I have been checking the flyers to make my grocery list each week. I also make a weekly meal plan before I even start so that I can figure out exactly what we need in a given week to make the meals planned. The only time I buy something not absolutely required in a given week, is if the items I stockpile are on at a deep, deep discount i.e. canned tomatoes, cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, antiperspirant, toilet paper, laundry detergent, toothpaste and soap. I use these item all the time & it pays to pick them up when there’s a terrific sale. Still, I only allow $190 per month for groceries & when it’s spent…I have to work from what I have in the pantry. More meatless meals in our week has really helped stretch the budget too.

  4. Lynda Milner says:

    Great post, thank you CanadianCouponSaver :)

    Mr.CBB – I already do all of that and still my grocery bill is too high. Unfortunately, my dietary restrictions make it very difficult to have a low food budget – I *wish* I could survive on $50 per week!! But it does make me wonder why additive-free and filler-free foods cost more than regular grocery items?! Makes you wonder what is in the food that most people eat, doesn’t it?!

    • Hi Lynda,
      Good Question.
      I think Aunt B covered this topic a bit in her post “How Much Should Your Grocery Budget Be” if you wanted to read a bit on that. I think you are right and the manufacturers know it but how well is it all regulated in Canada?

      I like to think of coupon savings as a revolving savings as you don’t always have to find coupons for food to make using them worth one’s while. Look at the Kardashian’s they even use coupons, lots of people of all walks of life and situations. It’s not just people who are less fortunate who use them. If you can save a $1.00 on an item you use why wouldn’t you right? You’d be a moron not to especially if the coupon is right in front of your face.If someone saves $2.00 on their favourite toothpaste they can use that $2.00 to offset the cost of a product they need to buy that is costly or in your case food that you have to buy due to restrictions.

      Organic food prices are astronomical and anyone can see that just by shopping the aisles at the grocery store.I don’t know your restrictions but I’m using organic as an example. Is it a reality that most Canadian Families can afford to feed their family all organic? Not really but some can yes. It depends on many factors where income and debt I believe being the top factors.

      We started off this year with lowering our grocery budget to $190 which has motivated us to learn new recipes, and purchase less packaged items although we never really bought them in the first place. We have to keep in mind that some families rely on these items just to feed themselves or their family. It’s not fair when others judge people as we don’t know their income levels,restrictions,disabilities and situations. We don’t know what their life is like or was like. Society shouldn’t discriminate towards people or say what they are doing is wrong when it comes to what they put on the dinner table. They are doing it because they know their situation, we don’t. I hope everyone one day get’s to walk in someone else’s shoes that is less fortunate then them so they understand what others go through. I think it will be a lesson of a lifetime. We have mates who feed a family of 4 on $30 every 2 weeks and rely on the food bank who turn to the community looking for donations just to help people.

      Someone might have a disability where they can’t use one arm or a leg for example and no one to help them so the foods they buy reflect their ability to cook them. They might not be the best items but people do what they have to in order to get by. There might be a family where the parents got laid off and this is what they have to do to survive. It may not be the best choices but for some it’s the only choice and we have to understand that bringing people down is not motivating it’s crushing. We can’t change the world we live in but we can at least be kind to one another and understand that situations are different for everyone like in your case you have dietary restrictions. Education is important and sharing is caring.

      I remember reading on my FB about bullying in school and how you don’t know why a child is the way they are you don’t know what is happening in their home yet they are pushed around and treated differently. This is the same when we are adults, we don’t know what happens behind closed doors.

      Lots to ponder I know and a big topic….the budget is just that a budget that reflects personal finance not everyone else’s….
      Thanks for a great question!

  5. Thanks for the tips!! I think sitting down and talking about our finances was really the hardest part for us.

  6. nickydon40 says:

    great read! I am always on the look out for great recipes and this a great place to start. Sticking to my Budget, Meal Planning, going through flyers and planting fresh veg! Even barganing with my friends if they have an overspill of their garden veg they can’t use I will take. Making my own dill pickles this year!

  7. Joanna Cheevers says:

    Great post, thanks for sharing. This year I have started using coupons to try and save money. I now have to work on the meal planning a bit better and try to coordinate it with what is on special at the grocery store. I have gotten into the habit of only planning a day or 2 in advance but really need to buckle down and spend more time at it. A lot of my facebook friends upon seeing me in person have asked me what is with all the coupon posts I have been sharing. I just answer that I am just trying to save some money by using coupons and that is one way for me to try to get some more that I can use. Nothing wrong with wanting to save money!

  8. Susan Beecroft says:

    Great reading here! Always good reminding readers that we all have different circumstances, that we should not have to justify to anyone as to why we do or don’t do what we do when it comes to spending money.

    • Thanks for commenting Susan. Ultimately we don’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves. No one answer is right, what is right is what is right for you and you only. People can chose to spend their money how they please. Never judge a book by it’s cover, we can only share what works for us. Cheers Mr.CBB

  9. Sabrina says:

    I try and cook in bulk…but the hubby eats in bulk LOL! I’ve really kicked up the couponing and am trying to sort out a meal plan. I like to plan and cook from recipes so hopefully with all of these tools in place I can stretch my dollar further. Great post! Thank you :)

  10. Hello again, I checked out the blogs you sent to me, note pad in hand and took notes. Thanks for the information. You have a Great Sunday. :-)

  11. my favorite one is how to start saving on groceries in canada because using coupons those really help those days

    • Hi Elodie!
      Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment. Learning everything we can on how to save our hard earned money is so important. The more you learn the more you shake your head when you see someone paying full price for something you know there is a savings coupon for. Keep it up. Cheers MR>CBB

  12. Christine Weadick says:

    I watch the sales in flyers, try to know the important prices ( the stuff we buy a lot, so basics) and I will coupon if it’s something we use anyway. Sometimes I’ll use a coupon for something new or different especially if it’s on sale. I figure that way if nobody really likes it I’m not out quite so much. I have taught my boys, not necessarily how to cook so much as to look at a recipe and figure out roughly how it will taste by looking at the ingrediants and thinking about how things work together. Sort of like a chemistry lesson as it were. Lately we’ve really had to watch the money so it is all coming together to help us eat well as cheaply as we can. I’m trying to cut the grocery bill a little at a time while at the same time having some amount there to stock up on basics. How much I stock up on a sale depends on how good the sale is compared to the regular price. So far it’s working… slowly but surely.

  13. joanne tjerno says:

    Great post….I always make sure to check my flyers for sales, stick to my list and budget and try to coupon as much as possible. I also try to pick up meat with 30-50% stickers off sometimes so i can get twice as much and stock up in the freezer. I never bring my children grocery shopping with me and i Definetly NEVER ever go hungry!

  14. Learn to substitute less expensive ingredients for more costly ones. There are lots of switches that can be made while still producing tasty, healthful dishes and, over time, they really add up.

  15. In the warmer months, think about a small garden to offset the prices of vegetables. There are so many that do not take a green thumb to grow and you will definitely notice the savings….almost time to start the seeds indoors :) Another saving tip: you don’t necessarily have to buy seeds, just take them out of something you brought home from the store and start your seedlings from them. This year my small garden will be enlarged and planned out better than last year to increase my crop. Happy growing!

Trackbacks

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