I’ve never given much thought to those who must undertake monthly grocery shopping trips because I’ve always done the opposite.
In my previous situation it wasn’t about distance or lack of grocery shops in my village it was about the “space” factor.
Living in the UK I only had a small refrigerator the size of a beer fridge and no big freezer like many people in Canada have.
Not many people have full-size refrigerators back home unless they have the space to fit one. Both my parents and sister did but not near the size of refrigerator like you can buy in Canada.
There were more than enough grocery stores in the area even if I had to make a 10 minute trip into town. I really didn’t have any other options though. I would make frequent trips to the grocery store each week just to stock up my little refrigerator otherwise I’d be a hungry boy.
I remember the look on my wife’s face when she pointed to my refrigerator and said “What’s that?” Why my refrigerator of course. She only would see those in school dorm rooms or at the local bars or a basement bar in a home she told me. I laughed at her and she couldn’t believe how much I could neatly fit in it.
You get used to the small space and planning your meals around what you need to buy. The same holds true for those people who live in the country or far away from a major city to have the luxury of many grocery stores to choose from.
In conversation on Facebook I noticed that one of my fans Colleen was someone who indeed had monthly grocery shopping trips to plan for her family. I contacted her to share her story with all of us as I was curious what it was like having to plan such a large grocery shop.
What would be your normal list of grocery items may only be a small portion of what Colleen would buy. An example may be the one or two loaves of bread you purchase compared to the 12 or 13 she puts in her shopping cart once a month.
If you thought meal planning on a budget was hard Colleen is the person to talk to. Over the years she has managed to create somewhat of a meal plan and shopping list based around weekly sales so she gets everything she needs in one trip.
If you think about the cost of gas and the two hours it takes her to drive round-trip to the grocery store you can easily understand why a month meal plan and a monthly budget plan are a necessity for her. Either way whether you live near or far I suggest a grocery budget and meal plan if you can create one.
My mother-in-law lives approximately 3o minutes outside of her Ontario city with a close by Foodland but she says they can be very pricey. Once a month she does the same as Colleen and makes a trip into the city to stock up on items so that she doesn’t have to make multiple trips.
It’s also easier for them in the winter since they are getting older and would rather not go out driving if they don’t have to.
Today CBB Fan Colleen will be sharing her experience and tips about living outside of the city and what it’s like to do monthly grocery shopping for her family.
For those of you that are in the same position as Colleen we’d love to hear other ways you make shopping easy on yourself and save money.
My monthly grocery shopping experience
There are many reasons why I only do a major grocery shopping trip into the city once a month.
I have found that as much as I despise grocery shopping, monthly grocery shopping is the most economical for us.
Our grocery budget feeds 3 adults all with separate diets. I have to eat heart healthy plus shop for one low sodium diet and one adult with Multiple Sclerosis who also has Diabetes.
When you live in a very small rural prairie town (Population 300), you don’t have the luxury of shopping for bargains and sales like people in larger centers.
You really need to have a bit of a game plan in place to carry out this monthly grocery shopping trip for it to be successful.
I don’t mean etched in stone meal plans either but some idea of what you need to buy for the month and what your monthly grocery budget entails, helps.
I always meal plan for a big Sunday supper so I make sure I have 4 major meats at all times in my freezer.
I have 1 meat in stock for each week of the month.
- Roast Beef
- Roast Pork
- Roast Chicken
- Turkey or Ham Roast
I typically purchase 8 x 400 g packages of lean ground beef and from this I will take 3 packs and pre-cook meatballs to have ready for a sauce and quick meal.
There is always a couple of packages of hot dogs in the freezer as well since I typically buy a variety meat box for $70.
In the meat box you will find:
- 3 lbs ground beef
- 3-4 lb ham roast
- 3 lbs large pork sausage
- 3 lbs spare ribs
- Large package of pork chops
You will notice there is no steak in my meat box unless I find some at a discounted price or it doesn’t arrive here. I also buy cases of chicken breasts when on sale to change up the meals once in a while.
I also purchase 10lbs frozen veggies, 20lbs potatoes, tater tots, soups that I don’t make from scratch are bought buy the case on sale, cream corn and mushrooms.
I grocery shop at the dollar stores as well for canned goods, sugar, flour, dry pasta, pasta sauce and other pantry staples which are all bought on sale and stockpiled.
Another thing I do is if I prepare a large meal today we may opt for a smaller meal the next day. Some days it is breakfast for supper (pancakes, eggs, oatmeal, etc).
Cereal is usually blue box from Walmart which sells for $2.50 a box. I buy 3 tubs of margarine (or more if on sale) and about 16-20 loaves of bread a month.
This is just a rough guideline on what it is like to shop monthly for my family. There are other products I buy but only if I can find them on sale in the flyers or in-store.
Pros of Monthly Grocery Shopping
Here are my pros to grocery shopping once a month as opposed to shopping out of the city limits where I live.
- There is a wide selection and competition of stores who want your business
- Prices are a lot cheaper
- Fresher produce
- The stores usually have staple items on sale
- I often get in on 10 for $10 sales or Warehouse Sales
- Being able to build a pantry system has helped. It enables us to finish off one item and have another in stock ready to go.
- If bad weather hits I never worry about groceries
- Once I had my small stockpile built it became easier to maintain when I run low.
- The dollars that are saved are astounding as there is no running to the store to pick up a few out-of-stock products. What happens is you end up spending more cash because there is something else that you will always buy. (sounds familiar…that’s why I try to stay out of the stores if I can once I do our shop-Mr.CBB)
Cons of Monthly Grocery Shopping
- Traveling almost an hour each way which makes my grocery shopping trip 2 hours plus!
- It also means I may miss out of some of the deals throughout the month.
Monthly grocery shopping is lots of work: Keep in mind this is not your average grocery shop.
- Pack the large amount of groceries into the cart
- Take them out of the cart and onto the register belt
- Sometimes packing into bags
- Put the groceries back into the cart
- Take the groceries out of the cart and put into the vehicle
- Doing this procedure at 5 or more stores
- Unpacking them out of the vehicle and into the house
- Trying to find a place in the cupboards, fridge, pantry and freezers for it all
- Slicing and portion control of items for ease of use during the month takes quite a bit of time.
During the course of the month I will purchase some fresh produce locally as it is consumed before the next shopping trip and doesn’t pay to go to the city.
I find it beneficial to have 2 refrigerators to store all of our food. I have 1 refrigerator in our kitchen and 1 in our back kitchen (both have decent size freezers on them) and 1 freezer.
I use the stairs up the back to the maid’s quarters to store cases of soup, pasta, etc. as well as toilet paper. Any time you can get quality toilet paper for 25 cents a roll it is time to stock up. I have almost 100 rolls of toilet paper right now in my stockpile.
This is my monthly grocery shopping trip and what it takes to complete it. If it seems like lots of work to you, it is but I have mastered the grocery shopping and monthly meal planning now so that I can get in and get out with ease.
Thanks Colleen for sharing your story with us today. If you have a grocery shopping story you want to submit contact me today via email canadianbudgetbinder (@) yahoo. ca
Do you take on monthly grocery shopping trips? If you had to what else would you do to make it easier and more cost-effective for your family?
March grocery game challenge posts
If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up for the month each week here in this section for you.
Join in the Grocery Game Challenge fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each blog post… here are the GGC rules!
Grocery Saving Tips
Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!
Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.
I hope you take the time to get back on track and start the savings process in your grocery budget today.
Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE. CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet for FREE.
NEW!! You can now download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel…Grab it while you can… It’s FREE! We use it to budget and in large part a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years, check it out!
Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide
If you are new here and haven’t had a chance to read past posts grab yourself a beverage, sit down, relax and enjoy some educational reading material on ways to save money in your grocery budget.
If you missed a Grocery Game Challenge post some of the most popular posts are listed below or you can now find the posts listed on their own page called The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email.
2015 Grocery shop results
If you are a foodie like I am you will enjoy going through my Free Recipe Index where recipes from CBB Home Chef Nicola Don and myself are shared every Sunday on the blog. Check it out!
Yearly grocery budget for two 2015: $2820
(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $240 per year or $25 per month.
- Franks Red Hot Sauce $3.99- $1.00 coupon-$1.50 Checkout 51
- 6 x PC Gouda cheese $1.04 each (yay.. another awesome cheese score) They are 250 g bars)
- Neilson Milk 2% $3.97
- 3 x Astro Coconut Yogurt $3.59-$1.00- $0.50 off one Zweet
- Omega 3 eggs $4.89-50% sticker
- Romaine Hearts.. eesh $4.49
- Banana $3.12 600pts
- Kiwi fruit $2.00
- Parmigiano Reggiano- $7.02 and $6.27 (now this was half price. I don’t know if it was on sale or a pricing error but it was an awesome score for this cheese)
- 4x Redpath Sugar- Sale $1.67
- Bananas $1.64, $1.83
- Seedless cucumber $1.27
- Brie $5.00-30% ($1.50 0ff)
- Naan Bread $1.69
- Cheerios $2.97
- Bosc pears $1.40
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)
- Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $235.00
- Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
- Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
- Total Rewards Points used to date: $20.00
- PC Points Plus Earned to date: 28786
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Snap Groupon to date: $1.50
- Zweet to date: $1.50
- Cart Smart to date: $0
- Checkout51 to date: $1.50
GROCERY SHOP THIS WEEK (add any other sections you need to show expenses and savings)
- Total to spend this month $204.49 (includes overage from February)
- Stockpile budget 2015 ($25.00): (Jan/Feb) $50.00 +$0
- Stockpile budget used this month: $0
- Total coupons used this week: $3.00
- Total coupons used to date: $6.00
- Total in-store discounts this week: $7.90
- Total in-store discounts to date: $73.55
- Total spent this week: $70.03
- Total spent so far this month: $70.03
- Total over/Under spend this shop: over $18.91
- Total over/Under spend for the month: $n/a
- Total left to spend for the month: $134.46
- Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $166.49+ Feb $261.51+ Mar $
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts): I picked up more great cheese deals this week which I could have put under stockpile but I have a feeling I will fill that up with something else.
Did you find any coupons? If so share the details in the comment section of this post where you found it and what the coupon is for with expiry.
I don’t have any coupon finds for you this week. Check back next week though as it’s a new month and I’m just waiting for the coupon reps to re-stock our grocery stores.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible.
- Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops only to win a monthly prize. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
- When does the Grocery Game close each month?: The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something that is scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it all together. Don’t let that be you! You can post your shops all month-long.
- Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?:
YesNo, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year so we can plan accordingly for our budget. We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any more. It’s just one way to help cut your budget to save money.
- Canadian Coupons: Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest Coupon Match-ups of the week and your weekly Checkout 51 offers from 25 Newspaper Inserts around Canada compliments of Save Big Live Better that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge.
- What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
- What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
- How Do I Know what stores accept coupons?: If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
- How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.
Over time you will gradually learn where you should and shouldn’t go in the grocery store or at least how to say no, I’m on a budget I need to buy this or that.
You may also substitute items in order to stick to your grocery budget to make it work. Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget like many people do.
This is why the grocery game challenge was created to not only show you that we are like everyone else but to bring us all together to work as a team to get our budgets on track.
If you have just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2015 get ready to dive deep into your grocery budget and learn just where you are spending, how much you are spending and what you are saving.
Feel free to read all the above posts that I linked to above which I feel are relevant to learning about the grocery budget and grocery shopping in general. If you are brave and want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!
You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!
Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2015!
Join in and become money savers and take control of your grocery budget.
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