grocery game monthly challenge

How We Downsized Our Food Costs By 41% To Fit Our Budget: The Grocery Game Challenge #1 Dec 7-13, 2015

how we cut our food costs by 41 percent (1)WE HAD NO IDEA WE WERE SPENDING SO MUCH MONEY

 

Every year since starting The Grocery Game Challenge back in 2012 we have evaluated our food costs in accordance to our overall budget.

Before then we were just two people in a loving relationship renting and grocery shopping like every other frugal couple, so we thought.

Although we were just starting to clip coupons but not heavily stockpiling we also followed the sales. We were spending on average around $400 a month which only continued to increase.

That might not seem like much to you but for us that was a huge amount to be spending on groceries for 2 people. Since we were saving for the down-payment on our first home saving money was critical to keep costs low.

You may think you are doing well with all the grocery savings but all that money adds up every month whether you got a deal or not. When we bought our home in 2009 it was just shortly after the coupon craze hit Canada and everyone was going mad for free or near free deals, including us. Yes, we joined in on the fun because we wanted to save even more money.

We weren’t actually budgeting at that time so we would clip coupons, match the sales and go shopping. There were times we would come home with 20 packs of free toilet paper only paying the tax or 20 cans of almost free baked beans. Over the course of 2 years we amassed a stockpile that has kept us going up until present and we’re not done yet. I’m not joking when I say we started with about 100 jugs of laundry soap.

Coupons are not the same these days. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing for us. I’m betting we still have a few years worth of health and beauty items we won’t have to buy which means less money spent in our health and beauty category. This is one reason we decided to pull health and beauty from the grocery category and keep it separate.

When we created a budget and started to track our grocery expenses it didn’t take long to see that we were still spending upwards of $400 a month sometimes hundreds more. This is why The Grocery Game Challenge was started. We needed to get that $400 we were spending on groceries under control and fast.

Related: The Grocery Game Challenge Rules

If you’ve heard me say we hardly stockpile food these days the reason is that we were never keeping up with the food we had in our cold room and pantry. We either donated it or it went to waste and the both of us were pretty hard on ourselves about that since we do not like food waste.

We were committed and still are to keep our grocery budget steady at $235.00 a month with a $25 stockpile budget. Typically that would be cheese or something that we find in bulk for a great price. Some months we might not even use the stockpile budget. It’s not there to be used every month. It’s there if we need it.

So without any real health and beauty or laundry detergents to buy we set off in 2012 with this challenge and haven’t looked back. Back when we started though we included health and beauty and dog food which we have since removed. We lost our dog in 2013 and although I haven’t come to terms with talking about it yet he was a huge part of our family and is greatly missed.

Taking away anything that wasn’t food apart from paper towel as that is something we use in the kitchen on odd occasions the grocery budget was set at just under $200 back in 2012. Every year we evaluate what we’ve spent over the course of the year and if our budget permits we either increase the grocery budget if need be or we can lower it if we don’t spend it all. Unfortunately we were spending it and then some. It’s been a long journey the past 4 years trying to balance our monthly budget while eating a balanced diet.

I read a Financial Facelift Globe and Mail article last week about a Canadian couple who net $12,620 monthly spending $1200 or $14,400 a year for food costs. My mouth dropped but then I just figured that some people who earn lots of money have fancy tastes or they don’t mind splurging to buy the best cuts of meat, fancy cheeses and so on. Who knows, maybe they are building a bomb shelter underground and are stocking the shelves like in the movie, Blast from the Past!

All laughter aside, spending over $1000 a month is not uncommon and many people who don’t budget might be surprised just how much they are spending. You don’t have to have a fancy job to spend money, people go into debt to eat just as much as they do buying clothes and other wants.

In all fairness, this couple did budget and they clearly put a heavy weight on making sure they eat VERY well each month. There is nothing wrong with that and clearly they can afford to do so.

Related: Can this couple retire early and maintain their lifestyle- Globe and Mail

If you’re already trying to spend $1200 a month in your mind for 2 people, don’t worry I did the same thing. Lots of organic foods, lobster, lamb, fine roasts, steaks and the best of the best wines and I don’t know what else. I really don’t know what we would do with so much food every month but to each their own I suppose. It made our yearly $2820 grocery budget look like a couple of months worth of snacks.

I didn’t condemn them to the CBB corner (inside joke my Facebook What’s for dinner fans would know) for spending so much money on food each month. It just made me realize that everyone recognizes their grocery budget from a different perspective. Sure, they could save tonnes of money even if they cut their grocery budget by 50% totalling a $7200 savings a year. This is what we did and cut our grocery budget by 58% when we finally said enough was enough.

We took our $400 monthly food expenses and slashed it by 41% because we knew we could. After so many years of clipping coupons and frugal shopping you know your prices and how to save money when grocery shopping. Gone are the days where we would stock up on just about anything because it was under a dollar.

Related: How we reduced our grocery budget from $1100 to $600 in 6 months

Do you know what we’ve done with the extra money we’ve saved over the years? We paid off our mortgage! That’s right all the extra cash we saved by cutting food costs went towards our mortgage and investments. In 5 short years we were able to burn our mortgage papers for good.

No, we didn’t eat junk or lots of processed food either. It’s amazing how well you can eat, if you really want to. Gardening in the summer really helps to save money on herbs and vegetables. There are plenty of ways to save.

Related: How we became mortgage free in 5 years

 

How to calculate food costs

 

One concern I hear most often is that people don’t know how much money they are spending on food every month. Believe me when I say having a grocery budget isn’t a big deal to some people and they fly by the seat of their pants with a shopping cart in hand.

If you’ve ever seen someone just tossing items in their shopping cart they likely don’t have a budget or they are spectacular at mathematics in their head. You might tell me that you have an “idea” of how much you are buying and know what you are permitted to spend. Fair enough but you can still do MUCH better and save MORE!

If you really want to know your food costs you MUST document every grocery shop for at least 3 months. This will give you a wider picture of just how much you are actually spending and what you are spending your money on.

Once you start a budget or know how much money you can afford to spend on food after all the bills and living expenses are paid it’s time to get to work shopping. Keep in mind that food costs go up and down and things may change for you personally so adjusting your grocery budget accordingly. We typically do this once a year but you may opt to do it twice a year.

 

How to control food costs

 

There are many ways to control food costs all of which I’ve talked about many times on this blog over the years.

You can read every grocery game post ever written in my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide to get you familiar with cutting your food costs. It’s not difficult to do, it just takes time to understand the process and once you do it a few times you’ll get the hang of it. In no time you will be a pro!

Two Canadian Budget Binder fans Della F. and Christine W. who have both been posting their grocery shops in the Grocery Game Challenge for years have learned lots about their shopping habits. The best part is that they are still here which means they see the benefit it has to their overall budget which makes me a happy guy.

Here is what they had to say:

Christine W
I look for more reduced and pink sticker 30-50% off meats when at the store. I also tend to use less meat in recipes as it is getting so expensive. I’m looking for more meatless meals that hubby and the boys will willingly eat which is not an easy thing to do. Our grocery budget has to stay the same as we are on a fixed income and it isn’t going up at all. Oh and I watch the sales like crazy and try to stock up on something if it’s a good price and we like it.
Della F
I can’t say what my yearly food costs were by the end of 2014 but I found an old version of my budget that stopped during the month of October. By that time, I had spent over $2600 so that value would have been much higher, where as I haven’t even spent $1900 so far this year.
If you’ve made it this far down the post you must really want to get your food costs under control and we can help. Don’t be intimidated and remember that your motivation is what will help you to succeed.

After evaluating our monthly budget we knew we would start the year with a grocery budget of $235 which is 41% less than the $400 a month food costs we were used to.

Even though we have a separate category for health and beauty now even if we had to add that back in we would be able to sustain this figure. We simply wanted to see how much of our money would need to go towards food and whether we could sustain the budget by including everything. Things may change in the future so we will evaluate our numbers when the time comes.

Everyone has different budgeting goals. What are yours?

 

Keep your eye on the end goal

 

If you want something bad enough like we did you will do whatever it takes. I’m not saying eat crap food to pay off debt but do yourself a favour and invest in knowledge and this will get you through faster than guessing.

How have you slashed your food costs over the years? (Share your comments below for others who come looking for tips.)

-Mr.CBB

 

December Grocery Game Challenge posts

 

Join in the Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post. Here are the rules to get you started and if you have any questions feel free to email me.

New monthly prize: $10 President’s Choice Gift Card for Canadian residents only.

NEW!! If you want to play from outside of Canada and have PayPal and you win I will pay you $10CDN via PayPal. I use a random online generator to pick the winning ballot every month.

Congratulations to Ballot #10 Mary C. for winning the November Grocery Game Challenge!

If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up each week here for you so you don’t have to go looking for past GGC posts for the month. This makes posting a bit easier although all you need to do is click on The Grocery Game Challenge on the homepage sidebar and you will see them all.

 

Free Grocery Budget Tools

 

Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!

2014 Free Money Saving ToolsFree 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

 

the ultimate grocery shopping guide cbbEverything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is below with new information added monthly.

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

 

Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2015: $2820

(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $235 per year or $25 per month.

Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)

  • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00 $174.05
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $235.00 $174.05
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $32.40
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $90.00
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $230.00
  • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 8134
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0.98

Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)

  • Snap Groupon to date: $28.00
  • Zweet to date: $18.00
  • Checkout51 to date: $7.00

 

Grocery Shop This Week

 

No Frills

  • 4 x Astro Yogurt $1.97
  • 5 x Schneiders Bacon $2.77 each Salt reduced

Total Out-of-Pocket: $24.50

Shoppers Drug Mart

  • 2 x dozen eggs $2.49 each

Total Out-of-Pocket: $3.00

Zehrs

  • Bounty Paper Towel $4.99-$0.50 coupon
  • 14 x Lindt 70% Chocolate Bars 2/$5-50% $1.25 each
  • 2 x jars maraschino cherries $2.99
  • 6 x 1lb butter $2.88 each
  • Chapman’s Frozen Yogurt $3.77- FPC
  • Butterflied chicken breasts $7.98-50%
  • Chipolte Pork Rib Chops $21.00-50%
  • 2 x Boconcini $6.49-50%
  • Triple Brie $7.99-50%
  • 2 x Notre Dame Brie $5.99-50%
  • Samosas $4.19-59% (party snacks)

Total Out-of-Pocket: $80.94 used PC Points to pay 

Food Basics

  • Bananas $1.08
  • 2 x Pineapple $1.88 each
  • 2 x 2% milk $3.97 each
  • 2 x Homo milk $4.97 each
  • 4 x Irresistible Cream cheese $2.99 each
  • 6 x Cheese Blocks $3.88 each (stockpile) $23.28

Total Out-of-Pocket: $57.96-$23.28=$34.68

  • Total to spend this month $235.00-$60.94=$174.05 (overspend from November)
  • Stockpile budget 2015 ($25.00): (Jan/Feb) $50.00 +$0 (Mar)+$16.94+$25.00 (April)+$25.00+ May $25.00+ June $25.00+July $14.44+Aug $25.00+Sept $25.00+ Oct $25.00+ Nov $25.00
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $23.28
  • Total coupons used this week: $4.27
  • Total coupons used to date: $38.77
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $27.50
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $703.12
  • Total spent this week: $62.18
  • Total spent so far this month: $62.18
  • Total over/Under spend this shop:over
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: over $n/a
  • Total left to spend for the month: $111.87
  • Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $166.49+ Feb $261.51+ Mar $231.02 + April $258.44+May $218.12+ June $235.67+July $212.16+August $118.15+ September $130.37+ October $281.89+ November $249.04+ December $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

We loaded up on lots of great deals this week and decided to use up our PC Points as we’ve been saving them for this very moment.At Zehrs we bought 6 x Charmin toilet paper $4.99 each and Quality Street chocolates $11.99 each which falsl under Christmas in our budget. The toilet paper will go under Health and Beauty.

I screwed up and got the wrong cream cheese at Food Basics so I paid a little more than I should have, oops. Wife caught me for that one. The Chapman’s ice-cream was free with the yearly coupon they sent us in the mail for $4.00. I did not get the extra money left as she rang it in as an FPC.

Overall, we did well and should make it to the end without an overspend and we have about $10 in PC points left. Fingers crossed!!

 

Canadian Coupons

 

Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons! These are your latest Checkout 51 offers which you can use to help save money. We’re finding less and less coupons in the stores these days. What are your thoughts? Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?

Canadian Coupons Dec 2015

 

Grocery Game Challenge FAQ’s

 

  • 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. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
  • What is the monthly prize and who can claim it?- The monthly prize is a $10 PC Loblaws Gift Card and for our out of country friends it’s $10 CDN via Paypal if they win. As more people join I will add more money to the gift card or I will split it up and offer 2 prizes every month.
  • 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. If you choose to post monthly  or bi-weekly you will only get 1 ballot for that shop. 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?: Yes No, 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  Checkout 51 offers that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge. There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
  • Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading out but mobile coupon apps are the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site that mailed coupons to households have gotten involved with their new mobile Save.ca app joining forces with the many apps that are already out there.
  • What is the Best Flyer App- We use Flipp on our Iphone so if you wan to have all your flyers in one spot download Flipp from the Apple Store or get it on Google Play.
  • 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 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.

-Mr.CBB

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Mr. CBB
Mr. CBB was born and raised in the United Kingdom who then moved to Canada where he is a permanent resident. He recently became a father to a very busy toddler who allows him to be a kid at heart. He bought his first house at the age of 21 after University and his second at the age of 24. Both Mr.CBB and his wife are Debt and Mortgage Free and they did it all in under 5 years using a Budget. Canadian Budget Binder is a place where he shares their financial experiences with his readers and hopes to learn about theirs. Welcome to CBB!
Mr. CBB
Mr. CBB

Comments

  1. Christine Weadick says:

    Yearly grocery budget for 4 adults and 2 cats -$7800.00
    (The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $235 per year or $25 per month.
    Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)
    Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $650.00
    Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $650.00
    Total Gift Cards used to date: $10.00
    Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0.
    Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
    PC Points Plus Earned to date: 21250
    Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
    Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
    Snap Groupon to date: $3.00
    Zweet to date: $1.50($25.75)
    Checkout51 to date: $6.25(25.50)
    Air Miles cash used to date -$70.00

    Grocery Shop This Week
    Foodland #1
    1 oatmeal -2.50
    1 Cashmere TP, 12 DR -4.44
    1 pack sliced almonds -3.99
    1 VH soya sauce -3.49
    1 cranberry cocktail -2.98
    1 pack graham cracker crumbs -2.49
    1 pack pasta -1.98
    2 cans soup @.99
    2 cans tomato paste @.59
    2 4l milk @4.88
    1 doz large eggs -2.99
    1 yogurt -1.99
    Bananas -.78
    1 pack beef liver -1.75
    1 grated Parmesan cheese -5.84
    1 W/W bread -3.19
    Tax -.58
    Total OOP -$51.91
    Foodland #2
    1 jug water -5.49
    2 parchment paper @2/5.00
    1 Chez Whiz -3.99
    1kg peanut butter -3.99
    1 Cheerios -3.98
    1 jar pickles -1.99
    1 bag cranberries -2.99
    1 bread crumbs -2.49, 50% air miles discount-1.25
    2 500g packs Thompson raisins @5.99
    Tax -.65
    Total OOP -$41.30, $1.25 discount
    Country Bulk, Christmas baking
    Deluxe candied mixed fruit -7.32, 2.12, 6.99
    Candied cherries -5.57
    Honey -7.72
    Total OOP -29.72
    No Frills
    2 cranberry juice @2.97
    2 Dawn dish liquid @2.47
    1-216 count Tetley tea -9.27
    2 Whiskas cat food @6.97, B1G1 coupon -6.97
    2 tomato sauce @1.79
    10kg flour -7.97
    4 Apple sauce @1.29
    2 PC lemon tea bags @2.49
    Royale TP 24DR -5.97
    1 box cookies -1.88
    1 NN sour cream -1.77
    2 4l milk @3.97
    2 frozen OJ @1.27
    2 GG stir fry veggies @2.99
    4 GG frozen veggies @2.99
    Bananas -1.29
    1 dates -1.99
    1 box chicken nuggets -5.97
    1 hot cross buns -4.39, 50% sticker -2.20
    2 packs beef tortellini @5.00
    1 Olay body wash -2.97
    1 pack NN food containers -3.89
    Tax -4.12
    Total OOP -$119.19, 6.97 coupon, 2.20 discounts

    Total to spend this month $650.00
    Stockpile budget 2015 ($25.00): Jan $22.20+ Feb $24.50+ Mar $22.18+ (April $18.32+ May $40.95+ June $24.15+ July $45.32+ Aug $32.92+ Sept $22.43 Oct $0 Nov $0
    Stockpile budget used this month: $0
    Total coupons used this week: $6.97
    Total coupons used to date: $156.10
    Total in-store discounts this week: $3.45
    Total in-store discounts to date: $183.02
    Total spent this week: $242.12
    Total spent so far this month: $212.12
    Total over/Under spend this shop:over
    Total over/Under spend for the month: over $n/a
    Total left to spend for the month: $407.88
    Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $640.13+ Feb $572.63+ Mar $786.52+ April $515.95+ May $621.33+ June $760.66+ July $552.91+ August $674.89+ September $610.32+ October $646.30+ November $650.45+ December $
    Weekly Overview (your final thoughts) Not a great start to the month but that seems to be the way it works…a couple of good weeks then a big one getting all the things I held off on. I got to Country Bulk for my good baking supplies and a container of unpasteurized honey. That added a bit to things as did the shop at No Frills. I still have room in the budget for the month as well as my turkey bucks and that nice gift card from my sisters-in-law. Cashing in those will make for an interesting read on the shop!!! I can do this!!!!

    • Hi Christine,
      WOW you scored some great deals this week even though you had to do some stocking up. I was actually in a Foodland Christmas Eve a few hours before the shop closed and I couldn’t believe all the deals. There are tonnes of 50% off stickers on bakery items. I thought to myself if you were smart you would just come here next year to buy your Christmas cookies for cheap lol. The meat dept also had plenty of meal with reduced stickers. I was impressed with the store but I also noticed the pricier items that I can typically find at NO Frills or Basics for less. It’s the same as going to RCSS, Zehrs, Metro and Sobeys. I’m excited to see our final numbers! We have a new GGC player on the team.. make sure to come around and say hello!! 🙂 You get ballot 8. MR.CBB

  2. Angela Mainse says:

    Week 2 – December 6 – 12

    • Grocery budget to work with in December over 5 weeks: $250
    • Total coupons used this week: $0
    • Total coupons used to date: $149.11
    • Total RCSS gas coupons used this week: $0
    • Total RCSS gas coupons used to date: $19.71
    • Total value PC Plus points redeemed this week: $0
    • Total value PC Plus points redeemed to date: $360
    • Total gift cards/certificates/gifts used this week: $0
    • Total gift cards/certificates/gifts used to date: $73.76
    • Total student discounts this week: $.79
    • Total student discounts to date: $220.91
    • Total tax savings RCSS this week: $0
    • Total tax savings RCSS to date: $13.60
    • Total spent this week: $26.25
    • Total spent so far this month: $110.65
    • Total left to spend for the month: $138.95
    • Carry over: $0
    • Total in carry over jar: $80.10
    • Total Spent To Date 2015: $2,900.90

    Walmart: Milk 3.97, bananas 1.39: Total 5.35 rounded down 1 cent

    RCSS: Special K 3.98, Cavendish fries 1.66, bananas 1.70 less 30%, reusable shopping bag .99, less student discount .79, plus tax .12: total 7.15

    Shoppers Drug Mart: Armstrong cheese 3 x 2.29, clearance bread 3 x 1.00, clearance tortillas 4 x. 1.00: Total 13.85 rounded down 1 cent.

    A very small week for us. No time to shop for the most part. Shoppers Drug was a whim, but I knew we could do it. I went in to the one location with my mother and the cheese in the flyer was on even cheaper in that location and product dates were great. Break and tortillas were being cleared out for a dollar a pack because their dates were within the week for tortillas and a couple of days for bread. Great for freezer since I don’t have time to make any right now. Rest of the groceries were what I needed for e menu plan and we needed cereal. The reusable bag was because I forgot mine that day (on foot leaving placement and didn’t have one in my purse), I can’t bring myself to buy a plastic bag. I knew that I had at least two bags that I need to throw out at home, so inevitably I was buying a new one anyway. So, it just happened to be this week.

    Last week was so expensive, this week we made up for most of it. We have less than $11 to go to make up for the rest and I know it is possible. And more than likely. It also means we may have come in under budget for the year if we continue on this path. Yes, we did change the budget three different times, but if anything it is less each week now than at the beginning of the year. We have come a long way and only have a few weeks left to go.

    This also gets me up to date with my posts. I may still be in the middle of exams, but I have been trying to track everything in my head and frankly, it’s a month’s worth so I needed to take the time to get caught up so I could be confident that we were still on the right path. It’s exciting! And, with last week’s shop, the pantry is looking healthy where the beginning of November I was very sad and frustrated. So, it’s all about timing. This will hopefully keep me more patient in the new year.

    • Hi Angela,
      We are in the home stretch for 2015! I am the same as you about buying bags so I stuff a lot in my vehicle however saying that it’s cheaper for us to buy bags for our garbage bins around the house rather than buying garbage bags. Figure that out. Great deal on the bread. I would have bought it and froze it too. I can always find reduced bread though at Zehrs which is great. I was guessing that your pantry must be well stocked now so you can relax and focus on your exams. Christmas is around the corner and you can take a breather for a bit. Well done. You get ballot #5. Mr.CBB

      • Angela Mainse says:

        Fortunately we are well stocked with quick go to items and it really has helped the last couple of weeks when we just couldn’t think. Thank goodness for pasta, soup, cracker and fresh veggies to go. I was also in a bit of a bind with the bag of groceries, I didn’t have the option of tucking things into the car like I would normally. I was just finishing up placement, walking to the grocery store and then hopping on the bus home. I had to carry it in something, so the new bag was in order this week. I made sure I packed my small foldable ones back into my purse for the next trip. It’s all good, I ended up throwing out two for the one new one. Some really just were in rough shape. And, ironically, the loaves of bread are gone, but thankfully we still have lots of tortillas. In this case though, I have time to make bread again!

  3. I am inspired! I thought I was doing well feeding my family of 4 on $575- $600 Canadian per month. This includes choosing organic whenever feasible. But seeing what you have managed makes me feel I can do better too. Do you ever post your menu’s? I would love to see them, they would make a wonderful template.
    Thanks!

    • Hi
      No, I’ve never posted our menus but we do post many recipes on the blog. You can also join me on my Facebook page nightly for my What’s For Dinner post where we talk about FOOD and what we are eating for dinner. Right now my wife is eating a high protein low carb diet to jump start losing some of the baby weight she gained before she heads back to sensible eating of all the food groups. Most times I eat what she eats but I like my potatoes, pasta, cous-cous and tonnes of vegetables. Our son doesn’t eat too much to be honest as he’s still very young. I may take you up on the menu plan for the new year GGC 2016 post. If you read my Ultimate Grocery Guide there are tonnes of articles I wrote where we talk about what we eat and you can see what we buy every week too.

  4. Christine Weadick says:

    Holy Crap!!! Those people spending $1200.00 a month on food and such are spending almost what we have coming in to live on!!!!! That blows my mind!!! To each their own but wow!! When I started here I spent the first month just keeping track but not posting to see where I was money wise for groceries. Once I knew what I spent generally without worrying about it I had a starting point to work down from. I’ve held the same amount for groceries two years now. Not really by choice as we are on a fixed income and it doesn’t change when prices do. I will have my work cut out for me holding that figure as time goes on and prices go up as they always do….

    • Hi Christine,
      I thought the same thing when I saw how much they spent on groceries but they clearly have the cash to do so or don’t mind spending that much. That’s their choice. The grocery game certainly has helped us and I know you’ve been here for a couple of years now and it’s done you well. Being held accountable every week is the only way for some of us to fight the food demons at the grocery store and that’s fine by me.

      • but most people don’t have the money to spend….they are not debt free. It is a juggling act they use with their creditors.
        lol…and the people who could afford to spend that..are frugal, and wouldn’t.

  5. We aren’t drinkers in our family, so including this into our grocery bill doesn’t change it. Would it be really considered groceries, for the households that do? I’d be more apt to consider that entertainment. Same as restaurants and coffee shops. In a month we may spend $50-$100 there, but I don’t include that in our food budget…instead, it is entertainment..
    With cleaning supplies and toiletries, I do include them into our budget. It may increase it $5 month? I get so much of it free, and I am very frugal when I consume it..
    Son-in-law now works at a place where they process lamb….every week we get at least a pound of meat. For 2 people, that goes a long way.

    • I agree that alcohol would fall under entertainment. I have my summer beer under my allowance and if we go out we have a category for entertainment in our budget. Yes, I agree that I would not include restaurants and coffee shops in our grocery budget. We strictly stick to the food and anything else we use in the kitchen, ex: Paper towel. That’s a great deal getting the lamb. I love lamb but my wife does not.

      • To be honest….I had to ease my way into eating lamb (the whole cuteness factor)
        I would mix the ground beef and ground lamb together, and then use in a recipe.
        Tonight is the second time I am making lamb ribs…free and all.
        Today we scored a free 4.73 kg turkey at Walmart…scanning code of practice 🙂

  6. Mary F Campbell says:

    DECEMBER – Week #1 of 4- Dec 7-13, 2015

    2015 GROCERY BUDGET / STOCKPILE BUDGET AND US RESERVE:

    •Total Grocery Budgeted For Year: $190.00 x 12 = $2,280.00 for 2 adults

    ===========================================================================================

    REMARKS FOR THE WEEK:

    Before we start our DECEMBER off though, I am going to make my “reserve” transfers for the month:

    Grocery:

    $ 190.00 for the month
    $ 37.24 Available from November
    ( $0.00) trf to borscht reserve-
    normally $12.50
    ($ 0.00) trf to re-stocking – normally $17.50
    ($100.00) trf to holiday reserve–normally $10.00
    ($ 0.00) trf to summer reserve–normally $10.00
    ($37.24) trf to US Reserve –normally $50.00

    Grocery Balance $90.00 for DECEMBER

    REMARKS FOR THE WEEK:

    This month is all about wiggle-wiggle, jiggle-jiggle to be able to have all of our holiday meals and stay on budget to close out our year. This year is more of a struggle than usual because we didn’t travel and therefore didn’t get our usual 5 weeks off from the standard grocery shopping. We use the “ travel” budget for our groceries when we are away on vacation.

    Hubby is planning a little day trip to the USA this month… for a small change of pace since we really haven’t done much except medical appointments since I got sick earlier in the year. I had hoped to join him but I have had a bit of a set-back with my wound healing so it’s another solo escape for him! lol 🙂

    At the moment, we have the following Y-T-D funds available to spend this month:

    Regular Groceries $40.70
    Holiday Groceries $8.92

    We do however have an additional $147.45 available for our upcoming shopping trip to the USA. If need be, we have over $70 in PC Points we could use…but I am trying to hang onto them.

    It’s gonna be close! Keep your fingers crossed for us!!!

    ===========================================================================================

    OUR “CANADIAN” SHOPPING THIS WEEK:

    Save On Foods – Maple Ridge –

    1 x 4L Skim Milk (3,100 Points Redeemed to cover $4.69)
    1 Pork Sirloin End Roast $1.99/lb $9.71
    2 Schneiders Olde Fashioned Ham Half (BOGO) $12.99
    1 large Cottage Cheese $3.99
    1 bunch bananas $1.90
    1 Bag of eight Hot House Peppers $3.99
    1 sugar snap peas $4.99
    1 WF WW Bread $2.29
    4 WF Tortilla Chips (2 for $4) – Christmas snacks $8.00

    • Christmas Budget OOP: $8.00
    • Grocery Budget OOP: $44.55
    • TOTAL Grocery Budget OOP: $52.55

    ** Earned 116 MORE Points on this shop **
    ** SAVED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $42.87 Loyalty Savings on this shop **

    —————————————————————–

    Thrifty Foods – Maple Ridge –

    2 pkgs chicken breasts – 5 packs (BOGO) $21.43
    1 95% Fat Free Spreadable Cream Cheese $3.00 – Holiday Item

    • Christmas Budget OOP: $21.43
    • Grocery Budget OOP: $3.00
    • TOTAL Grocery Budget OOP: $24.43

    ** Earned 1 Air Miles on this shop **
    ** USED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $22.42 Loyalty Savings on this shop **

    —————————————————————–

    Shopper’s – Maple Ridge –

    2 GRADE “A” LARGE WHITE EGGS 1 Dozen @ $2.49 ea = $4.98

    • Christmas Budget OOP: $0.00
    • Grocery Budget OOP: $4.98
    • TOTAL Grocery Budget OOP: $4.98

    ** Earned 40 Optimum Points on this shop **
    ** SAVED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $0.00 Loyalty Savings on this shop **

    —————————————————————–

    Extra Foods – Maple Ridge –

    1 10-pack of Multigrain Buns $3.49

    • Christmas Budget OOP: $0.00
    • Grocery Budget OOP: $3.49
    • TOTAL Grocery Budget OOP: $3.49

    ** Earned 0 PC.Plus Points on this shop **
    ** SAVED $0.00 in Rain Check/ Coupons **
    ** SAVED $0.00 Loyalty Savings on this shop **

    —————————————————————–
    Thrifty Foods – Maple Ridge –

    2 Bunches Broccoli (BOGO) $2.49/lb = $2.49
    2 50% Less Salt Baby Dill Garlic Pickles @ 2 for $7 = $7.00 – Xmas treat
    2 2lb Organic Mini Carrots $3.99 ea = $7.98 – Xmas vegetable tray
    3 lb Extra Lean Ground Turkey ($7+$7+$6.97) = $20.97 – Xmas meatballs

    • Christmas Budget OOP: $35.95
    • Grocery Budget OOP: $2.49
    • TOTAL Grocery Budget OOP: $38.44

    ** Earned 3 Air Miles on this shop **
    ** USED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $17.36 Loyalty Savings on this shop **

    ===========================================================================================

    OUR “US RESERVE” SHOPPING THIS WEEK:

    OUR NEXT USA SHOP WILL BE DECEMBER 16th.

    ===========================================================================================

    2015 Y-T-D GROCERY SAVINGS:

    •Total Loyalty Card Price Reductions This Year:

    Jan $3.58+ Feb $0.00 + Mar $14.54 + Apr $15.76 + May $0.00 + June $5.68 + July $0.00 + Aug $35.63 + Sept $138.97+Oct $65.17 +Nov $57.50 + Dec $82.65= $419.48

    •Total Coupons/Rain Checks Used This Year:

    Jan $0.00 + Feb $0.00 + Mar $0.00 + Apr $0.00 + May $0.00 + June $14.00 + July $0.00 + Aug $0.00 + Sept $88.75 +Oct $7.79 +Nov $10.13 + Dec $0.00= $120.67

    •Total Price Match Savings Used This Year:

    Jan $0.00 +Feb $0.00 + Mar $0.00 + Apr $0.00 + May $0.00 + June $0.00 + July $0.00 + Aug $0.00 + Sept $0.00 + Oct $0.00 +Nov $0.00 + Dec $0.00= $0.00

    •Total More Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 22 + Feb 45 + Mar 140 + Apr 12 + May 6 + June 12 + July 0 + Aug 160 + Sept 84+Oct 29 + Nov 5,197 + Dec 116= 5,823 Points

    •Total Air Miles Earned This Year:

    Jan 0 + Feb 0 + Mar 1 + Apr 1 + May 322 + June 0 + July 0 + Aug 4 + Sept 176 + Oct 72 + Nov 0+ Dec 4= 580 Air Miles

    •Total PC PLUS Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 1200 + Feb 900 + Mar 900 + Apr 1,500 + May 0 + June 1800 + July 0 + Aug 900 + Sept 2,200 + Oct 1,411 + Nov 3,400 + Dec 0 = 14,211 Points

    •Total Optimum Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 40 + Feb 40 + Mar 0 + Apr 0 + May 0 + June 20 + July 0 + Aug 0 + Sept 0 + Oct 0 + Nov 40 + Dec 40= 160 Points

    ===========================================================================================

    2015 Y-T-D GROCERY SPENDING:

    •Total OOP Year-To-Date:
    Jan $199.31+ Feb $180.69 + Mar $274.41 + Apr $105.59+ May $237.00 + June $171.34 + July $53.25 + Aug $319.00 + Sept $117.32 + Oct $373.03+ Nov -$5.82 + Dec ($37.24 trf to US funds +$100 trf to Holiday Reserve-$11.00 Trf back from Holiday Reserve +$52.55+$24.43+$4.98$+$3.49+$2.49+$35.95-$35.95 Trf from Holiday Reserve = $214.18) = $2,239.30

    •Total Year-To-Date Grocery Budget:
    Jan $190.00+Feb $190.00 + Mar $190.00 + Apr $190.00 + May $190.00 + June 190.00+July$190.00+Aug $190.00 + Sept 190.00 + Oct $190.00 + Nov $190.00 + Dec $190.00 = $2,280.00

    •Total Over/Under on Year-To-Date Grocery Budget: $40.70 AVAILABLE

    ===========================================================================================

    2015 CANADIAN UNUSED RESERVE:

    2014 Fwd $0.00+Jan $0.00+Feb $3.83+ Mar $32.09 + Apr $4.99 + May $4.69 + June $9.38 + July $4.69 + Aug $0.00 + Sept $9.38 +Oct $4.69 + Nov $4.69+ Dec $4.69= $83.12

    ===========================================================================================

    2015 RE-STOCKING RESERVE:

    2014 Fwd $325.00+Jan $22.50+Feb $22.50 + Mar $17.50 + Apr $18.44 + May $17.50 + June $6.56 + July $20.00 + Aug $20.00 + Sept ($17.50-$120 – $167.50= – $270.00) + Oct $17.50 + Nov $0.00+ Dec $0.00= $217.50

    ===========================================================================================

    2015 Y-T-D BORSCHT RESERVE:

    2014 Fwd $412.50+Jan $12.50 + Feb $12.50 + Mar $12.50 + Apr $0.00 + May $20.00 + June $30.00+July $0.00 + Aug $12.50 + Sept $12.50 + Oct $12.50 + Nov $0.00+ Dec $0.00 = $537.50

    ===========================================================================================

    2015 Y-T-D HOLIDAY SEASON RESERVE:

    2014 Fwd $110.00+Jan $10.00 +Feb $10.00+ Mar $10.00 + Apr $10.00 + May $25.00 + June $10.00 + July 15.00+ Aug 15.00 + Sept $10.00 +
    Oct -$63.70 + Nov -$205.43 + Dec ($100.00-$11.00 Trf to Groceries -$35.95 Trf to Groceries= $53.05)= $8.92

    ===========================================================================================

    2015 Y-T-D SUMMER RESERVE:

    2014 Fwd $90.00+Jan $10.00 + Feb $10.00 + Mar $15.00 + Apr $15.00 + May $35.00 + June $36.44 + July $13.56+Aug $21.31 + Sept ($9.85-$106.16 = -$96.31) + Oct $17.09 + Nov -$67.09 + Dec $0.00= $100.00

    ===========================================================================================

    • SUMMARY OF FUNDS Y-T-D:

    $ 2,280.00 Grocery Budget JAN-DEC
    $ 83.12 Redeemed Points to Purchase
    Groceries
    $ 366.08 DRAW FROM: Misc Reserves (Re-
    Stocking, Borscht, Xmas, Summer)
    ($ 0.02) Hiding Spot Cash – SPENT
    ($ 13.45) 2014 Costco Rebate Chq – SPENT
    ($ 147.45) Trf to US Grocery Reserve
    ($ 83.12) Set in a reserve to offset Redeemed Points
    ($ 2,444.46) Actual CASH SPENT

    $ 40.70 AVAILABLE FOR Y-T-D SPENDING

    • VALUE POINTS REDEEMED Y-T-D:

    $ 4.98 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – JAN
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – FEB
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – FEB
    $ 4.99 Whole Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – MAR
    $ 4.99 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – MAR
    $ 4.99 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – MAR
    $ 1.60 Sprouts- 1,000 MORE Pts – MAR
    $ 4.99 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – MAR
    $ 4.99 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – APR
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – MAY
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – JUNE
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – JUNE
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – JULY
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – SEPT
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – SEPT
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – OCT
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – OCT
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – DEC

    $ 83.12 Total $ Value of Points Redeemed

    So far $2,280.00 has been budgeted Y-T-D for 2015 and we have recorded these funds as “spent” and in fact they have been “saved”:

    $217.50 Freezer Re-Stocking Fund
    $537.50 Borscht Fund
    $ 8.92 Holiday Season Fund
    $100.00 Summer Season Fund

    OUR CURRENT TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES ARE $863.92. This means the $1,230.00 that we carried forward from 2013 & 2014 less the $366.08 that we drew out of our reserves for purchases in 2015 but the funds had already been recorded as spent.

    We have groceries that have been purchased using points redeemed, rather than the budgeted cash in the amount of $83.12. Available as an offset, we currently have $83.12 in our UNUSED CASH RESERVE. As at this moment, we need and additional $0.00 in the UNUSED CASH RESERVE. If our budget is truly sufficient, when we reach December 31st, the unused funds should still be equal to, if not greater than, the value of the points redeemed. It’ll be interesting to see if they actually are.

    Note: Another reserve of $147.45 IS AVAILABLE for our next US shop!

    Of the outstanding US Shopping Reserve $147.45:

    $113.07 is carried forward from 2014

    $289.74 is new 2015 Y-T-D savings

    Less $115.57 that we’ve transferred back to the grocery funds

    PLUS $64.88 transferred from our Christmas Reserve funds

    Less ($9.98+$5.00+$15.32+$34.58) = $64.88 Christmas spending in the US

    Less ($10.00+$71.86+$57.93) = $139.79 that we’ve actually spent in 2015

    = $147.45 US Reserve Available

    ===========================================================================================

    The valid rain checks I hold are as follows:

    Thrifty Foods –

    12 x 14 oz Compliments NO SALT Diced Tomatoes @ $1.00 ea – good until Dec 27/15

    6 x WW Bread @ $1.00 ea – good ‘til Dec 29/15

    SAVE ON FOODS

    1 Pomegranate Arils $5 ea –Extended to Dec 13

    ===========================================================================================

    • Hi Mary,
      DO you think you will be using your rain checks before they expire at the end of this year? They are some great deals. Your Christmas meals and snacks are going to be wonderful. You’re smart to have planned all of this in advance so you’re not running around the last minute like most of us. That would be us although we aren’t cooking at our house we’re going away. My fingers are crossed but like you said you have the PC points to use. We blasted through ours. You get ballot #1 in the final month of the GGC for 2015… wow! Mr.CBB

      • Mary F Campbell says:

        The pomegranate arils I let expire. I expect to use the bread rain check but I have to see where I am with canned tomatoes. I may let them expire as well. Time will tell after I check my shelves. 🙂

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