GROCERY SHOPPING WITHOUT A BUDGET IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER
No matter what your eating habits are like it’s imperative to grocery shop with a food budget and balanced meal plan in mind.
If you want to develop smart grocery shopping habits start by practicing what the food shopping experts are doing to save money. It appears that after every holiday or before seasonal changes that consumers go wild to eat healthy food and begin healthy eating habits but at the cost of their grocery budget.
Then there are consumers who don’t care about healthy and buy anything and everything that they can’t afford because the products are regular price, over-priced or simply not nutritional based for a balanced diet.
Buying too much junk food is one of the leading factors of high-priced eating habits that must be contained before they get out of hand.
Costly good eating habits
Healthy nutrition doesn’t mean you have to spend beyond your means just to eat well. Good eating habits begin with food basics such as those outlined in the Canada Food Guide.
The problem is when people have a tight-budget and over-spend on pricey steaks, seafood or shopping in bulk at Costco when the monthly budget can’t handle the expenses.
Buying in bulk is great but if you don’t have the money to back up your high-end tastes you’ve just begun the cycle of spending more than you can afford on food.
Whether you have good eating habits or bad eating habits both of these extremes can cost you big bucks if you’re not a frugal shopper.
Compulsive shopping habits
Some people have a shopping obsession when it comes to food by either being super frugal or too high on the luxury end of the fork.
When we started tracking our grocery shops there were times the wife and I would pull over into an aisle and review what we had in our grocery cart. We were terrible at throwing things into the cart that weren’t on our shopping list. Even though years have passed since we still struggle with this spending addiction today.
Is it really a spending addiction? I believe so in part because it becomes increasingly difficult to pass by a sale that is hard to walk away from. We start to see numbers roll in our minds and how much the product can save us for future shops not considering how much we have to spend now.
Buying the Best Quality
Can you afford top-quality food products?
Sure you can IF you are fully stocked in the kitchen and if you don’t have any other use for the extra money you can save. Most likely extra cash in the food budget could be used to pay down other debts or stashed away for a rainy day.
Related: Where to stash cash around the house
Some people like to build up a fancy dinner fund so they can buy all the ingredients they need to eat a posh dinner at home instead of going out for dinner. The savings will be huge in the end.
I’ve heard people say they won’t waste their money on cheap cuts of meat so they will only buy the best. The problem is, they can’t afford to buy a $25 steak that will melt in their mouths as opposed to beef that might need to be slow-cooked which costs far less.
How many of you have a freezer full of food but have no idea what you’ve got? Most people are just like you because grocery shopping is such a repetitive task that we keep adding without tracking our inventory.
This is why my wife and I created the freezer inventory list for our household years ago. It helps us to keep organized so we know what we have on hand so we only buy what we need.
What’s nice about knowing what you have on hand is you can weigh your options when opting to buy higher-priced products. It makes preparing your shopping list with the weekly flyers far easier too. For example if you already have plenty of protein in the freezer for the month and want to splurge on a pricey steak for dinner.
What you need to ask yourself is:
Are there any other important food products that need to come first?
That means just because you can afford that expensive steak now because your freezer is full of meat you may be low on other pantry items that need to be stocked up on. Consider high-priced food items a luxury treat that you may be able to afford once in a while but not every time you grocery shop.
Learn from the pros
You don’t become a grocery shopping expert simply by grocery shopping and saving money. Becoming a grocery shopping expert takes time and an appreciation for dissecting the food industry bit by bit. What I’ve learned is you never stop learning no matter how expert you think you are at something.
Become your own shopping expert
With our investigative ways over the years I’m confident in giving you these 5 pointers that will help you slash your high-priced eating habits to keep your budget in check.
You may have read and re-read these types of tips before and push them aside as old news BUT if you’re still spending more than you should be then it’s a good idea to re-read so you keep motivated to save where you can.
The only winner or loser is you, not me.
It’s your choice what you do with your money.
You know if I didn’t mention this first I’d be a frugal fool.
This is by far the best financial tool in my expert opinion for all things related to personal money management.
Figure out what you can afford to spend according to your budget and that’s the number you get to work with.
Please, please, please create a grocery list and do your best to stick to it.
We struggle with this but we know that if we didn’t have our list all hell would break loose at the grocery store and it would be a battle between husband and wife.
Don’t get caught with your wallet wide open in the wrong aisles because you’ll pay the price.
If you’re a smart shopper and want to become even smarter than learn the art of negotiation or simply speak up when you see ways to save but need employee assistance.
Most grocery stores will mark down just about any product that is close to an expiry date. That means if you are in the meat department and spot expiry dates on products with-in days you absolutely can ask your butcher employee if he/she will reduce the price. Now you get to eat that expensive steak for a fraction of the cost.
Some shops offer 30-50% discounts on these near expired products that can easily be tossed in the freezer for later use.
If shopping at the market or farm is where you like to spend your money there are plenty of ways to barter or negotiate rather than paying full-price for organic produce or high-end meats, fish and poultry. Buying in bulk, excellent returning customer and word of mouth advocate may net you some sweet savings deals.
Be picky where you grocery shop but not too picky if your budget can’t afford it. Whether you are a grocery store snob or not you should shop where your budget takes you.
One of the best options if you are not interested in shopping at a particular store is to find one that is comparable and competitive-meaning they price-match. If the farmer’s markets are where you like to shop in the summer then balance your expenses with a grocery store that has reasonable prices.
It’s important to be realistic about what you can and cannot afford. It’s one thing to live on Mr. Noodle and another to buy outside of your budget. Set some grocery shopping goals, learn how to save money like the pros and grab your grocery cart and shop like one. You will never succeed financially if you over-step your budget boundaries.
What other tips would you give to someone whose eating habits are far more costly than what their budget can afford?
August Grocery Game Challenge
Join in the 2016 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 where you’ll also find a link for the updated 2016 GGC schedule. Please feel free to download, save and even print the schedule so it’s handy.
New monthly prize: $10 President’s Choice Gift Card for Canadian residents only BUT If you want to play from outside of Canada and have PayPal and you win I will pay you $10 Canadian. I use a random online generator to pick the winning ballot every month.
If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up each week below for you so you don’t have to go looking for past GGC posts for the month. Alternatively, just click on the “Grocery Game Challenge” tab on the blog side-bar to see past posts.
August Grocery Game Posts
- What every grocery store clerk wants customers to know (Last post for July)
- 30 Must-Have Student Pantry Items To Cook Homemade Foods GGC #1
- 5 Ways To Spend Less Time At the Grocery Store GGC #2
- 10 Food Staples To Buy When You’re Broke
Free Money Saving Tools 2016
I know I blast you every which way I can on this blog about my free money saving tools and that’s because I want you to take advantage of them being FREE. So many people pay for budgets and tools on the internet to help them save money and honestly you don’t need to. Even a paper and pen will do the trick.
Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!
This is the budget that brought us to debt freedom back in 2013 and now I’m offering to all of you for FREE. We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.
You can 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!
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.
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. So many free resources at your fingertips.
Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide 2016
The Ultimate Grocery Shopping guide is ongoing with new informative money-saving posts added every month.
Even if you don’t live in Canada there are some amazing budget saving tips that will help put you on the path to more savings at the supermarket.
Share this guide with your friends and tell them about Canadian Budget Binder especially if they are struggling with their grocery budget.
The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries so please enjoy the many money-saving posts in the The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
2016 Grocery Shop Results
Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2016: $2820
(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)
- Total Grocery Budget for the Month:$235.00-$40.93=$194.07
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $194.07
- Total Gift Cards used to date: $60
- Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
- Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
- PC Points Plus Earned to date: 294,000
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
- Shoppers Optimum: Just under 850,000 Optimum points (I will update this twice a year)
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Zweet to cash out : $18.25
- Checkout51 to cash out : $22.00
Our Grocery Shop This Week
- 3 x Lactancia whipping cream $2.49 500 ml
- 2 x 1L 10% Cream Lactancia $2.49
- 9 dozen free range eggs $5.49-50%
- 4L milk 2% $4.27
- Romaine lettuce $1.25
- Brussel sprouts $1.50
- Baby new potatoes 5lbs $2.88
- 1 x mozzarella cheese Black Diamond $4.44 each
- Sliced black olives $1.15
- 4 pears $1.89
- 2 apples $1.75
Total Out-of-pocket $56.28
- 6 x Nescafe Rich Blend instant coffee $2.94
- Seedless cucumber $1.50 200pts
- 2 x Harvest Weiners $9.99-50%
- 2 x Harvest Farm Sausage $7.99-50%
Total Out-of-Pocket $37.12
- Total to spend this month : $194.07 $235.00-$40.93 overage from July
- Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
- Stockpile budget used this month: $23.88
- Total coupons used this week: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $15.36
- Total in-store discounts this week:$42.69
- Total in-store discounts to date: $450.34
- Total spent this week: $93.40
- Total spent so far this month: $201.30
- Total over/Under spend this shop: over
- Total over/Under spend for the month: over -$5.23
- Total left to spend for the month: -$5.23
- Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $252.95 + Feb $249.46 + March $211.11 + April $248.11 + May $279.07 + June $231.96 + July $244.40 + Aug $201.30
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
We have tonnes of vegetables now since my father-in-law and mother-in-law loaded us up on several varieties of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, red onion, yellow onion, green peppers, purple peppers, long yellow peppers and carrots! I need to come up with some serious eggplant recipes. We have about 15 of them.
One week to go for August grocery game challenge and we’re over budget for the month by $5.23 which is fine. We’re happy with that since we are fully stocked. Next week will be a no-shop week for us. Next month we are kissing our overage good-bye! You’ll see. Those darn eggs… such a great deal though otherwise we would have bought 4-6 dozen at $2.99 each.
Coupons and Coupon Apps 2016
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?
Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards. I did this in the UK and loved it!!
Plus check out these other hidden areas online to get more coupons!!
- Healthy Essentials Printable Coupons (Johnson and Johnson)
- Clorox Coupons Sign up to print coupons in the Clorox family which include Greenworks, Glad etc.
- Kraft Canada Sign up and receive recipes and coupons by email
- MySavings.com Printable Smart Source Coupons
- Walmart Canada Printable Coupons
- Proctor and Gamble PandG Sign up for printable coupons
- Hidden Coupon Portals You Should know about – I found this over at Save a Loonie and you’ll want to sign up for notifications and check out the site so you get notified every time a hidden coupon is available from Save.ca, Brandsaver, Smart Source etc.
Grocery Game Challenge 2016 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. The rules have been updated for the 2016 challenge year.
- 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 altogether. 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?: 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 in order to plan accordingly our budget.
- Do you stockpile food? 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 longer as we found we weren’t eating it fast enough. Stockpiling is still great and just one way to help cut your budget to save money if you do find items that you can buy in bulk at a sale price.
- 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 with mobile coupon apps being the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site Save.ca that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile Save.ca app joining forces with the many other coupon apps available. If you find an app that I don’t talk about please let me know as they are always being added and I’d like to review them.
- 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 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.
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 back in 2012 and is one of the most popular hang out spots for people who want to save money on groceries in Canada.
If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 get ready to look at your grocery budget by learning…
- Where you are spending money
- How much money you are spending
- How much money you are saving every month
If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!
If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email. If I use your topic I will put your name in a draw for a prize at the end of the year.
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 2016!
Please Note: Some of the links in the body of the blog post are affiliate links which means I may get paid if you buy something from Amazon. The items I’ve chosen are products we use at home or similar to.
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