Grocery budget: Our kids are eating us out of house and home


How to Save on Groceries With Hungry Kids On Board


Hello, fans of Mr. CBB, John here from Frugal Rules today!

I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my thoughts here before, but I thought I’d come back for some more.

What comes to mind when you think of Mr. CBB? I know the easy answer is budgets, I mean it IS a part of his blog name after all!

You could also say that he is known for the recipes he cooks up that make you want to lick the computer screen because they look so good – come on…I know I am not the only one out there! ;-).

Well, what comes to mind when I think of Mr. CBB is his Grocery Game Challenge.

Mr. CBB certainly knows how to stretch his grocery budget and I applaud him for being so proactive about doing so and sharing his tips.

Well, having three growing little ones, means that we have come up with a few ways we save on groceries, which is vital when trying to stay on a budget.

Anyone who is a parent to children, especially boys, knows that they can eat a side of beef at most meals, thus making it a growing challenge to keep a tight lid on that grocery budget.

That said, I know it is possible to keep their tummies full AND keep the grocery spending at a minimum if you work at it.


Blow up your list


Virtually any post you read on saving money on groceries will tell you that you need to go with a list. I know, been there done that! Well, the crazy thing is that a list can and does work. The key is to tie it to an established meal plan and automate it as much as you can.

Not only will this save you time, but money as well. My lovely wife has a pre-printed sheet that she uses every month. It has listed all of the basics we buy on a regular basis. When we get the circulars, we compare the list with them to find what we want to match and go from there.

We take it to the next level by involving the kids when they do go so they can begin to learn the need to be purposeful with our grocery spending and not give into every boxed treat that gets marketed to them.


Bust out those envelopes


It has been said and I have experienced it on my own, but it hurts much more to part with your cash as opposed to swiping that credit card when buying something. How does this apply to feeding the kids?

Well, we have found that paying by cash forces us to truly buy what we need instead of filling the grocery cart with all sorts of non-essentials. I know that using the cash method is not for everyone and it was a challenge for us to get started with it, but it really can help you keep a better control over how much you spend on groceries.

We have seen that this forces us to buy items at the grocery store that’ll not only feed our growing kids but also think twice before buying something that may not be on that list we’re carrying.

Buying one or two things not on the list is one thing, but they add up quickly and can easily derail your wanting to keep the grocery budget in check.


Know when to go


What kid doesn’t like to go to the grocery store? I can remember wanting to go with my parents as a kid and that was largely so I could ask for things.

Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret – if you don’t take them, then the problem is solved! Ok, I know it may not be as easy as that, but it does help keep the grocery costs down if you’re able to do it.

We always try to keep at least two of the three little Frugal Rules’ at home so we can shop without distraction and not mysteriously end up with 20 items we didn’t select in the shopping cart.

On top of leaving a few of the kids home, we also have cut back significantly on our number of trips to the grocery store to the point that we now go once every two weeks.

How do we do that you ask?

It’s very simple actually – we plan. We know what we go through in that amount of time and buy towards that end. This helps us stretch our grocery budget further by teaching the kids about not wasting food and eating what we have purchased.

We even try to be strategic about how we eat our fruit. We buy a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and try to purchase as much that’s on sale as possible. When we bring home oranges, apples and peaches we eat the peaches first, refrigerate the apples and save the oranges for last.

When the kids want an orange, we remind them that we’re eating our way through the other produce first. It gives us all something to look forward to and teaches them the importance of delayed gratification and variety without being wasteful.

This has allowed us to shave $100 easily per month from the grocery bill without losing out on what we eat. I will say that if we do need a few items of produce, we will make a quick trip on the off week to pick up a few things, especially if it’s not summer when we are able to pull things from the garden.


Make green your kids’ favorite colour


Probably the biggest thing we’ve done with our kids over the past year or two to help fill their tummies and cut back on the grocery spending is to introduce more green into their lives.

We do that in two ways, by involving them in our gardening as they get excited about seeing the food grow and by buying more produce at the store. On the latter, we watch the circulars specifically to find items that are on sale.

We commonly find many fruits for under $1 per pound and load up on it. While we do allow them to have fruit snacks from time to time, the real fruit snacks are so much better for them and so much cheaper.

This has an added benefit that we’re teaching them to eat healthily while also being excited to eat food that’s real and not processed.

How many growing kids are you feeding at home? How are you keeping the grocery bill at bay while feeding them?


Contribution By:

John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a finance blog that regularly discusses investing, budgeting, and frugal living. John is a father, husband, and veteran of the financial services industry who’s passionate about helping people find freedom through frugality.




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The Saturday Weekend Review #19- Mothering Sunday Is Mother’s Day!

he Saturday Weekly Review

Mothering Sunday is what we call Mother’s Day in the UK, the equivalent of Mother’s Day In Canada and other places around the world. In the UK Mothering Sunday is always celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

In 2013 Mothering Sunday in the UK (Mother’s Day UK) was celebrated on March 10, 2013 where Mother’s Day in Canada and the USA is celebrated on the second Sunday in May which is May 12, 2013. I call my mother my mum where in Canada my wife says her mom. I try to stick to mom so I don’t confuse people but sometimes I forget but I’m sure you all get it. We only celebrate Mother’s Day during the Canadian celebration date and my mom is fine with that.

Some day soon she will get me in the flesh and blood as we hope to make a trip back to the UK very soon. We are hoping to plan something very special maybe visiting our friends in Spain, Germany and Italy. Yes. I will take lots of photos when we go and make sure we hook up with the best eats around. I’ve been to many places in this world but the wife has only been to a handful of countries so I want to plan something special for her so we can celebrate our time together.

My wife had never heard of Mothering Sunday but that is what we call it and it’s a celebration of our mother. My mother loves flowers so I would always get her a bouquet of mixed spring flowers and a card as a mother’s day gift. Flowers in the UK are a must for anyone with a garden, well at least in our house they were and still are at my parents.

I have a passion for gardening especially growing flowers of all descriptions because flowers to me symbolize so much in my life especially memories. My mothers knowledge of the the Latin flower names is brilliant in which she taught me. My wife tells me it’s  sexy hearing me name the flowers. I’m no pro by any means but I can spot flowers and tell you what they are but am always willing to learn. We also grow many vegetables from seed and continue to grow our organic garden a bit more each year.

I’m always getting creative finding ways to grow flowers and vegetables in a small space so I built wooden garden boxes and have the wooden barrel that I found and restored as well that I will put to good use. The compost heap is overflowing and it’s pretty much supplied all the nutritious soil that I will need this year.

I still have many bags of rotting leaves to dump in. The most important part about gardening is protecting your investment and educating yourself about how to care for your plants and even finding out the type of soil you have in your garden.

As you know I don’t often get to see my mom but I do speak to her on the phone quite regularly. Mother’s Day for me is just another day because I celebrate love and life with my mom every time I think of her, talk to her and see her. Now that I’m older and understand life a lot more than when I was a kid, especially about finances I can see how much love, effort and support my parents put in to give us kids the life they did.

We don’t have a large garden but I do get around to planting some flowers here and there as well as beautiful hanging baskets which I will have out later next month. Not all of our flowers are out yet but they are coming out in full force. In our garden today I have some Lavandula, Lilies, Tulips, White Geranium which bloomed all winter indoors, Gerbera Daisy and Hostas. I also have a sneak peek below at our figs and our incredible rhubarb that is growing so fast.

I’m going to need to start experimenting with Rhubarb more in the CBB kitchen this year so expect some new recipes to come your way. Tomorrow I will be sharing my Toasted Coconut Custard Tarts with Whipped Cream something I know my mother would enjoy with a hot cuppa tea! So to celebrate Mother’s Day I share some flowers from our garden into your home for all the Mother’s and Mom’s to be… Happy Mother’s Day 2013!

Mother’s Day 2013
Happy Mothers Day 2013 I love you

Mothering Sunday

Rhubarb 2013 wm

Lavandula 2013 wm

2013 Figs From My Garden

Hostas 2013 wm

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I also had a guest post this week at My Personal Finance Journey-Budget and The Beast, Can They Work Together?

Making A Difference

Making A Difference Frugal Rules 2

I’ve talked about how important it was to “Make a Difference” not only with my life but with this blog. I put out a call for other bloggers to email me a few paragraphs about why they are making a difference with their blog and to share what that difference was.

This week I’m pleased to bring to you John from Frugal Rules who I have had the pleasure of networking with for many months now. You can catch John nightly posting his dinner on my Facebook page- What’s For Dinner post and interacting with my fans. I agree with John when he says that comments from the fans shows that he’s making a difference. John has always taken the time to chat and throw ideas around with me and  he’s certainly a PF blogger with a great online presence and personality with lots to say…. so let me introduce to you… Frugal Rules!

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share the vision and passion fueling Frugal Rules. There are an abundance of personal finance blogs providing helpful information and opinions; what sets Frugal Rules apart is the holistic view of money I try to promote with every piece of content I write.

Where others focus on investing or couponing or even budgeting, Frugal Rules presents a broader view of what your money can do for you. I try to help others by sharing my own exodus from credit card debt and journey toward financial freedom so they can avoid making the same destructive financial mistakes I made.

I’ve discovered that most financial mistakes are made from ignorance so I try to help others by educating about a wide range of financial topics, all with the ultimate goal of showing others how to enjoy freedom from debt and develop a plan for the future that will keep them from having to work until they drop. I do my best to respond to every comment and question readers submit.

Their responses show me I’m making a difference. I care deeply about helping others, particularly my own children as well as future generations to manage their money wisely and make it work for them. While it’s a lot of work, creating, managing and publishing content for Frugal Rules is the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.

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Only a few carnivals took on CBB this week, thanks for sharing I’ll always remember!

web search terms

Google Search terms really help me to understand what people are looking for at Canadian Budget Binder! Any typos below are simply how the person who searched Google and typed it in search incorrectly, or me ;-) Another week of thousands of search terms but only a few good ones worth mentioning.

Top Pick: Italian Pooding…. self explanatory but I did get a good laugh out of it… make sure you stretch the word….like Pooooding…. for the full effect. 

  • How Many Weight Watchers Points Are In A spudnut- My guess… lots! (That’s a donut for all of you scratching your heads)
  • Cana dian Bu dget Bin der- Let’s just see if it will work if we leave spaces in between… pass me another cold one would ya!
  • Not enough money to run business this month- Sounds like someone has decisions to make
  • Ways to Save Water on Rainy Days- Besides using a rain barrel or a bucket if you really want to save a free shower is a free shower.. grab the soap and get at it.
  • How To Formulate A Sausage- Hmmmm … I’ll just leave that one alone

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How To Have The Wedding Of Your Dreams And Still Be Frugal

Wedding rings- Roger Kirby

Like most men, I did not have my wedding planned out from the day I turned five. Actually, I never thought I would marry. Then I met my wife. Suddenly, marriage seemed not only possible but desirable. We met in Florida, dated long distance and got married in San Diego. Figuring out what we could, and couldn’t live without helped us say “I do” to each other without saying “I will” to massive credit card debt.

Wedding Costs are Soaring in Canada and Beyond

Anyone engaged, planning a wedding, or recently married knows how expensive it can be to get married. The average cost of a wedding in Canada is $23,330, which is up from $20,129 two years ago. That’s less than what debt-saddled Americans spend  - $27,021, but not by much. Unless you factor in New York, where everything is outrageously expensive; a big wedding in the Big Apple will set you back $65,000! You could buy a home in West Virginia for that amount (which consequently has the lowest average wedding cost of any American state at $14,203).

What Costs so Much, Anyways?

The dress is a big part of it for Canadian brides, who spend more on average than their American counterparts – $1,798 compared to $1,100. In addition to the dress, dinner, drinks, the venue, ring, photographer/videographer/DJ, wedding planner, florist, party favors, gifts for the wedding party, rehearsal dinner, invitations, and postage all add up. If you’re getting hitched in an expensive city where the cost of living is higher than average, it’s easy to see how wedding budgets get bloated. I remember when my wife and I were planning our wedding, we couldn’t find a photographer for less than $2,000 and we were driving all over San Diego, looking for a good deal. We ended up saving $500 by hiring someone who spoke broken English but still knew how to point and shoot.

How to Find Room in Your Wedding Budget for Your Dreams

I’ve always been a bit of a planner (my wife would probably take issue with the “bit” part of that statement) so I had a wedding checklist in my back pocket, right behind the family ring I gave my wife when I proposed. Having my grandmother’s beautiful, antique wedding ring to give to my wife was a lifesaver on helping us stay within our wedding budget. We set a figure and committed to staying within it. By contrast, my step sister, who was also getting married at the time, did not have a budget for her wedding. She spared no expense and ended up spending more than $50,000. As a result, she and her husband weren’t able to take a honeymoon. By being frugal as we planned our wedding, my wife and I were able to visit Ireland for our honeymoon, which was a lifelong dream of hers.

Location ended up being the most difficult cost to keep under control for our wedding. We thought it would be cheap to get married on the beach. Boy were we wrong! It turns out lots of people want to recite their vows with sand between their toes, creating a high-priced market for beach weddings. Our options were either drive down to Mexico and deal with passport issues for our guests, or set up a sandbox in my in-laws back yard, so we opted for a more traditional setting. While we had to sacrifice on the venue, we learned that location was something we could live without. We saved a ton by getting married at our church and hosting the reception on site, in the attached meeting area. We weren’t able to serve alcohol, but that ended up being a blessing in disguise because liquor can be the single most expensive wedding expenditure after the ring and dress.

Be Frugal by Doing Things Yourself

In the 10+ years we’ve been married, we’ve seen plenty of couples keep costs down by serving simple appetizers or enlisting the aid of friends and family to bring desserts to serve at their receptions. They still have memorable and meaningful weddings and we still feel privileged to attend. Other ways to be frugal include making the wedding favors yourself (Hershey kisses and a little tulle go a long way), picking silk flowers at your local hobby store and making the bouquets and boutonnieres yourself, and selecting a simple, basic dress for your bridal party. We asked our bridal party to wear little black dresses so we wouldn’t have to bloat our wedding budget with the cost of custom bridesmaid dresses and shoes.

Keep the Right Perspective on Your Wedding Check-list

Put your love for and lifetime commitment to each other at the top of your wedding check-list. It will impact your wedding budget more than any other item on your list by helping you remember that this day is about the two of you and not impressing your guests. We started our new life together without a load of debt, and as any newly-wed will tell you, there’s enough stress learning how to share everything with someone else without adding creditors to the pile. A little frugality on your wedding day goes a long way in getting you to your 25th wedding anniversary!

If you’re married or planning a wedding, how did you keep your wedding costs down? What would you do differently if you could?

Guest Post Bio: John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a finance blog that regularly discusses investing, budgeting, and frugal living. John is a father, husband, and veteran of the financial services industry who’s passionate about helping people find freedom through frugality.

Photo Source: Wedding- Roger Kirby

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