The Grocery Game Challenge #6 February 4-10, 2013~ What Foods Not To Eat, Organic and Gardening

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I was reading an article yesterday on Yahoo about 9 foods that we should never eat and wasn’t sure what to make of it. What I did realize though was how important growing organic food was and why we do it every summer. One of the items on the list was canned tomatoes which we use in the off-season for making pasta sauce. It states that it’s not that tomatoes that are the problem it’s the can. The can itself apparently has a harmful chemical called (BPA) Bisphenol A which is a chemical found in hard plastics and the coatings inside food and drink cans called epoxy resins. They behave in a way like estrogen and other hormones in the body. After reading more about the potential health effects of this chemical I’m shocked they are even allowed to be using it. The article goes on to say that it’s best to find tomatoes in a jar rather than a can. We typically buy our tomatoes in the can.

A few other foods in were deli meats which they say are crap, which for the most part may be true as they are full of sodium, hormones, antibiotics and nitrates. They say opt for a cooked turkey, tuna fish sandwiches or roast chicken instead which we could easily do and get plenty of meals out of it. Margarine and vegetables oils well those are other foods that we should already know are not good for us but that doesn’t stop everyone, someone has to be buying the stuff, we have. Salt is OK in moderation which is understandable but I rarely have ever thought to purchase a higher quality salt. I do have Fleur de Sel from France which was a gift, that sounds posh to me.

One product use that we did change is using sweetener in our coffee, tea and other foods. We noticed that we were craving sweets often and read up how sweetener is just not that great. You could opt to use something like stevia or revert back to granulated sugar which we did. No sense putting something that contains aspartame and potentially causes cancer and neurological disorders into our bodies if we don’t need to. Best of it is the article mentions a study that confirms artificial sweeteners cause weight gain and increased appetite. Bet that comes as a shock to those who use it NOT to gain weight. If you are a soy drinker they say drop the soy protein isolates and opt for coconut, almond milk and tempeh. We don’t use any type of soy products in our diet so this doesn’t apply to us but may for you.

Potatoes was another mention and they say to go organic if you can with potatoes. I had somewhat of an idea about what they were going on about and really it does make sense to me. Potatoes soak up all the nice chemicals in the ground because they are a root vegetable and heavily sprayed with fungicides and pesticides, no surprise there. I might actually try and grow some this year because our relatives do and you can easily taste the difference between organic and non-organic vegetables and fruits. If we had a bigger plot of land we would grow as much as we could. As soon as our garden is ready to eat, it’s like heaven in your mouth and you wonder why we buy what we do in the supermarket. I nearly fell over when they tried to charge me almost $4.00 for 4 tomatoes on the vine today which were NOT organic. The reason is organic is costly and not everyone can afford to spend $3.99 on 2 bulbs of organic garlic when they can get a 5 pk of non-organic garlic for $1.00 or less. It’s even more reason to dig up any part of your garden or plant a balcony garden as long as you get some sunlight to weigh in on all the organic nutrition in the  foods you can sow and grow and save money.

Sadly, they say our favourite movie snack in a bag is a big no, no. That’s right that microwave popcorn is coated on the inside and when you put it in the micro the coating melts onto your lovely popped corn. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it.  The bags liner apparently contains PFOA a proven toxicant and carcinogen in animals and may lead to infertility, liver and testicular cancer.  Are you heading to the pantry yet to start tossing out food? I know, very tempting but with anything in life that is processed or treated in any way we risk putting all of this into our bodies.

Sometimes we have to do what we have to do in order to put food on the table where it becomes more of a game of survival then anything else. It’s just not realistic for many to spend that kind of money in the budget especially with so many other bills and debts we have to pay. Unless of course your options are limited by your health and you have to make that choice. Maybe I’m jumping the gun but I would love to see what an all organic grocery shop looks like each week in terms of cost. Maybe we will score a grocery game challenge poster that does all organic shops. So, when fans ask me how much should my grocery budget be, the answer is simple, it’s up to you. No one can tell you what your budget should be but you. Problem is that anything that is good for us will cost us an arm, leg and other body parts if they can squeeze it out of us. Even if we can buy or grow a few organic foods and still stick to the budget that’s not so bad, I guess. I’m hoping to get more guest Bloggers that are professionals on the topic this summer to share some tips and tricks in the garden and talk more about organic foods for us.

There is so much we can and can’t eat in today’s world I don’t know if I’m sad or happy that they find all of this information out about products but know that an informed consumer is better than not knowing anything at all. One thing I do know is that the prices aren’t coming down fast on organic products, one trip to the organic section today and I struggled to put stuff in our shopping cart. What I want to know is how organic is organic when we don’t get to grow it ourselves?

You can read the full Yahoo article here.

How often do you buy organic and what do you normally purchase?

Coupons Found This Week

Grocery Game Challenge Coupons

Our Grocery Shop This Week

Our Grocery Shop This Week

Our Grocery Game Challenge Results 

Shoppers Drug Mart

  • 2 x 750g Yogurt Sale 2/$6.00- $2.00 each = $1.00 each
  • 2x Dozen Eggs Sale $1.99- $1.00 when You buy 2 coupon

Total Out of Pocket: $4.98

No Frills

  • 1x Olive Paste $3.99- pink sticker 50%
  • 4x Hunts Tomato Paste Sale $0.97 (large cans)
  • 2x Flax Bread Dempsters Sale $2.49-pink sticker 50%
  • 2x Fresh Mushrooms Sale $0.88

Total Out Of Pocket: $10.11

Food Basics

  • 2x Fresh Spinach Sale 2/$3.00
  • 2x Pita Sale $0.99 ea
  • 2x Bags of Dry Chick Peas Sale $2.49

Total Out Of Pocket: $9.96


  • 2x Wonder Bread Sale 2/$4.44- pink sticker 50%- $1.00 coupon

Total Out Of Pocket: $1.22

Total Grocery Amount Budgeted For the Year : $2819.38
  • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00 or $78.33 week with one no shop week per month or $58.75 for 4 weeks per month. (During the months with 5 weeks we just make it work)
  • Total Coupons Used this Week : $6.00
  • Total Discounts this Week: $7.72 (pink sticker)
  • Total Checkout 51 rebates this Week: $0 Don’t Use this service
  • Total Checkout 51 rebates this Month: $0 Don’t Use this service
  • Total Colleague Discounts (CD) this Week: $0 I wish I had a discount
  • Total Colleague Discounts (CD) this Month:$0 see above 
  • Total Gift Cards Given Used this Week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points Used: $0
  • Stockpile Budget: $20.00 Used: $0
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: $ N/A right now
  • Total Spent This Week:$ 26.27
  • Total Spent So Far for (Feb): $26.27+
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: $52.06 under
  • Total Over/Under spend for the month of  (Feb): $
  • Total Left to Spend for the Month: $208.73
  • Total Coupons Used This Month :$6.00+
  • Total to Carry Over Next Month : $ n/a We don’t carry over + only -
  • Total Spent To Date This Year: $206.95 (Jan)+

Weekly Overview: We didn’t need too much this week but found some great deals with pink stickers and the chick peas were a great deal as well. They will come in handy this summer when we make plenty of dips but also in loads of other recipes. Sadly, no organic products were purchased but we will keep an eye out for them on the reduced rack.

Congratulations to: FARM GIRL for WINNING the January Grocery Game Challenge!!!!  Please contact me with your address so I can mail out your prize!!

FAQ’s- Grocery Game Challenge RULES…..

  • 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 a few players from around 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. You can post your shops all month-long.

  • Does Your Grocery Budget Include Health and Beauty and Laundry?

Yes our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be effected 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.

Here are your latest Coupon Match-ups  of the week including Checkout 51 from 25 Newspaper Inserts around Canada compliments of Save Big Live Better.

It's Not About How Much Money You Make It's How You Spend It

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Sustainable Living on a Budget…A Lil’ Suburban Homestead Thing

Suburban Homestead, what is that?

Why the chickens? Why the garden? Why the bees? Why the survival preparations?

I would love to have what you have but we don’t want to deal with the hassle…..

We will come to your place when things really get bad because you guys are prepared….

We hear this a lot!

Hi I’m Karen Lynn and my husband “The Viking in my life” is Eric we are really the team behind Lil’ Suburban Homestead our kids do help out when asked to be involved but you have to understand we aren’t off grid we are leading normal lives. Eric and I both work full-time, we still go to football games, we are in clubs, we go fishing, we love going to the mountains and behind all the scenes we raise bees, chickens, raise a nice supplemental portion of food in the garden, and we prep for the future.

I am a Techie I love HBO and my Droid Razr so some might say well that’s not very frugal and I say even frugal people can be entertainment addicts and actually I negotiated my cable bill down quite low. We do eat at home, we do make our own laundry detergent, we do a lot of our own homemade furniture projects, we do not frequent Starbucks, we do can our own food, we do freeze a lot of our own food, we do mend our clothing, we do frequent thrift shops. Everyone has their passions we are not going to all give up the same things.

Why it works for us?

Our kids know……my daughter recently had a friend who was having a baby shower and I gave her two chicks from my recent flock of chickens and she of course loved it because she wants to be a backyard chicken Momma like me!
Comments my kids often will make….

“Oh no everyone we will have to go back home Mom forgot her coupon!”
“Mom won’t go out to eat there, … it’s not frugal enough!”

One of my son’s friends told us he could never live with us because all we eat is eggs, tomatoes, and peppers in the summer….that’s not completely true but we do eat a lot of omelettes. For us there is joy in being self-sufficient or at least more self-sufficient than the average person. I actually have felt guilty this year because I have not been hanging my clothes on the line as often but I still hang them all over the house!

It All Started Because……

Well it really started way before 2009 we always loved to garden and we had kept a few flocks of chickens but when I got thyroid cancer in 2009 we thought something has to give. We are going to have to eat healthier and the food industry is not going to protect us so the more we can eat and buy local we figured the healthier we will be.

We do not eat a completely organic diet because we can’t afford it but we strive to be as healthy as we can. So once we made up our minds the very first thing we did was build a greenhouse, then we put in raised beds and then of course added more raised garden beds. We also decided to keep chickens, then later added bees, then added more chickens and we have a huge composting system all on 1/3 of an acre.

For us it’s the adventure of challenging ourselves, learning new to us skills(old-fashioned), engaging in new challenges however I have completely quit trying to knit forget about it. I just can’t figure it out. Some of our favorite projects we have done in the past couple of years…. My husband has made humane animal box traps from wood, he fashioned some trellises in our garden from our Bradford pear tree, he made our headboard for our bedroom from historic scrap lumber.

My favorite project was the rotating upcycle strawberry planter he made from an old water tank. One of the most exciting things about gardening is you never know when you are going to have a bumper crop or unfortunately a horrible crop. This year we had a bumper crop of tomatoes, last year we had a bumper crop of peppers and the year before we had a bumper crop of huge fat tomatillos. For those that are sitting on the fence about gardening and don’t want to invest much work the pay off is huge and over time like my husband and myself you will come to know what is worth investing seed wise in your area.

This past year we concentrated on lettuce, spinach, beets, Jerusalem artichokes, tomatoes, egg-plant, tomatillos, potatoes, and trombocino squash which incidentally seems to be immune to squash borers which is a huge problem for us.

Mistakes we have made along the way….

We put in underground rain water storage tanks without a way to aerate the water and the water after a particularly pollen rich spring fouled and dwarfed most of our seedlings. This past year in my over zealousness I ordered too many chickens and thought I could sell them and well lets just say I still have 16 new chicks, 9 of which I am still trying to find homes for.

The first chicken coop we had enabled our chickens to completely free range our property which was great for them however one night we forgot to lock the coop and lost one of our chickens to a raccoon. I believe these mistakes have taught us to be more attentive to details on our lil’ suburban homestead and there is no better teacher than first hand experience.

Our Successes!

This past year we harvested approximately 100lbs of honey from our bees and we have noticed increased yields in our vegetable garden production.
We have added another chicken coop, a chicken yurt really and this will house our quail next year which we plan to sell.

We eat our eggs our gals produce year round and now and then we even have enough to sell. By eating local honey and more produce I have become healthier and even lost 27lbs this past year. This year my husband has had a huge bounty of Habanero peppers which he plans to make a pepper spray to protect our other plants from aphids and other such garden pests. Lastly we had lots of eggs, produce and honey to share with our close friends and neighbours.

The Financial Part…
I have to be completely truthful my husband and I have not always been the most financially savvy. We are both impulsive people and I guess you have to laugh because it takes an impulsive person to order 25 chickens but the homestead lifestyle has been so good for us in so many ways.
  • When you become a gardener you start living by seasons so you see the ebb and flow of things and truthfully over time you become so much more patient. You begin talking differently for instance next year I want to replace that tree with a peach tree so let’s keep an eye out for a sale on peach trees.
  • You do not have as much time to shop lets face it taking care of the garden, chickens, and bees take time. By the time you get done you might not even feel like going shopping and slowly over time you become truly satisfied with the little wonders in your garden.
  • We used a budget to track all of our incoming and outgoing monies.  We establish a budget every year for our trips and the money we make from our honey and plant business goes straight back into growing our hobby business.
  • We used to have a grocery bill every month of about $1200 for the four of us every month. We finally got that down as low at one point to about $260.00 a month and that includes paper products, pet products, and cleaning products but NOT personal hygiene products.  Right now our average grocery budget for 4 adult sized people is about $600.00 a month.  It has gone up this past two years while we have concentrated on our hobby business. The truth is you have to zero in on where you are going to invest your time.
  • We do not use a lot of highly processed foods in our house…chicken nuggets or frozen pizza is a big treat.  The routine staples we stock are oatmeal and other grains like barley and quinoa. We grow our potatoes then purchase more as needed, fish we catch in the ocean, chicken breasts, non fat Greek yogurt, fruit, and lots of produce from our garden!
  •  We do purchase those out of date produce and meat sales at our local grocery store and they always taste great. We also buy clearance items at our grocery store and close-outs.  I hardly ever buy pre-made meals at the grocery store we take great efforts to avoid MSG, sodium, and the like.
  • We made sure when we purchased our house that we followed the guidelines the financial gurus recommended  - meaning if we had listened to the realtor and the loan officer we could have gotten a lot more house than our 1500 square foot rancher but I wanted to live a life style that is comfortable.
  • Financial Splurges- I would say our cable and cell phone bill- I’m a techie and an entertainment addict and my husband supports my passions! I am not one to buy a new outfit or purse every week. He likes his tools and his bees and I like my gadgets and my movies.
  •  Cooking from scratch has made the hugest change to our budget – such as if we get invited to a party I will make our brownies from scratch or bring my homemade salsa and some chips…have you seen the price of salsa lately in the grocery store?

A typical menu plan on any day in our house during the week would entail:

  • Breakfast- oatmeal with berries made with fat-free milk and a tsp. of our very own honey
  • Snack- mozzarella cheese stick and a peach
  • Lunch- Omelette and toast (If I’m at work) that would look like a leftover salad and a few pieces of meat on top
  • Snack- A handful of nuts and an apple
  • Dinner- 4 oz. chicken breast, 1 cup of peas, a baked potato
  • Dessert- Homemade Fruit Ice Pops made with fruit on clearance!
Accept your non-negotiables and then say “Where can I trim the fat?”….I am currently shopping around for lower prices on my weekly trash service.  I never stop searching for ways to save money!

Thank you so much for letting us share our journey with you we hope most of all to inspire you a yearning for connecting with other like-minded folks and you know my motto “If you have a home you’re a homesteader!”….stop on it at our lil’ suburban homestead anytime you are always welcome.

Guest Post By: Karen at Lil Suburban Homestead

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How Much Should My Grocery Budget Be?

Last week Mr.CBB asked me, “What do you think is a reasonable weekly grocery budget for 1 person in Canada?” The question got me thinking: You can’t define a single weekly grocery budget that will work for everyone because there are too many variables.

Determining Your Grocery Budget

First and foremost, a budget is determined by income. Some people can afford to spend more on food than others. A Budget is also affected by food prices, which can vary depending upon your location. For example, because the weather is inhospitable to farming and the location remote, food will always cost more in the Yukon than it will in Ontario.

Through need or preference, some people will have special dietary needs. If you need to buy special ingredients due to an allergy or illness, or if you choose to eat only organic foods, you can expect to pay a premium for shopping to accommodate those requirements.

How Much Effort Are You Willing To Put In?

Grocery budgets are also affected by how much time and effort a person is willing to invest in food preparation and meal planning. When I’m not earning a pay-check we spend less money on food out of necessity. We achieve that goal because I spend a lot of time preserving, cooking from scratch, and foraging for wild food.

When I am earning a pay-check we tend to spend more on food, both because we can and because I have less time to invest in the labour intensive processes of canning, baking, and cooking.

How Many People Are You Feeding?

The number of people you are cooking for will also significantly affect the amount of your grocery budget. The usual rule of thumb is that the cost per portion for a dish is inversely proportional to the number of servings being prepared.

Regardless of whether you’re cooking a small quantity or a huge batch, you still have to buy all the ingredients required to make a recipe. It’s usually not possible to buy a teaspoon of cinnamon or four tablespoons of butter, so you end up buying a whole container of cinnamon and a whole pound of butter even though it’s more than you actually require for that particular dish.

If you’re preparing a larger batch, you’ll use a larger percentage of those purchased ingredients, but you’ll still have paid the same price to buy them.

How Much Are You Willing To Spend?

There’s also the issue of comfort level. Some people are comfortable with spending a larger amount on groceries than others. I have a friend who regularly spends around $1000.00/month to feed her family of four and she’s fine with that. Another friend with a comparable income is uncomfortable when her grocery budget exceeds $400.00/month.

Although I’m inclined to favour the lesser expenditure, it’s not my place to judge either budget.  Both of my friends have defined what works for them.

How To Estimate Your Grocery Budget

So…With all of those variables how do you estimate how much money you should spend in the grocery budget each week?

  • First you look at what you can afford and you shop within that limit.
  • Next you look at what your shopping has provided you.
  • Lastly, are you getting enough to eat?  Are you eating a healthful diet?
Have I Budgeted Too Much For Food?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you’ve probably budgeted enough money for food. Now, look at what goes into your garbage can and recycling bin.  Is there a lot of waste in your kitchen? Is your food spoiling before you use it up? Do you find yourself discarding a lot of packaging?

If so, chances are you’re spending too much on food.

So…How, then, do you decide on what is an appropriate amount to budget?

Well, you set a benchmark, try it on for size, and then adjust it after you’ve worked with it for a couple of months.

In most of Canada, a single adult with normal dietary requirements can eat well for about $50.00/week. (This amount is for food only, not household items or personal items.) If you are buying for one person and can afford to spend that much on food, that amount would be a good place to start.

If you’re buying for more than one person, try starting with a monthly grocery budget that is roughly 10% of your month’s take-home pay.

If, over time, you find that you can eat well without spending the full amount you’ve allotted, cut back your grocery budget and put your savings toward something else.

Have I Budgeted Too Little For Food?

If you find that you are stretching to make it to the end of the month while staying within your grocery budget, look first to what you’re buying and how you’re using it. Are there ways you can use your food dollars more efficiently? Address these challenges first.

  • Are youshopping” your fridge and pantry first when planning your meals?
  • Or are you heading straight to the grocery store?

If you can’t make your grocery budget work by adjusting your habits, then adjust your budget upward – a little at a time – until you find the number that works for you. Just remember: The more efficiently you manage your grocery budget, the more money you’ll have to direct towards the other goals in your life.

Contribution Post By:  Aunt B’s family jokes that she started writing because she just doesn’t know when to be quiet!  In truth, her blogs grew out of a long illness and helped her to keep in touch with the world around her.  She’s interested in everything, and shares her interests at Aunt B on a BudgetA Word from Aunt BB on Balance  and B-Attitude.

Editors Note:

If you want to start saving money with your grocery budget join us here weekly to post your grocery shop in The Grocery Game Challenge. You will learn all you need to know about grocery shopping and how to save using coupons, flyer sales, meal planning and more.

My family budget is $235.00 a month for 2 people and a $20 stockpile budget which includes health and beauty, cleaning supplies and toiletries. Follow our journey every Tuesday when I post our grocery shop, grocery budget numbers, coupons used, coupons found and much more in The Grocery Game Challenge.

Many Canadian Budget Binder Fans have lowered their grocery budget simply by posting their shops and being mindful of what is going into their shopping cart. No matter if you have a Grocery Budget for 1, Grocery Budget for 2, Grocery Budget for a family of 3, Grocery Budget for a family of 4 or more you need a budget in order to save money.

Read how one fan went from spending $1100 a month on Groceries to just $600 a month by reducing their budget and making changes to the way they think about spending money.

 A few of our most popular Grocery Game Challenge Posts:

You can see our grocery budget example for 2 people and also see examples of family grocery budgets from our fans who post their shops in the comment section of the post.

Also check out my Free Money Saving downloadable Tools Page where you can get all sort of lists that you can print such as a pantry list, freezer inventory list, furnace filter change chart, over-time tracking chart, Net Worth Calculator, Shopping List, Garage Sale Route List and so much more and it’s all FREE!!!

One last thing to help you with your grocery budget is knowing about The Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) educate yourself and learn how you can save money at the cash!!

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