The Grocery Game Challenge #13 March 25- 31,2013- How To Grocery Shop


How To Grocery Shop

This weeks Grocery Game Challenge is to help a reader who wants to learn how to grocery shop. I received an email a few days back from a student who is leaving for University next year and wanted to learn everything there is to know about grocery shopping on his own. Some of you might be laughing thinking well, what’s to learn, but some people have never stepped foot in a grocery store let alone know where to begin. Guys in their teens don’t always go to the grocery store with their mom and dad growing up as opposed to the girls who might enjoy it more.

I emailed him back to say I would put something together and see what other tips my fans could come up with for him. I’m certainly not the grocery shopping expert but I do know a few things that I’ve learned over the years shopping on my own since I was 19. This post is a bit longer than normal but I certainly hope it helps ease any stress for those that don’t know where to begin in a grocery store.

How To Grocery Shop

One of the first things I would suggest to someone who is learning how to grocery shop is to know how much your grocery budget is especially if you think you will be grocery shopping on a tight budget. If you don’t know how much you have to spend each week it’s very difficult to plan your shops. This is a great time if you are a student to put together a back to school budget so you get used to what you need to do and how much you can spend while away or living at home.  All of the lists I will show you below are available for FREE in my Money Saving Free Downloadable Tools Page.

Weekly Meal Plan

Weekly Meal Plan Sheet

Meal planning has become important in our house as it not only helps us plan our meals together but we limit what we purchase because already know how much food we need for the week and what we have to buy. We mark down on our weekly meal plan sheet what we want to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. On occasion we see a super amazing deal and for that we have a stockpile budget of $20 per month in reserve in case we need it. If we don’t use it the money goes back into our savings account.

Grocery Shopping List

Grocery Shopping List

After we plan what we will eat for the week we start building our grocery shopping list. This is where we fill in all the items we need to purchase to make the meals in our meal plan that we don’t already have in our pantry. We have a pantry inventory list that we update weekly so all we have to do is flip through our binder and see what we have available. We also have a freezer inventory list that we keep in our binder which we update for this grocery shopping step.

Grocery Price List

Grocery Price List

Next, I would sit down with all your local grocery flyers or you can log in online to just about any Canadian coupon site as they will have the flyers posted for the week along with coupon match-ups. We look at the products on our grocery shopping list to see if any of the products are on sale this week and where. Some people plan their meals around what is on sale for the week so that is another option for you. We make note of the price, the store and whether we will be price matching or not.

We total up an approximate price at the end of each stores column so we know roughly how much it will be. We want to make sure we aren’t spending more than we have available in our grocery budget. This is another great reason to know your prices so always keep your price radar on so you build this knowledge up in your memory. It’s a great way to learn how to start saving money on groceries.

You won’t always have the correct total because not everything you need to buy will be on sale and in a flyer so always leave some shopping room just in case an item has gone up in price or you have a tough time to find the brand you need and you have to settle for something pricier. The printable grocery price list allows you to type in the stores you regularly shop at so it’s a custom form just for you.

Before we leave home we make sure that we pull out the coupons we need and collect the flyers to price match so we are prepared to shop and put them with our shopping bags. There’s nothing worse than getting to the grocery store only to find out you left everything at home. I’m sure many people are nodding their heads because we have all done it and it’s pretty hard to grocery shop when you don’t have your list in front of you. I’m betting 9 times out of 10 when we guess what we need for food we spend far more than what is needed. Some people like to bring their entire coupon binder when they shop but we tend to buy more if we have the binder with us. Sometimes we leave our excess coupons in the vehicle but most times the coupons end up expiring if we don’t use them.

Printable grocery lists are great because once you have it printed you can put it in your coupon binder, budget binder, on your refrigerator or wherever it’s most convenient for you to plan your grocery shop. I find if I just grab a piece of paper and start scribbling a list on it that I tend to spend more rather than taking the time to plan. A list that is easy to read and organized may encourage the money conscious consumer not to overspend. Over time you will find what works for you because it’s different for everyone.

At The Grocery Store

When you are the grocery store, especially if it is your first time shopping alone it can be overwhelming. Typically all the food you will need is along the perimeter of the store, milk, dairy, produce, grains etc and that is the best route to take first in my opinion. Keep your eyes open at pricing on the top and bottom shelves and inside freezer/refrigerated bunkers where you may find reduced product for less. If you must go down the aisles I caution this is where most people break the budget. Typically the most expensive products will be at eye level as some manufacturers pay a premium price to have their products on that shelf.

How can I tell what products are down each aisle?

Most times if you just look up above each aisle you will see an aisle number and what products are generally down that aisle. Head down the aisle you need, get the product on your list and leave the aisle. If you start looking around and you are not good at overcoming temptation then you may get the urge to pop something into your grocery cart that you don’t need.

If you are not sure of the price of a product ask someone or some stores have price scanners on the wall which come in handy. All you do is simply scan the Universal Product Code (UPC) to see how much the product costs. If the shelf is empty ask a stock boy or girl to see if they have any more stock at the back. If not also ask at customer service on your way out for a rain check.  What is a rain check? A rain check means that the next time you shop if the product is in stock you will get the sale price on the item listed in the rain check. Typically a rain check lasts for up to 30 days but some 90 so it’s best to ask.

Pink Sticker reduced products

Reduced Racks

Most stores also have reduced racks where you will find damaged items or items near expiry that they are selling cheap. If you can walk away from that temptation as well if you don’t need something at least check it out. You will also find shops that use reduced stickers on products to alert you that it has a lowered price.

An example is in the Loblaws stores they use what most grocery shoppers call the “Pink Sticker” a colourful invention to grab consumers attention. Look at me, look at me, I’m reduced….. be warned it can be tempting so pick and choose what you need according to plan.  We know because we’ve got caught up in that many times and blew the budget. If you add something into your cart that is not on the list you must take something out to replace it. That is what we learned and what we do our best to stick to.

Finally, always read date codes on the products you purchase because you don’t want to pay full price for something that will expire in a couple of days or that is a damaged product. Don’t be afraid to haggle with the department supervisor to see if the will reduce the price for you.

Universal Product Code

Checking Out

Right from the start I’m going to say if you don’t know what the Scanning Code of Practice is in Canada you MUST read about it so you are an informed shopper.

When you are finished finding all the items on your list it’s time to check out at the cash register. Have your coupons, discount cards and flyers to price match organized and ready for the cashier. Some stores allow you to use your smart phone to price match so you don’t have to carry the flyers with you so that’s something you can ask at customer service. I know some people find this much more convenient. A tip I like to give is that an organized shopper always makes a cashier happy. We also ask the cashier if she would like our coupons as we go along per product or all at the end. We also let him/her know if we will be price matching.

There are many options these days from the self-scanner to the fast lane 1-8 or 1-16 items or  your everyday checkout lane. If you do choose to go to the fast lane make note of how many items they ask you to have because it’s only fair to stick to the reason behind why it is called the fast lane. Besides you might upset other shoppers who are following the rules.

If you choose the modern self scanning stations there is always a cashier who moderates the stations who can help you out if you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that is why they are there. Take your products one by one out of your shopping cart and flip them to the Universal Product Code (UPC) , follow the directions on the touch screen, scan your item by scanning the UPC code, then sit the item in the holding dock until you are finished scanning all your items. It’s a pretty easy step by step process that any new shopper can figure out on their own.

If you choose to go through a regular check-out do the same as above, be organized and have everything ready for the cashier. Always check the bottom of your cart in order not to miss any products. The last thing you need is to be pulled aside because they think you are shoplifting. Lastly, save all your receipts so you can go home and input the expense in your budget sheet and post your weekly shop right here in the Grocery Game to help motivate you to stick to your grocery budget!~ See rules for the grocery game below!

So, grocery shopping is pretty easy and the more you do it the easier it gets. I’m sure I’m missing something in this post so lets see what else the fans come up with and I’ll update the post with any new information that is important.

What other tips could you add to this list for the first time grocery shoppers

The Grocery Game Challenge

This is the final Grocery Game Challenge week for March 2013~~ Post your Shop and you might be our next Grocery Game Winner!

For Inspiration read about Canadian Budget Binder fan Donna R who shares her secrets for lowering her family’s grocery budget from a whopping $1100 a month to $600 give it a read now.

Our Grocery Game Challenge Results 
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 : $0 
  • Total Discounts this Week: $0
  • 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 
  • Total Colleague Discounts (CD) this Month:$0 
  • Total Gift Cards Given Used this Week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points Used: $0
  • Stockpile Budget: $20.00 Used: $20.00 (done for the month of March)
  • Total Spent This Week:$0
  • Total Spent So Far for (March): $169.62
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: n/a
  • Total Over/Under spend for the month of  (March): Under $65.38
  • Total Left to Spend for the Month: $65.38
  • Total Coupons Used This Month :$17.23+$7.50+$0= $24.73
  • Total to Carry Over Next Month : $ n/a We don’t carry over 
  • Total Spent To Date This Year: $206.95 (Jan)+ $160.77 (Feb) + (March)$169.62= $537.34
  • Rendezvous Account: $65.38 (this will be used for a date night or a summer holiday)

Weekly Overview: This was a no spend week for us so we opted to not shop even though we wanted to. It’s hard to break that weekly habit but we keep working on it. We have more than enough food to get us through this week. Mary inspired this no-shop week as she decided not to do her massive Air Miles shop which you can read about in her comment in last weeks grocery game post. Sometimes it can be tough but we have to stick together. The rendezvous account started this shop so I put the remainder of the money from the month of March into that category and will tally it along each month until we use it.

Canadian Coupons Found This Week

No coupons found this week as we did not go to the grocery stores.

How was your grocery shop this week?

FAQ’s- Grocery Game Challenge RULES…..

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Where can I find Canadian CouponsHere are your latest Coupon Match-ups  of the week including Checkout 51 from 25 Newspaper Inserts around Canada compliments of Save Big Live Better that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge.
  5. Where can I find updated Coupon Policies? You can find all the updated Canadian Coupon Policies on hand at Mrs. January

Quote-Budget and Money

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  1. Hey Mr CBB, here is my shop for last week that I didn’t put

    1.25L alcoholic drink $9.33
    4.19lb tomato $2.35
    1.08lb onion $0.3
    1 avocado $0.56
    9 garlic heads $1.68
    1.81lb celery $0.81
    Other stuff that I can’t find receipt for (mainly snacks and food for guests) $30.11
    8lb lean meat beef and pork $25.33
    fried chicken 2 breasts 1 leg $3.73

    total $48.87

    Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $171.29 or $34.25 times 5 weeks
    Total Coupons Used this Week : none
    Total Spent This Week:$ 48.87
    Total Spent So Far for (March): $171.03
    Total Over/Under spend this shop: $14.62 over
    Total Over/Under spend for the month of (March): $0.26 under
    Total Left to Spend for the Month: $0.26
    Total Spent To Date This Year: $401.09

    Week overview:
    It was a big shop since we had guests and they also brought lots of food (and booze) which means I can start April with a no shop week. There was a lot of wasted food which I am not happy about but couldn’t control since all the guests were cooking at different time and leaving half of what they prepared uneaten, so not it is back to budget and zero food waste!
    I can’t believe I was still 26p within budget feeding 6 people for a week and $1.09 over budget so far (January $100, Feb $100 March $200). And there are still 30 beers left 🙂

    1. Hey Pauline,
      I bet you were happy that you bought your alcohol haha.. great price on the garlic, we go through so much here. How about you? Do you make garlic fried rice with ginger, lime and sesame oil… it’s so good mate… we make it often. Your veg are pretty low, I’m jealous. Look at your budget for March you only spent $171.03 under budget yes but a hair but awesome.. wow. DO you eat out at all? That’s too bad about the wasted food, someone is starving somewhere for that food. I’m stoked about your budget and feeding all those people.. pat on the shoulder to you!!! Ya, you might need those beers now to wind down haha

      1. We put garlic almost everywhere, on the morning eggs, lunch meat, dinner bread… I will have to look for sesame oil, not sure there is some here although I just bought a ton of sesame seeds for $0.25 they must make some oil. We eat fried chicken once a week at a small joint when we go to the supermarket and come back too tired to make lunch. Or if I go alone I take away and bring back to BF. Today I am angry at him and went shopping alone so he gets no fried chicken. Other that this we rarely eat out, last summer we traveled Europe for 6 months and ate out every day, so now we enjoy homemade meals so much.

        1. I already like your way of thinking.. the sesame seeds must make oil hahah… gonna bash them up are ya!! I’m making olive flat bread today and yes we use tonnes of garlic.. I like to saute garlic, sesame seeds and green beans with a bit of seasoning. Eating out gets bla after a while and it’s nice just to cook in your own kitchen. No chicken for you…. tell him that lol.. Do those in Guatemala eat many salads? Is that a staple in the diet? I know you mentioned beans etc.. but what about the veg?

  2. Our weekly budget is $100 and then making our monthly budget of $400.
    Like I said last week I knew that we would be over this month and eventhough we had talked about it and agreed to go over. We were able to stock up on a few things. I haven’t figured out a stockpile or donation budget yet and gonna keep using our reg weekly money for now. I also did pick up some groceries for a friend out of our pockets and will be paid back in girl guides cookies 🙂
    $3.47 taco kit
    $4.99-pink sticker mini caramel coffee cakes
    $1.84 asparagas
    $2.88 2lbs grapes
    $10.68 total oop
    $2.50 pink sticker
    $1.47 2lb onions
    $2 mini watermelon
    .47 3pk galric
    $2 uk cadbury fingers
    $2 caramel kitkat
    .88×4-.88C aero easter choc
    $1.68×2 croutons
    .77×2 gravies
    $1.52-fpc wub 2gravies slow cookers seasoning
    $15.21 total oop
    $2.40 total coupons
    .99×6 bacon clearance
    $9.78 chicken breasts clearance 3meals
    $8.84 chicken breasts clearance 3meals
    $2.30 2L orange juice
    $1.32 pepperoni
    $1×19 mitchells smokies clearance
    $2.99 hot cross buns (apparently my hubby fav!! I never knew 🙁 )
    $2.99×2-$3C ranch dressing
    $2.88 4 – 1L pop
    $56.15 total oop
    $3 total coupons

    $82.04 total weekly oop
    $7.90 total weekly coupons

    $456.06 total monthly oop
    $73.56 total monthly coupons

    Really hoping for a great april!!!
    There is a great sale coming up next week and I will be taking advantage of that to do some donations since some charities in the city are in need of them! Also our local london drugs has a great sale on a few things so I will be stacking and stocking up 🙂
    Tomorrow is 10% tuesday and I will be skipping it this month, since there isn’t that much on sale and we don’t need enough to meet the $50 min purchase.
    I did recieve the biggest raock of coupon inserts so I have been clipping like crazy and even broke a pair of scissors, lol!!! I am happy to be able to pass on this raock and donations will be on the rise because of it.
    Happy to finally be in a good finacial place after over five years of hardships. Giving to those whom are having a hard time will hopefully give them some hope that things will get better and that someone else cares for them.

    1. Hey Juanita,
      That’s great that you will be donating food to charities in your city. I wish we had a 10% off Tuesday where I live lol you are so lucky, what a great savings. We did as well from a friend of brandsaver so we have been clipping the ones we need too. I’m happy to hear you are in a better place financially after five years. That must make you feel so good. I”m so proud of you but you know it takes determination to get ahead and you will get even further by putting in all this extra miles you do. That is right, when you show others that someone does care about them that will not only put a smile on their face but motivate them to pay it forward. It doesn’t always have to be a donation.. it can simply be a hug or an ear. You get ballot 37.. keep on saving my dear!!! Happy Easter. Mr>CBB

  3. Here is mine for the week:

    Eggs – $2.89
    Water bottle refill – $2.99
    Butter – $2.50 Sale
    Yellow Bell Pepper – $1.29 sale
    Pita Bread – $2.50 sale
    Coupon – $10 off purchase of $10 or more
    Total Out of Pocket: $2.15

    English Muffins – $1.49×2 (50% off stickers)
    Hamburger Buns – $1.64 (50% off sticker)
    Whole Grain Bread – $1.74×2 (50% off stickers)
    Whole Grain Bread – $2.99 – (50% off sticker)
    Kaiser Buns – $0.49 (had a 50% off sticker but wasn’t rung through)
    Lemon Strudel – $2.24 (50% off sticker)
    Salmon Fillet – $3.29 (50% off sticker)
    Total Out of Pocket: 16.87 (51% savings even with missed sticker)

    Pineapples – $2.47 x 2 (I only bought one but I got home and my receipt shows I was charged twice!)
    Caesar Salad kit – $2.97
    Romaine – $3.97
    Avocado – $0.88 x2 Sale
    Bananas – $2.00
    Broccoli – $2.47
    Mango – $0.77
    Tomatoes – $0.85 – Sale
    Frozen Raspberries – $3.97 Sale
    Frozen Mangos – $3.97 Sale
    Mozzarella – $8.43 Sale
    Asparagus – $1.87 Sale
    Deli Meat – $5.38
    Chicken Sausages – $2.97 (reduced)
    Sirloin Tip Steak – $4.14 (reduced)
    Pears – $1.90
    Cucumbers – $1.94 Sale
    Grapes – $1.80 Sale
    Frozen Orange Juice $1.27×2
    Cantaloupe – $2.00
    Ryvita Crackers – $2.48 Sale
    Total out of pocket: $65.39

    Weekly Grocery Game Challenge Results
    • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $370
    • Total Spent This Week: 65.39+2.15+16.87=84.41
    • Total Spent So Far for March: $355.20+84.41=$439.61
    • Total Left to Spend for the Month: -$69.61
    • Total Coupons Used This Month : $10.75
    • Total Spent To Date This Year: $135.95(Jan)+$234.25(Feb)+$355.20(March)=$809.91
    • Total Grocery Budget for This Year: $3000 (or $250 a month)

    Weekly Overview: Missed a few things at the register again this week :(. Wasn’t planning on shopping this week, was going to wait until April 1st but I figured since I had to go to the store to get salad stuff to bring to my parents for Easter dinner, I might as well grab the things I needed as well. I’m over this month – way over from $250 which is going to be my goal next month, but I am excited to start my first full monthly grocery challenge!

    1. Hi Kelley,
      This is your second shop for the grocery game this year!! Sometimes when we go to the shop when we weren’t going to in the first place it costs us more money than anticipated. We have to try and stay out the shops or get in and get out lol. It’s a new month starting this week coming so you can start fresh with the GGC. Focus, and keep on planning, keep a list do whatever it takes but realize it all takes time. You will get there. Another fan just said she has had to lower her grocery budget as she has been spending less since posting her shops and now she can use that money for something else!! I’m so happy. Keep at it Kelley, we are all here to support you. You get ballot 36 Mr.CBB

  4. Walmart #1
    Kristie cookies – sale 2x$1.67
    Blueberries – $2.97
    Uncle Ben’s rice – sale $1..00

    •Total Coupons Used: $0
    •Total Out Of Pocket: $7.31

    Carton 18 eggs – sale $2.97
    Stovetop stuffing – sale $.97
    Can Dole pineapple rings – sale 2x$.99
    Pop – sale 2x$2.97

    •Total Coupons Used: $0
    •Total Out Of Pocket: $12.63


    Alcan foil – sale $1.99
    Broccoli – sale $.77
    Half Hams – sale 3x$3.00
    Latancia cream cheese – sale $1.44
    Dole fruit cups – sale $1.99
    Blueberries – sale $1.97
    Clubhouse gravy – sale 2x$.89
    Tenderflake pastry – sale 2x$1.99 – $1.50c (plus will get $1 from Checkout 51)
    Nutrigrain cereal bars – sale $1.99 – FPC (plus will get $1 from Checkout 51 – overage!)
    Minigo yogurt – $2.69
    French’s spicy mustard – sale $1.99 – $.50c
    Alymer’s Accents – sale 2x$.97 – $1c
    Twix chocolate bar – sale $.67 – FPC

    •Total Coupons Used: $5.66
    •Total Out Of Pocket: $26.93

    BlackDiamond cheese – sale $5.99 – $.75c
    Breton crackers – sale $1.98
    Baguette crackers – sale $.198
    GayLea Butter – sale $2.88
    NN Sour Cream – $1.77
    Nielson 2L milk – sale $3.28 (will get $2 back from Checkout 51)
    Turkey Keilbasa – sale $3.00
    Havarti cheese – sale $4.48 – $.75
    Country Harvest bread – sale $1.58
    Green Beans – sale $.76
    Brussels sprouts – sale $1.06
    Cauliflower – $2.50
    Cilantro – $1.29
    Red onion – $1.23
    Red pepper – $1.19
    Dole endless salad mix – $3.99 – $1c

    •Total Coupons Used: $2.50
    •Total Out Of Pocket: $38.46

    Walmart #2
    Tostitos – 3 for $8.00
    English cucumber – sale $.88
    Lemon – $.37
    Lime – $.37
    Mini carrots – $1.47
    Avocados – 2x$.77
    Kraft salad dressing – sale $1.99
    Grape tomatoes – 2x$1.97
    Pediasure – sale $8.97 – $3c

    •Total Coupons Used: $3.00
    •Total Out Of Pocket: $27.43

    •Total Grocery Amount Budgeted For the Year: $4200 ($80.77 per week)
    •Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $350
    •Total Coupons Used this Week : $11.16
    •Total Gift Cards Given Used this Week: $0
    •Checkout 51 rebate cheque used this week: $0
    •Checkout 51 rebate cheque used this month: $24.50
    •Total Spent This Week:$112.76
    •Total Spent So Far for March: $289.62
    •Total Over/Under spend this shop: over $31.99
    •Total Over/Under spend for the month of March: under $60.38
    •Total Left to Spend for the Month: $60.38
    •Total Coupons Used This Month : $14.00 + $.75 +$11.16 = $25.91
    •Total to Carry Over Next Month : I don’t carry over
    •Total Spent To Date This Year: $847.91
    •Weekly Overview: So I had another good month. I had a bigger spend this week as I hosted some family for Easter dinner and bought some extra things I don’t normally buy on a regular basis. We will be having a nice meal with appetizers. I have been under every month so far this year making me think that I have set my budget too high. I have decided to lower it by $25 to $325 a month. The extra will go into savings for now, it may end up being allocated elsewhere next time I go over my budget. Thanks to the Grocery Game I am more conscious of what I am buying and am thinking more frugally by buying less convenience foods, using leftovers and just not wasting food like I used to. I have been also trying to meal plan which has helped stay under budget as well. Hope everyone had a nice Easter.

    1. Hi Joanna!
      Good for you looks like you had a great month. I am so happy to hear you are lowering your budget!!! Yay!!! I think that’s some of the best news I’ve heard in a while. You watch and see how you will stick to that budget and wonder why you had a higher budget in the first place! Keep up the great work with the shopping and the meal plan. We are still working on it as well. Cheers! Mr.CBB you get ballot 35

  5. I shop for 2 adults and a 2 year old toddler. Our budget is $90/week or $360 for this month and includes baby items, laundry, health/beauty, etc.


    Ritz bites (PM FC) 6 x $.97
    Kraft PB (PM FB) 4 x $2.88 – 3 x $1.00 coupons
    MiO (PM Metro) 2 x $2.99 – 2 x $1.00 coupons
    Goldfish crackers $1.97 – $.50 coupon
    RC spring water (30) 3 x $2.44
    Bananas (PM FB) $.47
    Magazine $2.99

    Coupons $5.50
    CD $3.64
    OOP $27.98

    Total Grocery Amount Budgeted For the Year : $4,680 ($90/week)
    •Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $450 (5 weeks this month – but I am going to try to keep it under $360 like it’s a 4 week month…let’s see how I do!)
    •Total Coupons Used this Week : $5.50
    •Total Checkout 51 rebates this week: $0
    •Total Checkout 51 rebates this month: $18.00
    •Total Checkout 51 rebates this year:$48.50
    •Total Colleague Discount (CD) this week: $3.64
    •Total Colleague Discount (CD) this month:$30.16
    •Total Colleague Discount (CD) this year: $150.52
    •Total Gift Cards Given Used this Week: 0
    •Total Spent This Week: $27.98
    •Total Spent So Far for March: $279.05
    •Total Over/Under spend this shop: N/A
    •Total Over/Under spend for the month of March: Under $170.95 for a 5 week month or $80.95 under for a 4 week month.
    •Total Left to Spend for the Month: $0 as the month is over 🙂
    •Total Coupons Used This Month : $80.72
    •Total to Carry Over Next Month : I do not carry over
    •Total Spent To Date This Year: $947.71
    •Weekly overview: I did it!! I came under budget for a 4 week month in a 5 week month! Woohoo! Lol I had to stock up on PB this week. What a deal! With coupons I paid $1.88 each for 3 of them. We eat lots of PB in this house. Water was a good deal too. The Ritz bites were the cheapest I’ve ever seen them! $.97 has to be unheard of! Lol I have a good stockpile of them for daycare now lol.

    1. Hi Jen!
      I thought I better get to moderating this as everyone wants to see your final shop for the month. Awesome Checkout51 rebates too wow. You haven’t even spent $1000 on groceries yet in 3 months.. good for you! Clearly you are a happy woman as you came under budget even though we had a 5 week month. We are all so proud of you Jen as you have come such a long way since grocery game day 1 ( I might fish out your first GGC post hahah)Let’s see if you can keep the trend going for APril…. We know you can do it! This is your year Jen!!! Happy Easter! You get ballot 33. Mr.CBB

  6. Finally got to do my shops. This has not been a good month!!! A few good sales but I Ned to get back on track. Maybe this week as I’m cooking a small turkey from the freezer. Love all those leftovers there!!!!

    Foodland, March 23
    4 tins pineapple @.99- 3.96
    1 pasta- 1.50
    1 coleslaw- 1.79
    1 bag carrots- 1.99
    2 w/w bread @ 2.49- 4.98
    2 bags frozen veggies @ 2.50- 5.00
    3 cases pop @2.97- 8.91
    1 doz eggs- 2.97
    2 raisin bread @2.99- 5.98
    1 rice- 3.99
    1 plastic wrap -3.99
    1 cider mix- 3.99
    1 green pepper -1.32
    2 4l milk @4.79- 9.58
    1 jug water -5.49
    1 pack smokes -9.69
    Total- $78.59

    March 27
    1 onions- 1.99
    1 beef liver -2.94
    1 ginger ale -2.97, 2.00 coupon
    1 orange pop-2.97
    1 bagels -2.99
    1 raisin bread -2.99
    1 hot cross buns -2.99
    1 yam -2.36
    1 pack cream cheese- 3.29
    1 bread crumbs -3.29
    1 cider mix -3.99
    2 4l milk @4.79- 9.58
    1 Franks hot sauce -4.99, 1.00 coupon
    1 jug water -5.49
    1 pack smokes -9.69
    Tax -2.55
    Total -$65.06

    March 28
    2 small packs mini eggs @1.29 -2.58
    1 lb margarine -1.79
    1 dog treats -1.99
    1 small pack raisins -2.29
    3 packs Easter candy@ 5.49- 16.47,3-1.00 coupons
    Tax -2.74
    Total -24.86, 3.00 coupons

    Total for month-$600.00
    Total coupons for week -6.00
    Spent this week -$168.51, over $18.51
    Total for month 176.24+166.23+259.14+168.51=$770.12
    Over for the month -$170.12
    Left for month-0.00
    Total coupons for month -6.00+13.75+25.03+6.00=$50.78
    Carry over to next month -66.15+170.12=236.27
    Total year to date -$818.08+598.07+770.12=2186.27

    Totally went over this month again….not as much as Jan but still nothing to write home about. I am determined to get a hold of this!!!!! I’m getting frustrated here but I will do this!!!!!! Maybe tomorrows turkey will help…. I had cleaned out the freezers to a good degree and did get some extras. There is some Easter candy in here and treats for Mitzi. The sales have been good lately so maybe I can work off the small stock pile help the grocery bill. Things like butter, chez whiz, raisin bread, and other things drove up the bill but having this stuff now might help next month. I did get some sugar this morning at Canadian Tireof all places….. 1.47 a bag was too good to walk away from, as was the coffee at Foodland for 5.97- 1.00 coupon. That coffee coupon expires tomorrow so I used the two I had. I will get this…….come Hell or high water…. I am trying……

    1. Hi Christine..
      The shop we’ve all been waiting for….. although I’m glad to hear a No frills is coming to your area so I hope that will help out with the budget a bit. We all get frustrated at times Christine but we all have to motivate each other like you all do me. The moment you give up is the moment you risk it even getting worse out of control so keep that in the back of your mind. What you are doing now is proactive and will certainly be much better than nothing at all. We know you are trying.. and I can’t wait to hear another success story to post on CBB!!!! Happy Easter Christine. You get ballot 32 Mr.CBB

  7. Total Human Grocery Budget for the Month: $250
    Total Pet Grocery Budget for the Month: $45
    Total Coupons Used this Week : $0
    Total Discounts this Week: $0
    Total Checkout 51 rebates this Week: N/A
    Total Checkout 51 rebates this Month: N/A
    Total Colleague Discounts (CD) this Week: N/A
    Total Colleague Discounts (CD) this Month: N/A
    Total Gift Cards Given Used this Week: N/A
    Total Rewards Points Used: N/A
    Stockpile Budget: N/A
    Total Human Over/Under spend this shop: $31.54 Over
    Total Pet Over/Under spend this shop: $9.09
    Total Spent This Week: $115.63
    Total Spent So Far for March: $394.64
    Total Over/Under spend for the month of  March: N/A
    Total Left to Spend for the Month: $99.64
    Total Coupons Used This Month : $9.44
    Total to Carry Over Next Month : $0
    Total Spent To Date This Year: $818.13
    Weekly Overview: Lucky I don’t have to do an entire Easter meal but do have to contribute a main dish and dessert/salad to the family dinner. I have made an attempt to make a meal plan for two weeks but that resulted in my budget going over. Hopefully the meals will result in leftovers for another night (fingers crossed). Until I gather more “staple” food, I’m sure my budget will be over but I’m taking small steps. Due to another issue that I’m dealing with, I have been eating more at home than I’ve done in the past (which isn’t bad) but homecooking isn’t my forte so alot of pantry staples aren’t in my pantry (or fridge). I’m going to have to remedy that in future weeks as my meal plans evolve…..

    Food Basics

    Peanut Butter – $2.88 X 2 = $5.76
    Ham – $3.00
    Hot Dog – #3.99
    Ham/Bologna – $5.00
    Milk – $3.97
    Apple Juice – $0.99
    Diana’ sauce – $1.99
    Shampoo/Conditioner – $5.00
    Maxi Pads – $3.99
    Sour Cream – $2.49
    Pears – $2.13 ($2.14/kg)
    Onion – $1.00 (2 lbs)
    Bananas – $.82 ($0.64/kg)
    2 Bags of Chicken Nuggets & 1 Bag of Meatballs – $20.00
    (Buy 2 and Get 1 Free)

    Tax – $0.85
    OOP – $60.98


    12 pack of Friskies – $7.36
    Cat Litter (18 kg) – $6.98 X2 = $13.96
    Mini-marshmallows (1 kg) – $4.69
    Frozen Green Peas – $2.29
    Frozen Corn – $2.29
    Manadarin Oranges – $0.85 X 2 = $1.70
    Tidbit Pineapple – $1.00 X 2 = $2.00
    Shredded Cheese – $4.97
    Flax Bread – $1.58 X 2 = $3.16
    Bread Crumbs – $1.99
    Hot Cross Buns – $2.50
    Apple – $2.88 ($2.82/kg)
    Carrot – $1.48 (3 lb)

    Tax – $3.38
    OOP – $54.65

    1. Hi Dee,
      It always takes time to meal plan, heck we are still learning every week from it. We are always trying to create new recipes and we do a pantry inventory so we know what we have and what we need to stock up on. Eventually you will have a nicely stocked pantry with all the basics that you need to cook. I have posted all of my recipes here at the blog and one every Sunday so check them out to see if there is anything you fancy. In time tracking your expenses like you do will get you well ahead of the game. Keep at it Dee! CHeers and Happy Easter You get ballot 31

  8. Week of March 25 to March 31, 2013


    •Total Grocery Budgeted For Year: $142.50 x 12 = $1,710.00 for 2 adults
    •Total Stockpile Budgeted For Year: $47.50 x 12 = $570.00 for 2 adults

    •Total CANADIAN Grocery Budget for the Month of March: $ 142.50
    •Total CANADIAN Stockpile Budget for the Month of March: $ 47.50

    •Total Grocery Budget for the Week:
    $ 142.50/4 = $35.62 with FOUR “No Shop” Weeks Per Year
    •Total Stockpile Budget for the Week:
    $ 47.50/4 = $11.87 with FOUR “No Shop” Weeks Per Year


    March Grocery Budget (CDN): $4.40
    March Stockpile Budget (CDN): $0.00
    Safeway Gift card: $20.00
    Cash Hiding Spot (CDN): $5.00

    US Grocery Reserve: $19.43 US
    US Cash Hiding Spot $65.00 US


    I had thought we’d be shopping in the US this Easter weekend BUT what was I thinking? I must have lost my mind! LOL The line-ups are 2-4 hours at the border! Fortunately I still have 1 loaf of Gluten Free bread from our last trip across the line… so I decided to postpone our US shop until next weekend.

    I did however have to send hubby out to get a can of tomato paste this week. I was sure I had one left in the pantry but nope…the cupboard was bare. 🙁 So, last of the big spenders had an $0.88 grocery shop this week!

    I finished up with $3.52 still available in my grocery budget so I just added the funds to our US reserve. I am not going to quibble over a few cents of foreign exchange – I did a straight transfer.

    Also, we obviously did not spend Easter in Bellevue as was originally planned and budgeted for, so I am going to move the $100 US from our “Vacation – Food” budget into our US Grocery Reserve for April.


    EXTRA FOODS – Shop #1

    1 can No Salt Added Tomato Paste $0.88

    •Total Loyalty Card Price Reductions: $0.00
    •Total Checkout51 Savings: $0.00
    •Total Coupons Used: $0.00
    •Total More Points Earned = 0 Points
    •Total OOP: $0.88

    •Total Grocery Budget OOP: $0.88
    •Total Stockpile Budget OOP: $0.00


    •Total USA Grocery Budget OOP: $0.00


    •Total CASH Spent: $0.88
    •Total HIDING SPOT CASH Spent: $0.00
    •Total GIFT CARDS Spent: $0.00
    •Total US Reserve Spent: $0.00
    •Total US HIDING SPOT CASH Spent: $0.00


    March Grocery Budget (CDN):
    $3.52 Available – $3.52 to US Reserve = $0.00
    March Stockpile Budget (CDN): $0.00
    Safeway Gift card: $20.00
    Cash Hiding Spot (CDN): $5.00

    US Grocery Reserve:
    $19.43 + $3.52 transfer + $100.00 Vacation Food = $122.95 US
    US Cash Hiding Spot $65.00 US


    •Total Loyalty Card Price Reductions in MARCH:
    ($1.50+$85.90+3.68+0.15+7.12) = $98.35
    •Total Checkout51 Savings in MARCH: $0.00
    •Total Coupons Used in MARCH: ($5.00+$6.79) = $11.79
    •Total More Points Earned in MARCH: (0+ 113+8+18+12) = 151 Points
    •Total Air Miles Earned in MARCH: (30+ 0) = 30 Miles


    •Total Loyalty Card Price Reductions This Year:
    (Jan $40.04) + (Feb $44.48) + (March $98.35) = $182.87
    •Total Checkout51 Savings This Year:
    (Jan – $0.00) + (Feb – $0.00)+(March $0.00)= $0.00
    •Total Coupons Used This Year:
    (Jan – $60.46) + (Feb – $0.00)+ (March $11.79) = $72.25
    •Total More Points Earned This Year:
    (Jan 265) + (Feb 248)+(March 151) = 664 Points
    •Total Air Miles Earned This Year:
    (Jan 57) + (Feb 10) + (March 30) = 97 Miles


    •Total Grocery OOP Spent So Far This Year:
    (Jan $217.50) + (Feb $198.39)+
    (March $69.38+3.52 transfer= $72.90) = $488.79
    •Total YTD Grocery Budget So Far:
    (Jan $190.00)+(Feb$190.00)+
    (March $142.50-33.71 trf to stockpile= $108.79) = $488.79
    •Total Over/Under on the YTD Grocery Budget: $0.00 FLAT

    •Total StockpileOOP Spent So Far This Year: $81.21
    •Total YTD Stockpile Budget:
    (Jan $0.00)+(Feb$0.00)+(March $47.50+33.71) = $81.21
    •Total Over/Under on the YTD Stockpile Budget: $0.00 FLAT

    1. Mary,
      BRB got to get a cuppa to read this 😉 all the beautiful detail!
      Don’t you just hate it when you run out of something that you thought you had in the pantry. Even though we do a pantry list sometimes we mess up and that happens to us too. Good to see you are using more coupons although Jan was your big hitter. You really did get some good Air Miles we’re rubbish at earning them. Honestly you are doing really well so far this year, I’m so impressed with your shopping. Do you buy US money when it’s cheap and keep it in a US bank account? Keep at it, this wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be from your FB post lol… you rock the grocery game!! Keep up the good work Mary! You get ballot #34.. slow month GGC Jan 58 Feb 44 Mar 30 🙁

      1. Actually Mr CBB, I do “dollar cost averaging” on the US funds and buy $50 US per month regardless of the rate and yes, I just add it to the US funds account until I need it and if I don’t need it, I invest it. I have been doing that for years. I used to do the same thing with the Euro and GBP until I had amassed what I thought was sufficient amount of cash in each currency for a decent holiday. It just sits in our safety deposit box waiting for the day we take a trip to Europe.

        There are some places that don’t accept our AMEX and then I do pay cash. Our MasterCard doesn’t have online access so I prefer to use the American Express card because I can monitor the transactions and exchange rates daily. If we are “over” budget, I want to know about it immediately so that I can reduce our future spending until we are back on track. I don’t want to learn this information after the vacation is over!! That to me is like overspending at Christmas and having buyer’s remorse in January. That would ruin vacationing for me!

        I don’t like having to call into the MasterCard and do transaction by transaction conversions and verifications with them, but I could, especially when we are traveling and I want to know what our running balance is plus I am dedicated to watching out for fraudulent activity.

        I also have US funds GICs available, if we should need more than just pin money in the US.

        I don’t usually pay the groceries in cash, I use our credit card and get the points. For the few cents on a dollar it costs me, the convenience is worth it to me. On approximately $100 worth of US groceries in a month, I usually pay about $3 to the credit card for the convenience. I don’t pay any other bank fees besides these…so it works for me. It saves me running to the bank all the time for US cash. Factor in the gas to get me to the bank and back home again and really, it doesn’t cost me a dime.

        As for the decreasing participation in the GGC, I would say it’s an indication the New Year glow has worn off & folks are falling back into their old habits much like all the New Year’s resolutions that are falling by the wayside at this point in the year.

        On the upside, more than half of us are still posting & more than half of us are still working at our budgets. It’s hard to suit up, show up and post that you MAJORLY went over budget. Ask me…I didn’t enjoy the fact that I have had to say a couple of times that I blew it in a big way. No one wants to admit they failed. Some would rather just quietly slip away.

        BUT, if they are still reading, even if they aren’t posting – that’s all you can really ask for. Maybe they’ll post again when whatever financial struggles they are currently having are over & they are able to get back on their budget. As long as they are quietly reading, I say yay! They are trying and they are doing the best they are able to do just for today. I know both you and I would cheer and welcome their return. This like anything in life is an exercise in, “You can lead the horse to water, but you can not make him drink” or at least you can’t make him drink on your schedule. The seed has been planted though and it will germinate at some point. 😀

        Chin up Mr CBB, there are many folks out there that you are helping. They just aren’t ready to step up and be counted yet. 🙂

  9. Have you tried the vitality bread yet?? lol I get the one in the brown bag that is sugar and fat free. I LOVE it! It’s decent calories for its size too!

      1. lol yes I forgot about your dog loving toast! My old, old dog used to bury toast if she got a hold of it!

  10. Week 12

    Penn Dutch
    4 Yellow Tail Snapper $17.37
    2 x Can Diced Tomatoes $3.38
    Tomato Sauce $1.29
    Tomato Paste $0.69
    Spaghetti $1.39
    Green Bell Pepper $0.33
    Ground Beef $5.73

    Total Out of Pocket $30.18

    Gallon Milk $3.75
    Coca Cola $1.00
    Cinnomon Jacks Cereal $4.19
    Apple Jacks Cereal $0.00
    Hawaiian Punch $2.34
    18ct Eggs $2.99
    Turkey Slices $3.34
    2 x Festival Dough Mix $4.78
    Thin Spaghetti $0.89
    Hazelnut Coffee Creamer $3.50
    Hazelnut Coffee Creamer $0.00
    8 O’Clock Coffee $6.60
    2 x Cooking Oil $4.21

    Total Out of Pocket $37.80

    Burger King
    2 Kids Meals $7.39
    Med Fries $2.09

    Total Out of Pocket $10.04

    Miami’s Best Latin American Food

    2 x Lunches $21.80

    3 x Sardines $3.87
    Bagels $2.49

    Total Out of Pocket $6.36

    Chicken Drumsticks $3.86
    Bush Vegetarian Beans $2.39
    Turkey Slices $2.99

    Total Out of Pocket $9.24

    Total Grocery Amount Budgeted For the Year: $3,500
    Total Grocery Budget for March: $254.98
    Total Coupons Used this Week:  $0.00
    Total Gift Cards Given Used this Week: $0.00
    Total Spent This Week: $115.42
    Total Spent for March: $339.91
    Total Underspend this shop: -$61.12
    Total Overspend for the month of March: -$84.93
    Total Left to Spend for the Month: -$84.93
    Total Coupons Used This Month: $0.00
    Total to Carry Over Next Month: -$84.93
    Total Spent To Date This Year: $ $1,035.08

    Monthy Overview: I didn’t use any coupons this month. I need to find time to locate coupons. I’m not sure what websites have them. I would rather print them than spend time cutting them out. I was over this month again and I blame it on lack of planning. I really have to focus on preparing meals ahead of time and completely STOP eating out. Maybe the more I say it, the more it will stick. I’m thinking by week 14, I should have it down pat. All this spending has made me $211 over my annual budget. Now, I have to cut back even more to stay on track. Woe is me.

    1. Hi Dr.Sheba,
      I think once you take the time to find coupons and get the ones that you will use in your weekly shops you will see some savings start rolling in. The thing is you want to take those savings and put them towards a debt for example. So, if you have $20 to spend on groceries, and you spend $20 but have $5 in coupons making it $15 don’t run out and spend that $5 you just saved to buy more groceries, put that savings towards something else. Sometimes people save money using coupons but they end up buying more and more and more which ends up being more than they need. We know, we do it and we are working on stopping that insanity. Make the savings work for you. You know what you have to do. I’m sure you are a brilliant woman, take one hour a week, sit down, plan your shops and meals and you WILL be so happy that you do this. It will make life easier in the kitchen and grocery store. You are already over $211 for the year and if you are not careful that can end up being close to $1000 if you keep on going the way you are. It’s up to you… you can make the change, no one else. I believe in you…. keep at it,never give up, set small goals!!! Mr.CBB

  11. Just to add this about the student who needs to know what to do when shopping for the first time…

    Bring $0.25 or $1.00 loonie for a shopping cart. You get your change back, but you just need to put it in the small slot near the handle of the grocery cart. Carrying baskets makes your shopping a lot more cumbersome.

  12. This is Donna R’s entry. She accidentally posted it under my Beef Stew recipe so I’ve just copy pasted it over. 🙂
    Hi Mr. CBB,

    Your stew recipe looks good. I see it calls for red wine. I would like to try it with Guinness as we frequently have that in the house. I detest stout but my husband loves it. Would you recommend a straight switch? I might just try the soda bread as well. I’ll let you know what the family thinks.

    Here is my last shop for the month. As you can see, I just squeaked in under budget. As I recall, I was over by about $5.00 last month so it just evens out.

    2 x 4L milk @ 3.97 = 7.94
    1 x carrots = 1.67
    1 x 3 ct. peppers = 2.97
    1 x bag Spinach = 1.47
    5 lb. roasting potatoes = 1.00
    1 frozen turkey @ 0.87/ lb. = 10.18
    3 x Philadelphia cream cheese @ 2.47 =7.41
    Total OOP = 35.61
    Coupons used = 0.00

    Food Basics
    1 x 3L vegetable oil = 4.99
    2 x pita bread @ 0.99 = 1.98
    1 x tortillas = 4.09
    2 x frozen pizza @ 4.49 = 8.98
    1 x croutons = 1.00
    2 x cucumbers @ 0.97 = 1.94
    1 x diced tomatoes = 0.99
    2 x 3 lb. apples @ 3.99 = 7.98
    2 x limes = 1.00
    1 x romaine lettuce = 1.50
    1 x sub sandwich meat pack = 5.00
    1 x Havarti cheese = 5.00
    1 bag avocado = 2.50
    1 500g mozzarella cheese = 3.99
    1 x 4 lb. navel oranges = 3.97
    3 x reduced bananas @ 0.79 = 2.37
    1 x chicken bologna = 1.99
    1 x boneless half ham = 3.00
    1 x bag parsnip = 1.99
    3 x hot house tomatoes = 1.74
    1 x fresh ginger = 0.14
    1 x ice cream = 3.99
    1 x cranberry sauce = 1.00
    Total OOP = 71.13
    Coupons used = 0.00

    Total Grocery Budget for the Year: $7300.00 /year
    Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $600.00 or $150.00/week
    Total Spent This Week: $ 106.74
    Total Spent So Far for (March): $ 488.43 = 106.74 = 595.17
    Total Over/Under spent this shop: $ under 43.26
    Total Over/Under spent for the month of (March): $ 4.83
    Total Left to Spend for the Month: $ 4.83
    SCOP: $ 0
    Total Coupons Used this Week: $ 0.00
    Total Coupons Used This Month: $ 39.62
    Total coupons used this year: $ 222.65
    Total to Carry Over Next Month: $ 0.00
    Total Spent To Date This Year: $1933.59

    1. Hi Donna,
      If you want to try it with the beer go ahead or you could do half and half if you like as well. I’ll likely get the soda bread recipe up in the next couple of weeks or so. Great shop at Food basics you picked up some great bargains and foods that we normally buy as well. Good to hear you have evened out!! If you want carry over the end total from each month when you post your shop each week so you can see what you spent at the end of each month so you don’t have to guess. That is what we do.. here is ours.. Total Spent To Date This Year: $206.95 (Jan)+ $160.77 (Feb) + (March)$169.62= $537.34 You get ballot #23

  13. Nice introduction 101 Mr. CBB. I am not disciplined enough to write all that down but like with a budget I know when it is too much and when it is fine.

  14. It’s important to note that you should always write your list first, then find coupons afterward. If you do it in the reverse order, you’re going to end up purchasing a bunch of crap that you “thought you needed”. Awesome instructional post, Mr. CBB.

    1. Sometimes people like to use the flyers to write the list knowing the coupons they have at the same time. It’s hit or miss but I think as a general guide it’s great until a person finds what works for them. Great tip Johnny!!

  15. Love the tip here about “if you add something to the cart that isn’t on the list, you have to take something else out”. That’s a great way to make sure you’re staying on budget. We’ll have to use this one!

  16. Great post Mr. CBB; I’ll have to get boy to read it. 😛 I left him alone for the month, and he did come under on the grocery budget. Unfortunately, he doubled the eating out budget for the BOTH of us in 3 weeks. Still have some work to do with that one. 🙂

    This is my week’s shop; its a bit confusing as I added what the boy spent when I was gone, as well as the full amount to my mom:

    Mom 40

    Boy 100

    Celery 1.47
    Spinach 1.00
    Caesar Dressing 4.47
    Tomato 0.81
    Green pepper 0.57
    Chili powder 2.00
    Kidney Beans 1.36
    Brown gravy mix 0.77
    Mushroom (x2) 2.94
    Tomato paste 1.47
    Lemon 0.33

    Total Coupons
    Total Out of Pocket 157.19

    Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $200
    Total Coupons Used this Week : $0
    Total Checkout 51 rebates this week: $2.00
    Total Checkout 51 rebates this month: $2.00
    Total Gift Cards Given Used this Week: $0
    Total Spent This Week: $27.19
    Total Spent So Far for March: $157.19
    Total Over/Under spend this shop: $32.81 under
    Total Over/Under spend for the month of March: $42.81 under
    Total Left to Spend for the Month: $41.81
    Total Coupons Used This Month: $0
    Total to Carry Over Next Month: n/a
    Total Spent to Date This Year: $482.23
    Weekly Overview: I started tracking what was sitting in my freezer after reading that article on your website, and I’ve decided to try to clean it out once every quarter. Having things in there since December bugs me, but I know that I have kept stuff in the freezer longer than 4 months before I started tracking it. Therefore, this week’s meals have been based on whatever I could whip up from the remnants of the freezer.

    The one thing I haven’t tried before is asking for a rain check; usually I just try to get there early enough to snatch a deal, but just walk away if they are sold out. I didn’t realize that you could ask for a rain check! 🙂 Always learning something new on here, hey?

    1. Hey Vicky,
      THe post we have all been waiting for. What damage did the boy do while Vicky was on vacation hahah… I know he might read this but that’s ok he should be on the same page as you financially. Yes cleaning out the freezer is a smart idea and we have been working on that as well. Piling food on top of food makes no sense if we end up throwing it away. It’s a good thing you are home lol. Does he cook with you? If not he should try and learn from you so he doesn’t have to eat out as often. Tell him to save the money for vacations and debt freedom. YES ask for a rain check…. and next time you go in you get that same deal. Almost all stores offer them so take advantage of them when you can!!! Glad to have you back mate!! I hope we get to hear all about your holidays. You get ballot #27 Mr.CBB

  17. When I went to college, I used to feel weird just getting a cart. My Mom always shopped and I had no clue. I wish I’d read something like this back then. Great idea for a post. You have the best fans.

  18. My process has a few more steps. After I come up with my weekly meal plan, I write out an ingredient list: every meat, vegetable, grain, etc that I will need for each meal. Then I go through the pantry and fridge to check off what I already have. Then I make a new list of the foods I actually have to buy. Then comes coupon searching and organizing my list by store and isle so I know exactly where I need to go and where I can skip.

    1. That’s pretty much what I described except I have no bloody idea of what aisles to go down until I get to the shop. That’s not something we memorize or take note of. Do you have an aisle list? Cheers mate

      1. No, but I do have something nearly as good. My wife has worked at our main supermarket for 6 years.

        I got the idea from my grandfather who did have an aisle list for the commisary he shopped out. Grocery shopping with him was like a military operation!

          1. He had a list and a map. He would take note of what isles he had to go down, approximately where in each aisle each item was and calculate the shortest route. While most people go up one isle and down the next, if he determined he only had to go a quarter way down the isle and then the next item he needed was on the same side of the next aisle, he would turn around instead.

          2. Wow, sounds like he had a system built up in his mind on how he likes to shop and what he has to do in order to get it done efficiently. Interesting that is. Do you shop like this then or are you totally opposite?

          3. I’m not particularly concerned about calculating the shortest route, but if I only need one item that is near the end of the aisle, I don’t bother walking all the way down to the other side.

  19. My wife, The Coupon Queen, does most of the grocery shopping. Which is a good thing because if I did it our grocery bill would triple!

  20. My wife can run circles around me when it comes to grocery shopping. I’ll accompany her but keep ketting hand smacked if I don’t follow the rules of the coupon queen! She Rocks!

  21. Great article!!! I try to follow these things but I’m a little loose on meals, my meals list would cover the meals I plan to make but not the exact day I plan to have it. I might not feel like spaghetti on this night so I make something else and get around to the spaghetti a couple of nights later or when ever. My niece is in college and was very upset when her rice cooker died!!! She used that thing to death!!!!She eats a lot of rice….. My daughter and younger son have a collection of recipes they can use, the older boy not so much. But he lived in barracks and the DND frowned on cooking in your room. He had a coffee maker, kettle,bar fridge and a microwave. The powers that be over looked things like that but anything else was a no-no. I fed him as best I could when he was home and tried to send him back with 2-3 days worth of left overs, the fridge wouldn’t hold much more than that. The first year my daughter was in school I got a lot of calls…. Mom i have such and such…. how do I cook it??? How do I make this or that….. She got cookbooks for a few years at Christmas….. Good place for cookbooks and recipes in general is the local library, also library book sales ….

    1. I’d like to say we are perfect with our meal plan but that would be a big fat lie. There are nights we don’t follow it and swap meals about but who cares. As long as we make the meals with the food we bought the food police won’t come after us if we eat it on Friday instead of Monday. 🙂 Good tips on the cookbooks!!! We love our rice cooker as well haha.

  22. When I was in university, I made big batch meals on the weekend when I was studying. I absolutely always made a huge pot of brown rice to eat with all kinds of different dishes during the week. Like John suggested, I also used a crockpot to make some really nice curries and stews and kept lots of fresh fruit and vegetables in my fridge for snacks to eat while I was on campus.

    My hot air popcorn maker and Orville Redenbocker popcorn from Costco handled my evening grazing. I think Mom delivered a care package of popcorn once a month for me. Even in university I had 2 crockpots… one tiny one and one full size. I used the tiny one for oatmeal that cooked overnight and was ready to gobbled down as I ran out the door for classes in the morning and it also was a great way to have either cheese fondue with cubed bread for dipping or if I was really flush, a chocolate fondue with fresh fruit cut up to dip. They were awesome investments for me. I can’t tell you how many times I entertained with that little crockpot & my guests bringing the beer/wine and I did the fondue. A little goes a very long way & sure didn’t get in the way of my fun.

    I will say, on a starving student’s budget some weeks had an awful lot of ramen noodles in them but I always stocked up on canned tuna/salmon/shrimp/smoked oysters/baked beans/sardines when they were on cheap so that if it was a ramen night…at least I could have a good protein with it. I was told food is what fueled my ability to learn… and that stuck with me.

    Big suggestion…get some recipes from Mom before you go and help her make them so you know exactly what to do. Basics like how long to fry or boil your egg to get it the way you like it? How long and what temperature do you use for the meats/fish you plan to make. Easy peasy one… how to make a tray of homemade macaroni and cheese – and I don’t mean KD but some weeks that’s what I could afford. I threw parties with mac and cheese with the guests bringing bread, salad, wine, some sort of dessert, nibbles for the evening. It’s something everyone except the vegans will love and I even had my mother’s spaghetti sauce recipe to do a big pot of spaghetti instead of the macaroni and cheese if I had vegans in my crowd.

    Some of the best years of your life are about to begin… enjoy them and food doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. A big pot of lentil and rice soup with whatever vegetables you can get cheap thrown in will cover a lot of meals without costing a fortune! Best of luck!!

    1. Hi Mary
      You were smart with your money and savvy in the kitchen when it came to planning and shopping from a young age from what I can read. It’s amazing how much we can look back and see what we did that worked and didn’t work and how we evolve over time. Thanks for sharing this great information for anyone who reads the post looking for tips!! Cheers

  23. When I first moved out, I was shopping every day for what I wanted to eat that day… bad idea! Now for a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 toddlers) We are down to 300 a month. I make it my mission to come in under budget every month. These tips are fabulous and I can’t wait to use some of them to see if I can bring my bill down a little more! I am loving your site!

    1. Hi Lynn!!
      Thanks for dropping in! I would love it if you posted your shops each week in the grocery game challenge with all of us. If you need any help let me know but the rules link is in the post. I tried to document everything that I have learned in the UK and Canada in all my years about shopping. Your $300 a month is a great budget especially with 2 toddlers but I’m betting you can get it down even lower!!! I’m always optimistic! Cheers!

  24. Haha – pink stickers are a way to get delicious things you’re too cheap to buy otherwise! I pick them up all the time to add deliciousness to life. The most recent was some boconccini, which I added to a salad. I completely lucked out on Friday and got a million things on my list on sale. That included two bottles of hair gel and the frozen raspberries I needed to take dessert to dinner that night! It was awesome!

    1. You just about nailed it there. We get items with pink stickers we wouldn’t otherwise buy especially last week with that beautiful mexican and german cheeses… love pink stickers on good cheese! Oh ya!

    1. The $50 you see in the photo is just an example! If you read the entire post you will see our family grocery budget for 2 for the year as well as how much we have to spend each month and what we spent this month. Happy Reading!

  25. Great tips as usual Mr. CBB. We use a pre printed grocery list ourselves and have used it for years. It really helps us to narrow down what we need plus helps us be more efficient in the store. For a first timer I would say not to be afraid to try new/different things so they can find what they like to help them determine how to shop better. I would also add for a college student to possibly look at crockpot cooking. They’re going to be limited on time and it’ll give them several meals at once plus they can just throw together what they want at the beginning of the day and have a nice meal ready when they want it.

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