The Grocery Game | Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

The Grocery Game Challenge # 1 June 3-9, 2013: Organic Food Costs

Eating Organic On A Budget

Organic food costs can be a shock to the grocery budget yet for many people it’s worth buying organic with their hard-earned money and for many reasons. Are there benefits of eating organic foods? I think so but I’m no food scientist so I can’t tell you for sure. I’m just hearing all the hype about organic food and joining in although my wife now has to eat a low glycemic index diet I can understand how it’s difficult to find foods to eat when there are many you can’t.

When we grow our vegetables and fruits we use no chemicals (pesticides) and add nothing more than good compost, water and sunshine. There has to be some benefit in that, wouldn’t you think? Our friend Karen at Lil Suburban Homestead finds there is money-saving benefits from growing a garden for the family and her garden certainly speaks for itself. There are people I have talked to who say yes there are benefits eating organic and others who think there is not enough evidence to prove organic food is beneficial to the diet and for most, the budget.

We are eating exactly what we set out to grow but I’ll tell you the taste comparison if anything makes it worth the while. That’s the beauty at least for us when we grow our own vegetables in our back garden because we don’t use any chemicals. Now we are starting to garden seeds that are organic but for a higher price of course, but are they worth the money? Essentially, does it really matter if you grow your own vegetables from seeds that are not labelled “organic seeds” on the package?

Where to Find Organic Food?

Finding specific grocery store food at times can be a challenge so we have to do a search or make a phone call to ask if a shop carries a particular product that we need. Depending on what grocery store locations you have close to your house sometimes it’s easiest to shop the shortest distance rather than going the extra mile or 10. It makes sense if time and money are not on your side especially since gas prices can take a chunk out of the budget.

Not all stores carry organic foods but if you do a search online you should be able to find stores with organic foods in your area. I know that you can find organic food at Metro, Sobey’s, Zehrs, RCSS or the Super Stores, and potentially the smaller shops although I really haven’t paid too much attention. I find that food in grocery stores are relatively the same but differ depending on quality and in many cases the size of the shop as not all grocery stores are able to carry a vast amount of products like a superstore grocery store might.

As the summer approaches fresh produce graces the produce section and consumers flock to pick up the best deals but are they all pushing people out-of-the-way to buy organic? I don’t know the statistics but I’m betting there are an élite amount of organic shoppers compared to those that shop regular produce and products. Not everyone shops speciality foods by choice especially if they have a chronic illness that pushes them in that direction.

We are seeing organic products pop up all over and with aisle after aisle, produce, meat bunkers, dairy etc  filled with plenty of selection. We often go down the organic aisles to compare prices and look at the products. I won’t lie the prices scare me as they are very high for almost every product I’ve ever seen. The good news is that I’m sure many are happy to see the  product selection growth just not just not the prices.

Do I think organic food prices will come down? I don’t know but the more I read and hear the more it’s clear that it’s a lucrative business that will continue to grow. I’d like to see the prices become a bit more realistic for the every day shopper but it’s hard to say what the future holds for these types of products.

How Much Is Organic Food?

We do our best to eat according to the Canada’s Food Guide but including organic food can be a drain on our budget. I also find in some places that organic food prices might come down a bit in order to compete with its sister the non-organic produce but is still fairly pricey. Trying to stay away from food additives and preservatives will cost a pretty penny but for some people, that’s what they want, that’s what they need and that’s what they will buy.

If you really want to eat organic food on a budget I think it’s possible provided that you have some extra money to move around in the budget or can make changes to your budget. I also know that for some there is nothing more to cut in the budget and organic is just not realistic for them. If I had to think of ways to cut back or earn extra money I’d have to take a look at what we could do to make that happen.

If we were more attentive to the time of use program and the smart meter we might be able to save some money on our hydro and water bill. That money we could roll over into our grocery budget if needed. You understand what I mean about making cuts to other parts of the budget.

If you smoke, consider quitting and putting that money into your budget. I know, easier said then done.. believe me I know! Two years smoke-free and it’s the best decision I’ve made for my health. If you don’t use your gym membership cancel it and find other ways to exercise on the cheap. Those are just a couple of ideas that come to mind if you are looking for extra cash to put towards your grocery budget aside from making more money. Building up a stockpile of organic foods is possible but like any other pantry it all takes time.

We love to eat organic vegetables and since the garden is now planted we are hoping to shave a few bucks off the grocery budget by harvesting peppers, tomatoes, fennel and much more this summer. That is likely as organic as we get in our house but it works for us and we are happy with that choice.

I noticed a 3 pack of organic lettuce for $5.99 where you can find a 3pk of Romaine lettuce for $2.99 or even $1.99 on sale. In the photo above you see an organic pineapple for $4.99 on sale where you could get a regular pineapple for $1.99 on sale. Tomatoes on the vine this week are $0.99 but if you want organic tomatoes on the vine they will run you $2.99lb on sale. An organic seedless cucumber is a whopping $2.49 each on sale where you can get a regular seedless cucumber on sale for $0.69 this week.

Clearly anyone can see the price variation and have to decide first how much their grocery budget is and how much food they need or eat each week. There are many reasons that can affect the cost of a budget BUT you can still find healthy foods to buy if you really want to. If you plan your shops, plan your meals, don’t shop hungry and eat less if you find you are eating too much food because many of us (including us) eat more than we need to we can control the grocery budget expenses to a reasonable amount if needed. We’re working hard now on portion sizes to see how that affects our overall budget costs.

Check your area listings as well to see if you have any local Farmer’s Markets that are open this time of year with fresh produce and organic produce for sale. It’s a great way to interact with local organic farmers in order to get to know them and support the local economy. You might also find a better deal if you go to the source.

We found just that but with flowers this past week. Instead of going to a garden centre in town we went out of town and found amazing deals on flowers that would have cost us 3 times the price but it didn’t because we went right to the flower source. We will certainly be doing the same next year.

Growing Organic Food

If you have the space to grow fruits and vegetables because eating healthy organic foods is something you would like for your diet then certainly make use of the space you have. If you don’t have a green thumb don’t be afraid to experiment. If my wife can do it, anyone can (love you babe, sorry you just tend to kill plants) honestly, she’s not allowed to water anything…. she kills everything but I must say she has done well with her tomatoes and basil. Likely because there is a motivation behind it this year.  We are having a growing competition this summer to see who can grow the better basil and tomatoes. I’ll keep you updated on how things are going. I have my secret growing weapon (and I’m not telling).

Question: Do you buy organic food? Do you grow your own organic food? Do you shop at local farmers markets?

Grocery Game Weeks for June

This is the start of the June Grocery Game Challenge which means we are almost half way through the year. In July I plan to do a 6 month grocery budget recap to see just where we stand with our budget and if we need to make any improvements.

If you missed grocery game posts for this month just click on the links below and post your shops in the comment section. Each week I will add the previous weeks Grocery Game Post here.

The May winner of the Grocery Game Challenge goes to 23 Joanna C! Congrats!!

Grocery Saving Tips

Free Money Saving Downloads just for YOU!!! Get organized with a freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more!!! Click, Save and Print.. It’s that easy~ Also look back on previous grocery game posts for loads of grocery shopping tips and information.

What’s In MrCBB's Shopping Cart

Metro

  • 2x cucumber sale $0.99
  • 2x white mushrooms sale $0.99

Total Out Of Pocket- $3.96

Food Basics

  • Egg Creations Sale $1.99 x6 -$1.00 coupons
  • Iceburg Lettuce Sale $0.97
  • Whole Wheat Pita $1.00

Total Out Of Pocket $ 7.91

No Frills

  • Redpath Sugar Sale $1.77 x4  PM Zehrs
  • Tomatoes $2.97
  • Carrots $1.97

Total Out Of Pocket $ 12.02

Yearly Grocery Budget For 2 : $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 Budget For June: $235.00- $72.24= $162.76 ($83.42-$11.18=$72.24 will be carried over to June)
  • Total Coupons Used this Week : $0
  • Total Discounts this Week: $0
  • Total Gift Cards Given Used this Week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points Used: $0
  • Stockpile Budget: $20.00 Used: $0
  • Total Spent This Week:$23.89
  • Total Spent So Far for (June): $23.89
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: $ N/A
  • Total Over/Under spend for the month of  (June): $N/A
  • Total Left to Spend for the Month: $
  • Total Coupons Used This Month :$0
  • Total to Carry Over Next Month : $
  • Total Spent To Date This Year: $206.95 (Jan)+ $160.77 (Feb) + (March)$169.62 + (April)$397.74+(May) $155.68=$1090.76
  • Rendezvous Account: $65.38 (this will be used for a date night or a summer holiday)

Weekly Overview:We didn’t need much this week just a few vegetables so that kept the budget low. 

Canadian Coupons Found In June 

June Coupons Found

Frequently Asked Questions

Grocery Game Challenge RULES….. Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible. 

  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. How Do I Know what stores accept coupons? You can find all your store coupon policies here. If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
  6. How Do I Grocery Shop? I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices. Over time you will gradually learn where you should and shouldn’t go in the grocery store or at least how to say no, I’m on a budget I don’t need to buy this or that. You may also substitute items in order to stick to your budget to make it work.

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