The Ultimate Canadian Grocery Savings Guide

The Grocery Game Challenge July 15-21, 2013 #3: Packing groceries

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Saving Money Means, You Pack It

Packing groceries is something that I’ve always been used to doing on my own. Grocery packer job positions rarely get advertised for many grocery stores simply because it’s no longer needed. At one point in time the grocery packer (grocery bagger or grocery store bagger, all mean the same thing) was and still is for some a big part of the personal experience, but many have let this practice go.

My wife can remember when the cashier would double and triple bag for free because the bag might break. I don’t know about you but I’m not ready to pay $0.15 to do that, I’d rather use a cardboard box. It’s not the cashiers fault and I’m sure it drives them around the bend having to ask if you want bags but they must do it.

Nothing is free anymore and if it is you will find the cost saturated in the price of the products you purchase. Bags can get costly for a store and if they can save money over the course of the year, they will do it. Maybe $0.05 doesn’t sound like lots of money, but it all adds up. Should bags be included in the shopping trip like they used to? They are if you want them to be, but like I said you will still pay for them in one for or another.

I can remember Waitrose in the UK having a wall full of boxes when I was young in the 70’s and 80’s. When I went grocery shopping with my parents no one ever bagged our groceries that I can remember. My wife recollects her experiences while grocery shopping when she was younger and I’m not shocked with the conveniences that followed. Back in the day she says a grocery bagger would pack groceries into paper bags perfectly while having a conversation with the customer.

Customers would revel in the relationships they built with those at the grocery store. They knew Joe the butcher, Sally the cashier, Bob the produce guy and Jim the grocery bagger. If you remember those days I’m sure you are smiling reading this right now knowing that distant memories will be stories you can tell your children and grand-children.

Some grocery store baggers would even pack the groceries into your trunk, my wife says. Brilliant idea! It must have been convenient for many people having the drive-thru grocery store pick-up window at A&P and Miracle Mart. She remembers not having to bring your groceries to the vehicle, rather having them packed into big bins painted with a number that would be set on a conveyor belt and rolled out a window to the outside.

You would then get a bin number and drive your car up to the front of the store and hand your numbers to the grocery bagger. Pop the trunk and that’s all you needed to do. He/she would pack all of your groceries into your trunk or back seat of your vehicle. Gone are those days, another dying breed being replaced by technology or integrated with other job roles.


Packing groceries

Packing groceries except for the rare stores like Zehrs and Metro and a few others have been replaced with self-checkouts or you pack it yourself. Even stores that do have grocery baggers have self-checkouts as well but I guess that’s just another way to balance expenses.

I’m guessing the idea would be that eliminating the job role of grocery baggers would help bring down prices on products for the customer. Grocery store job titles these days are still very much important to the average shopper and those who work in the grocery store because no matter what your role is your job affects the customers overall experience.

That doesn’t mean that just because a cashier who works behind a cash register won’t help you bag your groceries if the store doesn’t offer this service. I’ve seen cashiers help out just to move the line along, especially when the grocery store is jam-packed full of people.

Yesterday a cashier in No Frills was helping a woman in a scooter who asked for assistance to pack up her groceries even though she was capable to, but I heard her ask just so she could move the line faster. She knew that she wouldn’t have been able to get it done fast enough. Sometimes people can get right nasty because people don’t move at the same speed as them. Remember, not all ailments and disabilities are visible so show some respect for others.

I’m what my wife calls her ‘packing boy’, meaning that at no point will she ever pack (that’s OK she’s rubbish at it) so I’m left looking around for grocery boxes while she watches items get scanned. We always grocery shop together as we enjoy the experience. Some people bring their own bags when grocery shopping, we do as well. Most times we bring a mix of plastic shopping bags, re-usable shopping bags and since its summer an insulated shopping bag.

Just today while shopping at Zehrs we noticed that Chapman’s ice-cream was reduced to $0.99 and although the wife left her Chapman’s $5.00 off coupon at home it was still a bargain for 8 premium ice-cream bars that are regular priced $5.99. We hardly if ever buy ice-cream but since it was our last shop and we had our handy insulated bag we decided to go for it. We only went over to check out the garden centre only to find out it was closed for the season.

Since the summer months can get very humid we like to box our groceries because I can stack the boxes better in the vehicle rather than using plastic bags. I find it’s also much easier to pack in a box rather than a plastic bag. Not all places offer cardboard boxes so we will use plastic bags if they are not free. (The wife stashes them in her purse) Some people even put their own hand carry carts in the shopping trolley and fill it up as they shop around, another brilliant idea. Although I must say that it looks fishy when someone is stuffing products in bags as they shop.


Humidity and heat

Another trick we do when shopping in the summer is we bring the cooler with us filled with cold ice-packs. The reason for this is simply because it gets too hot and if we go to 2 or 3 stores it keeps our products nice and chilled until we get home. Some people will go to one shop then drive home and repeat throughout the week so they don’t have to worry about products melting. This is great but it also takes more time and gas. If your store price matches it’s probably ideal to take advantage of that in the summer as well to cut down on time.

Packing groceries I believe is an art and should be done properly. How many times have you gotten home to find your bread flat, eggs broken, meat juices all over your products and open boxes or bags? Do you know the person who just shoves it all in one bag and takes off in a rush? It makes me cringe at the potential money you could lose with damaged products. If you take a moment to learn how to pack groceries you will see that it’s not as difficult as you think.

I’m not a perfectionist but I try my best to keep things neat, tidy and organized properly when placing items in a bag or box. I try to keep my fruit and veg as well as meats packed well so they aren’t getting smashed about. I guess that’s the name of the game when packing groceries, don’t ruin the products and keep like products together. I don’t know how many times we have left our bags at home and we loathe paying for them so now the rule is to use them and put them back in the vehicle for the next shop.

Do you enjoy packing your own groceries or will you shop at a higher priced store to have them done for you?

Do you use cardboard boxes, plastic bags, re-usable bags or something different?

Do you miss having grocery baggers at certain grocery stores?

Do you remember the drive-thru grocery pick-up window?

July grocery game recap

If you missed grocery game posts for this month just click on the links below and post your shops in the comment section.


Grocery saving tips

Free Money Saving Downloads are lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals. Get organized with a freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE. I want to see you save money in your budget.

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What’s In MrCBB's Shopping Cart

No Frills

  • Neilson 2% milk 4 litres $3.97
  • 2 x Tetley Tea Bags 144 Sale $3.87
  • 5pk Avocados Sale $2.45
  • 3lb carrots Sale $1.77
  • 3 x English cucumbers Sale $0.67 each
  • 5 x limes Sale 5/$1.00 but rang up 6/$1.00  $0.84
  • Bunch of Fresh Radish $0.77
  • 2pk of Romaine Hearts Sale $1.47

Total out-of-pocket $21.22


  • Chapman’s Dark Chocolate ice-cream bars Blowout reg $5.99 Sale $0.99

Total out-of-pocket $1.38


  • 3 x Extra Large Brown Eggs Reg $3.99 Sale $1.99
  • LU Chocolate Biscuits (for me) Reg $.399 sale $1.54 rang up $1.64= Scanning code of practice (SCOP) FREE
  • Old El Paso Kit- Free with Coupon $4.19

Total out-of-pocket $7.95

Food Basics

  • 2 x Delmonte Fruit Juice cartons reduced $0.99
  • 9 x March Angelo Turkey Sausages $4.49-30%
  • 2 x extra lean ground beef $5.06, $5.54- 30% -$4.00 old elpaso box
  • 2 x white mushrooms 227g Sale $0.88 each
  • Cheerios $4.49-FPC
  • Q-tips $3.99 Sale $2.99
  • 4 x Lactancia butter Sale $2.88 lb
  • Honey Garlic Sausages $3.51-30%
  • Portobello Mushrooms $4.49-$1.00
  • 4 x Lactancia Cream reg $3.99 Sale $2.49-$0.75
  • Tomatoes $2.55  $1.94 kg
  • 3 x Knorr Beef broth cubes reg $2.29 Sale $0.69
  • Old El Paso $4.17 -Free product coupon

Total out-of-pocket $68.86

Yearly grocery budget for two: $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 July: $235.00- $52.25 (over-spend in June) = $182.75 to spend in July.
  • Total Coupons Used this Week : $20.65
  • Total Discounts this Week: $19.03
  • Total Gift Cards Given Used this Week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points Used: $0
  • Stockpile Budget: $20.00 Used $18.08+ $1.92 (sausages)=$20.00
  • Total Spent This Week: $99.41- $1.92 to stockpile= $97.49
  • Total Spent So Far for (July) No spend shop+$86.94+$97.49=$184.43- $182.75 (budgeted July)=$1.68 over
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: $n/a
  • Total Over/Under spend for the month of  (July): $1.68 over
  • Total Left to Spend for the Month: $1.68 over for the month
  • Total Coupons Used This Month:$8.00+$20.65
  • Total to Carry Over Next Month: $1.68 overspend (so far)
  • Total Spent To Date This Year: $206.95 (Jan)+ $160.77 (Feb) + (March)$169.62 + (April)$397.74+(May) $155.68 + (June) $216.01=$1306.77
  • Rendezvous Account: $65.38 This is money saved if there is any leftover at the end of a month of grocery shopping for a date night for the wife and I.

Weekly Overview: We only had $95.81 left to spend this week before I maxed out for the month of July. We spent $99.41 including the stockpile budget of $1.92 which means we are over for July by $1.68. We are over for the month again but we won’t need to shop for the next 2 weeks with all that we have now. Sometimes it’s worth it for us to pick up the meat when it’s reduced like it was this week than to pay full price the next month. We may need milk in the next 2 weeks but that’s about it. I’ll just have to keep working on getting the budget down or use it as part of next months stockpile budget.

Canadian coupons found in July

Grocery Game July 8-Canadian-Coupons-2013

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 affected 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. Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget like many people do and this is why the grocery game challenge was created.

If you have just joined The Grocery Game Challenge get ready to dive deep into your grocery budget and learn just where you are spending, how much you are spending and what you are saving. You’ve made a wise decision.

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