The Grocery Game | Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

The Grocery Game Challenge Nov 4-10, 2013 #1: Holiday baking on a budget

baking-supplies-ingredientsHOLIDAY COOKIE SMELLS FILL THE AIR

The holiday season is fast approaching and whether you buy cookies or enjoy baking cookies some of the best cookie recipes may cost your holiday baking budget some cash if you don’t plan in advance.

With less than 2 months until the festivities there’s no better time to get baking than the present. If you wait until the last-minute you might find you get overwhelmed with having to shop for gifts, plan a dinner, getaway to the relatives, work and friends Christmas parties and then bake on top of it all.

Some of my favourite Christmas cookie recipes that I like to bake and to eat are the butter cookies and the sugar cookies both of which are fairly inexpensive to make with butter being the costly baking ingredient. Making sugar cookies from scratch are probably one of my favourite cookies to make because it reminds me of home. My mum used to make shortbread but the butter, sugar and shortbread cookies all taste the same with a bit of difference in texture.

This past year I posted a few of our favourite holiday treat recipes such as chocolate peanut butter balls, coconut balls and snow balls all of which are my most popular blog post recipes this time of year. I haven’t been making cakes as much this year as I did in 2012 but they can get quite costly as well depending on what type of cake you are making.


Cost of  baking



Around the holidays using alcohol, sugar, butter, nuts, flour and even out of season fruits like figs and apricots can drive the price up of Christmas cakes that you might make for those special holiday gatherings.

The prices of walnut pieces are at $17.99 a pound right now in the bulk store and If I see a sale you can bet I’ll jump in and grab them while I can. Just yesterday we picked up 4 bags of granulated sugar on sale for $1.44 which is the cheapest I’ve seen in ages so I picked up the limit of 4 at No Frills.

I find I use lots of walnuts and pecans for holiday baking and the manufacturers know that bakers around the world commercially and in-house bakers like us will go through lots of nuts so expect the price to stay high for the most part. What we like to do is if I find them cheap throughout the year we buy them and freeze the nuts.

You might remember all the cashew nuts we bought a few weeks back in our grocery game post and it was for the $1.99 price tag that we bought them because we know that nut prices will sky-rocket. If you are peanut fan you can usually find large bags of seasoned or salt and roasted nuts at Shoppers Drug Mart on sale for $2.50 a bag which is a great price in my opinion.

I have a friend whose mother makes a chex mix and bags it up every year for their friends and family in clear bags and wraps with a bow. They give these away as gifts with a bottle of wine as a gift rather than buying gifts and it may seem simple and it is but it is very costly. Nuts and some chips like Fritos are not cheap but certainly make this treat one that we all look forward to every year as a tradition.


Shop early


What we do is start looking for Christmas baking ingredients earlier in the year or even a few months before the holidays. Butter has been on sale the past few months for around $2.88 a pound so we loaded up on a few pounds here and there and store it in the freezer.

Butter will keep in the freezer for a few months but be cautious about how long it stays in there. We store it in a freezer bag and track dates on our freezer inventory list that is in our file folder. You can download a free copy from the blog if you want to track what is inside your freezer.

Some people stick to the very simple and make easy peanut butter cookies to munch on for the holidays and you can easily chocolate them up by adding some of your favourite chocolate chips or chunks. The best chocolate chips to use if you are making simple choc chip cookies (that’s how the wife says it but I say choccie) are a mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate for me personally but it differs depending on your sweet-tooth preference.

The price of chocolate chips can get very costly although if you watch you might find the bulk bag 1kg of Hershey’s Chipits on sale for $6.99 or even $7.99 which is a decent price. If you are a Costco member you might find the cost of baking ingredients to be cheaper in bulk packaging as long as you will use the product which most people do who like to bake over the holidays. We’ve always found the best baking ingredients to be found at the bulk barn but not necessarily the cheapest in price.

If there is an odd ingredient or you need fancy baking supplies especially if you want to make decorated holiday cookies usually the bulk barn will carry it unless you know of a baking supply store in your area or even try Micheal’s stores.

Do you make any Christmas cookie recipes or other holiday treats?

How far in advance do you plan to shop and bake?

How do you factor in holiday baking costs into your budget?


Grocery saving tips


Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!

Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.

I hope you take the time to get back on track and start the saving process in your grocery budget today.

Get organized with a freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE.

NEW!! You can now download the Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel…… Grab it while you can… It’s FREE! We use it to budget.. check it out!


November Grocery Game Challenge Posts


Since this is the first installment of the November grocery game challenge I will announce the October winner here. The winner of the grocery game for October goes to….. drumroll please…… #14 MARY C. I really hope we can get more fans on board with the grocery game challenge this month so please help me spread the word.

Mary if you can contact me I will get your coupon envelope sorted out and sent off to you in the mail as soon as possible. You all make me proud. Thank you for participating with me every single month. We must have a GGC end of year online party 🙂 I’ll bake the brownies mmmm.


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Missed past Grocery Game posts? Catch up on all the latest grocery saving posts below!


Food food and more food



Food Basics

  • Sweet Potatoes $7.23 Sale $0.88lb
  • Pumpernickel Bread Sale $2.00
  • Bananas $1.18
  • 3 Mangoes $2.64
  • 2 x broccoli $0.88 each
  • 2x White Mushrooms Sale $0.88 227g
  • Reduced cucumbers x 3 $1.69
  • 2 x Egg Creations reduced $1.50-$1.00 coupons
  • 1KG Bucket Krinos Feta $13.99

Total out of pocket $33.25

Bulk Barn

  • 2x Organic Apple Cider $1.00 each reduced

Total out of pocket $2.00

No Frills

  • 4x Redpath Sugar  sale $1.44 each
  • 3x Catch of the day Basa Fillets Sale $8.88 each
  • Avocados Sale $1.88 5ct
  • Baby bok choy $3.36
  • Bosc Pears $1.31
  • 5lb Clementines $3.88
  • 6lbs Macintosh apples Sale $2.97

Total Out of Pocket $45.80

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 November $235.00
  • Total Coupons Used this Week : $2.00
  • Total Discounts this Week: $0
  • Total Gift Cards Given Used this Week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points Used: $0
  • Stockpile Budget: $0 Used $0
  • Total Spent This Week: $81.05
  • Total Spent So Far for November $81.05
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: $0
  • Total Over/Under spend for the month of (November): $0
  • Total Left to Spend for the Month: $153.95
  • Total Coupons Used This Month: $2.00
  • Total to Carry Over Next Month: $0
  • Total Spent To Date This Year: $206.95 (Jan)+ $160.77 (Feb) + (March)$169.62 + (April)$397.74+(May) $155.68 + (June) $216.01+ (July) $235.83 + (August) $182.35 + (September) $255.69 + (October) $196.64=  $2177.28 (does not include stockpile budget)
  • Rendezvous Account: $65.38+$17.24 =$82.62<> 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: This was a big shop for us and we wanted to load up on the fish since it was on sale and we love Basa fillets. We find that the cost of meat is getting so high now and if we can eat fish for less than we will opt for that choice instead along with sausages. We aren’t big red meat eaters so we don’t miss too much but it’s a pity the cost of chicken is so high at the moment.


Canadian Coupons Found




Frequently Asked Questions



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.


  • 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 fans who post their grocery shop who live all over 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 products?


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.



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 that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge.


  • What is an FPC?


An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.



You can find all your store coupon policies here. If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.



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 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 t 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.

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge Canada!




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