Summer foods are fresh, in-season and in some cases can drive up your grocery budget if you’re not careful.
For the most part Mrs.CBB and I have a standard grocery list that we use every week along with sale items that come up in the flyers. In the summer our grocery list seems to grow.
With such growth we really need to focus on how much money we are spending at the grocery store so we don’t overspend causing us to carry over these expenses to the next month.
This is what we did for the month of July as you will notice we were over budget by $18.24. The reason for this is because we are trying to catch up for going over budget the month previous.
It only seems to happen in the summer but come winter, things change. I know you might suggest giving ourselves a larger budget but it does seem to work out in the end. If by the end of 2014 we notice we need to make an increase then that is what we will do.
We won’t deprive ourselves and not buy what we need when we can clearly afford it but we also won’t give ourselves so much room that we are spending more than we have to.
Photo credit Square Watermelon
Why do we overspend on summer foods?
I can only speak for our grocery budget but with the amount of family gatherings, baby showers, wedding showers and our own backyard BBQ parties’ costs can get pricey. It’s fine to be frugal when you have a summer party but most foods we buy are above and beyond that standard grocery list as I mentioned earlier.
Just the other day I read a Huffington Post article where a Vancouver grocery store was selling a square watermelon with a whopping price tag of $199.00. You read that right almost $200 to buy a melon and people are scooping these watermelons up. Why? Only because they are square and unique and a summer food that will be talked about by all of your guests.
Square watermelons are grown in Japan in a glass tempered box and are labour intensive. I also found a photo of a heart-shaped watermelon. Amazing what a bit of creativity can do in the garden but with that comes cost, and you will pay if you want it. So if you plan to be the talk of the party, bring along a square watermelon. Not for this guy.
Summer party food
It almost seems like every weekend there is a party invitation in which we have to make a summer food dish to bring along. Coming up with summer food ideas means using the freshest ingredients we can find. We don’t mind bringing food as it’s all part of the fun with friends however these expenses add money to the budget and the grocery list has added product we don’t normally buy.
Some typical summer foods that we like to make are garden salads, tuna macaroni salad with vegetables, vegetable platters with dip, nachos and dip, cucumber and radish salad, potato and tomato salad and the list goes on and on.
Although you may think that produce is cheaper in the summer it depends on where you buy it as prices will vary especially with organic produce. I do believe we can get more bang for our buck during the summer months in Ontario but it’s more quantity of purchase that drives up the budget expense.
What I do find though is come winter even though we may make basil cubes, jelly and store other fruits and veg in the freezer our budget is much easier to control. In fact I find it balances out the budget come winter where some months we might even have a few dollars left in the grocery budget to carry over to the next month if need be. Shocking, I know.
If you follow our grocery shops you can easily see where our money goes but now we find we are buying more meats, chips, cheeses etc. to make dips and all of those delicious summer foods for guests.
We also find that we are buying more vegetables to make party platters like I mentioned above. Sure we can buy from the farmers market which might give us better selection and Ontario’s best fruits and veg but most times we end up at the grocery store. When we do go out to the market it’s so we can support our Ontario farmers. Soon we will be buying plenty of local corn and other vegetables from a farm up the road. We’re just waiting for the corn sign to go up!
Growing a garden is great but keep in mind time and water = money. Sure you will get the best of the best produce but you still have costs that will drive your budget up during the summer months. This summer we mainly are growing herbs and lots of them.
Summer BBQ food
I don’t know if you noticed but meat has gone up in price and it’s getting costly to run the BBQ. I filled the propane tank (we have 2) the other day which ran me over $17.00 from Canadian Tire.
There’s something about being outside on the deck, at the beach or campground and having a BBQ feast. Most people I know don’t like cooking summer foods indoors so that means using the BBQ all summer long. Some BBQ’s are fully loaded with side-burners and a refrigerator although ours is not that posh.
The problem with the grill is that meat costs are rising and just to buy a pound of ground beef we are looking at around $9.00. I’m not talking those tubes of beef either.
Forget about grilling lamb unless you know someone or have the cash to pay for lamb as it’s always costly. Seafood is a great alternative such as salmon, shrimps and scallops. I like to make Shish Kabobs as a summer food because they don’t require lots of meat and you can fill them with vegetables. You can always forget about meat and grill strictly vegetables if that’s what you enjoy. Meatless meals help cut grocery costs and are healthy meals.
During the summer months I find we enjoy more salads, smoothies which mean buying more fruits plus we make jelly when the apple tree gives us fruit. We also use the BBQ quite a bit in the summer which means we do plenty of grilling and use handy foil packets to create some unique summer foods.
I don’t own a charcoal BBQ but I may look into it for next summer since my neighbour believes the taste is better than a gas BBQ. I gave him wood from our apple tree and he uses it when he cooks his meat and says it gives the meat quite a bit of flavour.
Making jelly tastes great but that costs money in the budget that we don’t typically account for so we have to cut back on other areas. I know one grocery game challenge player picked strawberries this year and wasn’t sure how that would affect her budget. She made out well because she adjusted her grocery list to fit her budget which is what would have to happen to stay on track.
Another reason you might find your summer grocery list grow is because you enjoy canning. Sure once you buy the jars you can use them over and over but they cost money as do the seals. Not everyone has a huge garden to grow what they need to can so they go off and buy what’s in season for the summer and build a canteen full of jars for the winter months.
It’s something my parents do and so do my wife’s parents. We don’t so much but my wife’s mother said the costs in the summer do drive up their grocery budget but balance out in the winter when all they do is shop what is in the cold room. Makes sense. Homemade always tastes better but it takes hard work and upfront costs.
Finally, we all love popsicles and ice-cream in the summer along with various cold and frosty drinks. You might find you buy more Gatorade, bottled water, juice boxes, frozen juice etc. while grocery shopping.
If you make them at home they will be cheaper than buying them when you are out but let’s face it, we all do. When we are out shopping and it’s hot we want a cold beverage. If we are on vacation or doing day trips we buy treats such as ice-cream cones or frosty smoothies to cool us down.
All this adds up in the budget and although you might not add these expenses to your grocery budget anything you make at home is part of that expense. In the summer many people get out the blender and even the booze to whip up something special.
What other reasons might summer foods drive up the cost of your grocery budget?
July grocery game challenge posts
If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up for the month each week here in this section for you. Join in the Grocery Game Challenge fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each blog post… here are the GGC rules!
Each month I hold a draw and one WINNER is chosen. I will post the name of the person who has the winning grocery shop of the month right here so make sure to check back every week.
- Should grocery stores bother having a garden centre?- The grocery game challenge #1 June 30-July 6, 2014
- Should you can the canned goods?- The grocery game challenge #2 July 7-13, 2014
- Do you spend more or less when grocery shopping alone? – The grocery game challenge #3 July 14-20, 2014
Grocery saving tips
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Ultimate grocery shopping guide
Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is below with new information added monthly.
If you missed a Grocery Game Challenge post some of the most popular posts are listed below or you can now find the posts listed on their own page called The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email and let me know.
Food food and more food
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Grocery shop results
- 6 x Black Diamond Cheese bars sale $4.49-$0.75= $3.74 (stockpile budget) $22.44-$20.00 =$2.44 over stockpile budget
- 2 x Cheerios Sale $2.88
Total out-of-pocket $5.76 + $22.44 stockpile budget
Shoppers Drug Mart
- 2 x Neilson Milk 4L Sale $3.97 each +800 bonus points
- 1 x Dozen Eggs Sale $1.99
- 1 x Oikos DANONE yogurt $3.99-$2.00 SDM coupon =$1.99
- 2 x Wild Salmon Sale $5.99
Total out-of-pocket $21.91
Yearly grocery budget for two: $2820
(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $240 per year or $20 per month.)
- Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00 or $78.33 week with potentially 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-$49.88=$185.12/4= $46.28 per week
- Total Coupons Used this Week : $2.00
- Total Coupons Used to date: $45.50
- Total Discounts this Week: $0
- Total Discounts Used to date: $43.61
- Total Gift Cards Used to date: $33.18
- Total Rewards Points Used: $0
- Total Rewards Points Used to date: $20.00
- Stockpile Budget ($20.00): $22.44 so carry over to next month total to use $17.56
- Stockpile Budget Used to Date: $20.00+$19.08+$17.94+ $2.06+$20.00+$15.10 + $20.00 (June)+ $22.44 (July)
- Snap Saves to date: $0.25
- Zweet to date: $0.25
- Total Spent This Week: $27.67
- Total Spent So Far July: $31.56+ $64.72+$79.41+$27.67=$203.36-$185.12 (July Budget)= $18.24 over for the month
- Total Over/Under spend this shop: over
- Total Over/Under spend for the month: -$18.24
- Total Left to Spend for the Month: $0
- Total to Carry Over Next Month: -$18.24
- Total Spent To Date This Year: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $242.66+ Feb $191.74+ March $255.82+April $235.07+May $223.62+June $275.37+ July $203.36
- Weekly Overview: This week we stocked up on cheese as we are running low but have enough fruits and veg to get by. We use loads of cheese in the summer time so it’s essential to have around the house. That means we used up the stockpile budget for the month. Overall we were happy but still could have done better and will carry over the $18.24 to August.
Did you find any coupons? If so share the details in the comment section of this post where you found it and what the coupon is for with expiry. This week we didn’t spot any coupons where we went grocery shopping. I’ll keep posting here any photos of coupons that we do find.
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.
- 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.
- Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest Coupon Match-ups of the week and your weekly Checkout 51 offers 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.
- 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.
- 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 need to buy this or that.
You may also substitute items in order to stick to your grocery budget to make it work. Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget like many people do.
This is why the grocery game challenge was created to not only show you that we are like everyone else but to bring us all together to work as a team to get our budgets on track.
If you have just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2014 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.
Feel free to read all the above posts that I linked to above which I feel are relevant to learning about the grocery budget and grocery shopping in general.
You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!
Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge Canada 2014!
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