I’m sure if I asked you about where to buy food in your city you could come up with a list of grocery stores where you do your weekly food shopping or maybe just one that is above the rest.
The problem is not every store is created equally starting from the family owned grocer to grocery store chains.
This makes food shopping tricky for those that search out foods that meet or exceed their expectations but there’s more to the food when shopping that appeals to people.
Unless you buy your groceries online or get groceries delivered there must be something about that hidden environment you don’t see that is important to you. Do you wonder how and where the products you buy are stored? You can’t see that when you do the above but it might be important to you.
Food Shopping Experiences
We met up with some friends tonight and the topic of grocery shopping came up and no I didn’t bring it up. They mentioned how dead Target was every time they went in and how less than happy they were with shopping at Wal-mart.
The Wal-mart is close to their house and is busy, not as organized and the bathrooms aren’t always so clean. On the other hand Target is modern, fresh and is clean and we agree.
I know they are new stores but that doesn’t mean just because you have an older home that your house has to be dirty and unorganized. It’s up to the store to provide the best shopping experience for their customers round the clock. If that means that someone monitors the bathrooms every 30 minutes then that is what needs to be done. That’s not always the case.
The discussion moved from how clean the stores were to prices. My friend commented about why I would want to shop at Target as frugal as I am when the prices seem to be higher than at Wal-mart.
I don’t disagree but I also don’t agree because prices at Wal-mart aren’t as flashy frugal as most people think. If you are truly frugal you would see this and likely price match if you shop there or do part of your food shopping at Wal-mart and part in another grocery store.
The key here is going back to knowing your prices but picking out the best route of shopping for the time that you give to this chore. Not everyone has time to hit three stores when food shopping.
While the wife and I were on our food shopping bender in October we focused on pricing even more so because we have a baby and our overall budget has increased. Making sure we were getting the best deals and quality products was important to us but we also realized that we wanted to shop in an environment that was child-friendly.
By that we were looking not only for a clean store but one that offered bathrooms with a change table just in case we needed it or even a space to feed the baby if necessary. Another perk was whether the store had somewhere to sit down.
My wife remembers her grandfather always sitting in the mall waiting for her grandmother to finish shopping and if it wasn’t in the mall it was in the grocery store. One of the reasons we love to shop at Zehrs is because it has all the above.
The downside is that Zehrs doesn’t price match but if more customers complain maybe just maybe they will warm up to the idea. Are you listening Loblaws? I hope so, the customers are speaking.
Although we tend to find some of the better deals on everyday products at Food Basics and No Frills food shopping at a grocery store that offers almost everything we need including our bank (PC Financial) helps us enjoy the experience even more.
Keep in mind though if we want top of the line produce we certainly would go to Metro, Zehrs or RCSS but we need to be prepared to pay the price if it’s not on sale. For some quality is very important as it is for us.
Let’s be honest here and come right out and say that you can find most of the same products at the value grocery stores such as Food Basics, No Frills, Giant Tiger, Target and Wal-mart as the higher-end grocery stores like Metro, Zehrs and Sobeys in Ontario but you will see a significant price difference on some products.
Does the experience you get at these higher-end shops make up for that price difference you might be paying? Only you can answer that question.
An example of a recent purchase for us was when we bought steel-cut oats. The price at Food Basics was $2.79, No Frills $3.99 and Zehrs $4.79. It leads you to wonder just how much they buy it for at cost and the amount of profit they are making per bag.
This happens with every product we buy today so it’s important to be vigilant when it comes to prices rather than worry about whether someone will see you in a lower-end grocery store. It’s amazing how embarrassing it is for some people to shop at No Frills, Giant Tiger, Wal-mart and Food Basics or even Dollarama.
Remember that post about grocery store snobs? Ya, don’t be one of them because it will cost you big time! If you don’t prefer the supposed horrible quality and freshness of the products at some of the discount grocery stores you can easily do your dry shopping there and venture to either 1-local farms, 2-locally owned grocers or 3-higher end grocery stores.
Our Food Shopping Preferences
Personally, we haven’t had any major issues shopping at Food Basics compared to Metro except for price and a distinct difference in the produce, meat and fish quality. When I say distinct I only mean your apples and avocados might be bigger at one shop over the other and without dents and bruises. The same goes when you buy organic products or even the now popular gluten-free products.
I’m pretty sure most foods come from the same shipment just different quality levels when picked from the farm or orchards. You get what you pay for when it comes to fresh and convenience foods but for everyday products don’t get bit by overpaying if you can help it.
So in the end we favour Loblaws stores such as No Frills, RCSS and Zehrs because of the above reasons and it’s why we tend to favour shopping in them over the others when we can.
I recently asked my Facebook fans what was important to them in a grocery store and below is what they came up with. Let’s have a look at what you the fans discussed and why it’s important to you.
The results of the conversation weren’t shocking to me because these days most people can’t afford to dig deep into their pockets so they become smarter shoppers.
1-Availability of Product
Product availability is important because no one likes to make more than one trip to the grocery store. On the other hand some people might not mind when they run out of product because they can likely get a rain check and stop in again in a couple of days to get the deals plus hang on to that rain check for the month. Smart shopper that is!
For me, it would have to be availability of a product at a reasonable price.
Price, coupons, quality and availability are important to me.
It seems that product pricing will always top the food shopping wars no matter what. Over and over again pricing is what affects the grocery budget for just about everyone and with less money to spend on food shopping these days it trumps all.
Price but also quality….there are some things I will pay more for because I like food and want it to taste good.
Price is paramount. Especially when I have to supply 3 adults and a cat everything (food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, all household stuff in other words) on about $15/day.
Price is a big part of it for me…..there are 3 adults and a cat…..one is on a low sodium low cholesterol diet, one is just low sodium, and my son, the MSer needs to eat 2 good sized portions of protein a day with his meds….I only do a big shopping once a month and drive almost an hour to do it….fresh fruits n veggies I will buy here thru the month..
Price is critical to us but if nothing’s on sale, when we are home, I work from my stockpile. There’s always some fruit or vegetable that is cheaper that we can focus on.
If the store brand tastes similar and is cheaper than I go that route but sometimes the sales on name brand make it cheaper. One thing I never buy no name is cheez whiz lol.
People want to put healthy foods on the table and in their kid’s lunches so I can see why eating healthy is important but with that the products need to be of high-quality and value for your money. The hard part is when it comes to true ‘healthy products’ the price tag often goes up but paying a bit more to keep healthy in the diet is worth it to some people.
Price and health value
What can’t I say about this that I haven’t said before. Quality products not only get eaten up you have less waste. Freshness is very important here as well because you want to know that the store you are buying from takes freshness and quality seriously.
For me it is getting good quality at a fair price.
What is product value anyways? When I hear that my first instincts tell me that it’s how useful a product is. How far can we stretch our food shopping value to meet the needs of our families is something we often hear. It’s no wonder with the prices of food today. If we can buy in bulk for less you can bet we will and if we can make various meals from one product that is also a plus.
The most important thing for me when I grocery shop is value!!!
As you can see food shopping for each of us has different meaning but in the end it’s the amount of money that we dish out that most people focus on especially if you are trying to stick to your grocery budget.
What is important to you when you are food shopping?
November 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!
The October Grocery Game Challenge WINNER is>>>>>> #13 Mary~ Email me for your coupon prize!
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 savings process in your grocery budget today.
Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE. CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet for FREE.
NEW!! You can now download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel…Grab it while you can… It’s FREE! We use it to budget and in large part a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years, check it out!
Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide
Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is below with new information added monthly. If you are new here and haven’t had a chance to read past posts grab yourself a beverage, sit down, relax and enjoy some educational reading material on ways to save money in your grocery budget.
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.
Grocery shop results
If you are a foodie like I am you will enjoy going through my Free Recipe Index where recipes from CBB foodie Nicola and myself are shared every Sunday on the blog. Check it out! Try a recipe and leave a review for other fans!
Shoppers Drug Mart
- 2 x 2% Nielson Milk $3.97 each
- Gatorade powder Sale $4.79 reg $7.99
Total out-of-pocket $12.73
- 4 x Redpath Sugar $1.44 each
- 2 x Gatorade $1.77 (this is to help with breastmilk production for the wife however we didn’t realize you could buy Gatorade powder which we found at Shoppers Drug Mart.
- Ginger root $1.28
- Avocado $3.97 another great product for breastmilk production
- Red onion $0.52
- White onion $1.23
- Parsnips $4.93 (they were gorgeous so we couldn’t pass them up)
- Vanilla Candle $2.88
- Bag $0.05 (forgot our bags, oops)
Total out-of-pocket $24.16
Check Out Our Grocery Budget
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 November $235.00 This months grocery shop leaves us $265.78 over budget!! Our November and December grocery budget total will be as follows $470-$265.78=$204.22 or $102.11 to spend each month to keep us on track for 2014.
- Total Coupons Used this Week : $0
- Total Coupons Used to date: $64.19
- Total Discounts this Week: $19.04
- Total Discounts Used to date: $70.75
- 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): $0
- Stockpile Budget Used to Date: $20.00+$19.08+$17.94+ $2.06+$20.00+$15.10 + $20.00 (June)+ $22.44 (July) + (August) $8.00+ (September) $0 + October $19.92+November $
- Snap Groupon to date: $19.25
- Zweet to date: $4.00
- Cart Smart to date: $0
- Checkout51 to date: $12.75
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) $2.99
- Total Spent This Week: $36.89
- Total Spent So Far November $36.89+
- Total Over/Under spend this shop: $0
- Total Over/Under spend for the month: over $0
- Total Left to Spend for the Month: $0
- Total to Carry Over Next Month: $0
- 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+ August $228.26+ Sept $272.80+ Oct $451.48+Nov $
Weekly Overview: Not too bad of a start to the month although we still have a few weeks left and not much grocery budget left to spend. Good news though we have lots in the pantry so we should be on track to catching up with our overspend last month.
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.
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!
Are You New To Canadian Budget Binder?
- Follow Me on Social media by clicking any of the buttons below on the blog.
- Check out my new Free Recipe Index
- If you like FREE then click this link for my FREE Excel Budget Spreadsheet and all my Free Money Saving Lists!
Photo Credit: Free Digital Photos/ David Castillo