DON’T FAIL BEFORE YOU BEGIN
We always have people who find out about our grocery game challenge ask how we manage to eat healthy on such a tight budget.
To be honest it’s not that difficult to do especially if you are open to trying new foods and staying away from the foods you don’t need.
Last week I blogged about grocery shopping at the Dollar Store and sure you might be able to pick up a few bits but you can’t eat healthy buying food in a store like that unless fresh produce and veg is offered.
Eat healthy for life
Everyone and I repeat everyone will have their own idea of what “healthy eating” means to them. You may feel that eating a healthy diet of fruits and veg is healthy where another may think that only eating organic is the way to live the healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy means eating whole foods that are prepared fresh and not eating more than your body needs.
This is why when people ask me “How much should my grocery budget be?” I can’t answer them because based on personal needs they are the only one’s who can come up with that number. Your budget is your budget and depending on your financial health your grocery budget will be up to you how much money you can put towards eating every month.
I don’t tell people that they should or shouldn’t buy certain foods because you know your health, you know what you can or can’t eat. There are different levels of eating healthy and that doesn’t mean you have to buy the best cuts of meat or all name-brand products to get the proper nourishment your body craves. Creating inexpensive meals in line with your budget is easier than you think.
Often people who are on a limited income have a smaller grocery budget to work with and feel that the only way to stretch that dollar is to buy pre-made foods. The real surprise comes when we look at the overall costs of these convenience foods and find out they really aren’t that cheap at all.
Smart grocery shopping
On the odd occasion we like to buy foods that aren’t so good for us like full-fat ice-cream, cookies and crackers but we don’t do it every single week.
Everyone knows that most foods to avoid are in the middle aisles of the grocery store so they say if you want to stay away from processed foods don’t bother going down them unless you have willpower. That is true but there still are many grocery items you can buy down those aisles that will help you create healthy meals.
Now that we have a son we know as he gets older we want to teach him the importance of cooking at home and purchasing fresh ingredients. Buying local and from the farms is great but not always possible throughout the year so taking him grocery shopping and teaching him how to shop will be a goal of ours.
There’s also plenty of frozen fruits and vegetables that are delicious and are flash frozen just after picking that are nutritious and if you want to eat healthy there’s no reason not to buy them.
Our monthly grocery budget for two is $235 or $2820 for the year. Most people can’t get over how little we spend but we’re not the only one’s who don’t need to spend a large amount to eat healthy. There are plenty other people who eat healthy on less but not everyone has pricing and product options like the next person.
You might live in a small town with one grocery store and the prices are higher so you may be forced to shop there which could drive your grocery budget up.
Many of our meals are 30 minute-meals but on occasion we like to make a roast or bake other goodies in the oven such as a casserole or we even turn to the loved crock-pot. Buying certain foods in bulk such as dry beans, spices and even vegetable when on sale can save money and contribute to eating healthy.
Some of our favourite go-to meals involve rapini, cheap cuts of meat, fish, potatoes, rice, cous-cous, beans, beans and more beans plus loads of fruits and vegetables. On occasion we enjoy baking our own bread but when we don’t we like to buy different types of bread ranging from flat-bread to pita bread. There’s also some delicious pasta meals you can make with frozen tortellini, ravioli, gnocchi and perogies.
How can you eat healthy without going broke? Easy… in these four steps that I will share with you today.
This is one area where lots of people fail. Why? We don’t like to plan what we eat because we don’t know where we will be from one night to the next nor what we will feel like eating.
While that might be true it’s better than having no plan at all. When we plan what meals we want to eat it also helps us to build a healthy grocery list when we go shopping.
You see this keeps all the junk out of your shopping cart because you’ve already invested the time needed to know what meals you will create, what products you need and the approximate costs involved.
If you are someone who works odd hours or more hours than you’d like meal planning can work in your favour if you set one day a week aside and prep all your meals. You can get all of your meals ready to go in aluminum trays and freeze them so all you need to do is warm them up or bake in the oven.
Setting the crock-pot before you leave for work or running your errands also helps you from wanting to reach for unhealthy foods.
Try new foods/recipes
If you are someone who gets bored eating the same foods over and over and would rather go out to eat because of variety remember you can always create take-out food at home.
All you need to do is find new recipes that suit your dietary and budget needs and start cooking. If you don’t have the internet at home go to your local library and print recipes, take out books from the library or even go to a second-hand shop where you will find cheap recipe books or magazines.
You might even get lucky looking for free stuff on Kijiji or Facebook that people are giving away. With these recipes you are now armed with what I like to call “cooking power” because without this we may not want to experiment.
If you are someone who doesn’t want or need a recipe but would rather create new meals on your own that’s fine too as long as you are enjoying what you do.
Cooking is all about trial and error so if you mess up on one recipe you know what you don’t want to do the next time. Be advised that this type of experimenting might yield waste if you create a disaster meal.
The choice is yours though. Having a mindset to eat healthy starts with you so don’t be afraid to test the waters with new products that you’ve never cooked with before.
Watch what you eat
If you don’t want to eat unhealthy foods, don’t. No one is shovelling it down your throat and you can’t use the excuse that you couldn’t afford to eat healthy yet you are buying fast food, smoking, drinking and so on… or spending your money on junk you don’t need. Even if you aren’t doing any of that you can little by little build a healthy stash of food for your pantry so you can broaden the foods that you cook.
I know someone who would rather spend $90 a month on a cell phone she thinks she needs because everyone else has one yet she complains she can’t afford to eat healthy. No one NEEDS a cell phone we just need that security blanket which is something that we didn’t need years ago and survived just fine. Most often the cell phone is used for everything but making a phone call, what it was intended to do.
If eating healthy is important to you than sometimes we have to make sacrifices to achieve certain goals. We were smokers for many years but we decided to kick the habit coming up 3 years smoke-free in January so we could get fit, eat healthy and be healthy. The more time that has passed we no longer think about it and more money in our pockets.
It’s not easy to quit a habit even if it is over-eating or other addictions but it’s important to try. You might just surprise yourself. Always consult your doctor though as he/she may have some professional advice for you.
It’s great if you have a grocery budget BUT if your grocery budget is too tight then you might get frustrated or bored with it quickly. No one says that just because you have a $20 weekly grocery budget that you must buy crap to eat.
You are after all in charge of your own body so don’t deny eating healthy meals because you are too lazy to cook or don’t know how. Unless you are physically unable to cook you should be able to get in the kitchen to get your hands dirty. There are lots of cooking classes you can attend or even watch You Tube videos to get your creative juices flowing in the kitchen.
If you are used to eating certain foods or need certain foods and your budget isn’t covering the costs you might have to look at adjusting the budget amount, find cheaper product alternative or ways to stretch healthy foods so you switch up meals so you eat something different each night.
Although I’ve only scratched the surface sharing some of the ways you can eat healthy the above starter tips will get you on track to eating healthy. Once your engine is roaring you know what you need to do and you find new ways to keep the body fueled with good eats without breaking the bank.
What ways do you eat healthy with your grocery budget?
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 5 most important food shopping features in a store: The Grocery Game Challenge #1 Nov 3-9, 2014
- How to grocery shop like a professional personal shopper: The Grocery Game Challenge #3 Nov 10-16, 2014
- Buying cheap food at the dollar store shouldn’t be your only option: The Grocery Game Challenge #4 Nov 17-23, 2014.
Grocery Saving Tips
Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!
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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!
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 : $4.00
- Total Coupons Used to date: $68.19
- Total Discounts this Week: $0
- Total Discounts Used to date: $70.75
- Total Gift Cards Used to date: $33.18
- Total Rewards Points Used: $20.00
- Total Rewards Points Used to date: $40.00
- Stockpile Budget ($20.00): $15.52 Black Diamond Cheese Bars
- 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 $0
- 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: $55.82
- Total Spent So Far November $36.89+$21.79+$55.82=$114.50-$102.11=$12.39 over budget
- Total Over/Under spend this shop: -$12.39
- Total Over/Under spend for the month: over -$12.39
- Total Left to Spend for the Month: $0
- Total to Carry Over Next Month: -$12.39
- 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 $114.50
Weekly Overview: This was a no-shop week for us and our last shop for November. We have also been fortunate to have our neighbour bring us a few meals to help with our new baby. If we stock up on anything we will use up the stockpile budget of $20. I will report the expense next shop if used this week.
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.
Since we did not grocery shop this week we have no coupons to report.
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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