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Types of food bank donations and ways to save: The Grocery Game Challenge #1 Dec 1-7, 2014

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food bank donations



Donations and food drives around the holidays are ramped up all over the world in hopes of making sure that all families have something to eat for the holidays.

It’s not easy to come forward and ask for help but there are people who could really benefit from your generosity.

Last year was the first time at my place of employment that we were able to help a family in the community who wasn’t able to provide their children with gifts to open on Christmas morning.

Not only did we make sure that the kids were taken care of we all donated a few dollars to buy them a gift card to a local grocery store so they could buy food to make a festive family dinner.


Ways to give


During the year we make Salvation Army donations and give away free clothing and other items we don’t need via Kijiji and Facebook. Most of these places make it easy to donate like the Salvation Army drop-off centers so you don’t even have to go into the store. You can make a Goodwill donation, Bibles for Missions and a Value Village donation much the same way.

Over the course of  the holiday season you could offer a Christmas gift donation to a family along with non-perishable items to be added into a Christmas hamper. You can also help by donating your time to a local soup kitchen or church group.

Other ways we like to give to our community is by donating to the local food bank once or twice a year. There are many companies who send out coupons or place coupons in grocery stores or offer printable coupons. Coupons are a great way to reduce the cost to you and/or allows you to purchase more items to donate. If you are not a couponer but want to give to a local charity keep coupons in mind.

Related: Ontario Food Bank Hunger Report 2016

If you have products at home that you bought but no longer need or you don’t think you will use them consider turning them into donations. There’s no point letting them collect dust on a shelf.

By participating in a rewards card program you can save up points then cash out when you see fit to donate to your local food bank. We have over $1000 in Shoppers Optimum Reward points so we will be cashing in on redemption day to make some food donations. I don’t think that the food bank will accept grocery store gift cards but you can certainly make a cash donation.


Filling the Food Bank


The food bank is not the only place that accepts food donations as many other organizations hold a food drive all year-long. The food bank may put out a donation request more so near the holidays and with that request they ask for non-perishable food items.

What are non-perishable food items? Some people might think to donate canned goods but there’s more items you can add to the list.

These are items that won’t necessarily spoil. I’ve put a mini list together below and yes you can donate baby formula because babies have to eat too! This is not an exclusive list as there are so many food products available for donation but keep in mind that each community food bank may differ slightly with what they will accept.

  • Canned fish
  • Dry Pasta
  • Soups
  • Tea bags
  • Coffee
  • Canned pastas
  • Cereal bars
  • Crackers
  • Pancake syrup or mix
  • Dry beans
  • Sugars
  • Canned bean
  • Canned vegetables
  • Powdered milk
  • Flour
  • Baby formula/ Samples
  • Peanut butter
  • Cake mixes
  • Icing sugar
  • Jam/Jelly
  • Pudding mix
  • Jello mixes
  • Pretty much any canned food
  • Juice boxes
  • Herbs and spices
  • Rice
  • Fruit bars
  • Dried fruits, meat and nuts
  • Pretty much anything that comes in a box
  • Dehydrated potato flakes
  • Cereals
  • Oils
  • Frosting
  • Cous-cous, Quinoa
  • Cornmeal

What are some non-food items to donate?

I’ve come up with what I can think of but I’m sure there are more items we can add to this list. Leave a comment on this post with more items to add!

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Body lotion
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Hairspray
  • Mousse
  • Shaving cream/gel
  • Baby disposable diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Laundry soap
  • Facial tissue
  • Liquid hand soap
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Paper towel
  • Toilet paper
  • Sandwich bags/paper lunch bags
  • Unopened hair brushes
  • Unopened razors
  • Floss
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Cleaning products

If you are not 100% sure what your local food bank or charity will accept for non-perishable or non-food related items simply drop by and ask or give them a call.

For more inspiration I asked my Facebook fans to share stories about donations they may give or types of volunteer work they do not only for the holidays but throughout the year.

Jen Peacock: I donate every year at this time. At work we make note of needy families within the school. We call and ask if they’re willing to receive help for Christmas. Different departments taken on families to provide for. Most people contribute money to buy items.

I use coupons to donate. I tend to stick to certain brands for some items like bar soap so if I see a free or cheap deal for another brand I will pick them up for donating ( I am donating a ton of Ivory and Lever 2000 bar soap this year. Last year it was Olay soap).

I also have baby rice cereal from a Free Product Coupon (FPC), gluten-free pasta from an FPC, Barilla pasta cheap or free with coupons, toothbrushes and toothpaste free with coupons, wrapping paper bought on clearance, tons of sample products from all the sample boxes that P&G and sample source send out.

I have Purex and Sunlight detergent bought cheap with coupons (I’m a Tide girl). I collect these items all year in a box and then donate them at Christmas to the selected needy families within our school community.

Michelle Kelson: Yes. Every year. I learned there is not enough to go around and that what is given hardly gives a healthy meal. I do a hundred-dollar challenge where I collect coupons and maximize my $100 donation.

Tanis Good Gloe:  We keep a grocery cart in our narthex. The food bank lets us know what they are low on. I would give protein with a long shelf life, like tuna or peanut butter. I have volunteered at a church camp cook, a relief driver for Meals on Wheels, and as a volunteer for a mass Thanksgiving dinner for senior citizens.

Faith Loewen: We used to contribute with a bunch of families & donate a large sack of red lentils. Dollar for dollar excellent protein & fibre. The food bank divided them into small portions for distribution.

If I were putting them in a hamper I would include a few recipes (curry – with a can of coconut milk and good curry spice or paste; burritos- with chili powder or taco spice mix plus a box of tacos, etc). Also in my community we add other stuff the family could use – clothes etc. Whatever we see as a need, on top of the food.

Nancy Patriarca: Hi this will be my 2nd year putting together a food drive. Last year was for the daily food bank and this year it will go to another charity that helps feed 320 families that are in need we raise money and food.

Christine Weadick: The younger boy used to work for the Thrift store here in town. Last year and this year he has helped out at the food bank, and with the Hampers doing sorting, set-up and any reaching that is beyond what the ladies can do. I have baked for the bake sale in June they have every year for the last while.

The boys and I have all manned the kettles as well. They are always asking for things like peanut butter and canned fruit other than pineapple, snacks and lunch type things for the kids, juice and juice boxes, bread, canned beans(so many don’t know how to cook the dry) and that kind of non-perishable things.

Colleen Knudsen: Yes both myself and my partner have volunteered (sorry he was paid for part of it…..he drove the truck for pick ups). I helped with sorting and making hampers. I learned that there is way too many people who have to utilize food banks.

Also the food bank provided muffins for a school breakfast program and it is really sad that people can’t eat healthy off a hamper….canned meat….distressed produce…no dairy…no eggs…lots of bread and donuts too. That’s about it.

Juanita Paul: I haven’t but when in high school I was very involved in the food drive and organizing everything into boxes to be delivered to local families.

I always do what I can to help donate items to the food bank or to some ladies that head downtown and hand out directly to the homeless. Also when some of the other local couponers do a shout out to help a family in need I always keep extra on hand to help donate.

What other tips could you add for those who want to make donations in their community?


December 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 GGC Winner for November goes to….. #15 Christine Weadick!! Email me for your prize!


Grocery Saving Tips


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

NEW: Sign up today!!>>> Homescan Canada! Join the Neilson Homescan consumer panel. If chosen you will receive rewards by scanning the barcode on your grocery purchases and completing fun surveys with the scanner provided to you from Homescan Canada. One registration per household. Once you sign up using the link above you will be put on a reserve waiting list and randomly selected households will be chosen. Sign up now…. it’s worth it!!

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!

No Frills

  • 4 x Lactancia butter sale $2.97 each
  • Pork chops reduced $3.00-$0.90
  • Mild Italian Sausages reduced $4.40-$1.32
  • Mild Italian Sausages reduced $4.20-$1.26
  • Rapini $2.47

Total out-of-pocket $20.17

Food Basics

  • 6 x Black Diamond Cheese Sale $4.44- $2.00 wub 2 coupons (stockpile budget $20.64 (over $0.64 but we were under last month so we are good)
  • 2 x light ricotta Silani Sale $2.00 each
  • 2 x Parmalat Milk 4l $3.97 each
  • 2 x frozen spinach $1.49 Rachel Ray says it’s best to use frozen as you’ll get more bang for your buck. She’s right it would take me lots of spinach to get what you get in this brick)
  • 3 x Russet Potatoes 3/$5.00
  • Bananas $1.32
  • Chipits chocolate chips sale $6.99 (the monster bag lol)
  • Cheerios Sale $4.00 Jumbo box
  • Premium plus crackers $2.98
  • Roasted red peppers $1.79
  • Baking Powder $2.49

Total out-of-pocket $39.49



  • 4 x jars of Italian Pesto Sale $0.50 each WOW!! Awesome deal! They were reg $4.xx
  • Philadelphia Cream Cheese Sale $1.99
  • Olympic Coconut Yogurt $4.19-pink sticker 50% (this is my new favourite yogurt in Canada)
  • 2 x bacon Sale $3.99 each

Total out-of-pocket $14.07


 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 : $6.00
  • Total Coupons Used to date: $74.19
  • Total Discounts this Week: $3.48
  • Total Discounts Used to date: $74.23
  • Total Gift Cards Used to date: $33.18
  • Total Rewards Points Used: $0
  • Total Rewards Points Used to date: $40.00
  • Stockpile Budget ($20.00): $20.64
  • 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+Dec $
  • Snap Groupon to date: $2.00 (cashed out $23.xx this week) 🙂
  • 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: $73.73
  • Total Spent So Far December $73.73  (we have $89.72 to spend for the month)
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: $n/a
  • Total Over/Under spend for the month: over $
  • Total Left to Spend for the Month: $15.99
  • Total to Carry Over Next Month: $n/a
  • 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+ Dec $

Weekly Overview: 

We spent almost the entire budget this shop but we loaded up on items on sale. Next week will be our last shop for the month as we are heading to my wife’s parents for the holidays and won’t need food. I’ll still be posting the GGC though.

The past couple of months have been hard for us in the kitchen as our son is not sleeping at night and our hours are all messed up. I’m hoping in the next month or two this boy can get back in the kitchen cooking more. I’ve wanted to bake olive bread for ages. I know that I’ll be baking extra to bring to our neighbours who have fed us since our son was born.

We may just make our yearly goal for the 2014 year grocery budget!


 Coupon Sleuth


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.

Canada Coupons December 2014


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.
  • 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 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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Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos/nirots


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