The Grocery Game | Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

How to grocery shop for free : The Grocery Game Challenge #3 Feb 16-22, 2015

How to grocery shop for free



Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get all of your groceries for free every week and get rid of the grocery budget for good? It sounds like a great dream but let’s be honest, it’s not reality unless you’ve won free food for life.

I will warn you before you read this that not all my ideas are traditional in the sense you go into your grocery store and walk out with free food. I will however share with you the ways you can find free food that will cut back on your budget expenses.

When Mrs.CBB and I were chatting about getting free food we both realized that not everyone does a grocery shop at the supermarket for food. Some people can’t even afford to step foot into the grocery store so they must source food from other resources.

This led us to the conclusion that you could get free food but it might no necessarily come from the grocery store.

You might also not get everything that’s on your wish list but you will get food to eat but when it’s free are you really going to complain?


The Obvious Grocery Shop


Most shoppers create what would be considered a basic grocery list every week based on their grocery budget provided they have one. It’s shocking how many people freestyle shop and just pay the grocery bill.

Not everyone goes the extra lengths to put a budget in place so they just hope they don’t spend more than they should be.

If you are a smart shopper and you really need or want to get free food the grocery store is the place to start but it’s certainly not the place you are going to end at.

Let’s have a look now at all the places I found that you could grocery shop for food and not attack your wallet.


Rewards Cards and Programs


This is a no-brainer and just about every store and credit card has some form of rewards program you MUST sign up for. It is true though that in this category you have to spend money to make money to get free food but free is free.

When stores or credit card companies pay you to shop by rewarding you with points that you can later redeem at the grocery store for free food you’d be a fool to pass that up.

Rewards program sign-ups won’t have companies doing a credit check on you so open them up and collect points when you shop.

However I wouldn’t suggest opening credit cards just to get these perks. Find one that suits your needs if you choose to go down that route. We are fans of the President’s Choice Program and that’s what we use in the CBB house.

If you want to cut your grocery budget this is the way to go. Why not shop for free at the grocery store and reap the rewards as a loyal customer. We do it all the time!!

The Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum program, Neilsen home scan program, PC Plus Points are just a few programs that we are involved with that I know offer you some form of $ or points to help you grocery shop for free stuff!! That’s a deal worth shopping for.

Find out if your local university or other consumer related organizations in your community offer focus groups or free food for opinions.

You’d be shocked what companies are willing to pay and give away just for your opinion on new product lines. It’s still free food and in some cases we’ve been paid up to $100 for one hour of food testing and our opinion.


Coupon Apps and Coupons


I’m no extreme couponing dude but if you know your prices, the deals of the week and what coupons are out there you can easily score free food at the grocery store.

Many coupons can be stacked with the new coupon apps where you can get further food discounts and on many occasions I’ve seen some GGC players make money. Not only did they get free food they made cash in the process.

We aren’t big couponers any longer but back in the day it was easy to score free stuff at the grocery store especially when the product was on sale and had a further discount plus the coupon.


Mail in Rebates


We see this all the time and if you want free food simply scan around the grocery store for Mail In Rebate coupons, stickers or hang tags on products.

I’m sure you will find at least one or two products that don’t want you paying a dime for their product apart from a stamp to mail in your receipt to get a full-product refund check.

If you think people don’t just shop for mail-in’s think again. Free food, is free food. It’s not just food either think everything in the grocery store.

You might also find mail in rebates online that you can print, fill-out and send away with your receipt only to receive a cheque back in the mail weeks later. Free is good!


Scanning Code of Practice


The Scanning Code of Practice is widely used in many stores across Canada but many customers are not educated on the program itself.

The important thing here to remember is that free food can be yours if you are alert and watching the prices. I can’t tell you how many times before I knew about this program that I missed out on free food.


It was because I opted to have the cashier simply correct the price rather than apply SCOP. So you can certainly score some free food at the grocery store by applying SCOP if it fits the situation.


Dumpster Diving/Garbage picking


Now I’m not saying you are allowed to do this in Canada BUT it does happen. It’s your choice if you want to get caught but be aware if you are trespassing and get caught you will likely have to deal with the law.

There’s no sense sugar-coating what happens outside of the home but people do find free food in dumpsters or by tearing open garbage bags at restaurants and grocery stores. Who are these people? They are called freegans.

Freegans love to salvage food to save money and for political reasons because food waste is a big problem in society.

Why are we throwing away perfectly good food to eat when there are starving people all around us? That’s a good question and it’s heartbreaking when we hear about the amount of food that is found in trash bins all around our country.

I watched a program once about freeganism and it opened my eyes to what really is lurking in our garbage. I don’t even know what the program was called but it captured my attention because dumpster diving for food is not something we hear or see on a daily basis.

It’s not just people who have no money digging through the garbage either some of these people have lots of money in the bank or great careers.

Freeganism is the practice of reclaiming and eating food that has been discarded. Freegans and freeganism are often seen as part of a wider “anti-consumerist” ideology, and freegans often employ a range of alternative living strategies based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources.- Wikipedia

The blogger at Fabulously Broke who also runs The Everyday Minimalist shares her thoughts about why she loves and hates the idea of freegans. One point she brings up that I agree with and she is absolutely right is …

Lowering waste in landfills and feeding those who need it? I’m down for that.

First of all someone did pay for the food initially and now it’s being thrown out. We are essentially paying for someone to pick it up and get rid of it another process on its own. This food is getting pretty darn expensive now.

The reality here is that many people grocery shop for free from people or companies who throw food away. Realistic for the everyday consumer, not really BUT it’s out there.


Full-product food samples


Many times we have been fortunate enough to get full-size free food samples which helps cut our budget expenses. If you troll the internet you can find all sorts of freebies that will be mailed to you in the form of the actual product or free product coupons.

Some people do this on a daily basis and enjoy the thrill of getting free stuff especially food. Some of these high-value coupons that are given out by companies like the Chapman’s $5.00 off coupon at the time would pretty much score you free ice-cream.

If you call or email companies and ask to sample their food products they may let you but over the years we’ve seen this practice diminish because of the coupon boom in Canada. Companies are apt to direct you to Canadian coupon sites like Smartsource to get coupons savings instead.

We used to email companies every year who would send out coupons or actual products to our house. These companies want to get their products out to the masses because word of mouth sells.

Grocery shop on the internet or call companies for food freebies.


Contest wins


Entering contests and going on to win them especially prizes such as grocery gift cards, shopping sprees or just an amount of money to get food at the grocery store is a great way to stock up. If you don’t think it’s possible think again.

Back a few years ago my wife entered an online Mother’s Day contest where she had to write about her mother and what she would cook for her special dinner.

My wife won $200 worth of PC gift cards. Don’t say you will never win because look what happened to my wife!

Have you ever won any grocery store contests?


Facebook Free Stuff Pages


If you belong to any Freebie or Frugal Free Facebook pages you know that people give away free food all the time.

It’s not easy for some people to throw food in the garbage that is perfectly good to eat. It may be they are changing their diet for health reasons or lifestyle change and would rather offer it for free to people who will eat it.

Just the other day we read about a woman who emptied out her freezer of food products she bought that she didn’t think she would have time to eat. She offered all the food free to whoever wanted to come and pick it up.

Grocery shop on Social Media sites where freebies are offered in your area.




Although you have to pay for a hunting and fishing licence in Ontario (Outdoors Card) besides that fee you can grocery shop the lakes or whichever body of water surrounds you.

If you have land that is hunting land you can easily fill your freezer with meat by hunting for food that won’t cost you a penny apart from the license, gun and ammunition. Eventually if you are a lucky hunter or fisherman you will catch more food that would offset those costs.

If you know about foods that grow in the wild such as mushrooms and greens you can easily spot these foods if you are foraging outdoors.

My father-in-law is an expert when it comes to finding mushrooms, asparagus and other fruits and veg that grow among us but many of us don’t see it.

The important part here to remember is you get to catch and source your food, clean it and prepare it the way you want it.

Grocery shop nature!


Volunteer your services


A great way to grocery shop for free food is at local garden centres or co-op gardens where you can work for free food. Some of these organization simply need volunteers to help pick weeds, plant food and help harvest it.

For your time you get to grocery shop the gardens for free and take home fresh grown fruits and vegetables.

Helping out is great and although we should never expect anything in return when we volunteer it’s always a nice gesture from these types of organizations. We have one in our city that I am aware of.

Grocery shop by volunteering.


Food Bank


Having to go to the food bank to grocery shop is not somewhere people want to be in their lives but have no other choice. The important part is that people can grocery shop for free at the Food Bank and the hep is there for them.

If you are someone who doesn’t need the help stay away and leave the food for those in need. You might even make a donation yourself to help others out.

Grocery shop the food bank when in need.


Leftovers from work


If your work has parties or meetings where food platters or food in general is brought in offer to do the clean-up and if you are allowed, take the food home. Grocery shopping at work is great when free food is on the table for the taking.

I can remember more than one conversation with CBB fans who say they didn’t have to cook dinner because they brought free food home from a work function. Hey, it’s free might as well save yourself some money and eat it up!

If you work for banquet halls or even restaurants you may even be able to take food home at the end of the night instead of throwing it in the garbage.

Grocery shop work functions.


Gift Cards/Gifts


Grocery shop your wallet for all those gift cards you received as gifts.

If you are so lucky to score gift cards for your birthday or other another occasion you celebrate you can use those gift cards to grocery shop for free.

You didn’t pay the money for the gift card so use it to your advantage and get the most groceries you can instead of blowing it on expensive food that won’t stretch the grocery budget.

So many people lose or forget they even have gift cards so make sure you track them or use them  before it goes missing or is forgotten.


Ask For It


There have been times when we are talking to the produce guy at the grocery store and we ask if he’s got any bananas at the back that he is going to get rid of for less and many times he’s just given them to us.

Grocery stores don’t want you riffling through their garbage dumpsters but if you really need food there’s no harm in just asking for it.

Not everyone has the courage to do this and not every grocery store will hand out free food but don’t assume that nothing will be done to help those in the community aside from local soup kitchens and food banks.




Ah ha! I’m sure you never thought to grocery shop in your own back-yard, greenhouse or sun-room but it’s entirely possible to get free food this way.

If you are a lover of gardening you have installed rain barrels that collect free rain water that will help your garden grow.

You may need to make some initial investments in seeds but at the end of each gardening season you can use seeds from your vegetables and fruit to grow more free food the next year.

If you invest in seeds the cost is minimal compared to what you would pay if you went to the grocery store to shop. The water bill might be slightly higher if you don’t have a rain barrel but for those that do gardening is an almost sure-fire way to grocery shop for free.

Grocery shop in your back-yard.

What other ways can you think of where you can grocery shop for free?


February 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!


Grocery Saving Tips


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

2014 Free Money Saving ToolsFree 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


the ultimate grocery shopping guide cbbEverything 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.


2015 Grocery shop results


If you are a foodie like I am you will enjoy going through my Free Recipe Index where recipes from CBB Home Chef Nicola Don and myself are shared every Sunday on the blog. Check it out!

Yearly grocery budget for two 2015: $2820

(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $240 per year or $25 per month.


  • Dole Peach Slices $1.25
  • Unsweetened Apple Sauce $1.79
  • 2x PC White Corn Tortilla  $2.79 each
  • 2x Lipton Tomato Soup $0.99 each
  • 2 x Neilson Milk 4L $3.97 each
  • Peach Salsa $2.50-50%
  • Tre Stelle Asiago $8.82-50%
  • The Craic Cheddar $5.99-50%
  • Cricketers  Cheese $5.99-50%
  • 2x Summerfield Roasted Garlic Hummus $4.49-50% (had coupons forgot them :/ again)

Total-out-pocket $31.70

Food Basics

  • Garbage bags $1.79
  • Premium Bananas $1.76
  • Anjou pears $1.85 (4)
  • Astro Original Yogurt $2.49 (yes I had the $1.00 coupon at home)
  • 2 x light ricotta cheese $2.99-30% or $0.90 each

Total-out-pocket $12.07

Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)

  • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $235.00
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $20.00
  • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 15257
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0

Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)

  • Snap Groupon to date: $1.50
  • Zweet to date: $1.00
  • Cart Smart to date: $0
  • Checkout51 to date: $0

GROCERY SHOP THIS WEEK (add any other sections you need to show expenses and savings)

  • Stockpile budget 2015 ($25.00): $15.96
  • Stockpile budget used to date: $25.00+$15.96
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $3.00
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $11.10
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $26.04+$18.61
  • Total spent this week: $43.77
  • Total spent so far this month: $147.04+$43.77=$190.81
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: $under
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: $n/a
  • Total left to spend for the month: $40.19
  • Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $166.49+ Feb $n/a

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts): Well I managed to forget to grab the coupons yet again so I’m out a few dollars this week I could have saved.

I really need to work on getting the coupons ready to go or just leave them in the vehicle. With working so many hours grocery shopping has been put on the back-burner a bit so I’m not making it a priority but I should.

I know that I will be focusing more once this month is over as my hours will be shortened by 5 a week. I’m hoping to get back on track. As you will see I found plenty of pink sticker deals this week mainly on cheese which is great as we would never normally purchase at the asking price.


 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.

Mrs Vickies Coupons Canada

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 but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something that is scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it all together. Don’t let that be you! You can post your shops all month-long.
  • Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: Yes No, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year so we can plan accordingly for our budget. 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.
  • What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
  • 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 2015 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. If you are brave and want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!

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 2015!

Join in and become money savers and take control of your grocery budget.



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