I had a fan ask me how we can grocery shop on $235.00 a month plus our $25.00 stockpile budget the other day. My answer was that it’s easy when you have your monthly eating plans based around cheap recipes.
What to cook for dinner? Put your hand up if you ask yourself this every night of the week. If that’s you then maybe you should be taking on a new path for your weekly meals which eliminates the need to ask this question.
I’d have a healthy bank account if I had a dollar for every time I see someone searching CBB for Welfare Recipes. I’ve said it once before and I’ll say it again, there is no such thing.
Just because you have low-income doesn’t mean you have to eat processed food all the time. Today I’m going to share with you some secrets to creating cheap recipes that pack a tonne of flavour.
Most families are looking for budget-cooking ideas because they have to feed more than 2 people so they want cheap recipes that the entire family will enjoy. The less time you spend in the kitchen also means you get to spend it with your loved ones.
Smart grocery shopping
Grocery shopping has to be one of the easiest chores to do, at least for me. I’d give up cleaning any day to grab a grocery cart and peruse the local market for delicious foods that I can create cheap recipes from.
It’s hard to put a dollar number on the cost to create your own cheap recipes because your monthly budget plan may be different to ours. Generally we aim to spend between $2-5 if we can but if there is meat involved it may bump that price up to around $8-$10.
The cheap recipes I create for Mrs. CBB and I don’t just fill us up for one meal either. Another thing I aim to do is stretch the meals to maybe a lunch the next day and another dinner if I can.
Don’t get the wrong impression when I say “cheap” or that it means we are eating processed foods or pre-made meals either. That’s far from the case but I will tell you that if you want to believe that you can’t eat gourmet meals for less then you will never cook outside the box.
Cooking is an art of creating meals by adding ingredients together to become one. Composing cheap recipes that fit with-in your budget takes imagination. Some of our favourite meals come from a crock-pot and all you need to do is set it and forget it. That’s how easy it can be.
If you take a look at our grocery shop below for this week you will notice the amount of pricier proper cheese that we bought BUT it was 50% off. Although the cheese wasn’t on our shopping list this is where our stockpile budget came in handy and helped us scoop up some deals.
Sure, we went over our budget this month but we will make it up next month and to us it was worth the over-spend. We just try not to make it habit so Mrs. CBB and I sat down and talked about foods we could use to create recipes that wouldn’t bury our grocery budget.
Eating healthy is part of our lifestyle but every now and again we like to splurge. So how exactly do we come up with these delicious cheap recipes and what are some of them? Well, I’m going to share with you a little secret…eating healthy.
That’s it, eating healthy is the basis behind our budget-friendly recipes that we create except for those meals that we enjoy once a month or as treats.
Here are some of our favourite cheap recipes that don’t bust our budget but are delicious and fit our life-style.
- Baked Loaded Cauliflower Pizza
- Black Bean Basa Burgers
- Carrot and Beet Salad
- Cheesy Crock-pot Lasagna
- Country Ham and Vegetable Soup
- Crock-pot Beef Stew
- Crock-pot Chili
- Crock-pot Pulled Pork with Homemade BBQ Sauce
- Crock-pot Turkey Meatballs With A Honey BBQ Sauce
- Crunchy Baked Chicken with Greek Tzatziki
- Cucumber Radish Salad with Fresh Mint
- Fettuccine with Tomato, Garlic, Lemon, Basil Sauce
- Homemade Granola Bars
- Meatless Sloppy Lentil Joes
- Sausage Potato Cabbage Tomato Stew
- Thai Fish Cakes
- Tomato Minestrone Soup
- Tomato Salad with Basil, Fennel and Chickpeas
You can check out the Free Recipe Index on CBB for the full list of cheap recipes that are budget-friendly.
Cheap Recipes 101
Eat less meat
If you buy cheaper cuts of meat or score a great deal on meat aim to marinade it with delicious spices to make the flavour pop. Most importantly, let your meat rest before cutting into it especially steaks and roasts.
If you cut it meat too soon after preparing it you will let all that beautiful flavour fall away and dry it out. Portion, Portion, Portion because we don’t need to eat too much, just enough to satisfy that meat-lovers need.
Meat prices in Canada have gone through the roof lately so another option is to call your local butcher to see what prices they offer.
You might even find a local vendor who sells meat packages and delivers them to your house for a better value. Either way research your options, lots of flavour, let it rest and portion size protein to about a deck of cards.
Tip: Don’t forget to keep those meat bones as well because they make a lovely broth for soups~
Go Fishing for fish
If you’re not a fisherman like myself you will have to buy fish at the local grocery store or fish market. We don’t have one in our area that I’m aware of but I’m sure if I went down-town Toronto I could find fresh fish all over the place.
You may also find the prices will be cheaper when you go right to the source rather than frozen at the grocery store or from a fish counter. If you must buy fish at the grocery store look for fish specials but I tend to stay away from any reduced fish prices.
When we grocery shop we like to buy salmon which we will buy fresh IF we can find a deal or frozen if it’s on sale. Alternatively if you love to fish, get out your fishing rod and start reeling them in.
Eat more vegetables
If you don’t have room for a vegetable garden which would could make you boatloads of cheap recipes the next best thing is to buy vegetables in season.
If you are lucky and live in an area with lots of farms with vendors who sell to the public you’ll likely get a better deal than at the grocery store plus you are supporting Ontario Farmers.
When we grocery shop for vegetables the first thing we do apart from already knowing what vegetables are on sale in the flyer that week is rush over to the reduced rack.
We have gotten so much for less from the reduced rack which we typically would use right away or clean and freeze for future meals.
Why not pay 50% off for vegetables if they are perfectly fine to eat? Most often they are at their ripeness point so they must be eaten right away. Instead of throwing produce in the garbage the grocery store will try to get any amount of money they can for them.
Vegetables of all kinds are not only healthy for you but low in calories and you can eat as much as you’d like. Load up with delicious salads, soups, casseroles etc. and create cheap recipes that will make a lasting impression on your family.
Spice it up
I’m a huge fan of using spices and our spice pantry is loaded with all the basic spices plus many others. A little tip about buying cheap spices… don’t buy them at the grocery store.
If your city has a Chinese or Indian store or other ethnic stores don’t be shy go on in. We went into an Indian store in Brampton a couple of years ago and left full. They were so inviting and the amount of spices they had for cheap blew us away.
While we were shopping they gave us samples of foods that were already prepared as they have an in-store bakery. Ever since then we try to go to our local shops to see what spices we can find.
Spicing up your meals doesn’t mean making it HOT… it means adding flavour to bland rice and peas which is another one of those cheap recipes we make. If you are not used to spices give them a try.
Shop for deals
This is a grocery shopping basic that everyone knows about.
Whether you are planning your grocery list around the weekly flyers, checking the reduced rack or using coupons or other in-store specials they all add up to spending less.That is provided the products were on your list or you have the money in your budget to cover the expenses.
Sometime those reduced foods can bump your grocery budget out of whack like it did for us this month. Be careful of this.
Don’t forget to keep your eyes open when cashing out because if a price scans higher than the shelf price you may get it free or up to $10 off the price. The Scanning Code of Practice is not widely known but becoming less of a stranger to consumers.
Mrs. CBB and I are working on getting back on track with meal planning. Since having our baby last year we’ve gotten off track and can certainly feel the stress of having a limited or last-minute plan in place.
Creating a meal plan together helped us to pick different ingredients that we wanted to try and pair them up to test out new recipes.
If you truly want to save money and eat good plan your shops and your meals and don’t over-shop. When you buy too much you end up with a house full of food that for the most part will go to waste if it doesn’t get eaten by the expiry date.
No/Limited processed foods
This one is easy. If you want to eat good food that won’t empty your pockets get rid of the processed foods. They won’t fill you up for long either meaning you’ll be hungry soon for more food.
Those convenience foods although they may be quick to make and tasty to those who don’t want to cook may find that it eats up your monthly grocery budget.
When that happens you have less food you can purchase which means less food to create great meals. Limit or drop buying processed foods to help motivate you to actually cook and create because if we keep buying this stuff it’s not likely we will have that incentive.
Clean eating is famous for less ingredients which helps to keep the meal healthy but also can be less expensive. If you want to create your own cheap recipes don’t go overboard and complicate the recipe. Keep it simple and remember less is more.
Buy in bulk
Have you noticed food packaging shrinking and prices going up? Yes, me too and just another reason to think in bulk.
This might not work for all products because you don’t want to have more food than you can eat in a time-frame otherwise you risk having pesky flour bugs invading your kitchen like it did for us.
Typically we like to buy rice and dry beans in bulk if we can because we do eat them on a regular basis. Other than that we have cut back buying many food products in bulk but just because we don’t do it doesn’t mean you can’t.
If your family eats one product consistently and you can find it in a bigger bag or package do the math and see if it’s worth the money. If not just buy the smaller version but typically we always see a pricing benefit.
Don’t think that healthy food can’t come in bags, boxes or tins either because that’s not true. Some people say to shop just the perimeter of the store otherwise you will buy junk that you don’t need. That may be true but down those middle aisle are your dry beans, pasta, canned no-sugar added fruits, spices etc.
Take caution when you shop and if your mouth starts trying to convince you that you need that bag of cookies it’s up to you then to make the call. Yes or No!
What are some shopping and food prep tricks you can share with us that help you create delicious cheap recipes?
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!
- How to keep an organized Pantry : The Grocery Game Challenge #1 Feb 2-8
- How to create a healthy grocery list: The Grocery Game Challenge #2 Feb 9-15
- How to grocery shop for free: The Grocery Game Challenge #3 Feb 16-22, 2015
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
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.
- PC Green Lentils Dry $1.99 1kg
- 2 x T&T Noodles $0.78 (Soba)
- Neilson milk 2% 4 L $3.97
- Organic Canola Oil $5.24-pink sticker $2.62
- Bean Sprouts $1.28
- 6 x Farmers Sausage 3 pk Reg $8.99 sale $1.99 🙂
- 3 x PC Sovrano Cheese ( Like Regiano Parmigiano) Reg $7.99-pink sticker 2267 PC Plus Pts
- 2x Havarti Cheese Reg $5.99-pink sticker 1511 PC Plus Pts
- 2 x Blue Cheese 50% off blowout $5.16, $4.25 1510 PC Plus Pts
- Cricketers Cheddar Cheese $5.99-pink sticker 755 PC Plus Pts
- $42.39 Cheese total- $15.96 Stockpile =$26.46
- Dry Chickpeas $3.99 2kg
- NN frozen kernel corn $1.99
- Ground Pork $6.10, $5.91, $5.89
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: 23960
- 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): $50.00
- Stockpile budget used this month: $25.00
- Total coupons used this week: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $3.00
- Total in-store discounts this week: $
- Total in-store discounts to date: $65.65
- Total spent this week: $70.70
- Total spent so far this month: $261.51
- Total over/Under spend this shop: $over
- Total over/Under spend for the month: $n/a
- Total left to spend for the month: $30.51 over for the month
- Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $166.49+ Feb $261.51
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts): We spent too much, how’s that. Oops! Let me explain. We went to Zehrs while waiting to get my hair cut and my wife’s eyebrows threaded. While we were inside we needed to grab some lentils for dinner but noticed lots and lots of pink stickers. It was pink sticker heaven.
We didn’t go hog wild but it was the cheese that caught our eye. We love cheese especially good cheese but it’s often far too pricey and out of our budget to buy.
Since it was 50% it makes for some cheap recipes and snacks this coming month. We also got lucky and found that Farmers Sausage which is double smoked and out of this world delicious. The cashier was even shocked it was so cheap.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Now I have to spend less in March BUT we are going home for a week as I have a week off so that’s one week of no shopping for us. Hopefully that will get us back on track.
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 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?:
YesNo, 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.
- Canadian Coupons: 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.
- What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
- How Do I Know what stores accept coupons?: 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 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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