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How the Food Network helps us save money : The Grocery Game Challenge #1 Mar 2- 8, 2015

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how the food network saves us money in our kitchenINSPIRE YOUR DINNER MENU


I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Food Network junkie because I’m a guy who loves to cook and eat good food.

How many times can you recall that you know a product, how to prepare it or where to buy it because you watched it all go down on the Food Network?

I have that happen to me often and although it’s not the only way to learn about food today I’m going to talk about how the Food Network inspires our menu and grocery budget.

Over the years when I lived in the UK I travelled to many countries around the world. I was never the guy who stayed at resorts because I wanted to hang out with the locals and experience some of the culture. When it came time to eat I would find food vendors and small restaurants down alleys or off of the main streets.

Hanging out and chatting to the people who eat and prepare local cuisine is a great way to learn about exotic and cultural foods that you might not find at home. If you do it may be in a 5-star restaurant or a shop you never thought to look in.

So, I’ve had my fair share of good eats over the years but I’m no chef and I haven’t even put a dent in the amount of dishes that are served up around the world. I probably never will.

On my travels I used to collect cookbooks because that was what we used to source and research recipes before the internet became the recipe hub of the world.

These days my cookbook collection is still being used but I’ll be honest when I say I have to wipe the dust from many of them. Television programs like the Food Network, online blogs and social media corners of the web have my attention when it comes to food education.

I’m a huge fan of Pinterest and enjoy reading recipes but nothing beats watching the Food Network for me and actually seeing the Food Network chefs at work in the kitchen. The amount of information my wife and I have learned over the years is beyond what we ever expected.

I’m not the only one that would rather watch the Food Network over hockey but besides my family and working-out food is a passion of mine. I believe that eating well attributes to not only a healthy lifestyle but a happier me>>us.

When I met my wife we both watched the Food Network with Nigella Lawson being my all-time favourite TV chef. Although she’s a beautiful woman it’s her cooking knowledge (have you seen her cookbook collection?),passion for what she does and respect for the food she eats that intrigues me.

Just recently I’ve watched Ree Drummond from The Pioneer Woman because she is practical and cooks simple easy meals for her large family that don’t cost a fortune. If you watch her program most ingredients she uses are everyday pantry staples.

My wife on the other hand keeps it no secret that she is a fan of Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey. I remember when we were walking downtown London UK and stopped by Gordon’s restaurant at the time named Claridges and she got all giddy.

She wanted to go in to eat but after reading the cost of the wine list it was clear that it wasn’t for us. You have to have $$$ and a way to get on the reservation list which meant it likely wasn’t going to happen for us.

Although saying that some patrons who came out said we must go in for lunch as it was divine and that Gordon was inside. Yes they had to squeeze that in so my wife had to bounce up and down with excitement. It took me 30 mins to convince her that Gordon wasn’t going to use the front door to exit the restaurant and to put her camera away. haha!

Claridges closed in June 2013 after Gordon shut it down.

Now that we live in the GTA there are many Food Network chefs kicking around and a plethora of functions one can attend which feature the Food Network chefs that Canada has come to love.

Food Network chef Susur Lee who has 4 local restaurants in Toronto and Mark McEwen who owns North 44 are among two popular chefs in our area. We have yet to meet any Food Network chefs or visit any of their restaurants but it’s on our bucket list.

Just recently Food Network Canada has run Gordon Ramsey’s new(er) shows here but I’m sure they are already old in the UK.

Gordon invites us into his home to meet his family which is great and he shares how easy it is for his kids to help him cook quick meals. His kids are quite smart when it comes to food knowledge which they should be with a celebrity chef as their dad.

His other program is what intrigues me “Gordon’s Ultimate Cookery Course” as he educates his audience. That’s what I crave as a home cook. He found a loop-hole and is filling it…kitchen knowledge for the viewers.

It’s these types of programs that inspire me to try new foods that I may never have heard of but might have seen. Best of all is he shows us how to prepare products using simple cooking terms that we can understand.

Saving with Jamie is another great show where he actually breaks down the costs of the meal with his team for your grocery budget. He understands how costly food can be but he wants to show us how we can still eat “loverly” food and not break the bank. Yes he says loverly not lovely.

Jamie markets himself well even on Instagram and with his Jamie magazine but his large following only goes to show just how people crave eating well for less.


Product knowledge and sourcing ingredients


In the CBB house our food menu is based around weekly flyer sales but also from inspirations and the knowledge we gain by watching the Food Network. By applying techniques and using ingredients that the Food Network chefs teach us we are able to spend less and eat good food.

Buying herbs and spices for your pantry will add much-needed flavour to food but there is a large price difference between Supermarket spice prices and independent Asian stores.

Adding in flavour with good quality ingredients is a chef essential, but you don’t have to spend a fortune buying your items. Aside from visiting local farmers markets in your area you can get more bang for your buck by sourcing quality ingredients outside of the supermarket.

As an example, we were looking for Star Anise and only half of the Supermarkets stocked it at a price of roughly $4.50 for a small jar stuffed with approximately 8-10 Stars.

Knowing that the independent Indian or Chinese stores in the UK have it for less I sourced our local stores. Sure enough, I found Star Anise in a large bag for $1.99 at approximately 10 times the amount too.

We also always buy Basmati Rice from India in a bag and not the Long Grain Rice from the U.S. purely because it’s better. Finding excellent ingredients makes your food taste better and you’ll have to use less of a good quality product than if you used a cheap alternative saving you money over time.

Sesame oil is another example, we use Japanese Kadoya Sesame Oil as opposed to those cheaper Chinese alternatives. Sure it’s a little more money but it definitely offers a far superior taste and lasts longer. We used to buy it from Walmart as it was the only place I could find it at a cost of $4.39 but have since found it cheaper.

Try going to the areas of town where certain ethnic populations tend to shop and you will notice that there is a distinct price change for the better when the item is more popular.

Many of these ingredients come to our attention by watching television shows on the Food Network, travelling, cookbooks or in simple conversation with others who love to cook.


Food Network Chefs


My Top 15 Food Network TV shows that I watch which help inspire me to cook new meals, use unknown products and save money.

  • Chopped Canada
  • Save with Jamie
  • Cut Throat Kitchen
  • Diners, Drive In’s and Dives
  • The Pioneer Woman
  • Gordan Ramsey’s Ultimate Cookery Course
  • Guys Grocery Games
  • Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics
  • Chef Michael’s Kitchen
  • Jamie’s meals in  minutes
  • Spice Goddess
  • French Food at Home
  • Farmhouse Rules
  • Rachel Ray’s Week In A Day
  • Pitchin In

Are you inspired by any Food Network chefs and how does the Food Network help you to save money while introducing new recipes for your family?


March 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!

Congratulations goes out to #14 Kathryn for winning the February GGC!! Send me an email to claim your prize.


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.


Total-out-pocket $0

No Frills

Total-out-pocket $0

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)

  • Total to spend this month $204.49 (includes overage from February)
  • Stockpile budget 2015 ($25.00): (Jan/Feb) $50.00 +$
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $0
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $3.00
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $0
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $65.65
  • Total spent this week: $0
  • Total spent so far this month: $0
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: $0
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: $n/a
  • Total left to spend for the month: $0
  • Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $166.49+ Feb $261.51+ Mar $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts): We are away for most of the week so we are not grocery shopping this week. We have overage from February to the tune of $30.51 which will eat up this weeks shop anyways. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a no-shop week.


 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.

March grocery Game Coupons 2015


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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