The Grocery Game | Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

Family Dinner Ideas That Won’t Chop Your Budget: The Grocery Game Challenge #4 Mar 23-29, 2015

family dinner ideas that won't chop the budget 2



I don’t know about you but having to cook every single night apart from the odd times we go to a restaurant can be tough when you need to come up with dinner ideas on a limited budget.

Add in a kid or two to the mix and you’ve got to think fast if you don’t already have your meal plan ready for the evening. We like to create meals that are fast which means 30-minute meals are a plus in our kitchen.

Meal prep goes a long way so sometimes less is better when it comes to week-night dinners and the amount of ingredients you use.

Save those hearty, complicated dinner ideas that take hours to cook for the weekend or for days you’re not working. This way you have more time to dedicate to the meal rather than having to rush.

One of the greatest successes of being organized is that if you are in charge of the kitchen and grocery shopping you know that meal planning and lists are VERY important.

I often get fans asking me and visiting the blog looking for meals that aren’t too heavy on the wallet as they run a tight budget but in general, fans just want dinner ideas.

The worst thing that can happen when you thinking about dinner ideas on the spot is your refrigerator is empty. Another downside would be that you don’t have enough of certain ingredients in the house to fling a meal together when you are in a pinch.

I know many fans tell me they prepare freezer meals for those situations but not everyone gets ahead of the game like that or enjoys re-heating cooked food.

I know my wife is particular about eating hot food right from the cooker and I don’t blame her. She’s not a big fan of frozen anything but we’ve made some delicious dinners from frozen products or created our own to freeze. (I get my way haha)


Chaos in the kitchen


Now that we are parents our lives have done a right turn-around. I can honestly say it was nice to have the freedom to cook any time I wanted to without distraction. Now, it’s a game of patience marked with making sure I don’t mess anything up.

Our son is still young so coming up with easy dinner ideas is important for my wife and I. Our son is about 2 months into eating solids but not so much what we eat. He eats mainly fruits and veg that we puree for him although he’s starting to eye up our meals.

Being a parent has certainly shown us how challenging it can be not only trying to keep the house running smooth with my wife but trying NOT to order out or slop together a meal because we are too tired.


Insert motivation here


I often go to the CBB fans for inspiration and dinner ideas and the What’s For Dinner thread on my Facebook page every night is a world of culinary delight. It’s all about home-cooking and the ladies and gentlemen that share their food and recipes with all of us certainly motivate us to think cooking outside of the box.

We can easily search online for dinner ideas like you might be today but what’s even better is when the people who make the recipes actually tell you if it tastes good or not. Every recipe on CBB has been created by myself, Nicola or a fan so we know what they taste like.

The CBB recipe index is filled with recipes that were created with the frugal shopper in mind.


Easy Family Dinner Ideas


Note: I’ve edited some of these to fit the blog.

Together with our CBB fans I wanted to create this post so I had them help me come up with a list of dinner ideas for those on a limited grocery budget like us.

I don’t have the recipe for each one of these dinner ideas but this is only meant to fire up your culinary senses to help you get cooking.

A huge thanks to all of my fans who shared their dinner ideas with us last night. If only we could have a huge CBB pot-luck now.

CBB Fan Pat S. had this to say…

I keep telling my hub that I don’t think it is always what you pay per-pound for something, it is the price you pay for the meal. Something might cost a little more per pound for a cut of meat, but if it feeds the two of us for a very reasonable price, then that is all that matters.

  • I have a pot of white beans soaking right now. I just have to slow-cook them and then they are ready to eat white beans that have absorbed most of the cooking water on bread and butter, add a dash of pepper. This was what my Dad cooked for us that he made back in the dirty thirties…only then there wasn’t the butter.- Colleen K.
  • #1 favorite super frugal meal in our house is called Cowboy Casserole. Take 2 cans of baked beans ( $2.50) one pound of ground turkey( $1.69), some chopped onion (.25), 2 slices of bacon (this is optional-.50), and some BBQ sauce (less than 1/2 bottle (.50). Fry the bacon in a skillet and remove when crisp. Then brown the turkey and onions til done. Add the 2 cans of beans and BBQ sauce stir and heat. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle it in. Serve with biscuits ( $1.00). Total meal for four healthy appetites for around $7. You will have enough biscuits to serve the next morning for breakfast too.- Cynthia
  • Ham steak (on sale this week for 3$) and mac&cheeseAndrea O
  • Most of the meals that we make are frugal. Some of what is on the hit parade this week: homemade Creamy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese, French Onion Soup, Sloppy Joes, homemade Clam Chowder with Garlic toast and Slow Cooker Fruited Irish Oatmeal. Since there are only 2 of us…each of these dishes make multiple meals and we won’t need to cook the following week!-Mary C
  • Western sandwiches and homemade fries. Spaghetti is also inexpensive and filling…..and you can add all the veggies you want to your sauce. If you like curry dishes you can make a butter chicken fairly cheap……just add bottled sauce to your chicken and make some rice to go with it. Then if you have left over veggies from earlier in the week make a stir fry with them…you can add meat, or not!-Karen M.
  • Thrifty meals here tend to be pasta meals, spaghetti, mac and cheese, penne or tortellini with leftover spaghetti sauce. I get pasta and cheese on sale as much as possible. Eggs are another way to make a frugal meal. I make a potato cheese omelet here. Rice makes for a nice frugal side dish (try her pineapple rice dish) and makes great leftovers.- Christine W.
  • Some frugal meals we make are: homemade vegetable soup, chili, spaghetti, goulash, and I find as long as you have a bag of potatoes in the house there’s always something to cook. Fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, salad, homemade fries, baked potato, etc.- Wendy L.
  • Our cheap meals would be pasta tossed basil and oil with fresh chopped tomato and boiled peas mixed in. Or fried rice with black beans, onions and grated veggies and a touch of hot sauce to spice it up. I add leftover meat if we have any.-Pat C.
  • Red Beans and Rice. Hard to beat for bang for your buck. Crock-pot cooking makes it work for even the busiest households. I make garlic bread out of hot dog buns. If you can afford it, throw some sliced sausages in the pot. But if you add onions, garlic and peppers to the beans you really do not need the sausages.-Karol K.
  • Pasta bake with leftover or frozen veg, spaghetti sauce. Top with shredded cheese and parmigiana cheese.- Jen S.
  • Inexpensive meals I love are homemade pizza dough with whatever left over toppings we may have and wish to use,homemade shepherds pie and homemade chili.- Lucy C
  • Homemade mac n cheese with whatever left over meat or veggies.- Shellie C.
  • Cheap meals we make include stir fry, spaghetti and sauce, pancakes, soup, eggs and toast, pasta bakes, salads, baked potatoes served with steamed carrots and peas.-Angela M.
  • I think it depends on what part of the country you are from. Dry soup mixes work very well for being cheap meals. There’s always the 6-3-4 plan, 6 minutes to prepare, $3 per meal, feeds 4 people.-Adrian M.
  • My family’s cheap meals are macaroni and cheese with hot dogs or with vegetables and tuna. My mom used to make goulash but us kids called it “clean out the fridge” night as so many leftovers was put in it. I agree about the homemade pizza but you can use English muffins or wraps instead of a pizza dough so that everybody can have their own choice of toppings.Della F.
  • Poor man stir fry…..chunk bologna cut up in cubes (use as much or as little as you want to make it stretch), big chunks of onions and green peppers and a can of mushrooms….stir fry together…..add some cooked rice and soya sauce…done.-Colleen K.
  • I would go straight to the pasta in the cupboard. If I had to go several days, I would visit the vegetable sales at the local grocery store. Thinking loaded potatoes, stuffed acorn squash, carrots with onions and brown sugar. Tonight, after three days and nights with a yurpy granddaughter, I am on my own with rock-fish with red bell peppers and parsley potatoes.-Tanis G.
  • Soup is always an easy option. Have stock or stock cubes on hand and you can turn your hand to many hearty soups even using a can of soup you can dress it up. Add to ground beef or chicken for a great lasagne base or tacos. Make enough for a big pot and it will last a couple of days.- Nicola Don (Nicola has loads of recipes on CBB… check them out)
  • We love homemade pizza. We make our own dough. Then you can put on anything you have. Great way to use up vegetables or leftover meat.- Elizabeth H.
  • Inexpensive meals for me tend to be veggie meals. I love corn chowder, macaroni and tomatoes or omelets/fried eggs,and veggie chilli. I find any soup very inexpensive especially with homemade biscuits. Soups are filling and can be made of anything. A really good clean out the fridge meal that you can add any spice to make it great.-Michelle K.
  • When we were young and poor, our cheap meal was a box of mac and cheese (about 20 cents back then), a can of tuna and a can of cream of mushroom (or celery) soup. Threw in a few frozen peas for some color. We got 2-3 meals out of it.-Pat S.
  • Oven fried chicken, mashed taters and corn on the cob. I buy bone in chicken (boneless doesn’t cook as well and is more expensive). Heat oven to 425°. Then I get this chicken breaded (light coat)from Autry House. Spray chicken after breading w/ EVOO (Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for those of you that didn’t know that) or vegetable oil. Place in pan, cook for 45 mins. Breast, legs, thighs all cook the same amount of time. People are shocked after eating that it was oven cooked. It will be the juiciest chicken u ever eat. Simple, easy, & cheap!! Hope u enjoy!-Susan S.
  • Sloppy Joes makes a great cheap meal couple it with french fries and its a family favoriteJeffery S.
  • For best cheap eats, legumes are your best bet. I can easy add them to my favorite casserole, soup or one pot meal either in place of meat or with a reduced amount of meat.-Penny W.
  • Learned a recipe at a workshop, soak red lentils overnight, saute onions and tomatoes in a little oil until soft, add spices (cumin and paprika) soaked lentils and chicken stock. Eat with soft bread. So delicious and cheap.-Endie W.

And… that’s how it’s done my friends!

What other dinner ideas can you share for those on a tight budget? 


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!


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.

Food Basics

  • Sandwich bags $0.99
  • White mushrooms $1.88
  • 2% Milk $3.97
  • Bananas $1.66
  • Broccoli $1.96 2@$0.98 each
  • 2x avocado $1.96 @$0.98 each
  • 2 x raspberries $3.76 @$1.88 each

Total-out-pocket $16.18


  • Harvest Raisin Bread $2.50-50% plus 600 PC points 🙂
  • Dry pinto beans $1.99
  • Dry red kidney beans $1.99
  • 2 x Tomato paste $0.49 each
  • Ground Pork $3.88 and $3.70
  • Ricotta Cheese $6.99-50%
  • 4 x Sesame Oil $6.49-50% pink sticker $25.69 (stockpile budget)

Total-out-pocket $17.29 plus $25.69 Sesame oil stockpiled.

No Frills

  • 3 x unsweetened apple sauce $1.67 (900 PC Points)
  • 4 x Sugar Sale $1.47
  • Banger Sausages $4.99-$1.50
  • Cantaloupe $0.97
  • 2 x Strawberries $1.97
  • Baby Spinach $2.97
  • Sweet Potato $2.90 (4) (400PC Points)
  • Astro Coconut Yogurt $3.19- $1.00 coupon

Total out-pocket $23.72

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: 54,298
  • 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: $1.50
  • Cart Smart to date: $0
  • Checkout51 to date: $1.50

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 +$0
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $25.69 (over by $0.69)
  • Total coupons used this week: $1.00
  • Total coupons used to date: $9.00
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $49.23
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $133.92
  • Total spent this week: $57.19
  • Total spent so far this month: $181.66
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: under
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: $n/a
  • Total left to spend for the month: $22.83 under
  • Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $166.49+ Feb $261.51+ Mar $ +Apr $

Weekly Overview: We spent quite a bit this week which means we only have $22.83 left to spend for this 5 week grocery shopping month. I’m sure we can do this! We picked up some great deals this week including dry beans which we are replenishing after the flour bug fiesta. The PC points sweeten the price when you get pink sticker deals. 🙂


 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.

This Kikkoman $1 off coupon looks to have been left by a store rep as I found a few tucked on the shelf at Food Basics.  Nice long expiry too! 🙂

Kikoman Coupon(1)


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.



its not about how much money you make its how you save it logo

Are You New To Canadian Budget Binder?

  • Follow Me on Social media by clicking any of the buttons below on the blog.
  • Check out my new Free Recipe Index
  • If you like FREE then click this link for my FREE Excel Budget Spreadsheet and all my Free Money Saving Lists!

Similar Posts