THE POWER OF FOOD CHOICES
I’d like to think I know a bit about what I’m doing when it comes to food shopping especially since I enjoy writing about food budgets and saving money every week.
I’m always finding reasons why people are spending too much money. I also find reasons why people are not finding the best deals they can when they are out there.
It’s not just about the in-store savings… there’s more to food shopping than looking for dollar signs.
When someone complains to me that their food shopping bill is too high and blames it on the cost of food I don’t disagree.
Food costs are through the roof these days but with these price increases we also have to invest a bit of effort into our own budget.
I also turn my head back to the shopper because most often that’s where the problem begins.
Eating healthy on a budget is possible. It may not include some of the high-powered organic fruits and vegetables, but it could depending on what else you stuff in your shopping cart.
I’ve heard just about every excuse under the sun about how it’s near impossible to stick to a healthy diet and eat well on a small grocery budget but I disagree.
Whether people eat too much or they are buying the wrong foods or food that is not budget friendly in accordance to what they have to spend there is always a culprit that can be weeded out.
Many of us who have posted our grocery shops here over the past 4 years have not increased our grocery shopping budget by much if at all. That’s because we know what we need to do when we go grocery shopping so we don’t come out the other side in debt or not enough money left to pay the bills at the end of the month.
If you still have to ask yourself how much should my grocery budget be then you need to sit down and figure out just how much money you have to spend each month on food.
Without that number you can’t go anywhere near a grocery store to start shopping with peace of mind. If you find out that you are spending $200 a month eating out after running some numbers and are pushing the grocery budget numbers every month then it doesn’t take much to see where you can make one change.
Don’t forget that morning coffee every day too. If you can’t afford to grocery shop then you can’t afford that coffee either. Besides delicious, fresh food is better for you than daily coffee especially when you can make it at home for a few nickels.
If there is one thing I like to do when food shopping it’s to take my time and stop to watch others. I don’t mind talking for a moment to help someone but I don’t care to get into long drawn out conversations with people unless it is food related and I’m talking to the cashier or store manager.
Below are a few things that might be clogging up your budget and a couple of things I may have noticed while shopping myself that I found a bit disturbing at times.
1. Read your food shopping list
We don’t want to spend a fortune when food shopping just like the next person but what happens when you walk through the doors at the grocery store without a plan in mind you will almost always fail at your grocery shop unless you have the ability to say no and walk away.
You need to know what is on sale that week so reading the flyers is a good start to your shopping list. If you are like some people who make a list then put it in your pocket or purse and try to shop by memory, avoid this at all costs.
Don’t laugh, you know you’ve done it!
From the minute you walk in the door the silent marketer is staring you in the face and doing it’s thing, trying to hook you into buying something you don’t have on your grocery list.
I actually spent a few minutes watching people food shopping last week and noticed that 9 out of 10 people were shopping without a grocery list which leads me to reason number 1.
If you plan to buy food for the week plan your food shopping in advance and make a list. I can’t tell you how imperative it is to stick to the list the best you can and to make sure your list falls in line with your pantry and freezer inventory.
Creating a food shopping list means you have to take time to go through your cupboards to see what you already have so you aren’t buying more than your household can handle before expiry and to plan your meals which leads me to tip number 2.
2. Plan what you’re eating
If you go to the grocery store without a list for one that means you likely didn’t plan what meals you will eat for the week.
What happens when you don’t plan meals is that you either eat the same foods over and over or you buy random food products that don’t even pair nicely together to make a proper meal.
You may end up only eating a partially balanced diet instead of one rich in all the foods that your body needs according to the Canada Food Guide.
If you want to plan your meals you need to know what food you already have on hand so an inventory list is your first step. Next you can talk to whoever lives in the house at the table and see what kinds of meals are popular to make.
You will also want to talk about not only dinner but breakfast and lunch as well. Getting everyone involved is a great way to make sure you aren’t wasting food because you buy something that no one wants to eat or even try.
Planning also helps you to understand just what foods you can afford to feed yourself or your family. If a $20 Angus steak isn’t going to fit in your budget because it takes up a large percentage of it then you should know you can’t afford to eat it. Opt for a different protein that is suitable for your budget.
I would love to eat sushi and expensive cuts of meat every week too but If I can’t afford it, I don’t eat it. There is no entitlement when it comes to eating expensive products out of a budgets reach.
If you are able to compromise on products in your eating plan to fit the more expensive food items then that is another way you can try to make it work.
For example if you want to buy a tub of organic greens for $5.99 opt out of buying kale and spinach that week for your salads instead of buying all 3.
3. You’re not cooking
Cooking is more than just opening the corner tab of a TV dinner and popping it into the microwave oven. I don’t care how cheap it is they are not worth it.
A can of soup is not worth it either however there may be the ODD time when this might come in handy but not every month. If you find that you are getting lazy in the kitchen and opting to purchase pre-made meals to cut back on time try not to do this.
I promise you that you will see an improvement in your grocery budget if you just try to stop buying these meals or canned goods or limit them to once in a while.
There are tonnes of 30 minute meal ideas online that you can read up on or check out some of our recipes here to see what you’d like to make.
If 30 minutes is too long for you then make sure you stock up on foods that are easy to prepare such as eggs, ham, cheese, mushrooms, greens, wraps (or make your own tortillas). This way you can whip up an egg omelet with ham in no time at all with a side salad.
I know some people who have zero skills in the kitchen and if that is you there is still no excuse not to cook. There are cookbooks you can take out at the library, read online tutorials or just watch any You Tube video that shows you how to prepare a meal you like.
Most cities also have someone who offers cooking lessons if you want to be taught by a chef. I know Zehrs has cooking classes in their community kitchen if that is a store close to you. I’m sure there is a small fee but that minimal cost will become savings of big bucks to you over time.
4. You’re too busy socializing
I know you might be guilty of this but distracted grocery shopping is the new thing and it really does cost you big bucks.
I literally watched a woman grocery shop on her mobile the entire time. She didn’t even come up for air she just kept throwing things in her grocery cart. I even tested her to see if she would move out-of-the-way or smash into me if I was just browsing something on a shelf. I don’t have to tell you how that turned out.
I was going to write an entire blog post about this but I don’t think there is much more to say then put your darn mobile phone away when grocery shopping. I know many of you use your phones to find deals, take a photo or to price match but you don’t need to be talking on them.
In the event you need to search something or your phone rings pull over for a moment and do your thing then continue shopping. You not only impede the flow of traffic down the aisles when you are not concentrating and pushing your shopping cart you are upsetting other people who are trying to get in and out of the store.
Let’s forget the mobile phone for a moment and talk about the socializing without the phone that causes you to spend more money.
If you only have 30 minutes to shop yet you ran into Sally and spent 20 minutes talking to her the likelihood of you spending more money is good. You won’t have the time to find the best deals especially if you don’t have a list or have planned in advance which I highly recommend.
I don’t mind helping people and some idle chit-chat but I keep it as brief as possible so the traffic keeps on moving.
As for blocking the aisles… don’t do that either.
5. You shop at the wrong grocery store
Unless you live in a town where there is one grocery store and it just so happens to be a pricey one and are capable to get to less expensive store then you have no excuse not to shop at a grocery store that isn’t going to suck the life from your grocery budget before you get past the produce section.
Have you seen the prices at some of the higher-end grocery stores for fruits and veg? I’m pretty sure the last time I checked I couldn’t afford to spend $4.00 for a medium-sized avocado especially when Food Basics or Zehrs has a bag of them on sale for $2.99. You catch my drift?
If you don’t drive and walking or taking the bus are your only options try to find a store in your area that price-matches and maybe even see if you can ride-share to get groceries with someone you know who has a vehicle.
There are likely people you know in your neighbourhood or apartment complex that drive to get their food shopping especially during the winter months so don’t be shy, ask them if they would take you with them.
In our city it amazes me the amount of people who opt to shop at the most expensive grocery stores, especially the students although someone has to keep them in business but it sure as heck won’t be me.
I’m pretty sure I can handle paying $2 less for the same product at a grocery store up the road. Those that have no other options but the pricey grocery stores have their work cut out for them but it’s still not impossible to stick to the budget, it just means you won’t always get what you want.
Overall, every grocery store has their flaws so the best option is always the store that will price match. If you are so lucky to have one then you have it made because you now have all the grocery deals at your budget disposal.
These are my Top 5 for this time around and they may change from time to time BUT they will always be important. Sure, there are MANY other reasons why you might be spending too much but today these are the one’s I find are causing most shoppers big problems.
It’s your money… do what you want with it but don’t complain about it afterwards, after all… no one will care will they?
May 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!
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.
Shoppers Drug Mart
- Dozen Eggs $1.97
- 4L Neilson Milk $3.97
Total out-of-pocket $5.96 +950 Shoppers Optimum Points (We are up around 680,000 Optimum Points now)
- Fleecy Softener Sale $3.99- $2.00 Zweet coupon app
- 2 x scrubbing bubbles toilet gels $2.99 each -$3.00 Zweet- $4.00 Checkout 51 🙂
- Pork Souvlaki Sale $4.49-30%
- Corn on the cob $2.98
- Hot House Tomatoes $1.34
- Astro Yogurt $3.29-$1.00
- 2 x Black Diamond Cheese Sale $2.99- $1.50 coupon
- 6 x Black Diamond Cheese Bars $4.44-$0.75 coupons each
Total out-of-pocket $49.64
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)
- Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $190.03
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $190.03
- 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: 63742
- 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: $6.50
- Cart Smart to date: $0
- Checkout51 to date: $4.50
GROCERY SHOP THIS WEEK (add any other sections you need to show expenses and savings)
- Total to spend this month $190.03 (this is minus overage $44.97 April)
- Stockpile budget 2015 ($25.00): (Jan/Feb) $50.00 +$0 (Mar)+$16.94+$25.00 (April)+$
- Stockpile budget used this month: $0
- Total coupons used this week: $7.00
- Total coupons used to date: $20.00
- Total in-store discounts this week: $1.35
- Total in-store discounts to date: $391.10
- Total spent this week: $55.60 (not including what I get back from coupon apps)
- Total spent so far this month: $46.57+$55.60=$102.17
- Total over/Under spend this shop: under $over
- Total over/Under spend for the month: $n/a
- Total left to spend for the month: $87.86
- Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $166.49+ Feb $261.51+ Mar $231.02 + April $258.44+May $
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
We didn’t have too much to buy this week because we have plenty of food to use up in the house. I bought some Scrubbing Bubble toilet cleaning gels which were money makers since two coupon apps were offering deals. I like those. I also bought a jug of Fleecy since there was $2.00 back with a coupon app which made it even cheaper than the sale price.
Canadian Coupons Found This Week
Last week we found quite a few coupons so check last weeks GGC post if you missed reading it as I’ve scanned in all the great coupons found in Ontario stores right now.
Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons!
We didn’t get to Zehrs which is where we normally find lots of coupons so only these two for this week.
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 Checkout 51 offers that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge. There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
- Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading out but mobile coupon apps are the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site that mailed coupons to households have gotten involved with their new mobile Save.ca app joining forces with the many apps that are already out there.
- 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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