The Grocery Game | Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

How to avoid paying full retail price at the grocery store: The Grocery Game Challenge #1 Aug 3-9,2015



No one wants to pay full retail price for something which is why most people look for a deal or bargain when they are at the grocery store.

Recently I wrote a post asking whether you put full-price products in your grocery cart when shopping.

I shared with you the reasons why shoppers may do this but I never did explain how to avoid paying full retail price in the first place.

I’ll be honest and tell you that it’s not easy because not everything we need on our grocery list is on sale when we need to buy it.

There are ways around it though so don’t jump the gun and pull out your wallet to pay the cashier just yet.

I had a fan send me an email after I wrote that post to ask me if I could help her with grocery shopping. Although I physically can’t I recommended she post her shops in the Grocery Game to start but to tell me more about what the problem was.

Her biggest concern was meal planning and not having a full pantry. This meant that there were times where she had to run out to the grocery store to buy products that were full price.

These little expenses would add up and she is consistently over budget. She is trying to get the budget under control because she has no other money to cover overspends. When I went back and read my post I realized that maybe I should explain in a second post how many ways you can avoid the slam dunk of full retail price.


Retail Price is MONEY


What is full retail price?

This simply means that the customer is willing to pay the full retail price that the store is listing the product for. The store buys a product from the manufacturer and then they turn around and sell it to make a profit hence the business of buying and selling.

The grocery store thrives on customers who pay retail price because this is where the money is at for them. Those sales on the flyers you get every week dropped in your mailbox is simply the bait to lure you in and it works.

Stop right now and imagine back to the last time you picked up the flyers and without even opening one you saw sale items on the cover and thought, “Oh, I need to go buy that what a great price“.  Those grocery flyers are coated with sugar because they know most people won’t think twice because numbers talk.

So, how can you take control of your grocery budget without having to practically talk yourself into buying something at retail price? I’m going to share with you some of our tips which have gotten us through some bumpy times in our grocery budget.

There have been weeks where we simply can’t afford any more products because we’ve spent our grocery budget. This is the time we need something but can’t afford to pay for it. It will happen because nothing is fool-proof BUT what you can do is take preventative actions now so you won’t be dishing out your hard-earned cash to the cashier.

For some of you who have read all of my grocery game posts many of these tips will come as no surprise to you. I would expect that your grocery habits have changed over time because of the knowledge you have gained but for those of you who are new listen up.


Grocery Budget


This may come as a shock to some of you but if you don’t want to pay full retail price for products you need a grocery budget. If you don’t know how much you are allowed to spend each time you grocery shop it won’t matter how many of the tips I share with you today, you will still be misinformed.

You will just blow money until you are ready to stop and check-out. Be smart with your money and create a simple grocery budget based around your overall financial budget. You can’t budget your grocery budget until you budget the rest of your finances. It won’t take too long to do BUT you will be so happy when it’s done.


Meal Planning


Meal planning is great but if your pantry is dry you might find you are rushing to the grocery store to pick up an unanticipated bottle of soy sauce, peanut butter, spices etc. What you need to do is create a meal plan around the flyers sales and then as time goes on your pantry stash will grow so you can keep adding more meals to your plan.

Of course you don’t have to do it this way and pay full retail price but it does help to combat those extra expenses when you run out of a product or need to get something to tie a recipe together.


Coupons and Coupon apps


Just a week or so ago we needed to purchase baby diapers. Although diapers for our son is budgeted under BABY in our monthly budget we still refuse to pay full retail price for them. What we have to do is watch for flyer sales. The best deals are pairing the in-store sale with an in-store coupon and then some added cash rebate from a coupon app.

This is what happened to us with the diapers. I believe they were on sale for $29.99 instead of $44.99 a case. There was an in-store coupon for buy 2 save $8.00 which was great. When we came home I entered the receipt in a coupon app that also offered a further $6.00 back if we bought 2 boxes.

As you can see the savings keep on giving. When we find deals like this we tend to stockpile as much as we can. Not all coupon apps allow you to buy unlimited amounts of product but you certainly can get it more than once. Most times the deal will reset so you can get it again.


In-Store Samples


I’m not going to scare you away from the samples that you will find around most higher-end grocery stores but if you do get tempted and reach in be aware that your taste-buds might just send you to buy something at retail price.

It’s not often you will find the sample foods on sale but if you are lucky to have a sample representative present you can ask him/her if there are coupons available especially if you MUST buy the product.

If you are just roaming around and find those stand-alone sample stands you have now been baited by the grocery store. Just think what would happen if you went grocery shopping hungry and you took a sample to eat. Your stomach would explode as would your taste-buds.

You want more and you want it now so you reach for that bag of pretzel thins at full retail price to go along with the retail price dip you are about to buy with it. Sold, you are the sucker of the day. Don’t worry it has happened to us many times. We gladly wear that hat BUT we learn from the mistakes we make. Samples aren’t always bad but if you have no restraint sometimes it’s best to just walk away.

My wife is notorious for trying samples but I just leave them alone.


Flyer Sales


This is an obvious way to save money and avoid paying retail price on anything in a grocery store. Although not everything goes on sale you can combat as much as you can by reading the flyers. This is the time you want to stockpile as much as your grocery budget can handle.


Reduced Rack


If you want to save some cash always take a few minutes to scope out the reduced rack which most grocery store will have. You never know what you will find reduced which you typically would pay full retail price for or even a sale price but reduced is best.

Just last week we noticed a box of band-aids which I would buy to keep on hand in case of emergencies. The band-aids were on the reduced rack for $1.00 instead of $4.99 so I stocked up. Next time my band-aid box is empty I won’t have to worry about running to the pharmacy to buy a box. With my luck I’d be paying retail price for the box.

So, don’t turn a blind eye to that rack or any blow-out, reduced sticker products because there are tonnes of bargains to be had.


Rain Checks


Without a second thought I know that getting a rain check will save you money down the road. If a product is out of stock that is on sale asking for a rain check is great. That rain check will last you about a month but the best part is if you go in the next day and the new shipment has come in.

You can buy what you originally set out to buy but they were sold out. Once you buy it you now have that rain check for the next few weeks until it expires.


Rewards Points


One of the greatest ways to save yourself from paying full price is utilizing rewards point systems. Many programs have points that will be added to your account once you load them onto your rewards card.

For example, the PC Plus program is great because we may find a product that is full price BUT we know we will get x amount of points back on our card if we buy it which makes the product cheaper.

The key is you need to load your products. Shoppers Optimum program has changed as well where you must load your coupons and deals to reap the benefits. The good part is no more printing coupons which can cost even more money for ink.

Once these points have added up to a certain amount you can redeem them too so it’s like a mini bank account for people who stash the points away for a rainy day.

There you have many of our secrets to not paying full retail price which has helped us stick to our grocery budget the best we can. No one system is perfect so give it your best shot and improve in the areas you can control.

Here are some tips from a few CBB fans who offered their advice:

Christine Weadick: I try to keep track of the prices on things we buy often and shop sales as much as I can. Things tend to cycle through the different stores, especially within a chain. So, if your store doesn’t have a certain item on sale this week you just need to keep watching for when it comes up at your store. By keeping track of prices and these sale cycles you can get the best deal for your limited funds!

Cynthia Sunshine Gardener: I love to cruise the mark down bin! Produce mark downs, meat mark downs. I try to hit the store the day after the sale cycle ends. The managers often over order the loss leaders and then discount to clear room on the shelves

Donna Pierce: I watch sales also and buy bulk to carry until the next sale. Going shopping together with family & friends buying bulk and sharing the cost helps especially buying bushels of fruit. Splitting expenses when buying a 1\2 or whole beef or pork with others is a great way to save money.

It becomes cheaper the bigger the purchases are. Also some farmers let you work a day and get food as pay. There are many ways to get food for less you just have to keep eyes and ears open. Growing our garden and fruit trees has saved the most money for our family.

Coupons and refunding help many shoppers buy for less. We just don’t buy many foods that fall under their list. Cooking from scratch is my biggest grocery saver.


What other ways do you combat paying full retail price?


August 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 to Angela M. for winning the July Grocery Game Challenge. Please email me for 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 $235 per year or $25 per month.

 This was a no-shop week for us

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 $229.08
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $7.94
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $20.00
  • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 124736
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0

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

  • Snap Groupon to date: $15.00
  • Zweet to date: $14.50
  • Cart Smart to date: $0
  • Checkout51 to date: $6.00

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

  • Total to spend this month $235-$5.92 (over July) $229.08
  • Stockpile budget 2015 ($25.00): (Jan/Feb) $50.00 +$0 (Mar)+$16.94+$25.00 (April)+$25.00+ May $25.00+ June $25.00+July $14.44+Aug $
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $25.00
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $30.50
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $564.59
  • Total spent this week: $0
  • Total spent so far this month: $
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: under $
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: $
  • Total left to spend for the month:-$
  • Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $166.49+ Feb $261.51+ Mar $231.02 + April $258.44+May $218.12+ June $235.67+July $212.16+August $0

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts) This was a no-shop week so all I have to say is, Yay no grocery shopping for me.


Canadian Coupons Found This Week


Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons!

I found a few coupons last week but nothing new for this week so I’ll share the same coupons again for those that missed them last week.

No coupons this week as we didn’t go grocery shopping.


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.
  • 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 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 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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