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3 Ways You Can Have A Food Shopping List With Variety And Save Money : The Grocery Game Challenge #3 Nov 16-22, 2015

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Having the same weekly food shopping list when we grocery shop is a part of our past. We’ve learned that we really don’t like eating olives every day if we don’t have to.

These days we have plenty of variety in our diet and we owe it all to our grocery budget and a few other motivations that everyone should be aware of.

I think most people buy the same foods out of habit because there’s no method to the madness of consistency in the kitchen especially if you have a busy schedule.

Last week fellow personal finance blogger at Budget Blonde Catherine who is an amazing saver left the comment below on my blog post. Her words had me wondering if others create the same food shopping list every week because it’s cheaper on the grocery budget. I also considered that some people may want the same foods each week because they have recipes in mind that they’ve done over and over which saves time and in their opinion, money.

I love to have some variety in my diet, but I’ve found that the more variety I seek the more money I tend to spend. In order to save money on groceries I try to keep breakfast pretty simple most of the time. Our kids love to have fruit, especially strawberries, with their breakfast.- Catherine (Budget Blonde)

I 100% agree with Catherine where adding some variety to your food shopping list may mean you spend more but if you have a set grocery budget you’re one step ahead of the food temptation game. It was funny how Catherine pointed out what her kids love because now that we have a son we realize that what we buy does revolve around what he likes to eat.

I do believe that you can have more than just “some variety” in your grocery cart as long as you are mindful of the overall shopping experience from planning, sales and final execution of the shop. Easier said than done as we’ve experienced, but it is attainable. Learning the art of grocery shopping and maximum savings takes time which some people value more than savings.


Our carbon copy weekly food shopping list


Before my wife and I bought our house we rented for a couple of years. It was just a room in a house and we had full use of the kitchen although we hated using the kitchen when our landlord was home. We always felt like we were in the way but rent was very cheap and that was the name of the game for us. We knew it was a short-term gig and that eventually we’d have our own kitchen oasis to sing songs and drink wine while we cooked amazing food.

During those two years our food shopping list was pathetic and lacked any flavour or excitement BUT it was food and we knew exactly what to make with it. Every week we bought pretty much the same foods apart from the odd snacks but not many at all.

There was no baking or the sheer multitude of recipes that we create today in our house and share on the blog. We were frugal and wanted to make sure we saved enough money to move out, get our own house and be mortgage free in 5 years.

Yes, we accomplished that goal however we realize now that compromising our food shopping list wasn’t needed and we should have invested more time in balancing our nutritional intake.

First of all, although we were intimidated to cook we were paying to use that kitchen so we should have just cooked even if that meant listening to the landlord nag about every little thing we did wrong.

We also could have saved more money if we took the time to understand just how to grocery shop like the pros do. These days we consider ourselves fairly educated and do our best to save money whilst adding some flair in the kitchen.

A food shopping list for us back then would have consisted of the following foods below and yes that is a basic shopping list at it’s finest. We would eat the same things over and over because they were quick and easy and didn’t cost as much, so we thought.

Keep in mind back then we didn’t have a grocery budget as we would just wing it by only buying sale items or no-name products. Whatever the costs were at the end of the grocery shop was what we spent that week even though we had a loose target in mind. There were no hard feelings, no shocked outrages because we were practically debt free yet we weren’t being as frugal as we thought we were.

  • Cereal
  • Mixed basic vegetables for salads
  • Tuna (10 cans weekly)
  • Chicken Thighs
  • Mayonnaise (monthly)
  • Mustard (monthly)
  • Ketchup (monthly)
  • Franks Red Hot Sauce (monthly)
  • Milk
  • Bread
  • Cheese
  • Olives (Club Jar monthly)
  • Butter
  • Peanut Butter (bi-weekly)
  • Whole Wheat Crackers
  • Canned Soup
  • Eggs ( 2 dozen a week)
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Sugar
  • Oil (monthly)
  • Lemon juice (monthly)
  • Salad Dressing
  • Elbow macaroni (2 boxes a week as we ate tonnes of tuna macaroni salad)

It wasn’t until near the end of our roommate status that we started to use coupons more as I was ordering them online from Once we moved into our own kitchen stadium the food shopping list got out of hand with excess stockpiling which is why my wife and I started the grocery game.

We’ve since learned only to stock foods that we will eat in a reasonable amount of time. Even if you have to bin something you paid minimal amounts on if it goes off because you don’t eat it that is money down the drain.

These days we love variety in our diet and enjoy eating different foods as much as possible although we are mindful of our food shopping list. Not only does it keep us motivated to cook homemade meals but it creates a balance with-in us that we wouldn’t get by eating the same foods each week like we did years ago.

So, arming yourself with a grocery budget is the first line of defense if you want to have variety on your food shopping list without busting your monthly expenses. It’s also a great idea to have a budget especially if you’d like to meal plan every week to test out new recipes adding more variety to your diet. That’s not the only way to make sure you stay on target with your food shopping list though.

I’ve thought about why having the same food shopping list each week wasn’t saving us money nor would it today. Of course if you do a majority of your grocery shopped at the dollar store you may find that prices stay the same each week. In essence it’s a money game targeting the sales cycle, your grocery budget and inner motivation to stick with a plan like.

Below are 3 reasons that I could think of about why you can have a larger variety of foods on your food shopping list to enjoy the variety of deliciousness that our world has to offer.


Shop the sales


I’m sure many of you who meal plan or use a grocery budget are the first to say that you plan your weekly meals around the weekly flyer sales.

The sales are VERY important when it comes to having a diet that is rich in variety. You are apt to score some delicious foods for even less than you would have paid if you keep on using the same food shopping list. Plus you can stock up on your favourites while they are on sale to build your pantry stash which also adds options to your diet.

There’s no need to limit what you eat (with-in reason) because you believe you can’t afford it. The more you can build and stay on budget the more variety you can add to your shopping list. Make sense? Some of those food items on that same food shopping list you use may even go up in price costing you more money. We rarely see foo products go down in price these days.

I know there are people out there that blindly shop each week and it costs them a small fortune. I also know people who plan their shops but not everyone sees value in testing new recipes because of the time needed to create them.

It’s easier to whip something up that you’ve done over and over than it is to follow a recipe that you’ve never tried before. That is what we used to do but now we continue to build our recipe box so we can enjoy new meals as often as possible.


Boring and tempting to eat out


Boring food may lead to being unhappy with eating and not caring about food as much. Even kids at school trade food in their lunch box because they get bored. You might have done the same as a child and remember saying, “Oh, not this again”. If the kids don’t eat the food you can bet it gets tossed in the bin, given away, rots in their lockers or they bring it home for someone else to eat.

The only way to build your repertoire is to eat a variety of foods and experiment with new foods which don’t have to cost a fortune. Our son for instance won’t eat the same foods over and over and although it can be challenging for us we offer him a variety of meals and snacks every day so he doesn’t get bored. One day he loves grilled cheese the next he pushes it away. We found we were wasting food this way and it was costing us money.

Food should be fun and inspiring and even a toddler recognizes that. If you don’t have some variety in your diet you are less-likely to want to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner consistently at home. If you know that all you have in the kitchen is food that you are already bored with you might be tempted to order in food or get take-away.

Yes, even those with a low-income can add variety into their diet and still get away with sticking to their budget.

You only have to go to the Mandarin Restaurant to see and feel the hype that surrounds the variety of foods and desserts they offer on their buffet. I know not everyone gets excited about food but when you have options available that are different each week in your home it makes food fun to be around.

Although we hardly ever ate out when we rented we can safely say we were hard-core savers back then and nothing was going to break us, not even a restaurant. If we went out for dinner it was either our anniversary or we were celebrating a birthday where an intimate dinner setting was much more appropriate for us than eating on a bed. We always ate on our bed because we had no kitchen table in our room which we hated.


Coupon Savings


It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention coupon usage but it’s true that if you plan your food shopping list around weekly sales and coupon availability or coupon app deals you will save more money and add luxury to your food shopping list.

Coupon apps are adding fresh fruits, vegetables and even milk to the savings so you can save on the foods you once thought there were no coupons for. Coupons are not just about convenience like people once thought. Now you can afford to splurge on items that you wouldn’t typically buy or save money on those foods you do buy.

Overall, whether you choose to create a food shopping list that is the same every week or not try to add some variety like Catherine mentioned and based on the above tips I’ve provided. You can be assured to come out ahead with empty plates and a happy stomach.

Would you buy the same food every single week just to save money?

Would you save money if you bought the same food every week?


November Grocery Game Challenge posts


Join in the Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post. Here are the rules to get you started and if you have any questions feel free to email me.

New monthly prize: $10 President’s Choice Gift Card for Canadian residents only.

NEW!! If you want to play from outside of Canada and have PayPal and you win I will pay you $10CDN via PayPal. I use a random online generator to pick the winning ballot every month.

If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up each week here for you so you don’t have to go looking for past GGC posts for the month. This makes posting a bit easier although all you need to do is click on The Grocery Game Challenge on the homepage sidebar and you will see them all.


Free Grocery Budget Tools


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


Yearly grocery budget for two 2015: $2820

(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $235 per year or $25 per month.

Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)

  • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00 $188.10
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $235.00 $188.10
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $32.40
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $140.00
  • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 71949
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0.98

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

  • Snap Groupon to date: $28.00
  • Zweet to date: $18.00
  • Checkout51 to date: $6.00


Grocery Shop This Week



  • Natural peanut butter $4.99
  • 2x Dark Chocolate bars $10
  • Lettuce Bucket $3.99
  • Oyster Mushrooms $4.00- pink sticker
  • 3 x Philadelphia Cream Cheese $2.49
  • Dole Spinach container $4.49-pink sticker  $2.25

Total Out-of-Pocket: $28.70

Food Basics

  • Red Onion $0.85
  • Broccoli $0.88
  • 6 x Butter $2.88
  • 2 x Black Diamond Cheese Slices $2.44
  • Bag Avocado $2.98
  • Bananas $1.84
  • Family Cheerios $4.99
  • Natrel Coffee Cream $1.99
  • Zucchini $1.25
  • Peppers $1.25 reduced
  • Unsweetened coconut $1.29
  • 2 x 25 milk $3.97
  • 2 x 3.25% milk $4.97

Total Out-of-Pocket: $55.37

  • Total to spend this month $235 $188.10 (overspend from October to catch up on)
  • 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 $25.00+Sept $25.00+ Oct $25.00
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $23.82 =$1.18=$25.00
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $34.50
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $4.25
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $661.77
  • Total spent this week: $84.07-$1.18 to stockpile budget=$82.89
  • Total spent so far this month: $188.35
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: over
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: $n/a
  • Total left to spend for the month: $188.35 over budget by $0.25 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 $118.15+ September $130.37+ October $281.89+ November $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

Our pantry and freeze is pretty full so we are holding off on buying too much especially with the Christmas holidays around the corner. We will be out of the house for a few weeks so we are trying to use up what we have.

The wife is on a low-carb diet but using the Atkins diet as her guide which means lots of protein and veg but no more breads, rice, potatoes, pasta, cous-cous and so on but she is fine with that until she gets her eating under control and back into shape. She will introduce the foods back in slowly and portion her meals like she used to. The boy and I well we are eating everything the same.

It looks like we may have to dip into our $70 of PC points this month as we had to stock up on a couple of staples for her such as the natural peanut butter and coffee cream but these products will last her a while. I loaded up on butter while it was a super hot price and the cream cheese.

We’re over budget already by $0.25 but we are confident we won’t need too much for the rest of the month apart from veg and a couple of bags milk, bananas and yogurt. One month left to go and I don’t want to mess it up but I guess we are lucky that we won’t be home much in Dec so that will help any overspend… eesh!


Canadian Coupons


Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons! These are your latest Checkout 51 offers which you can use to help save money. We’re finding less and less coupons in the stores these days. What are your thoughts? Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?


Grocery Game Challenge FAQ’s


  • 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. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
  • What is the monthly prize and who can claim it?- The monthly prize is a $10 PC Loblaws Gift Card and for our out of country friends it’s $10 CDN via Paypal if they win. As more people join I will add more money to the gift card or I will split it up and offer 2 prizes every month.
  • 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. If you choose to post monthly  or bi-weekly you will only get 1 ballot for that shop. 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 the Best Flyer App- We use Flipp on our Iphone so if you wan to have all your flyers in one spot download Flipp from the Apple Store or get it on Google Play.
  • 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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