The Ultimate Canadian Grocery Savings Guide | Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

7 Expensive Grocery Shopping Habits You Should Stop! : The Grocery Game Challenge #4 Nov 23-29, 2015

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7 expensive grocery shopping habits you should stopDON’T FALL INTO THESE MONEY TRAPS


If you are spending too much money on groceries you likely display one or more of the seven grocery shopping habits I’m going to discuss today.

This past weekend my wife and I were shopping at Zehrs where we always find great grocery deals up to 50% off that compliment our grocery budget.

We also like the quality of food that we find compared to other grocery stores but we certainly aren’t  grocery snobs by any means. We shop where the savings are.

Although not everyone jumps with enthusiasm when they see 50% off reduced stickers we both questioned just how much our grocery bill would be if they weren’t reduced.

Realistically these reduced deals we find could disappear altogether one day where we are left with only flyer sales and coupon deals.

We’d possibly see an increase in our overall grocery spending which means we’d have to re-evaluate our grocery budget or find other ways to keep expenses low. For the most part I think we would be fine as we are savvy shoppers, but ask yourself one question- Can we afford it?

The biggest concern for us is our overall savings potential which includes putting money away for our retirement. Our investment budget categories can eat a big chunk of our net income even though many people would say we have nothing to worry about financially. We always worry because anything could happen.

Our conversation went something like this:

Mrs. CBB: Could you imagine how much money it would cost us each week if we bought our groceries at regular price?

Me: I know and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better, IF it gets better as prices are going up quite often.

Mrs. CBB: Do you think it’s worth it for us to keep shopping the way we have been over the years?

Me: Well of course you only have to look at the savings we’ve accumulated this year alone to know that it does save us money. We also get to eat foods that we typically wouldn’t buy because they are too expensive for our budget.

Mrs. CBB: I guess you are right but I know that if we weren’t watching what we were buying and planning our meals every week that we’d certainly be paying much more. This would eat into our ability to invest for our retirement.

Me: Sadly, this is why many people can’t afford to pay into their retirement at all. Some families have more than one child and it can get very expensive for them so it’s critical that they are mindful of their shopping habits like we are.

Mrs. CBB: That’s true and I can only see us spending a bit more money with our son as he begins to eat more food and goes to school but we will cross that bridge when the time comes.

Me: Yes, this is why there is no standard grocery budget for any family. It’s up to them to see how much they can afford to spend. So, what’s for dinner?

Ya, we have what some might consider in-depth or even boring conversations about money BUT they help our relationship as well as our finances. I’m sure if we didn’t talk about money that our budget would be a train wreck waiting to happen.

It’s hard for some people to believe especially if they don’t budget or even track their expenses just how much money they do spend on a monthly basis. I guess we feel fortunate that we took the time to learn where we needed to improve financially and grocery shopping has been our target ever since.

I’ve seen grocery prices go up over the years with many people not even getting so much as a raise in their wages, so it can be tough. Blink and you’ll miss the price hikes, shrinking packages and ingredient changes to products you buy every week.

If you don’t want to budget your entire months expenses fair enough, but at least take down the culprit that most people struggle with and that is food shopping. Family and financial responsibility should be a priority and in our house we make that a strict policy.


Shopping Habits You Should Stop To Help Save Money


At one point Mrs. CBB and I can safely say that we displayed all the shopping habits below which is why I want to talk to you about them today. We aren’t in the clear just yet as we still make mistakes BUT we are mindful of them and continue to strive to meet our financial goals at the supermarket.


Shopping when you are hungry


We’ve all done this before and it’s the number one culprit about why we overspend at the grocery store. Your stomach does the shopping while your eyes, ears and nose point you in the wrong direction.

Pack light snacks in your vehicle that you can munch on even in the parking lot before you head into the grocery store. Even something small in your tummy is better than a tummy that will outsmart your wallet.


Shopping without a grocery list


Goodness, this can certainly burn a hole in your budget because you are committing what I call “free for all” shopping. It’s comparable to walking into the grocery store hungry or telling yourself that you will start something tomorrow so you put it off another day, month or year.

When we don’t have a shopping list we tend to browse too much and this my friends gets us into trouble. The more you look the more ideas you get and you convince yourself that you NEED something when you really don’t. It’s fine to scan products and read product labels but we stick to products on our grocery list.

If you are a shopper that spends too much money but you want to spend time hanging out at the grocery store reviewing products take an hour out of your day but leave your wallet at home. This way there are no temptations and you get to see what your local grocery store has to offer.

It’s also a great way to learn about the prices at your grocery store compared to other stores. This way when you review your weekly flyers you become a the shopping pro you need to be to save even more money. Consider this as a learning experience rather than wasted time. No time is wasted when you are investing in your future.

You don’t have to buy anything just because you go into a store so don’t worry what they will think of you.


Shopping without looking at the grocery flyers


These days if you have a smartphone with a data plan you can use the Flipp app which is great for finding the best for comparison shopping in Canada. You also have the ability to visit the stores website to read the grocery flyers. Until grocery stores offer free-WiFi those of you without data or a smartphone will have to do your homework at home.

If you meal plan you can easily plan around the sales in the grocery flyer to get the biggest savings for your budget. You may have to buy those odd ingredients at regular price but the savings you are making will contribute to you not spending any more than you need to.

Imagine what it would cost you if you weren’t watching the sales?


Shopping for pre-made foods


Once in a while it’s nice to have something that is pre-made and ready to eat but stocking your refrigerator and freezer with pre-made boxed meals is a sure-fire way to kill your budget.

Even if those little freezer meals are on sale for a dollar or two imagine how much food you can buy for a couple of dollars. I can bet you it’s more than what you will eat in that little frozen meal.

Just like Nancy Fuller from the popular show Farmhouse Rules on The Food Network says, “Fresh is Best” and she is right plus it costs less in the long run.


Shopping at places you can’t afford


If your food budget is lop-sided and you struggle to make ends meet maybe you should stay out of those luxury boutique type grocery stores that cater to those who don’t worry so much about prices.

I’ve been in a few gourmet shops in Toronto, Ontario and although you get what you pay for when it comes to top of the line quality products there are still items that are 0ver-priced. Those products are the money-makers for these types of extravagant stores.

You may also find that products they sell won’t be available at your local grocery store either. If you must go into these shops for one or two items beeline it to those products and get out if you can’t afford to spend more money. Temptation will follow you.

It’s part of the lure because if they already have you through the door the likelihood of you spending more than intended is high. Costco is a prime example although it is supposedly full of cost-savings and if you don’t go in with a clear plan you are coming out with a hefty receipt.

Well known grocery stores such as Foodland, Metro, Sobeys and Zehrs in Ontario are on the higher-end for pricing when it comes to grocery shopping so be mindful and go armed with a plan.


Shopping when you are in a rush


Guilty as charged but these days I take a deep breath when I walk through the doors, pull out my grocery list and get to work. Ya, I call it work because although I don’t mind grocery shopping it can get tedious at times especially if I am alone.

If my wife comes along we chat and we tend to slow down the pace a bit and contemplate what we buy. Even if we pick something up that isn’t on the list at least we both get a say whether it lands in the shopping cart or not.

If you rush around like you’re missing an episode of your favourite television show while grocery shopping with no plan keep that receipt. Compare that receipt to another grocery shop where you are relaxed and plan enough time to shop. I bet you will see you spend less money when you review both shops and you stick to that list.


Shopping when you don’t need to


So, you have to stop in to pick up something at a shop that is in the same parking lot as the grocery store you typically stop in. You immediately start thinking about if you need anything before you leave the parking lot.

I believe this is a habit we all possess.

You already know that when your mind trails to the thought of entering the grocery store you likely will do it unless you stop yourself. I have done this countless times and every time I come out with items I had no intention of buying in the first place because I wasn’t supposed to be grocery shopping in the first place.


It’s your money


All of these are expensive shopping habits that many of you may be committing but if you tackle them one by one I guarantee you will see money back in you budget. This will allow you to buy more so you can stock your pantry and freezer a bit better plus it will open your eyes to the marketing and pricing changes that happen all the time in our stores.

Grocers and product manufacturers certainly are sneaky when they want us to spend money and they know how to convince us when we don’t even know we are being convinced.

Your senses are the hand that feeds them. Isn’t it ironic.

What areas do you need to improve on?


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: 87421
  • 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: $7.00


Grocery Shop This Week



  • Dole Spinach container $4.49-pink sticker $2.25
  • 3 x dozen omega-3 eggs Sale $2.99 each
  • 2 x Black Diamond Cheese Slices Sale $1.99- buy 2 save $1.50
  • Schneiders Wieners SCOP 🙂 $4.99
  • Cocktail Bocconcini $4.99-50%
  • 2 x Fresh PC Spinach Ravioli $4.49-50%

Total Out-of-Pocket: $18.21

No Frills

  • 6 x 2kg granulated sugar $6.00
  • Bananas $1.50
  • 1 x 3.25% milk $4.97
  • 1 x 2% milk $3.97

Total Out-of-Pocket: $16.44

  • 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+ Nov $25.00
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $23.82 =$1.18=$25.00
  • Total coupons used this week: $3.00
  • Total coupons used to date: $34.50
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $14.75
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $676.52
  • Total spent this week: $34.65
  • Total spent so far this month: $223.00
  • 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 $34.90 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)

Well it looks like we are well over this month and it’s a 5 week month which means we will definitely be using points next week to get milk but we are stocked up now for November. If we weren’t trying to catch up we would have been fine. There are certainly areas for us to improve in and we’ll be looking at the overall picture in the next month for 2016. 🙂


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?

November 2015 Canada Coupons Grocery store(1)


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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