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How To Enjoy Gourmet Food On A Tight Budget – The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 #1 Mar 7-13

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Long before the big box grocery store there were and still are gourmet food stores, specialty stores, farmers stands and markets across Canada that supply some of the freshest food to our country.

Locally produced foods in Canada are often thought to be out of reach for those who think they can’t afford to eat gourmet food at it’s finest. Not only that but unless you submerge yourself into the foodie scene you don’t often hear about places you can buy gourmet food, organic or farm grown products. Educate yourself with what is available in your local area and go see for yourself.

I’m here to say, yes you can include gourmet foods in your diet if you plan your meals accordingly.

I’m almost positive that if I conducted a survey and asked what the word gourmet meant I’d be told:

  • Higher Price Tag
  • Rich tasting
  • Unheard of brands
  • Imported products

The word gourmet has long since been associated with being posh and possibly ingredients that only chefs or hard-core foodies would use in the kitchen. Gourmet is like buying a custom-made house from a local builder, you’ll pay for it BUT there are ways to still enjoy gourmet tastes without crushing your food budget.

I remember going into a few British shops in the area where they import food from the UK. There were products I’d pay the extra hike in price just to eat but others I had no wish to buy. A can of Heinz beans for $3 when it’s 50P at home is NOT worth it to me. Stocking up on pantry items that add a splash to my meals is where the money should be spent.

These days gourmet shops are far and few because it’s hard for a gourmet shop to survive without a steady stream of loyal customers. You may see some of the more successful large and small gourmet shops in bigger cities like Toronto and Vancouver survive where millions of people surround the area.

If you really want to tap into the gourmet scene to get a feel for what is out there and live in the Toronto or Niagara area every year there is the Gourmet Food and Wine Festival. What you will get is samples of some of the best foods, wine and products from around the world for a fraction of the cost. What I love about this is that you can experience food before you buy it, tastes before you invest in certain expensive flavours all for very little cash out-of-pocket and a good time.

In the smaller towns you may also get lucky to still find a mom and pop shop gourmet food store that has been around for many years with patrons that come back week after week. The name of the game when you are the owner of a gourmet food store is getting to know your customers and serving them fresh food for the best prices.

When I say ‘best prices’ I’m not saying competitive as much but reasonable for the products they are buying. Any gourmet food store that over-prices products will limit their clientele and with that is lost revenue because they are targeting a specific group of customers.


What is a gourmet shop?


A gourmet shop may fall under the name of Market, Gourmet Food Shop, Farmer’s Market, Deli, Bakery, Butcher, Fine foods, Boutique, Owner’s last-name, Shop, Fishery, Natural Food Market, Organic Market, and other names. It’s not just brick and mortar stores either because you can order gourmet food online and have it shipped to your front door without stepping a foot outside.

It really depends on what the shop caters to but if you’re a foodie you know that you can find some of the best chef inspired ingredients in these shops. Gourmet is so diverse meaning you’ll get a range of products from all over the world. You can’t just walk into a grocery store to pick up some of these products so we rely on these gourmet food shops to import flavours to enhance our food palate.

If it is a multi-gourmet food shop like McEwan Grocery in Toronto you’ll find just about anything that is rare, fresh and top of the line. They specialize in imported canned and bottle products along with fresh produce, prepared food and fruits. You can’t go wrong with the quality you’ll get plus you can bet that you won’t be wasting any of the food either.

Let’s not forget one of the best markets in the world in Toronto, The St. Lawrence Market that has just about anything and everything to do with high-quality, fresh, gourmet foods.

A bisket a basket gourmet food shop St lawrence Market
A Bisket a Basket gourmet food shop St Lawrence Market Source: St. Lawrence Market Vendor Website.

Food waste is a huge issue in Canada and for those people who complain that they can’t afford to eat and toss food in the garbage they end up spending more in the long run had they just bought food they love possibly in smaller quantity.

Related: Food waste in Canada

Even stockpiling food has it’s downside as food doesn’t last forever which means either you eat tonnes of the same food often, give it away or it goes to waste. This is one of the reasons we hardly use coupons to stockpile food these days as we simply couldn’t keep up with eating the food before it went off. Such a waste of money and  big mistake on our part.

These days we buy food that we WILL eat even if it costs us a bit more money. Most often people stick to recipes that are simple to make and won’t bust their grocery budget. In 2016 we are slated to see grocery prices rise in Canada which means even more Canadians will buckle down on how much they spend at the grocery store.

What some people forget is that it’s not always about quantity, it’s about quality and with that may come a price tag that you automatically say no to. Believe it or not but some of these gourmet food shops either buy in bulk or make their own products using the best ingredients.


Invest your food money wisely


You do get what you pay for especially when you pay to get grass-fed without hormone injected meat. The great part is you can still gourmet up your food while buying cheaper cuts of meat. The key is the way you marinade or season. It’s better to invest money buying quality condiments, vinegar, oils, salt, olives, cheese, meats, spices, hot sauces, mustard, chutney, relishes as opposed to the cheaper versions at the grocery store.

This is the number one way to eat gourmet food on a budget without breaking the bank!! Less is best but stocking your pantry with key items that will bring out flavour in your foods will drive your meals from delicious to WOW!

Tip: Save your expensive olive oils for salads and to drizzle over finished meals and use less-expensive olive oil to cook with. Buy the less expensive Parmigianno Grana Padana to use inside recipes and save the pricey Parmigiano-Regianno for the end seasoning.

Why waste such beautiful flavour when it’s meant to be savoured?

Some of the gourmet ingredients you may find our pantry where a little goes a long way which means you aren’t buying the products often. A splurge to buy ingredients to spruce up your food is worth the savings including buying various types of nuts.

  • Cold-pressed coconut oil
  • Cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Walnut Oil
  • Just peanuts- Peanut Butter
  • Sesame Oil
  • Spices from around the world
  • Smoke-flavoured Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Gourmet Mustard
  • Parmigiano Regianno
  • Homemade prosciutto
  • Organic garlic

Making gourmet food is easy when you have the right ingredients. Turn delicious mango into a lovely mango salsa in the summer when mango is in season. You can buy this pre-made at a gourmet food store but you can also make it at home for a fraction of the cost with the right ingredients. This means buying what you need even if there is a splurge for a bottle of gourmet balsamic vinegar to jazz up the flavour.

Do you get where I am going with all of this? Turn boring food into exciting food!

If you want to buy pre-made gourmet food that you open and serve dive in and enjoy the flavours that local food companies and chefs create just for you. Sometimes you’ll find a gourmet food that you like and try to recreate it at home for less. This is what a smart shopper would do.

Do you buy pre-packaged deli-meats and cheese?

If you do the math on deli meats and cheeses you’ll see that you are paying MORE for those tiny packages than you would going to a gourmet food store that specialize in authentic products. You know those shops with prosciutto and salami along with cheese hanging from the ceiling. Now, that’s Italian!

We don’t often stop at gourmet food stores unless it’s my father-in-laws back garden but when we head home to see the relatives we do. They have a huge gourmet food store in town that started out as a small shop but has since grown and customers rave about the place.

It’s absolutely stunning when you walk in. What I like the most is the availability of samples to try around the store. If a gourmet food product looks enticing but you aren’t sure if you want to spend the money on it, sample it when you can. Even if you don’t think you will buy it today, try it while the sample is there so you know for next time.

When you walk into this rich looking gourmet shop the lighting is low, produce is nicely stacked and shines, pre-made meals are perfectly showcased, jams, jellies and homemade baked goods surround the perimeter of the store along with some of the best cuts of meat, and a huge deli.

Sticker shock may be a struggle for many shoppers of the big box grocery stores BUT you always get what you pay for. Haven’t I said that already a million times~ Oh, and a little goes a long way. Keep this in mind always when you are deciding whether to buy a product that is a bit pricier than normal.

Where do you buy your buns? A bakery? That is a gourmet food shop as well because they specialize in baked goods and other quality specialty products you might not find in the grocery store.

How many times have you said, I can’t make this recipe because I don’t have this product? You go looking for it at the grocery store and still don’t find it so you forget about the recipe. Don’t!! Specialty stores even like the Bulk Barn carry many gourmet products from companies who pay for shelf space to sell products outside of the grocery store environment.

I know a gourmet food shop sounds out of reach for many of my readers because this is a frugal living blog about budgeting and saving money but you can still experience some of the best foods while on a budget. Just because you budget or have a low-income doesn’t mean you should be secluded from eating good food.

Get out the crock-pot and buy a cheaper cut of meat but season your meat with gourmet food flavours from around the world. You’ll be amazed at how moist your meat will be for a fraction of the cost but with the rich flavours you deserve to enjoy.

It’s a wonder that crappy food is so cheap and good food is so expensive. It should be the other way around like it used to be many years ago. These days if a manufacturer can get away with less they will do it, substitutes, fillers and so on instead of real food. Money is the name of the game but don’t let them fool you into thinking you need to be rich to enjoy the finer things in life.

When I say crappy food I mean buying processed food on a regular basis that bears no significant nutritional value. It may be cheap but in the long run it won’t be good for anyone. If you do the math you can likely make it homemade for far less.

It’s just so hard for people to stay away from processed food because of familiarity and ease of use. Even we buy it from time to time although over the years we’ve worked hard to eat fresh foods to healthy up our diet.

Consumers toss around the excuses too much that they are too busy to cook, can’t cook, it costs too much to eat healthy, picky eaters and so on. If you’re worried about price, start a garden. It’s dead easy to grow herbs, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, carrots and other common vegetable you buy at the grocery store. Then you can spend the extra money you save on gourmet foods that offer tonnes of flavour to your meals.

This is the insanity that kills a food budget and our health.

There is nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence, fast food or convenience foods but think about the long-term effects of it on your health and wallet. If your taste-buds have stayed away from eating gourmet food give it a try and see for yourself what you have been missing.

Even some grocery stores have gourmet food sections like Zehrs and Metro that showcase some fine products that go a long way. My guess is you’ll pay more than you would at a gourmet food shop but the big box store will house the product just to keep the customer in the palm of their hands and away from local shop owners.

Shop local and support your community.

Most of us eat more than we should at each meal so think smaller portions with lots of flavour. I know some of my fans have said to combat overeating they serve meals on a smaller plate which is a brilliant idea.

Related: Are we eating too much food?

How can you shop at a gourmet food store if you are on a budget?

Easy, but before you do anything you need to educate yourself on what is available in your area like I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Knowing where to shop and what products are offered will motivate the way you spend your money and what food to include in your meal plan.

After all the learning lets look at meal planning, sales and specials and negotiating prices in order to stock up on gourmet food.

Let’s talk about these for a minute.


Meal Planning


You don’t have to buy all of your food at a gourmet food shop but when meal planning don’t pass by the recipe that requires you to buy a product that you can only find at a gourmet food shop. Sometimes what we do is browse the gourmet food shops in town or even check them out online to see what types of products they offer and the prices. When creating your meal plan for the week with your grocery budget in mind splurge on a product that will enhance your meal and allow for many further meals in the future.

If you’re looking for a cut of meat without paying for all the excess fat go to the butcher for the best cuts of meat. If you want buns that won’t be stale the next morning you can be sure the local bakery will carry some of the healthiest and freshest breads around that aren’t pumped full of yeast to bring down the price. What a difference that makes. Better yet, make bread yourself using good flours and grains to get the most out of homemade.

There are quaint shops and markets all over Ontario that offer farm fresh produce, meats, homemade products that can go a long way for your budget. These shops rely on the community to spend money in their shops so you may find prices to be very reasonable. If you’re unsure where they are located you can ask on social media for suggestions or Google it. Some of the best hidden food gems are tucked away in your own community.

If you’re near Kitchener, Ontario be sure to visit St. Jacobs Market where you will find vendors from all over who specialize in gourmet foods. I’ve yet to go but I heard the place is jam-packed all the time which means consumers do care about the food they eat and are willing to pay a little more if it goes a bit further.

You can certainly taste the difference between homemade sausage from a butcher compared to what you get in a store-bought package. Again, you get what you pay for. Eat less to enjoy quality food. If you always eat 2 sausages enjoy 1, bulk it out with a large salad and savour the beauty of delicious.

Related: Meal Planning On A Budget

By meal planning you know the exact products you need, you buy nothing more and you enjoy the cooking and eating process throughout the week. Don’t side-track your grocery budget with food you don’t need which is what we’ve been working on the past 5 years.


Sales and Specials


Big box grocery stores are not the only shops that offer sales and flyers for their customers. With the ease of social media, websites and print almost all gourmet food shops will offer weekly sales because something has to draw the customers in. Marketing has to be part of any good business plan.

The sales drive traffic whether the clientele is rich or not. You don’t need a fat bank account to eat good food. The key is to build up your pantry with key gourmet food products that you will use often. The more you love your food the more you will love to cook and eat it too!

If you focus on shopping around the weekly sales because a gourmet food shop is just a bit out of reach you may find you’ll score better prices than the grocery store. Sometimes we may run into Metro for one or two items that are on sale because buying produce there is better than buying it at No Frills. If we can get it cheaper and better quality we’ll do it.

The same holds true for gourmet food shops and markets. Don’t be afraid to look around for reduced items at a gourmet food shop because like any other store they’d rather make some money than nothing at all on food that needs to be moved out of the shop quickly.




Always, smile and greet the people who work in small shops, gourmet food shops, specialty stores markets and our beloved farmers. If you have something to chat about or if you want to ask a question ask them because these are the people who want you as a return customer. Best of it is most times these shops want to get to know their customers by name.

It’s a totally different environment from going to Walmart or Loblaws for groceries as you get that one-on-one type of interaction. Over the years we see less and less of these shops because big box stores have taken over.

Markets and side-road food stands are far and few because consumers forget about them because we focus more on time-saving at the one-stop shop. We think we are getting the best of both worlds at a grocery store but that’s not always the case. Again, you will pay for quality and custom front-line service.

If you are buying in bulk at a commercial gourmet food shop you should easily be able to negotiate a better price on the product you are buying. Most people are too shy to ask for a deal but don’t let that get in the way of you not shopping at a gourmet food shop. At the end of the working day many gourmet shops and food markets will flog off their products for less so jump in and grab some good eats for less money if you can.

You can bet the local butcher, baker and other specialty gourmet food shops want your business and if you are a repeat customer they won’t have any problem negotiating with you.

My brother-in-law buys 50lbs of homemade sausage from a local guy in Ontario who owns a gourmet food shop and always negotiates the price based on current price because he buys in bulk. He then freezes the sausages and enjoys some of the best sausages I’ve ever tasted. I’d rather love what I’m eating if I can fit it into my budget. I think once we get a taste of the best foods it’s hard to go back because quality really does shine.

If you go to a deli and want to buy a large brick of mozzarella to make lasagna which costs less if you buy it whole but you need it sliced, negotiate. Adding processes to a product will always cost more money but if you ask your deli person if they can slice it for you for free they may have no problem with doing so if you buy the block. The worst they can say is, No and you’ll have to grate it yourself.

You can even ask the deli if they have any end cuts of meat that they are willing to sell for less. You can turn these flavourful pieces of meats and cheeses into something special for a reduced cost.


Cook with Flair


Cooking good meals takes time, patience and a willingness to plan with a grocery budget. If you’re not willing to go the extra mile then maybe the gourmet food shops aren’t for you. Not all meals have to consist of gourmet food products either. You can easily combine frugal with flair to create a lovely balanced meal.

If you’re after a specialty dressing for your salad it may cost you a few dollars more but you know you’re getting a quality product. Sometimes you can DIY common recipes at home but if you’re not savvy in the kitchen paying for it is the next best option. Remember- A little goes a long way.

If you hate cooking but want to eat fine foods you may find some of the best meals around at a gourmet food shop or local market that specializes in such without having to worry about burning dinner and then having to buy take-away. Defeats the entire concept of saving. I’d rather eat pre-made gourmet food over a commercial restaurant like East Side Mario’s or Montana’s any day.

Learning to cook is fun…so give yourself the ammunition to explore flavours even if they cost you a bit more money. You’ll be thankful in the long run that you gave your taste-buds a taste of yum.

We’ll still continue to shop at the big box grocery store and local markets but when we need specialty ingredients for new recipes you can bet we will invest our money in our local community shops.

Do you shop at gourmet food stores? What do you buy?


March Grocery Game Challenge posts 2016


Join in the 2016 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 where you’ll also find a link for the updated 2016 GGC schedule. Please feel free to download, save and even print the schedule so it’s handy. Thanks to Mary for putting this together for us again this year. If you need any help please let me know.

New monthly prize: $10 President’s Choice Gift Card for Canadian residents only BUT If you want to play from outside of Canada and have PayPal and you win I will pay you $10CDN. 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 below for you so you don’t have to go looking for past GGC posts for the month. Alternatively, just click on the “Grocery Game Challenge” tab on the blog side-bar to see past posts.

Congratulations to Ballot #17 Mimsie for winning the February Grocery Game Challenge. Please message me with your address so I can send you the winning President’s Choice Financial Gift Card.

March Grocery Game Posts

  • This is the last shop from February if you want to read or post your shop- Inexpensive Meals


Free Money Saving Tools 2016


I know I blast you every which way I can on this blog about my free money saving tools and that’s because I want you to take advantage of them being FREE. So many people pay for budgets and tools on the internet to help them save money and honestly you don’t need to. Even a paper and pen will do the trick.

Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!

This is the budget that brought us to debt freedom back in 2013 and now I’m offering to all of you for FREE. We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.

2014 Free Money Saving ToolsDon’t pay someone for these services, I’ve done the work for you along with some help from other amazing bloggers.

You can 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!

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.

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. So many free resources at your fingertips.


Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide 2016


the ultimate grocery shopping guide cbbEverything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is packed into this amazing FREE grocery shopping guide that has taken over 4 years to create.

The Ultimate Grocery Shopping guide is ongoing with new informative money-saving posts added every month.

Even if you don’t live in Canada there are some amazing budget saving tips that will help put you on the path to more savings at the supermarket.

Share this guide with your friends and tell them about Canadian Budget Binder especially if they are struggling with their grocery budget.

The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries so please enjoy the  many money-saving posts in the The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.


2016 Grocery Shop Results


Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2016: $2820

(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.

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 $217.05
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $50
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
  • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 106779
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)to date $0
  • Shoppers Optimum: Over 700,000 points (I will update this twice a year)

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

  • Snap Groupon to cash out: $6.50
  • Zweet to cash out : $18.25
  • Checkout51 to cash out : $7.00


Grocery Shop This Week


Indian Grocery Shop

  • 1 bag of cumin $1.99

Total out-of-pocket $1.99

Food Basics

  • Potatoes $1.97
  • Strawberries $1.77
  • 2 x cucumbers $0.98 each
  • 1 red onion $1.50
  • Bananas $1.85
  • Bag of Radishes $1.27
  • Celery $2.99
  • 3 pk romaine hearts $2.50
  • Grace coconut oil $5.99
  • Allen’s Vinegar $1.99
  • 2x Nescafe coffee $3.99
  • 1x 4L Sealtest Homo Milk $5.27
  • 1 x 4l 2% Milk $4.27

Total Out-of-Pocket: $41.31


  • 4 x 375g Selection Bacon $2.99 each

Total Out-of-Pocket: $11.96 (stockpile budget)


  • 4x 18 Omega-3 Eggs Sale $3.67

Total out-of-pocket $14.68 (stockpile budget)

No Frills

  • Mushrooms 227g $0.99
  • Bag of 5 Avocado $2.88
  • 2 x Yoplait yogurt $1.88

Total out-of-pocket $7.63

  • Total to spend this month $235.00-$32.41 over Jan = $202.59
  • Stockpile budget 2016 ($25.00-$1 overage= $24.00)
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $26.64 (over $2.64 month)
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $4
  • Total in-store discounts this week:$
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $155.97
  • Total spent this week: $48.94
  • Total spent so far this month: $48.94
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: under
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: $ under
  • Total left to spend for the month: $202.59-$153.65
  • Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $252.95+ Feb $249.46+March $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

Well, we blew our stockpile budget the first week so we’re off to a rolling start this month. My wife eats lots of eggs and bacon so it was only fitting to stock up while it ws on sale. The rest of the products we bought were mainly vegetables and milk as we have enough meat in the freezer and other pantry items to get us by this week. We passed by the Indian shop on the way home to grab some more cumin as it’s much cheaper and you get lots more for your money. I use cumin to make taco seasoning and to flavour many Indian dishes.

How was your grocery shopping week?


Coupons and Coupon Apps 2016


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?

Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards. I did this in the UK and loved it!!

Where can I find Canadian Coupons 2016?

Plus check out these other hidden areas online to get more coupons!!

  • Healthy Essentials Printable Coupons (Johnson and Johnson)
  • Clorox Coupons Sign up to print coupons in the Clorox family which include Greenworks, Glad etc.
  • Kraft Canada Sign up and receive recipes and coupons by email
  • Printable Smart Source Coupons
  • Walmart Canada Printable Coupons
  • Proctor and Gamble PandG Sign up for printable coupons
  • Hidden Coupon Portals You Should know about – I found this over at Save a Loonie and you’ll want to sign up for notifications and check out the site so you get notified every time a hidden coupon is available from, Brandsaver, Smart Source etc.


Grocery Game Challenge 2016 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. The rules have been updated for the 2016 challenge year.
  • 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 altogether. 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?: 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 in order to plan accordingly our budget.
  • Do you stockpile food? 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 longer as we found we weren’t eating it fast enough. Stockpiling is still great and just one way to help cut your budget to save money if you do find items that you can buy in bulk at a sale price.
  • 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 with mobile coupon apps being the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile app joining forces with the many other coupon apps available. If you find an app that I don’t talk about please let me know as they are always being added and I’d like to review them.
  • 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.

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 back in 2012 and is one of the most popular hang out spots for people who want to save money on groceries in Canada.

If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 get ready to look at your grocery budget by learning…

  • Where you are spending money
  • How much money you are spending
  • How much money you are saving every month

If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!

If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email. If I use your topic I will put your name in a draw for a prize at the end of the year.

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 2016!


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    London Drugs -3 shops
    $5.97×8-$5.97Cx8 Vaseline lotion
    $7.99×4-$7.99Cx4 simple wipes
    $2.99×4-$2.99Cx4 dove men body wash
    $2.49×4-$2.49Cx4 loreal hair treatment
    $4.99×4-$4.99Cx4 whole blends shamp/cond
    .99×24-.99Cx24 aero chocolate bars
    $5.99×14-$5.99Cx14 velour tp
    $5.99×7-$5.99Cx7 tiger towels
    $4.99×6-$4.99Cx6 tiger towels
    $18.25 total oop
    $293.78 total coupons
    $2.48×2-bogo sale veg steamers
    $2.50 total oop
    $12.88 pork loin (6 meals min)
    $1.77 soya sauce
    $4.87 5lb oranges
    $1.48 bananas
    $1×4 kimchi noodle bowls
    $1.88 chips
    $1.97×2 goldfish crackers
    .97 cucumber
    $1.76 green grapes
    $3 golden grams – clearance
    $36.65 total oop
    H&W Produce
    .19 garlic
    $3.92 bnut squash
    $1.68 2lb carrots
    $4.99 20lb potatoes
    $2.25 apples
    $1.49×2 blueberries
    $2.99×2 lb strawberries
    $1.78 ?
    $23.75 total oop
    $1.97 corn bran cereal
    $1.97×2 cookies and cream instant oatmeal
    $3.92-fpc wub$5+quaker banana oatmeal cookies
    $1.97×2 goldfish crackers
    .44×4 3pk lindt
    .99×2 cake mix
    $2 12pk Kaiser buns
    $3.98 2lb strawberries
    $2.09×2 1L coffee creamer
    $5.54 4L homo milk
    $26.10 total oop
    $3.29 total coupons
    $2.99×6-$2.50Cx6 sch bologna – clearance
    $8.49×2-fpcwub3sch/ml stuffed prime chicken
    $1.05×4 candy cane tea – clearance
    $3.54×2 4L chocolate milk -clearance
    $2.99×8-$3Cx8 dove mens soap
    $19.35 total oop
    $58.98 total coupons

    $126.60 weekly total oop
    $356.05 weekly total coupons
    $224.65 monthly total oop
    $413.05 monthly total coupons

    Lots of coupons used this week………lots of planning and organizing as well.
    Great prices on fruit as well this week!

    1. Hi Juanita,
      Where did you score such great coupons for the lotion? You’ll all have soft skin for sure. OMG you must have stacked at London Drugs big time. WOW!! I would love if you could take a photo and send me that as a brag!! You must save a fortune every year. Awesome shop You get ballot 16. Mr.CBB

  2. GCC 07/03/16

    Total Yearly Food Budget for one adult (combined Grocery and Stockpile Budgets): $1200.00

    Yearly Grocery Budget: $720.00
    Monthly Grocery Budget 2016: $60.00 ($15.00/wk/4wk month or $12.00/week/5wk month)
    Total Carried Over From Last Month: $11.91
    Total Spent This Month Previous To This Shop: $0.00
    Total spent this week: $11.37 (under $3.63)
    Total spent so far this month: $11.37
    Total left to spend for the month: $11.91+ ($15 – 11.37) + $45= $60.54
    Total Grocery Budget Spent To Date 2016: (Jan $75.68) (Feb $52.41)

    Yearly Stockpile Budget: $480.00
    Monthly Stockpile Budget 2016: $40.00
    Total carried over from last month: – $1.11
    Total Spent this week: $30.77
    Total spent so far this month: $30.77
    Total left to spend for the month: -$1.11 – $30.77+ $40 = $8.12
    Total Stockpile Budget used to date: (Jan $21.10) (Feb $39.99)

    This weeks shop

    Food Basics
    $0.88 Selection green beans
    $1.20 Bananas ($0.67/lb)
    $2.08 OOP

    $1.00 Tofu
    $1.27 Great Value gourmet jelly beans (100g) ($1.12 plus tax)
    $2.27 OOP

    Shoppers Drug Mart
    $2.99 Kashi high protein cereal ($3.99 – $1.00 coupon) ($1.00 from checkout51 to be redeemed later)

    Rainbow Foods
    $1.00 organic strawberries (454 g)
    $1.00 Thepla flatbread (10)
    $2.00 Sunflower Kitchen kale and oregano pesto (227g)
    $4.00 OOP

    $10.79 Moov frozen raspberries (1.5kg) (stockpile)
    $12.99 Kirkland low fat microwave popcorn (44 bags) (SP)
    $06.99 IOGO yogurt (24 cups/2.4 kg) (SP)
    $30.77 OOP

    Was a busy week so just entering things now. One of the reasons I spent so little is that I ate out a few times. They were very inexpensive meals but still not too pleased with myself. Will do better this week by making up a few big meals to eat during the week. It has been difficult to stay focused because it’s down to the crunch time at school. Lots to be done in the next few weeks and that’s when I’m susceptible to eating out. So will need to be more careful.

    Mr. CBB: I appreciate the gift card. How can I send you my address so you can send it?

    1. Hi Mimsie,
      I was going to ask you if you were well stocked but you mention you ate out a few times.When I was in school I hardly ever ate out. What worked for me was prepping my meals in advance. Start with a couple of meals a week and have veg and fruit ready to go in the refrigerator. What are some of your favourite meals to eat that are quick to make? Your gift card is in the mail 🙂 Anytime you need me you can email me or PM me on Facebook. When are you done school? What are you studying? Well done this week. You get ballot#9. Mr.CBB

  3. Yearly grocery budget for 4 adults and 2 cats -$7800.00
    (The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.
    Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)
    Total Grocery Budget for the Month:$650.00
    Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $650.00
    Total Gift Cards used to date: $30
    Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
    Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
    PC Points Plus Earned to date: 26200
    Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)to date $0
    Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money
    Zweet to cash out : $3.75($25.75)
    Checkout51 to cash out : $10.75($25.50)

    Grocery Shop This Week
    Foodland #1
    1 2kg bag Whiskas cat food -7.99
    12 pack Charmin TP -5.99
    1 jug water -5.49
    2 cases pop @5.49, 1X1.00 coupon
    2 Cheerios @4.99
    1 Rice Krispies -3.99
    1 can pineapple tidbits -1.19
    2 blocks cheese @5.99
    2 4l milk @4.88
    1lb butter 3.99
    1 yogurt -2.00, 1.00 coupon
    2 coz large eggs @2.00
    Bananas -1.08
    2 packs sausage @5.99, 30% discount @1.80
    1 raisin bread -3.79
    1 bagels -2.99
    Tax -3.24
    Total $74.82, 2.00 coupon, 3.60 discounts, $20.00 gift card
    Foodland #2
    1 jug water -5.49
    2 Cheerios @4.99
    2 Rice Krispies @3.99
    1 cranberry cocktail -2.98
    1 Temptations cat treats -1.79
    1 block cheese -5.99
    2 4l milk @4.88
    1 yogurt -2.00
    2 doz large eggs @2.00
    3 lb carrots -2.99
    1 Cole slaw -2.49
    1 turnip -2.26
    1 box chicken nuggets -8.99
    1 W/W bread -2.99
    1 bagels -2.99
    Tax -.88
    Total OOP -$72.68
    Foodland #3
    1 2kg bag Whiskas cat food -7.99, 3.00 coupon, stockpile
    2 4l milk @4.88
    1lb butter -4.19
    Bananas -1.08
    Tax -1.04
    Total OOP -$21.06, $3.00 coupon, $4.99 stockpile
    Total to spend this month $650.00
    Stockpile budget 2016 -$25.00
    Stockpile budget used this month: $4.99
    Total coupons used this week: $5.00
    Total coupons used to date: $11.00
    Total in-store discounts this week:$3.60
    Total in-store discounts to date: $57.52
    Total spent this week: $164.45
    Total spent so far this month: $164.45
    Total over/Under spend this shop: over
    Total over/Under spend for the month: $ under
    Total left to spend for the month: $485.55
    Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $579.69+ Feb $628.96+ March $
    Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
    Over for the week by a couple of dollars, not a big deal. the second bag of cat food was a nice deal, the coupon was taped to the cat food but expired the day before, as it wasn’t my mistake I got the value off. Stuart and Molly were very happy!!
    The gift card was from a friend here. I am very thankful to have friends like that here. So far things are going very well for the grocery budget, for how much longer no-one knows but I’ll take it.

    1. Hi Christine,
      You always seem to score those 50% off sausages. You must have the sausage radar on… I know I would!! The eggs were a great deal. I would have stocked up at that price. I guess that means lots of omelet nights at the Weadick house! 🙂 That was nice that your friend sent you a gift card. I’m sure you will keep the budget in check for the rest of the year but with that comes work which is why you are at the GGC with all of us. It’s easy to see I’m sure even from your perspective now that you’ve posted here for 4 years how much money people can spend on groceries when they just shop freely without a list, without a budget or without being mindful of food waste. Horrifying! Are the pop coupons back on the cartons again? You get ballot 8. Oh and you were over a few bucks this week… awesome!! Say hi to Stuart and Molly ahaha! 🙂

      1. The coupons in the pop case haven’t shown up yet this year but this coupon was in a lovely bunch that Juanita sent me! I keep watching for those coupons in the case. The sausage always seems to be what gets stickered at Foodland but the boys and I keep a lookout for those stickers on the entire meat counter and look over the cart of reduced goodies too.
        I’ll be working hard to stay within the budget, I’d like to get more fruits and veggies at the market and can some down for later if I can or freeze it. The younger boy has been helping 3 mornings a week since before Christmas and he brings home things that are close to the expiry date for us. The girls encourage him and the latest has been a nice size turkey for Easter(they needed the room in the freezer there at the food bank) and a big tray of mac and cheese that was made for a community dinner at the church but not touched so it was frozen so it’s thawing in my fridge to bake up tomorrow night. We have London tomorrow so one of the boys can put it in the oven and turn things on for me if we are running late…..

  4. As a small family, we always try to take advantage on the bargain of the grocery shopping discounts offer. We will try to share with some of our friends. We buy all groceries together at big warehouse stores. After complete our shopping, we will split them. By doing so, it save us quite a lot of money.

  5. Week 1 – March 6 – 12

    • Grocery budget to work with in March: $200
    • Total coupons used this week: $0
    • Total coupons used to date: $0
    • Total RCSS gas coupons used this week: $0.88
    • Total RCSS gas coupons used to date: $7.20
    • Total Giant Tiger Enviro bag credit this week: $0
    • Total Giant Tiger Enviro bag credit to date: $0.09
    • Total value PC Plus points redeemed this week: $0
    • Total value PC Plus points redeemed to date: $40
    • Total gift cards/certificates/gifts used this week: $0
    • Total gift cards/certificates/gifts used to date: $25
    • Total Neilsen Homescan Visa rebate cards used this week: $0
    • Total Neilsen Homescan Visa rebate cards used to date: $15
    • Total student discounts this week: $2.15
    • Total student discounts to date: $15.96
    • Total tax savings RCSS this week: $0
    • Total tax savings RCSS to date: $0
    • Total spent this week: $18.35
    • Total spent so far this month: $18.35
    • Total left to spend for the month: $150
    • Carry over: $0
    • Total in carry over jar: $0
    • Total overspent to make up in future months: $50.60
    • Total Spent To Date 2015: $550.60

    RCSS: Minute maid frozen OJ 2 x 1.00, mushrooms 3 x .88 (PM), 4 pack peppers 2.88, bananas 2.03 less 30 % (.61), bananas 1.60, cucumbers 2 x .97 (PM), grapes 2.03 (PM), iceberg lettuce .88 (PM), less 1.55 student discount: Total Paid 13.85 rounded up 1 cents

    RCSS: Kraft 1 kg peanut butter 2 x 2.98, less superbucks .88, less student discount .60: Total Paid 4.50 rounded up cents

    A small week. After being away we hadn’t really had a menu plan for this week. So, the goal was to replenish the produce and just work from there. We didn’t spend a lot, didn’t need a whole lot. Lots of price matches and lots of food in the fridge with this purchase. I did forget the peanut butter with the first purchase and had to go back for it.

    We have made up more ground on January, we will be diligent and get the overspend gone. It has helped us immensely, and even weeks later I don’t regret the amount we spent. However, I need the amount hanging over us gone. I am excited that we are getting close. I doubt we will finish that off next week since we will need milk and eggs for sure, but the end of the month was a realistic goal. Super excited about this week.

    I need to focus more on eating healthier. The clothing is snug due to eating “cheap” and I need that to be my next goal. We will be working on healthier options and make sure we are getting the protein since I don’t think we are getting enough. Back to portioning food out! I can’t wait to see what the rest of this month brings.

    1. Hi Angela,
      The peanut butter is stockpile worthy for sure. Great price. I’m glad to hear how optimistic you are about the overspend and catching up. You’ve certainly given it your all so you don’t continue to overspend and put your mindset into catch up mode which many people don’t do. That is a sure way to head into the red zone. My wife has lost a few sizes by going low-carb and it’s not that bad at all. She loves the food she eats and feels much better. Her main source of protein is eggs. I may do a blog post on How to start a low carb diet soon. 🙂 You get ballot 7. Mr.CBB

  6. Yearly grocery budget for 4 adults 6000

    Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $ 500
    Grocery Shop This Week

    • old cheddar – 4.99

    • New potato- 2 X 2.00
    • Jalapeno Cheese Foccacia bread – 3.79 X %50 off
    • 1 L Milk- 2.29
    • Half and half- 2.99
    • Organic pasta sauce -2 X 3.00
    • eggs- 2.79
    • Liberte coconut yogurt- 4.69 X 3 and %50 off each
    • Organic mushrooms-1.99
    • Bananas- 1.79
    • Salad Kit – 3.99
    • Frozen Chicken breats- 26.37
    • Veggie bouliion- 5.48
    • Salsa – 3.49
    • Choc. Chips- 3.29
    • Popping corn- 2.79
    • Frozen Mango- 4.89
    • Perogies X 2- 1.99 and %50 off

    GROCERY SHOP THIS WEEK (add any other sections you need to show expenses and savings)
    • Total coupons used this week: N/A
    • Total coupons used to date: $14.75
    • Total in-store discounts this week: 45.13
    • Total in-store discounts to date: $220.91
    • Total spent this week: $ 89.00
    • Total spent so far this month: 198.45
    • Total under spend for the year: 145.15!
    • Total left to spend for the month: $ 301.55
    • Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include pet foods, paper or personal) Jan $854.85
    • Total Airmiles this week = 180
    • PC Points this week-

    1. Hi Rose,
      That is my fav yogurt the Liberte coconut. If I can’t find it 50% off or on sale I also like Astro coconut which is also great. WOW you got perogies cheap and 50% off.. great score! How do you make your perogies? What does the veg bouillon taste like? If you could add the Comment section to the bottom of your post and leave some comments about your shop that would help others and myself to see where you are at. Thanks Rose… Mr.CBB You get ballot 5.

      1. Sorry about that. I must have cut off my pasting job which had my comments on it. Ugh.
        The Liberte coconut yogurts were in the discount section, and I have no idea why. Their expire date was the same as the full priced ones in the regular part of the dairy section but they had %50 off stickers on them. They had other flavors too, but I only took the coconut… mmmm.
        The perogies were %50 off from an automatic download that you can do onto your air miles card. I only just found out about it. It works the same as the PC offers which you can download onto your PC card. Except in addition to air mile offers there are %50 off coupons on certain products !!!
        I serve my perogies in a variety of ways. The one thing that is always a part of the meal is a big pan of caramelized onions and sour cream. Other than that sometimes they are served also with sauteed mushrooms or bacon or sausage chunks or ham or beet soup or creamed spinach.
        I use McCormicks veggie bouillion cubes for the base of all my soups. It is very tasty, vegetarian and has no MSG. It does have palm oil, which I wish it didn’t. So if anyone has an even better suggestion that is healthy and more environmentally sensitive, just let me know.

        1. We’ve found products with pink stickers as well that had long expiry dates. It is odd but maybe they had overstock that they needed to move out fast. OK now I’m really going to look into this Air Miles download thing. Many of the GGC players are using it now. Hmm, I don’t have a better solution for the cubes apart from I keep all the veggie scraps in the freezer and boil them up when I have enough for a vegetable stock. That might be an option.

  7. Sobeys
    2x apple juice 1.00each
    2x CocaCola .99each
    Eggs 2.99
    Blueberries 2.50
    Pears 1.65
    Brussel Sprouts 3.29
    Cilantro 2.49
    Asparagus 2.21
    Mushrooms 2.99
    Lime .50
    Smoked Mackerel 5.15

    Total Out Of Pocket:  27.46

    Baby Spinach 2.00
    2x Medium Ground Beef 4.22 and 4.11

    Total Out Of Pocket: 10.33

    Atlantic Superstore
    Sweet potato 1.99
    Broccoli 2.49
    White Bread 1.79
    Salami 3.56
    Pastrami 2.99
    Blue Cheese 2.87

    Total Out Of Pocket: 15.69

    Cheerios 2.97
    Pepper Jack Cheese Slices 5.00
    Breakfast Sausage 4.27
    Whole Wheat Tortillas 3.58
    Pork Chops 7.50
    Chicken Breast 10.00

    Total Out Of Pocket: 33.32

    • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $250.00
    • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $250.00
    • Total Gift Cards used to date: $0.00
    • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0.00
    • Total Rewards Points used to date: $0.00
    • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 52400
    • Checkout51 to date: $1.00

    • Total coupons used this week: $0.00
    • Total coupons used to date: $0.00
    • Total in-store discounts this week: $26.43
    • Total in-store discounts to date: $26.43
    • Total spent this week: $87.19
    • Total spent so far this month: $87.19
    • Total over/Under spend this shop: $0.00
    • Total over/Under spend for the month: under
    • Total left to spend for the month: $162.81
    • Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) 87.19

    Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
    This is our first month of really trying to get our grocery budget under control as we just purchased new property and we won’t be able to just spend whatever we want on groceries without any care. Can’t wait for the warmer weather to come so I can get outside and get the garden started after being really slack on it last summer due to being heavily pregnant. I’ve had a garden and canned and preserved many things for the past several years and I feel that it is a huge money saver if you can do it so I’m really looking forward to that to help stretch our budget even more.

    1. Hi Katie,
      Welcome to the Grocery Game Challenge!! I hope this is the beginning of a grocery budget relationship that you will have with CBB for the rest of the year. Many of us have been here since we started in 2012 and it has kept our budget in check! What will you be growing in your garden this year? How many people does your $250 grocery budget? You get ballot 4 Mr.CBB.

    2. Hi Katie! Welcome to the GGC!!

      Hubby and I are on a fixed income these day and with lots of help and suggestions from the gals both here and on the “What’s for Dinner” feed on Facebook each night, my trusty meal plan and a not-to-be-deviated-from grocery list…hubby and I have been able to stay on EXACTLY the same budget for 4 years now despite the rising prices.

      I will admit there are many vegetarian and meatless dishes these days but as long as they taste good, we’re good with that. What’s not to love about a homemade crock of Boston Baked Beans and fresh out of the oven bread? As you’ll see from my posts, we eat very well but with limited amount of “junk” in our diet.

      Since I work from home, it’s easy for me to have home cooked meals on the table for our suppers. My best friend is my slow cooker because I can dump it all in before I start my work day and it’s all ready when we are ready for our supper.

      I look forward to learning from you about your garden, canning and preserving!

  8. I am hankering for something different, you usually still have to go to the market. I’ve been trying to convince my hubby that having a full pantry is a good thing. he sees it as a waste of money. But his favored form of cooking relies on having pretty much nothing but fresh veggies and meat. Not great for winter cooking, even in California.

  9. When I am in a city, I look to ethnic grocery stores to save on gourmet foods. What is gourmet to us is often everyday fare for people from other countries. We are lucky enough to live in a rural location so we “source” a lot of our gourmet food by doing it ourselves by hunting, gardening, and foraging. It’s a lot of work, but we can get a lot of venison, greens, and berries for very little money.

  10. Yearly Grocery Budget For 2016: $8,400 (5 people)

    Points Overview:
    Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $700
    Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs: $700
    Total Gift Cards used to date: $93.18
    Total Rewards Points used to date: $30.00
    PC Points Plus Earned to date: 15,600 + extra on M/C
    Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date: $1.00
    Grocery Shop This Week: March 04 – 10, 2016

    Romaine Lettuce 3pk. 2 x $2.77 = $5.54
    Grape Tomatoes 2lbs. $6.99
    Weiner Rolls $2.99 – (50%) = $1.49
    Danone Yogurt 2 x $1.49 = $2.98
    Feta Cheese $7.99 – (50%) = $3.99
    Iogo Yogurt (975g pouch) 2 x $4.99 – (50%) = $4.98
    Baguette $2.39 – (50%) = $1.19
    Marshmallows 2 x $2.00 = $4.00
    Corn Flakes $3.99
    Shreddies $3.99
    Danone Greek Yogurt $4.49 – (50%) = $2.24
    4lbs. Apples $4.99
    4pk. Peppers 2 x $2.77 = $5.54
    English Cucumbers 3pk. $2.77
    Sausages $6.60
    Salmon Fillet $10.82
    Croissant $1.77
    Total Out-of-Pocket: $ 71.59

    4 L Milk 2 x $6.35 = $12.70
    2L Choc. Milk $3.56
    Spinach $3.69
    9 lbs. Bananas $5.97
    6lbs. Honeycrisp Apples $8.99
    Ground Beef $20.58
    Blackberries $3.99
    Blueberries $5.99
    Strawberries $4.89
    English Muffins $3.69
    Total Out-of-Pocket: $74.05

    Chapmans Ice Cream $3.47
    Mushrooms $2.47
    Celery $2.47
    Zucchini (2) $1.15
    Avocadoes (5pk.) $3.97
    Cilantro $1.47
    Medjool Dates 2 x $7.49 = $14.98
    Froot Loops $3.88
    Total Out-of-Pocket $33.86

    Total to spend this month: $700
    Total coupons used this week: $ 0
    Total coupons used to date: $36.78
    Total in-store discounts this week: $13.95
    Total in-store discounts to date: $192.99
    Total spent this week: $ 179.50
    Total spent so far this month: $ 179.50
    Total over/Under spend this shop: OVER $4.50
    Total over/Under spend for the month: OVER $4.50
    Total left to spend for the month: $520.50
    Total Spent To Date 2016: Jan $706.52 + Feb $816.19

    Weekly Overview:
    It is March Break for the kids this week so I will not be doing much baking. We will be enjoying our week with activities at the library, free Home Depot building courses, skating, swimming, the museum and a movie. I will be catching up next week on muffins, cookies, etc.. as we will be going to an out-of-town hockey tournament next weekend.

    1. Hi Lori-Lynn
      I love the idea of you bringing the kids to Home Depot. I would have never thought of that. What types of courses will the be at? What do you use your marshmallows for? I also wondered how long it takes your family to go through 9lbs of bananas and the apples? With summer around the corner hopefully we will start to see a price drop in some of the produce or at least the ability to pick it up cheaper from local farmers or markets. Well done! Have a great March Break. You get ballot 3. Mr.CBB

      1. The kids loved the Home Depot building courses. They built a wagon & a ring toss game. We use marshmallows to make homemade Rice Krispie squares for the kids lunches. We usually eat approx.. 6lbs. of bananas a week, and then I freeze the rest for muffins and banana bread. The apples will last approx.. 2 weeks.

  11. I absolutely love shopping in gourmet and ethnic shops. Normally I don’t shop to make a specific recipe but look for spices, condiments, ethnic foods, etc. that will enhance our meals. Every so often we get into a food rut. It’s nice to pull a cookbook off the shelf to try a new recipe knowing I probably won’t have to run around the city finding a particular ingredient because it’s already in the house.

  12. I have been experimenting with Thai food. Once you have the fish sauce, coconut milk (watch for canned on sale and stock up) and chili sauce the rest is fresh ingredients .I freeze the lime leaves if they are on sale or use lime juice (local grocery store often has 50% discounted limes) I juice them and freeze the juice in ice cube trays) as a substitute. I make the Thai Coconut Squash Soup with whatever squash is on sale or even sweet potatoes (major cheap pumpkin after Halloween) and use my homemade chicken broth from bones.
    March is the beginning of 100 Meals Month here. Local dietitians encourage you to make a small healthier change each meal. One challenge is to try a different fruit or vegie. If something new is on sale or discounted in the bin I try something new.Also new spices or herbs are inexpensive to try if you buy only how much you need for a recipe at Bulk Barn. I often buy spices there when they have the $3 off $10 coupon. Also if yo’rer experimenting with new grains you can buy a small amount in bulk before committing to a large package you may not use.

  13. I’m looking forward to the farmers market opening for the season again soon, I hope! Not exactly gourmet but good and fresh!

  14. I love trying new dishes but I need to keep hubby’s likes and dislikes in mind as well as my health restrictions.

    I’d say that I am an adventurous cook and not afraid to modify a recipe before I have even tried it. Yesterday was the perfect example. I made Slow Cooker Pork Steaks but there was far to much soya sauce in the recipe for my liking so I just cut the soy, bumped it up with water and kicked it up a notch with a much heavier hand with the spices. It was awesome! Now, let’s be honest…I wasn’t only motivated by health concerns. It turns out I was just too lazy to get a new bottle of soya sauce from the pantry so I simply used what I had on-the-go in the fridge. It sure didn’t hurt the meat any…with cooking it low and slow, it literally fell off the bones at serving time. 🙂

    I tend to buy cheap cuts of meat and turn them into delicacies using low-and-slow methods with lots of added spice & a variety of liquids. When I am splurging on “gourmet” it tends with spices or farm fresh fruit and vegetables. If your ingredients are fresh, the meal is destined to be delicious! 🙂

  15. MARCH – Week #1 of 4- March 7-13, 2016


    •Total Grocery Budgeted For Year: $190.00 x 12 = $2,280.00 for 2 adults



    Before we start our MARCH shopping off though, I am going to make my usual monthly “reserve” transfers:


    $ 190.00 for the month
    ($ 10.52) Overage from February
    ($ 25.48) trf to re-stocking – normally $15.00
    ($ 15.00) trf to holiday reserve–normally 15.00
    ($ 0.00) trf to summer reserve–normally 15.00
    ($ 45.00) trf to US Reserve –normally $45.00

    CANADIAN Grocery Balance $94.00


    I have to say, I am totally unimpressed with the flyers this week. I found some okay prices on produce… so that’s predominantly what we bought this week. And boy, did we ever buy! Next week will have to be a LOW/NO SHOP week depending on whether we need milk or not.

    We did score big time on air miles using coupons, MyOffers and store flyer advertised bonus air miles. The PC.Plus points were great this week too because of my selected offers. It takes a little of the sting of my having spent half the grocery funds for the month all in one hour at the stores!



    RCSS – Pitt Meadows –

    2 x 3 pack Romaine Hearts @ $2.68 = $5.36
    1 PC Broccoslaw $3.98
    1 x 12-pack Croissants $5.00
    1 x GF Cheese Bread $5.99
    2 x Loaves Unsliced French Bread @ $0.95 ea = $1.90
    3 Bananas $0.75
    12 Roma Tomatoes $2.95
    4 Jalapenos $0.60
    1 Club Pack Pork Shoulder Blade Steaks $16.86

    Total Regular Grocery OOP: $43.39
    Total Re-Stocking Grocery OOP: $0.00

    ** Earned 5200 PC.Plus Points on this shop **
    ** USED $0.00 in Rain Check/ Coupons **
    ** SAVED $0.00 Loyalty Savings on this shop **


    Safeway – Maple Ridge –

    4 Green Onions $0.69 ea = $2.76
    4 Avocado (4 for $5)
    1 Broccoli $1.99/lb = $3.72
    4 Compliments Green Salad (2 for $3)
    1 Iceberg Lettuce $1.99
    2 x 1lb Compliments Baby Carrots (2 for $3)
    1 Heavy Cream $3.29-$1.00 Coupon) = $2.29
    1 x 2L Lucerne Whole Milk $3.79

    Total Regular Grocery OOP: $25.55
    Total Re-Stocking Grocery OOP: $0.00

    ** Earned 182 Air Miles on this shop **
    ** USED $1.00 in Rain Check/ Coupons **
    ** SAVED $18.90 Loyalty Savings on this shop **






    •Total Loyalty Card Price Reductions This Year:

    Jan $36.76 + Feb $160.96 + Mar $18.90 = $205.66

    •Total Coupons/Rain Checks Used This Year:

    Jan $0.00 + Feb $20.46+ Mar $1.00= $21.46

    •Total Price Match Savings Used This Year:

    Jan $0.00 + Feb $0.00 + Mar $0.00 = $0.00

    •Total More Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 10 + Feb 182 + Mar $0.00= 192 Points

    •Total Air Miles Earned This Year:

    Jan 6 + Feb 43 +Mar 182= 231 Air Miles

    •Total PC PLUS Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 1800 + Feb 5000 +Mar 5200 = 12,000 Points

    •Total Optimum Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 0 + Feb 0 +Mar 0= 0 Points



    •Total OOP Year-To-Date:
    Jan $196.78 + Feb $193.74 + Mar ($25.48+$15.00+$45.00+$43.39+$25.55 = $154.42) = $538.94

    •Total Year-To-Date Grocery Budget:
    Jan $190.00+ Feb $190.00 + Mar $190.00 = $570.00

    •Total Over/Under on Year-To-Date Grocery Budget: $31.06 AVAILABLE



    2015 Fwd $0.00+Jan $4.69+ Feb $5.19+ Mar $0.00= $9.88



    2015 Fwd $0.00+Jan $45.00+Feb $45.00+ Mar $45.00= $135.00



    2015 Fwd $217.50+Jan -$49.65 + Feb -$140.69 + Mar $25.48 = $52.64



    2015 Fwd $81.51+Jan $15.00 + Feb $11.61 +$15.00= $123.12



    2015 Fwd $100.00+ $537.50 Trf from Borscht Fund+Jan $15.00 + Feb $11.61+ Mar$0.00= $664.11



    $ 570.00 Grocery Budget JAN-MAR

    $ 9.88 Redeemed Points to Purchase

    ($ 123.70) ADDITION TO: Misc Reserves
    (Re-Stocking, Xmas & Summer)

    $ 220.34 REDUCTION TO: Misc Reserves
    (Re-Stocking, Xmas & Summer)

    ($ 135.00) Trf to US Grocery Reserve

    ($ 9.88) Set in reserve to offset
    Redeemed Points

    ($ 506.58) Actual CASH SPENT



    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – JAN
    $ 5.19 Whole Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – FEB

    $ 9.88 Total $ Value of Points Redeemed

    THE VALUE will be added month to month to our Holiday Reserve for next Christmas.

    So far $570.00 has been budgeted Y-T-D for 2016 and we have recorded $268.58 of these funds as “spent” and in fact they have been “saved”:

    $ 52.64 Freezer Re-Stocking Fund
    $123.12 Holiday Season Fund
    $664.11 Summer Season Fund
    $ 135.00 US Shopping Reserve
    $ 9.88 Points Redeemed Reserve

    OUR CURRENT TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES ARE $984.75. This means the $936.51 that we carried forward from 2015 PLUS AN ADDITIONAL $268.58 that we have added in 2016, LESS $220.34 that we have drawn out for use in 2016.


    The valid rain checks I hold are as follows:


    2 Pork Loin Roasts @ $3.88/lb – Good until April 28/16

    4 Ground Beef @ $3.88/lb – Good until April 28/16

    2 Whole Fryer Chickens @ $1.99/lb – Good until May 4/16

    12 Motts Clamato Juice 945-960 ml @ $1.00 ea – Good until May 6/16

    12 Motts Clamato Juice 945-960 ml @ $1.00 ea – Good until May 8/16

    2 dozen Compliments Large eggs @ $1.50 ea – Good until May 16/16

    2 dozen Compliments Large eggs @ $1.50 ea – Good until May 16/16

    Thrifty Foods:

    6 Island Bakery WW Bread @ $1.00 per loaf – Good until April 22/16

    6 Island Bakery WW Bread @ $1.00 per loaf – Good until April 25/16

    1 x 2-pack BC Fresh Whole Fryer Chickens @ $2.49/lb – Good until April 27/16

    1 x 2-pack BC Fresh Whole Fryer Chickens @ $2.49/lb – Good until April 27/16

    2 x 3-packs Romaine Hearts @ $2.50 ea – Good until May 16/16

    2 x 3-packs Romaine Hearts @ $2.50 ea – Good until May 16/16


    This week’s BREAKFAST menu plan:

    HUBBY: Earl Grey Tea with Lemon Juice + toast with peanut butter, Banana Raisin Giant Muffins, English Muffins with cinnamon spread or Cheez Whiz, Bagels with cream cheese or Rice Krispies cereal with skim milk

    MYSELF: Tetley Tea with Skim Milk & Equal + yogurt, avocados, apples or hard boiled eggs


    This week’s LUNCH menu plan:

    MON: Egg Salad Sandwiches with Cheez Whiz stuffed celery sticks

    TUES: Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Dill Pickle & Red Delicious Apple

    WED: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chicken Cup of Soup & a thermos of Chocolate Milk

    THURS: Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Maple Baked Beans & a thermos of Chocolate Milk

    FRI: Ham Salad Wraps with raw cauliflower-carrots-celery-broccoli and dip

    SAT: Whitespot for lunch with MIL & SIL using discount coupons and gift cards

    SUN: Peasant Cabbage and Tomato Soup with Garlic Bread


    This week’s DINNER menu plan:

    MON: Slow Cooker Pork Steaks, mashed potatoes and corn niblets

    TUES: Slow Cooker Apple Bacon & Tomato Soup with Pumpkin Cornbread

    WED: Caesar Salad with Chicken-Pepper-Onions Fajitas with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, hot sauce & shredded cheese

    THURS: Asparagus & Feta Cheese Crustless Quiche with Steamer Veggies

    FRI: Leftover Mashed Potatoes, Corn Niblets, Steamed Broccoli and leftover Slow Cooker Pork Steak

    SAT: Hearty Salmon Vegetable Chowder with Sour Cream Biscuits

    SUN: Slow Cooker BBQ Chili with a side of broccoslaw


    1. Hi Mary,
      WOW you nailed some great PC points with that shop. I also admire your Air Miles as I’m just rubbish with that program. I’m going to check out the new program they have in place to see if that will help me get more deals. It seems to be working for you and Christine. 🙂 I agree the flyers weren’t the best but summer is around the corner so hopefully we will see produce cheaper and taste better although never as good as organic. Oh the price.. meh!!! Correct me if I’m wrong but can you buy produce in the USA or not to bring to Canada? I was going to say no but I’m not sure. You get ballot 2. Mr.CBB

      1. You can buy some produce in the US and bring it back… no potatoes (they are no allowed), and nothing with a seed or a pit. So already sliced apples are ok but a whole apple is a no-no. The deals tend to be on dairy, eggs and breads and the occasional meat but with meat you best check with the border before you cross as they are constantly changing what they will and will not allow. Hubby will be looking for corned beef on Sunday because they usually have good sales right after St. Patrick’s Day. 🙂

  16. I’m a very plain jane when it comes to cooking and am not that adventurous. I don’t cook with many spices or herbs. Due to the cats in my condo, I don’t have any place to grow herbs or any other vegetable so I rely on the St. Jacobs Farmers Market and the grocery store for most (if not all) my food needs. I live next door to an Indian store but like I said earlier, I’m not adventurous….for example, I go a Thai restaurant (for a company lunch) and order “American” food (pork chops, potatoes, veggies).

  17. Mar 4 – 10, 2016
    Name Your Store: Superstore
    Total Coupons Used: $
    Total Points = 1600
    Total Out Of Pocket: $21.40

    No Shop

    18 Kg NN Cat Litter = $8.98
    1.5 Kg Friskies Chef’s Blend = $4.98
    1.5 Kg Friskies Savory = $4.98

    Grocery Game Challenge Results
    Total Grocery Budget for the 2 Adults ($1890.00, for the pay period – $70.00)
    Total Grocery Budget for the 3 Cats ($364, for the pay period – $14.00)
    Total Grocery Budget for Stockpile ($520)
    Total Grocery Budget for the Personal Hygiene ($182)
    Total Grocery Budget for Wholesale Meat ($500.00)
    Total Grocery Budget for Canning Produce ($400.00)

    Total Human (Adults) this Week Period: $0
    Over/Under this week:
    Left for the Month: $(49.34)
    Total Human (Adults) to Date: $342.38

    Total Cats this Week Period: $21.40
    Over/Under this week: Under
    Left for the Month: $1.54
    Total Cats to Date: $82.46

    Total Stockpile this Week Period: $
    Total Stockpile to Date: $54.01
    Total Personal Hygiene this Week Period: $
    Total Personal Hygiene to Date: $91.36
    Total Wholesale Meat this Week Period: $
    Total Wholesale Meat to Date: $96.97
    Total Canning Produce this Week Period: $0
    Total Canning Produce to Date: $0.00

    Total Coupons Used this Week Period: $
    Total Coupons Used To Date: $4.00

    Total Discounts/SCOP this Week Period: $
    Total Discounts/SCOP to Date: $4.09

    Total Checkout 51 rebates this Week Period: $0
    Total Checkout 51 rebates to Date: $10.00

    Total Snap rebates this Week Period: $0.00
    Total Snap rebates to Date: $1.00

    Total Price Match for this Week Period: $
    Total Price Match to Date: $61.93

    Total PC Points Received this Week Period: 1600
    Total PC Rewards Points Used this Week Period: 0
    Total PC Rewards To Date: 28690

    Overview: I know if states March but due to when my pays happen, this is still February. This is a no shop week for human, the cats needed a little bit of supplies since it’s been 8 weeks since I’ve needed to buy them anything.

    1. Hey Dee,
      No problem you track as you see fit. 🙂 That’s not bad if you are shopping for the cats every 8 weeks or so. You get ballot 1 for March. 🙂 What is your budget for the cats for the year?

      1. The 3 cats have a budget of $364 this year. I knocked it down from about $390 last year and maybe will be knocking it down again next year. Time will tell as how the budget goes over the year and what’s left during the year.

        1. I think as you continue to document everything you’ll have a clearer picture of what you can and can’t do. That is why we love tracking so much. It really does have a big financial impact.

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