GROCERY SHOPPING WITH MR. & MRS. CBB + Jr.
If you want to become a smart shopper plan to invest time into your grocery shopping experience otherwise you’ll be spending money you don’t need to spend and saving less than you should be.
Knowing the ropes when it comes to the grocery store is a big deal especially if you are on a tight budget. A fan asked me how they could become a smart shopper like my wife and I have become over the years which caught me off guard. I thought I’ve shared just about every smart shopper trick that I could think of over the years but I haven’t shared exactly what we do.
I’m putting together this post to share how we go about grocery shopping to keep our monthly budget at $235 a month for 2 adults and one toddler. I hope by the end of reading this post you feel as if we all grocery shopped together. My aim is to virtually take your hand to have you become a smart shopper by following grocery tricks we’ve learned over the years.
Related: The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide (Become a Smart Shopper with tonnes of tips and secrets from just about every Grocery Game Post I’ve ever written over the years)
Going to the grocery store may be terrifying for the first time grocery shopper but for those of you who are seasoned shoppers it’s fairly straight-forward once you understand the road map from point A to Cashing out.
Smart Shopper 101
Here’s what it takes to become a smart shopper like us but remember that it takes time and the more you practice the easier it gets. Eventually you will tune out all the marketing ploys that encourage you to spend more money than you wanted to.
Things have changed since we had our son because we don’t have the time we used to in order to plan lucrative coupon adventures at the grocery store. To be honest though with the technology craze for coupon apps these days limiting coupon use has hardly changed the way we save money.
If you’re into couponing you’ll notice that there aren’t as many coupons available as there once were and the amounts they’re worth aren’t much to get excited about either. I know in the past I’ve said saving something is better than nothing. I still believe in this concept but it’s not coupons winning the savings battle these days.
If you are able to coupon stack you’ll likely disagree with me which is fine because we can’t stack coupons in Ontario but if we could I’d certainly be on that train as fast as I could be. Coupon stacking has huge savings benefits for the smart shopper.
On that note I’m going to take you through the process my wife and I take to plan our grocery shopping so we are able to continue with a low grocery budget.
Go fetch the grocery flyers
It’s Thursday…that mean’s the grocery flyers are in our mailbox by 5pm. I’m usually the one who gathers up the roll of flyers and brings them in the house. If I haven’t tripped over them because our not so smart paper boy decides to throw them on the ground under the mailbox I may even get them in good condition.
There have been days I’d have to play catch because they were on our front lawn, down the side of the house and on the windshield of our neighbours car. I’m not kidding! Anyhow these days I think it depends on his mood but none the less the grocery flyers are a huge influence to our shopping trip.
If you’re not a fan of waiting for actual flyers to flip through you can use the conveniently named “Flipp App” on your smartphone which will have all the weekly flyers in your area and compare prices for you on products you need.
Although Flipp is a great app the wife and I prefer the old-fashioned way of planning our shopping by reading the flyers together with a cuppa tea, pad of paper and a pen. We’re becoming our parents…we always joke about that.
Take Inventory of the Stash
Before we read the weekly flyers we take a quick inventory of what we have in the pantry, refrigerator and read our freezer inventory list. This enables us to sort out what we need to stock up on if we can find a good deal and what we immediately need because we are all out or close to it. This takes us about 15 minutes to complete.
Load our Online Coupon Apps
These days if you want savings from grocery stores that offer points programs like the PC Plus Points or the Shoppers Optimum and Metro online rewards you need to load them. I’m sure there are plenty more I haven’t mentioned but you get the idea. This takes mere minutes to do but it’s important to make sure we maximize on all the possible weekly savings that we can.
Print, Clip or Gather Coupons
Yes, we still use the occasional coupons but we don’t spend much time collecting them like we used to in terms of online trading. We do scour the grocery store as we shop and if we see a coupon that catches our attention we will grab a couple of them.
Like I mentioned they aren’t as lucrative plus we have a stockpile in our basement that will keep us going for a few more years. We don’t count health and beauty in our grocery budget but we’re well stocked including laundry products.
Related: Coupon Apps In Canada
This takes us about 15 minutes to look online for printable coupons etc.
Organizing a Shopping List
One of the biggest mistakes shoppers make is creating a generic grocery shopping list. Have you ever found someone’s shopping list in your grocery cart? I did last week and I took it home to read it because I’m nosey.
What I found was a list that was without any sale prices which leads me to believe the owner of the list did not review the grocery sales. I know many of you may write products you need and you can memorize what store has the best prices but leaving it up to the memory is a sure-fire way to go broke.
I’ve provided free printable grocery shopping lists that you can print and use to make things easier. We use them to write our grocery list BUT we make sure we include brand names and sale prices.
If we don’t know the price of the product we need we write it in as a product we need pending price. We are pretty good at figuring out what prices are the best prices and those that we can hang onto until the next sales cycle rolls around. In the event the store is out of a sale item we always make sure to get a rain check IF the store offers them as they don’t all have this great perk.
This process takes us about 10 minutes to scan the flyers and write down the products we will hopefully be buying or price matching.
Picking a Day to Grocery Shop
We normally like to grocery shop on Monday evenings after dinner if we can but sometimes we shop early or even at the end of the week because flyer sales overlap at some grocery stores. The name of the game for us is to go when everyone else is at home eating dinner or doing something other than shopping.
The worst thing to do is shop when the store is busy because you can easily lose your focus with crowds surrounding you. If you find you are in that situation try to go down the quiet aisles to regroup and figure out where you still have to shop and what you are looking for.
Pick a day and time that works for you and your family and think about how and what distractions might deter you from reaching your smart shopper goals. Choosing to shop after we eat a meal helps us to curb overspending. Don’t shop hungry.
In the Grocery Store
Before entering the store you may notice product sales placed outside and in the lobby where the grocery carts are. Don’t turn a blind eye to these sales as they may be reduced or blowout sales. It’s easier to target the shopper with products they need to move fast before they step foot into the store. I’ve been able to score great deals on winter road salt, garden plants and much more.
The first thing the wife and I do is get a grocery cart to buckle our little guy into for his travels around the aisles. While I’m doing that my wife is over checking the coupon board for any new coupons. We tend to split up when we grocery shop to save time. We’ve already addressed what we are buying so we know what to look for. Since we split up we have 2 copies of the grocery list which makes finding products faster too.
The perimeter is your friend. Keep telling yourself that and you’ll be fine. Put your ‘Reduced Radar’ on and you’ll find all the in-store deals going. That means get to know your store and how they mark down products. You’ll be able to spot reduced product labels and blow-out specials while super scanning the store. That’s how we do it.
If there is no need for us to go down an aisle, we avoid it although we have found some smashing deals down those naughty aisles. Not every product down the aisles are bad for your budget so pick and choose wisely where your money is being spent.
Most often we circle the perimeter of the store and a few aisles before we cash out. The wife and I pretty much know where all the reduced racks and sections are in the grocery stores that we shop in so we always make sure to check them out.
If we find something we whistle or call for each other to come see the product. We don’t venture off from each other too far because we like to call each other if need be. If we score a great deal we review our grocery list and grocery budget to see if we can afford the deal. If not, it goes back. If yes, we quickly talk about it which ends up.. ya get it, no we don’t need it. Then we move on.
If we are in Zehrs we typically take a run through the clothing section quickly to see what kids clothing they have marked down but we don’t spend too much time in there. I’d say tops we are in the grocery store for 25-30 minutes because we split the task between us. It also depends on how big our grocery list is to determine shopping times.
If at all possible we try not to talk to anyone unless they know us or ask for help which I am more than happy to give. Sometimes we stumble across the sample person who we may make small talk with, try the product and ask for coupons if we liked it but that’s about it.
Shopping with our son
Depending on the sales for the week we may grocery shop at one store or travel to a few. The name of the game for us is to be prepared for anything. That means don’t forget the diaper bag, which I’ve done.
If the store offers Free fresh fruit for our boy we make sure to grab him an apple or banana for our in-store travels which seems to keep him happy. If there’s no fruit we get him a Free cookie from the Zehrs bakery or we bring snacks. That’s a little treat for him when we are out and he enjoys it and it.
Related: How to grocery shop with a child
When we get to the cash register we often use a cashier as we have reduced products which tend to take longer to ring up at checkout scanners as the main cashier has to tend to us personally to scan in the reduced items. For us that wastes valuable time so it’s easier to visit a cashier. Plus we enjoy conversations with the cashier and our son likes putting products on the belt and pushing the conveyor button when it’s time to pack our re-usable bags or boxes offered by the store.
We try to involve him in the grocery shopping experience as much as we can. I’m sure I’ll be writing an update post about grocery shopping with a toddler because as he gets older the process gets a bit tricky. Trying to keep a child engaged takes patience and prep work. Not every parent has the luxury to grocery shop alone so it’s important to the success of the grocery shop as well.
Review the receipt
If you aren’t doing this yet you must add it to your to-do list BEFORE leaving the grocery store. The last think you want happening is having to return because a product rang up higher than it should have.
Even though you may have a Scanning Code of Practice incident on your hands it’s easier to deal with it on the spot rather than having to call when you get home. I’ve had to make that call before and although everything went down smooth it was still a pain in the backside.
When we didn’t have our son in tow it was easy to watch what the cashier was doing and if we noticed an error it would get corrected on the spot. These days we are trying to cash out and get our son through the process with the least amount of hassle which means a receipt review is ever so important before we exit the building.
If all else fails and you find an error just call the store and let them know. They are always happy to accommodate missed pricing errors especially if you speak to the manager.
Ask for Rain Check
Whatever you do if the store is out of a sale item and you know you need it or will need it in the future by all means ask for a rain check from your cashier or from customer service if they offer them. Leaving without one when you need a product only means you will have to pay more for it when the stock does finally arrive.
We’ve got better at asking for a rain check and the thrill of it sometimes means we end up stretching our savings to the next month. If you are an eagle eye and can spot empty sales bins or shelves you may be able to score a rain check. You may not need the product now but if you know you will in a month or so the rain check is handy to have.
Visit the ATM
Before we head out the door we make a pit-stop at the automated teller machine to get some cash out from the bank while we can. Since we bank with PC Financial it’s convenient to have the in-branch bank available to us while we grocery shop.
There have been many times we needed some help and the lovely PC Financial employee was always there to help us. We don’t miss the traditional bank at all and have banked with PC since the beginning. Well, my wife has because it was hard to pass up no fees. I don’t blame here some of the fees banks charge in Canada are outrageous. Pick and choose your banking battles wisely. Options are out there.
Get the heck out of there
Normally my wife will pack the groceries in the vehicle and put the shopping cart back while I am strapping junior into his car seat. Before our boy came along I would do the packing of the groceries and she would return the shopping cart. Anything we’ve ever done we’ve completed as a couple if possible.
Grocery shopping can still add up to about an hour from start to finish depending on how much you have to buy, whether you are waiting for help from staff, long line-ups, technology malfunction at the cash etc. For the most part we aim for one hour to get in and get out.
If by chance I grocery shop alone because I go after work I do my best to get in and get out. Even though that’s easier said than done I’m still working on this part of the smart shopper plan. Don’t give up and never give in unless you find yourself faced with a hell of a deal.
Bringing our Groceries Home
When we finally make it home I bring all the groceries in the house while Jr. CBB is out playing around the vehicle or in the garage with his toys. We are parents who have toy stashes just about everywhere to keep junior busy. My wife puts the groceries away while I’m hanging out with our boy. This creates less distraction for her which means the job of putting groceries away happens faster.
After all is said and done we put our grocery receipt in our Canadian Budget Binder folder ready for end of month budget calculations and the weekly grocery game challenge post. All of these steps have helped us to become the smart shopper family that we are today.
Without putting a plan in place grocery shopping would cost us much more and we’d like not be mortgage free today if it weren’t for our smart shopping ways. Don’t take for granted the obvious when you are faced with money-saving opportunities.
Do you consider yourself a smart shopper? Why?
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 $10 Canadian . 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.
March Grocery Game Posts
- This is the last shop from February if you want to read or post your shop- Inexpensive Meals
- How To Eat Gourmet Food On A Tight Budget
- The Best Canadian Grocery Stores To Shop At
- Must-Have Kitchen Tools For The Home Chef On A Budget
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.
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 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: 114,063
- 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
- Homo Milk Sealtest $5.27
- 2% Milk 4L Beatrice $4.27
- Romaine Lettuce 3 pk Sale $1.97
- Pineapple $1.67
- Strawberries $1.67
- 2 x Lactancia Whipping cream $1.99
- Mexico Bag Avocados $2.98
- 2 x Dozen Eggs Sale $1.88
- 1 x seedless cucumber Sale $0.98
- Philadelphia Cream Cheese $2.49
- Saputa Mozzarella $4.44
Total Out-of-Pocket: $33.48
- 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: $4.60
- Total in-store discounts this week:$0
- Total in-store discounts to date: $157.75
- Total spent this week: $33.48
- Total spent so far this month: $211.11 (OMG I can’t get away from 11:11)
- Total over/Under spend this shop: over
- Total over/Under spend for the month: $8.52 over
- Total left to spend for the month: -$8.52
- Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $252.95+ Feb $249.46+March $211.11
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
We are still over this month however we are catching up little by little. I’m sure April will be the month to sort this over-spend once and for all. Some great sales this week but we didn’t have the cash to jump on them. We did stock up on plenty of fruits and vegetables.
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!!
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
- MySavings.com 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 Save.ca, 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 Save.ca that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile Save.ca 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 Know what stores accept coupons?: If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
- How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.
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!
Please Note: Some of the links in the body of the blog post are affiliate links which means I may get paid if you buy something from Amazon. The items I’ve chosen are products we use at home or similar to.
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