The Grocery Game | Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

The Most Annoying Situations When Buying Groceries : The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 #1 Apr 4-10



Buying groceries is a must for just about everyone so unless you have your groceries delivered or rely on a personal shopper you are in charge of the shopping cart.

As someone who doesn’t mind buying groceries from a few competitive stores in our area I notice a difference between grocery chains and when it comes to customers we all fail at something on my grocery shopping annoyance list below.

Luckily when buying groceries many of us have the option of where we want to shop but for those of you who may live in a small town or who are without transportation or limited transportation you may have select stores to give your business too.

Sometimes we have to take the good with the bad when buying groceries because funds are limited and honestly no one store is perfect and never will be. What we can change is the way we are as customers and voice our concerns so the grocery chains and even small indpendent grocery stores hear what the customers need.

I’m not that guy who will fill out a customer survey right now because I’m swamped with work but I have voiced my opinion if need be while I’m buying groceries. My wife on the other hand has no problem making phone calls to customer relations or letting just about anyone know what she thinks. What can I say, I married a strong woman who doesn’t put up with anything yet she chooses her battles wisely. Trust me.

When you are spending money buying groceries there are some basic needs the customer requires and should expect from a grocery store. There are also needs that we should expect from ourselves which means we need to put just as much effort into the shopping experience as the grocery store does. We’re not getting paid but some of the things we as customers do or don’t do attribute to the rising food costs that we see happening year after year.

One thing we all need to remember is to have patience, stay calm and treat everyone with respect. There’s no reason to put on the boxing gloves when you are buying groceries, it’s only food after all.


You’re buying groceries and then this happens


Below are some annoyances that get us a bit tangled up in a web when we are buying groceries but we’ve learned how to deal with the situations rationally so we get what we need and get out.


Out of products


It doesn’t matter if the grocery store is out of loss leader products or other products it’s an annoyance when you really need something and the shelf is empty. This forces you to stop at another grocery store which wastes time. What’s even worse is when the store doesn’t offer a rain check like No Frills.


Rude cashier


There is nothing worse than a miserable, rude cashier who displays having a rough day in the way he/she treats you. I understand that we all have rough days but when you work with the public you put on your happy smile and deal with your ‘other’ issues when you leave work. If you can’t shake your mood maybe ask to be sent home or to go for a quick refresh break to shake it off. Paying customers help pay your wages but customer service is part of your role as a cashier.


Rude customers


If you want to be a jerk customer take it somewhere else especially if there are kids waiting in line behind you. They don’t need to be subjected to foul language over groceries. Life can’t possibly be that bad. Customer service is the place you want to take your concerns too.

What goes around comes around. If you expect the cashier to be pleasant at least reciprocate. A simple hello and good-bye is all that is needed along with a thanks. Everything else should be taken to customer relations.


Customers who block aisles


If you’re a customer and you think it’s cool to leave your shopping cart in the middle of an aisle or you just randomly stop to chat with your buddies please don’t do this. Pull over to the side or better yet exchange phone numbers.


Customers who coupon hoard


We’ve seen it happen many times and it gets frustrating to those shoppers who rely on coupons to help lower their grocery budget. There is no need these days to hoard coupons because they are not as lucrative as they once were besides it’s just bad customer etiquette to walk away with a pad of coupons or even more than you can even use.


Parking upsets


As Beth points out below it’s frustrating when people who don’t carry the handicap licence are found to be parking in designated parking spots. Don’t do it, not even for a second. No excuses. It’s equally as frustrating to find a grocery store without a couple of parking spots for expectant mothers or families with young children.

If you are a new mom and have other children or just the one and it’s the middle of winter it’s handy to be close to the doors with a newborn or other kids in tow. As a pregnant woman my wife struggled in her last trimester to get around so parking closer to the doors helps her to get in a bit easier.


Shopping carts


Please don’t leave your grocery flyers, random garbage or your grocery list in the shopping cart. There’s nothing worse than having to clear out someone else’s garbage because they were too lazy to do it themselves. What’s even worse is every shopping cart hut or hallway has a garbage bin. Speaking of lazy, put your shopping cart back where it belongs.

There’s nothing worse than shopping carts blocking parking spots especially designated spots. On the store-front finding unsafe baby seating, beaten up shopping carts with missing parts is unacceptable. If you have a staff member bringing carts in or out they should take a moment to go over them for a safety check once a day or even once a week. There’s no reason to have baby seats with broken harnesses. Fix it or get rid of it.


Loud Obnoxious customers


If you want to start fighting with your partner or kids in the grocery store wait until you go home or get into your own space. I can’t stand listening to people bickering about their personal problems or why they don’t want to walk to the other end of the store to get something. Get off your cell phones and start paying attention to your grocery shopping.


Long line-ups


Listen grocery chain stores…when we are buying groceries it’s nice to have staff at the cash registers or the ability to call staff up when the lines are getting longer. When we buy 50% off products the last thing we want to do is go through the self-checkout. The reason is we waste more time waiting for customer service to scan our reduced items than we would going through a cashier.


No manager on duty


There should always be a manager on duty that can help deal with customer concerns or to take care of staff. If for whatever reason the manager can’t come in putting someone else in charge to hold down the fort is a nice gesture for the customers who need higher support.


Dirty Store/ Rest Rooms


I can’t stand going into a dirty anything which includes the grocery store or the restrooms at the grocery store. Some people are pigs in the bathrooms and don’t know how to aim or clean-up after themselves properly. I expect that the bathrooms be looked at hourly to make sure nothing funky is going on in there.

I also expect that the store is clean, meaning the floors, bunkers, shelves, racks, freezer doors etc. I’m not a grocery store snob by any means but buying groceries where the store is filthy isn’t so appealing. If you’re a customer respect the grocery store and use the garbage bins instead of placing your empties and wrappers on the floor or store shelves. Don’t be lazy.


Half-eaten food


Customers do steal food whether it’s a piece from a chocolate bar, opening a bag of chips or cookies it happens likely every day. The one thing that annoys me is finding these open products on the shelves around the store.  Just buy your stuff and stop trying to eat for free.

Related: Would you say anything if you saw someone stealing at the grocery store?


Deals that aren’t deals


I just hate this. Buy one pay $3.00 but if you buy 2 you only pay $6.00. There’s no deal in that but for someone who isn’t paying attention they may think they’ve got themselves a deal if they buy 2. Watch what you are paying for.


Wrong prices


Whether it’s the wrong price tag, wrong product placement on shelf it happens. Whether it happens because another customer moved product or the staff messed up there should be someone monitoring each section of the grocery store for errors. The Scanning Code of Practice is nice but what’s even better is a store that is on top of everything.


No Sales Flyers


I don’t own a cell phone so getting the Flipp app for me is out of the question. It sucks when I don’t get the flyers or forget the flyers only to find out the grocery store has none stocked up for customers who enter the store. There should be someone monitoring this to make sure the bundles are stocked for customers who need to refer to the sales flyer.


No Free Wi-Fi


No, I don’t carry a smartphone but my wife does have one that she can use with free Wi-Fi. These days just about every do-it-yourself store has free wi-fi but I have yet to go into a grocery store to get free service.

Grocery stores are moving more towards digital everything and I believe they should offer free Wi-Fi to customers so they can access their grocery savings account. For example, if we’re at Zehrs and haven’t loaded our online coupons but are there to shop it would be nice to have the option to load them right in the store instead of missing out on the PC Plus Points.


Money wasters at check-out


This is marketing at it’s finest but with a young toddler who knows what a chocolate bar looks and tastes like this is frustrating for most parents with kids who like to tantrum. Our son is in the terrible two stage now so we have to constantly watch him at the cash to make sure he doesn’t grab anything he’s not supposed to.

This can be tough if you are shopping alone with a kid in tow. If the products weren’t there life when buying groceries will be much easier. The same goes for magazines and other adult triggers to spend more money than you came to the store for.


Inventory control


You probably do know we don’t mind buying 50% off products because they are near their expiry date but when I find a product that has long expired up to almost a half a year I wonder how efficient the store really is. SCOP does not cover missing products or expired products but if the store wants to be known as a store the sells expired products they better fix the problem and pronto. Word spreads fast these days.

Related: Expiration dates on food products

Once we found baby food on the shelf that was over a year out of date. Always read the date codes on the product so you can decided what is worth paying for. The grocery store should take inventory control into consideration especially if the staff needs to be trained further or simply for customer satisfaction and customer retention.


What the fans say…


CBB fans are checking out with some everyday annoyances they experience at the grocery store.

Colleen KThis has nothing to do with food but I just HATE the Scooters at Zehrs…Walmart has beautiful ones that take the corners smooth and sweet while the Zehrs ones rattle your bones and the cart feels like it wants to wobble off…Walmart has Cadillacs but Zehrs has Dumptrucks to ride !!!

Christine W-Stores that don’t have the sale items in stock can frustrate. Rain checks help but it still means having to go back to use the rain check, especially if the store is out-of-town or a fair drive away.

Mary C- Pet peeves…out of stock on the loss leaders, stores that don’t give rain checks, past due stock on the shelves and I mean WAY past due in some cases. It tells me there’s poor inventory control.
Lisa S- long line ups at the check out. produce that has spoiled and is still out for full price. rude staff. cashiers that carry on conversations with each other while scanning my items and totally ignore me.
Samantha JCustomer pet peeves….leaving cart in middle of an aisle, walking down middle of an aisle, chatting forever with someone you ran into and blocking the product, getting angry at the cashiers over things they can’t control. Store pet peevesnot having enough stock especially on sale items, having too many staff stock at one time, not having staff check the produce for mouldy/gross product, not having enough cashiers on, dirty bathrooms, cashiers not knowing how to bag properly
Beth AnneCarts parked in the handicapped spaces. They are not cart corrals. When my husband was sick I remember so many time-shaving to put the car in park, get out, move several carts, then get back in and park We were fortunate that I could do that. Many handicapped people travelling alone cannot.
Christine WDrives me batty when people leave the carts in the parking lot, the cart barns are fine but not all places have them. I mean the people who just leave the carts out there where ever they want.
Mary D-  When stores have an item listed on sale, however they are “currently out” and just put another item in its place without removing the sign,, the clerks who basically don’t pay attention to you and are chatting it up with the others. Safeway is horrible or ours is anyway. Day old bread not on the sale rack. Or when they list an item as discontinued and you see it on the clearance rack, and then find it on the shelf a few weeks later and the price is actually lower now than it was when it was on said clearance.
Christine TMore stores should have limits on how many sale items they can purchase. I remember one time going to no frills for a sale item on the first day and saw someone’s cart full of that item. Once in the store they were sold out and told me that they should have more on Monday.
Customer pet peeve: people who leave their cart in the aisle and are nowhere to be found and you have to move it to get by. People who walk with their cart slowly and talking on their cell phones not paying attention to their surroundings.

Angela MPoor rotation of shelf food stock. The stuff at the back should have a longer expiry, not the shorter expiry or even expired product. Our Food Basics is awful for that. I would tell the staff about it or even bring it to them, then next time I was in the store the products I removed would be back on the shelf. Needless to say, I don’t shop there often anymore.

For goodness sake, don’t put the expired product back on the shelf. Frankly, someone in the store should be responsible for making sure this doesn’t happen. At the milk fridge, the empty milk crates aren’t moved to the bottom rack to bring the full crates forward. I know people feel it’s the responsibility of the store to do this, but frankly, it’s empty so often because there are only 4 bags per crate.

Don’t leave the empty crate in front if you take the last bag out or on the floor, it seems just like a courtesy. I make sure the section I am taking milk from all the empty crates have been moved to the row for them. Yes, a staff member should check it from time to time, and maybe they do, but it bugs me big time!

Customers that change their mind and just drop whatever item they have anywhere they want in the store, especially perishable or frozen items. I sure hope they don’t get put back into the fridges and freezers from spoilage standpoint, but I always wonder. It would be helpful if the shelves were checked more regularly for product out-of-place.

RCSS in our city seems to have shelves empty for price match items that I look for regularly. It’s frustrating because I always wonder if it’s just in the back stock room so that they don’t have to price match it.

Easily stock will be on the shelf the first day of the next flyer for that same item, like it magically appears. If they don’t want to price match, take away the service. But, I really don’t want them to take away the service, I really want the shelves to be stocked, not held until the competition’s flyer is expired. I have no evidence, just coincidences.

What grocery store annoyances do you dislike? – Share your input in the comment section of this post.


April 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.

Our March GGC Winner goes to… Lori-Lynn Ballot #19. Please email me.

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.

April Grocery Game Posts


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-$8.50=$226.50
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $226.50
  • 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: 127,000
  • 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


Food Basics

  • Sealtest Homogenized Milk $5.27
  • Sealtest 2% Milk $4.27
  • Broccoli $0.88
  • 3 x Philadelphia Cream Cheese double size $2.97 each
  • Soft Slices Whole Wheat Bread $1.99
  • Bananas $2.05
  • Bag of avocados $2.88
  • Jar of manzanilla olives $6.99 large jar
  • Activia yogurt $1.99
  • 2 dozen eggs $2.50 each

Total Out-of-Pocket: $38.18


  • Artisan Lettuce $4.99-50%
  • Ground Beef x 3 $6.74 x3
  • 2 x Ground pork $7.31-50% $3.66
  • Sushi ginger $1.74-50%
  • T&T Chicken Stock Huge can Reg $12.99 Sale $9.99 Rang up $5.94-50% =$2.97
  • Rice Vinegar $2.94-50%=$1.47
  • Ta Ta Orange Pekoe Tea 5 x $5.99-50%= $15.00
  • 1 x Parm Cheese Regianno $21.60 (this was a 50% off sale they had leftovers from)
  • 2x Schneiders Pepperoni $7.99 -50%- 0.50 coupons
  • 10lb potatoes $2.50

Total Out-of-pocket; $81.45-$21.65 stockpile =$63.85

  • Total to spend this month $226.50
  • Stockpile budget 2016 ($25.00-$2.65 overage= $22.35)
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $21.60 $0.75 left
  • Total coupons used this week: $1.00
  • Total coupons used to date: $5.60
  • Total in-store discounts this week:$46.26
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $204.01
  • Total spent this week: $102.03
  • Total spent so far this month: $102.03
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: over
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: under
  • Total left to spend for the month: $124.47
  • Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $252.95+ Feb $249.46+March $211.11+April $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

We stocked up a few good bargains we found at Zehrs that we couldn’t pass up. I know it’s the first shop of the month but we didn’t have much planned. The pink sticker fiesta continues but we’re still only buying items we will use. The tea was a huge score for me. 🙂


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!

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.


Are You New To Canadian Budget Binder?

  • Follow Me on Social media by clicking any of the buttons below on the blog.
  • Check out my new Free Recipe Index
  • If you like FREE then click this link for my FREE Excel Budget Spreadsheet and all my Free Money Saving List
  • Don’t forget to Subscribe to Canadian Budget Binder by Email to get my daily email. Once you subscribe you MUST VERIFY your email account so check your spam folder and inbox for that email! By Subscribing you get all the inside scoops first plus any new finance tools and tips!

Similar Posts