I would consider myself a grocery shopping deal sniffer because I’ve taken the time to learn as much as I possibly can about grocery shopping in Canada even though I knew nothing only 8 years ago.
What is a deal sniffer?
When I moved to Canada I had no idea about any prices and was led by my wife who helped get me on board with how things happened at the grocery store. I was always a deal sniffer in the UK and I even had a hand scanner similar to the Nielsen Hand Scanner where I scanned my groceries for rewards points.
I did just about anything to save money as long as it was legal even if that meant eating the same foods week after week. My kitchen isn’t that boring these days because now I’ve got my grocery shopping goggles on the second I walk through the door.
A deal sniffer is someone who knows their stuff when it comes to grocery prices, the grocery store and other places that sell food products. They know where the deals are how to find them and what they need to do in order to save money on their grocery shopping trip.
Let me explain further below in detail.
Finding Deals Takes Practice
You can’t expect to start saving massive amounts of money on grocery shopping right off the hop. Many experienced deal sniffers have been going at it for years and know the ropes. They’ve customized the way they shop, where they shop and know the in’s and out’s of the grocery shopping system along with the art of negotiation.
It sounds like quite a bit but trust me when I say the more you deal sniff the better you will get at it. The same goes with killing debt. You can’t expect to get rid of it over night, it takes work.
Grocery shopping for deals is not for poor people or cheap people it’s for everyone. Why pay more money than you have to? I’d say you were making a bad financial decision if you knew there were savings but failed to capitalize on them because you felt they were not necessary. Yet many people are saving tonnes of money which helps them to pay down other debts or build their savings account.
The grocery store counts on some people to not care – They are the money-makers
There are those people and you may be one of them who think that looking for deals is a waste of time and it won’t amount to enough savings to warrant the time spent deal sniffing. Tell that to the wife who proudly owns over 80 jugs of laundry soap that she practically got for free over the years with coupons. These days coupons aren’t quite as lucrative however they are still an important secret for grocery shopping savings.
What I find interesting though is that the people who complain the most about rising food costs don’t take the time to investigate where they can save themselves some money. Shopping the flyer sales is great but only one secret to keeping money where it belongs- in your bank account.
Perhaps if we continue to spread the word that grocery savings are possible and with a bit of effort anyone can chop their grocery budget. One fan of this blog went from spending $1100 a month down to $600 a month by listening to the pro grocery shoppers and finding out how they picked up deals.
That’s right, listen to the people who know what they are talking about and have proven it. You want to listen to someone who can show you that they have conquered the money demon and won.
Grocery shopping is a HUGE financial demon for just about anyone’s grocery budget whether they are debt free or not. My wife and I struggle to keep our budget in check but most often we are only over by $20-$30 if any at all. I’d like to say we’ve done well over the years sticking to our grocery budget apart from a few overage shops. This grocery game challenge has been our budget savior and many other challenge participants would agree as they’ve been on this journey with us since 2012 when I started this blog.
We’re certainly not the best grocery shopping couple in the land but we know a thing or two about grocery shopping and how to get those deals. Keeping shopping secrets to ourselves only means we aren’t doing our job of helping the fans of Canadian Budget Binder save money which is our mission at CBB.
We want you to feel comfortable knowing that we are in the same boat as many of you however our faults lie with in-store advertised specials that are hard to pass up. Even now we do our best to say no to these deals and push the grocery cart away but it’s so hard especially when you know you will use the product.
The most important part is to always make sure you have the money to spend even if you do go over your grocery budget a bit. If you are taking money from your household bills category to pay for deals then it’s a no-brainer that you must say no and walk away.
If you’re a grocery shopper who already knows how to become a deal sniffer than this post might not be exciting for you but I’d certainly love to hear your opinion. I asked my fans for their advice on Facebook and a few them had some secrets that I want to share with you today as well as my top 7 secret ways to save money.
7 Secrets of the Grocery Shopper Deal Sniffer
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) – One of the best kept secrets that really isn’t a secret is the Scanning code of Practice. Next time you are at the cash register or walk into a store have a look around and you may be shocked to see the SCOP sign. Learn about this grocery savings tool and you’ll be well on your way to cashing in on errors made by the grocery store. Let’s not forget though that we are helping the store find areas they need to improve in. SCOP is not a game.
- Coupons and Coupon Stacking- Coupons in general are a savings no matter how much they are worth if you can use them on a product you need. These days paper coupons are limited in the stores however they are still around where printable coupons have become widely popular. We can’t stack coupons in Ontario but if you live out West and have a London Drugs near you by all means take advantage of the savings. The lucrative amount of money you can save is outrageous.
- Coupon Apps- This is a must-have for any shopper since coupon apps are where the manufacturer wants to direct the customers. We use Checkout51 and Zweet the most but there are others. The only downfall with the coupon apps is the quantity of product you can get which is typically whereas with paper coupons you could take as many you think you would use. Coupon apps aren’t widely known but slowly are creeping out to the masses.
- Flyer Inserts- Believe or not but people don’t actually read the flyer inserts in full. Many times there are savings in the fine print as well. You may also find one-day sales, weekend sales that are promoted in a small section of the flyer. If you don’t read the flyers, get the flyer or toss the flyers in the bin you’re missing out on some serious money-saving. A great app for flyers if you don’t get them is Reebee or Flipp.
- Reduced labels- The toughest thing about reduced labels is tracking them which means you have to keep your eyes peeled on products. Sometimes we don’t come up for air because our eyes are constantly scanning product labels. Loblaws stores for example use bright pink reduced labels which make them easy to spot. Recently they’ve introduced a new black 50% off round sticker which is horrifying to see. We hope they don’t implement it across the board and keep the pink stickers. Other stores use black and white labels or nothing but a sign in front of the product such as a blowout sale, discontinued etc.
- Expiry Dates- We don’t mind buying close to expired products but if you have a keen eye for detail you can find those products on your own and asked to have a price reduction. Every time we’ve asked we have had no issue as they want to move the product out the door.
- Hidden deals- Every deal sniffer must know where the grocery store hides their reduced product. It’s not really hidden but most often it’s pushed aside, at the end of an aisle, in the corner of a bunker or in a hallway. If you don’t look you will miss the great deals they have on marked down product.
I know I only said I had 7 secrets for you but I have one more secret and that’s getting to know the staff. If they see you are a regular who isn’t shy to say hello they may direct you to some great deals or fill you in on special truck deliveries that aren’t flyer listed. One time we were able to score a great deal on buckets of Lettuce for $0.99 instead of $5.99 because the produce guy had some extras in the back he needed to move out of the store fast.
Shop like these experts for deals
Some of the best deal sniffers I know are going to share with you their secrets today because they want you to save money too. Now is the time to make notes!!!
CBB fan Mary C. brings up some very good points about shopping for deals that are important to consider especially when it come to budgeting.
I like to mention, a deal is only a deal if I have the funds to cover it. Long before I head anywhere near a store, I “sniff out” the grocery budget to see where we stand and if we can afford to look for discounted items or not. That having been said, over the years since I started posting on the GGC we have amassed almost $1,000 in our “reserves” for summer produce, holiday shopping, re-stocking the freezer and pantry, US Shopping etc. Because I save in advance, if it’s a wonderful sale…I can take advantage of it if I NEED it. So I come to the 2nd point on sniffing out a deal. It’s only a deal if you actually NEED the item and purchasing the newly found deal isn’t going to just create food waste in another area. Once I have established that it is actually a need and not just a want, I am the same as any other shopper trying to find a deal. I keep my eyes peeled, enjoy a second pair of eyes by shopping with my hubby and then doing what I have to do to take advantage of my deal – be it cook it up, trim it up or eat it that day.- Mary C.
Pat says that she sniffs out the deals that have reduced stickers on them and she knows her prices which is critical to getting the best bargains.
I’m not much of a deal sniffer but pink stickers sure stand out to me and I know prices so I don’t over pay.- Pat C.
I look over the meat counter especially for those lovely stickers!! Hubby and the boys want their meat so even a 30% off sticker helps the budget here! She also….I check the flyers before I go shopping and my food supplies just in case I find something to be sure I have the room in the pantry of freezer. I also check any deals I have from online sources like PC Points products etc. Once at the store I keep looking around for reduced product. It helps if you know your prices to start with so you know how good the deal actually is.- Christine W.
Most of the grocery deals come from our small Co-op store. They have a reduced bin where things are usually priced at 99 cents. You will find distressed fruit and veggies in bags drastically reduced. I’m always watching the milk cooler for near best before dates. I am not afraid to buy distressed and reduced items unless it is beyond salvageable. You learn when truck deliveries are and keep an eye out either just before or just after. With nothing to do in this burb it has become a hobby of sorts.- Our Queen Deal Sniffer, Colleen K.
I flyer shop and try to only buy things when on sale. I buy enough to last until the next sale. I look for clearance items and use coupons a bit (not very much lately). I look for used items before I purchase new. That’s about it. I agree with Mary though, it’s only a deal if it’s needed and within budget– Samantha
Not everyone sniffs out the deals but just because you aren’t buying the deals doesn’t mean you can’t save your money from different food sources such as foraging like Beth does.
I’m not a deal sniffer at all, Mr. CBB. I’ll take advantage of a bargain if one comes my way but I rarely bother with grocery flyers, coupons, or other bargain hunting activities. I find they actually result in me spending more than I otherwise would. I simply eat seasonally, forage when I can, put by what I can for the more expensive winter season, and reduce waste as much as possible.- Beth
What secrets have you learned about grocery shopping that will save you money but maybe others don’t know about? Share your secrets in the comment section below. I promise I won’t tell anyone.
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.
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
- The Most Annoying Situations When Buying Groceries #1 April
- How Customer Feedback Will Make You Richer #2 April
- Strange Things People Do At The Grocery Store To Save Money #3 April
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-$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: 149,000
- 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)
- Zweet to cash out : $18.25
- Checkout51 to cash out : $8.00
Grocery Shop This Week
- Radishes $1.97
- Beatrice Homo Milk $5.27
- Beatrice 2% Milk $4.27
- Bananas $1.77
- 2 x Astro Yogurt Coconut Sale $1.88 each
- Cedar Olive Oil Sale $22.99
Total Out-of-pocket $39.81
- 4 x dozen Omega Eggs Sale $2.88 each
Total Out-of-pocket $11.52
- 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: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $5.60
- Total in-store discounts this week:$0
- Total in-store discounts to date: $226.93
- Total spent this week: $51.33
- Total spent so far this month: $248.11
- Total over/Under spend this shop: over
- Total over/Under spend for the month:
- Total left to spend for the month: -$21.61
- Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $252.95+ Feb $249.46+March $211.11+April $248.11
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
We were so close this month but the gallon of olive oil put us over budget for the month which were already trying to catch up on. We are now over $21.83 to start May. The challenge hasn’t gotten us yet but we’ll conquer it soon enough!!!
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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