The Grocery Game | Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

How To Chop Your Grocery Costs In Half : The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 #3 May 16-22




I’m sure you think that it’s impossible to cut your grocery costs in half and for some of you it may be challenging but for others who are determined it is possible. The problem with so many people who overspend is realizing that they need to change and put stops in place to stick with it.

How much should your grocery budget be?

If you don’t know the answer to this question today I’m going to share with you how you might be spending far TOO MUCH on groceries for no reason at all. Let’s examine the ways you may be overspending and how you can chop your expenses without feeling deprived.

Just because you grocery shop at a cheaper grocery store doesn’t mean you are winning with your grocery bill. No matter where you grocery shop there will ALWAYS be deals which means not one grocery store is created equally. This is the beauty of consumer marketing at it’s finest. In the event you live in a small town and have one local grocery store being mindful of your grocery expenses may become imperative for those who run their ship on a tight-budget.

Related: Small town grocery shopping tips

I’ve written about grocery shopping for years now and have learned more than I had ever anticipated about grocery shopping trends, in-sights and snooping into my fair share of grocery carts. What I’ve learned is that grocery stores will never stay the same, they always evolve which means your budget and shopping habits need to reflect these changes.

Remember the grocery store is not your friend, it’s a money shaker at best.




If you’re reading this because you really want to know how to cut your grocery costs in half it means one of two three things

  • You’re spending too much money and need guidance
  • You don’t have enough funds to buy groceries and need guidance how to trim costs
  • You love my blog and read all of my posts!! 🙂

Related: How we cut our grocery costs from $1100/month to $600 in 6 months

Most people who have the money or don’t mind putting groceries on a credit card because they pay it off every month likely won’t care about cutting their grocery budget in half. These types of grocery shoppers may be intrigued with simple savings such as in-store deals or flash sales, buy one get one free, bulk shopping or regular weekly sales. Even then these types of shoppers may be spending more than they should be but they may not care because of unlimited funds.

If you need to cut your grocery costs in half that means you have some work ahead of you BUT it is possible and many of us have proven that it can be done. Don’t get scared off by the word ‘work’ either because if you think you’re going to get your budget on-track with magic tricks you may as well close this post. It ain’t going to happen! We’ve been working on it since 2012 when we realized we were spending hundreds more than we were supposed to be.

You may not get to eat all the same foods you are currently eating but if money is the name of the game here you have to consider what foods are important to get you through the week or month and how you can create inexpensive recipes with what you have on hand.

One of the most asked questions I get about grocery shopping is, How much. How much does a family of 4 spend on groceries? How much does grocery shopping for 1 cost? Comparing what you eat to someone else will never work. It would be like comparing your appearance to someone else. It’s just not a smart idea and you set yourself up for failure that way. Putting too much pressure on yourself to ‘change’ everything right away is a recipe for disaster.

The average grocery bill for 1 in Ontario will vary depending on the individual and their needs and eating habits. For the most part you can expect to spend at least $30-$50 a week if you keep your meal plans simple without all the “extras“. That means you are eating limited meat and substituting with other nutritious protein sources such as legumes and picking up other foods that are on sale in the weekly flyer.

If your grocery costs are too high or have increased to the point where you are spending more on food than you are on rent or a mortgage I’m going to share with you how to cut your grocery costs in half once and for all.

Dear Mr.CBB

We’re a young family of 3 and our grocery costs are double what we should be spending every month according to our budget. We are trying to pay our mortgage off earlier but it seems we are putting that money towards groceries more so than extra payments.

Can you help me to cut our grocery bill in half so we can put the money towards other debts? I’m at my wit’s end with food shopping especially with the costs rising at every grocery store but my husband and I both struggle with the buying more than we need syndrome because it looks or sounds good. I can send you our numbers and how we grocery shop in hopes you can see something we aren’t.


-Carol and Chris, London, Ontario

The problem with Carol and Chris is that they know they have to make changes but maybe aren’t willing to let go of the things they know they shouldn’t be buying. The reason I say that is because they use a grocery budget BUT they still over-spend by double every month. This tells me that they struggle with setting financial limits as a couple.

I can’t promise you that you will cut your grocery costs in half BUT if you are spending double what you should be then you should have limited problems lowering your expenses significantly.

After reviewing Carol and Chris’ grocery budget of $540 a month for 3 we found that they are spending over $1000 a month. Ouch! I was waiting for more information about the way they grocery shop but unfortunately there was no agenda for groceries in their household.

Just because you know or think you know how much you can ‘afford’ to spend on groceries doesn’t mean that you are a smart shopper. If Carol and Chris can slash their budget costs in half they can use the extra approximate $6000 a year to put a lump sum payment on their mortgage or to pay other debts.


But I use coupons and save money…


How many times have you heard people say they saved a tonne of money using coupons? Extreme amounts likely as the internet is dripping with consumers buying into the coupon frenzy. We were in that position probably leading the ranks in our local community years ago. Believe it or not we even met up weekly with a couponing group to swap coupons and talk about what’s been going on in local stores.

We’ve more than cooled off that expensive habit. Canadian coupons are helpful to spend even less than you would have if you didn’t have the coupon BUT they can be more harmful than good if you should be putting your money towards other debts.

Related: Where to find Canadian Coupons?

You’re not saving money if other  bills are accumulating interest. Say that with me… You’re not saving money if other bills are accumulating interest”. There now you can’t say I didn’t warn you.


You CAN stop your grocery costs from rising


Here’s the thing, you can’t balance something when there is nothing to compare on the other side. In this case Carol and Chris need to invest more time into their finances and other aspects of the grocery shopping extravaganza. I call it that because it truly is a race to the savings every week. Some weeks are better than others but you can’t expect to always come out ahead.

Below are some of my must-read grocery bible savings tips to live by if you want to lower grocery costs and stop worrying about how much the bill is going to be. If you want even more grocery education grab a cuppa tea and read my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide that is FREE to all subscribers.


Grocery Budget


If you catch yourself saying that you can afford to spend approximately x amount of dollars on groceries for the week or month. STOP! This means you have no idea how much money you can spend. There is no ‘approximate’ with a grocery budget. It is what it is, an expense that needs to be monitored like any other in your monthly budget.

I urge you to download my free budget template to get started if you aren’t already using a full budget for all of your financial needs. That means you will know the exact numbers of your monthly expenses, debt-load and how much you are earning. You need to know this stuff to succeed.

Get real with your money and stop guessing.


Inexpensive Recipes


Before you start go chopping your grocery costs you need to know what you like to eat.

If you are reading this on the internet you have so many available resources to help you discover frugal meals that are healthy and pack a punch with flavour. Check out my Free Recipe Index for foods our family cooks and loves but also source fabulous recipes on Pinterest. Continue to test recipes you think you might like and when you do add them to a recipe box. In no time you’ll have a full box of delicious inexpensive recipes that you can rotate into your weekly meal plan.

Related: Inexpensive Meals- How to stretch your food budget


Budget meal planning


Once you have a stash of recipes you can start planning your meals effectively. This takes time like anything else but eventually you will only need to buy ingredients to cook your meals throughout the week or month. Depends on how often you shop.

When your weekly flyers come in the mail or if you use the Flipp app check out what is on sale for the week then head to your recipe index and find out what recipes you can make to fit the sales for the week. It’s such a simple concept however the hardest part for everyone is finding the time to do it.

As new parents we are understanding the struggle even more so than we had ever imagined for parents. We get it now so we like to make everything we do, easy and quick if possible. Once a week we sit down and create our shopping list and meal plan. Since I like to experiment creating meals our shopping list can be even more challenging but it’s fun coming up with ideas based on weekly sales and what’s in the pantry.


Grocery List


Please DO NOT grocery shop without a list. It’s not uncool trust me!! The premise behind using a grocery list means you must be poor, struggling or cheap is NOT TRUE. I’ve heard it all before. If you’re that worried about a list you can load it to your phone to keep up with the times. Some apps even offer you access to create a grocery list while searching for the best deals. Something to think about.


Grocery Store Ads


Don’t fall prey to every marketing ploy going at the grocery store. If you do this then you can bet you will fall off the wagon. My wife and I struggle with this so much which is why we started the grocery game. It’s easy to say but hard to do.

What I suggest is to stick to your grocery list. If you see an item that is not on your list and possibly reduced in price and it’s a must-have then get it. When I say must-have I don’t mean junk food either. I’m talking about ingredients that are typically out of your price range which you can create meals with.


Cut the crap


Straight up, stop buying junk food. If you must buy pre-made foods at least make sure you have a grocery budget so you aren’t overspending. Buying chocolate, chips, cookies, ice-cream and I don’t know what else is fine in moderation but pick 1 as opposed to all of them every grocery shop. Limiting the amount of salt and sugar in your diet will take you from feeling blah to wow.

Related: Are we eating too much salt?

Junk food alone for many shoppers will cut a huge part of the grocery budget. Don’t believe me. Go through what you typically buy every week and remove it from your list. How much was your grocery shop then? Can you live without this food? Probably! It’s all part of a mind-set. If you stock it you’ll eat it. If you don’t stock it you may make it homemade but even then that’s still cheaper and likely healthier.


Grocery Shopping Pro


In conclusion most local grocery stores today want you to shop frequently so they have flash sales, surprise in-store deals just so you spend more money. Choose your shopping battles wisely because when you tally up how much you are overspending it could mean the difference between debt freedom and pro-longing what you could have earlier, no debt.

What other ways can you add to help those struggling with over-spending at the grocery store?

Please leave your comments in the comment section below.



May 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.

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.

May 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: 181600
  • 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 : $14.00


Grocery Shop This Week


Food Basics

  • Cauliflower Sale $1.88
  • 1 x Philadelphia cream Cheese Sale $2.88
  • Attitude Baby Spinach Sale $2.88
  • 6 x tuna Sale $0.88 each No name Selection
  • 1 x Sealtest Homo Milk $5.27
  • 1 x 2% Sealtest Milk $4.27
  • Mushrooms $1.99
  • 1 Red Onion $1.55

Total Out-of-pocket $23.12


  • 2lbs of bananas $1.20
  • Watermelon $3.99
  • Silk Almond Milk $2.99
  • 2 x Dozen Large Eggs Sale $2.49
  • Bucket of Mixed Greens $5.99

Total Out-of-pocket $33.00


  • 2 x cucumbers seedless Sale $0.99 each
  • 5 pack avocado $2.99
  • 2 x Black Diamond Cheddar Cheese Sale $4.44
  • Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce Sale $1.99-$2.00 coupon FREE

Total Out-of-pocket $13.85

  • Total to spend this month : $226.50
  • Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $22.35
  • Total coupons used this week: $2
  • Total coupons used to date: $7.60
  • Total in-store discounts this week:$0
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $226.93
  • Total spent this week: $69.97
  • Total spent so far this month: $202.74
  • Total over/Under spend this shop:over
  • Total over/Under spend for the month:over
  • Total left to spend for the month: $23.76
  • Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $252.95+ Feb $249.46+March $211.11+April $248.11+May $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

We didn’t need too much this week as I ordered Chinese food for myself which was a surprise from my wife because she loves me. We hardly ever eat out so it was so nice not to cook for one meal and enjoy some family time. I’m sure that was what it was all about. We don’t have much left to spend for the month and the freezer is starting to get low. I hope we can find some good deals in the next month or so.  On a good note we have our PC points back up to a good spot so if we need them we can use them. I’m hoping not.



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.


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