The Grocery Game | Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

How to include Fresh Produce In Your Diet When Prices Are High : The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 #2 June 6-12

how to include fresh produce in your diet on a tight budgetDON’T LET THE PRICE OF FRESH PRODUCE SCARE YOU AWAY FROM ENJOYING DELICIOUS MEALS


No matter where you grocery shop these days you may have noticed an increase in the price for fresh produce. These price hikes can significantly impact any grocery budget however it is still possible to enjoy your fresh vegetables and fresh fruit without having to resort to frozen alternatives.

Tracking your expenses and having a grocery budget are a must for any household but if your grocery budget is tight you may have to make cut-backs or find other savings on items you need to ensure you incorporate nutritious fresh produce into your meals.

I was reading an article about the high food prices driving consumers away from fresh produce and into the freezer section where options like frozen vegetables and fruit along with fruit juice seem to be the frugal option for those on a tight budget.

Soaring produce prices have been a hot topic recently. Fresh vegetable costs rose 11.7 per cent and fresh fruit prices increased 11 per cent year-over-year in April, according to Statistics Canada’s most recent consumer price index report

It’s important to remember that you can find ways to eat fresh produce without your budget suffering the consequences but you must be willing to do a bit of work. Seasonal fresh produce will always be cheaper than fresh produce that is out of season.

Although prices always seem to increase during the winter we must plan for this with our grocery budget and take advantage of the summer deals to help balance the price hikes. Even if you are finding that summer fresh produce prices are a bit high for your tight budget you can still work around it by using some of these awesome tips below.

It may take a bit of planning and keen eye looking for deals but it’s worth it when you can enjoy fresh produce instead of a frozen alternative. Save that frozen stuff for the winter when prices skyrocket unless you are able to stockpile your freezer while it’s cheap.

Why pay $3.99lb for green peppers in the winter when you can buy them for $0.99lb in the summer then wash, chop and freeze them for winter meals? There’s always a way to put good healthy food on the table as long as you are dedicated to finding or growing it yourself.

One really cool thing my father-in-law does is forage for fresh produce. That means he finds plenty of herbs, asparagus, fiddle-heads, dandelions, mushrooms, berries and other fruits growing in the wild. Most often seeds are blown from the farmer’s fields into ditches or forests and these products grow.

If you are familiar with foraging and know what you are looking for it’s a great way to get free food for nothing but your time. Plus it’s fun, I know as I went asparagus picking one year and it was hard on the eyes searching but fun when you spotted one.

Not only did I find the biggest asparagus I’ve ever seen in my life but the taste of organic fresh produce made it all worth it. I must add that a dandelion salad is pretty darn good too. It may not sound appetizing but it’s very nutritional with a pokey texture. If you’re a fan of fiddle-heads try adding them to an egg frittata with some melted cheese, you’ll love it!

Go Bulk shopping and Save!

Costco shoppers may find they get a bit of a deal buying fresh produce in bulk but prices may be just as pricey as purcahasing from the grocery store. You also won’t find a reduced rack which is where those with a tight budget can reap the rewards of fresh produce. Don’t count this option out though if you hold a Costco membership as price watching is key to get the best bargain. Sometimes you win and other times you don’t.

Related: Is it worth it to shop at Costco?

Check these other ideas below out plus see what tips our Canadian Budget Binder Facebook fans offered as tips for all of us frugal shoppers in CBB land.


Reduced Rack


Our greatest source of fresh produce savings comes from the reduced rack which just about every grocery store has with awesome prices. If you plan to use fresh produce with-in a day or two and you see something on the rack that you need grab it.

For instance, if you are a huge smoothie lover there will be no shortage of ripe bananas and other fresh produce that you can buy for up to 50% off. You’re blitzing it up so you won’t even know the difference whether your banana had a bruise or not.

Related: Lots of savings to be had on the reduced rack

We’ve also cleaned fresh produce such as peppers and put it in the freezer for another meal just because the price was right. It’s important to think about future meals if you can do that when considering to buy fresh produce that needs to be used with-in a day or two or bulk buying at sale time.

What I always suggest though is to do the math when you are buying fresh produce from the reduced rack. Sometimes you may find that item is on sale and you can get it cheaper from the sale stands. It doesn’t happen often as you will get bottom bargain prices on the rack but it’s always safe to check.


Flash Sale


I only find that grocery stores do these flash sale deals on the weekends which sucks for those of us who have to work because we miss out on the great deals. If you do have the opportunity to grocery shop for fresh produce when grocery stores such as  Zehrs or RCSS have these flash sales or Weekend Sales Events you should grab what your budget will allow. No one says you have to shop just once a week. If you have to make two trips so your meal plan is complete then it will be worth the time.

Good nutrition is a must for every diet.


Price Matching


Unfortunately not everyone can price-match and stores are starting to crack down on which grocery stores they will include in their local area. In the past stores like Walmart for instance would price match any grocery store but we are seeing some stores with changes to their price match policy only including local shops.

Related: How price matching can save you lots of money

Even so you can still benefit from lower fresh produce prices by weekly price matching. Any savings is better than none at all. The good part is those savings will pass along to the next product you will need on your grocery list or help to stretch your grocery budget which is really the point of this post.


Coupon and Coupon Apps


I know many people have complained about coupons over the years and that they are only good for pre-packaged foods but that’s not always the case. Even today on occasion you can find coupons that will offer you a rebate if you buy certain products along with fresh produce.

If you are into saving money with coupon apps there are plenty of opportunities to save on fresh produce particularly at Walmart as the coupon app Checkout51 has store specific fresh produce deals.


Grow Your Own


Now is the time to grow your garden!

If you’ve got the time and patience to grow a garden you can certainly enjoy fresh produce at home that is organic without the hefty costs. The great thing about starting your own garden from seed is that you appreciate your food even more because of all the work involved.

Related: How to grow your garden from seed

Some plants are easy to grow like spring onions, garlic, pot potatoes and other herbs but tomatoes and peppers for instance need to be strung up with a thick stake or caged.

Many people have also gotten into the art of re-growing vegetables. You can re-grow your green onions, celery and lettuce if you do a bit of online research and have time to take care of your crop. You can grow it indoors or outdoors.

Related: How to garden in small spaces

If you have a small space and still want to garden try using pots to grow your fresh produce, hanging baskets or wall hangers. There’s always a way.


Farmer’s Market


The farmers market is an excellent source of local fresh produce that you can load up on weekly for a fraction of the cost of what you pay at the grocery store. Not only that  but you support your local farmers and help them to put food on their tables.

Sometimes if you go to the farmers market at the end of the day you can chat to the vendors to see if they are willing to lower the prices on any of their fresh produce that they need to move out that day. There is never any harm in asking for a discount and you never know if they offer farm fresh produce delivery when they aren’t at the market, so ask.


U-Pick fresh produce


Picking your own fresh produce in the summer when it is at its bounty is an excellent way to challenge your grocery budget. If you plan to batch cook or freeze fresh produce for the winter you may find better pricing at a fresh produce farm as opposed to the grocery store.

Don’t forget to check out eggs on the farm too as you’ll likely score a great deal too. You can also negotiate with farmers if you are a return customer. Some farmers also offer free fresh produce to those who volunteer their time to work on the farm. That’s also something to consider.


Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Box


Almost every community has someone who organizes CSA boxes where you pay for a certain size box of fresh produce that includes veg and fruit and sometimes eggs. On delivery day you pick up your CSA box at a local depot and you get to enjoy fresh produce for the week. The only challenge here is that you don’t always know what you are getting so you can’t meal plan until you open your CSA box to see what’s inside. You may even find some of these organizations offer fresh produce delivery to those who aren’t able to pick-up for a small fee.

What I like about the CSA box is that you pay a fixed price so you know that every week you pay x amount so you can work around that amount at the grocery store. Often you may find you can get organic fresh produce cheaper this way plus you support local farmers. It’s harder to estimate when you don’t know the grocery store sales and pricing until the week of a sale.


What the fans are saying….


  • Beth AnneInquire to see if there’s a Good Food Box program in your community. The fees for the boxes are collected in advance, pooled and then used to purchase produce at wholesale prices, giving preference to local producers. The boxes are packed by volunteers, in donated space, so you get far more bang for your buck.
  • Colleen- I gravitate to the distressed racks….I can always use the product up quickly or freeze for future use if necessary….lots of times it is like the old adage, “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch” in the eyes of many consumers. For 99 cents that bag of apples I can toss one and wash the rest which are just fine.
  • Christine- I check the reduced racks as well, I find packs of mushrooms lately that I can chop up for spaghetti sauce and toss in the freezer. They thaw nicely in the pan as things cook, plus they add liquid as they thaw so you don’t need to add much to keep things from sticking. I use the mushrooms in spaghetti sauce and nobody even notices they are there once they get cooked with the onion and a little meat.
  • Della- I’m one of those people who shy away from the fresh fruit and veggies but it’s not necessarily due to price but the end total of what that fruit will cost me. Paying for something by the pound isn’t something that I’m a fan of. I’d rather have a defined dollar value for the goods so that I can keep my grocery bill in line with what I can afford.
  • Pat- I find that buying in season and what’s on sale helps our budget. I also check out the discounted rack

What other tips can you share with shoppers who are reluctant to buy fresh produce because of high prices but really want to add it to their diet?

Leave me a comment below and I’ll respond.

June 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.

June 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-$52.57=$182.43
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $182.43
  • 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: 206,000
  • 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 : $17.00


Our Grocery Shop This Week



  • 6 x Selection Bacon Sale $2.88 each
  • 4 pack Romaine Hearts Sale $2.99

Total Out-of-pocket $20.27


  • 2 x 2% Milk Neilson $4.27 each
  • 2lbs of bananas Sale $0.57lb $1.15
  • 2 x Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Sale $1.99 each
  • 4 x dozen eggs Sale $2.49 each
  • 2 x Schneiders Hotdogs 2/$5
  • Bucket of Spinach $4.99

Total Out-of-pocket $33.62

Food Basics

  • Bag of avocados Sale $3.99
  • 1 x seedless cucumber $0.98
  • 2lbs mini zucchini Sale $0.98 lb $2.00
  • Mushrooms $1.99 227g

Total Out-of-pocket $8.96

  • Total to spend this month : $182.43
  • Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $23.28
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $15.36
  • Total in-store discounts this week:$26.50
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $310.73
  • Total spent this week: $62.85
  • Total spent so far this month: $115.33
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: n/a
  • Total over/Under spend for the month:- $ n/a
  • Total left to spend for the month: $67.10
  • Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $252.95+ Feb $249.46+March $211.11+April $248.11+May $279.07+June $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

We didn’t need too much this week so we stocked up on a few items like eggs and bacon and some fresh produce that was on sale. I find lots of the flash sales are happening on the weekends again as they are trying to drive traffic in the store and away from farmers markets.  Do you shop at a farmers market?



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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