FREE GROCERIES ARE HARD TO PASS UP ESPECIALLY WHEN FOOD PRICES ARE FORCING CANADIANS TO TIGHTEN THE GROCERY BUDGET
Free food offers may seem like a decoy for the unsuspecting shopper but they can save you some cash if you know how to approach these freebies the right way.
Go shopping just about anywhere and you will be bombarded with the word “Free” whether it be the grocery store, the mall or your local farmers markets. Free is everywhere and for good reason, it attracts customers.
I’ve always had apprehension with free stuff as I believed that there is no such thing as a freebie. Since we came into couponing years ago that mindset has changed but not without caution. I started to notice that free food offers were popping up everywhere. Perhaps my radar was on looking for freebies but in essence it’s a marketing mind game that the manufacturers play with shoppers.
A while back I blogged about how certain smells are released into the air to grab the customer’s attention. It works alright as I was hankering for a large double-double coffee while shopping at Staples only to be told by an employee it was a smell dispenser up above BUT they did sell coffee if I’d like to purchase some. Dang it… caught me off guard.
This is exactly what happens to shoppers who take a minute to read flyers, grocery store signage and food packaging. They become mindful of their surroundings especially if their food budget is tight and they want to stretch their food dollar. Even then free food offers bat eyes at the wealthy or food shoppers who could care less about prices.
So, if you get struck by the free food offers at your local grocery store or any other place ask yourself one question, “How will I benefit from this?” If you can’t answer it with solid backing then just keep on walking and stick to your original grocery plan.
Types of Free Food Offers to watch out for
Free food offers might make you jump up and down because you think you are getting a deal but think again, especially if you’re unaware of grocery store tactics to enchant customers into spending more than they bargained for.
Here are few of the free food offers we’ve come across over the years. I’m sure there are many others out there so if I’ve missed any please leave me a comment so I can update this list.
Everyone loves free food at the grocery store. Last summer Pillars had free food offers outside of our local Zehrs of their delicious sausages. It’s hard to pass by the BBQ booth and say nah, I’ll pass unless of course you’re vegetarian or simply don’t care for sausages.
What these types of free food offers do is thank the customers in the moment, makes them happy and full and keeps them mindful of the product name. To sweeten the deal they even offered product coupons which may motivate even those who see no value in clipping coupons.
Have a look around Costco or talk to your friends who are regulars who shop there. I bet almost all of them will boast about their enjoyment of the free food offers around the store.
Related: Is the Costco Membership Worth It?
Our son loves it and he’s not even 2 yet and by the amount of samples you can get at the store you can bet that the manufacturers are turning on the taste buds for shoppers who will hopefully spend money to buy that product.
Again, you must ask yourself if you can afford this product that likely was not on your shopping list. You may simply be hungry. Maybe you can hold off until the next shop so you can factor that into your shopping expenses. Free is nice but don’t get too caught up in it or you may end up feeling the money crunch.
Free Product Coupons
Ironically as I write this post I find this Shreddies coupon for a free box of cereal that came in the mail today. The only catch is that you have to shop on specific dates to get the product free. Both dates are listed as the weekend which are the highest traffic days for grocery stores.
I’ve seen online war happening when a company post a freebie online for x amount of Facebook or Twitter followers. All hell can break loose especially if you have some people who did not successfully get in on the deal.
This by far is the best of the best because you pay nothing at all apart from taxes where applicable and it’s instant savings so no waiting time is needed. When you want to save money at the grocery store these free food offers come in handy especially if the coupon is already on the product. Ya, it’s happened before and I bet you missed it.
Read the packaging carefully, watch your online deals and coupon sites for free product coupon offers and get in on the action. Don’t forget to keep an eye out on those coupon apps that offer freebies as well or deals you can unlock to get freebies.
The downfall to this is that you may not like the product but who cares, it’s free! Some people just get it so they can trade it for another coupon that someone else has that they’d like. Hard to say no to these beauties.
Buy one get one free, Buy 2 get one free
Have a look at Maple Leaf Bacon right now and you’ll see peelie stickers on them for Buy 2 get 1 Free. How awesome is that especially since the price of bacon is so high that most people consider it a luxury to have. The only time we may consider free food offers like this is if we need it and it’s on sale. What you have to consider here really is the price.
If the price is at the top of the price list for the time you are shopping you probably aren’t getting any real free food offers. The reason behind this is because of sale prices that happen in cycles at the grocery store.
For instance, if the Maple Leaf Bacon is regular $5.99 for 375g (don’t get me started on the shrinkage from 1lb) but every couple of months goes on sale for $3.99 you aren’t really getting a freebie at all. In fact you’re paying for all 3 products as if they were on sale. Timing the sale cycles are important as are pairing them with free food offers and other coupons and deals.
Buy this product get this free
This is probably one of the most popular types of food product offers I’ve seen on the market these days. Over the years coupons have drastically changed as have the offers that manufactures dish out to consumers.
Not as distinct as they used to be but cereal boxes with free food offers seduce shoppers into buying a box and getting free fruit, free yogurt, free juice or even a free litre of milk. No mail-in rebates required as the coupon is inside the box on the cardboard.
I remember the online rampage for coupon swapping when these types of free food offers were rolling out a few years back. Everyone wanted them because cereal is HOT especially for parents who buy boatloads of the stuff.
Coupons these days have gone a step further with additions to get the free food offers. They might say buy a jar of jam and honey and get a free loaf of bread. I despise these coupons as they really do drop the budget bomb on unsuspecting shoppers. Watch those prices. Free bread is nothing when you can save $2.00 on your jam the next week in a flyer sale.
I remember a time we saw a peelie sticker on a package of shish kabobs that said “Buy this get free tzatziki sauce”. It’s not a product we would typically buy but we did because it was 50% off and a great deal because we get free tatziki. At the time we thought we’d get a coupon for a free product. Nope, no such thing. There was a tiny whoopdidoo packet of tzatziki sauce inside the packaging. You know something similar to a packet of ketchup.
Point being, don’t underestimate the big letters, read the fine print otherwise you might end up buying something you could have done without. Oh, and don’t forget to read for the expiry date too. That’s a bonus bummer if you miss out and buy the product.
This was always the controversial freebie for the wife and I especially if we forgot to mail something in OR the cheque didn’t come in the mail. Not only that you have to pay for postage as well so you knock that off the price tag and you’re still buying into the product.
The good thing is that if you wanted to try a certain product a mail-in rebate is a great way to test it out. The downfall is not sending in the mail-in rebate, not photocopying your receipt for proof of purchase or the manufacturer refusing to replace a lost rebate cheque.
Overall we’ve had positive experiences with mail-in rebates however when shoppers see that product sticker, hang-tag or signage it does make us stop and ask ourselves, “Should I bother?” and if the answer is yes remember you likely didn’t figure this expense into your budget so make sure you have the cash to pay for it even if you are to get it back in x amount of weeks.
An example of this was on a premium sausages we noticed at Zehrs over the last couple of months. There is a peelie sticker on the packaging that says, “Try me free” which is hard to resist for many shoppers without willpower to say no or those who see the value in free food offers.
Spend x amount and get free food offers
Whether it be a grocery store promo or a program that enchants the shopper because it comes with free food offers this is one to watch out for. It’s easy to get carried away spending more money than you had anticipated just to get a financial kick-back but in the form of free food.
If your grocery budget has the room and you need the food then by all means grab the free food offers but if not steer away otherwise you may find yourself struggling to stay on track with your budget.
Every year Pepsi Co. has put out a Superbowl promo where shoppers can get $20 back in Free Product Coupons if they spend $20 on certain products, mainly chips, pop and dip. I must admit it’s a pretty nice deal which is hard to pass up IF you stock these products in your house.
Other examples: PC Plus Program, Shoppers Drug Mart offers days that hook customers into spending money to get free stuff whether it be food, healthy and beauty or whatever the store offers. Shoppers Drug Mart often does a Spend $75 dollars get 18,500 Optimum points equivalent to $25 back on your card. That deal certainly is mind-blowing BUT if you’re just taking part because of the deal and you don’t really need the stuff it’s just money you are spending for nothing even if you do use the products down the road.
The PC Plus Program which is our grocery budget evil at times offers something similar where you spend x amount of dollars and get x amount of points back. Hard to say no to free food offers or other in-store products you can spend those points on.
Cash in or Cash Out
Ultimately the choice is up to you whether free food offers are worth your time, risk and money in some cases. There are pros and cons but the biggest manufacturing pitch is always going to push you to spend more than you came for. Don’t be led financially astray by food.
Question: Of all the free food offers I listed above which do you like the most, the least or do you not care at all about them?
Share your comments 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
- How to Train Your Spouse to Be A Clever Clogs Food Shopper (Last shop for May)
- How Cooking Classes Can Save You Big Bucks
- How To Include Fresh Produce When The Prices Are High
- Why You Must Say Yes To Your Grocery Receipt
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-$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: 223,000
- 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
- Kraft Peanut Butter $2.77 1kg
- 6 x Jalapenos $2.60
- Astro Yogurt $1.99 PM Freshco
- 2 x Top Dogs Hotdogs $2.00 each
- 1 x Pineapple $1.97
Total Out-of-pocket $13.33
- 2lbs bananas $1.15
- Hellman’s Mayo $2.99
- Romaine Lettuce $1.99
- Radishes 1lb $1.99
Total Out-of-pocket $8.12
- 1 x Neilson 2% milk $4.27
- 2x 1lb mushrooms $5.00
- Bag of cooking onions $1.27
- 2x mozzarella cheese bars selection $3.97 each
- 1 x seedless cucumber $0.98
- 2lbs asparagus $3.76
Total Out-of-pocket $19.25
Shoppers Drug Mart
- 2 x Cream 1L $2.50 each
Total Out-of-pocket $5.00
- 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:$0
- Total in-store discounts to date: $335.30
- Total spent this week: $45.70
- Total spent so far this month: $213.96
- Total over/Under spend this shop: n/a
- Total over/Under spend for the month: over $31.53
- Total left to spend for the month: -$31.53
- 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 won’t have enough money to finish off the month due to my error in weeks but that’s find we have about $200 in PC points to use for the last week for milk and other bits as needed. Making mistakes means we are human so I made one and now we will have to pick right back up and sort it out. 🙂
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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