10 Food Staples To Buy When You’re Broke : The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 #3 Aug 15-21




Instead of saying, “I am broke” look at what you can do to change that and create an action plan. It may sound like boring financial advice but I can tell you that if you have no interest in making changes you will always have a negative mindset.

Guess what? No one cares. That’s right although people may feel sorry for you and some people will help you out they are likely fighting their own battles, have fought them or just don’t want to deal with someone else’s problems.

Where does that leave you? At the mercy of yourself because you CAN make changes if you want to. You CAN get out of debt if you want to. You CAN live the life you dream of BUT not if you’re going to sit there and complain about why it isn’t happening, why it won’t happen, why it can’t happen and you continue to make excuses for yourself. Forget about everyone else and focus on YOU!


The Broke Pantry


Most people I run into want to know either how to start saving money or how to survive when they are broke. Today is no exception when a heart-felt email was received by a fan who is looking for tips on what foods she should buy to build her pantry when she is broke.

The name of the game is not to buy stuff you will never use. I know so many people, ourselves included who buy foods they think they will eat but end up getting buried in the back of the cupboard.

I know you are all kind of nodding in suit with me because at one point you’ve done the same. We’re  all guilty of it but this kind of food waste whether you donate it or trash it becomes a financial drain on your food budget and when it’s tight every bit counts.

I know plenty of people who buy tonnes of foods because they are going to start a diet but never do. The costs of some of these diet foods can be outrageous especially when it can feed a family for a month. Just the other day my wife’s friend was trying to sell a bag shakeology for $100 because she no longer was interested in the program. I don’t know what the original cost was but those are some expensive shakes especially if they end up in the bin because no one uses them.

Let’s read her email here and I’ll explain more below.


Broke and Motivated


Hi Mr.CBB,

I’m on a very tight budget for my daughter and I as most of my welfare cheque goes to paying rent, transportation and debt repayment. I was in a relationship with my daughter’s father where I ended up spending too much money on credit cards because I was lonely and he was mentally abusive.

At the time I had a good job and a few good credit cards but stayed home after our daughter was born. In 2 years I managed to buy clothing, make-up, travelled, smartphones, computers, laptops, stuff I didn’t need and I helped out family when I could.

I also have student loans tied into this debt repayment which is why it’s so important for me to get rid of it and start with a fresh slate even if I have to build up a savings fund from scratch again. I do have a small one tucked away of $500 but I don’t dare touch it as it’s my safety net and all I’ve got.

I’ve since left the relationship but have to deal with the $35,000 financial mess I’ve gotten myself into. I get no child support at this time but am thankful for the government assistance I’ve been able to use.

I’m doing better now that I am on my own and I feel like a new person. I want my life to change all around where I am budgeting money and looking after my daughter so we aren’t stressed about money all the time.

I would also like to find a job as I do have a degree but for now I need to repair my life and get back on track. Even then trying to find a job is always challenging but my goal is not to stay on welfare but to utilize it to get back on my feet.

My daughter deserves that much and I’ve already been called a welfare bum, poor girl but the haters are my motivators. Although I’d love to jump right back into the world I have a little girl to think about any my self healing. I’ll get there.

After paying for expenses and debt repayment I have approximately $150-$200 a month to spend on groceries, household supplies and health and beauty items. I’ve followed your blog for about a month now, specifically about food shopping as this is one of my biggest challenges.

I’m hoping that with-in 2 years to have all of my debts paid back with an aggressive payment plan and a tight budget. I’ve downloaded your free budget (thanks) and now I’m stumped as to what main foods should I buy since I’m so broke after paying bills?

I’m hoping to create a list of staples that I can use in the kitchen to create healthy meals that I can stretch but are also filling. I do have a small apartment freezer that I bought used and it’s begging to be filled with food. I thought maybe you would have some insight or maybe the fans might be able to help this mama get back on track.


One Broke Girl-Ontario, Canada

(she would like to remain anonymous)

Hey there One Broke Girl,

Thanks for your email and although it’s not always easy to read emails like this I applaud you for coming forward and wanting to change your path.

The first thing is to acknowledge your challenges and you’ve done just that which is very important for motivation and success. You have a daughter to look after, yourself to look after, you want to kill your debt and get back to working in your field of study like you were before your daughter came along.

Most times I’m working with people who want financial advice and although you do too you are looking for a list of foods that would help you create meals that are healthy. You made me put on my thinking cap since I’ve taken it off here and there since our son was born.

I can now see how easily parents can get side-tracked when all they want to do is make a fast meal, feed the kids and hopefully feed themselves. It’s not easy and why it’s important to meal plan by factoring in foods that will get eaten.

When I was in the UK one thing I did was shop more than once a week because my kitchen only fit an apartment size refrigerator. There were plenty of perks having to grocery shop a few times a week. Having the grocery close to my house was helpful as well.

  • I always had fresh fruits and vegetables in the house
  • I was able to find more deals
  • I only bought what I could eat for the week

Although for some people grocery shopping more than once a week is near impossible if you can do it you will find that food stays fresh longer. You’ll also notice more in-store deals that are reduced in price to help curb your budget even further although you must be cautious of your grocery budget as this could also hinder it.

This is a food demon we fight with every month but we’ve saved so much money buying reduced foods that normally cost 50% higher than what we pay. The key here is if you add something to your shopping cart that shouldn’t be there than you must take something away. If you can’t do that you WILL spend more than you anticipated on spending. Keep that in mind.


Food and Fashion go together


Lastly, I would only buy what I could eat for a week to cut down on food waste and had limited space. It worked out great for me as a single guy at the time which might help both you and your daughter.

My cupboards weren’t bare but I made sure they were stocked with the bare necessities to cook meals that I knew I would make or that I could switch up.

Stocking your pantry can be compared to building a wardrobe. You must have some key products that you can mix and match with others to create unique meals.


Food shopping education


If you have lots of time and I only say that because there are lots to read sit back and start swimming through the articles in my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.

You will find loads of informative articles, tips from fans and lots of motivation. Aside from the articles today we’re looking at the types of foods you should buy to have the bare essentials to mix and match to create meals that aren’t boring or the same every week.

Three important articles I picked for you are as follows:


Free food sources


Buy what you can’t typically find at the Food Bank or other community organizations that offer free food and necessities to those in need. The Food Bank is more than food for the poor it’s a lifeline and certainly for many friendly faces to chat to especially for the homeless or those who are lonely.

Community outlets that offer free food bring people together and I’ve met many volunteers who give up their time to help out. I remember walking through a local centre down-town Toronto which also held breastfeeding clinics. On the way out the ladies behind the desk were adoring our son and told us to grab a few bags of free green peppers on the way out if we needed them.

The warmth and kindness my wife and I felt made us tear up because we didn’t need the help and how important it is to treat everyone with respect whether they have money or not.

I’d suggest that you talk to the kind people in your community who offer free food and see what products they typically stock so you know what to cross off your grocery list.


Dietary needs


Everyone has different dietary needs so although I’d like to have the master list of all lists of foods to stock your pantry with when you’re broke let’s consider personal tastes.

The products I will suggest to you below will be in part my personal preferences but I’m also going to keep to the basics. You may or may not like a product I suggest but what’s important is that I get your mind thinking about food.

One of the starting points is to create a menu plan and write down some meals that you love or think you’d love to try. Include snacks as well. Keep in mind when you are creating your meal plan that you want to come up with meals that are healthy, filling and if you can stretch it for a couple of meals you can count on that being a winner.

Not everyone likes leftovers either but when you’re broke you can’t really be picky about eating the same food two days in a row.  Focus on keeping your belly full and having the energy and motivation to reach your goals. You don’t need to eat crap food to do that either.


10 Pantry Foods To Stock When You’re Broke


Below is what I would stock my pantry with if I was broke. Although there are sub-sections that hold more than 1 item the key is to build your pantry until you have these basics in place. Your cooking world will open up over time as you build your stash but remember to only buy what you will use.

  • Grain Products (Rice, Pasta, Cous-Cous, Cereal, Oatmeal etc.)
  • Canned Tomatoes, Tuna and Salmon
  • Dry Legumes (dry beans)
  • Honey, Jam and Peanut Butter
  • Milk (also evaporated milk, powdered milk)
  • Baking Ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, yeast etc)
  • Eggs
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Spices/Oils/Herbs/Vinegar/Butter/Margarine
  • Meat and fish in freezer (this helps to build and bulk out your meals)

Keep in mind with the baking ingredients you can make homemade breads, tortillas, pita, breadcrumbs, cakes, muffins, hot chocolate etc. Open your world of recipes.

This is an infographic I put together but it is not the master list of what you should have on hand. These are staples that I would purchase so I could make a variety of meals.

What would you add and what would you take away? Leave a comment below.



August Grocery Game Challenge


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.

August 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-$40.93=$194.07
      • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $194.07
      • Total Gift Cards used to date: $60
      • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
      • Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
      • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 248,000
      • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
      • Shoppers Optimum: Just under 850,000 Optimum 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 : $22.00


Our Grocery Shop This Week


Food Basics

  • 6 x tuna $0.99 each
  • 2 x 2% Milk $4.27
  • 2 x Whipping Cream $2.49

Total Out-of-pocket $19.46

  • Total to spend this month : $194.07 $235.00-$40.93 overage from July
  • Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $23.88
  • 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: $407.65
  • Total spent this week: $19.46
  • Total spent so far this month: $107.90
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: under
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: under
  • Total left to spend for the month: $88.17
  • 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 $231.96 + July $244.40 + Aug $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

The grocery shop is slim this week because I’m on 16 days holiday and we’ll be doing some road trips and likely eating out which is fine as we have a trip fund set up and haven’t done anything this year. When we get back we will also be stocked up on fruit and veg as the inlaws told us they have tonnes of garlic, tomatoes, greens, plums, cherries etc. They are so good to us.

Well have a wonderful shopping week and I’ll catch you next week!! Hopefully. If I don’t post you know I’m having a good time somewhere. 🙂 Just post your next shop here as well in the comments in the event something happens.


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
  • 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 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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