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5 Cheap Lunch Ideas To Get You Through The Week : The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 #1 Sept 5-11

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You don’t need to eat steak and mushrooms for lunch nor do you have to create an elaborate spread to bring with you wherever you travel for the day.

There are plenty of cheap lunch ideas that are delicious, filling and will cost you less than what you’ll pay at those money-making fast-food industry giants.

One of the biggest reasons some people spend less on groceries is because they are eating out and making excuses why they can’t eat at home. If someone tells me they spend $100 a month on groceries such as I often ask how much they spend eating out.

The reason is because we forget about those expenses BUT they are still part of your food budget because you are replacing the grocery store or farmers market for fast-food or restaurant options.

If you tell me that you have an eating out budget I’d say good for you, however if your goal is to save money you could consider getting rid of or limiting the amount of money you spend on eating out, unless of course you can afford it. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if money was no object to you, right?

Everyone is tired after a long day at work, long week at work or just a busy day and eating out might be worth it to you. It becomes a problem when eating out becomes a habit.

A top budget killer when it comes to food is lunch time.

Whether you are at the office, school or on a road-trip it’s very easy to say yes to a co-worker, friend or fellow student who invites you out to lunch rather than sitting in to eat the lunch you prepared.

I wrote back many years ago where I compared the expenses of two co-workers who eat out for lunch and buy coffee instead of packing it at home for work. The dollar amounts were staggering and even costlier today because prices haven’t dropped they’ve only increased where income levels have stayed stagnant with little to no hike.

What’s intriguing about eating lunch is that there are people who can do without lunch and have a snack and others who must have a large meal. It really depends on the individual however no matter the situation if you are buying lunch often be prepared that your end of month budget will show a hefty amount in your eating out category.

Best of it is, most people still grocery shop as if they are eating lunch or dinner at home and not eating out. This only leads to excess food, food waste and spending more money than needed if the food is not eaten.

Below are 3 areas, (work, lunch and road trips) to consider where lunch expenses can get out of hand if you are not prepared. I share some of the lessons we’ve learned but we are also sensitive to the fact that you don’t always have to brown bag it everywhere you go.

Balance is key and I’ll tell you how we do it.

First off something I wish I did back in school even though I was frugal-minded was create a budget and allow myself a weekly allowance like I do today. The allowance has been far easier to splurge when I want to because we have the money set aside. If I want to grab a coffee or a case of beer for the month I have the cash to do so.

You will also want to know how much your grocery budget should be. This way you know how much you can spend and what products you can save on to splurge on others. This way helps keeps you out of fast-food joints, cafeterias and restaurants for lunch.


Work lunch


If you’re not eating the lunch you bring along with you to work then you are either

  1. Eating your lunch out by yourself or with your co-workers
  2. Wasting food because you secretly toss your lunch in the garbage
  3. Eating too much because you don’t want to bring your lunch back home so you eat it along with eating out.

If I come home from work with my lunch container still filled with food the first thing my wife says to me is, “You didn’t eat your lunch?” My response to her would typically be;

  • There was a staff party (Bring home any leftovers if you can)
  • Free Food was ordered in
  • I didn’t have time to eat lunch
  • I wasn’t in the mood to eat lunch
  • We went out for lunch (hardly ever but it happens)

Guess what I get to eat for dinner? There is no food waste in our house but sometimes at work there are situations where you get to enjoy free food instead of eating the lunch you brought from home.

Related: The costs of eating out vs. eating in

Don’t throw it away because you don’t want to face your spouse or partner who will ask questions. Just be truthful and hope he/she didn’t cook dinner by the time you get home otherwise you know what you’re having for lunch tomorrow.


Road Trip Lunch


Just this past week our family along with friends went on a couple of road trips to African Lion Safari and Canada’s Wonderland. There are two place that I have never visited before in my 9 years living in Canada.

Related: 10 Ways to trim expenses on travel food

If we didn’t have our boy I probably would never had made my way to either of these entertainment facilities which not only cost a fortune to get into but the food prices are outrageous. I’m not talking a bit steep I’m talking you’re paying at least double or triple the costs of what you would eating out compared to a traditional restaurant or fast-food joint.

eating at canadas wonderland

At Canada’s Wonderland we packed a cooler full of snacks and beverages thankfully as beverage prices were through the roof. There are however water stations around the park that you can fill up your water bottle, if you brought one or to have a quick sip.

We didn’t pack lunch as thought we’d forget about being frugal for the day and splurge on eating out. Boy did we take that up the budget. 

  • A large pizza $30
  • Subway Subs 2 Foot-longs $28
  • Chicken Strips and Fries $14.99
  • Bottle of water $3.49

My son and I ended up splitting the chicken and chips although I ate the majority as he was too tired and all he wanted was his milk. It hurt to pay that price but we should have known better because we were warned.

My wife has been many times and said to me that prices were costly. Although you can pack a lunch and eat it outside of the park at your vehicle or designated areas for many it’s easier just to grab something in the park.

Ah-ha, that’s the only way they will make money on food is if they don’t allow it in the park. Not everyone has the will-power to walk back to their vehicle to get a lunch they packed so they splurge, kind of what we did. We just didn’t think that they were going to burn a hole in our pockets that deep.

Live and learn however you don’t ALWAYS have to be frugal. In this case we were half-frugal on our adventure.

Related: 15 Easy Lunch Sandwiches for under $2

African Lion Safari was as pricey for food where we paid $7.99 for a foot-long hot-dog which was amazingly delicious. I could have easily had 2 of them. The burger was around the same price but that’s all we bought. We weren’t interesting in the deep-fried Mars Bars and other sweet treats they had because it was too bloody expensive.

The only smart saver on our road trip adventures was my wife who packed herself a lunch because she eats a low-carb high-fat diet. Back at the vehicle she was munching on homemade low-carb bread with mozzarella cheese, low-carb Keto Brownies, sausage, almonds, pickles and other bits. Smart women!

Next road-trip to any adventure park or tour we WILL bring a cooler with a full lunch included however if there are special treats to try we will experience them.

At Wonderland the Funnel Cake and Beavertails are a must try treat for just about anyone. Just have a look at the photo above and you’ll see how amazing a funnel cake is topped with a massive amount of soft-serve ice-cream and fresh strawberries.

Fun Fact: Almost 250,000 Funnel Cakes are consumed every season, which is equal to the length of Leviathan’s track 29 times.

If eating inside Wonderland is what you plan to do and you are a season pass holder consider the dining plans they offer. You may save yourself some cash!


School Lunch


The little kids aren’t as bad with spending money at school for lunch as high school, College or University students are. On occasion elementary schools will hold a hot-dog or pizza day lunch or have bake sales but bringing a lunch and snacks is typical.

Older students have the tendency to dump their lunch that was made by their parents for cafeteria food, fast-food or just junk from the corner shop. It’s easier for students to run up to Tim Hortons to grab coffee, bagel and a muffin than it is to bring it from home for some reason.

When I went to school I always brought my coffee brewed from home and snacks. I didn’t often eat a full lunch at school but when I did I’d bring a sandwich and fruit from home. Once in a while I’d go up to Tim Hortons for a coffee and muffin but not often like some of my classmates who ate out every day.


Don’t be the person who stores a prepared lunch in your locker to rot in place of eating out. Stop bringing a lunch if you can’t control your fast-food urges and stop food waste. You will pay for this habit in the long-run.


I’m not one that MUST eat out to get through the day. Typically I will eat a decent breakfast that will hold me over and leave the house armed with healthy snacks like fruit, nuts and homemade goodies (not always healthy though but darn good).

Related: How to budget when you go to College or University

If you want to make it through High School, College or University with as little debt as possible then pack a lunch. Stop saying YES to your friends who want to eat out all the time. Don’t be lazy and not prepare any thing for lunch.

Think ahead about what you need to bring with you before you leave in the morning. Studying, school, partying and working is NOT an excuse to spend money you don’t need to be spending by eating out every day.

If you live off-campus and you are in a new city that is big, keep in mind that grocery shopping is equally important so do your research.

Related: Big City Savings Tips For Grocery Shopping

Ideally thinking about your lunch for the week could be done on a Sunday where you create a lunch menu, grocery list and then grocery shop.

If you don’t have the food in the house then you won’t take it and opt to buying it on the run. Trust me those little expenses all add up and when you’re in school you don’t need added expenses.


Cheap Lunch Ideas


Some of my favourite lunch ideas are cheap lunch ideas because I don’t see the need to fill up on pricey foods when I can make good food for a fraction of the cost of eating out.

These are only a few cheap lunch ideas that I am bringing to the lunch table so please share what you like to bring in the comment section of this post to help others out who aren’t sure what to make. Sometimes it’s the small ideas that mean the most to those who are learning how to be frugal-minded consumers.

Enjoying a balanced lunch is important so pack what you love to eat. Grocery shopping and saving money on foods and snacks is the first way to bring your cheap lunch ideas to life.

Related: How to grocery shop to create cheap recipes

Learning how to cook or bake is essential money savers so don’t be shy and experiment in the kitchen. Taking a few hours out on a Sunday or when you aren’t busy to prepare food for the week even if it’s a batch of your favourite squares to pack for snacks will save you in the long-run.

Related: How to Grocery Shop

Remember that almost every educational and work facility has a microwave to warm up your lunch. In the event that this is not an option you can still pack leftovers from home that are as good to eat cold.

Always bring water with you wherever you go. This is a MUST for everyone.

  1. Homemade Cheddar Chive Biscuits filled with more cheese and filling of choice, hard-boiled eggs on a garden salad with side container of dressing, yogurt cup with a bag of nuts and raisins to snack on or a fruit.
  2. Pulled Pork on a Bun with cut up vegetables, homemade granola bar and fruit.
  3. Pizza Buns and egg salad or tuna salad on the side with cut up vegetables and fruit with homemade fudgy brownies.
  4. Meatball Sub or Meatballs in sauce with a homemade buttered bap on the side or homemade chili. Homemade nuts and bolts for a snack, fruit.
  5. Homemade or store-bought Pita bread stuffed with vegetables, cream cheese, dressing, lunch meat, egg salad, tuna salad or any other filling of your choice. Pair this with fresh fruit or a fruit cup and you have a lunch fit for a King or Queen.

In addition to the above you could add white or brown rice, couscous, quinoa, hemp hearts, chia seeds to spruce up your meal and snacks a notch as well. Keep an eye out for sales and stock up when products are cheap.

The above is just a sample of cheap lunch ideas however if you have a look at our free recipe index on Canadian Budget Binder you will find loads of frugal recipes that will bring happiness to your tummy and your bank account.

If I were to snoop in your lunch bag what cheap lunch ideas would I find? Share your comments below.


September 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.

Congratulations to Ballot #8 Mary!!! You won the August Grocery Game Challenge!

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.

September Grocery Game Posts


Free Money Saving Tools 2016


You WILL want to check this out!

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: 294,000
  • 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


Since the grocery store was closed on Monday the below figures may be off as I am estimating from previous shops for weighed produce. The rest is from the sales flyer. I will adjust by adding anything extra we buy such as reduced meat, fish or produce for next weeks shop.

Food Basics

  • 1kg Icing Sugar $1.99
  • 2 x 2% Milk Sealtest $4.27 each
  • 4 x whipping cream 35% $2.49 each
  • 2 x 10% cream $2.49 each
  • Bananas $1.87
  • 10lb potatoes $1.98
  • 2 x Allen’s Apple Juice No Sugar added $0.88
  • 4 x Black Diamond Mozzarella cheese bars $3.99 400-450g $15.96
  • 2 x 5 or 6 pk bag avocados $2.99 each
  • Broccoli $0.99
  • Cucumber $0.99

Total Out-of-Pocket $46.46


  • 6 x bacon 500g PC Sale $3.99 each stockpile $23.94
  • Large cauliflower $2.49
  • 4 tomatoes $.99
  • 4 dozen eggs large $2.49 each
  • Romaine lettuce $1.49

Total Out-of-Pocket $14.93

  • Total to spend this month : $235.00-$5.23 overage from August= $229.77
  • Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $23.94
  • 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: $450.34
  • Total spent this week: $61.39
  • Total spent so far this month: $61.39
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: over
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: $n/a
  • Total left to spend for the month: $168.38
  • 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 $201.30+ Sept $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

Since Back To School sales are hot right now we thought we would stock up on some of the essentials while we could. We’d like to see the cream cheese go on sale for $1.99 so we can buy a few of those but for now eggs and bacon are the products of choice. As mentioned we will add anything else we purchase or price adjustments to next weeks shop. – Mr.CBB


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 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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  1. Yes, there is an increase already implemented in our budget for now at a trial of $80 week for groceries. This is up significantly from the $40-50 range we were at. It is a trial for now and we will keep it to the new year and then re-evaluate. Now that the freezers are full and so are the shelves we will see. We have also taken the other consumables out for now like toilet paper, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc. so it is like our budget doubled.

    1. I’m so glad to hear that you are able to bump up your grocery budget. I’m sure it’s a big relief but always a struggle as prices keep going up. I think we will see our budget go up in the new year.

  2. Week 1 – Sept 4 – 10

    • Grocery budget to work with in September: $320
    • Total coupons used this week: $0
    • Total coupons used to date: $41.98
    • Total RCSS gas coupons used this week: $0
    • Total RCSS gas coupons used to date: $15.44
    • Total Giant Tiger Enviro bag credit this week: $0
    • Total Giant Tiger Enviro bag credit to date: $0.18
    • Total value PC Plus points redeemed this week: $0
    • Total value PC Plus points redeemed to date: $90
    • Total gift cards/certificates/gifts used this week: $0
    • Total gift cards/certificates/gifts used to date: $115
    • Total Neilsen Homescan Visa rebate cards used this week: $0
    • Total Neilsen Homescan Visa rebate cards used to date: $170
    • Total Checkout 51 rebate cheque used this week: $0
    • Total Checkout 51 rebate cheques used to date: $20.25
    • Total student discounts to date: $139.37 (total – Student discount done)
    • Total tax savings RCSS this week: $0
    • Total tax savings RCSS to date: $0
    • Total spent this week: $0
    • Total spent so far this month: $0
    • Total left to spend for the month: $320
    • Carry over: $0
    • Total in carry over jar: $0
    • Total overspent: $111.20
    • Total Spent To Date 2016: $2,088.20

    No Shop Week!

    It’s been a crazy month. August came and went but it was a blur. I am starting at the beginning of September to get myself caught up some. A recap for the month: My student discount expired at the end of August so I did my absolute best to stock up a huge amount. We made the conscious effort to overspend to gain return over the long run. We have done things like this before and have always come out with a surplus in the end. So, currently we are overspent some, but it really isn’t a lot. A couple of months of clearing it up should do it. We chose to do this and we could do this because I got a one year contract starting in August. School paid off, however life got super crazy really fast and it took some time to get used to working again and becoming busier than I had been in a long time. As a result, we had the money available to do this and for the first time in two years both of our freezers are full and the storage shelves are full. It’s weird, but awesome at the same time. We are now also able to replace some things that have either died or are costing us cash which is a huge relief. We got a new couch this week, ours had metal and things sticking out of it, and we had to save up for new because of my son’s allergies, buying used isn’t feasible with upholstered furniture. We will be looking at our other appliances as well. Dishwasher has been broken for 1 1/2 years and we look forward to gaining a lot of time back from handwashing and frustration with it. Our refrigerator has been running non stop, the motor is grinding, and is wasting a ridiculous amount of electricity.

    So with all of the spending we did and the garden providing a lot of produce, we had a no shop week. We really didn’t need anything.

    1. Oh, and all of the gift cards we had have been used in August to help reduce the overspend. Thanks GCC for one of the ones I was able to use 🙂

    2. Hey there stranger haha…
      Nice to see you back in action.
      I find that August and September are always busy months for everyone and once October rolls around everyone gets back on track only to be ambushed by Christmas and New Years for Dec and Jan. Then it’s smooth sailing in the cold until summer. Congratulations on the new job…. well done. It did pay off and I’m very happy for you and the family because you worked and still work so hard to keep everything afloat. I hope you snag some good deals on furniture. Will we see your grocery budget increase now that you are working? You get ballot 16. Mr.CBB

  3. Yearly grocery budget for 4 adults and 2 cats -$7800
    (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:$650.00- 23.19=$616.81
    Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $616.81
    Total Gift Cards used to date: $140
    Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
    Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
    PC Points Plus Earned to date: 43810
    Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
    Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
    Zweet to cash out : $11.50
    Checkout51 to cash out : $26.25

    Our Grocery Shop This Week

    Foodland #1
    3 Cheerios @3.99, rain check
    1 soya sauce -3.49
    1 jar dill pickles -2.99
    2 blocks cheese @5.99
    2 4l milk @4.99
    Green grapes -4.68
    Bananas -1.23
    Total OOP -46.32
    Foodland #2
    72 count Tetley tea -5.49
    1 jug water -5.49
    1 case ginger ale -3.69, 1.00 coupon
    1kg bag icing sugar -2.49
    Bananas -.95
    2 bagels @2/5.00
    Tax -.48
    Total OOP -$32.57, 1.00 coupon
    Foodland #3
    3 blocks Kraft cheese @3.99
    1 tub ice cream -3.99
    1 pack lean ground beef -11.67
    1 pack hamburger buns -3.49
    2 W/W bread @1.99
    Total OOP -$35.12
    Farmers market
    1 zucchini-1.00
    1 green pepper .75
    Total OOP -$1.75

    Total to spend this month : $650.- 23.19 from August =$616.81
    Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
    Stockpile budget used this month: $0
    Total coupons used this week: $1.00
    Total coupons used to date: $102.12
    Total in-store discounts this week:$0
    Total in-store discounts to date: $145.41
    Total spent this week: $114.01
    Total spent so far this month: $114.01
    Total over/Under spend this shop: under
    Total over/Under spend for the month: $n/a
    Total left to spend for the month: $502.17
    Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $579.69+ Feb $628.96+ March $605.28+ April $584.23+ May $475.36+ June $747.58+ July $631.00+ Aug $683.19+Sept $
    Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
    A good start to the month. Sweet deal on the ground beef to stock up on for the freezer. The Cheerios were on sale a couple of weeks back and I got the rain check for 3 boxes, the limit we are allowed at Foodland. I noticed they had them in again and grabbed my 3 boxes while noticing a shelf tag telling me that if I bought a certain number I would get 20 Air Miles for them. I had to buy three boxes, rain check was for 3 boxes….I scored the lower price and my 20 Air Miles!!! I was quite happy about that!! All my miles go to cash and I think I gave enough for $140.00 worth of groceries right now!! I’m a very happy camper about that!! A big help for my budget!!

    1. Hi Christine,
      Most stores offer a limit of 6 …. ah well take what you can get I suppose. Wow sweet deal on the Air Miles!! When will you use your Air MIles? I wish we changed ours to cash… I was going to and forgot..oops. What will you do with the zucchini? Great deal on the pop with that revolving door coupon. Did you hear about the new coupon app? Jen posted the link the other day. I haven’t checked it out yet. You get ballot #4 Mr.CBB

      1. I’m hoping to use those Air Miles cash for Christmas shopping, especially the big dinner. I’ll have to see if I can find that link but if it’s on a smart phone I won’t be able to use it but I can flip it to my daughter. You can still switch your AM over to cash for future purchases but what you have now on them stays on the miles. I’m happy with my big stand mixer I got with my miles and my cash keeps building up now.

  4. Hi Andria!

    I have been posting my grocery posts almost since the beginning & it has helped my hubby and I keep EXACTLY the same budget since we started… despite the constant increases to the cost of food. That’s no small feat let me tell you!

    We have one income (hubby’s) and no additional income streams to draw from because I use any additional funds that I can scrape together to fund our TFSA/RRSPs contributions for the year. I work from home managing our private company and our personal finances and that keeps me busy at least 8-10 hours a day. Our company will eventually fund hubby’s next career… after he retires from his current position in about 12 years time. Can’t have him sitting around doing nothing, can we? LOL

    You will note that I have “reserves” for special needs that I set aside the first week of each month from our budget: 1. US Shopping reserve because we cross over to shop 3-4 times a year, 2. Re-Stocking reserve for those not to be missed sales on our regularly used items i.e chicken stock or tomatoes, 3. Summer reserve for the farmer’s markets and bulk fruits and vegetables for canning, freezing or dehydrating when they are cheap, 4. Holiday reserve for any special occasion meals like Christmas, Easter, birthdays and Thanksgiving and 5. My Points Redeemed reserve where I track points redeemed instead of spending cash.

    I don’t do the smart phone discounts, because I don’t have internet access on my “emergency only” – plain Jane phone, but I do use coupons & rain checks, when I can find them, for items that I had already planned to purchase. I do however get lots of deals emailed to me from for my Safeway shopping and use PC.Plus to collect points for my RCSS needs. I have almost $130 worth of points available for Christmas at RCSS. As you can see in my post – I love my rain checks and even if I don’t need an item now, it’s nice to lock in a sale price for when I do need it! Every week I check the online flyers for sales on the items I need/want and if there is an amazing sale, I will re-work the meal plan to include it rather than just adding the sale to my grocery list. I have a rule: add one thing, subtract one thing from the list. It’s a game I play with myself to keep myself on the straight and narrow budget-wise. 🙂

    In order to stay at the same grocery budget for 5 years, we have just had to work harder at making a more creative meal plan with lots of budget friendly meals and lots of homemade soups that give us leftovers to use. I’m not keen on cooking from scratch every single night either… so big bowls of soup, stew, chili or salads mean that I don’t have to. 🙂 I admit it, I have a fairly substantial lazy streak when it comes to cooking & baking – less is more right? 🙂 I would rather be doing fun but FREE stuff and I post the activities within my meal plan!

    This week isn’t great for my meal plan as we are vacationing for just over 3 weeks…mostly stay-cation but with some lovely “vacation fund” splurges. The last week in September we’ll be back to our normal meal planning… so check out my meal plans then.

    So, welcome to the GGC! I hope you find it helps you as much as it has helped me!

    1. HI Mary,
      Thanks for the info I’ll be sure to check out your meal planning.
      I was going through some crock pot recipes and budget dinner cook books I have for future dinners.
      It sure does help to have an idea of meals to make for the week.

      This whole budgeting thing started after we were on vacation for a week. We went camping but tookday trips and bought lunch out and dinner sometimes. It all added up fast!

      I’m really looking forward to getting to know you guys!

  5. Grocery Game Challenge 2016

    Date: September 9/2016
    Name of Store: Food Basics
    Purchased: Selection Salted Butter 454g
    Total Coupons Used: 0
    Total out of Pocket: 3.98(0.00 from bank account)

    Date:Sept 11 2016
    Name of Store: No Frills
    Franks Hot Sauce 354 ml: 4.29
    Fine Lantic sugar 2kg – 1.47
    Royal 30 double roll bathroom tissue: 7.97
    Unico Pizza sauce – 3X 0.89
    Knorr Side kicks 2 X 0.97
    International delight french vanilla coffee creamer 2 X0.97
    Neilson 1% Skim Milk- 4.27
    Neilson chocolate milk 750 ml – 2X 0.97
    Philedelphia cream cheese 8oz – 2.44
    Green giant vegetables 2X2.50
    Welches Mango medly frozen fruit – 3.98
    ice burg lettuce 1.27
    Presidents choice meatballs- 7.97
    Highliner Salmon Filets 227g – 4.97- 1.00 coupon
    Wonder bread-1.67
    Wonder hot dog rolls- 2.00
    Blue Menu Ricotta Cheese – 4.97
    Total Coupons Used:1.00
    Total out of Pocket:62.80 (0.00 from bank account)

    Total Grocery Budget for the month: $300
    Total Grocery Budget with any carry overs: $300
    Total Gift Cards used this week:$50.00
    Total Gift Cards used to date:$50.00
    Total Used from savings that didnt come from bank account(beer bottle returns, co51 cheques, zweet etc) 16.80.00
    Total Rewards Points redeemed this week:0
    Total Rewards Points used to date:0
    PC Points Earned this week:500
    PC Points Earned to Date:500
    SCOP Earned to date:0
    Zweet to date:0
    CO51 to date:0
    Stockpile budget 2016 ($100.00) 25 per month
    Stockpile budget used to date:0.00
    Total coupons used this week:1.00
    Total Coupons used to date:1.00
    Total in store discounts this week: 22.87
    Total instore discounts to date:22.87
    Total price matching discounts this week:3.79
    Total price matching discounts to date:3.79
    Total spent this week:$66.80 (0.00 from bank account)
    Total spent so far this month$66.80
    Total over/under spend this shop$8.20
    Total left to spend for the month: $233.20
    Total spent to date 2016 (does not include stock pile budget) $66.80
    Weekly Overview (Your final Thoughts)
    My husband I decided we need to start budgeting our money. I’ve been saving some gift cards and money collected from saving beer bottles, zweet, and co51 plus some money I make cash from side jobs. I’ve decided to try to use that for the next month or two towards our groceries and try to save up some money in our bank account. We were just buying items that were on sale each week with no real meal plan. We were also buying take out one or two times per week just because we are tired.
    I have used the pantry inventory list and freezer inventory list. I didnt realize what all we had. We have now made up meal ideas for the week. It doesnt have to be set exactly what we will eat each day just as long as we have ideas of what to make. We have been wasting alot of food and we are sick of wasting our money. So we are trying to budget and meal plan to help us save up some money.

    Thank you for providing all the free templates and information on your website its great!

    1. Hi Andria,
      Welcome to the Grocery Game Challenge!! I’m sure the fans who participate will be more than welcoming and please don’t be shy. Right off the mark I love how organized you are especially with using dates, product names and weight. Well done. You will certainly be amazed at just how much you were spending on groceries now that you are documenting your shops. Many of us have been posting here for almost 5 years now and are always celebrating successes even if they are small.
      Like you we would shop the sales and we were shocked just how much we spent. The inventory lists have helped us cut down on waste and eliminates the need look through the cupboards and freezer every time we need to meal plan. We create meals for the week however like you point out they may get moved around. We don’t always follow the meal plan to a T.

      Thanks for coming out and saying hi! I’m always thrilled to chat to the fans.
      If you have any questions about the GGC please ask we are all here to help but so far you’re on a role and everything is perfect! Well done. You get Ballot #3 Mr.CBB

      1. Thanks for being so welcoming!
        We never had a budget for groceries sometimes I’d go to 3 stores and buy all the things on sale from each store. So each trip would add up.
        I’m trying to make one store my main shop and price match if there’s something else I need.
        It will save time and money

  6. Week 36 – Sept 2 – 8, 2016
    Name Your Store: Superstore
    Total Coupons Used: $
    Total Points = 1400
    Total Out Of Pocket: $26.91 (including Stockpile)

    1.05 L Allen’s Apple Juice – $1.69 (PM Food Basics @ $0.88) = $0.88
    525 g Cheerios – $5.98 (PM Frescho @ $3.99) = $3.99
    945 mL Lemon Juice = $2.27
    1 Kg Kraft Peanut Butter – $5.48 (PM Food Basics @ $3.99) = $3.99 (Stockpile)
    685 g Danone Activia Cherry Yogurt – $2.50 (PM No Frills @ $1.88) = $1.88
    2 – 1 lb Butter = $5.96 (Stockpile)
    4 L 2% Milk = $4.27
    450 g Black Diamond Marble Cheese – $7.48 (PM Food Basics @ $3.99) = $3.99
    700 g Highliner Fish Sticks = $4.00
    2 lb Mini Baby Carrots = $2.98
    Apples = $6.92
    2 Wonder WW Bread – $1.77 (PM No Frills @ $1.67) = $3.34
    Tortilla = $2.44

    No shop

    Grocery Game Challenge Results
    Total Grocery Budget for the 2 Adults ($1890.00, for the pay period – $70.00)
    Total Human (Adults) this Week Period: $16.96
    Left for the Month: $0
    Total Human (Adults) to Date: $1007.39

    Total Grocery Budget for the 3 Cats ($364, for the pay period – $14.00)
    Total Cats this Week Period: $
    Total Cats to Date: $219.64

    Total Grocery Budget for Stockpile ($520)
    Total Stockpile this Week Period: $9.95
    Total Stockpile to Date: $198.43

    Total Grocery Budget for the Personal Hygiene ($182)
    Total Personal Hygiene this Week Period: $
    Total Personal Hygiene to Date: $226.21

    Total Grocery Budget for Meat ($500.00)
    Total Meat this Week Period: $
    Total Meat to Date: $297.27

    Total Coupons Used this Week Period: $
    Total Coupons Used To Date: $25.96

    Total Discounts/SCOP this Week Period: $
    Total Discounts/SCOP to Date: $4.09

    Total Checkout 51 rebates this Week Period: $0
    Total Checkout 51 rebates to Date: $10.00

    Total Snap rebates this Week Period: $0.00
    Total Snap rebates to Date: $1.00

    Total Price Match for this Week Period: $8.60
    Total Price Match to Date: $251.93

    Total PC Points Received this Week Period: 1400
    Total PC Rewards Points Used this Week Period: 20,000
    Total PC Rewards To Date: 11030

    Overview: Picked up a bunch of little things that could/couldn’t be needed as time goes on. This will give us variety for the coming weeks.

    1. Hey Dee,
      Was the butter $5.96 each? What kind of apples do you buy? I wish Food Basics and Zehrs would price match. They need to get on this…. Nice stock up this week. 🙂 You get ballot #2 Mr.CBB

      1. I wouldn’t buy the butter if it was 5.96 each. That price was for 2 bars of butter. I don’t remember the kind of apples I purchased.

  7. Back when hubby was working nights he usually got the dinner leftovers in his lunch along with some yogurt or pudding, a muffin and juice. When the younger boy was in high school in town he would have a meat on a bun, pudding, yogurt, juice and a muffin or two. Yes he had pudding and yogurt, no shortage of dairy there. Juice was packed as milk can be difficult to clean out of containers, especially plastic ones. My daughter buys the milk plan for the grandson for the same reason and so he can have cold milk. The schools can be fussy about what is sent with the kids as they preach healthy lunches for them. He is not eating meat right now so he’s getting lots of lessons at home on proper nutrition while packing his lunch. Peanut and other nut butters are not allowed, even that Wow Butter isn’t allowed…looks too much like PB….
    With trips I do tend to pack snacks and such if the drive is more than an hour or two. The shorter drives we will manage. If it was a park or such tourist stop I packed food and drinks in an insulated bag and froze things to help keep it cool.

  8. SEPTEMBER – Week #1 of 4- Sept 5-11, 2016


    •Total Grocery Budgeted For Year: $190.00 x 12 = $2,280.00 for 2 adults



    Before we start our SEPTEMBER shopping off though, I am going to make my usual monthly “reserve” transfers:


    $ 190.00 for the month
    $ 6.86 leftover from last month
    ($ 15.00) trf to re-stocking – normally $15.00
    ($ 15.00) trf to holiday reserve–normally 15.00
    ($ 15.00) trf to summer reserve–normally 15.00
    ($ 55.00) trf to US Reserve –normally $45.00

    CANADIAN Grocery Balance $96.86


    This week is all about using up the perishables as we are planning a few days away during hubby’s 24 days off. Even though we still have a dozen eggs, I couldn’t resist the one day sale price this week…otherwise this would have been a no shop week. I will update you next week on what this week’s stay-cation cost us.



    Shopper’s – Maple Ridge –

    1 GRADE “A” LARGE WHITE EGGS 1 Dozen @ $1.99

    Total OOP: $1.99

    ** Earned 20 Optimum Points on this shop **
    ** SAVED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $0.00 Loyalty Savings on this shop **






    •Total Loyalty Card Price Reductions This Year:

    Jan $36.76 + Feb $160.96 + Mar $27.00+ Apr $117.96 +May $55.61+June $8.50+ July $46.99+ Aug $13.85+Sept $0.00 = $467.63

    •Total Coupons/Rain Checks Used This Year:

    Jan $0.00 + Feb $20.46+ Mar $1.00 +Apr $5.23 + May $10.68 + June $0.00+ July $0.00 + Aug $0.00+ Sept $0.00 = $37.37

    •Total Price Match Savings Used This Year:

    Jan $0.00 + Feb $0.00 + Mar $0.00 + Apr $0.00 + May $0.00 + June $0.00+ July $0.00 + Aug $0.00 + Sept $0.00 = $0.00

    •Total More Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 10 + Feb 182 + Mar 3 +April 48 + May 96 + June 0+ July 573 + Aug 208 + Sept 0= 1,120 Points

    •Total Air Miles Earned This Year:

    Jan 6 + Feb 43 +Mar 182 + April 32 + May 24 + June 3+ July 0 + Aug 0 + Sept 0 = 268 Air Miles

    •Total PC PLUS Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 1800 + Feb 5000 +Mar 5200= April 3,100 + May 0 + June 2,600+ July 0 + Aug 6,600 + Sept 0 = 24,300 Points

    •Total Optimum Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 0 + Feb 0 +Mar 0 + April 0 + May 0 + June 40+ July 0 + Aug 40 + Sept 20= 100 Points



    •Total OOP Year-To-Date:
    Jan $196.78 + Feb $193.74 + Mar $182.77 + April $255.43 + May $143.05 +June $182.79 +July $188.72+ Aug $171.07+ Sept (15.00+$15.00+$15.00+$55.00+$1.99= $101.99) = $1,615.13

    •Total Year-To-Date Grocery Budget:
    Jan $190.00+ Feb $190.00 + Mar $190.00 + April $190.00 +May $190.00 + June $190.00+July $190.00+Aug $190.00 +Sept $190.00= $1,710.00

    •Total Over/Under on Year-To-Date Grocery Budget: $94.87 AVAILABLE



    2015 Fwd $0.00+Jan $4.69+ Feb $5.19+ Mar $0.00+ Apr $0.00 + May $4.69 + June $0.00+ July $0.00 + Aug $0.00+Sept $0.00= $14.57



    2015 Fwd $0.00+Jan $45.00+Feb $45.00+ Mar -$59.58+ Apr $45.00+ May -$22.79 + June -$48.42 + July $45.00 + Aug $45.00+Sept $55.00= $149.21



    2015 Fwd $217.50+Jan -$49.65 + Feb -$140.69 + Mar $25.48 + Apr +
    -$5.29+May -$9.70 +June $15.00+July -$41.81 + Aug $17.93+Sept $15.00= $43.77



    2015 Fwd $81.51+Jan $15.00 + Feb $11.61 +$15.00+ Apr $15.00 +May $20.00 + June $15.00+ July $15.00+ Aug $15.00+Sept $15.00= $218.12



    2015 Fwd $100.00+ $537.50 Trf from Borscht Fund+Jan $15.00 + Feb $11.61+ Mar $0.00+Apr $15.00 + May -$51.21+ June $3.23 +July $7.62 +Aug (15.00-30.21=-$15.21)+ Sept $15.00= $638.54



    $ 1,710.00 Grocery Budget JAN-SEPT

    $ 14.57 Redeemed Points to Purchase Groceries

    ($ 383.59) ADDITION TO: Misc Reserves (Re-Stocking, Xmas & Summer)

    $ 419.67 REDUCTION TO: Misc Reserves (Re-Stocking, Xmas & Summer)

    ($ 149.21) Trf to US Grocery Reserve Net of 2016 Spending

    ($ 14.57) Set in reserve to offset Redeemed Points

    ($ 1,502.00) Actual CASH SPENT



    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – JAN
    $ 5.19 Whole Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – FEB
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – MAY
    $ 14.57 Total $ Value of Points Redeemed

    THE VALUE POINTS REDEEMED will be added to our Holiday Reserve next Christmas.

    So far $1,710.00 has been budgeted Y-T-D for 2016 and we have recorded $788.47 of these funds as “spent” and in fact they have been “saved”:

    $ 43.77 Freezer Re-Stocking Fund
    $ 218.12 Holiday Season Fund
    $ 638.54 Summer Season Fund
    $ 149.21 US Shopping Reserve
    $ 14.37 Points Redeemed Reserve

    OUR CURRENT TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES ARE $1,064.01. This means the $936.51 that we carried forward from 2015 PLUS AN ADDITIONAL $788.47 that we have added in 2016, LESS $660.97 that we have drawn out for use in 2016.


    The valid rain checks I hold are as follows:


    15 x 1L Diet Pesi @ $0.50 per bottle – Good until Sept 16/16
    15 x 1L Lipton Brisk Iced Tea @ $0.50 per bottle – Good until Sept 16/16


    This week’s BREAKFAST menu plan:

    HUBBY: Earl Grey Tea with Lemon Juice + Bagels/English Muffins with fat free cream cheese spread, peanut butter or Cheez Whiz, toaster waffles, hot cross buns OR Rice Krispies cereal with skim milk

    MYSELF: Tetley Tea with Skim Milk & Equal + yogurt, apples, bananas or hard boiled eggs


    This week’s LUNCH menu plan:

    MON: Grilled Ham-Cheese-Onion Sandwich

    TUES: Greek Salad for our picnic lunch at Mill Lake

    WED: Lunch with our friend in Nanaimo at her house + a walk on the boardwalk

    THURS: Lunch with MIL & SIL at The Neighborhood Noodle House after our gym workout

    FRI: Fried Egg BLT sandwich with pickled red onions

    SAT: Chilliwack Yellow Deli for lunch after a walk at Cultas Lake

    SUN: Habitant Pea Soup


    This week’s DINNER menu plan:

    MON: Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup

    TUES: Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Sugar-Free Jam & a side of coleslaw

    WED: Dinner on the ferry coming back to the mainland

    THURS: Grilled Chicken Nectarine BLT Salad for our picnic at Whonnock Lake

    FRI: Chef Salad before our walk at the Water Park and Equestrian Centre

    SAT: Walk on the dyke after our Caesar Salad with Lemon Pancakes

    SUN: Greek Salad on a bed of mixed greens, Roasted Potato-Carrot-Onion-Celery with Cheese Omelette


    1. Hi Mary,
      I’m finally getting some time to get these moderated. Better late than never I suppose. What dressing do you use for your Greek Salad? I’m curious do you put something sweet on your lemon pancakes paired with a salad? I love the added nectarine in your salad. I could eat cans of that stuff…
      We make ricotta pancakes… what recipe do you use? Have fun on your holidays!! Mr.CBB You get ballot #1.

      1. We use the Western Family Greek Salad Dressing…an oil and vinegar with Greek Oregano & Feta in it. Here’s a product link:

        The lemon pancakes were great…hubby used the standard sugar free pancake syrup but I put a dollop of lemon curd on mine. I guess you could say I like lemon with my lemon. 🙂 Another option would be to mack a Sumac-Sugar and sprinkle that on top. Here’s my link:

        This is the recipe I used for the ricotta pancakes. I didn’t have any blueberries though so we used the sugar free strawberry jam on them:

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