How To Hire The Right Caterer For Your Next Event : The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 #2 Sept 12-18




I’m a guy who loves to cook but for smaller crowds. If you asked me to cater an event there’s no way I’d keep up because I simply can’t handle the stress of knowing I might mess up.

This is where hiring a caterer comes in handy. The catering business is a big business all over the world because food is love and when there is a special event the caterer is there to ease the stress of the day. Catering is a hard-core business with competition fighting for top spot to take charge of your event.

Over the last month I’ve received 2 emails from fans asking me about budgets and catering events they were planning so I thought I would address how to hire the right caterer and some budgeting tips.

There are two types of caterers

  1. In-house or On Premises Catering (Food is prepared in-house)
  2. Off-Premises Catering (Food is brought in)

The only reason catering may not be an option for your event is because of a low-budget or availability. Catering comes with a price tag similar to getting restaurant service or fast-food.

You get what you pay for and the same goes in the catering world even though most catering companies will work with any budget. You can’t expect top of the line when you don’t have much money to work with. Some catering companies only work with certain budgets as well so that’s important to keep in mind and certainly a question to ask when doing your research.

If you want 5 star you’ll get 5 star with a price tag although many catering companies are willing to work with just about any budget so always look around before deciding not to use a caterer.


Who uses a caterer?


Many of you may be familiar with enjoying a food buffet, family style or table service by a caterer from attending a wedding. Whether a caterer is a new small business or a large established caterer that has yielded excellent reviews, years of service and a clientele you must always do your homework.

The ideal caterer for your event depends on asking the right questions and finding out all the answers ahead of time.

Some of the most common events where a caterer may be needed are:

  • Christmas Parties and other holiday events
  • Christenings and other Religious celebrations
  • Baby Shower, Birth celebration
  • Bridal Shower, Wedding, Anniversary
  • Funeral /Bereavement
  • Convention centers, Concert halls, Outdoor events
  • Birthday, In-home dinner for a special event
  • Special event such as a community event, Gala, Parade
  • Work Event, Office Function, volunteers, special events, Training seminars,
  • General Meetings, Hospitals, College, Universities and  other educational institutes
  • Retirement homes, Nursing Homes and other medical facilities and so on.


How to find a caterer


Word of mouth is a great way to hear about caterers in your area as well recommendations from venues that don’t have an in-house caterer or chef’s kitchen. You can also check the Yellow page, print advertising, online sources and forums.

Just recently a friend of the family in the UK decided they wanted to get married in Sydney, Australia which is where many British tend to vacation or move because of the lovely weather and lower prices.

A few of my cousins, aunt and uncle live in Australia and were helping them out to find a venue to hold the outdoor event which is appropriate given the gorgeous weather this time of year.

Catering differs significantly depending on where you are located world-wide especially when it comes to traditions and social norms. Since I have limited experience with the catering industry I did my homework to see what information I could up with that would give you the kick-start you need to hire a caterer for your event.

Locally in the Greater Toronto area I sourced a budget-friendly caterer at a wedding hall that would feed guests a full sit-down meal for $12 a plate with dessert. The cost of $800 for the hall was extra as would be the open or cash bar, bartender service and table linens, decorations, and center-pieces. That was on the lower-end for an event budget but affordable for many people.

On the higher-end I talked to another local Toronto company who caterers events at many venues in the area. They charge $150-$300 a plate which includes a highly regarded chef, dessert service, full-service, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, Dinner beverages alcohol and non-alcohol, interactive food stations, bar/bartender, linens, Hors d’oeuvre, night buffet.

Since our friend has planned a summer wedding next year and the event will be outdoors they were talking about hiring a caterer to feed upwards of 300 guests.

Should you cater your own event?

Even if you wanted to try and put a team of volunteers together of friends and family to caterer the event to keep budget costs lower keep in mind that they will likely be part of your special day.

You don’t want your guests sweating and racing around trying to sort the food out when they should be enjoying the wedding. If your event is small this budget-friendly option would be more fitting with as much pre-planning as possible.

With the availability of the internet you can easily read reviews, source the best catering companies in your local area or find a caterer outside of country especially if it’s for an event you’ll be flying in to attend but are in charge of organizing.

If you are in Canada and plan to have your wedding in Sydney, Australia like our friend you could plan your event online with help from a well-known caterer. A reputable caterer or any other caterer that offers you as much front-end service as possible being out of country is well-worth the investigation.

So, I did just that.

A quick online search not only revealed that Flavors caters every event I listed above but their event services are top-notch. Their motto is “Creative event catering at an affordable price” which is what caught my attention of course and because they cater to all budgets.

What I believe every good caterer should have is a printable menu and prices ranging from the budget-friendly, the in-between and high-end indulgences. There should be no hidden costs or fees when it comes to catering because your caterer should know what they will be charging in advance and be upfront with you.

Not only will Flavors mail you an event info kit but you can read reviews right on their blog. If you are planning a wedding overseas it’s important to ask all the right questions and leave enough time to ensure mail or other vital information for your event can get to you in a speedy fashion.

Some catering websites such as Flavors Catering offer online customer support with Live CHAT availability which is a serious plus in my books. I even tested it out and had a chat with a lovely customer support employee who answered all of my questions which was pretty cool. Sorry for wasting your time but I needed to find out for myself.

You may think you are being a nuisance asking too many questions but any caterer no matter if the event is big or small SHOULD want to make it as magical as you’d like it to be. That means fulfilling as many of your requests as possible with-in reason.

If you are looking at a caterer that is in another city, province or out of country to plan your event you can even ask for feedback on social media which is always a great indicator of what the company is like.


Creating a budget to cater your event


If you are planning to have a caterer for an event and you know the date of your event it’s important to complete a budget and start saving for the event.

You can do this by creating a projected expenses account and saving every month up until the event. Some of your hires may require a deposit which you will need up front so you will have to have some money saved before you start saving for everything else.

Related: How to set up projected expenses for your budget

With your projected expenses account this will help you to have the money ready by the time the event hire needs to be paid. Alternatively you can save in advance even two years before the event if you know an approximate date.

For events such as a birthday, anniversary or other functions that may not be as large make sure your budget can handle the caterer fees. Catering is never to be expected as a frugal way to go about feeding your crowd but what it does do is save you time, stress and keeps everyone fed and happy. This is worth the expenses you will pay especially if you find a quality caterer.

If you will be self-catering your event you can start purchasing any non-perishables or other products that you can freeze as they go on sale and once you know how many guests you will have. Doing this will save you money if you are working with a smaller budget or simply don’t care to have your event catered in.


Questions you MUST ask your caterer


Here are a few common questions I’d want to know answers to from an event caterer. A list of specific questions will almost always be personalized according to your event details.

  • What is the average cost of an event with x amount of guests?
  • Does the caterer have any other events that day?
  • Can you please give me client references?
  • Could you please explain to me how you source your food and do you accommodate dietary needs of the guests? Do you use any frozen products? Are the baked goods made fresh in-house?
  • Do you have a liquor license and do you have a bar area or set-up? If yes, what are the costs? Can we bring our own liquor in? Do you have a bartender? Can we get more than 1 bartender? Costs?
  • Do you need a deposit? If yes, how much?
  • Can we do menu tasting? If not then ask the client references to describe their full-experience with the food tasting, service etc.
  • Do you have photos of your food or a video of food presentations or a tour of your facility that I can watch?
  • Will you provide a wedding cake or do I need to cater that into the event? If not what desserts will you offer my guests?
  • Will the event be fully staffed, serviced and outfit the event with chairs, center-pieces, napkins etc? Is that extra?
  • What will your wait and bartender staff wear?
  • When does the final draft of the menu have to be submitted before it can no longer be changed?
  • What are your cancellation or postponement policies?
  • Where is the food prepared?
  • How much will a dessert table cost?

These are just a few questions I came up with although over at they have come up with a list of every question you will need to ask your caterer.


How to save money using a caterer


  • Find a site where you can bring a caterer in
  • Have your reception in the afternoon instead of the evening
  • Have your reception or wedding during the week
  • Buy your own liquor and provide bartending services if allowed
  • Forget the meal and go with a dessert menu/reception with finger foods
  • Always negotiate prices
  • Try different cuisines from around the world instead of traditional
  • Stick to less expensive cuts of meat, poultry or fish
  • Forget the package deals unless it’s a price you can’t turn down
  • Serve what’s in season for your meal

The above are only a few secrets to saving money with a caterer and I’m sure there are many more out there so snoop around, ask questions and always negotiate!


Your catered meal is never complete without gratuity or a tip plus a thank-you. Behind the scenes a team is working very hard to make sure your event goes off without a glitch.


Whether you choose to add a tip or a gratuity is factored into the final bill based on overall costs you should always leave something for the team who made it all happen.

Have you ever used a caterer in or out of country? If yes, how did you save up for your budgeted expenses? Did you save enough? Any tips for someone looking to hire a caterer? Please leave 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.

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: 314,000
  • 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

  • 2 x avocado bags $3.98 each
  • 2 x seedless cucumber $0.88 each
  • 2 x 2% Milk Sealtest $4.27 each
  • 1 x coconut Astro Yogurt $1.99
  • 4 Royal Gala Apples $0.88
  • 4 x whipping cream 35% $2.49 each

Total Out-of-Pocket $31.09


  • Ground Pork $3.95 +800 PC Points
  • Medium Ground Beef Family Packs Sale $7.87, $7.72, $7.77, $7.78
  • 4 x Whiskey Bacon $7.99-50%
  • Cremini Mushrooms 1kg 3.99-50%
  • PC Argula $5.49-50% +600 PC Points
  • Pork Rinds $1.99
  • 2 x Goldfish $1.67 bag each
  • 7 x $3.99 Schneider’s Bacon -50% $27.93-50%=$14.00
  • 2 x dozen eggs $2.49 each

Total Out-of-Pocket $77.66

Bulk Barn

  • Almond Flour $10.47-$3.00= $7.47

Total Out-of-Pocket $7.47

  • 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:$32.00
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $482.34
  • Total spent this week: $116.22
  • 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: $52.13
  • 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)

So, hmm, we spent lots this past week. I had to add in the bacon we found on sale after last weeks GGC post went up plus the bacon we found this week. The beef was too good of a deal to pass up. My wife eats lots of bacon, beef, eggs, cheese and uses whipping cream in her coffee so we picked up what we could on sale.

The almond flour is always pricey but she needs it to make her waffles, low-carb bread and other treats. We have some coconut flour left for now but that’s not too expensive. The next couple of weeks will be super tight with milk and eggs being our most important items. We do have over $1000 in Optimum points to use or just over $300 in PC points. Phew… but if we can save them for Christmas we’ll be happy!!


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. Week 2 – Sept 11 – 17

    • 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: $62.90
    • Total spent so far this month: $62.90
    • Total left to spend for the month: $257.10
    • Carry over: $0
    • Total in carry over jar: $0
    • Total overspent: $111.20
    • Total Spent To Date 2016: $2,151.10

    RCSS: cream cheese 2.97, potatoes 10lb 1.98, bananas 1.43, grapes 2.13, watermelon 4.98, roast 2 pk 14.50: total paid $28.00

    Walmart: Ragu 2 x 1.27, Cafe Escapes hot chocolate 4 x 5.97, Campbells soup 2 x 1.77, Waterchestnuts .98, Crispers 4 x .88, tax .46: Total Paid 34.90 rounded down 2 cents

    We have increased our grocery budget for the time being on a permanent basis to $80 weekly. We want to be able to add more proteins to our diet now that we have the funds to do so. We want to make sure that we can comfortably eat while eating frugally without the panic for finding or figuring out a healthy meal and something that wasn’t all carbs. This week we didn’t need a lot, the roasts were a great find. We have also added back k-cups into the budget not just grounds to help ease a bit of time for us. I’m not usually the biggest convenience person, but it’s a luxury we can have right now. It will be a luxury in moderation, but will at least be available to us again.

    1. Ha, I love how you answer my questions from a previous week in you next ggc post without even seeing what I asked lol. I had asked if you were going to increase your grocery budget now that you are working. I like that…. Luxury in Moderation!! You worked hard for it just make sure to stay grounded and follow through on continuing with your financial goals and you’ll be fine.
      Great deal on the crispers and the roasts.
      Are there any other changes you are experiencing now that you are back to work?
      You get ballot #17

      1. I have made some changes. We have moved the life consumables out of the grocery budget and have left it for just food related items. Gone are toilet paper, deoderant, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. This and the increase we did in our budget have practically doubled the grocery. We are also buying some more convenience foods than we used to in an effort to help us get through hockey season and getting off of work so close to having to be out the door. This includes things like frozen lasagnas, egg rolls, frozen fries, chicken strips, etc. This helps with the cook time and reduces the prep. Yes we are still using our crock pot a lot, especially for the nights that we need to walk in the door, eat and go and not have the time to even cook prepared food. I am still trying to balance working and getting all of the other things done that need to be like cleaning and laundry. My son has stepped up his chores and it has helped a lot. He may be 11 but he is a champ. When I used to work in the past, it was never a Mon-Fri job 8-5, it has been weird to adjust to. I worked full-time but with shift work that helped me work 3 or 4 days a week. So, it is the biggest adjustment to work around the available time leftover. I am a work in progress and I think I am getting more organized each week. Slow and steady will win this race 🙂 and I look forward to making this transition successfully. I do have a feeling that we may have more in our grocery budget than we need. The new year we will reevaluate where we went with the groceries and what we can improve on and reduce it as needed. We are still filling the freezer with beans from the garden and potentially more depending on how my mom’s garden and the in-laws garden still do. We may be getting a lot of acorn squash in the near future. And we are working through apples that we were allowed to pick off of a tree for nothing. I managed canning apple sauce, we made lots of apple things and we have baking we still want to do.

  2. 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.-$33.19 =$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 : $11.75
    Checkout51 to cash out : $27.25

    Our Grocery Shop This Week
    Foodland #1
    1 jug water -5.49
    1 sandwich bags-1.78
    2 4l milk @4.99
    2 packs frozen tortellini @3.99
    1 pack extra lean ground beef -11.67
    Tax -.23
    Total OOP -$37.13
    Foodland #2
    1 216 count Tetley teabags -11.99
    1 pack Crisco -3.69
    2 cans pasta sauce @2/3.00
    1-10 pack tetra apple juice -2.49
    2 cans pineapple tidbits @1.19
    2 4l milk @4.99
    3lb bag onions -2.49
    Bananas -1.04
    2 packs blueberry maple sausage -3.29, 3.26, 30% discounts -.99, .98
    1 Parmesan cheese grated -6.38
    Total OOP -48.02, 1.97 discount
    Foodland #3
    1 jug water -5.49
    1 cranberry cocktail -3.19
    1 pack pasta -1.99
    1 4l milk -4.99
    10lb bag carrots -1.99
    10 lb bag potatoes 1.99
    1 sirloin tip roast -14.23
    Total OOP -33.87
    Total to spend this month : $650.- 33.19 overage from August= $616.81
    Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
    Stockpile budget used this month: $0
    Total coupons used this week: $0
    Total coupons used to date: $101.12
    Total in-store discounts this week:$1.97
    Total in-store discounts to date: $147.38
    Total spent this week: $119.02
    Total spent so far this month: $223.03
    Total over/Under spend this shop: under
    Total over/Under spend for the month: $n/a
    Total left to spend for the month: $393.78
    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.+ Aug $683.19+ Sept $
    Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
    In spite of getting a couple of extras I stayed under for the week. The tortellini was for the grandson’s birthday dinner at our place. He isn’t eating meat these days so this was a fave for him. The potatoes and carrots were too good a price to leave! As our daughter brought us a big box of apples I made apple sauce for hubby, I used some of his apple juice tetras as the cooking liquid so I had to replace those. I got the roast as we haven’t had one in so long and prices are very slowly coming down. I will get three meals out of that roast!! Haven’t made it to No Frills yet. We had to change hubby’s appointment in Stratford when the truck sprung a leak in the transmission line. The lines will be replaced when they swap out the tires next month while the truck is up on the hoist anyway.

    1. Hi Christine,
      Tell me more about the blueberry maple sausage? It sounds interesting. Your husband likes those kiddie apple juice boxes? Awe… 🙂 What meals will you make from one roast? I have to buy tires for our vehicle for Spring as they are 13 years old in the back. I have the winter tires which are still in mint condition. I’ll have to start looking for deals now while I can. At least your grandson eats.. our son only eats bacon and drinks milk right now. He does like pizza but only from a pizza shop. We have an appointment for him in November to meet with an occupational therapist to evaluate his behaviours and eating. I’m sure he’s fine but better to be safe. You get ballot #8 and I’m off to bed finally. All moderated now. Happy Me!

      1. I’m pretty sure our store is the only place to get those sausages unless other Foodland stores have the recipe. These are advertised as made in-store… The tetras of juice are handy and for as much as he drinks at a time it’s better than having a big container sit there and go off, especially with his compromised immune system.
        We will have meal number 3 from that roast tonight…one meal of the roast fresh cooked, one of leftover roast and tonight will be shepherds pie to clean up all the leftover bits.
        Any kind of pasta is big with Stinker, will your lad eat pasta of any kind?? If so try sneaking finely chopped veggies in sauce to get things more nutritious. My daughter has talks with him about making sure he gets all the stuff he needs in his food without the meat to grow healthy and strong. It’s still an uphill battle. Good luck with your laddie…

  3. Date: Sept 18 2016
    Name of Store:No Frills
    Beggin Strips 2.89
    Old El Paso Taco Dinner Kit:4.00
    Uncle Bens Long Grain 8 min rice 1.6kg 5.97
    No Name Egg Noodles : 1.49
    2 X No Name Chicken Broth 0.97
    No Name Condensed Cheddar Soup 0.99
    Campbells Tomato soup: 1.19
    2X campless mushroom soup :1:19
    Pam Cooking Spray 3.47
    Maxwell House Breakfast Blend ground coffee 377g 5:49
    2X Unico Diced Tomatoes 28 oz- 1.57
    6X side kicks 0.97 (recieved PC points for these and also C051 after all that worked out to 0.47 each)
    2X Internation delight french vanilla coffee creamer
    No Name Plain Yogurt 750 g-1.99
    No Name Mild Cheddar Cheese 4.97
    No Name Pizza mozarella cheese:4.97
    Large Eggs – 1.97
    2X medium ground beef : 3.47
    Schneiders Mac and Cheese lunch meat 3.79
    3XMaple Leaf Bacon- Price Matched for 3.99 (stock pile) (Had buy 2 get one free coupon)
    Mini Sub buns – 2:39
    Ditaliano bread -1.77
    Total Coupons Used:7.97
    Total out of Pocket: 72.88 (0.00 out of bank account)

    Total Grocery Budget for the month: $300
    Total Grocery Budget with any carry overs:$233.22
    Total Gift Cards used this week:0
    Total Gift Cards used to date:50.00
    Total Rewards Points redeemed this week:0
    Total Rewards Points used to date:0
    PC Points Earned this week:1800
    PC Points Earned to Date:2300
    SCOP Earned to date:0
    Zweet earned today:0.25
    Zweet to date:0.25
    CO50 earned today:2.50
    CO51 to date:2:50
    Stockpile budget 2016 ($100.00)
    Stockpile budget used to date:7.98 (92.02 remaining)
    Total coupons used this week:7.97
    Total Coupons used to date:8.97
    Total in store discounts this week: 10.88
    Total instore discounts to date:33.68
    Total spent this week:80.86
    Total spent so far this month: 143.66 (0.00 from bank account)
    Total over/under spend this shop- under 2.12
    Total left to spend for the month:156.34
    Total spent to date 2016 (does not include stock pile budget) 143.66
    Weekly Overview (Your final Thoughts)
    Some of the products on my list I was going to buy a brand name product and price match but I found some no name products at a cheaper price so I thought I would try them out instead.
    I would like to try to save even further in the next few weeks. I am going to write some of the companys that I purchase their products each week and see if they will send out some coupons. I have checked online but have not found any.
    The meal planning list is really helping. We have not purchased any take out this last week and I have a list for next week.

    1. Hi Andria,
      I remember when our dog was still with us how much he loved those Beggin strips. He would go mad for them. I’ve seen the bacon deal and it’s great if you can get it at the price you did. I notice you buy NO Name products often. Is that based solely on price compared to name brand? Do you choose Name Brand over No Name if the price is cheaper? There are lots of companies that will mail out coupons. I believe I have a list of them at the bottom of the grocery game posts. Chapmans always sends a coupon for $4 off if you email them. I just read the last comments you made and notice you answered my question about NO Name products vs. Name Brand. See, you read my mind. How much would you normally spend on take-out? What is your list, a grocery list? Well done!!! You’ll see just how beneficial this will be to your grocery shopping. That’s why we’re all still here after 5 years of posting our shops!! You get ballot #7 Mr.CBB

      1. Hi Mr CBB,
        There might be an even better bacon deal this week at Walmart. I saw posted online it’s 2 something . I hope i have another coupon!
        So far I’ve tried the no name condensed soup this week and it was just as good as campbells. I would buy whatever I can get the best deal on.
        We were buying take out it could be anywhere between25-50 once or twice a week. It’s not cheap and sure adds up.
        The meal planning list is just a list of meals we can make with the food we have and we can decide from there what to make.
        I got a few responses for the coupons and they will be mailed out. I will have to email more this weekend.
        I’ll have to find your list and check it. Thanks!

  4. SEPTEMBER – Week #2 of 4- Sept 12-18, 2016


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




    We had another STAY-CATION WEEK including a few day trips! This is what the week cost us from our Vacation Budget:

    – Burger King Fish Burgers take-out $5.00

    – Ferry Ride to Nanaimo $207.40 < expensive
    so we don’t go often…first trip in
    five years!!

    – Lunch in Nanaimo with our friend at her house –
    we took a hostess gift paid for by our
    gifts and entertainment budget…we
    nice green salads with all kinds of fresh
    vegetable add-ins

    – Supper on the ferry coming home: $28.84 – we had
    burgers, hubby had fries and a drink
    with his & inherited my bun. I had
    a Caesar Salad and iced tea with mine
    but shared half of each of them with
    my sweetie.

    – The Noodle House for lunch with MIL & SIL: $30

    All together that’s $271.24 for the entire week and we still had a really great time!

    While we were on the ferry going to Nanaimo, we discussed our holiday plans for 2017.

    I already have us all booked (and have paid for) for our 2 weeks in Palm Springs next spring & our Family Day and Easter get-aways. I have one more driving vacation in mind for the fall…a circle tour of Washington and Oregon state and coming back thru the Kootenays. We’ll also get a few additional days before Christmas south of the border to take in a few holiday festivities. I am saving to cover those get-aways next year.

    What should I start planning and saving for in 2018? Think it’s time for a return to the east coast? Do you find delayed gratification easier to do when you know what you are delaying for? I sure do!



    The second week of our vacation included these splurges since the hotel, breakfasts and dinners were all FREE using our SPG POINTS:

    Lunch + take-out at Goldberg’s Deli in Bellevue, WA $42.37

    Sonic Drinks – on 2 occasions $9.75 using a coupon

    Lunch at Bob’s in Lynden, WA $26.09

    Arby’s Value Sandwiches from our trip $12.96

    2 Fire Wire Cables from Fry’s $22.00

    Gas at Costco $12.00

    So the second week of our vacation cost us $125.17. That’s not too hard to handle! 🙂

    We still have 10 days left in hubby’s vacation but we are back into STAY-CATION MODE next week with some lovely day trips, get-togethers with friends & family and oodles of scenic walks & picnics.

    Sad as it will be to see the end of hubby’s autumn vacation, at least we have his 13 days off for a Christmas vacation to look forward to! We also have an additional three weekends planned & jam packed with fun plans. I like to really stretch out the “good stuff”.

    We had a couple of rain checks expire this week unused:


    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






    Franz Bakery Outlet – Bellingham

    3 pkgs Onion Bagels + 2 pkgs Sour dough Hoagie Buns = 5 for $5
    6 Dozen Assorted Donuts = $6 for $5
    3 GF hot dog buns $4.99 ea = $14.97
    1 Loaf Sourdough Bread = FREE
    1 Loaf Sourdough Rye Bread = FREE
    1 Pkg Seeded Bagels = FREE

    • US Grocery OOP: $24.97



    •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 ($55.00-24.97 = $30.03)= $124.24



    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)

    ($ 124.24) Trf to US Grocery Reserve Net of 2016 Spending

    ($ 14.57) Set in reserve to offset Redeemed Points

    ($ 1,526.97) 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
    $ 124.24 US Shopping Reserve
    $ 14.37 Points Redeemed Reserve

    OUR CURRENT TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES ARE $1,039.04. This means the $936.51 that we carried forward from 2015 PLUS AN ADDITIONAL $788.47 that we have added in 2016, LESS $685.94 that we have drawn out for use in 2016.


    The valid rain checks I hold are as follows:

    None! 🙁


    This week’s BREAKFAST menu plan:

    HUBBY & MYSELF: Club Floor Breakfasts including scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, hash browns, fresh fruit, cold cereals, porridge, fruit juices & coffee


    This week’s LUNCH menu plan:

    MON: Lunch at Goldberg’s Deli in Bellevue, WA

    TUES: none – still full from breakfast

    WED: Leftover take-out from Goldberg’s

    THURS: Bacon Sandwiches

    FRI: Cup of Soup & Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwiches

    SAT: Bob’s Burgers & Brew in Lynden, WA

    SUN: Arby’s Value Sandwiches from our trip


    This week’s DINNER menu plan:

    MON TO FRIDAY: Club Floor evening snacks including cheeses, cold meats, raw veggies & dip, fresh fruit + a hot dish that’s generally not gluten free so hubby can eat it but I can’t. He had build your own nachos, seared crusted ahi tuna, teriyaki chicken skewers, pot stickers, hash browns and assorted pinwheel sandwiches.

    SAT: Popcorn & a movie at home

    SUN: Creamy Tomato Soup


    1. Hi Mary,
      The club floor evening food and hot dish sound awesome. Do you normally ask ahead of time if they offer gluten free meals and snacks? In your 5 for $5 how many buns and bagels do you end up with? You bought 6 dozen donuts… I’m coming over!! What kinds did you get? I love donuts and only ever eat one if someone brings them to work. That was expensive but I remember in Tobermory we paid well over $100 to bring our vehicle on the ferry to go over to Manitoulin Island. The ferry food was pricey as well but it was a nice couple of days away and we don’t do that often. I’m glad you enjoyed it. How do you plan so far ahead? What if something pops up? Are you able to change tickets, plans and does that cost you extra money in cancellation or date transfer fees? Well done Mary.. You get ballot #6. 🙂 I should do a post “How to plan your vacation schedule in advance” or something like that.

      1. The Club Floor has a buffet offering and yes I have mentioned gluten free hot items to them in my surveys BUT they do have fresh fruit, veggies & cheeses on the evening buffet which is totally FREE for Gold and Platinum members so I really don’t complain.

        At breakfast they have scrambled eggs and bacon or cold cereal that I can have with my fruit. There are lots more offerings if you aren’t gluten free but I’m not a big breakfast person so I do scrambled eggs and fruit for my breakfast. I bring my own gf bread from home and can always make toasted bacon & tomato sandwiches for our lunches if I save some of the breakfast bacon in the room fridge. I can also made peanut butter & banana sandwiches for us by saving the breakfast peanut butter package offerings for our lunches. Hubby usually grabs a package of granola bars to have with his sandwiches.

        It’s easy to pick up a few groceries to supplement what we receive for free and make my own dishes to supplement all the fruit and veggies and cheeses because I have both a fridge and a microwave in the room. I bring an electric kettle and I can even make tea in the room using my tea bags, their milk containers and sugar substitute packages. Hubby prefers to make his Caramel Macchiato type coffees in the lounge with their espresso machine and we have nice glass travel mugs so we don’t use those cardboard cups they have. 🙁 We also have chicken boullion powder with us for a hot cup of broth if anyone feels under the weather.

        Besides, most restaurants have no clue how to do absolutely “gluten free” foods, what ingredients are and are not gluten free nor how to avoid the issue of cross contamination. It’s easier and safer for me to just do it myself. One wrong food choice and it can destroy the whole vacation not to mention give me a month long recovery so it’s simply not worth the chance. Whole Foods is 2 blocks away and they have a huge gluten free section. 🙂

        The Franz 5 for $5 has standard 6-pack bagels, 8-pack hoagie buns, 12-pack hot dog or 12-pack hamburger buns. It all depends on what you pick as to how many you get. So this trip…hubby got 18 bagels and 16 sourdough herb hoagie buns for $5.

        For the donut sale we picked up: 12 standard glazed, 12 standard chocolate donuts with chocolate glaze, a box of 36 icing sugar coated mini donuts, a box of 36 chocolate coated chocolate mini donuts, a box of 36 cinnamon sugar coated mini donuts and 12 standard maple glazed donuts. I will put them in sandwich bags and freeze them for hubby’s lunches…1 full size donut or 4 mini’s per pack.

        My vacations are booked in such a way that they can be changed or cancelled without penalty. For example we fly first class with fully refundable tickets…because I hate economy or “sardine class” as I like to call it. It’s worth the extra money for a comfortable seat with lots of leg room, a nice meal for hubby and free drinks. I generally don’t eat the meal because of my gluten sensitivity but as the portion sizes are fairly small i.e. California style, I do take the meal and give mine to hubby. I have also learned how to save $800 US per trip using a combination of cash & points for my bookings plus doing each ticket individually (4 tickets for a round trip for the two of us) so that helps make first class much more affordable. I have learned the hard way that just because the airline says a meal is gluten free doesn’t guarantee that it actually is especially when they are outsourcing meal preparations to a third party. It’s no fun being extremely ill for hours in the air with only an airplane washroom to deal with. I prefer to just bring something I have prepared on board… that I know is safe for me to eat. It’s my health issue and I take responsibility for my own care & safety. 🙂

        As you know, I don’t pay for hotels or villas – I use points and there are no penalties for cancellations or changes provided I give them 24 hours notice ahead of the scheduled arrival time.

        My car rentals are with Air Miles so I do take the cancellation insurance just in case I need to make a change. That way I get all my air miles back and can re-book without additional penalty PROVIDING the miles used would not have expired under their new 5-year expiry schedule.

        As I said in WFD this evening, I just booked our Christmas 2017 hotel reservations and I had to be flexible with our arrival and departure dates because 15 months out… that hotel is fully booked for Christmas Eve. There are other hotel options available in the area BUT this is where we like to stay so I just made it work. 🙂

  5. Week 37 – Sept 9 – 15, 2016
    Name Your Store: Superstore
    Total Coupons Used: $
    Total Points =
    Total Out Of Pocket: $

    No shop

    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: $
    Left for the Month: $140
    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: $
    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: $
    Total Price Match to Date: $251.93

    Total PC Points Received this Week Period:
    Total PC Rewards Points Used this Week Period:
    Total PC Rewards To Date:

    Overview: With what we have in the house and what was on the meal plan, there was nothing that was needed this week. We’ll keep the balance of $70 for next week to see what is needed.

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