The Grocery Game | Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

12 Practical Ways To Afford Expensive Food For Less : The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 #4 Sept 26-Oct 3


The most expensive meal you will ever eat is the one you can’t afford.


When you crave the most expensive steak but your budget can’t afford it there are ways to get what you want but the key is, patience. Luxury food differs from person to person depending on their grocery budget but it is possible to splurge without paying the price.

Most frugal consumers read the flyers and create their grocery list based on that alone. If you really want something that you just can’t afford it’s important to be mindful when you grocery shop. By that I mean scanning for prices. You may not be able to buy it at that moment but eventually you’ll get what you want.

We get a bit happy in the grocery store if we find 50% off packages of bacon or other expensive food that we would never buy full-price unless we had to. Even then we may never buy some of the more expensive food on sale because it’s not practical for our family.

Over the years we’ve experienced just about every way possible to purchase expensive food that we wouldn’t typically try for less. You may buy a fattier pack of bacon because it’s cheaper but when the expensive bacon goes on sale for the same price or less that’s when you stock up. Even then we’ve found premium bacon on sale and half-price making it cheaper than the least expensive brand in the bunker.

The wife and I were talking about this last week as we left the grocery store with milk as we had exceeded our grocery budget for the month. Mrs. CBB said to me, “You know we save so much money grocery shopping for reduced expensive food”. She’s right, we do and it all boils down to knowing your prices, room in your grocery budget, having a stockpile budget or extra cash to spend.

Below in no particular order are practical ways you can score the expensive food for less money.


Grocery Shop with a friend


What you could do in this situation is share a rewards card between 2 families and split the rewards. I don’t know if there is any fine print around this but I can’t imagine grocery stores and other rewards cards being too worried about it as long as money was being spent to achieve reward status.

By splitting a rewards card that gives you points when you grocery shop at the end of the year you can split the points 50/50. The key here is to find someone who shops at the same store and spends reasonably the same amount of money as you do.

Another great promo you could take advantage of is the spend x amount of dollars and get x amount in points back. So, if a Loblaws store offers Spend $150 get 20,000 PC Plus points which is worth $20 you could grocery shop together and then split the rewards points by paying cash to your friend.

This is a great idea especially if you know you might only spend $100 or that’s all you have in your budget. The only catch is that you have to put your order together to cash out so you either need to have cash to pay or cash to give whoever pays the full amount your portion for groceries.


Mail-In Rebate/ Try Me Free


This is the most obvious way to enjoy expensive food that you wouldn’t typically purchase. Keep your eyes peeled for promos or even peelie stickers on products that offer a mail-in-rebate or try me free marketing promo.

Related: How to grocery shop for free

The only catch to this is that you have to wait for your rebate to come in the mail. Some companies still offer free product coupons which is another target way to reach customers to try new products or existing products that need customer engagement. If people aren’t talking the product will be lost among the rest.

One example is almost free baby food. Our son used powder baby formula and pre-made formula to supplement breast-milk when he was a baby. Lucky for us (right)we picked one of the most expensive brands of formula because we didn’t know any better as new parents.

Enfamil is a pricey baby formula but you can always find coupons even if it’s only $5 off. Over the past 2 years we’ve seen coupons for $20 off Enfamil which is a HUGE savings for any parent. Although the product isn’t new this is a marketing plan used to entice parents to buy Enfamil or to keep on using it so the baby gets used to it.


Join a Food Panel


Mrs. CBB and I have been on many food panels in our years and the great thing about them is we get to eat free expensive food that we’d likely never buy. We are the voice for food manufacturers for marketing products all the way to taste and price points.

The best part is you’ll also get paid for doing it whether it be a focus group or becoming a secret shopper or joining the Nielsen Homescan Panel where you scan and earn points for gift cards and other free products in Canada.

(Note affiliate links above)


Work at a Grocery Store


If you want top pick on expensive food when it goes on sale or happens to be reduced working in a grocery store is a good place to be.  Many grocery store employees also get a discount on their groceries which means more savings for foods that typically might be purchased.


Reduced Products


This is the number one way we get to enjoy expensive food for far cheaper than regular price. We are food scanners which means when we grocery shop we have our radar on the go looking at prices. Products are labelled differently so concentration is important.

We’ve enjoyed cheap prices on expensive food such as organic produce, cuts of meat, lunch-meat/deli-meat, cheese, pasta and other food products we’d never buy full-price and may consider if on sale.

So far for 2016 we’ve saved nearly $500 on expensive food that was reduced in price by 50%. On occasion we may find something on sale along with a reduced price tag but only 30-40%. As long as the math works out and we’re happy with the price, we’ll take it.

The hard part is knowing when to say no because you can hike up your grocery expenses if you’re not careful. This is why we implemented a stockpile budget.


Rewards Points/ Loyalty Cards


If you don’t collect rewards points when you grocery shop you might as well throw money out the window. I don’t care what anyone says but if the opportunity presents itself where you can earn points for free food or other products with a rewards card or loyalty card you decline, you’re a fool or too rich to care.

Related: PC MasterCard is worth the Grocery Savings

Right now we have over $300 in PC Plus Points which means we could splurge buying expensive food or better quality than we are used to free or stretch that money to go further. This is free money so you can do what you please with it. Be Frugal or Be Free to spend.


Bulk shopping


Buy more save more is something you will see at the grocery store to encourage shoppers to spend money. The great part about bulk shopping at the grocery store buying larger sized products is buying multiples is that the deal can be lucrative.

Related: Is buying in Bulk worth it?

I’ve seen shoppers buy 1 of an item which costs them more than if 2 were purchased. Some people don’t care but for those who are budget conscious it’s important to always do the math. Figure out whether what you are buying is a deal or not.




Using coupons is probably one of the top ways to buy expensive food for less. There have been many times that we opt for cheap over quality just because we can’t afford to spend more.

Over the years using coupons and now coupon apps such as Checkout51 we’ve been able to score great deals on expensive food and other products you’d never see in our shopping cart otherwise.


Scanning Code of Practice


Everyone should know about The Scanning Code of Practice by now as it has been all over the internet for years. For those of you that don’t know about it, read about it by clicking the link above. Once your SCOP radar is on you will almost always find something that is priced wrong and if you’re lucky it will be the expensive food that you need to buy that’s not on sale.

We needed to buy ricotta for a lasagna we were making once only to find out that a little container of a quality ricotta was on sale for $7.99 and we needed 2. That’s one pricey lasagna but we were having guests over for dinner. When we went to cash out we noticed that the ricotta rang in at $9.99 which was even more shocking but we let the cashier know so she applied SCOP and we got 1 free.


In-Store Promotion


I always say never to buy anything that is not on your grocery list but you know that’s easier said than done. Not that I’m advocating spending money that you don’t have budgeted for, however if you find a deal on expensive food you may want to reconsider.

For example, you go grocery shopping with your food list only to find out the grocery store has an in-store promo on Parmigiano Reggiano which is a very expensive food. You can pay upwards of $20 lb for this cheese. We’ve seen it go on sale unexpectedly twice now for 50% off and we just can’t say no. The most expensive food likely uses the best ingredients and when it comes to cheese there is no comparison.


Win Expensive Food


Every time I turn on the computer there is a contest waiting for us to enter. Plenty of companies and organic farmers who market on Facebook for example hold giveaways of their food.

Enter to win when you can even if it’s a simple survey on the back of your receipt. Some of those surveys when completed offer you a coupon or you’re entered to win money or free groceries.

My wife won an online Facebook contest once for Mother’s Day which landed her a cool $200 in President’s Choice Gift Cards. That extra money gave us the opportunity to buy food we wouldn’t typically buy or stretch it to buy more.

Over the holidays and other gatherings such as a stag and doe they may have a draw to win a turkey or other cuts of meat that are expensive. No harm in helping to support the bride and groom and possibly walking away with a food prize.


Say YES to dinner invitations


If you get invited out for dinner that you don’t have to pay for, don’t say no. Jump on the opportunity to enjoy foods that you may not typically buy as they are out of your budget range. You may also enjoy recipes that you’ve never heard of before but are simple to make.

My wife’s sister for instance has some pretty amazing dinner parties so we always go. We watch our nephew without cost to them which we don’t mind and they feed us like a King and Queen. In fact anyone they feed gets to eat some pretty amazing food. They don’t hold back when it comes to buying seafood, quality cuts or meat or other expensive food because they can afford it. We never leave starving and appreciate their kind gesture.




Every time we visit my Mother-in-law and Father-in-law during the summer months we’re always doing something to help them out. Whether it’s weeding, house repairs or building something I do what I can because they have health issues and can’t do things on their own any longer.

We never accept money from them nor do we expect anything in return for helping them out. They are so grateful that they send us home with lots of organic fruits and vegetables which we would normally never buy. Plus, they cook us some fantastic meals.

Buying organic can be pricey unless you shop the sales or find reduced products but overall you’ll pay near double if not more than regular food items. Our neighbour up the road is in his early 90’s and still has a vegetable garden every summer. Whenever he needs any help I’m there to offer it and he sends me home with organic tomatoes and garden flowers for our yard.


Expensive Food Items We Get For Less


  • Yogurt, Cream, Milk and Cheese with a short-date code
  • Meat and Seafood including bacon, ham, lunch-meat
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Bread is always reduced
  • Organic free-range eggs
  • Cereal
  • Instant coffee
  • Frozen items such as Burgers
  • Ice-cream

Overall, if you want something you can get it but you must learn the secrets to grocery shopping and put in the efforts before you go, while you’re there and when you get home. The process is the key to saving money.

Discussion Question:

How do you look for deals when you grocery shop?


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



  • 2 x 2% Sealtest milk $4.27 each

Total Out-of-Pocket $8.54

  • Total to spend this month : $235.00-$5.23 overage from August= $229.77
  • Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $25.00
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $15.36
  • Total in-store discounts this week:$8.54
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $482.34
  • Total spent this week: $53.03- $1.06 to stockpile= $51.97
  • Total spent so far this month: $238.12
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: over
  • Total over/Under spend for the month:  -$8.38
  • Total left to spend for the month: $8.38 carry over to October
  • 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 $238.12

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

All we needed this week was milk which put us over for the month but not by too much. Our son is teething again with his molars coming in which is likely why he’s not eating again and only drinking milk and water. Next shop we’ll be stocking up.


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)
  • Danone Coupons Get up to $25 in coupons
  • 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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