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How To Cost Control Your Food Budget In 2017-Join The Grocery Game Challenge 2017 #1 Jan 2-8

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Cost control doesn’t mean that you can come up with prices at the grocery store (imagine the chaos) rather it’s about controlling your costs by uncovering where the savings are each week. Regulate cost control of your grocery budget and you will notice that being mindful when you grocery shop really does pay off.

I can’t believe we are starting the fifth year of The Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) which began in 2012 when I started this finance blog. This goes to show you how much of an impact The Grocery Game Challenge has had on our budget and those who participate year after year.

What I’ve found interesting over the years is that for those that joined and bowed out for whatever reason many have come back to try again. Sadly, once you let a month or two go it can be hard to get back on track but not impossible. No matter their decision those of us who continue to post our shops know the importance of being;

  • Organized
  • On-time
  • Open to Change
  • Motivated

For those who have survived my dry British humour and have stuck around over the years have seen some form of success in all facets of their grocery shopping. The biggest obviously being not spending more than the grocery budget allows.

  • We learn from each other
  • We motivate each other
  • We help each other
  • We never give up trying

I’m always excited to read GGC posts from the players every week to find out how they made out grocery shopping. What I really want to see is their overview where the shops are discussed. Have they learned from their mistakes? Are they willing to share them? Are they open to fix them? I want to see that they are making changes to the way they spend and save money. This is why the breakdown of each grocery shop is important along with a weekly overview.

For those of you who join The Grocery Game Challenge 2017 (which is totally free) you will find the financial numbers you document will be a blessing at the end of the year. I know a couple of the GGC players have all their numbers from the past years of playing which help them review their shopping habits and expenses.


Control your expenses with cost control


You are in charge of your grocery budget which means you lead the way with cost control. If you aren’t taking your food expenses seriously you can easily spend double or even triple the amount of money that you can afford. Do you even know how much you can afford to spend? You should. Don’t be the person who can’t figure out where all the money goes every month, document it, budget and be informed. It’s your money after all.

With food prices slowly decreasing near the end of 2016 I’m curious to see what will happen in 2017 and whether that will impact our grocery budget. In 2017 we’ve decided to increase our grocery budget by $25 to include other foods for our 2 1/2-year-old toddler and my wife’s low-carb lifestyle. This means we will have $260 a month to spend on groceries plus a $25 stockpile budget.

For many there is no room to move up so the only way is down or stay the same which means tightening up the grocery list. This may mean less meat, stretching meals and sourcing other ways to save money on groceries.

I know a few of the GGC players will not increase their grocery budget but that doesn’t stop them from pushing to meet their shopping goals. Most times I’m jealous just how well they shop and try to improve our own shops because screwing up is not the name of the game.

It may be tough at times which means we fail one week but we keep going and catch up the best we can. The GGC isn’t about being the perfect shopper it’s about meeting your budget goals and learning about shopping mistakes and how not to make them.

Related: 15 Main Sources For Food Savings In 2017

You can now download the 2017 Grocery Game Schedule and read the updated Grocery Game Challenge 2017 Rules which also includes the new prize structure for those who play along.

I encourage you to begin reading my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide (200 blog posts) as a starting point if food expenses and cost control are your top priorities in 2017. You’ll learn all the tricks, tips and get solid advice from other shoppers on this blog just how they make their grocery budget work. You’ll also learn about ways to save more money if you aren’t hooked up to all the ways to save on food in Canada already.

I wish you all the luck in your shopping journey 2017 and invite you to document your food expenses with Mrs. CBB and I by contributing to The Grocery Game Challenge 2017.

Discussion Question:

How much will your grocery budget be for 2017 and how many people will that feed?

Related: How much should my grocery budget be?


January Grocery Game Challenge


Join in the 2017 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post. Here are The Grocery Game Challenge rules to get you started and where you’ll also find a link for the 2017 GGC schedule. Please feel free to download, save and even print the schedule.

New monthly prize: See the Grocery Game Rules

Congrats to DEE Ballot #6 for winning the last GGC for 2016~

January 2017 Blog Posts:


Free Money Saving Tools 2017


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 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 2017


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 5 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.


2017 Grocery Shop Results


Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2017: $3120 or $260/mth

(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 this Month: $260
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $260
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
  • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 410,000
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $
  • 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 4L 2% Milk Sealtest $4.27
  • 4 x 10% Cream $1.99
  • 2x bags of avocado reduced $0.99
  • 2 x bags of avocado $2.88
  • Romaine Lettuce $1.99
  • Apples $1.87
  • 3 x cauliflower reduced $0.99 each
  • 4 x broccoli doubles $0.95 reduced each pack
  • 1x loaf of white bread $1.50
  • 1 x Little Debbie’s Brownies $2.25
  • 4 x butter $2.88 each
  • 12 x Lactancia cream cheese sale $1.99 each
  • 1 x large whole wheat pita $0.99

Total Out-Of-Pocket $73.93


  • 1 pack Old Mill Crumpets $0.99
  • 3 boxes of Shreddies sale $1.67 each
  • 1 bag of Truvia $1.95 reduced saved $8
  • 2 x old cheddar 1 x mozzarella Black Diamond sale $3.77 each
  • Quaker Instant Oatmeal $1.88
  • 100% Whole Wheat Bread $1.69-50%= $0.85
  • Wonderbread $2.49-50%= $1.25
  • Mild Italian Sausages Club pack $15.07-50%=$7.54
  • 3 x lean ground beef sale $2.95,2.92,2.97
  • Pork Chops $5.47-50%=$2.74

Total Out-Of-Pocket $42.36

  • Total to spend this month : $260
  • Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $0
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $49.66
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $49.66
  • Total spent this week: $116.30
  • Total spent so far this month: $116.30
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: over big time
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: $56.30/over
  • Total left to spend for the month: $260-$116.30=$143.70
  • Total Spent To Date 2017: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

Talk about making use of the new grocery budget. It was hard to control costs this week but we went easy even though there were so many specials out there to stock up on. The year is off to a raging start for us as we stock up on items we’ve been running low on or that we found great deals on. There always seems to be some amazing deals after the holidays and I’m right there to scoop them up if we can.

This particular shop did come with a grocery list as always however those in-store 50% off stickers were worth it for us. The vegetables were so cheap it was hard to pass up. I even had a full package of celery however I forgot it. I was hovering around the 3 large reduced racks holding like 28,000 packages in my arms up to my face waiting for the wife to come back with the shopping cart. Every time she has it she wanders off.

I was protecting my stash of reduced items until she arrived even though I must have looked like the reduced rack security guard who needs to shave. One little old lady asked me if I could grab her the oranges on the top shelf. Sure I said let me just drop these 500 million packages in my arms and I’ll be right with you. Ugh… little old ladies are so loving though.

The cream cheese was an amazing price and doesn’t expire until May so we loaded up on it for the wife who enjoys it more than the block cheese with her meals. Typically cream cheese can run on average $3.79 per 220g when not on sale up to $4.

With one shop being a no-shop every month let’s cross our fingers we at least conquer month one.

Welcome everyone!


Coupons and Coupon Apps 2017


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?

If you notice I’m missing a valuable link please message me and I’ll get it added to the savings list below.

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 2017?

Plus check out these other hidden areas online to get more coupons!!

If any of these links are broken please report them to me.

  • 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 2017 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 2017 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-$20-$50 PC Loblaws Gift Card and for our out of country friends it’s $CDN via PayPal.  Please see GGC rules.
  • 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 2017 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 2017!


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  1. Hello 2017!!!
    I am back 🙂
    I haven’t totaled my 2016 numbers yet but have at least started my 2017 numbers
    Our weekly budget is $125 making this month $500
    $3.20 tomato
    yep that’s right! But it was almost a pound!!
    .88×2 coconut milk
    $2.48 china lily soya sauce
    $2.20 banana
    $1.41 roma tomato
    $5.98 blueberries
    $2.44×2 gingerbread houses – clearance
    $18.71 total oop
    $4.19-50%GMO cheese dip
    $4.79 cream cheese – supposed to get 50% off but it didnt load and didnt notice in time for them to adjust it
    $1.99 perogies
    $1.99 lettuce
    $2.30 ambrosia salad
    $5.39-50%GMO tortilla shells
    $1.95 mushrooms
    $2.50-$1C raspberries
    $2.99 pineapple
    $1.69 kaiser buns
    $2.99×4 cheese -instore sale to match the prices of the grand opening of the news sobeys a few blocks south of our store
    $1.49×6-.75cCx6 activia yogurt
    $2.56 chocolate milk
    $1.56, $5.56 homo milk
    $50.15 total oop
    $5.50 total coupons

    $77.56 weekly total oop
    $5.50 weekly total coupons
    We didn’t need much this week but I will be loading up on the cheese and yogurt this week for sure.

    1. Hi Juanita,
      Why did I just know Juanita was going to come in for the kill at the last minute haha… just like you I guess. Welcome back now that Christmas is over and done. Just bring your receipt in next time. We’ve done that many times to get our money back no issue at all. You could also ring them up to let them know. Does the little one drink homo milk still? I’m curious to know what your coupon usage was for last year. Are you still rolling with the coupons for this year as well? You get ballot #7. Mr.CBB

      1. Hey Mr.CBB
        Yes I try to keep you on your toes 🙂
        Usually I always double check my reciepts and not sure why I didnt that time.
        Yes we all drink homo still.
        I am curious as well!! Hopefully I will get some time to organize and calulate those numbers. Yes I will always been rocking the coupons!!

  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 this Month: $650
    Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $650
    Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
    Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
    Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
    PC Points Plus Earned to date: 54660
    Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $
    Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
    Zweet to cash out : $12.75
    Checkout51 to cash out : $33.25

    Our Grocery Shop This Week

    Foodland #1
    2 Kraft peanut butter @2.99
    1 plum sauce -2.98
    1 4l milk -4.27
    Bananas -.71
    2 Turkey franks @4.99, 50% stickers-2.49 each
    Total out of pocket -$18.92
    Foodland #2
    1 case KD -11.99
    1 jug water -5.49
    1 sunflower oil -4.59
    1 jelly beans -1.50
    3 cans Primo sauce 3/4.00
    3 tomato paste @.59
    2 4l milk @4.27
    1-18 pack large eggs -2.99
    Bananas -1.35
    1 lean ground beef -9.95
    4 packs sausage -4.63, 4.52, 4.45, 4.35, 50% stickers saved 2.32, 2.26, 2.23, 2.18
    1 Parmesan cheese, grated -5.39
    2 bagels @2.49
    Total out of pocket -71.49, 8.99 discounts
    Foodland #3
    1 jug water -5.49
    1 lb butter -3.99
    1 tetra packs orange juice -3.49
    3 Cheerios @2.99
    1 jar gherkin pickles -2.49
    2 Hunts tomato sauce @1.99
    6 cans tomato soup@.50, 15% AM discount on 3 cans-.23
    6 KD @.50
    2 4l milk @4.27
    8 Swanson Turkey pies @.99
    1-15lb bag potatoes -4.99
    Celery -2.99
    1 pack stew beef -8.43
    Total out of pocket -$67.05
    Jackson’s Pharmacy- Health and Beauty
    1 bottle Atoma nepraxen-15.99, buy 10 Atoma products and get one up to $15 free-paid .99
    3 Dove body wash @2.99
    Total out of pocket -$9.96
    Total to spend this month : $260
    Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
    Stockpile budget used this month: $0
    Total coupons used this week: $0
    Total coupons used to date: $0
    Total in-store discounts this week: $29.22
    Total in-store discounts to date: $29.22
    Total spent this week: $157.46
    Total spent so far this month: $157.46
    Total over/Under spend this shop: Under
    Total over/Under spend for the month: under
    Total left to spend for the month: $492.54
    Total Spent To Date 2017: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $
    Health and Beauty -$9.96
    Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
    Under for the first week! I added the health and beauty as a separate list this year and will likely add the cats food, treats and litter as spent but we did a little stocking up late last year so they are in good shape right now for litter, Whiskas and the Temptations. We will be eating our way down in the freezers too so that will help the budget too.

    1. Hi Christine,
      Haha under the first week, funny!!
      You picked up some great deals this week. The sausages were awesome prices as was the peanut butter, soup and Cheerios. I’m curious to see what prices will be like for 2017. Will you be carrying over the overage into the next month if you have any this year? Well done. You get ballot #4 Another year of fun and savings… Mr.CBB

  3. Cornerstone
    Mentos Roll 1.45$
    Out of Pocket – $ 1.45

    Bloor Street Market
    Almond milk 4.29 (+600 PC Plus Points)
    2x large Bagel Twister 2.58
    2x frozen BYO Baguette 3.99 (Sale 1$ off)
    Out of Pocket – $ 10.85

    Bloor Street Market
    4x Blue Menu Frozen Dinner Indian Chicken Korma/Butterchicken (SALE $3.96 off + 5000 PC Points) $12.00
    2x Tropicana Orange Juice Jugs $9.98
    PC Creamy Yoghurt (16x100g) $5.99
    2x Philadelphia Creamcheese (Sale $1.50 off) $6.98
    Tenderflake Pie Shell $4.49
    Green Giant Sweet Peas (frozen) – 1$ coupon $3.29
    Green Giant Corn (frozen) – 1$ coupon $3.29
    PC Organic Green split Peas (Sale -.79$ off) $1.69
    2x Unsweetened Almond Milk (sale 2 for $7, 1.49$ each off plus 1.50$ coupon) $7.00
    Vegetable Bouillon Cubes Organic $3.49
    Avocado (Bag of 6) – CO51 $1.50 $4.99
    PC Organic Potatoes $3.99
    PC Organic Carrots $3.49
    1 Celery Root $1.41
    1 bag Clementines (1200 PC Points + 0.25$ Zweet) $5.99
    PC Free from smoked Sausage $5.49
    ACE Baguette $2.99
    Fresh Spinach&Cheese Cannelloni (Coupon 1$+2$ off SALE) $6.99

    Out of Pocket – $ 92.04

    Grocery Gateway
    4x Orangejuice (BOGO) $4.49 for 2 $8.98
    2x Avocado $3.98
    Organic Bananas 1 bunch $2.62
    Savoy Cabbage $1.83
    Cendre de Pres Cheese $7.04
    Astro yoghurt 12x100g $6.99
    Deep Dish Pie Shell, frozen $4.49
    Watermelon chunks and Blueberries (Sale – $2 off) $5.99
    4 l Organic Milk $9.49
    HST $2.08
    Delivery $3.00 (had a store credit of $7)
    Out of pocket – $56.49

    Total to spend this month : $320
    Stockpile budget 2017: $240.00 ($20/month)
    Stockpile budget used this month: $0
    Total coupons used this week: $4.50
    Total coupons used to date: $4.50
    Total in-store discounts this week: $24.71
    Total in-store discounts to date: $24.71
    Total spent this week: $162.34
    Total spent so far this month: $162.34
    Total over/Under spend this shop: $82.34 over
    Total over/Under spend for the month: $0(under)
    Total left to spend for the month: $320-$162.34=$157.66
    Total Spent To Date 2017: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $162.34


    O.k. I made a post yesterday and thought I was o.k. – despite being sucked in using a few coupons and cash back and store offers. And then I missed the deadline to cancel an online order with a grocery delivery service that I had put in for Sunday, just in case I wasnt feeling well enough to go to the market.

    And to make it worse I remembered that I had received a HelloFresh Box for Christmas. It’s a home delivery service that portions out ingredients for 3 meals (and 2 people). So on Tuesday I have enough ingredients coming to feed me until Friday! Yikes!!!

    Well… there I had it! Suddenly I was DROWNING in groceries, while I thought I really only needed “a few things”. UGH!!!
    Anxiety, Panic, Guilt … it was a big storm for about an hour or two. And then I decided to accept the challenge and work with it!
    So what I spent half my budget for January in a day?
    Milk, Yoghurt, some vegetables will keep for a few more days and I’ll just have to precook and freeze (if I find space) or share with my friends and neighbours. In fact, I am baking a wild blueberry pie right now and will bring it when I see a friend this afternoon. I hope she’ll take it off my hands and enjoy it with her husband.

    Luckily, when I went to the store yesterday, I was walking and didn’t have my trolley with me (“I just need a few things” – yeah right….), so I had to leave the organic coconut milk and organic brown sugar that were all on sale at the store. My arms were long and numb when I got home anyway.

    While I could have saved a lot more money by not buying organic items or going to the further away No Frills, I am ok with that and want to see if I can manage to buy mostly organic within budget. We’ll see how the rest of January works out. It’s a mess, but not a bad one per se. Having too much food is better than having too little!

    Meals planned for this week (based on what needs to go first and little to no room in the freezer)
    – oven baked risotto with butternut squash and kale
    – braised savoy cabbage with salt, pepper and butter
    – Apple Pie
    – Blueberry Pie (gift for a friend)
    – Rice Pudding with sweet cherries (using up milk and frozen cherries, 5x breakfasts)

    Tue-Friday from the Hello Fresh Box:
    – Steak Strips with roasted sweet potatoes and spring mix salad with cherry tomatoes
    – Chicken Chow Mien with Broccoli and Water Chestnuts
    – Couscous and Lentil Salad with Tahini Lemon Dressing

    Friday / Weekend
    – green pea soup with smoked sausages
    – oven baked risotto with butternut squash and kale
    – cannelloni a la pesto

    1. Hey Brigit,
      What a lovely, organized GGC you have. 🙂 Welcome to the GGC 2017 and I must say I love your enthusiasm for your budget and for the team. Before we start, I’d like a blueberry pie as well. It’s not often I read about homemade gifts of food for friends.
      The humour in your post is awesome!! Don’t stop smiling and looking at the brighter side of situations.
      I love the variety in your meal plan as well. Is this because of the food box you received or is this a typical type of meal plan for you? We’re horrible at sticking to our meal plan as so much changes in our week but we always do one up for grocery shopping purposes. It can get tough when we venture off the path too much.
      Sometimes having no basket or trolley at the grocery store is a good thing. I know what you mean when you say you’re only going for “one item” or a “few things” and end up with loads more. This is another reason we started the GGC as it was getting out of hand for us.

      I think your January will become a learning experience for you. I’m interested to see how it all unfolds now that you have really challenged yourself from the start.

      Anxiety, Panic, Guilt … it was a big storm for about an hour or two. And then I decided to accept the challenge and work with it!

      We all go through emotions when we want to do something well and I hope that we can all take what you said above here and adopt that mindset. Good for you.

      The shops you buy food at are they in close proximity to your house? Going organic is great and we can certainly taste the difference. The only time we buy organic is if it is 50% off or cheaper than the non-organic.

      I’m also interested in your cous-cous and lentil salad with tahini lemon dressing. Is that your recipe? Sounds delicious.

      Well done B…. you’ve got this.
      You get ballot #3.
      Welcome to GGC 2017.

      1. Thanks Mr. CBB!

        The shops are all downtown, yes. Since I don’t have a car I am stuck with fairly expensive places. And once in a while I treat myself to getting heavy items delivered. I do have a No Frills in walking distance though and going forward – if it’s not as cold as it was this weekend – I am hoping to be able to go there for some stocking up.

        Choosing local, organic products is important to me for a number of reasons. Mostly health but also environmental (less pesticides, insecticides etc). Unfortunately they rarely are cheaper than the “regular” options. But I have decided to rather not eat meat and use the money saved to buy organic as much as possible – despite the higher price -, especially when it comes to “the dirty dozen” (Strawberries, Apples, Nectarines, Peaches, Celery, Grapes, Cherries, Spinach Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers). Same applies to Kale and leafy greens.

        The couscous and lentil salad is part of the fresh box and they have posted the recipe online! It does sound good, doesn’t it? I am curious to see if it will also taste good.


        1 can green lentils
        170g Israeli Couscous
        1 Carrot
        1 Onion
        60g Arugula
        1 lemon
        2-3 cloves garlic
        2 tsp mediterranean spice blend
        1/3 cup tahini
        1 bouillon cube / vegetable broth concentrate
        14g mint leaves fresh
        Olive Oil

        1 Prep: Wash and dry all produce. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the carrot into 1/4-inch rounds. Mince or grate the garlic. Zest, then juice the lemon. Drain and rinse the lentils.
        2 Cook the couscous: Add the couscous to the boiling water. Cook until the couscous is tender, 9-10 min.
        3 Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium heat. Add a drizzle
        of oil, then the onion and carrot. Cook until the onion is golden- brown and the carrot is tender, 6-7 min. Add the lentils, vegetable broth concentrate(s) and spice blend. Stir until warmed through, 1-2 min. Remove from the heat.
        4 Make the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk the tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and 3 tbsp water (double for 4 people) with a generous drizzle of oil. Season with salt and pepper.
        5 Assemble the salad: Drain the couscous. Add to the dressing along with the lentil mixture. Gently toss in the arugula. Divide between bowls and tear over the mint leaves. Enjoy!

        NUTRITIONAL FACT: Tahini, a Middle-Eastern ingredient made of sesame seeds, is a good source of Thiamine. Also known as Vitamin B1, it is imperative for healthy brain and nervous system function!

        1. Brilliant thanks for the recipe!!! That’s probably why the grocery delivery service industry is so big in the GTA… even where we are it’s popular. What heavy items might you order through a service?

          1. Larger bags of potatoes, heavier vegetables in general, soft drinks, juice and bottled water especially in the summer when I feel I need a stash (as a supplement to tap water), watermelons, large bags of flour, sugar, canned vegetables etc.

            Once a few things come together it makes sense for me. My little shopping cart is great, but I would still have to do multiple trips to get everything home. Especially if it’s on sale and I want to stock up.

            My argument: I don’t have a car and save a lot of money and gas and CO2 by walking or taking transit. But once in a while $10 for a delivery service are well worth my time, energy and sanity.

          2. With the money you save on gas and insurance I can see why spending 10 bucks for delivery is no big deal. I can’t imagine having to lug groceries around that are heavy in such a busy city. Do you have one of those grocery carts on wheels?

  4. I am in Alberta so no Metro or Food Basis here.The crockpot is wonderful for beans and I use that method as well. As far as pressure cookers go I just started using one about a year ago, was gifted a brand new one still in the box, I do know if yours in old, the rubber ring will need to be checked, they deteriorate over time and you won’t get a great seal. Newer ones have a safety feature that releases pressure if too much is building up so you can’t blow a hole in your ceiling.I found a method to test the old ones to see if they are still working well, here you go!!
    I use the site below for tips and recipes, good luck!!

  5. • Name Your Store : Independent
    • Total Coupons Used: $
    • Total Out Of Pocket: $76.01

    • Maruchan bowl x 2 $4.58
    • Nescafe instant coffee x 2 $10.98
    • Heinz spaghetti X 2 $1.98
    • PC seafood Sauce $1.28
    • Springwater PC $4.79 plus 4.90 deposit
    • Campbells Chunky Soup $2.49
    • Campbells Chunky Soup $2.49
    • Chef boy Ardee Spaghetti $1.99
    • Unico Pizza Sauce $.89
    • Ichiban Noodles x 2 $1.78
    • Tropicana juice $3.99 plus .60 deposit
    • Beatrice choc milk 2 liter $2.49 plus .32 deposit
    • 2 x blackberry ½ pints $5.00
    • Avocado bag $2.50
    • Organic mushrooms x2 5.98 less 50% $2.98
    • Romaine 3 pack $2.50
    • Bartlett pears 1.3kg $$5.58
    • Yellow peppers 5.10 less 50% $2.55
    • Goat Feta Cheese 6.99 less 50% $3.49
    • Maple Leaf herb and garlic salami 6.99 less 50% $3.49
    • PC distilled water 1.99 plus .37 deposit

    • Name Your Store : Coop
    • Total Coupons Used: $2.00
    Total Out Of Pocket: 39.95
    2 x Uncle Ben’s Rice: 6.99 clear-out $2.99
    Lundberg brown rice: $8.99 clear-out $3.99
    9.8 kg Pork Shoulder @ 1.48 per pound

    • Name Your Store : IGA
    • Total Coupons Used:
    Total Out Of Pocket: 5.00
    5 Mango @ $1.00 each

    Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)

    • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $750.00
    • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $750.00
    • Total Gift Cards used to date: $
    • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $
    • Total Rewards Points used to date: $
    • PC Points Plus Earned to date:202375
    • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)to date
    • Airmiles Points:450
    Zweet to date: $4.75
    • Cart Smart to date:$
    • Checkout51 to date: $14.00
    • to date: $
    • Caddle to date: 9.00
    • Optimim Points:162,000

    GROCERY SHOP THIS WEEK (add any other sections you need to show expenses and savings)
    • Stockpile budget 2017 ($75.00):$900.00
    • Stockpile budget used to date: $39.96
    • Total coupons used this week: $2.00
    • Total coupons used to date: $2.00
    • Total in-store discounts this week:$60.50
    • Total in-store discounts to date: $60.50
    • Total spent this week: $120.96
    • Total over/Under spend this shop: $under
    • Total over/Under spend for the month: $
    • Total left to spend for the month: $668.99
    • Total Spent To Date 2017: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $
    Weekly Overview (your final thoughts):
    • This wasn’t a normal shopping week for me, most of the convenience food was purchased for a winter camping trip for my son and it was items not normally purchased.
    • The Coop shop was strictly stock pile as we are using the meat to make pepperoni and Italian sausage for the freezer this weekend, I can’t remember the last time I paid 1.48 a pound for pork shoulder, wonderful timing. The rice was a great find at that price with coupons and we were running low.
    • I didn’t need many staples as I did a lot of stock up after Christmas and hit some great sales so I am hoping to make it to mid week to purchase anything else.
    I certainly thought twice shopping today knowing I would have to account for my purchases here!!
    I have a question regarding the reward points. Are we to list what we have made so far or just the balances we have at this time? For instance if I use all my Pc points would I list it as zero and then start over?

    1. Hi Julie,
      Welcome to the Grocery Game Challenge #5!! All of the players are very friendly and welcoming and I’m sure you’ll have a fun year with us saving money.
      First off your post is perfect. Now if you want to add to it you can do so.

      I’m pretty sure all of us think about the GGC when we shop which helps us control those urges. It’s not easy and sometimes we fail but we get back up and try again. The most important thing to do if you fall off the path is to make up for it so your budget balances at the end of the year. The worst thing anyone could do is set up a budget, over-spend one month and not catch up the next. This is how budgets can fail.
      The stockpile budget is great for those extra shopping items you need such as the winter camping trip for your son.
      For the rewards points you can track both if you’d like. This is your tracking system. You start with the outline I give you and then you can build on what you want to track. Just be cautious how much you want to add so you don’t get overwhelmed with numbers each week.

      We track the rewards numbers to date and document if we cash in any of them. This gives us a yearly figure of how much money in rewards we were able to use towards our grocery shops.
      SO if you have 10,000 PC Points and decide to use them that’s $10 off your bill. You can document that you used $10 of PC rewards points for that shop, how many points it was and what you have left for rewards points. In this case you might have 0 points left unless you earned more on the grocery shop you are paying for with rewards. I hope that makes sense. In my head it does.
      To simplify… rewards points tracking is for your benefit. Track them however you wish depending on the data you wish to achieve.

      Awesome deals on the rice clear-outs and the pork price, wow! This is where the GGC can get tricky for us especially. When we create our list to shop but run into some spectacular deals in store.
      We ask ourselves…
      Is the sale the best sale and worth it to us?
      Can we make up the budget if we overspend?
      How much money do we have left in the budget to grocery shop for the month?
      This is the mindful part of grocery shopping and balancing a budget that Mrs. CBB and I are terrible at and have been working to improve on the past 5 years. Those in-store deals and 50% off sales are tempting.

      Brilliant first shop Julie, it’s perfect from my end. Add anything you’d like to track from this point forward if you wish. If you have any questions please ask and we’ll all help out. 🙂 You’re not alone with the GGC gang.

      You get ballot #2 for the monthly draw.

  6. The full freezers of game are appreciated when I look at meat prices! For freezer cooking we do a lot of soups, Thai chicken coconut, chicken tortilla, Dal Pak and jambalaya soup are a few of our favorites. I find soup so economical and the leftovers work well for lunches.Cabbage rolls and lasagna are favorites. We also make freezer breakfast burritos and English muffin breakfast sandwiches for the freezer to make mornings easier as all four of us run on different schedules! I also pressure cook chickpeas and black beans and freeze them for easy dishes.
    The bulk of my shopping is done at Superstore and Independent Grocers, the Independent store in my city is in a fairly new area with a lot of construction going on and I find the clearance exceptional because they just aren’t that busy yet. I also shop IGA and Coop for the loss leader items in the weekly flyers. I do price match regularly, my city is fairly small ,so I have no more than a few minutes to any location.

    1. Hi Julie,
      WOW you’re going to have to share some of those recipes and photos!! They sound delicious. We love when we prep food in the freezer but this last 2 years has been so crazy for us with the baby and working two jobs. Loblaws stores have the best deals by far as well Food Basics. Sometimes Metro has smashing deals as well. That’s not bad that you have a quick drive to the shops. Ok, so my wife has a pressure cooker that was her grandmothers and was gifted to her. We haven’t used it yet as we aren’t experienced with them. Any tips? We do our beans in the crockpot.. chickpeas and black beans.
      Your reward points just list what you currently have.
      If you use some of them just list what you have left.
      When you post your shops you just mention that the bill came to $50 for example but I also used $25 in PC Points
      Remember the tracking is all for you. At the end of the year you can look back and see how you made out. Those numbers are the best and worth investing a bit of time into one of the biggest budget category gobblers that most people overspend in. 🙂
      I hope that helps. I see your post in moderation right now. 🙂

    2. I was also going to mention to come and chat with us if you have time nightly on the CBB Facebook page from 5-10pm in our What’s For Dinner thread. Almost all of the GGC players chat in there too. We talk about food, share recipes, photos and just about anything else. A great gang.

  7. Thanks for having me!! Yes i shop weekly, we have 4 adults here, (two children left at home attending college) and a granddaughter that is with us a few times a week after school for meals, and I always seem to have extra at the table with my children’s friends here often. I love to cook and do twice a month freezer cooking with another daughter that is married and on her own. I feel I impulse buy too much at the grocery store, passing up a deal is hard for me!! My situation is somewhat unique because my husband and son are avid hunters (not that it is an inexpensive hobby) so we have a freezer full of elk, moose, pheasant, duck and fish. I only buy beef occasionally and buy chicken and pork. I am excited to get started!!

    1. Now that sounds like my Mother-in-law and father-in-laws house. He hunts and they have 3 large freezers in the basement. We also struggle with the deals but are working extra hard this year to say no or balance our yes and no. What types of meals would you cook for the freezer? If you shop weekly that’s perfect! What grocery stores do you like to visit? Mr.CBB

  8. Well after reading the grocery game challenge faithfully for the past two years I am going to join the challenge. I have read the rules and feel I can commit!! I hope it isn’t too late for me to post the first week!!

    1. Hi Julie,
      Congratulations on taking the dive in with us. You’ll see how much better you feel about your shopping habits. Not at all you can post your shop now! I post a new GGC every Tuesday as you already know. Post as you shop in the according weeks. Do you shop weekly?

    1. Hi Nicole,
      Have you by chance read The Grocery Game Rules?
      If not I’ve linked them above. If yes and you’re unsure where to post your grocery shops I’ll tell you now.
      You post it in the comment section of each weeks Grocery Game Challenge Post just like you did this question today. I will moderate it and approve it with my comments about your shop and give you a ballot number for the monthly draw. Any other questions please ask and I’ll help you through it. Mr.CBB

    2. Welcome Julie and Nicole!

      I hope you’ll enjoy the experience!! For me 2016 was the first year that I participated and it was really an eye opener how MUCH I spent on things I didn’t need or worse, that went to waste later on!

      The postings will come in today and tomorrow I think… I am planning to do some grocery shopping today and post my weekly results when I’m back home.

      Looking forward to seeing your hauls and maybe meal plans you’ve thought about!


  9. YES!!! I am in and very excited to get started! This week my sister is still visiting from overseas, so my spending will be quite different to “normal” weeks. I am still planning to submit my shopping at the end of the week and am looking forward to see other people’s shops!
    Happy New Year to all of you!!

  10. JANUARY – Week #1 of 5- Jan 2-8, 2017


    •Total Grocery Budgeted For Year: $190.00 x 12 = $2,280.00 for 2 adults << For the 5th straight year!!



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


    $ 190.00 for the 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
    ($ 45.00) trf to US Reserve –normally $45.00

    CANADIAN Grocery Balance $100.00


    We beefed up the US Reserve again because we will be shopping in the US in both January & February but then not again until April.

    We are still up to our eyeballs in the holiday purchases in our fridges & pantry and working our way thru the yummy leftovers so this weeks grocery NEEDS are very minimal.

    I'm going to focus on need vs want this year. Short of an apocalypse or nuclear war, this will not be the very last chance I have to purchase a given item & the item in question can either wait for the week when I am actually going to use it or if it's a really hot sale, I'll revamp the grocery list to include it but push back the groceries I won't need this week as a result to next week's list. This means, I will have 2 grocery lists on the go at the same time…the list for this week and the one for next week. I will print off both when I go to the store so that I can "on the fly" rearrange the planned menu to enjoy reduced pricing.

    You'll notice that I have changed the format of my posts. If you want to know what I am making for our meals with the groceries purchased, you'll find that now on the What's For Dinner feed each night. Concentrating on my "on the fly" maximizing of savings mean what I post on a Monday may or may not be the actual weekly menu depending on what day I shop and if we spot a super duper sale after my post is up. Anything purchase after my post is up will be recorded in the following week's reporting.



    Save On Foods – Maple Ridge –

    1 x 4L Skim Milk $4.69

    Total Regular Grocery OOP: $4.69

    ** Earned 5 MORE Points on this shop **
    ** SAVED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $0.00 Loyalty Savings on this shop **


    No Frills – Maple Ridge –

    4 cans Royal Castle Traditional Butter Cookies 454g @ $2.98 ea = $11.92 << Lunch treats for hubby as I can't
    make them for this price

    Total Regular Grocery OOP: $11.92

    ** Earned 0 PC.PLUS 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: $0.00

    •Total Coupons/Rain Checks Used This Year: $0.00

    •Total Price Match Savings Used This Year: $0.00

    •Total More Points Earned This Year: 5 Points

    •Total Air Miles Earned This Year: 0 Air Miles

    •Total PC PLUS Points Earned This Year: 0 Points

    •Total Optimum Points Earned This Year: 0 Points



    $ 190.00 Grocery Budget JAN

    ($ 90.00) 2017 NET RESERVE TRANSFERS

    ($ 16.61) Actual CASH SPENT



    $ 148.74 Freezer Re-Stocking Fund
    $ 95.70 Holiday Season Fund + $140 RCSS POINTS + $10 Dream Air Miles.
    $ 653.54 Summer Season Fund
    $ 466.46 US Shopping Reserve
    $ 0.00 Points Redeemed Reserve


    This means the $1,274.44 that we carried forward from 2016 PLUS $90.00 that we have added to the reserves in 2017, LESS $0.00 that we have drawn out for use in 2017.


    1. Hi Mary,

      Welcome to 2017 GGC year 5! wow.

      I just thought maybe I’d ask if you could explain how your reserves work for any of the GGC readers that are interested. How do you know how much you need to save every month? I agree any of the holiday cookies on sale you can’t make for the price they offer them. We were at Canadian Tire and they had a massive shortbread cookie gift box for $5.xx and the wife asked if I wanted it. I didn’t want it but that was a super deal.

      Your grocery goals are great for the year. If more shoppers adopted this type of mindset they’d see how much easier grocery shopping would be. We’re also focusing on only buying what we will eat or need. We could certainly do with a pantry purge which is likely going to happen. Anything that is still in date will be donated.

      If we post our GGC and buy a few bits after we also post it the following week.

      Well here’s to another successful year Mary!!

      You get ballot #1.
      Mr.CBB 🙂

      1. My “Reserves” are based on a few things:

        1. We usually shop in the US every couple of months for items that are cheaper on the other side of the border or are not available here in Canada and I like to have $150-$200 available for when I shop. This reserve is all about making sure I have the funds for my next cross border shop.

        2. My “Holiday” reserve is for Valentine’s Day, Easter, birthdays, anniversary, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I save these funds so we can have “splurges” as well as the normal grocery budget to fund our celebrations. For example, last Christmas we picked up a couple of Ribeye steaks on the 12 Days of Christmas sale that would not have been part of the normal weekly budget except that we could tap our holiday reserve for the extra $10. Baking supplies and treats come from here as well.

        3. My “Summer” reserve is all about fresh fruit and vegetables from the farmer’s markets and orchards for eating, freezing, dehydrating and canning. I figure get it while it is cheap and flavor packed!

        4. The “Re-Stocking” reserve is just as it suggests…re-stocking the freezer and pantry when the prices are low. For example a CBBer and I were chatting last night about the price of tomatoes at this time of year. I won’t buy fresh. Instead, I am well stocked with No Salt Diced Tomato 28 oz. cans that I pick up when they are on sale for $0.98 a can. I get a little panicky when my supply falls below 3 dozen cans because I eat tomatoes absolutely every day…either in a dish or soup or just as a side dish.

        As to how much to save? Well, there’s only 2 of us and experience has given me some idea what I will need BUT you will find that I will shrink, expand, or re-allocate funds between the reserves throughout the year depending on what I need & when I need it. That’s why I give you what the transfers “normally” are. 🙂

      1. Thanks but did you notice that only leaves us $90/month for groceries? I can get away with that because I have a very well stocked pantry. If I had to, we could make meals for 6 months to a year just using what we have in the house. 🙂

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