Grocery Shopping Tips | The Grocery Game

10 Everyday Products You Should Sniff Test Before Buying

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product sniff test
Sniff everyday products before you buy them at the grocery store.
Sniff everyday products before you buy them at the grocery store.

Never Underestimate The Power Of Quality

To smell is a gift, and most often, we shop with our eyes and nose because trying products first isn’t always an option.

For this reason, you’ll see customers hovering around the sample booth on the weekends when the aroma of food permeates the air.

Even displays of household products become attractive if customers can see products work.

Costco is another store that offers samples to customers, and the smell hits you the moment you walk into the store.

Scent Markers Throughout A Store

It’s not uncommon to find out that a grocery store has artificial aroma sensors strategically placed around the store to motivate shoppers to buy more.

These scent machines are far less expensive than hiring a sample company, and they work.

At Staples Canada, a couple of years back, we could smell the aroma of delicious coffee throughout the store as it caught us off guard.

As coffee lovers, it hit us hard, and we wanted a coffee.

When we were checking out at the cash, we asked the cashier if they sold coffee, and she said yes but that there was an aroma sensor on one of the main beams in the store.

She pointed over to it, and we felt like we had just got Punked. (that means tricked into believing we smelled and wanted coffee)

Sniffing and smelling both have the same meaning, and when it comes to product purchases, we should be using our nose smells to guide our wallets.

Let’s forget about all the genius ways the stores are marketing the air sniff to capture customer attention and focus on our nose for a moment.

Smell or Price

What’s more important?

I asked this question last night on CBB Facebook;

Question: What is the main reason that you buy a product? Is it the smell or the price that Is most important?

If both are a MUST for you, are you willing to pay more money for the product?

Judy Finch Conte replied;

Both is a must. I will wait for a sale to stock up and I will even stock up if I’m already stocked up from the last sale.

CanadianBudgetBinder Judy Finch Conte stock up the stock up, lol.

So if you find a brand that smells good, you’ll wait until a sale comes around and then stock up; otherwise, no, you won’t buy it at the regular price.

Exactly except I need unscented products or stuff that smells like a pure citrus.

You wouldn’t believe how many “unscented” products still have a light perfume scent to them.

CanadianBudgetBinder: Judy Finch Conte, is that false advertising in your eyes?

Judy Finch Conte: Not really. It may not have perfume added but the other ingredients combined kind of make its own scent or it could be the smell of plastic.

Fair enough, I thought and all the better reason to sniff what you buy IF you can without opening a sealed or boxed product.

Many other fans chimed in with their reaction to the sniff test, and surprisingly many of them do smell before they buy.

Others are hesitant or feel awkward as it’s not a practice you often see people do. Although if a person does sniff test a product, it’s done quickly.

So what are some products you should do the sniff test on before you buy? I came up with 10 or so products with the help of my fans and Mrs. CBB.

Sniff Produce

I don’t know about you, but adding sniff time to grocery shopping might cut into my lunch hour, but if you fail to take a moment to do so, you’ll likely end up with items you don’t want.

Every good chef who buys produce at the market or grocery store smells everything they purchase.

Why? It’s the difference between a ripe and sweet product to a hard and bland product.

If you’ve ever grown a garden before or purchased organic fruits and vegetables right from the farm, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Smelling what you will be eating is a good sign of what the fruit or vegetable will taste. 

A pineapple, when ripe, will be golden brown, and you should have a sweet smell from the bottom of the fruit.

If you don’t smell your fruit, it is either not ripe or will lack flavour.

The same goes for strawberries.

What you smell is what you will taste in your mouth. Can we do that?

Taste what we smell? In many cases, yes, which is why we drool when intoxicating smells permeate the store we love.

Sniff Coffee

To sniff coffee is a must for us, especially if we buy coffee beans, so we sniff the bag.

The aroma of coffee and coffee beans is so potent that your nose can smell it from a mile away unless it’s in a tin or vacuum-sealed package.

We do this because it gives us a sense of smell the coffee will produce as well as possible flavour.

Just because a bag of coffee beans sounds exotic doesn’t mean it tastes the same way.

Sniff Hygiene Products

I’m a picky person when it comes to the smell on my body, whether it’s deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bar soap, shaving cream, etc.

Although I cannot smell everything, I will check for testers or take the lid off to see if the product offers a scent, even if the product is unscented.

Sniff Fresh Bread

Fresh bread will smell like fresh bread, but day-old bread will smell like day-old bread.

The yeast in bread offers such a fantastic smell when baked that it’s hard not to imagine melted butter on a bun or stuffing bread with deli meats.

Try it next time you go to a bakery, and you’ll see what I mean, especially if you buy specialty bread with herbs and spices or sun-dried tomatoes.

Unfortunately, if you buy pre-packaged bread, you get what you get.

Sniff Smelly Stuff

sniff test air freshener
Sniff The Smelly Stuff such as Air Fresheners

Any shoppers out there who love scented candles, air fresheners, and incense likely can recall going in for the sniff test.

It’s almost inevitable that every shopper sniffs a candle before buying it, so you will notice scratch and sniff labels or openings on the jar or lid.

Product smell is also a marketing ploy, so the product’s scent hits you as you stroll by.

You know the same way you stop and glance into Bath and Body Works with a lust for a sniff.

Photo source: Bob Loblaw Law Blog

Sniff Perfume and Cologne Testers

Please smell the perfume you are buying, and if you can’t, leave it for someone else to buy.

Mrs. CBB used to sniff Beautiful perfume by Este Lauder every time we went into Sears with a spray or two.

The perfume was horrific smelling to me, and I was hoping she would never buy it. I was honest with her.

We do the sniff test on each other. If we aren’t both attracted to the smell, why buy it?

I don’t want to scare my wife away from coming close to me.

Have you ever noticed an influx of brand new perfume and cologne bottles on Kijiji after Christmas?

Now you know why. Just because you like it, someone else might not.

Sniff Bulk Spices and Herbs

I will sniff spices when I can because if the aroma is intense, I’ll know whether it’s fresh or not.

You can’t always tell depending on what you buy, or if it’s pre-packaged, you might struggle.

Some spices are very strong-smelling even in a package, so don’t be afraid to wave them in your face for a sniff.

The bulk spice section at the grocery store or bulk store is a great place to do the sniff test.

Old spices lack flavour and alter the expected taste a recipe should have.

Sniff Cleaning Products

I read online that a lady bought laundry soap that ended up smelling like melons, and so did she for a month.

It may sound funny, but it can be depressing for someone when you only have limited funds and buying another jug is not an option.

Most stores, though, will take opened products if you explain how horrible the taste or smell was as long as you provide a receipt within 30 days.

We purchased dish soap because we had a coupon only to find out it was not very pleasant smelling, but we used it because we had already bought it.

These days we do the sniff test. Some mixed chemicals often change the smell of the product, or what you think a flower scent shouldn’t often end well with some products.

When Mrs. CBB was in the UK, she passed the sniff test walking down the cleaning products aisle at Tesco.

Our liquid fabric softener tends to be far more robust in the UK than in Canada.

Mrs. CBB was swept away by the smell of one of the softeners and bought 2 bottles to stuff in her suitcase and brought them home.

We always laugh at some of the stuff she flew back to Canada and what the customer’s officers must have thought.

Keep in mind that some people may be sensitive to smell, so they need to know what they are buying first.

Apart from scratch and sniff, opening bottles, and sniffing packaging, some manufacturers will offer a sample sniff stand attached to the shelf.

It would be equal to what you’d find in the beauty boutique at Shoppers Drug Mart when testing perfume and cologne.

The photo above depicts air freshener sniff testers at a grocery store.

Sniff Cheese

You either hate smelly cheese, or you love it.

If you’re not a fan of stinky cheese, you should probably buy your cheese somewhere that you can taste and smell.

Many local deli shops will do just that for their customers by offering a taste but don’t expect them to hand over an entire brick of cheese for you to sniff.

That would be against health and safety standards.

There is no sense in bringing home expensive cheese that you won’t eat because of the smell.

Pass the sniff test first, and you’ll be safe in the cheese department.

Sniff Fish

You’re in good hands if it smells like the Lake or Ocean.

If not, leave it alone. If you can’t smell the fish, you are buying. I wouldn’t purchase it either.

Any fish in a can or pre-packaged is at your discretion of purchase. Sniff if you can sniff. Walk away if you can’t unless it doesn’t matter to you. Some shoppers could care-less.

Sniff Test Etiquette

Save yourself the financial loss of food waste or buying products you don’t like by taking a moment to sniff what you put in your shopping cart.

Please don’t put the product so close to your nose that it touches it or stick your fingers to taste or try unless you’re buying it.

Most beauty shops offer sample bottles that you can sniff and test before buying, including perfume.

Remember, customers will be eating what you touch.

Another good reason we should always WASH everything we purchase in the produce department or have picked by someone else. 

A good vinegar and water spray or bath is a great way to keep fresh, crisp, and clean produce.

10 Products you should sniff test before buying

Grocery Sniff Test Chart
Ten Products that are worth sniffing before you purchase them.
  1. Fresh Produce
  2. Coffee
  3. Hygiene products
  4. Fresh Bread
  5. Candles, Air Freshener etc.
  6. Perfume
  7. Bulk Spices
  8. Cleaning Products
  9. Cheese
  10. Fish

Discussion Question: What products do you sniff before you buy?

What else is missing from my list that I should add?

Please share your comments below in the comment section.

Thanks, Mr.CBB

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March 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.

March 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 Tools

Don’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 cbb

Everything 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 Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.

2017 Grocery Shop Results

Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2017: $3180 or $265/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: $265
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $265
  • 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: 431,000
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
  • Shoppers Optimum: Just under 850,000 Optimum points  (I will update this twice a year) $1500 worth of free stuff.

Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)

  • Zweet to cash out : $18.25
  • Checkout51 to cash out : $24.50

Our Grocery Shop This Week

All totals below already have tax factored into them.


  • Pillars Salami Whips 2/$6- 50% = $1.50 each
  • Coil Garlic Kolbassa – $3.69 (was 50% off)
  • Pork Tenderloin $3.50-50%
  • Pork Tenderloin $6.57-50%
  • Beatrice Sour Cream $1.44
  • 2 x Bakers Chocolate Squares Sale $2.49
  • Cheerios $3.99

Total Out-of-Pocket $22.12

Food Basics

  • Bananas $1.59
  • Milk $4.27
  • 2 x Cream $1.95
  • Astro Coconut Yogurt $2

Total Out-Of-Pocket $9.45

  • Total to spend this month : $265
  • Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $10.99
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $0
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $0
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $67.91
  • Total spent this week: $31.57
  • Total spent so far this month: $263.60
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: over
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: n/a
  • Total left to spend for the month: $1.40
  • Total Spent To Date 2017: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $231.06+Feb $255.16+March ($5 budget increase) $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

WOW, cutting it close this month especially with one week left to go as there are 5 weeks of grocery shopping in March. It was hard to pass up the 50% off meat at Zehrs even though that’s not why I went in there. I know it’s so hard BUT meat is so expensive. The good news is we have $1.40 plus our stockpile budget of $14.00 in case of emergency shopping next week. Next month we’ll be doing some stocking up.

That’s our food shopping week!!


Coupons and Coupon Apps

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 fewer 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 2017?

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 to reflect changes 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 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 as many people do. This is why The Grocery Game Challenge is one of the most popular hangout spots for people who want to save money on groceries.

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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