The Grocery Game

Ditch These 6 Genius Grocery Sale Price Distractions : The Grocery Game Challenge 2017 #1 July 31-Aug 6

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Sale price distractions are everywhere, not just the grocery store. You only have to think back to holiday shopping and understand the power of sales and marketing. It’s easy to say yes even when you want to say no.

Every once in a while I get an email from a reader who is struggling with their grocery budget. What I always find interesting is that most of the concerns are typical to most shoppers. They are not new concerns, they are just new to them and can become a burden on their monthly budget.

Let’s read what CBB fan Sophie has to say about her grocery shopping dilemma and offer her some tips to get her back on track.


Super Sale Prices Equal More Money


Dear Mr.CBB,

I am a single woman in her 30’s who struggles to keep her grocery budget balanced. You would think it would be easy since I’m grocery shopping for one however it’s harder. I’m a person who likes to stress eat which means I’m an easy target for sweets and snack items. My grocery budget allows for me to spend $85 a week and still struggle to get it right.

I know I’m not alone but if I ask someone how to fix this they’d probably laugh at me because it’s grocery shopping. How hard can it be? You make a create a budget, make a list and shop. Nope, easy isn’t good for me I guess which is why I need some help.

Thankfully I found your blog and have learned so much by reading your Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.  Depending on the day, time of day, mood, weather and price pushers at the grocery store I fail this budget of mine.

One of my biggest problems or as I call them, “excuses” is that I sabotage myself with grocery store sale price distractions. What I mean is that I go to the grocery store with a plan which includes my grocery list, cash envelope and motivation to stay with-in budget and I often find I fail.

I’m only fooling myself by reaching for my credit card or extra cash I have on hand to pay for added expenses I never intended on spending in the first place. What do you suggest I do and are there any other sale price distractions that I should be aware of? Sometimes I feel like I’m missing the mark when it comes to food shopping and marketing.


Sophie (your new fan)


Sale Price Distractions


Hi Sophie,

Thanks for stopping by to read and send me a question about your grocery shopping concerns. It’s always nice to know that Mrs. CBB and I are not alone in our plight to fight grocery store marketing that typically eats up our food budget.

We all need to eat food yet it is the one product that can easily sell itself with;

  • impressive packaging
  • flavour
  • price

Have you ever said to yourself, “Oh I need to try that”? Probably, we all have. This is your mind taking over your stomach which can cause a nasty fight between pondering to buy something or not. I’ve been told not to shop when I am hungry and although I still believe this I don’t think it works for everyone.

I’ve been to the grocery store full and still spent money I didn’t need to. It truly is a whirlwind especially when we see how prices of food go up and down. I believe we train ourselves to think ahead and if we find a deal that is too good to be true we think about the future. In retrospect that’s not a bad thing and it can save you money only if you have the spare food budget space to fit it in.

The problem gets emotional when money moves from other budget categories to pay for overspending. There has to be a fine line as to where you will stop and where you will begin your grocery budget journey. I can tell you from experience that it’s easier said then done.

We are almost 6 years into this Grocery Game Challenge and still struggle to say, No. I will admit though that when we leave the grocery store with only what we needed we feel far better. In the event we stumble upon a sweet deal we also feel good about our shopping choice IF it was a product we would purchase in the future and if the price was right. There has to be a true savings factor in it for us.

For example: We like to have mince beef in the house. A club pack at Zehrs or even Costco will run shoppers well over $20. When it goes on sale at the grocery store between $15-20. Then there are REALLy good sales at the grocery store and you find the beef on sale for 50% off the price $8.

What do you do?

Do you buy a couple extra to add to your freezer stash? This would save you upwards of $20 on beef mince in the future or do you walk away and keep shopping?

The answer is always based on what your needs are and how much budget money you have to spend. Most months we have a carry over to clean up but that happens when deals like the mince come up.

If you noticed the chips were on sale for $1.99 reg $5.99 and you buy a bag here and there or maybe once a month ask yourself two questions;

  • Do I need it?
  • Did I budget for them?
  • How will the excess affect my eating habits if I buy more than what I planned on buying?

Most often when we stock up on junk we don’t really need it becomes a hub for overeating unless you have strict self-control. Who does?

I can remember a time Mrs. CBB and I found a great deal on Lindt chocolate bars for $0.50. Yes, that’s a great deal but we didn’t need them in the house because chocolate is just a treat to us. Having excess of something we don’t need motivates us to keep dipping our fingers in. Let’s not forget that expiry dates exist as well. Forget about it and you’ve wasted money.

Check out these genius sale price distractions and consider them next time you shop. If you’ve fallen prey to any of these tactics the genius in their plan worked.

Not everyone is mindful of behind the scenes marketing plans. You might know of them but the next person doesn’t. This is why we should all share our savings knowledge with each other.


Hourly Specials


Have you ever been grocery shopping minding your own business when all of a sudden a voice on the P.A system tells you about an hourly special happening right at that moment?

I think we all have and these types of sale price distractions meant to confuse you into buying something you don’t really need. If you’ve made your way to the special just to see what it was you’re half way to buying it and they’ve won the marketing battle.


Reduced Products


This is our weakest link for the CBB family although we’ve tried to sub-out if we find something worth buying like the beef sale we picked up this week. (See our shop below). Instead of buying chicken thighs and pork chops that were on our grocery list the beef took precedence because the price was too good to pass up.


Samples and Coupons


This situation came to mind right after we got back from holidays and made a trip to Costco. While walking up to the cash register we passed the last aisle closest which is the junk food aisle. (convenient huh?) A nice sample lady offered me a coconut cookie from Voortman and I was sold, kind of. In my head I was fighting the urge but she kept pushing doing her job.

Sample lady- “They are good, I’ve eaten lots today”

Sample lady- : “I’ve sold 56 boxes today on my shift already”

Sample lady- “The price is very good only $3.50 a box which makes each individually wrapped 2 pack of cookies only $0.21.”

No word of a lie this was going on and I didn’t even have time to answer her in between her trying to motivate me to buy them. She even offered me a second cookie just because she thought she could hook me. The idea is while I’m crunching away and can’t talk because my mouth is full she’s pulling out all the tactics to get me buy a box.

What was my response?

Mr.CBB- “I can make them at home for less” and I walked away. Damn, they were good though.


Buy More Save More


The buy more save more sales price distraction almost forces consumers to buy more because they can save more, so they think. If you aren’t going to use the products it’s a waste and check other products that might be cheaper by reviewing the unit price.

This happened to our son at the grocery store yesterday when he wanted to buy a pack of Smarties. The Smarties were $1.00 each if you bought 2 or $1.29 each. They also had a large container of Smarties for $2.99 which was 4 times the size of a box of small Smarties. Guess what he bought?

Well, we went with the $1.29 Smarties because he really doesn’t need a large container as no one else eats them here. If you were to look at unit price for what you get any smart shopper would say pick the large container. They are right. It’s cheaper.

My point is buying more is not always cheaper.


Price Lock


Those Price Lock deals that we see at the grocery store are a joke in my opinion. Just put the proper price up and leave it alone. Telling us it is a Price Lock is like trying to tell us that we made a great choice shopping at said store when in fact most stores have the same price anyways.

Wording is everything as is knowing your prices.


Weekend Specials


I’ve always worked weekends so I was never summoned by the weekend special flyer sales which lure shoppers in on three of the busiest shopping days of the week. Ideally, if they can get you through the door with these doorcrasher deals they have achieved their goal.

How many of you go in for just bread when you need bread and end up spending far more than anticipated? Well this is the premise behind these  3-day sales.


What team are you on?


My advice to you is to stick to the plan and only splash out on any of the above sale price distractions if you were going to buy it anyways OR the price is right. Be warned though that you may need to adjust the next weeks grocery shop to make up for any differences or move it to the following month to catch up. I know many of us find it hard to pass up a good deal but if you add a deal consider removing something from your grocery list if you can to balance it out.

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed about the grocery store and any issues you may find wallet draining. At least you are speaking up and wanting to do something about it. There are more people spending far more than they need to which happens because there was no lack of planning. The grocery stores rely on these shoppers to balance out the frugal-minded consumers.

The choice is yours where you stand – Balanced budget team or Who needs a budget? team. If someone chooses not to budget don’t cry about spilled milk, they knew it could happen yet did nothing about it.

Now is your chance to get it right.

I hope this helps you a bit Sophie and please report back to let us know how you are doing.

Discussion Questions: What other sale price distractions would you suggest Sophie avoid at the grocery store? How do you suggest she keep on budget without being swayed into buying something she didn’t have on her grocery list?


August 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.

Post your shop and you can be next.

Winners June and July : June Ballot#4 and July Ballot #2 – Congratulations Dee and April!!!  Contact me for your prize.

New monthly prize: See the Grocery Game Rules


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: $3180 or $265/month (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: 615,000
  • 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



  • Angel Sweets Tomatoes $5.99
  • Strawberries $4.99
  • Himalayan Pink Salt $4.99
  • Nescafe Instant Coffee $10.99
  • Bananas $1.59
  • 6 x 10% cream half and half $2.09 each $12.54

Total Out-of-pocket $41.10


  • 2 x Pepperidge Farms Cars Cheese Fish $2.99 each-50% (great find since we were buying 1 bag)
  • Keens Mustard $4.94-50% $2.47
  • PC Apple Juice not from concentrate full case $15
  • Large eggs $1.97
  • English cucumber $0.97
  • Blackberries reduced $4.00 (was going to get blueberries but these were cheaper)
  • 4 x Club Pack Lean Ground Beef all 50% off  $7.47, $7.44, $7.46, $7.44 (final price)
  • PC Cinnamon Raisin Bread $4.29-50%= $2.15
  • Thick Thomas Raisin Bread $3.99-50%= $2.00
  • Envy apples $2.23 plus 400 PC points

Total Out-of-pocket $63.59

All totals below already have tax factored into them.

  • Total to spend this month : $265
  • Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00/month
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $0
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $1
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $39.43
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $642.20
  • Total spent this week: $104.69
  • Total spent so far this month: $160.31
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: over
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: under $160.31
  • Total left to spend for the month: $160.31
  • Total Spent To Date 2017: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $231.06+Feb $255.16+March ($5 budget increase) $263.60 + April $273.83+ May $257.15 + June $65.43+July $226.84+August $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

We had a great shopping week finding deals on meat that we had not planned to buy but we had other meat on our list that we removed to balance our budget. It’s not easy to pass up deals on meat either since it is so costly especially if you know you will eat it. Mrs. CBB eats lots of beef and chicken so it works out great for both of us.



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 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 the links below don’t open properly please report them to my email address or use comment form.

  • 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 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 like many people do. This is why The Grocery Game Challenge is one of the most popular hang out 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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