The Ultimate Pantry Essentials For Frugal Fall Recipes : The Grocery Game Challenge 2017 #1 Sept 4-10



So you want to start preparing Fall recipes but aren’t sure if you have everything you need in the kitchen to do so?

It’s time to dust off the crock-pot and casserole (casa-roll-eh) dish Canadian style because the Fall chill is on and it’s time for some comfort food.

Well, today we’re going pantry shopping for the Fall season to make sure we have all those precious basic ingredients along with must-have kitchen-tools to make some of the tastiest Fall recipes.

The number one kitchen tool that we can all agree on to make Fall recipes is a crock-pot. If you don’t have one invest in one for under $40 and you’ll see just how easy cooking can be. We own a large programmable crock-pot that we’ve been using for years and just love. It was certainly a worthy investment for our kitchen.

Once you’ve got your crock-pot it’s always handy to have baking sheets, loaf pans and other baking essentials so you are ready to bake up those Fall smells.

What other essential kitchen tools can you think of for Fall?


Tastes of Fall


What kinds of foods, smells and tastes can you think of when September rolls around, kids are off to school and the days and evenings are getting cooler? All things Autumn, lots of spices, ovens warming the house and comfort food. That’s what I think of but in order to achieve this we need to be on top of our grocery shopping game with the ultimate kitchen and pantry essentials to create tasty Fall recipes.


Is your pantry list up to date?


Fall is the best time to do a spice clean-up so take the time to go through your spice cabinet and toss any old spices that won’t add top-notch flavour to your dishes. Spices lose their aromatic smell and taste over time so fresh spices are a must.

If your kitchen isn’t stocked for the seasons then you run the risk of eating out more or getting lazy in the kitchen making the same foods over and over. Who likes to do that? Not me which is why we always make sure to have pantry essentials on hand.

There’s only so many grilled cheese and chicken salads a person can eat in a week unless they have to or want to. Even so if you’re working with a limited grocery budget don’t get discouraged because it takes time to build a pantry and kitchen stash but it’s not impossible.

The key is to be prepared ahead of time, know what you need and start shopping early so you can spot the deals and grab them when you can. This way your grocery budget isn’t overwhelmed all at once. If you live in the country and only shop once or twice a month stocking up for the seasons might be challenging but not impossible.

Just before Christmas is when man shoppers scramble to stock up on Christmas pantry items. Even though there are decent grocery sales there are some ingredients that can cost a fortune such as nuts that sky-rocket in price between November and January. Buy them on sale early and freeze them, that’s what we do without issue.

Start early, find your turkey and whatever else you can on sale and focus on the smaller items which end up costing more because they are seasonal. Off-season shopping has always been a favourite of ours but always keep in mind the expiry date even though plenty of items extend past it.

One of the worst things for any home chef is to find out that just before they are ready to start a recipe that they are missing ingredients. This is why it’s important to keep a running pantry list so you can tap into what you need and don’t need when you head to the supermarket.

What comes to mind when I think about this are the amount of products we use and the space we have to store them which is why a seasonal stock-up in the kitchen is a great way to keep things simple and organized.


The Ultimate Pantry Essentials To Create Frugal Fall Recipes



You can download a free printable of THE ULTIMATE PANTRY ESSENTIALS FOR FALL RECIPES for review and to take along with you when you grocery shop.

Discussion Question: What other ingredients should be on this Ultimate List of Fall Recipe Essentials? Leave your comment below and tell me why?

Must have for fall include onions, potatoes, carrots, squash, pasta sauce, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, apples, eggs and oatmeal. There are lots of must haves, but without that list it isn’t fall here.- Angela M.

I make sure I have things on hand like cooked pumpkin, carrots and cream cheese for carrot cake, Chocolate chips for cookies….all those goodies that I don’t make in the hot weather as it heats the house up too much. – Christine W.

In the autumn I always had winter squash, pumpkin, local grapes (those blue ones), baking apples, eating apples, cabbage roll fixings, etc. Now we’re lucky if I have one small tin of pumpkin purée on hand or a few apples to snack on. Really miss winter squash the most.- Judy F. C.

It’s a time of real abundance here so my must have list includes pretty nearly everything at the farm market, plus locally caught salmon, locally hunted venison, freezer bags, and canning jar lids. Oh, and a great big glorious chrysanthemum for my deck!- Beth A.


September 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.

Congratulations to Ballot #5 Mary!! You’re our August winner!! You know the drill 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: 646,000
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
  • Shoppers Optimum: 983,000 O.M.G

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

  • Zweet to cash out : $18.25… no idea where the money went but it seems we have $0.
  • Checkout51 to cash out : $24.50 we cashed out so we’re back at O.


Our Grocery Shop This Week



  • 2kg Bag of Pecans $19.99
  • Caesar Dressing Renee’s $5.49
  • Mozarella Saputo $19.99
  • Nescafe Coffee $10.49
  • Bananas $1.59

Total Out-of-pocket $57.55


  • Organic Pumpkin Oil $16.99
  • Organic Cinnamon $16.99
  • Jordan’s Pumpkin Spice and Pumpkin Caramel Sugar-free syrups $5.99 each

Total Out of pocket $51.93- $25.00 stockpile = $26.93

All totals below already have tax factored into them.

  • Total to spend this month : $265- $18.51= $246.49 (overage from August)
  • Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00/month
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $25.00
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $1
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $0
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $652.80
  • Total spent this week: $84.48
  • Total spent so far this month: $84.48
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: Over $18.23
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: $
  • Total left to spend for the month: $162.01
  • 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 $283.51+September $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

We did a bit of a pantry stock-up for our Fall recipes and although it may seem like we spent lots it’s important to remember the size of these products are huge. We did a cost analysis and it works for us. Nuts are still cheaper at Costco than at the Bulk Barn until we can get them on sale and use the $3 off coupon when you spend $10. The organic cinnamon is something we wanted to try new and it’s a massive bag.

I know some of you might be thinking that’s a hefty price but considering we pay almost $3 for a small bag at Food Basics it was worth it to us. The smell is incredible. Our big splurge this week was the aromatic pumpkin oil and sugar-free syrups which will make delicious coffee, ice-cream, cinnamon pumpkin rolls and much more!!  A little goes a long way. We still have tonnes of tomatoes to eat, garlic, new potatoes, peppers, cucumbers and beans to eat up from the in-laws garden. This has kept us going for almost 2 weeks now and a nice savings.


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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  1. Hi Mary,
    Wow that was a great price on the ham. Is that normal or a sale price? You also picked up great deals on the corn, apples and pot pies. What is a Buffalo Cauliflower? So this Great Grocery Clearout will take you approximately one year? That should be interesting to follow. I meant to ask you if you’ve been finding as many rain checks this year as you did last? You have a wonderful time on your holidays. Awesome shopping!! You get ballot #1~ Mr.CBB

    1. Bonnie, hubby and I are shopping our pantry and freezers until they are all empty. We will only buy carrots, celery, onions, eggs, bread and milk until we finish the complete turnover. Since we are on holidays…I spent a little this week to make our stay-cation meals nice but we’ll be right back to clear-out mode next week. 🙂

  2. SEPTEMBER – Week #1 of 4- Sept 4-10, 2017


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



    Before we start our SEPTEMBER shopping off, I am going to make my “reserve” transfers:


    $ 190.00 for the month
    ($100.00) 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
    ($ 0.00) trf to US Reserve –normally $45.00

    CANADIAN Grocery Balance $60.00



    We have a couple weeks of vacation scheduled this month so I figure we’ll do our main shop after we get back into our regular routine…using our new GGC (Great Grocery Clear-out) limit on the purchases. We’ll likely be re-stocking the milk, bread, eggs, onions, carrots & celery during GGC WEEK #3.

    If someone has a burning desire for 1 other item per month…we’ll expand the shop by no more than 2 items – one for hubby and one for me. Hubby will probably pick romaine lettuce for his Caesar salads, I’ll be after cabbage for my soups!

    However, since we are on vacation that means lots of picnics at lakes, parks, rivers…so many beautiful locations! We also have a birthday to celebrate, get-togethers with both sides of the family (read extra gas required despite the post-Hurricane Harvey pricing) and outings where we get lots of FREE stuff to help celebrate hubby’s birthday. So far he’s collected a nice piece of tiramisu from Olive Garden and we’ll get him a FREE Red Robin burger and fries later this week.

    Vacation time is an excellent chance to channel some extra funds into our re-stocking reserve. When we get the Great Grocery Clear-out accomplished, we are sure going to need a hefty re-stocking reserve! LOL 🙂

    How long do you think it will take us to accomplish our goal? I figure it will take at least a year!


    This is a VACATION FUNDS SHOPPING WEEK (all $40.55 of it + $30 from the Re-Stocking Reserve) because we are doing a stay-cation for a good chunk of our time off & I want us to enjoy being local. Nice meals are a large part of enjoying our picnics & relaxing meals at home. This week’s meal plan is:

    Monday – Hubby’s B-Day Lunch – Caesar Salad With Chicken Pot Pie <scored the pot pie for $1 at No Frills

    Monday – Hubby’s B-Day dinner – Ham & Cheese Sandwiches for hubby & birthday Tirmasu FREE dessert from Olive Garden


    Tuesday – Lunch – PB Sandwich & apple (Picnic at Ambleside Park) before visiting the MIL

    Tuesday – Dinner – Szechuan Green Beans & Chicken Chow Mein take-out (vacation funds)


    Wednesday – Lunch – Nectarine-Onion Salad for me / Tuna Melts with fries for hubby

    Wednesday – Dinner – Cornbread Waffles with diced bacon, green chilies and pimento in them


    Thursday – Lunch – The Yellow Deli (vacation funds) to break up our day of shopping

    Thursday – Dinner – Roast Chicken Thighs, Roasted Nugget Potatoes, Onions, Celery, Carrot, Peppers, Snap Peas and
    Buffalo Cauliflower


    Friday – Lunch – Ham Salad Sandwiches (no bread for me) + quick pickled cucumbers & watermelon-feta salad

    Friday – Dinner – Creamy Parmesan Tomato and Spinach Tortellini Soup with Warm Pumpkin Biscuits


    Saturday – Lunch – Chicken Salad Wraps (no bread for me) + Cucumber-SnapPea-Green Onion Salad with Iced Tea
    (Picnic at Hayward Lake)

    Saturday – Dinner – Crab Cakes with Coleslaw, sliced tomatoes and fresh corn on the cob


    Sunday – Lunch – Chinese Food Buffet (vacation funds)

    Sunday – Dinner – Leftover Creamy Parmesan Tomato and Spinach Tortellini Soup with pumpkin biscuits



    RCSS – Pitt Meadows –

    2 packages of 8 Mini Cukes @ $2.50 ea = $5.00
    1 Large Bag of coleslaw $4.98
    1 Clearance spinach $1.97

    • TOTAL VACATION Budget OOP: $11.95
    • TOTAL Stocking Up Budget OOP: $0.00

    ** Earned 0 PC.Plus Points on this shop **
    ** SAVED $0.00 in Rain Check/ Coupons **
    ** SAVED $0.00 Loyalty Savings on this shop **


    Meridian – Maple Ridge –

    1 Cauliflower @ $1.78 ea

    • TOTAL VACATION Budget OOP: $1.78
    • TOTAL Stocking Up Budget OOP: $0.00


    No Frills – Maple Ridge –

    8 x Roma Tomatoes @$0.97/lb = $1.84
    1 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs Family Pack $4.97/lb = $14.01
    4 Maple Leaf Chicken Pot Pies $1 ea = $4.00

    • TOTAL VACATION Budget OOP: $19.85
    • TOTAL Stocking Up Budget OOP: $0.00

    ** Earned 0 PC.Plus Points on this shop **
    ** SAVED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $0.00 Loyalty Savings on this shop **


    Walmart – Port Coquitlam –

    1 x 3lb Green Apples $5.77
    4 Corn on the Cob @ $0.30 ea = $1.20
    3 x 1Kg Great Value Boneless Smoked Hams @ $10 ea = $30.00 < We're on our last ham so it's time to re-stock since hubby
    eats ham absolutely ever week!

    • TOTAL VACATION Budget OOP: $6.97
    • TOTAL Stocking Up Budget OOP: $30.00






    •Total Loyalty Card Price Reductions This Year: $141.70

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

    •Total Price Match Savings Used This Year: $0.00

    •Total More Points Earned This Year: 308 Points

    •Total Air Miles Earned This Year: 22 Air Miles

    •Total PC PLUS Points Earned This Year: 20,000 Points

    •Total Optimum Points Earned This Year: 4,100 Points



    $ 1,710.00 Grocery Budget JAN-SEPT

    ($ 308.13) NET RESERVE SAVINGS

    ($1,341.87) Actual CASH SPENT



    $ 304.84 Re-Stocking Fund
    $ 155.70 Holiday Season Fund + $200 RCSS POINTS + $10 Dream Air Miles.
    $ 634.59 Summer Season Fund
    $ 453.37 US Shopping Reserve
    $ 34.47 GGC Savings Reserve
    $ 0.00 Points Redeemed Reserve

    OUR CURRENT TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES ARE $1,582.97. This means the $1,274.44 that we carried forward from 2016 PLUS AN ADDITIONAL $1,088.85 that we have added in 2017, LESS $780.32 that we have drawn out for use in 2017.


          1. Oh… yes that is how it is #1 and #2. For some reason I thought it was the last post that I moderated. I didn’t look but i knew you had 1 and 2. 🙂 You’re all good now.

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