The Grocery Game

20 Basic Baking Essentials To Power Up Your Frugal Kitchen : The Grocery Game Challenge 2017 #1 Oct 30-Nov 5




If you want to become your own frugal baker consider these 20 Basic Baking Essentials which I believe every kitchen should own. Today, I’m going to show you where you can find the best deals and even better deals if you’re down and ready for some old-fashioned thrift shopping.

Bakery products such as muffins, cookies, cupcakes, squares and even cakes are expensive to buy because they are made outside of your kitchen. That’s obvious. This means that morning muffin you pick up at the local coffee shop might be costing your wallet big bucks. Probably just as obvious.

If I asked customers who buy their coffee and baked goods from a coffee shop nearly everyday why I bet the reasons would go something like this.

  1. It tastes so good
  2. I don’t have time to bake
  3. I don’t know how to bake
  4. I don’t have room in my kitchen
  5. I don’t have an oven or it’s broken
  6. I don’t have the proper baking supplies to bake
  7. Baking is too expensive
  8. It will go bad before I eat it all if I bake at home
  9. It won’t  break the bank

You might also say in your defense that you only splurge when you are using your adult allowance or very little and that’s perfectly fine. Consider this before making that decision. How long do you want to stay in debt and are you diligently working hard to crush it? Maybe you don’t want to pay debt off early but you probably wouldn’t be reading a budgeting/frugal living blog then.

I received a message last week from a young lady who recently moved into her first apartment which is an exciting/scary time for any newbie. She was given plenty of hand-me-down items but she has very limited baking essentials. With rent eating a huge chunk of her income she no longer has the money she used to for her morning blueberry bran muffin and coffee pit-stop on the way to work.


Baking Essentials Inventory


Fan question

She wanted to know what basic baking essentials she needs and the best places to buy them. Ideally she would like to bake snacks for work and start Christmas baking early this year. Another reason for stocking up her baking essentials is to improve her baking skills. For her this means that one day when she has a family she won’t be pressured into buying boxed snacks from the grocery store.

Easy enough I thought since we love to bake (check out our Free Recipe Index) and finding bargains on baking supplies is part of our budget specialty in the CBB house. When building the bakery essentials of your kitchen it’s best to understand everything you have by creating an inventory list You don’t want to spend money buying something you already have. Yes we have multiples of many kitchen tools so we know from experience how it can clutter up the space.


Save the Splurge


If you are struggling to pay the bills then you should concede your daily baked goods or weekly pre-made splurge to be pricier. Not paying bills on time or in full results in late payment/ interest fees which now elevates that baked good cost even higher. The name of the game when enjoying some of the smaller things in life is to make sure you can afford it. YES you can still have your sweet treats and pay the bills at the same time.


Stay the heck away from pre-made food products that contain ingredients you’ve never heard of or should probably avoid then put on your bakers uniform and mess up your kitchen. It’s fun too, I do it all the time and no you can’t see me in an apron. (maybe one day, haha) If you’re on a special diet or have life-threatening allergies baking at home is something you may want to consider.

For some people buying snacks while they are out and about once is too much for them but do it anyways.

You don’t have to be debt-free to splurge on sweet treats every once in a while but if you’re going daily or 2 or more times a day (we all know someone) to buy coffee and baked goods you could have made them at home for far less. But wait! You tell me that you have the money to spend via a budget or spending allowance.

Consider this.

You’ve been eyeing up a new tool that you need or a some comfy shoes that would make walking and standing at work far easier BUT you can’t afford them just yet. Would you rather make a dozen homemade chocolate chip muffins for $6-7 plus hydro and time or pay close to triple that buying one every day at a coffee shop?

If you are a true frugal cash hound and want to save money to put towards stuff you really need then you’ll opt for baking at home, saving money and then splurging on what you really need. You may have done the math and find that buying from the bakery or boxed baked goods are cheaper to buy? They may be when on sale or discounted but keep in mind you have no control over the ingredients. Baking at home means you get to pick and choose ingredients based on lifestyle. I’d feel better knowing every ingredient on the list, wouldn’t you?

You need to be committed and not look at this type of scenario as a let-down or push away from all things nice or convenient in life. We are not owed anything.

Just because Johnny goes every morning to buy cookies for his coffee before work doesn’t mean you that you have to. You’re no better than he is if you don’t buy them.  Alternatively you could just bring your own mug of coffee and homemade baked goods and get on with your workday.

Related: Case of two co-workers and the cost of home-brewed coffee vs. Coffee Shop coffee.


Sourcing Baking Essentials


Although my wife had some hand-me-down baking essentials she’s been collecting what she needs over the years. Ideally you will want to start small until you understand your baking level and desire to bake beyond basics.

Many of the baking essentials can be purchased at most Dollar stores but don’t expect them to be the best quality but will get the job done. Another great place to find cheap baking essentials is at a garage sale especially estate sales. If we do buy new baking essentials we’ve picked up some bargains at Canadian Tire when on sale. If we go in CT you can bet Mrs. CBB will look at me wave and say, “You know where I’ll be”- Yes…the kitchen accessories department.

Just about every time we go into a second-hand shop we look at the baking essentials especially on 50% off days. Last year for example we found a brand new giant muffin cake pan for $5.99.  This cake pan is great for smash cakes when a child turns 1 or any age really. The cost of this cake pan is $40. Had we found this before our son turned 1 we could have saved the $50 we spent on a smash cake from the bakery.  Save a pile of cash and bake it yourself.

You may also have luck on Facebook in buy or sell groups, free stuff groups or on Kijiji. I’m not a user of Craigslist but some shoppers may have luck over there as well.


Basic List of 20 Baking Essentials Every Frugal Kitchen Should Have




Discussion: What Baking essentials did I miss or would you want in your kitchen?


November 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. Two numbers left in the draw-one is $10 the other is $50.

October Winner will be announced shortly.

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 over 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: 750,000
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
  • Shoppers Optimum: 995,000 points

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





  • Apple Juice $1.49
  • 3 x Astro Coconut Yogurt $2.99 ($8.97)
  • Organic Mushrooms $2.99-50% ($1.50)
  • Yellow Onions 3lbs $1.49
  • 2 x Broccoli $1.49 ($2.98)
  • 3 x Lous Peameal Bacon $7.49-50% $22.47 ($11.25)
  • Boursin Cheese  $6.99-50% ($3.50)
  • Sugar-Free Chocolate Chips $8.99
  • Zucchini $6.62
  • Cured Salt Pork $4.25, $5.21, $6.38- 50% ($2.13+$3.19+$2.61)
  • Danish Brie Cheese $6.99-50% ($3.50)
  • PC Split Wings $6.47-50% ($3.24)
  • Mild Italian Sausage Mince $5.49-50% ($2.75)
  • Hot Italian Sausage Mince $5.49-50% ($2.75)
  • Milk 4l $4.27
  • 1 dozen eggs large $1.97

Total Out-of-Pocket $73.20


Note: 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: $
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $1
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $36.42
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $735.86
  • Total spent this week: $73.20
  • Total spent so far this month: $73.20
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: over
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: n/a
  • Total left to spend for the month: $191.80
  • 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 $208.69+ October $226.58+ November $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

This week we  picked up a few bits from Zehrs as we didn’t need too much but found some great deals…figures! We did save quite a bit but must keep in mind that there are 5 weeks in November! We still have $25 stockpile as well if needed.

Note: November is a 5 week grocery shop.


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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Similar Posts


  1. Week 41 – Oct 27 – Nov 2, 2017
    Name Your Store: Superstore
    Total Coupons Used: $
    Total Points =
    Total Out Of Pocket: $0.00

    No Shop

    No Shop

    Grocery Game Challenge Results
    Total Grocery Budget for the 2 Adults ($1820.00, for the pay period – $70.00)
    Total Human (Adults) this Week Period: $
    Total Human (Adults) to Date: $1,276.77 (minus Debt pymt & Gift Cards) = $1,130.38

    Total Grocery Budget for the 3 Cats ($364, for the pay period – $14.00)
    Total Cats this Week Period: $
    Total Cats to Date: $316.33

    Total Grocery Budget for Stockpile ($507.69)
    Total Stockpile this Week Period: $
    Total Stockpile to Date: $163.05

    Total Grocery Budget for the Personal Hygiene ($182)
    Total Personal Hygiene this Week Period: $
    Total Personal Hygiene to Date: $222.91

    Total Grocery Budget for Meat ($499.98)
    Total Meat this Week Period: $
    Total Meat to Date: $407.10

    Total Coupons Used this Week Period: $
    Total Coupons Used To Date: $22.48

    Total Grocery Savings for this Week Period: $
    Total Grocery Savings to Date: $89.64

    Total Price Match for this Week Period: $
    Total Price Match to Date: $54.49

    Total PC Points Received this Week Period:
    Total PC Rewards Points Used this Week Period:
    Total PC Rewards To Date: 25,688

    Overview: No Shop week

  2. I like that your list only has one “power required” item (the hand mixer, although, that could be manual too). It’s good for people to know that they don’t need a Kitchen Aid mixer to bake (although wanting one is a different story).

    I bake all our bread products (bread, pita, hamburger buns, garlic bread, etc) as well as snacks like muffins, granola bars (they’re no bake though) and roasted chickpeas, and we make our own french fries, pizza (including the dough) and, I only have a hand mixer (I like it for hummus and refried beans). I have 11 items on your list and will be doing away with one, the rolling pin. A jar works just as well and doesn’t take up special space. Another item that I have and don’t really need but really like is my scale. I’m going to be selling bread starting in January and it will be nice to weigh my dough (although not required).

    Another item that I use that makes my life easier but isn’t required is a pizza cutter.

    Besos Sarah.

    1. Hey Sarah,
      This is brilliant. We do as much as we can at home as well. How do you make your roasted chickpeas? Great idea with the jar, my mom used to do that too. I have a weight scale here that I brought from the UK. What do you use instead of the pizza cutter?

      1. Dear CBB,

        I buy (bagged) chickpeas. Soak them for at least 4 hours (doesn’t need to be overnight). Cook with pressure cooker for 16 minutes. Dry them. Mix with olive oil (other oils are fine but olive oil is the tastiest) and a lot of salt. I bake them on the lower rack at the same time I’m baking my bread (375 for 30 minutes). I usually cook them for a bit longer or just turn off the oven and leave them in it. Sometimes until the next morning. Then, I store them in an open jar in the fridge. They dry out and get crunchier (after a day in the fridge) so don’t over cook them. I know that it sounds like a lot of work but it’s not if you’re organized. I recently ran out of chickpeas and tried yellow peas (not split! cook for 6 minutes) and they’re a family favourite too! The great thing is that you can cook extra and make hummus as well (with the chickpeas and yellow peas).

        I HAVE a pizza cutter and really like it. We have pizza every week and The Kids make and can cut their own. If I didn’t have one, we’d have to use a big knife and risk cutting (my new!) kitchen counter. Ideally, I’ll get a huge cutting board (as our pizza’s kind of hang over the edge).

        Besos Sarah.

        1. We made them once and they were mushy.. maybe we over-cooked them. We love the dry chickpeas at Christmas time that we’ve had in the past and wanted to make them. We use the slow cooker to do ours. We just wash and pour them in with water for about 3-4 hours. We have a pressure cooker but it was Mrs. CBB’s grandmas from the 60’s and haven’t used it. We do make hummus for myself and the little guy. We have 5 big bags of chickpeas in the cold room since we haven’t been eating many beans the last 2 years. It’s just me and the little guy. We love making pizza too but our little guy won’t eat it. Ugh… he has a thing for the pizza shop pizza only. We were thinking of trying Delissio to help cut down on costs but might try a homemade one again with more sauce and cheese.

          1. Dear CBB,

            Not sure what dry chickpeas are. As for the other ones, it sounds like you over cooked them. I found a guide on Google and then trial and errored from there. If at first you don’t succeed 🙂

            What about if your little guy gets to put the toppings on his own pizza!? At our house, everyone gets their own pizza and can put whatever they want on it (for awhile, my son didn’t even put pasta sauce on his!?). Pizza shop pizza isn’t in our budget so if The Kids (aged 7) want to make, decorate and eat pizza, homemade it is! Now, it’s a weekly meal that the whole family looks forward to and it’s a chance for me to use up leftovers (meats, veggies, I even put lettuce or cabbage on it).

            All the best with your projects!

            Besos Sarah.

  3. OCTOBER – Week #5 of 5- Oct 30-Nov 5, 2017


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



    It’s soup & casserole season at our house! How about you? The weather has moved in autumn in a big way and warm dishes are what’s on my mind these days.

    Our meal plan for this week includes:

    – Homemade Green Pea Soup and Garlic Toast

    – Penne Pasta with a Creamy Tomato Sauce and Spinach

    – Leftover Italian Creamy Tomato Soup with a side of Sriracha-Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

    – Italian Chicken Noodle Soup

    – Gabrielle’s Simple Tomato & Corn Soup with Cheesy Apple Biscuits

    – Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes served with a Spinach Salad tossed with Red Onion Rings, Red Pepper Slices, Mandarin Orange
    Segments, Slivered Almonds and Sliced Hard Boiled Eggs

    – Gingery Meatball Soup with Rice and an Apple Crisp

    – Bake Cinnamon Roll Quick Bread & a batch of Large Soft Ginger Cookies


    Since it’s the last week of the month, I am transferring the $1.58 grocery funds remaining into to GGC Savings Reserve.

    I did however have another RE-STOCKING WEEK so there’s shopping to check out!



    Thrifty Foods – Maple Ridge –

    2 Family Size Chicken Breasts BOGO = $21.12 < HUGE packages!

    • TOTAL Re-Stocking Reserve OOP: $21.12

    ** Earned 1 Air Miles on this shop **
    ** USED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $0.00 Loyalty Savings on this shop **


    Walmart – Port Coquitlam –

    2 pkgs Compari Tomatoes @ 2 for $3.00 << I just couldn't resist! This is a want, not a need. 🙁

    • TOTAL Re-Stocking Reserve OOP: $3.00






    •Total Loyalty Card Price Reductions This Year: $308.47

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

    •Total Price Match Savings Used This Year: $0.00

    •Total More Points Earned This Year: 324 Points

    •Total Air Miles Earned This Year: 58 Air Miles

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

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



    $ 1,900.00 Grocery Budget JAN-OCT

    ($ 224.57) NET RESERVE SAVINGS

    ($1,675.43) Actual CASH SPENT



    $ 215.69 Re-Stocking Fund
    $ 170.70 Holiday Season Fund + $200 RCSS POINTS + $10 Dream Air Miles + $10 RCSS Gift Card (TOTAL $390.70)
    $ 649.59 Summer Season Fund
    $ 421.87 US Shopping Reserve
    $ 41.56 GGC Savings Reserve
    $ 0.00 Points Redeemed Reserve

    OUR CURRENT TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES ARE $1,499.41. This means the $1,274.44 that we carried forward from 2016 PLUS AN ADDITIONAL $1,255.94 that we have added in 2017, LESS $1,030.97 that we have drawn out for use in 2017.


    1. Hi Mary,
      It’s catching up time for me.
      Do you have a recipe for the Ginger Meatball Soup? I’d like to try that. It sounds like something good for my flu too! What do you like about the Compari tomatoes? Great deal on the chicken breasts. I have to keep my eyes open for a deal too. We are trying to eat down the freezer. I’m hoping to buy a stand-up soon. Great shop! You get ballot #1. Mr.CBB

  4. Great list of baking essentials but I honestly think it could be even less. You can get a lot done with just a few items (mixing bowl, measuring cups, pan) and then branch out from there as you find new recipes to make.

    My personal favorite at the moment is home made Rain Coast Crisp crackers, you know the ones that are $8+ for a small box at the grocery store? They’re pretty easy to make with a small loaf pan. I make 8 small loaves at a time and freeze them. Then as I need them I slice the loaves into crackers and do the 2nd bake. They’re great with cheese, home made hummus, or just on their own.

    1. Dear Owen,

      Those crackers are the next thing on my list of “things to bake”. I absolutely love them and you can add anything and everything to them.

      Do you have a recipe that you’d care to share?

      Besos Sarah.

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