The Ultimate Canadian Grocery Savings Guide

5 Dollar-Wise Romantic Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas : The Grocery Game Challenge 2018 #2 Feb 12-18

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Valentine’s Day is around the corner and for those of you who want to surprise your loved one with a romantic dinner at home on a budget, I’ve got you covered. Mrs. CBB and I considered going out to a restaurant for Valentine’s Day dinner but once we factored in the costs we realized we’d get romantic at home instead.

  • Romantic Dinner for two including dessert
  • Bottle of wine or other bubbly
  • Valentine’s Day flowers and other gifts
  • Babysitting costs
  • Server Tip

Now that we are parents we tend to do more date-nights at home because we enjoy being in the kitchen creating meals together, it’s fun plus far less than eating out.

Everything about Valentine’s Day is expensive as I’m sure we can all agree. By the time you buy Valentine’s Day flowers (Rose’s being the number one choice), romantic Valentine’s Day card and book reservations at your favourite restaurant you may be in for a pricey date-night.


Save and Splurge


If you are one of those people who would rather eat out at a restaurant for Valentine’s Day because you don’t want to cook, don’t know how to cook or have no desire to create a romantic environment on your own, do it. The only down-side is that you’re sharing your romantic dinner with everyone else around you and it will cost you far more money.

One idea for budget-conscious consumers who want to eat out for Valentine’s Day is to save for this special date as a projected expense. Like any other holiday or special occasion if you are spending money that goes above and beyond your daily category limits saving for it is your best alternative.

For example, if you plan to spend $300 for Valentine’s Day including a romantic dinner out on the town, flowers and possibly a small gift and card that can be a budget-killer if you don’t have the money set aside. Take that $300 estimate in January, divide it by 12 and save for it all year. $300/12=$25/month you should be putting away for your romantic Valentine’s dinner and gifts.

I think once you see this perspective of the costs of spending on Valentine’s Day you may re-consider your romantic ways. Although Valentine’s Day is supposedly all about the man making all the arrangements and surprises that’s just not the way it goes these days.

An obvious savings idea for eating out on Valentine’s Day is to see what restaurants are offering Valentine’s Day dinner specials. I know it may sound cheap but that’s really what this blog is about, saving money. Go ahead and use a coupon, discount card, loyalty points or whatever you must to cut-costs if eating out is reserved for your romantic evening.

For those of you like Mrs. CBB and I who would prefer to cook a special Valentine’s Day dinner at home we sat down together to think of meals we would enjoy. Consider a meal that you’ve made before or something you don’t often have but would love to have.

Creating a Valentine’s Day dinner at home may add extra to your grocery budget however you can still factor the costs in by meal planning and ultimately not eating out. If you must have a bottle of wine with your meal buy something that is inexpensive that you both like. A bottle of Mateus wine is my wife’s favourite wine and costs under $15 a bottle which is pretty darn good compared to buying wine by the glass or bottle at a restaurant.

I found this awesome Valentine’s Day cocktail called “Cupids Arrow” that won’t break the budget and looks romantic.

1.5 oz vodka.75 oz, blood orange liqueur , 1.5 oz orange juice,  1 splash lemon juice, 5 chopped berries your choice but I recommend raspberries and strawberries 1 tsp sugar (or 1/2 packet of Splenda)1/2 can lemon lime soda (like Sprite)1 sprinkle chocolate shavings for garnish


Valentine’s Day Dinner Recipe Ideas on a Budget


Both Mrs. CBB and I are cooking Valentine’s Day dinner together which we both find romantic because we get to spend time together in the kitchen. Although we’d love to do all of this while our son is sleeping we know that isn’t going to happen which is fine with us. For now our romantic Valentine’s Day dinner will include our little guy which means he may even help with the food prep and clean-up. (He loves peeling onions and sweeping up.)

As you may already know from reading this blog Mrs. CBB eats Keto which doesn’t really affect the way we planned our Valentine’s Day dinner too much. I’ve become accustomed to not eating too many carbs and don’t really miss the pasta, potatoes and rice because we’ve learned to adapt using cauliflower and other delicious vegetables that are low in carbs.

Go for soups and salads for starters as they are inexpensive to make and adds the allure of what’s next to your Valentine’s Dinner date. If you want to add Valentine’s decor to your environment the Dollar Store is your best bet including candles, table-cloth, napkins, wine glasses etc.

You can simply have a white and red candle lit on the table for ambience along with some fresh cut flowers. It doesn’t have to be Rose’s although some grocery stores drive a hard-bargain at $20 a dozen and a free box of chocolates or other goodies just to get you through the door.

Forget spending money on a Valentine’s Card ladies and gentleman because you’re going to make one instead. Nothing says, I love you more than hand-made crafts because it shows you put effort and time into it which means more than any card you can buy on the shelf, even from the Dollar Store.


Baked Honey-Mustard Chicken with Lemon



This baked honey mustard chicken recipe is one of those recipes where you can add or take away flavours based on dietary needs. Mrs. CBB won’t use honey however, I will. She is perfectly fine with having a mustard-butter basted over her chicken instead which works out perfect for the both of us.

Adding sides like green beans, broccoli, cauliflower mash or riced cauliflower with cheese are other options we find inexpensive and delicious.

Creamy Garlic Mushroom Chicken was our second option in the chicken department by substituting half-and-half cream with whipped cream.


Strawberry Balsamic Glazed Baked Salmon Salad



This strawberry balsamic glazed baked salmon salad recipe caught our attention because we both love salmon and it’s relatively inexpensive if you buy it frozen and portioned at Costco or various grocery stores. With a strawberry balsamic glaze adding perfection to this Valentine’s Day dinner I’m not sure you’d need anything more.


Spinach and Three Cheese Manicotti



Pasta dishes are inexpensive to prepare and this Spinach and Three Cheese Manicotti recipe the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner idea. For this type of recipe we would use thinly sliced zucchini instead of the pasta shells. We’ve made this in the past and both love it. I have yet to post the recipe but it’s coming soon!


  • Buy a good Ricotta cheese that is not too watery for the filling.
  • Make your own Pasta Sauce and a little of the Parmigiano Reggiano goes a long way. It’s more expensive but worth it, plus you can grate it or freeze the cheese whole to use as needed.
  • Always wash your spinach and dry it well.


Strawberries and Cream Stuffed French Toast



There’s nothing wrong with having breakfast for dinner especially on Valentine’s Day. Have a look this Strawberry Stuffed French Toast and you might toss the meat, chicken, fish and veg out the window. (not literally, lol). If we were to make this recipe we’d make a loaf of homemade low-carb bread and then proceed.


Winter Lentil Salad


sexy-winter-salad-pictureIf you want a light Valentine’s Day dinner you can opt for something sexy and delicious like this Winter Salad with Lentils.

Lentils are nutritious and filling but also perfectly paired with gorgeous red candy cane beets make this the perfect Valentine’s dinner salad but as a main dish.

Have a look at all these delicious ingredients!!

This is not a low-carb salad however if you’re vegetarian or want a meatless Valentine’s Day dinner check this one out!

  • 2 small candy cane beets peeled and halved, then thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
  • vanilla seeds from 1/2 a pod
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • For the salad:
  • 1 cup cooked Puy lentils
  • 1/2 small red cabbage
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1 large persimmon
  • 1/2 pomegranate arils only
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds


Valentine’s Day Dessert


queen of hearts jam tarts COVERqueen of hearts jam tarts COVER

End your Valentine’s Dinner with a delicious homemade dessert of your choice. It doesn’t have to be fancy. We’ve decided on making one of our favourite low-carb, sugar-free desserts the Lemon Pound Cake. We might even tuck into one of our homemade sugar-free chocolate bars that we made for Valentine’s. Choices are good and Delicious!

Alternatively, these cute Queen of Hearts Jam-Filled Valentine’s Day Cookies are simple to make and filled with a beautiful red jam of choice.

Discussion: What are some of your favourite romantic Valentine’s Day dinners that you make at home without breaking the budget? Share your comments below and any other tips for Valentine’s Day Dinner Savings.


February Grocery Game Challenge


Join the 2018 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) but before you do you must read The Grocery Game Challenge Rules and Print the 2018 Schedule. In this section I will post each weeks grocery game challenge blog posts for the month.

New Prize Schedule : See the Grocery Game Rules

February GGC Posts


Free Money Saving Tools 2018


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 created to get us on track working 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 2018


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 6 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.


2018 Grocery Shop Results


Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2018: $3600 or $300/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 or that you would like to track on your own)

  • Total Grocery Budget for this Month: $300
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $300
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
  • PC Optimum Points to Spend: 2,800,000
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0

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

  • Zweet -$0.
  • Checkout51- $1.50


Our Grocery Shop This Week



Total Out-of-Pocket $0

Note: All totals below already have tax factored into them.

  • Total to spend this month : $300- $23.05 overage from January $276.95
  • Stockpile budget 2018 : $25.00/month
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $0
  • Christmas Reserve Fund : $35/month  Jan,Feb $70 Saved
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $0
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $34.32
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $24.00
  • Total spent this week: $0
  • Total spent so far this month: $49.93
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: under
  • Total left to spend for the month: $227.02
  • Total Spent To Date 2018: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $323.04+Feb $+March $ + April $+ May $ + June $+July $+August $+September $+ October $+ November $ + December $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

This is a no-shop week for us as I have a dinner meeting and we are heading home for the weekend. Our meal plan is based around our Valentine’s Day dinner and whatever bits and bobs we take out the freezer. We’ll make it all work.

I hope you all are having fun with the Grocery Game Challenge. I’m reading all your posts and commenting when I can. I’d like to see me back on track very soon. If you need anything please message me, even if for support.




2018 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 2018?

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 2018 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 2018 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 prize payout?- I’ve changed the prize to yearly so I’ll be tracking everyone’s shop and draw accordingly for larger prize payouts.
  • When does the Grocery Game close each month? Ideally you would want to have all your shops in by the end of the month for review in order to make improvements for the next.
  • 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 2014-2018 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. Some of these coupons have an expiry date and others no expiry date so be sure to check.
  • 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.

If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2018 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!  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 2018!


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