The Best Ways To Monitor Grocery Spending With-In A Budget : The Grocery Game Challenge 2018 #2 May 7-13

The Best Ways To Monitor Grocery Spending With-in A Budget



If you’re concerned about your grocery spending habits and wondering if they fall with-in your budget than there are a few things you can do to simplify the process. Not everyone has wiggle room in their grocery budget however if you find that you are consistently jumping to the other side of the budget then perhaps an increase is in order.

CBB reader Paul sent me in a question which I feel is something that many people struggle with especially if they are trying to understand where their money is going. We recently did this for my mother-in-law who is a free shopper which means she goes into the grocery store unarmed.

She buys whatever she fancies. It wasn’t until I tallied up how much she had spent over the course of 18 days did my mind spin. Her mini trips to the grocery store every day just to keep busy are costing her hundreds in petrol and she spends just as much as a family of 4. It’s amazing how fast the small stuff adds up when you have NO plan in place.


As a single adult how can I best monitor the amount of money I’m spending at the grocery store?

Paul K.


Grocery Spending


For most single people on average grocery spending falls between $50-$100 a week based on their needs which includes diet. Monitoring your grocery spending with-in a budget isn’t as hard as it sounds especially when you have all the free finance tools you need right here at Canadian Budget Binder to help give you better insight into where your money is going and how you can better control any spending that is getting out of hand.

Related: How much should my grocery budget be?

Grocery shopping is one of the biggest categories in anyone’s budget next to living expenses such as rent or a mortgage and to be honest it’s far easier to control then dealing with a missed payment. So, how are the grocery experts out there making the most of their shopping experience? Well, let me break down for you the reasons you may be struggling to keep your grocery spending in check and what you can do to ensure you aren’t spending more money than you have each month.


Create a Grocery List


This is not as uncool as it sounds because I know some of my guy friends who have no interest in grocery lists. It’s just not something that most men do but for those who take that extra step they will yield higher savings. Have a look around the grocery store the next time you shop and you may struggle to find more men than women pushing a shopping cart with a grocery list in hand.

Granted the paper grocery list may have dwindled with the many Smartphone apps available but even then, no paper, no phone equals a grocery spending disaster in the making. Perhaps not as bad as it sounds but if you are short on cash and your grocery spending equals far more than you can afford you may run into trouble.

Solve it by creating a grocery list which includes how much money you have to spend for that particular shopping trip. If you don’t already know how much your grocery budget should be than I suggest you take the time to figure that out with a monthly budget.


Cash in Hand


When tracking your grocery spending habits cash really is the King and Queen of it all only because you either have it or you don’t. There are no other ways to pay for the food you are shopping for without that cash which tends to stick into the minds of those cash shoppers rather than the tap and insert shoppers, credit card and debit card.

Related: Using the envelope cash budget system

The land where nothing matters but the tap. It can become a real struggle shopping with plastic rather than cash if you don’t have a grocery budget and plan in place. Even then for some people they don’t know how to understand there isn’t the money to purchase more. Plastic is NOT money it’s just someone else paying and you still have to pay them back. Go for cash it’s the easiest route and an excellent learning platform.


Use Coupons/ Coupon Apps/Rewards Programs


In the almost last two years we haven’t even used $20 in coupons only because we’ve changed our eating habits. This means we struggle to find gluten-free coupons but on occasion we do find some that can save us money. We don’t document anything but grocery items in our budget but we have found coupons for laundry soap, paper towel and so on that we do use.

Pairing coupons with coupon apps is a great way to get double the savings if not more depending on what each saves you. Finally, rewards programs whether they are tied to the grocery store you shop at or through your credit card company for those who pay by credit all adds up. You either take advantage of the savings while they are there or you pass them by. The choice is yours but you must do weekly research before you leave to the grocery store.


Always ask for a receipt


If you walk away from a cashier without getting your grocery receipt you’ve just committed one of the biggest grocery shopping sins of all. That little piece of paper is not only a list of what you purchased but it tells you what you paid, savings, when you purchased the products, what tender you used to pay.

What happens when you have a problem and no receipt? Well, some stores will tell you too bad they won’t help you. Clearly you could buy a product from Wal-Mart and without a receipt try to return it to another grocery store. That wouldn’t be fair to the grocer so many won’t accept returns without a receipts.

Secondly, you need to make sure you paid what you were supposed to for every item. Sometimes you may have a case for The Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) but you don’t learn about an error until you get home and read your receipt. That’s a savings margin for your grocery budget and a loss for the grocery store which could potentially be even higher.

You help them, they help you is the name of the SCOP game provided they fix the problem right away.

You will also need you receipt if you play The Grocery Game Challenge or if you document each product you bought in your budget spreadsheet. Either way that piece of paper should be treated like gold if you want peace of mind.


Document your spending


The grocery game challenge is the way Mrs. CBB and I both document our grocery spending so we know each week how much money we are spending and on what products. It’s far easier to dissect a problem when you can see all the pieces laid out for you.

In this case we use our monthly budget to administer grocery spending totals and type out the products we’ve purchased. It’s easier to look at something and say, we really didn’t need that or we went overboard. Next time we will do better. If you don’t have a clue where your money is being spent you won’t understand how you can improve the next time.

If money isn’t a problem for you then you likely wouldn’t be reading this post so I’m safe to assume that those of you who have made it this far down want the help to control grocery spending habits. Let’s put something into perspective for everyone.

An example might be,

You spend $5.00 on a large bag of chips but when you get to the bread aisle you only have $4 left in your cash grocery spending budget so you only buy 1 loaf. Ideally, 2 loaves of bread would have been best to get you through the week making sandwiches, toast and French toast. That bag of chips likely will be wiped out in a sitting or two adding no nutritional value to your diet.

  • What do you do?
  • What should you do?

This is a case of understanding how to best balance your grocery spending so you are able to get the foods that matter and leave behind what you can’t afford for that particular week. The only way to see these misguided purchases is by documenting them. A quick read of your receipt will give you brief insight but you’ll strike a home-run when you see it on your computer screen or written out on paper.

These are some of the best ways to monitor your grocery spending habits but just in case you find yourself too cool to care then you deal with the consequences of your lack of actions. It’s not that hard and takes no time at all. Aren’t your finances worth that little bit of effort? I’d say so.

Discussion: How do you go about controlling your grocery spending? What are some typical mistakes of those shoppers who find they spend more than they can afford?

Share your comments below!



May 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 which includes new prizes!


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: 3,200,000
  • 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


Shoppers Drug Mart

  • 2 x 4litre bags of milk $4.25 each plus 2850 PC Optimum points
  • 1 box of red tea $2.99

Total Out-of-Pocket $11.50

Food Basics

  • 2 x cases of Coke Zero $4.99 $9.98
  • 3 x Gluten-Free Hotdog wieners Sale $1.49 each $4.47
  • 4 x Schneiders Bacon $3.99 each $15.96
  • Premium bananas $1.90
  • Bosc pears $3.78
  • Green spring onions $1.98
  • Royal Gala apples $3.97
  • Golden pineapple $2.49
  • 3 x seedless cucumbers $2.94
  • Romaine Lettuce $2.49
  • Hothouse Tomatoes $2.00
  • 3 x 1lb strawberries $2.88 each $8.64
  • Polar Ice Bars $4.99
  • 2 x 500ml Lactancia Whipping Cream 35% $2.49 each $4.98
  • 3 x 1l Lactancia 10% cream $2.49 $7.47
  • 4 x Bavarian bread sale $1.99 each $7.96
  • Almond Milk Unsweetened Vanilla $3.49
  • Astro Coconut Yogurt Sale $1.99

Total Out-of-Pocket $91.48

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

  • Total to spend this month : $262.16
  • Stockpile budget 2018 : $25.00/month
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $0
  • Christmas Reserve Fund : $35/month $140 Saved
  • 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: $116.54
  • Total spent this week: $102.98
  • Total spent so far this month: $119.98
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: under
  • Total left to spend for the month: -$125.18
  • Total Spent To Date 2018: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $323.04+Feb $169.42+March $228.70 + April $337.84+ May $ + June $+July $+August $+September $+ October $+ November $ + December $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

I think we are getting used to the 20X the points on milk at Shoppers Drug Mart which translates into almost one free bag every time with rewards points. That sold me on making sure we buy our milk at Shoppers. Smart marketing move if you ask me. Since we had a return to make at the same end of town as Food Basics we thought we’d just shop there this week.

We had already planned to go to Zehrs but I had created a grocery list based on both Food Basics or Zehrs knowing we’d go to either or. It was late in the day so we made our way to Food Basics for this weeks grocery shop. All we bought were the basics and some pop for us and any guests that might come around.

I’m calming down on the beer as it was getting to be a bit much again. It comes from my allowance but I was spending over my limit which was a wake up sign for me. That’s just how easy it is to fall back into a spending routine.

Have a great week friends.



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.

Related: Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?

If you notice I’m missing a valuable link please message me and I’ll add it 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.


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 does not include such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014 we no longer included such items in our grocery budget so we could see our actual food numbers at the end of the year in order to plan accordingly.
  • 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!


Are You New To Canadian Budget Binder?

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  1. MAY 7-13
    Yearly Budget for 1 Adult $2400 or $200/mo
    Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $200

    -Neoguri Instant Noodles (4pack) $3.48
    -2 x No Name Chips (@0.97 each) $2.99
    -Eggs $2.86
    -3 x Limes (@6 for $2) $1.00
    -Green Leaf Lettuce $1.97
    Total Out Of Pocket $12.30

    Total Gift Cards used to date: $41.21
    Total Rewards used to date: $42.61
    PC Optimum Points Balance: 3330
    PC Optimum Points Redeemed: 0
    Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0

    Checkout51- $6.95

    Total to spend this month : $200
    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: $0
    Total spent this week: $12.30
    Total spent so far this month: $57.52
    Total over/Under spend this shop ($40/wk): Wk1 Over $5.22 + Wk2 Under $27.70 = Under $22.48
    Total left to spend for the month: $142.48
    Total Spent To Date 2018: Jan $217.46 + Feb $127.79 + Mar $124.18 + Apr $121.50

  2. MAY – Week #2 of 5- May 7-13, 2018


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



    I’ll be in Abbotsford for medical appointments a few times this month so it’s the perfect opportunity to stop at the farm markets. If I am spending the gas anyway, it might as well be dual purpose spending. 🙂


    This week my shopping is all about re-stocking my drink supply for the summer…not including my ice water and Lime Perrier of course.



    Save On Foods – Maple Ridge

    24 x 2L Clamato @ 2/$6

    Less $25 More Rewards on Larry’s Card
    Less $25 More Rewards on Mary’s Card
    BALANCE $27.76

    ** Earned 11 MORE Points on Larry’s Card **
    ** Earned 11 MORE Points on Mary’s Card **
    ** SAVED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $83.36 Loyalty Savings on this shop **






    •Total Loyalty Card Price Reductions This Year: $238.06

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

    •Total Price Match Savings Used This Year: $0.00

    •Total More Points Earned This Year: 11027.76 Points

    •Total Air Miles Earned This Year: 397 Air Miles

    •Total PC Optimum Points Earned This Year: 11,900 Points



    $ 950.00 Grocery Budget JAN-MAY


    ($ 873.19) Actual CASH SPENT



    $ 117.74 Freezer Re-Stocking Fund

    $ 237.59 Holiday Season Fund + $270 PC Optimum Points ($230 Mary + $40 Larry) + $10 Dream Air Miles = $517.59

    $ 687.50 Summer Season Fund

    $ 611.87 US Shopping Reserve

    $ 88.80 GGC Savings Reserve

    $ 0.00 Points Redeemed Reserve

    OUR CURRENT TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES ARE $1,743.50. This means the 1,761.30 that we carried forward from 2017 PLUS AN ADDITIONAL $612.27 that we have added in 2018, LESS $630.07 that we have drawn out for use in 2018.


      1. I have a Virgin Caesar drink with Extreme Beans in it (Clamato with Worcestershire & Tobasco). Hubby doesn’t like the taste of Clamato so no I don’t use it for soups…I use Motts Vegetable Cocktail though. 🙂

        1. Mrs. CBB had the extreme beans once at a bar when she ordered a Caesar and she loved them. I’m not sure where to buy them here. My FIL used to make them with the garden beans. He also did wild asparagus that he picked. It’s that time to pick but we have no time, I have no time. I love tomato juice too.

          1. Mr CBB…I buy large jars of the Extreme Green Beans at RCSS and find my pickled asparagus at Costco.

          2. We did see them at Costco and have purchased them. They are a bit different from my what my FIL would make but that just goes back to the type of spices and vinegar he used. They are so good.

  3. I read an article this morning about a retired widow that is experiencing severe financial stress since the passing of her husband because of this very topic. She fears that she will run out of money because she doesn’t know how much to budget for her spending.

    The money manager forming the response to her recommended that as soon as she got paid (pension, CPP, OAS) that she put money into different “buckets” or accounts…to fund upcoming needs and desires. Basically you don’t travel until the travel bucket is full and can pay for the trip, no clothing purchases until the cash is in the clothing bucket and so forth. I use this method myself because I manage the funds in our family & when I was hospitalized in 2015, my hubby was able to easily able to take over the financial management because I had labelled our accounts clearly & he could simply continue to do what I had done in the past and not try to re-create the wheel.

    Hubby and I discussed this morning that our budget (which is on my computer) breaks down exactly what goes into which “bucket” on every single payday and that all wind falls/cash gifts go to either the “funds to be invested” bucket or the “emergency fund” bucket. They aren’t part of our budget and should be SAVED for future needs that aren’t covered by our bucket system. Since there are only so many income sources for us so, like most people,…if there’s an adjustment to be made due to rising prices or an unplanned emergency, the grocery budget is the place to tap & then it’s wiggle, wiggle, jiggle, jiggle to adjust my grocery spending to reflect the reduced funds available for that month.

    Our sporadic payment reminders are scheduled via my online calendar so that even if the email reminder from the creditor doesn’t appear, the calendar prompts us for the payment of our monthly, quarterly and annual payments. Can’t happen you say? Just last month my email telephone bill reminder arrived 2 weeks late. They had changed their system and it didn’t cough out the email reminders on time. If I had waited for the reminder, our payment would have been late & accrued interest not to mention a ding against my credit rating. It pays to be organized! It’s part of my financial DNA to know what a given income stream has to pay in the way of bills so I caught their slip up and confirmed what I owed by logging into my account to get the balance owing. Those monthly calendar reminders would have alerted my spouse too since he’s not as familiar with the day-to-day process & might not have twigged to the fact that the reminder from the creditor had not arrived.

    Now that brings me to the grocery bucket…I only spend a maximum amount of what is in the bucket but not necessarily all that is in the bucket. An upcoming holiday, birthday or special occasion can require some additional funding to make the meal all that I want it to be so just because it’s in the bucket, doesn’t mean you have to spend it. If you follow my GGC posts, you’ll see that I have “reserves” that are the leftovers from my grocery bucket. 🙂

    1. Hi Mary,
      I know I’ve already told you a million times how amazingly organized both yourself and Larry are and how important it is. So many people don’t understand until it’s too late. I know that if my MIL passed away before my FIL it would be even worse than what it is now. He had NO idea about anything. All he did was dish over the cash. I love the bucket idea and the entire time I read your comment all I would see is yellow buckets on a counter-top. Visualization of filling the bucket and reaching goals is a smart way to balance needs and wants. Well done.

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