grocery game monthly challenge

The Ultimate Guide To Portion Sizes And Your Grocery Budget : The GGC #2 June 11-17

The Ultimate Guide To Portion Sizes And Your Grocery Budget



You eat more, you spend more, there’s no round about way to cover this up. Before we start I just want to say that this is not about a diet it’s about a way of life and how eating healthy and with-in the limits of our body is very important to our well-being and our wallet.

A PORTION DIET ISN’T A DIET AT ALL… It’s a way of life.

It’s so easy to over-eat especially when we don’t take portion size into consideration. Many of you would probably admit to never reading nutrition labels and have no idea what a portion sizes of cereal is.

I bet you’d be shocked to find out you probably eat enough cereal in one sitting for two to three people. I know, I’ve pretty much come to realize that portion size is my best friend when learning how to control the amount of nutrition that goes into my body.

Since our son was born I haven’t been running as much as I used to and working out has went from every day to a few times a week or when I can fit it in. Most parents can understand how hard it is to balance work, parenting and personal life all in one day but with time management it is possible. It’s procrastination that gets the best of us and the same goes for our eating habits.

Food portions have always been a big topic in our family because we love to eat and we know we eat too much which also turns into, you guessed it….higher grocery expenses.


Portion sizes guide


portion distortion 3Courtesy of National Heart, lung and Blood

Proper portion sizes depends on a few factors such as age, weight, health status, activity level and perhaps consulting with your doctor or health practitioner. Eating  food portions doesn’t mean that you restrict the foods you it but rather it’s what some might consider food mindfulness.

Over the years portion sizes have increased in both Canada and the USA to fulfill the need of customers who want more for their money followed by competition. The problem with that is too much food means overeating because it’s too hard to eat just a portion of food when eating out.

I’m one of the worst eaters when it comes to portion sizes which is why I decided to do my homework to learn more about portion sizes. My biggest downfall is always the pasta portion and I’m sure many of you will agree that with me that it’s easy to eat too much pasta. To combat overeating pasta I now use a smaller plate such as a dessert plate or small bowl for my pasta portion until I get a grip on serving size for my activity level.


Use Your Hands To Control Portion Sizes


portion sizes we follow using the hand

I’ve always been told that a portion of protein begins with the size of your palm and to load up on vegetables the size of your fist although I likely double that as I’m a veggie guy. Everyone’s hands will differ in size but use them as a measuring tool when you aren’t quite sure how much food you should be serving yourself.

What I wasn’t aware of is that a serving of carbs is one cupped hand and a serving of fat is the size of your thumb until Mrs. CBB told me about it. I guess she learned this in her home-economics class and it was something that stuck in her mind. I always like to learn about hacks when it comes to portion sizes because we don’t always have measuring utensils or nutrition labels at our disposal.

Ex: You’re at a party and there is a bowl of butter that does not come in portion sizes so you have to figure it out on a whim. Knowing that your thumb is the approximate size for a serving of fat is a great way to take stress off your dining experience.


Portion control plates


tupperware portion sizes plate

You really don’t need to buy any fancy plates to control portion sizes as most people tend to use dessert plates, salad plates or smaller dinner plates in general. Gone are the days where bigger is better at the dinner table however if you still use larger plates it’s important to make sure the food on your plate stands out. The reason for this is because you will feel deprived.

When you go to a fancy restaurant you might notice your meal comes out in stages where the plate is far bigger than the meal. Most of us laugh when we see celebrities eating or celebrity chefs plating meals stating that we’d be in starvation mode if we ate like that.

The problem is they are right and we are wrong. We tend to eat too much because we aren’t being mindful of portion sizes. What you see on television or in these expensive restaurants are portion controlled meals.

You only have to read the nutrition labels on any frozen dinner whether it be lean cuisine or any other portioned meal to realize you are probably eating too much. We used to laugh at how little food you get in a lean cuisine meal but you really don’t need any more food unless your body needs the fuel because you’re burning it off.

One of our plates is portion controlled but it’s a Tupperware that has sections which helps not only to store and transfer food but to keep portion sizes in check. We found them at Value Village for around two dollars plus taxes and I use them to bring my lunch to work.

You can also find containers on Amazon that will help you with meal prep and portion sizes if you want to plan in advance.

What I love about these containers is that they are already sized for the food portions which means no thinking is needed. When you are just too tired to worry about portion sizes when packing a lunch, dinner or snacks these containers have you covered!

Another popular portion control type container that parents love to send their kids to school with is the Bento Box. It’s great for the kids and adults who want to pack a lunch that is free of wrappers and controls portion sizes.

Actually, it was suggested by our son’s school during orientation that we invest in a Bento box as they have been popular with other parents and work well in the classroom.

Teaching your children about portion sizes from a young age will allow them to understand how much food they should be eating and help combat overeating as they grow older.

Meal planning always saves money and time so having the right containers portioned or not is essential to the success of your meal planning program.

I write about portion sizes as if it is a program  because it really is since it keeps you aware of how much food you are putting into your body. We should all be aware diet or no diet.


Reading Nutrition Labels


What is it that you want from a nutrition label? Knowing what you are looking for is half the battle. Next is understanding what you are reading but these days it’s fairly easy to understand the metrics behind product labels and nutrition.

I’m NOT a nutritionist but what we do now is read nutrition labels a bit closer just so we know what we are buying. Although we don’t often get into too much boxed foods or canned goods we do buy them and it’s important to us to know portion sizes, fat, carbs, calories, sugar and salt.

Those seem to be the most important parts of the nutrition label that we focus on as well how many servings are in the product. You might be shocked to know that a large bag of chips has enough servings for 10 people. That’s just a wild guess but my point is you don’t want to find out after you’ve wolfed down the bag.


Reach for healthy foods


If eating out is your only option be aware of portion sizes because what you get doesn’t always mean you should eat it all. Sometimes bringing a portion home to warm up later or splitting a meal on the road is better than buying two meals that perhaps would feed 4 people instead of two. The classic burger and fries is a great example.

portion distortion fast food comparisonPhoto credit at bottom of photo.

Grocery shopping can be tricky especially when you are teaching yourself a new way to eat healthy and controlling portion sizes. The main suggestion I would give you is to stick to the perimeter of the store and only go down an aisle if you  must purchase an item on your grocery list.

This brings me to the grocery list which is essential to your success at the grocery store. If portion control, budget control and healthy eating tick all the boxes on your list then be prepared in advance so you aren’t reaching for foods that are better left on the shelves.


Stop eating when you’re full


Obviously portion sizes for adults will be far different from portion sizes for children but keep in mind that when you are full, you’re full. The last thing you want to do is to pressure yourself or your child to finish food left on a plate. This not only leads to guilt even into adulthood about not finishing up but potentially to overeating, just because.


Talk to the professionals first


If you’re concerned about how much you should be eating and are not sure where to look for answers sometimes your best bet is your family doctor. Getting a referral to a nutritionist or dietician in your area might help you to understand your body and the types of foods and portion sizes you should be eating.

Discussion: How do you portion the foods you eat?

Leave me a comment below and any other suggestions you’d like to add to my blog post.

What the fans are already saying about portion sizes on Facebook.

When the kids were small I used smaller plates for them. We do it for the grandson now. I expect everyone to take a little bit of everything but hubby is bad for not eating his veggies. Christine W.

Portion sizes…measure it or weigh it depending on what it is. I even measure my liquids because I am on fluid restriction. Mary C.

Smaller plate or bowl, no meatballs or meat in my pasta. Laurie L.

My dinner plates are square and so large we rarely use them and find our side dishes are big enough. Mary D.

As my partner is trying to diet, I portion smaller and more filling with healthier sides, filling enough that there are no late evening cravings. But my portions are 1/3 of what I give my partner, I’m smaller and try not to over indulge. Tara L.

 I use a luncheon plate instead of a dinner plate….and depending on the meal is how much goes on it. Colleen K.

I meal prep so it all gets portioned in containers. We don’t count fat or calories. I can have as many veggies as I want and I do. About 3/4 of our meal is veggies and 1/4 meat. I don’t eat much fruit as no grains at all. Cynthia B.

I use small luncheon plates for all my big meals, load up on veggies, then meat, and small amount of a carb aka potatoes rice etc. if I feel I want more, then i reach for veggies first. Dawn H.

Funny I was thinking of portion size today too . I plan to use smaller bowls here starting tomorrow. Donna P.


June 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-$13.63=$286.37
  • 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


Food Basics

  • Select Vinegar $1.99
  • Kraft Peanut Butter $4.99
  • Chicken Breast Halves $8.53
  • Radishes $2.49
  • Chopped Kale $2.99
  • Romain Hearts $2.88
  • Bananas $1.13
  • Red onion $0.83
  • Red Cabbage $2.38
  • Fresh Ginger $0.73
  • Red Tomato Clusters $1.75
  • Radicchio $2.24
  • Garlic $0.88
  • Avocados 5 pck $2.88

Total Our-of-Pocket $33.81

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

  • Total to spend this month : $286.37
  • Stockpile budget 2018 : $25.00/month
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $25.00
  • Christmas Reserve Fund : $35/month $210 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: $33.81
  • Total spent so far this month: $183.29
  • Total over/Under spend this shop:
  • Total left to spend for the month: $103.08
  • Total Spent To Date 2018: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $323.04+Feb $169.42+March $228.70 + April $337.84+ May $275.79 + June $+July $+August $+September $+ October $+ November $ + December $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

As expected this week we stocked up on fruits and vegetables to make salads which is our summer meal every day. It seems easy enough to make salads in the kitchen and grilling protein on the BBQ. I tend not to take a lunch to work apart from fruits and coffee because I work staggered hours where I can come home and eat without missing meals. Lunch at home most often is leftovers. Overall, a great week but we look forward to going to the market on the weekend where we can pick up some great Ontario produce deals.



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!


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  1. JUNE 11-17
    Yearly Budget for 1 Adult $2400 or $200/mo
    Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $200

    -1L Chocolate Milk $2.72
    -Suraj Naan Garlic $1.97
    Total Out Of Pocket $4.69

    -Satsuma Mandarin Oranges (@0.99/lb) $2.50
    -Cantaloupe $3.00
    Total Out Of Pocket $5.50

    -Spinach & Feta Muffin $3.00
    -Strawberry & Raspberry flat $15 (probably about 1 pint raspberries and 2-3 pints strawberries)
    Total Out Of Pocket $18.00

    I prepaid for the 20-week CSA box, which calculates to $17.81/wk. The prices below are what the items are being sold for at their farmers market stand.
    -1 pint strawberries $5 (price based on other farmers because this farm isn’t selling in the stand)
    -1 bunch carrots $3.75
    -Summer squash $3/lb
    -Radishes w/ tops $3 (price based on other farmers because this farm isn’t selling in the stand)
    -1 head lettuce $3
    Total Out of Pocket $17.81

    Total Gift Cards used to date: $41.21
    Total Rewards used to date: $42.61
    PC Optimum Points Balance: 3530
    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: $
    Total coupons used to date: $12.39
    Total in-store discounts this week: $
    Total in-store discounts to date: $2.00
    Total spent this week: $46.00
    Total spent so far this month: $121.03
    Total over/Under spend this shop ($50/wk): Wk1 Over $25.03 + Wk2 Under $4 – Over $21.03
    Total left to spend for the month: $78.97
    Total Spent To Date 2018: Jan $217.46 + Feb $127.79 + Mar $124.18 + Apr $121.50 + May $174.18

    Happy Father’s Day to the fathers out there!
    This past week I finally got around to making an inventory of my fridge and freezer which I put into google sheets for easy access whenever I’m at the grocery store. I only need to do an inventory of dry goods/pantry and I’m set.

    I now have a lot of green leaf vegetables (2 large heads of lettuce and the remainder of the living lettuce I potted up out on the balcony, radish greens, and turnip greens) so I’ll probably be having a lot of salads this week. I’ll grill some chicken for lunch salads and grill some beef for lettuce wraps for dinner. I’ll make a big batch of pesto from the carrot tops to freeze and also to use as salad dressing and make some quick pickles from the rest of the cucumber from last week.

  2. Ann Lee S says:

    During WWII, the people of England were healthier than ever before, or since. the rationed food was the reason, and portions were nothing like today, when everything is Supersized! Veggies grown were not rationed, but meat and fats were.
    we need to do a little rationing at home!! ann

  3. Mary Campbell says:

    JUNE – Week #2 of 4- June 11-17, 2018


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



    The weather is nicer these days and inspiring me to get out and shop for a few fresh items. Maybe on Sunday we’ll go out to the farm markets in Chilliwack and Abbotsford.


    This week’s shopping was all about fresh strawberries for my sweetie! I was going to shop but I put my back out…it’s flat on my back for now.



    No Frills – Larry’s Card – Maple Ridge

    2 x 1 lb strawberries $2 ea

    Total Summer Reserve: $4.00

    ** Earned 0 Optimum Points on this shop for Larry **
    ** USED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $0.00 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



    $ 1,140.00 Grocery Budget JAN-JUNE


    ($ 908.47) Actual CASH SPENT



    $ 132.74 Freezer Re-Stocking Fund
    $ 252.59 Holiday Season Fund + $270 PC Optimum Points ($230 Mary + $40 Larry) + $10 Dream Air Miles
    = $532.59
    $ 742.50 Summer Season Fund
    $ 656.87 US Shopping Reserve
    $ 147.92 GGC Savings Reserve
    $ 0.00 Points Redeemed Reserve

    OUR CURRENT TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES ARE $1,932.62. This means the 1,761.30 that we carried forward from 2017 PLUS AN ADDITIONAL $801.39 that we have added in 2018, LESS $630.07 that we have drawn out for use in 2018.


    • Hi Mary,
      Sorry to hear about your back. Mrs. CBB has issues with her back too at c3 and c4 and we were told to use an inversion table and go to chiropractor. If she lays down sometimes she is excruciating pain and can’t get up. I’ve had to rush up from my office to help her a couple of times. We love strawberries too and now is the time to buy. We are hoping to get our son involved with picking strawberries this year at the farm once we find a minute. Say hi to Larry and tell him to enjoy those berries!! Mr.CBB 🙂

  4. Mary Campbell says:

    I have to say, the judging a portion size by the size of your thumb, fist, palm of your hand just doesn’t work for me! I LIE to myself!! Unfortunately even the teenie weenie little LIES add up over time though and voila – you have put on weight when you jump on the scales! 🙁 Then I have to have less than I am allowed in a day for a while to offset all my lying to myself and get the scales back to my happy place. Again, no fun! 🙁

    I use my measuring cups to dish up instead of a spoon & with soups I use a ladle the I know is exactly 1/2 a cup but for things like nuts or cheeses…my digital scale is fast and accurate. Let’s stay honest…those measuring cups are supposed to be level so get out a knife and give them a quick swipe! 🙂

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