The Ultimate Canadian Grocery Savings Guide

6 Simple Inexpensive Meals For Unexpected Dinner Guests : The GGC 2018 #4 July 23-29

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If there is potential for you to have unexpected dinner guests at your house it’s important that you have quick dinner tricks up your sleeve, just in case you have to say the magic words, “Can you stay for dinner?”

This past week has been busy for our family as we’ve been helping my sister and brother-in-law empty out their 2700 sq ft. second residence which was filled top to bottom into a storage container. There was lots of stuff that was getting sold, donated and tossed in the bin. It certainly opened my eyes to the importance of minimizing what we own just in case we ever have to move or in the event of death or illness.

The new owners of the house are moving in at the end of July and there was lots to get done so I was called in for assistance which was no trouble at all except I’m in the middle of doing my own back-yard renovations.

The good part is that we are helping each other out so with the rain situation in Ontario this week we’ve been back and forth at each other’s houses working on building a fence and packing stuff for storage.

To be honest this was all last-minute for both of us as their house sold out of the blue after almost two years on the market and our fence blew over with the last rain storm. Family helps family in our world so it’s a win-win for all of us especially since my brother-in-law knows people, who know people who can let me use costly fencing tools for free.

In the midst of all this hard work we needed to eat which meant a quick run to a fast-food joint for a coffee and sandwich or pizza delivery by my sister-in-law to the container house. Our little guy that only eats double pepperoni and cheese pizza flew to the boxes as he was starving.

homemade macaroni and cheeseHe opened a box and his first words were, ewe disgusting. He had opened the box of pizza that had pineapple and olives on it, haha. Not his cup of tea, at all. She also brought over a monster bowl of tuna macaroni salad and homemade macaroni and cheese (which was amazing).

Both of our houses are about 45 minutes apart driving distance and the house that sold is not kitchen ready for cooking at all, more like in packing mode. There was no way to cook unless we used the microwave so our only option was food delivery or eating out.

Our house on the other hand is kitchen ready so when unexpected dinner guests come over we’re able to whip something out of the freezer or cook something simple up.

Since all of this back and forth helping out was out of the blue we weren’t sweating when we had to cook for our unexpected dinner guests even if they were family.

You still want to serve something that is delicious and although in the past both of us have ordered in pizza or Chinese food it gets costly. A take-out meal for 4 adults and 2 kids can run upwards of $80 with tips and tax, even more if we went to a restaurant.

Not only that but the kids don’t fancy Chinese food as much as they do pizza so we decided to make-ahead a simple pizza dough and pack portions into little freezer bags. The main reason was because our son is a pizza fanatic and ordering pizza can get costly.

mini cast iron pizza

This worked out great for our unexpected dinner guests because from the freezer to the counter in an hour the dough was defrosted and waiting to be used to make homemade pizza for the kids. That was gobbled up in no time. The adults set up a resting dinner camp outside since we were all exhausted.


Mrs. CBB had a pan of stuffed peppers in the freezer that we made when we found peppers on 50% off at Zehrs on the reduced rack. We did the happy dance knowing that our freezer meal came in handy for the purpose we made it, dinner guests or not wanting to cook night. I guess it was sort of both that night. All I had to so was make a garden salad and we BBQ’d some sausages and dinner was ready in a flash.

sugarfree chocolate chip ice-cream 1

Dessert was a different story as I was trying to be cool so I made a batch of homemade sugar-free chocolate chip ice-cream (coming to the blog soon) with our Kitchen-Aid ice-cream mixer.

Always a plus to keep it in the freezer ready to go when you want to make ice-cream which takes about 20 minutes if you want a soft-serve consistency. If you have time make the ice-cream ahead and it’s ready when you are.

It was delicious although it needed more freezer time as it served more like a thick chocolate Wendy’s frosty which was perfectly fine since it was humid outside.

watermelon chunks

After a long day of hard work and sweating homemade ice-cream hit the spot! I also cubed up some watermelon for everyone as well which disappeared in a flash.


Accommodating Unexpected dinner guests


Always consider the time you drop by someone’s house especially around lunch or dinner because if they aren’t prepared to feed you or are unable to then say your goodbye’s and plan for another visit.

You should never expect to be fed just because you show up at someone’s house. Not everyone can afford to just add extra people to their dinner table, guests or not but if you are able to accommodate unexpected guests I’ve got a few simple make-ahead recipes that will take no effort at all.

My mom used to make a rice dish we loved as kids. Well I didn’t but that’s another story. Lol! Lean hamburger cooked with onions garlic peppers. When it is all cooked add one can crushed tomatoes half a can of water and instant rice. Too with cheese if you like. Easy. Simple. Cheap. Tonight will be chicken sautéed in garlic with brussell sprouts and lemon.- Michelle Kelson

What about Spanish chicken? Use some paprika to season chicken, place in a hot pan until seared. Then add 1 tin tomatoes, herbs, peas, 4 cups chicken broth, rice. Turn down heat put the lid on and let simmer! Cooked once all the rice has absorbed the juices. One pot one bit juicy meal! I add Worcester and a little hot sauce for an extra kick.-Nicola Don


Simple Meals for Unexpected Dinner Guests


stuffed peppers

Stuffed Italian Peppers

You can’t go wrong with stuffed peppers especially when peppers are in season during the summer months. The price of peppers drops quite a bit so this is when you want to grab them, stuff them and freeze them. That’s what we do. In the past we’d load up on peppers from my father-in-laws garden but this year we’ll have to go to the farm since he’s no longer with us.

Creamy Ham and Cheese Macaroni Bake

Macaroni and Cheese bake with ham 

Mac and cheese is another make-ahead meal that you can freeze and take out when those unexpected dinner guests are hungry. Not only is it filling the added ham adds protein and bulks up the meal to feed more people. Add a side-salad and your meal is done.

meatballs and sauceMeatballs

The one thing I love about meatballs is that they are versatile which means you can make delicious recipes from one recipe.

Frying or baking meatballs to make stuffed meatball subs, pita or tortillas or pasta and meatballs is super easy when you have the meatballs ready to go in the freezer.

If you make ahead meatballs you might as well prep a batch of Italian pasta sauce to go along with them so you have options for pasta with sauce as well.

Having sauce in the freezer makes a huge difference for your grocery budget and taste buds.

Honestly any sauce I’ve ever tried from a jar or can tastes nothing like the real thing and if it does, you’ll pay for it.

You can always make far more sauce for less than what you pay for pre-made, sale or no sale, coupon or no coupon.

There is a brand at Costco that will run you $11.99 for 2 jars that isn’t bad after trying a sample but not something I’d buy.

homemade pizza dough

Homemade Pizza

Pizza dough is perfectly fine going into the freezer and being taken out to thaw and prepped for the oven. We make ahead a batch and portion them out into mini pizza size. Using our pizza stone we bake our pizza in the oven or we use a mini cast-iron pan and they turn out perfect.

If you don’t have kids or want to make a large pizza just store the dough as-is in a freezer bag and defrost and set as needed with a bit of flour on the counter surface. We let the dough rise again for about 15 minutes in a covered bowl at room temp before using.


cauliflowermashcottagepie (1)

Cottage Pie

This is a family favourite back in the UK and my wife and I both love it although we make it keto-style using cauliflower mash instead of potato mash which is just as delicious. It’s inexpensive to make and you can fill it with vegetables such as corn, peas and celery to bulk it out. This is perfect to whip up with a pot of gravy or to make-ahead and freeze for unexpected dinner guests.


Homemade stuffed perogies

Homemade Perogies

We love perogies fried with butter, bacon and onions then smothered in melted cheddar and mozzarella cheese. The best part is the dough can be used for other foods such as dumplings for soups which can be an easy dinner to make-ahead and freeze. Pair perogies with a salad and you have a full meal. We had twelve unexpected guests once over for dinner and although we didn’t make the perogies we served they LOVED them.

I suppose the hardest part about having unexpected dinner guests is having someone at the table who doesn’t like what you are making, has allergies or can’t or won’t eat certain foods. Then you are into a whole other ball-game and perhaps another blog post.

Above are some of our favourite make-ahead meals for unexpected dinner guests which we hope you will try and then come back to leave us feedback about what you liked or disliked and any improvements you made, if any.

Discussion: What are some of your favourite make-ahead recipes that can be used for unexpected dinner guests when you’re in a pinch for time?


July 2018 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.

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


Everything 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 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


Shoppers Drug Mart

  • 2 x Sealtest 2% milk $4.27 each plus 20x Optimum plus points
  • 2 x dozen Free range brown eggs sale $3.99 each

Total Out-of-Pocket $16.52

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

  • Total to spend this month : $300.00
  • Stockpile budget 2018 : $25.00/month
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $25.00
  • Christmas Reserve Fund : $35/month $245 Saved
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $1
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $1.65
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $118.19
  • Total spent this week: $16.52
  • Total spent so far this month: $241.72
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: $257.76
  • Total left to spend for the month: $42.24
  • 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 $271.88 +July $+August $+September $+ October $+ November $ + December $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

We didn’t need much this week as we’ve been been back and forth eating at my sister and brother-in-laws house and vice-versa. If we do have to run back to the grocery store we have $42.24 left to spend for the month and I will add it in next week.

Have a great week everyone.



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: Find all the latest coupon apps in Canada right here>>  Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons

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 portals 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. No the don’t sell DIET Cherry Dr Pepper up here. You can get Diet Dr Peppery, just not the cherry version.

    The 2 WW loaves are Freebies for hubby. My Gluten Free Bread is $4.99 a loaf, the cookies were 3 packages for $5 and the donuts we 2 packages for $4. Basically spending $20 gives you 2 free items off the day old rack.

    The olive loaf is a cold meat with olives in it…it’s not a bread. 🙂

    What isn’t part of the GGC post is that we filled up the gas tank while we were down at just over $1 a litre – that’s 65 cents a litre less than at home! Score!! 🙂

  2. JULY – Week #4 of 4- July 23-30, 2018


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



    I sure am enjoying all the fresh fruit and vegetables this summer. Most fruits hubby won’t eat… so I can’t exactly go wild with my shopping but vegetables are a whole other matter!


    I can’t believe I am shopping AGAIN this week! Our budget really needs me to take a NO SHOP WEEK before I bust the budget again! I am going to transfer the $61.39 balance we have remaining into the Re-Stocking reserve to beef up the reserve up a little.



    Walmart – Maple Ridge

    1 Jiff Peanut Butter

    Total Re-Stocking Reserve: $4.97


    M&M Meats – Maple Ridge –

    1 Key Lime Pie

    Total Re-Stocking Reserve: $10.99



    Walmart US: $58.22

    6 Cold Meats (1 Ham, 2 Turkey, 2 Salami, 1 Bologna)
    2 Hebrew National Hot Dogs
    6 GF Mac and Cheese
    1 quart iced coffee
    1 bag of ice

    Fred Myers: $14.77

    1 Peppermint Mocha Creamer
    2 pkgs of Onion Buns
    6 English Muffins

    Fred Myers: $17.48

    2 GF – 7 Grain Bread
    1 pkg Maple Glazed Donuts
    1 pkg Chocolate Glazed Mini Donuts
    1 pkg Oatmeal Cookies
    1 pkg Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
    1 pkg Chocolate Chip Cookies
    2 loaves 100% WW Bread

    Safeway US: $25.36

    3 Diet Cherry Dr Pepper
    2 Olive Loaf
    1 dozen eggs
    2 x 2lb Tllamook Cheddar Cheese

    Total US Spending $115.83



    •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: 11056 Points

    •Total Air Miles Earned This Year: 397 Air Miles

    •Total PC Optimum Points Earned This Year: 12,900 Points



    $ 1,330.00 Grocery Budget JAN-JULY


    ($ 1,390.48) Actual CASH SPENT



    $ 118.00 Freezer Re-Stocking Fund
    $ 267.59 Holiday Season Fund + $280 PC Optimum Points ($230 Mary + $50 Larry) + $10 Dream Air Miles
    = $542.59
    $ 724.33 Summer Season Fund
    $ 379.10 US Shopping Reserve
    $ 147.92 GGC Savings Reserve
    $ 0.00 Points Redeemed Reserve

    OUR CURRENT TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES ARE $1,636.94. This means the 1,761.30 that we carried forward from 2017 PLUS AN ADDITIONAL $982.78 that we have added in 2018, LESS $1,107.14 that we have drawn out for use in 2018.


    1. Hi Mary,
      Hahaha, stay away from the shops Mary! Do they sell Cherry Dr. Pepper Diet in Canada at all? I’ve never seen it but I know Mrs. CBB loves Diet Dr. Pepper. No freebies at Franz this time? I love olive loaf but it has been ages since I’ve had time to make anything. It sure would be nice to get back into the kitchen baking bread again. What kind of olives do you have in the bed? Hahaha, Can you tell I’m tired? I meant, bread. I’d say you did well for your US shop. Great job. Mr.CBB

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