The Ultimate Canadian Grocery Savings Guide

Common Cooking Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid : The GGC 2018 #2 Aug 6-12

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Common Cooking Mistakes You Should Avoid

Cooking mistakes may lead to food waste which is a big problem in Canada an around the world.


With so many people suffering from starvation it’s important to keep in mind that the food on your plate is food that someone else would love to eat. That doesn’t mean if you don’t like something that you have to eat it but to be cautious about the way you meal plan, prepare food and portion size.

The average Canadian consumer throws out an estimated 170 kilograms of food a year

Canada wastes so much food that a researcher likens it to tossing a quarter of your groceries away when you leave the supermarket. Source

Just recently we were at my sister-in-law’s house for dinner which was amazing as always and before we left she offered us leftovers. She has the tendency to make far more food than needed but I think that’s just so she can send it home with us.

We’re fine with that though however she did mention that she has a large grocery bill which led us to discuss a few things about her food planning which I will talk about down below.

Another thing she did before we left was offer us a massive bag of mini meatballs that she made for the boys but they didn’t like them. That meant either we take them or they end up in the garbage, so we took them.The boys thought the meatballs were too chewy and didn’t like the texture.

Was there something she could have done to save the mini-meatballs?

Sure there was!

I fried up a few of the meatballs and had to agree with the boys the texture was off. What I found out was that when she tried to make the meatballs into mini-meatballs she over-rolled them which caused the meat to toughen up.

All we had to do was make sure the mini-meatballs were cooked long and slow in a pot or you can use a slow-cooker to bring them back to the texture that was intended. This may not always happen but it certainly worked in this case and we made a magnificent pasta sauce with meatballs and a meatball soup.

The same will happen if you don’t allow meat to rest after cooking or grilling it or not cutting it against the grain. This allows the juices to run out and the result is dry meat. Failing to use a meat thermometer may result in your food being cooked too much or under-cooked.


Cooking Mistakes and Kitchen Tools


There are some kitchen tools that are very important for every kitchen to own for the very reason of avoiding cooking mistakes. I know this because I have done the same before and learned over the years from trial and error and lots of food prep education.

You don’t have to go to culinary school to learn about food prep especially when we have Google at our finger-tips. The only way to bring those perfectly round mini-meatballs back to life was to add them to a slow-cooker or pot and let them simmer for a few hours.

This is when Mrs. CBB and I questioned how we could limit or eliminate food waste when it comes to prepping food in advance for the freezer especially for our picky little eater at home.


Adding too much of something


What happens if you add too much of an ingredient such as spices?

It won’t taste right and it deviates from the recipe and may lead to food waste.

Well making an error such as too much spice or the wrong spice most certainly may call for food waste but there are some tricks that you can use. If you add too much salt for example add a potato to the pot or frying pan because it will soak up salt like a sponge.

On the other hand if you add sugar instead of salt well you might have to get creative with the dish or risk having to waste it. If you are making oatmeal cookies and accidentally add paprika instead of cinnamon don’t panic and throw the batter away. Add the cinnamon that was supposed to be there and bake them up first. You never know if they will taste delicious. This is how recipe creation happens sometimes, by making mistakes.

If you add too much sugar to a recipe you can balance the sweetness and restore flavour balance in a dish by diluting the sweetness and increasing the ratio of other ingredients, according to Spiceography. Another way is to increase acidity especially if you’ve added too much hot spice or sugar which I admit I’ve done a few times.

You can also do the following if you’ve added too much sugar to a recipe.

  • Increase salt
  • Add dairy


Prep the recipe first


I know that some people get over-excited about cooking and jump right in but you must prep the ingredients first. When you watch cooking shows on television or You Tube videos the chefs will always have the prep work done first. This is imperative for a couple of reasons one being you have all the right ingredients and the correct measurements ready to go.

The last thing you want to be doing is finding and using one ingredient at a time (I know some of you are smiling because you do this) only to find you are missing something or you rush and add too little, too much or the wrong ingredient to your recipe.

If you read a recipe and aren’t sure about the cooking terms used or certain ingredients, Google it as I’m sure you will find the answers you need. If not there’s no harm in asking a friend or family member for advice.

Prep first, cook second.


Label Everything


If you can’t tell what an ingredient is from looking at it then it needs a label. Imagine going into the bulk food store and having to guess what everything is? That’s how some people navigate their kitchen and we’ve been there and know that it adds extra stress to meal prep time.

Back a few years ago I had more than enough cooking mistakes to know that I needed to label our spices. Not only did I go out and buy medium-sized mason jars but I also purchased labels to attach from the jars. Some of the best labels on the market are those that are water-proof which is why I’ve ordered new spice labels from .

I noticed that the labels would get messy or peel off during washing or meal prep so spending a bit more on a label was important to us. Think of the potential food waste you are saving by properly labelling spices and items in your pantry. No more mistaking ingredients.

Look what happened to some of my readers….

  • Charlene Hogg My sister-in-law used icing sugar instead of corn starch for her Christmas gravy.
  • Heather Salter I used Taco seasoning instead of cinnamon in a pumpkin cheesecake.
  • Elizabeth Hersey I used cocoa instead of cinnamon in my cinnamon buns.
  • Maggie Bite My husband didn’t have his reading glasses on and almost put vanilla instead of balsamic vinegar. Would have been interesting lol
  • Desire Burton I used salt in place of sugar for cookies
  • Tina Voce I’ve mixed up nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Cynthia Sunshine Biggs Kind of like that. Once I used diatomaceous earth instead of AP flour. I was making some muffins for my son. It had been so long since I used flour with gluten and I was in a hurry. They came out terrible


Taste As You Go


Whatever you do, taste the food you are cooking as you go along. Don’t wait until the end or even worse forgetting to taste it at all. Serving food that is under-cooked, too tough, over or under-seasoned is a big no-no.

When I’m cooking I make sure to have a cup of spoons by the stove and taste as I season to make sure that flavours are where they are supposed to be. Never use the same utensil twice because that’s like double-dipping and no one likes that.

This is when you will figure out whether you need to add seasoning or you may find out you’ve added sugar instead of salt. An important lesson is to be learned here, always taste your food as you go.


Recipe Substitutions


Mrs. CBB will tell you that I’m the worst for adding ingredients that don’t belong or testing out something different in place of an ingredient we don’t have. Although it’s rare I’ve had major disasters I do it for testing new recipes to share on CBB but don’t recommend it if you’re simply preparing food for your family


Follow Recipe Instructions


I know many of you out there (myself included) at times like to eye-ball measurements but if you want a true recipe to turn out as written you have to follow it to a T. That means if it says 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract, add one tablespoon or risk the taste being off or too powerful.

I’ve went ahead and added the end of a bag of flour to a recipe thinking that little extra wouldn’t make a big different, boy was I wrong. It may not always mess up a recipe but in my case with a cake it did and came out too dry.

Always be aware of the time needed to prep, bake or cook a recipe and don’t deviate unless your cooker or elevation level is different from that of the recipe creator. This can be tough especially if you don’t know which is why it’s important to always test what you are baking or cooking before you shut everything down.

If I’m baking a cake for example I will stick a toothpick in the middle to see if it’s done. If the toothpick comes out clean I know I’m good. If I notice that the top is getting too dark I add a sheet of aluminum foil over top to stop the darkening process until the rest of the cake is baked.

When I bake bread I use the finger cushion test where I test the middle of the bread to see if it springs back at me. It always seems to work perfectly.

We have an old-style oven so we are extra careful about watching what we cook and bake because new technology and old technology just isn’t always the same.


You Play With The Food too much


When I first moved to Canada I had never used a gas BBQ grill before and I was envious of those grill marks that my father-in-law would always make on his burgers and steaks. One time we had the family over for dinner and I was going to show off my grilling skills when he told me, “Stop flipping the meat so much”, leave it be and he showed me how to get those grill marks.

Too often we play with our food, handle it too much (as in the case of the mini-meatballs) or whip, stir, beat, roll or knead ingredients that don’t need that much play time.  I often notice when frying in fat that if I turn let’s say a grilled cheese, breaded fish or other meats too early I won’t get that lovely crust on the outside. Instead I get a soggy mess and that’s not pleasurable to eat at all.


Kitchen Distractions


Mix your cream too long and you won’t get whipped cream, you’ll make butter. I’ve done that before. There are a few distractions that have led me to making cooking mistakes in our kitchen.

Last week the door-bell rang just as I was toasting almonds for our salad that night. Well, they survived but they were dark and if I hadn’t caught them on time I would have had to come up with a way to use them in a recipe or toss them in the bin and I don’t like food waste at all.

  1. Our son
  2. Television
  3. Telephone
  4. Door-bell
  5. Internet
  6. Bathroom break

I’ve learned a few things before cooking, ignore all technology unless it is needed for the recipe. Don’t answer the door unless you’re quick and let the person know you are cooking.

If I’m alone with our son I make sure he is in the kitchen with me and doing crafts or something that will keep him busy and not constantly asking me questions. I let the answering machine get the telephone and try to do the bathroom thing before I start in the kitchen.


Starting Over


Sometimes there are those cooking mistakes which force you to start over but at the end of the day you’ve learned a lesson that you hopefully won’t make again.

Besides, mistakes often lead to creations. Don’t be afraid to get in the kitchen and cook just be aware of basic cooking skills and you’re good to go.

Discussion: What other cooking mistakes could you add to this list? Share in the comments below.


August 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


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: $59.75
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $174.94
  • Total spent this week: $0
  • Total spent so far this month: $191.52
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: $0
  • Total left to spend for the month: $0
  • 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 $257.76 +August $+September $+ October $+ November $ + December $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

Hey everyone,

This will be a no-shop week for us as we were given some garden delights from a friend of ours. We have cucumber, romaine lettuce, tomatoes and zucchini for the week now.

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!


Are You New To Canadian Budget Binder?

  • Follow Me on Social media by clicking any of the buttons below on the blog.
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  1. AUG – Week #2 of 5- Aug 6-12, 2018


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



    I can’t believe that the summer is nearly over! Where did it go?


    Is my laziness showing? This is a NO SHOP WEEK for us. I still have potatoes, carrots, 2 different types of apples, lemons, limes and a honeydew. There’s lots of frozen vegetables in the freezer so the clean-out continues for another week.









    •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



    $ 1,520.00 Grocery Budget JAN-AUG


    ($ 1,426.45) Actual CASH SPENT



    $ 162.03 Freezer Re-Stocking Fund
    $ 282.59 Holiday Season Fund + $280 PC Optimum Points ($230 Mary + $50 Larry) + $10 Dream Air Miles
    = $572.59
    $ 739.33 Summer Season Fund
    $ 409.10 US Shopping Reserve
    $ 147.92 GGC Savings Reserve
    $ 0.00 Points Redeemed Reserve

    OUR CURRENT TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES ARE $1,740.97. This means the 1,761.30 that we carried forward from 2017 PLUS AN ADDITIONAL $1,122.78 that we have added in 2018, LESS $1,143.11 that we have drawn out for use in 2018.


    1. Hi Mary,
      We were just discussing that the other day because we haven’t really done much this summer as a family. With all the renovations and my mother-in-law being so ill it has taken it’s toll on us this year, so far. It’s only bound to get worse the way things are looking day after day. We had a no-shop week as well as we have enough to get by and some bits form a friends garden. I had to laugh at our neighbour he planted tomatoes this summer and he has 3 plants and each plant has one giant tomato on each, haha. I guess it makes for good eats either way. Soon our rhubarb will be ready again for another hair-cut so we will have more to pass around. Our crab apples are ready but with all the stuff going on in the back garden I’m not sure if we can give them away this year unless I can get up there in time to pick them all. Time just flies by. Enjoy it while we can, right? Have a great week. Mr.CBB

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