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How To Implement Budget Grocery Shopping In 2021

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Budget Grocery Shopping In 2021 May Impact Savings Strategies

This might be a tough year for grocery savings but if we implement budget grocery shopping we may be able to beat the increases.

I know that sounds as if it’s a game of shopping for grocery savings and no one has time for this but that’s really what it is.

The average Canadian family will pay up to an extra $695 for food in 2021, as the pandemic, wildfires, and changing consumer habits drive-up grocery bills to the highest increase ever predicted by an annual food price report. – Globe and Mail

Canada Food Repor 2021

Challenge Yourself To A Budget Grocery Shopping Year

reduced bread

For years I hosted the Grocery Game Challenge on CBB but with a decline of interest, I had to let it go in the end.

At the beginning of the year, so many fans were pipped up and joined and then fell off along the way.

But why? Maybe it became less of a priority for them as it was for us.

I could never understand why it became so hard to motivate my readers to join the challenge.

Perhaps they didn’t care, had no time, or did it on their own at home and needed zero motivation.

To be fair it did help us with grocery savings because we were mindful of the challenge and loved reporting to our readers.

Worst Monthly Budget Category

Grocery shopping is our worst budget category and we definitely felt the impact in 2020.

I’m the first to admit we spent far more on groceries in 2020 than we ever have and that’s our fault for not sticking to the rules.

Our Total Grocery Budget for 2020 was $ but should have been $ if we stuck to our budget.

Thankfully we implemented a $25 grocery slush fund just in case we found good deals, not on our grocery list.

How Covid Impacted Our Budget Grocery Shopping

food prices Canada 2021

Since the start of Covid-19 early in 2020 our grocery savings and economical shopping became stressful.

Rushing in and out of stores grabbing what we could because we didn’t want to wait in line at another grocery store.

There became more awareness at the grocery store for hand sanitation, following signs and floor arrows, and keeping distance.

Before Covid, we planned our budget grocery shopping list and away we went.

This turned into something different for our family and influenced how much we would spend on groceries.

Although we used all of the grocery apps and coupons that we could the stress was to get in and get out.

Like many of you, I’m sure the feelings are mutual about grocery shopping during Covid and others may not.

Using Grocery Pick-Up Services To Avoid Stress

We used the Zehrs click and collect service to see if that made a difference with grocery savings and it didn’t.

The reason for that is we enjoy grocery shopping and finding deals but then came Flash Food App which is amazing.

You can save upwards of 50% or more on groceries and other items in the store using the app so we signed up.

In 2021 we plan on bringing every grocery savings tactic that I’ve blogged about over the years in my Ultimate Grocery Savings Guide.

With over 300 budget grocery savings articles I have a few more up the sleeve that I never went into detail with you.

How Staying Home Impacted The Grocery Savings Budget

strawberry cookies

With nowhere to go but the pharmacy, grocery store, and parking lot pick-ups most days were spent at home.

Although we went for family walks and did fun activities which included baking and preparing meals together.

We managed to get our son involved with making homemade strawberry chocolate chip cookies with white chocolate drizzle. 

He absolutely enjoys baking in the kitchen with his little apron on like a baker at the grocery store.

Then came meal planning around what we already had in the house so we didn’t have to wait in line or use pick-up services.

Most of what we bought was vegetables which motivated us, even more, this summer to grow a bigger garden.

One of our neighbours grew a garden in front and back of their property and on the boulevard and it was bountiful.

Especially during the height of the first wave of the pandemic in early 2020, most Canadians were spending much of their time at home.

An important study carried out by the University of Guelph examined whether Canadians’ eating habits had changed since staying home.

Results showed that:

  • 60% reported making more meals from scratch
  • 70% spent more time cooking
  • 55% ate more meals with children 
  • 50% involved their children in meal preparation more often

Participants also reported changes in eating behaviours like eating more food overall, eating more snack food and eating less fast food or takeout. Source: 2021 Food Price Report

Grocery Shopping That Can Jolt Food Expenses in 2021

The most obvious things that may negatively impact grocery savings are;

How To Implement Budget Grocery Shopping In 2021

I’d like to think that most of my readers have learned quite a bit about budget grocery shopping over the years.

However, if you are new to Canadian Budget Binder you are in for a shock when you start reading about food waste.

You’ll also learn how Canadians are leaving money on the table and not caring as much about being a super saver.

Next to a mortgage or rent a grocery budget is the next largest category in your monthly budget.

Below are 3 Budget Grocery Shopping Topics I’ve talked little about or not at all.

Buy Frozen Fruits And Vegetables

crumbled cauliflowerNote: Ignore the best before date as we’ve already eaten this product.

When vegetables and fruits are out of season in Ontario we always see prices soar in the produce section.

It’s hard to say you’d pay $4.00 for broccoli when you can buy a massive frozen bag of broccoli for $10 at Costco or even Zehrs.

As well, if you look in the produce section you might find bags of chopped broccoli, carrots, beans and cauliflower that you can freeze.

If the vegetables and fruits are not in season but on your meal plan as a need for your family consider buying frozen.

Farmers actually flash freeze the fruits and vegetables right away after picking so they keep most of their nutrition.

We will be taking our time to explore the frozen foods this year at the grocery store and I’ll do a post of what I found and the prices.

Unit Prices

explain unit price

Unit prices are on just about every product that you buy so you can comparison shop and save money.

You get the apples to apple comparison with two of the same food items and the costs per unit or product in the package.

Lots of shoppers forget about unit prices or they don’t know about them.

I only had chicken from the freezer to show you how unit prices work.

Although one package is a club pack of chicken breasts and organic chicken thighs they both have unit prices we can look at.

For example, if you find the organic chicken thighs and the store brand chicken thighs if you read the unit price

you’ll know which of the two are more expensive.

This will offer you an advanced look at how much you are paying per pound or kg for each package.

Sure, one is organic and it will be more expensive but when you are on a budget money matters.

Another example that we both talked about was cookies.

The grocery store has name-brand cookies that often go on sale for $1.99 a pack however if you look at the family pack often at the bottom of the shelf and read the unit price you’ll find out buying the family pack is cheaper.

Always remember you have to look at how much of the product is in the package along with the unit price.

Generic Brands

I’ve touched on buying name brand products but not so much for groceries.

You do not need to buy name brand fruit to make your meals delicious.

Most of the no-name brands are the name brand products that weren’t up to the Quality of the name brand.

What they do is can irregular products or bag fruits and sell them for less so they don’t lose money.

I’ll also be focusing on generic and name brand products at the grocery store to blog about my findings.

I will not be documenting anything that is on sale only products that are at regular price.

Budget Grocery Shopping Tips For 2021

I’ve added up our grocery expenses for 2021 and we were over budget which I expected.

Our most expensive month of groceries was in December at $1100.25.

We should have spent $6000 for the year with a monthly budget of $500 however we had a few issues.

Our total for the year grocery shopping 2020 was $7482.44 putting us over budget by $1482.44

At our home, we had 2 adults and a child in our family bubble since Covid started over for 2 weeks of eating, playing games, and walks.

We didn’t expect this but things are happening in the family and our house was the only house we could be together.

If we didn’t spend so much at Christmas on traditional foods for certain days we may have squeaked by over budget by $1000.

Both Mrs. CBB and I talked and we will see a $50 increase for our 2021 budget grocery shopping.

The most interesting point is that most of our grocery shopping came with discounts, rewards points, and 50% off stickers.

Could you imagine how much more money we would have spent? Wow.

Overall Thoughts For Budget Grocery Shopping  2021

Stick to all of the tips I’ve shared on CBB in the Ultimate Grocery Guide and this post and you should be able to make it through.

As I tell you this, we are aware again we are going to be working on the same and using the same tips that have worked for us.

The name of this game is sticking to what we know works and to stop making excuses because food is so delicious.


Discussion: I’d love to read your comments on this topic below.




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  1. Thank you again for your blog love all the valuable grocery shopping info We are under a 4.5 year crunch to get our mortgage paid off – so every little thing helps

    1. Hi Tina,
      That’s awesome to hear that you are crushing your mortgage in 4.5 years. How does that make you feel? Are their any worries you might have? WHat’s your plan B? Fantastic news. You’ll love being mortgage free.

      1. Hey Mr. CBB
        Getting rid of the mortgage in the 4.5 is truly motivating. Our plan B is maybe 5.5 years, but we will hit our goal if I keep us on track and nothing happens to jobs or health. Fingers crossed!! Thanks again- keep your posts coming!

  2. Hey, Thanks for writing such an informational article.
    Doing grocery shopping on a budget is a tough task.
    The mentioned tips in this article would be helpful and am surely gonna implement them on my next trip to nearest grocery market.

    Cheers 🙂

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