Grocery shopping on budget.

I'm not a financial expert by any stretch of the imagination and I don't pretend to be. However, I do enjoy the challenge of saving and keeping our household expenses to a minimum.  It's been my goal and I've been doing it for quite some time. I've pretty much gotten a very good handle on tricks and hacks to save and manage expenses. One of the things I do to help manage our expenses is to keep the grocery budget as low as possible. 

Food prices are steadily increasing and it looks like, the trend is not about to end anytime soon.  Grocery prices will continue rising whether we like it or not...for us, grocery is the second largest expense, after our mortgage and other household expenses. I'd imagine the same is true for most families. Food is a big part of our existence and groceries can't be eliminated entirely from our budget, but it can certainly be managed by being resourceful and shopping smart.  On today's blog post, I'll share 11 easy ways I use to stretch our grocery budget, while still eating fairly healthy.

Set A Budget

The first tip for saving on groceries is to have a budget. This is a very important step and it can't be skipped.  Setting a budget is not only important but it's absolutely vital that you stick to the budget. 

Putting a name to every amount you spend and keeping track is a must in order to succeed.  Save all receipts and enter them into your written down budget or budgeting app. I use the EveryDollar app by Dave Ramsey. If you would like me to breakdown what should be on a monthly household budget, let me know in the comment section and I will be more than happy to do that. 

Our monthly grocery budget is $500.00, for a family of 6. It's sometimes a little less or more depending on whether there's a great sale that I want to stock up on.   Our budget includes food ( yes even the ever so expensive African foods), all household products and diapers up until recently. It's completely up to you if you want to include household products and diapers into your grocery budget. I have always done it and it has worked great for me.

Make A List Before Shopping

Before a shopping trip, take an inventory of your pantry, fridge, and freezer and write down all the things you need to restock. Going into the store without a plan will most likely contribute to you randomly buying things you don't need. When this happens your bill increases and you'll leave the store wondering what you spent your money on. 

A great tip is to buy only what you need for that grocery trip; the stores put the same items on sale several times throughout the year,  so buy just enough to last you until the next sale cycle. This way you don't overstretch your budget for things that you don't need right away.

Know Your Prices

If you want to save on groceries, you need to know your prices. Do some price comparisons to help figure out the best stores to purchase for less. The easiest way to compare prices is to use the flyer or phone apps.   It does require some effort and time but it doesn't really take that long once you get a handle on it. The few minutes spent going through flyers/app to see what's on sale to me is so worth it.

Another great thing about knowing your prices is the scanning Code Of Practice (SCOP).  SCOP requires retailer (who are members) to commit to accurate pricing. This means when non-priced items ring up higher than the shelf price the customer is entitled to get the first item free up to a maximum of $10. This means if a gallon of milk (usually $4-5) rings up wrong at checkout, the customer gets it for free, but on the other hand, if a $50.00 cooking pot rings up higher, you get up to $10.00 off not the entire $50.00. 

Some of the stores that offer SCOP is Walmart, Real Candian Superstore, No-frills, Giant Tiger, and Sobeys. It's not just groceries stores that offer SCOP...Store such as Best Buy, Rona, Toys R Us, and many others do as well.  So look into it and familiarize your self with stores that offer SCOP and keep your eyes glued on the till at all times. It really pays to pay attention... I have saved and gotten so many free stuff just by knowing my prices and paying close attention at checkout. You can read more about the Scanning Code Of Practice HERE.

Price Match

Price matching is an awesome way to save on groceries without having to drive all around town chasing deals, it's really not worth it. You can simply price match by showing the lower price to the store you normally shop at. I use the Flipp app, which gives access to all local stores by inputting my location. I then use the app to do all my price matching within the sale cycle. For most stores, sales start on Fridays and end on Thursdays before closing. Note that price matching must be done within the sale cycle. 

To make the process more effective, check the description of the items very carefully beforehand to confirm it's the same item on sale.   Tell the cashier you would like to price match right from the onset, be organized, circle all the items you want to price match, put all the items to price match together on the belt so it can all be done at once. Price matching does take time so be patient with the cashier.

You must also know the store's policies concerning price matching...if the cashier doesn't know what to do you can politely point it out. Some cashiers don't really understand the policies and WILL give you a hard time...but keep in mind, the stores ultimately have the last say. You're not entitled to anything...so kindness and politeness will help a lot.  

In Canada, some of the stores that do price matching are, Wal-Mart, Real Canadian Superstore, No frills, and giant tiger. 

Shop Clearance

This is my all-time favourite and where I save the bulk of money on our grocery budget.  I save upwards of 50% and more just by shopping clearance. If you're not familiar with reduced to clear items, it usually has a pink, yellow, orange or red stickers with a percentage off written on them, so keep an eye out for them.  You'll be surprised what you can get on clearance. I save a lot just by shopping clearance.

I regularly buy meats, fruits, cheese, vegetables, bread, juice, paper towels, diapers, dish, and laundry detergents, can foods, dairy, pretty much everything on clearance. Clearance doesn't mean the items are bad, most of the time it's of excellent quality and not expired. It's maybe
 reduced to clear because it's nearing the best before date or the brand is repackaging. 

I have scored jars of jerk chicken sauce, cans of beans and many others (yes I took every single one of them, I don't do this for sales but I definitely do for clearance if its something we use regularly) on clearance that was good for two years!   Find out where the clearance racks are kept (usually by the entrance to the back warehouse) at the stores you shop at and make that you first stop every time you visit the store. 

A great tip to keep in mind...the best time to score great clearances is a couple of hours after the store opens, not right after. The store needs time to restock the shelves and mark down products to clear.

I also, buy generic brands, they're a lot cheaper and can stretch your dollar a little more.  It has the same ingredients as the name brand ones and tastes almost the same, so why not pay a little less? I'm not a snob when it comes to brand names, so I  buy generic products most of the time. My kids don't mind and would eat whatever brand I buy. 

Meal Plan

Meal planning saves time, money, helps eat better, helps not stress over what to cook every day and also cuts down food waste. Plan ahead meals weeks in advance, make a list of all the ingredients you'll need for each meal, and purchase the ingredients at your next shopping trip. 

Cook From Scratch

Cooking from scratch does help save on the grocery budget more than you can imagine. You can cook anything from scratch even if you have never cooked it before.  Let youtube, Pinterest and google be your friend. I cook almost everything from scratch. My kids love pizza, instead of buying pizza every time, I make it for them. It saves us tons and my kids seriously prefer my pizza over the store bought ones. 

 I often buy cakes
 and pies from the store, only when its on clearance. I'm not terrible at baking, I can bake and I have many times but I buy and freeze them in the freezer for when I want to give my kids a treat without having to bake.  

Be creative

Being creative helps not to waste food and also offer a variety of meals for your family. It's really not a good idea for your family to be eating the same meal every day. It's very boring and it defeats the whole purpose which to me is to cook delicious meals at home to keep the family from wanting to eat out. Eating out is quite expensive and can easily blow food budget for most people.  Grabbing a quick meal at a fast food restaurant just for my kids can easily cost us $30 not including my husband and I. We treat them to fast food, but it's not a regular habit at our house.

I often repurpose leftovers to cook a whole new meal that my family enjoys just as much. For example, my kids asked for butter chicken and rice for dinner recently. I  made a little too much rice so for dinner the next day, I made fried rice (I had everything needed for that) and baked a package of clearance chicken wings in the freezer, and made them a whole new meal with so little effort. They enjoyed the meal and asked for more the next day.  It was quick, easy, different, affordable and a win-win.

Use Reward Points

I was big on using coupons a few years ago, but not so much anymore.  I've decided to concentrate more on earning reward points, I put in less time and energy and get more out of my efforts.  There're many reward point systems offered in Canada, but my favourite is PC Optimum.  I earn points when I shop at Loblaw stores and Shoppers drug marts. I also get points on purchasing gas which helps accumulate points even faster.

With the PC Optimum app, I get weekly offers to buy things I would normally buy and earn points doing so. I don't know if you've noticed, but the internet and the whole smartphone invention is the biggest stalker I have ever come in contact with. I mean, I google, visit a website or purchase something online and I'll see countless related ads popping up on my social media platforms for days! Right?! It's so annoying lol...I digressed a little...back on topic.

The point is anytime I scan my phone at the store to earn points, the app takes note of my frequently purchased items and offers points toward the purchase of those items regularly. I don't think it's a bad idea to earn points on items I'd buy anyway, so I take full advantage of it. With points earned, I have redeemed lots of free groceries, household items, and plants. 

Buy What's In Season

I don't know about you, but I'm hesitant to buy a bag of grape for $10 or more when I can wait and get it for $3 or less when it's in season. No, I'm not cheap, I'm frugal and I know I can get these things for far less if I just wait a little longer.   Fruits and vegetables can be super expensive and it's something we don't go without in our house. We always have them and I make my kids snack on them as much as possible, so I just buy what fits in the budget at the time of shopping.  

I cut down on the cost by buying what's in season, on sale, and luckily for me, there's a wholesale grocery store nearby that I can buy vegetables and fruits at a great price. I also buy lots of vegetables and fruits on clearance, specially packaged pre-washed salad, and salad kits. They make a quick healthy meal and helps us eat healthy without breaking the bank.

Do A Pantry And Freezer Challenge

I do this several times a year, I'm a food hoarder (especially clearance food lol) so it's important for me to do this periodically. This helps cut down on food waste because I use everything in the pantry and freezer before it expires. 

When I do this challenge,  I only buy fresh produce, and milk for an extended length of time and plan meals around what's already in the pantry and freezer. I'm currently doing this challenge,  it's the end of the school year, so I'm using up everything the pantry and freezer to make room so I can stock up on great summer sales. When I do the challenge I spent as low as $300-$350 per month on groceries which is awesome! 

That's it, folks. What do you think? Do you have any tips for saving on grocery budget? Share them with me below so I can learn a thing or two from you.

Medaase (thank you) and S.M.I.L.E!





Success is relative because everyone defines success differently. For instance, my definition of success could be "to live a happy and fulfilled life" while someone else's could be, "to be the richest person ever lived".  However you define success, one thing I know for sure is that it's something everyone aims to achieve at one point or the other.

Becoming successful whatever that may be for you, requires setting goals and being disciplined, patient, with an incredible amount of drive to visualize and focus in order to achieve your aspirations.  In other words, you have to be very vigilant and work hard toward achieving the goals you have set. 

I recently listened to a podcast by Tony Woodallwhere he said only 5% of people set and write down their goals...meaning 95% of people don't?   Interestingly, he also mentioned that we're 42% more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down.  

So if that's the case, why are so many of us not setting and writing down goals? Why are many of us winging it in life hoping that everything will just fall in place? This genuinely got me thinking about goal setting and how it's important in achieving success.  On today's blog post, I'll talk about 5 tips that will help you set and achieve goals successfully.

Set Well-defined Goals

Having a well defined written down goals is essential, whether it's business or personal.  It opens your minds to understand that,  possibilities are endless; when that happens, everything suddenly seems more achievable. 

It must be relevant, specific, and not vague in order for it to work.  For example, instead of writing down "be debt free and save money", try writing down "pay off all my debt by December and start saving 6 months worth of emergency fund by the end of the year". This way you're more articulate, realistic and have a deadline of which you would like to achieve your goals.

Setting goals...be it financial, personal development, family, educational, career, fitness puts you in a position to take control of your future. Taking control of your life, in turn, makes you responsible, accountable and it's beneficial for living a productive life.

With that being said, keep in mind that setting goals will not be without, good old honest hard work. It will entail fighting for your goals, possibly losing and failing multiple times before winning eventually.

Set Small Attainable Goals 

Setting both short/long term goals is so important, but it can also be overwhelming especially if you're new to it. So start small...set small goals, break them down into little baby steps so it's not overwhelming. Once you have set, and written down your goals start working hard towards achieving it each day no matter how little it may be.

It'll not happen overnight so be very patient, confident, focus on the little wins and celebrate every little milestone. It all counts in the grand scheme of things because it'll imminently propel you to your ultimate goal (the big picture) so to speak. It will also give you the well-needed momentum to carry on because achieving small goals gives traction and momentum...and with momentum comes more effort.

My goal when I started this blog was to publish two blog posts per month. I'm SAHM so I rarely get uninterrupted time during the day to myself. In order for me to achieve this goal, I set aside a little time throughout the month to come up with ideas, brainstorm, make rough notes, do research, write a blog post, edit and publish it within the deadline.

Most days, I stay up very late into the early hours of the morning so I can dedicate the time needed to my blog. I understand that's what it'll take for me to succeed at my goals so,  I do it, even when I don't feel like it.  Staying up late has been working great for my goals and I've been running with it.

Commit And Work Tirelessly On Your Goals

Setting goals requires total commitment, you must stick to it until the very end. Without a doubt,  you will question your decisions many times, you will second guess yourself many times, you may even feel burnt out, and feel like giving up. That's all part of the process and it's perfectly normal, so keep going, stick to the plan and DON'T give up no matter what.

Personally, once I set goals, come hell or high water, I must achieve it, despite any and all difficulties. I'm very determined but it's also an integrity thing for me; integrity simply put for me, means keeping my words and doing what I  said I'd do, whether it's to myself or others. I don't like letting others down so why would I do that to myself? I owe it to myself to hold myself accountable, put in the work and work a little harder so I can achieve the goals I have set for myself.

Be Mindful Of The People You Keep Around

Goal setting is about consistency, structure, and mindsets. You may have a "can do mindset" which will get you far in achieving your goals but it's also very important to take into account the company you keep around you.  I can't stress how important it is to surround yourself with like-minded people with similar goals and mindsets.

The people in your circle will either break or make your goals.   If your goal is to lose weight, hanging around with someone who eats whatever they want will ultimately do you in. We're only human and succumbing to temptations is sometimes inevitable. You may need to stop hanging out with certain people while you work on achieving your goals if it'll be detrimental to your success in the long run.

 Not everyone would want to do the work and change with you, so don't be afraid to let them go while you seek to grow.  Growth is part of life and so important to living your full potential so don't let anyone hold you back.

It's Time For Action...Stop Wasting Time And Start Today

Life is not as complicated as most people perceive it to be.  Highly successful people work so hard on a daily basis to achieve their successes. Whether it's weight loss, financial, educational whatever it may be, they worked hard and earned it. Success was not given to them and they're not "lucky". They set the goals and chipped away at it a little at a time.

If they did it, why can't you? It's time to motivate yourself to believe that everything is at your fingertips only if you're willing to put in the work.  Stop wishing for it, stop talking about it and set your plans in motion. Start setting goals, take control of your life and you can achieve so much more in life.

No one is going to give you anything or rescue you.  You have to do it yourself, and you have the power to be whatever you want. Is it always fun or easy? Certainly not! You will need to put in your blood, sweat, and tears but it will be so worth it at the end. Be purposeful and intentional in everything you do and the sky will be your limit. Remember, it's not a race, so do it on your own terms and don't be intimidated.

We're halfway into the year, it's not too late to start setting goals that will help move you closer to your dreams...I challenge you to start today! You'll be baffled at how manageable life gets simply by having a plan and sticking to it.