Fabulous Frugal Finds

Back To School Budget: My Grocery Shopping Strategies

Back to school shopping is in full-swing for many parents, and another group is avoiding all discussion of it whatsoever until Labour Day weekend. Whatever your position on when to start, it can certainly take a hit to your family finances when September hits. There are certain points in the year when your budget month-to-month fluctuates greatly, but if you pay attention and shop with a strategy, the bump in your family budget doesn’t have to be a big one.

Here are 5 tips to help your back to school grocery budget that work for me:

Do Your Research Ahead of Time

Whether you get deliveries to your door or use an app like Flipp to view your flyers on your phone, take a look ahead of heading out to your chosen grocery store to see what’s on sale and shop based on what’s on sale, not based on what you want to make for meals that week. This is important, and a vital part to maintaining a budget. Plan your weekly meals based on what’s on sale – this still allows for tons of variety since next week something different will be on special.

Don’t Be a Label Snob

While blind-taste tests can show that yes, some name-brand food brands do taste better than others, unless you have a really refined palate (in which case, aren’t you fancy!), you and your kids especially can surely get by on the store-brand’s granola bars, cookies, and juice boxes, for example. These are typically lower priced than name brands and can save you money over the course of a school year. Of course, if you have an absolute favorite, buy it, which brings me to my next point.

Set a Price For Your Favorites

If you love a particular brand of cookies, pasta, or soda for example – set a price in your head (and then keep it in a Notes file on your phone) that you won’t pay more than for that product. For example, I know that my favorite brand of baked crackers typically goes on sale for $2.00. If they’re $3.29 when I go shopping that day, nope – I’m not going to buy them (and then I’ll stock up a bit when they’re on sale!)

Work That Sale Price, Mama

When you find your set price (or sometimes even lower!) on a grocery item, make that work to your advantage. For example, if ground beef is on sale for a crazy-low price purchase more than you would for one week and freeze. Stock up when the sale is phenomenal – and if you do your research you’ll get really good at knowing when a deal is an awesome deal.

Reward Yourself, Every Time

I typically plan to reward myself every time I shop. If a store has a rewards card you betcha I have it. Points can accumulate quickly and can then be redeemed regularly, quarterly, or maybe once a year or more depending on your strategy for huge savings. If a store doesn’t have a rewards card, then I use my rewards-point credit card. Points mean money to me, and I love saving money.

For example, use your President’s Choice Financial® Mastercard® for your everyday purchases and you’ll earn PC® points towards free groceries and more*. Plus, for a limited time, when you apply through RateSupermarket.ca and activate your card, you’ll get a $100 e-gift card and up to 20,000 PC points.1 That’s $20 worth of PC points towards your groceries! Redeem PC points at participating grocery stores where President’s Choice® products are sold.

While you’re at RateSupermarket.ca, visit their blog where you’ll find a bunch of great information including this timely post sharing more ideas on how to save on back to school grocery shopping!







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  • I always buy whats on sale. my husband has a problem with it. He’s always like “why are you getting that kind?” well its cheaper thats why! nope gotta go for the more expensive. And he wonders why we hurt for cash sometimes jeez. so i started shopping on days hes at work bahaha

  • I am another one who spends more than I need to but I do look for things on sale. Thanks for the tips.

  • Thank you for the great tips. I tend to just go to the grocery store closest to home regardless of price, when I just need a item. I will have to stop doing that.

  • I do exactly the same with special things that I will only buy brand named ones of, stock up when they’re on sale. There’s no way I’ll pay full price for them, then they’re just too expensive. I won’t even go into some supermarkets because they have higher prices than others for the same products.

  • Thanks for all these great tips. I have a family of six to feed so I appreciate any help to bring down my grocery bills.

  • I do freeze in smaller containers if I find something too big to use all at once. And I love the idea of setting a price limit for some of the regular items, because they usually some on sale at some time..

  • I always look for the store brand version instead of label. No one knows the difference in our house if I don’t tell them!

  • I am always on the look out for things on sale and also buy more bulk items and divide them into smaller portions at home because they are cheaper. Thanks for the great tips. 🙂

  • I love shopping for deals year round……not just at back to school time. It’s an addiction!!! I love money saving apps too for those things that we use. Checkout 51 has sent me hundreds of dollars for buying things I use. I love the PC points as well. They add up fast between bottomless pit children and gas. We definitely have our favourite brands but I know what no name stuff is awesome too!!

  • Great tips I use coupons alot and I do use store brand items, but definitely stocl up when favourites are available

  • Great tips! I try to buy in bulk as it definitely is cheaper as long as you can go through the entire product before it goes bad!

  • Great reminders! Ever since following your blog, six years ago, I’ve signed up for rewards programs like check out51 & instore rewards programs. You’ve opened my eyes Tenille & I thank you for that 🙂

  • Great, tips, I use all of them except I really need to start using the Flipp app!! I always have “target” prices on my shopping lists, especially for back to school supplies, to make sure I get the lowest prices I know will come at some point – patience is key for me when trying to get the best price, which is why I almost never leave my shopping to the last minute.

  • Great tips! Grocery shopping is my favorite kind of shopping because it’s so easy to save money. Shopping sales, using coupons and meal planning around flyer deals allows us to eat our favorites while staying on budget and earning rewards along the way.

  • Great tips! This year I found myself buying more snacks In bulk as it lasts longer and I don’t have to buy as often

  • Thanks so much for the tips. I felt this year I overspent for sure. 5 children in school this year so there was alot needed