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Frugal Living

  • Frugal Tip – Plan Your Meals Around Sales

    Even if you’re not into couponing, there are still many ways that you can save money on groceries.

    One of my personal favourites? Planning meals around sales.

    Plan Meals Around Sales

    Check your weekly flyers

    Each week, you should receive a new batch of weekly sale flyers from the stores in your area. Whether they come to your home, or you view them online, make sure that “sale-watching” is a regular part of your routine.

    I check my flyers every Thursday morning. I sit at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee, a high lighter and my flyers, and I highlight all of the great deals for my family.

    Why this is important

    Instead of going to the store and buying whatever strikes your fancy, buying sale items only is going to bring you the greatest amount of savings. If saving money is important to you (which I’d like to think it is if you’re reading this blog!), then this is something you need to do before you go shopping.

    Of course, you can still buy a few non-sale items if you really need them, but for the most part, you want to stick to sale-only items when you’re at the grocery store.

    How to do it

    Let’s say chicken breasts are on sale for a really good price, and your family loves chicken breast. This is an item you want to buy, and plan at least one meal for the week with that chicken.

    If stewing beef in on sale, consider a hearty bowl of beef stew one night.

    For our family, we don’t eat any animal products at all, so my main focus when I shop is produce. If I see cauliflower on sale, I will likely grab one or two of them and make cauliflower crust pizza, or for lunch I could have a baked potato with cauliflower “cheese” sauce.

    Whatever your diet is, whatever your budget is, make sure you are purchasing those sale items and planning your weekly meals around them!

    This is one of my absolute favourite ways to save money on groceries, and it’s also a fun challenge for me – to come up with a meal plan based on items I find on sales (instead of the other way around, when I plan a menu, and then overspend on groceries that are likely not on sale).

    Do you plan your meals around sales?

    For more menu planning tips, be sure to check out my eBook, How to Achieve Menu Planning Success.

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  • 9 Items You Should Always Buy at Shoppers Drug Mart

    Shoppers Drug Mart is one of my favourite stores to shop at, for a number of reasons. Not only do they have an amazing rewards program, but they also have some fantastic deals on a regular basis.

    There are some items that you should always buy at Shoppers Drug Mart, simply because you can almost always find them on sale there. Of course, full price is ridiculous, but watch for those sales, because on these items, they happen often.

    Items to Buy at Shoppers Drug Mart

    1. Diapers

    I rarely buy diapers anywhere than Shoppers Drug Mart. You can often get a small package of Huggies or Pampers for $9.99, which doesn’t sound all that great, but if you can catch this sale at the same time there is a bonus points promotion (or there is a bonus points coupon available), this can actually be a really great deal.

    I’ve even found diapers on clearance at Shoppers Drug Mart, so make sure you always check the clearance section in your store!

    2. Eggs

    It’s common for Shoppers Drug Mart to price a dozen eggs at $1.99 per pack, which is a great deal, considering the cost is around $1 more at grocery stores.

    I’ve noticed that the $1.99 sale happens every few weeks, so there is always a chance to get this deal.

    3. Butter

    As long as you’re not brand loyal, butter is almost always priced at $2.99 for a large brick at Shoppers Drug Mart. This is a sale price, so you won’t be able to get this price all the time, but the $2.99 price is available regularly.

    Buy enough to get you through until the next sale. If the price is lower than $2.99, which is sometimes is, you may also want to buy a couple of extra bricks to stick in your freezer.

    4. Bathroom Tissue

    I don’t remember the last time I bought bathroom tissue anywhere other than Shoppers Drug Mart.

    The brand that is frequently on sale is Royale. I wait until the sale price is $3.99 for 12 double rolls, and use a $1 coupon from GoCoupons.ca (you can order these coupons often!). If there’s a bonus points promotion on at the same time as a sale on Royale, I will pay up to $4.99, plus use a coupon.

    5. Facial Tissue

    Just like bathroom tissue, you can often find Royale facial tissue (6 pack) for as low as $3.99, and there is also a coupon for that on GoCoupons.ca.

    Again, I try to only purchase these packs if they’re on sale and there is also a bonus points promotion going on.

    6. Milk

    Milk is regularly priced right around $4 at most Shoppers Drug Mart stores, which is the same or cheaper than many grocery stores, making this a must-buy if you’re looking to save money!

    Some locations don’t allow you to earn points on milk purchases though, so keep that in mind if you want to buy milk during a points promotion (check with your store to see if it’s allowed).

    7. Crackers & Cookies

    Christie cookies and crackers – if you buy these, you’ll want to keep an eye on your Shoppers Drug Mart flyer, because these are priced as low as $1.50 each on a regular basis!

    This price is so good that they have to limit purchases to 4 per person, so you don’t be able to stock up, but it’s still a great deal worth picking up if these are items you normally buy.

    8. Chips & Pop

    I seem to always find deals on chips and pop at Shoppers Drug Mart. Usually the chips are Lay’s or Ruffles, but I’ve also seen some very good prices on Doritos and Tostitos.

    As for pop, don’t every pay more than 3/$10 for 12-packs of Coca-Cola or Pepsi cans, or more than $2 for 6-packs of Coca-Cola or Pepsi small bottles, because these sales happen very often!

    9. Peanut Butter

    Another item that I always see on sale for a great price at Shoppers Drug Mart is Kraft peanut butter. I’ve seen the large containers (750g-1kg) for as low as $2.99! That is a great price!

    These are often limited to 4 per person, and are usually only available at this low price for 1 or 2 days, so pay attention to those details when you’re looking at this sale.

    What are some items that you often buy at Shoppers Drug Mart?

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  • 6 Ways That I Save Money on Books

    As I’m sure you’ve noticed by reading my weekly goals, I love to read. I’m obsessed with reading. I read every day, at all times (but usually at night before bed). Reading has so many benefits, including:

    • Mental Stimulation
    • Better Writing Skills
    • Knowledge
    • Reducing Stress
    • Expanding Your Vocabulary
    • Improved Concentration

    Since I read so much, I always make sure I have a stack of new books ready for me to crack open and get lost in. Books can be expensive, so I’ve learned of a few ways that I can save money on them, and it has helped immensely. These are my top picks.

    6 Ways That I Save Money on Books

    Save Money on Books

    1. The Library

    I’m sure you guess I was going to bring up this one, right? The library is such a fantastic resource – so take advantage of it! Often you can check out books for up to a month, and you can check out as many, or as few as you want (I doubt they’d let you take out hundreds of books, of course, but I’ve taken out as many as 25 in one trip and they didn’t bat an eye!).

    Libraries allow you to borrow books for free, so this is always the first place I go when I want to find new reading material.

    2. Borrow from Friends & Family

    If you have family and/or friends that own books you would like to read, ask them if you can borrow some. If they’re not currently reading the books you want to borrow, I’m sure they’d let you borrow them for a little while.

    Be respectful of their property if they do decide to let you borrow their books. Return them in the condition that you borrowed them in, and always give them back in a reasonable timeline. Don’t hold on to someone else’s books long enough that they actually have to ask for them back!

    3. Book Outlet Online

    One way that I really love to save money on books is to order them from Book Outlet. They have a huge assortment of books that you can order, at prices as low as 80% off retail!

    I often buy children’s books for $2-$3 each, and books for myself (fiction and non-fiction) for as low as $5 each. Check out their “Scratch & Dent” section of the site for even more great deals!

    4. Yard Sales & Thrift Stores

    Don’t forget about thrift stores (year round) and yard sales (in the spring & summer) for cheap books! I love buying books at these places, especially yard sales, because they are often prices incredibly low.

    Thrift stores often have special promotions on, as well, so you can pair one of them promotions with an already low price, and score an even better deal on some books!

    5. Chapters & Amazon

    Paying full price at these stores would be a bad idea, but if you are patient, you can often get your hands on some books at very low prices because they both regularly have sales on books in a variety of categories.

    If you use Swagbucks, Amazon would be even better for you because you can trade in your Swag Bucks for an Amazon gift card and use it on books, allowing you to get the books that you want for free!

    Even if you don’t use Swagbucks, you can still find some pretty good deals on Amazon. They often have 40%-50% off the Top Books of the Month, too, which is when I usually snag some good buys.

    My new favourite sections on the Chapters website are on their front page. They have a spot for “Up to 80% off Great Reads” and “Top 50 Books for 50% off”. This is often where I look when I’m trying to find new books to read.

    Chapters also releases coupon codes often, so I will usually wait until I have one of those before I buy anything, to save myself even more money.

    6. Download Free eBooks

    As much as I prefer to put my hands on “real” books and not read them online, if I come across a fantastic eBook online for free, I will definitely download it!

    I find my free eBooks on Amazon and can often find 3 or 4 books that interest me each week. New free eBooks are revealed every day on Amazon, so make sure to check back regularly to see what has been added.

    How do you save money on books? Please share in the comments!

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  • Don’t Let Multi-Buy Sales Trick You!

    Have you ever seen a sale that was advertised 10/$10 or 4/$5 or even 2/$1? If so, did you ever even consider purchasing less than the advertised quantities?

    Multi Buy Sales

    These multi-buy sales are just another way that many stores try to trick you into buying multiple items, because you think that you have to do so in order to get the great price.

    But guess what – you don’t (most of the time)! Instead:

    • 10/$10 Sales = Buy 1 for $1, 2 for $2, 5 for $5, or more
    • 4/$5 Sales = Buy 1 for $1.25, 2 for $2.50, 3 for $3.75, or more
    • 2/$1 Sales = Buy 1 for $0.50 or more

    Some stores actually do charge you less if you buy multiples during their multi-buy sales. The store I see that does this most often is Shoppers Drug Mart. You could buy 2 of something for $5, for example, or pay $2.99 each.

    In this case, buying the multiples is the best deal. I’ve also seen Walmart do this occasionally.

    Pay attention to the words in the advertisement, both in the flyers and in stores, to see if you truly do need to buy the multiples to get the low price, or if you can get away with buying less.

    Have you ever been tricked with these multi-buy sales?

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  • The Truth About Expiration Dates

    The dates you find on food labels can really be confusing. What many people believe, is that the date found on food is the date that they must throw the item in the trash, because by that point, it’s no longer safe to consume.

    Fortunately, most of the time, this is not the case. The dates on food labels actually have nothing at all to do with the safety of food.

    Expiration Dates

    Here are the different kinds of dates and what they really mean:

    Use By/Best By/Best Before

    These are usually found on items such as mustard, peanut butter, and pasta sauce. Food that is shelf-stable.

    This date tells you how long the item will remain at the best quality (while unopened). After this date has passed, the food is still safe to consume, but you may notice subtle changes in texture, flavour or colour.

    So, as long as the item has been stored properly, you can still use it past this date. As far as how long past this date the food will last – well, that will vary. If it develops an off-smell, or looks generally unappetizing and much different than how it normally looks, toss it.

    Sell By

    You will find most items with sell-by dates are things like meat and milk – perishables. This date tells the store how long they can keep an item out for sale. If the date passes, they are no longer able to sell the item.

    You definitely don’t want to purchase a perishable item whos sell-by date has passed, but you don’t necessarily need to consume it before that date.

    For example, milk will last 1 week after the sell-by date in the refrigerator, chicken breasts will last 1-2 days, and yogurt 7-10 days. Visit the Keep it or Toss it page to see how long your favourite foods will last.

    Expires/Expires On

    You will likely only find these dates on baby items such as infant formula and certain baby foods.

    This is the only time you definitely want to make sure to use the item up before the expiration date.

    Guaranteed Fresh By

    This date is often found on bakery items, such as breads and rolls. You can certainly still eat these items once the date has past, but they will not be as fresh as they were before the date.

    Do you remember the last time you threw something away because the date on the item had past? How many times have you done this unnecessarily, losing food (and your money) in the process?

    Stop throwing away perfectly edible food! As long as you understand the dates on items, and are storing your food and beverages properly, you can stop tossing things in the trash – which means savings for you!

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  • 12 Ways to Keep Produce Fresh Longer

    There’s nothing worse than seeing a bunch of expensive produce go to waste right before you’re eyes. Whether you just don’t have the energy to cook it, and it goes bad, or it gets hidden behind other items and you forget about it – expired food is never a fun thing to discover.

    Here are a bunch of ways that will help you to keep produce fresh longer:

    12 Ways to Keep Produce Fresh Longer

    Keep Produce Fresh Longer

    1. Plan your meals

    One of the best ways to remember to use up all of the produce you buy, is to plan a weekly menu that incorporates your purchases.

    Menu planning doesn’t have to be complicated either. Keep things simple. The main goal is just making sure you are using up what you buy at store, to prevent it from going bad.

    Wasted food is wasted money, and no one likes to waste money!

    2. Store fruits and vegetables separately

    Some fruits and veggies produce a gas as they ripen. This gas, ethylene, can prematurely ripen foods that are sensitive tp it, so you’ll want to keep these ethylene-producing foods away from foods that are sensitive to this has.


    • Apricots
    • Avocados
    • Bananas
    • Cantaloupes
    • Honeydew
    • Kiwis
    • Mangoes
    • Nectarines
    • Papayas
    • Peaches
    • Pears
    • Plums
    • Tomatoes


    • Apples
    • Asparagus
    • Broccoli
    • Carrots
    • Cucumbers
    • Eggplants
    • Green Beans
    • Lettuce (and other greens)
    • Potatoes
    • Summer Squash
    • Watermelons

    3. Store squash, potatoes & onions in a cool, dry & dark place

    Whether you keep them in a cold cellar, or even just a dark cabinet that doesn’t see a lot of sunlight, ensure that these items are stored somewhere that’s cool and dark.

    Don’t put them in the fridge, though, as the cold air can ruin the flavour of them both.

    Onion Storage

    Also, make sure to store your potatoes separately from your onions, because when you store them together, they both produce gases that spoil each other. Onions will make potatoes expire quickly and vice versa.

    4. Store tomatoes stem side down

    Here’s a little trick to help make your tomatoes last just a little bit longer – store them upside down!

    This will prevent air from geting into the little bit at the top of the tomato (where it used to be attached to the plant), slowing down the ripening process.

    5. Store unripe fruits on the counter

    If you have a bunch of fruits, such as pears, bananas, plums, kiwis, and mangoes that aren’t yet ripe, allow them to sit on the counter until they have ripened. Then, to ensure they last awhile, move them to the fridge.

    Yes, even bananas (they will turn black in colour, but the taste will be the same!).

    6. Protect your greens

    Store herbs and salad greens in large zip-top bags, with a sheet or two of paper towel inside.

    The paper towel will absorb the moisture from the herbs and greens, and keep the plant fresher for much longer.

    7. Keep celery fresh longer

    A great tip for keeping your celery fresh and crisp for weeks is to wrap it completely in aluminum foil.

    Stick it in your refrigerator crisper and it will last up to 4 weeks!

    Celery in Foil

    8. Pineapple trick

    Remove the leafy tops off of your pieapple and turn your pineapple upside down. Store it this way on your counter until ready to cut and eat.

    Doing this will help to redistribute sugars that often sink to the bottom of the pineapple during shipping.

    9. Get rid of rotten produce

    If you notice any rotten produce, get rid of it right away, otherwise it will start to spoil the rest of your goodies.

    Go through your packages of berries, your lettuce, your carrots, your tomatoes, and look for anything that has gone bad (or appears to be heading that way quick!), and toss is.

    10. Store everything in plain sight

    To encourage eating before spoilage, make sure that you’re always storing your fruits and vegetables in plain sight. You should be forced to look at them multiple times per day, to remind you to eat them.

    If everything is pushed to the back of your fridge, it will be hidden behind everything else you have in there, and will more than likely result in produce that’s gone bad and is no longer edible.

    11. Don’t wash your berries

    Try to avoid washing your berries until you’re ready to eat them.

    Tempting as it is to prep ahead, if your berries are wet, they’re likely to spoil much sooner than if they weren’t. So, unless you plan on eating them all within a day or two, don’t wash your berries until right before consumption.


    12. Freeze what you don’t use

    If you cannot use up your produce – freeze it to eat and enjoy later. You can freeze most produce, such as melon (chopped), berries, bananas, bell peppers (chopped) and celery (chopped), tomatoes (remove the core).

    You can freeze other produce, such as carrots and broccoli, but they will first need to be blanched, because it stops the enzymes that keep vegetables ripening. It also helps to slow vitamin and mineral loss.

    To blanch vegetables: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add your veggies. Once the water returns to a boil, cook for about 2 minutes, then drain and immediately transfer to a large bowl of ice water.

    Once completely chilled, drain again and once dried, add to a freezer bag or container.

    Do you have any tips for keeping produce fresh longer? Please share in the comments!

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  • Money Saving Tip – Watch for Marked Down Bags of Bananas

    Have you seen these bags of bananas before? I find them regularly at Sobeys and they’re always $0.49/lb., compared to the regular $0.79/lb. price.

    Marked Down Bananas

    Please tell me – what is wrong with this banana?

    The reason the bananas are marked down is because they are not as “perfect” as the regular priced bananas. They have a few more brown spots – that’s it! It’s all about the cosmetics. Honestly, I’ve never found a bag that had awfully bruised and overripe bananas.

    We go through about 2 dozen bananas each week (for baking, in smoothies, and just for eating), so whenever I see these bags of bananas at Sobeys, I always grab a few. It’s a fantastic way to save money on something I was going to be buying anyway!

    I’m not sure if they sell these bags of “non-perfect” bananas at other grocery stores, but most will at least have a reduced produce rack, where you can find bananas (and other produce) marked way down!

    Have you seen these bags of reduced bananas before?

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