Tag Archives: may grocery challenge

and the $ for the disney pot is…


so…how ’bout those toronto blue jays??

have you made plans for the weekend, yet?

what’s going to be the blockbuster movie of the summer??

haha, i’m just being a tease and prolonging the announcement of the may grocery bill total.

care to make your guess??

ok, here we go…

after calculating and rechecking my work, the may grocery bill total is….


wow. by yesterday, i did suspect that i was under my $400 target, but i am honestly surprised at this low figure.

a few points of explanation:

~ let’s say that i stole *borrowed*/was granted $100 worth of free food from my various sources since may 1st [and i do think i am being overly generous with this guesstimate]. that means that i still came in well under my usual monthly average for grocery spending.

~ my cupboards are BARE right now. like, i rival old mother hubbard. my first post-may grocery shopping weekend is going to be H-U-G-E and expensive!

~ just for fun, i tallied how much money i spent on carbonated water and coffee this month. the total? $54.81. that amount represents almost 20% of my total grocery bill.

what i am going to do with my excess money:

$120 seems like a lot to put into my disney fund. so, i am going to do r.a.o.k. #4 [i will share what #3 was in the june 9th monthly recap post] and buy 42 jars of baby food and donate them to the food bank [i like to take action and buy things rather than write cheques, that is just my style, and children’s nutrition holds a soft spot in my ♥] then whatever $ is left over will be set aside for the disney trip.

two realizations:

~ salad ingredients are non-negotiable items! lettuce must be a household staple!

~ you need to be observant when paging through the weekly store flyers – not every featured item is on sale! let’s take last week’s valumart flyer to pick on as an example:

these products ARE on sale! note that the sale price and the savings amount are highlighted.

these items are NOT on sale – they are simply new items that valumart wants to bring to your attention!

final thoughts:

~ you CAN shop on a budget, eat healthy, and avoid a diet of chef boyardee and kraft dinner; however, you must be flexible in what you are willing to purchase. for example: with vegetables, you may need to sub in frozen for fresh, or change brand names, or switch up the fresh veggies that you choose to put in your shopping basket.

~ you also need to be willing to travel from store to store to hit major bargains. how valuable is your time vs the amount of money you will save?

~ stock up on non-perishables like cereal and peanut butter when you see a super price – as long as you have the storage space!


over the past few weeks, i have been composing a mental list of groceries that i am chomping at the bit to buy!

  • maranatha peanut butter and/or maranatha almond butter
  • protein powder [will pick up at work on saturday]
  • tofu and tempeh
  • veggie burgers [fran, this one is all thanks to you!]
  • all three flavours of puffins that are available in canada – that would be original, cinnamon and peanut butter [ooo, this purchase has a question mark after it because how can i justify $4.79 per box for puffins – and they are very small boxes, at that – with all the major cereal sales going on?? i may have to think on this one]
  • a new shampoo that does not make me look like the “before” photo in a hair-care advert [i am thinking a grapfruit scent from body shop would be oh-so-nice for the summer].


tomorrow, i work until 6 pm at theOTHERstore, then here is the evening’s entertainment plan for after that (about which i am entirely gleeful!!):

~ go to sears and take advantage of the lancôme special offer of goodies if you spend $45 or more [ok, this has absolutely nothing to do with groceries, but it is the #1 stop on my agenda].

~ go to food basics and buy many things.

~ go home, then head out to the health food store and valumart and shoppers and buy many things.

i do not think i will make it to friday night knitting club!

i have a feeling that by the time i add up the receipts from all of these stops, we could be close to matching may’s grocery total!!

**for the record, every grocery item i bought this month was on sale – i did not cheat!

any grocery shopping lessons that YOU have learned that you can add to the list, above?? as dad would say, all things in moderation. that is the biggest lesson i am taking away from my great may grocery challenge!!

may grocery challenge: update #4

greetings, friends!

well, here we are – this is the last entry for our regular tuesday updates in the great may grocery challenge series.

week #1!

week #2!

week #3!

reminder: on thursday, i will share the month’s final grocery bill. [my last may grocery store outing will happen today so that i have time to review my receipts and think about what i want to say about this project!].

here are the thoughts from this past week, may 22-28:

~ stupendous: i managed to go three whole days (monday, tuesday, wednesday, last week) without setting foot in a grocery store – that has gotta be close to a personal record.

~ silly: there is enough cereal in my cupboard to sink a ship. and the cereal sales are still going strong this week at all area food stores. it’s irksome that i do not need any more cereal because i would love to take advantage of deals such as this one at food basics:

love the “buy more, pay less” incentive!

~ clueless: i honestly have no clue if i have spent $200 or $600 on groceries, this month. i am going to be just as surprised as you when i tally up how much money has been spent. i am really excited to see the total!

~ craving: here is the eclectic request list that i gave emailed dad-the-scout for his trip on thursday to the market:

  • a choco chip muffin
  • skim milk cheese
  • white button mushrooms
  • a head of lettuce (**this last one was simply for the laughs: dad as lettuce supplier has become the joke of this project!*)

~ focussed: this week’s vehicular voyage saw me head up to beechwood zehrs:

i so very rarely shop at zehrs these days!

guess what SALE item i was searching out?!…

not as good a price as at central’s sale!

i stocked up with enough lettuce to see me through the end of the month. next time i buy rabbit food, it will be anywhere at any price (likely food basics: even at regular prices, they are still the cheapest).

~ sweet!: nicole (unknowingly) contributed to the cause!

yum! a cupcake made by nicole for her sister’s bday!

~ icky: i bought a tin of water chestnuts and a tin of baby corn as accoutrements for salads. well, one serving of each, then my taste buds turned themselves off. let me tell you, you get a lot of water chestnuts and baby corn in those little tins…

any thoughts from your own may grocery purchases? i never resorted to kraft dinner!


today is a special day – it is dearest mom‘s birthday! we marked this celebration date on sunday with two fun outings – recap tomorrow!

file photo, may 2012, pre-shopping outing, of course!

mom and her newest bff, celebrity restauranteur chuck hughes, in montreal, april 2012!

mom: you are one of the sweetest, kindest, gentlest ladies (yet you still possess spunk and gumption) on this earth. you are my favourite shopping partner, confidante, and i love you to pieces. enjoy a most wonderful day today (perfect timing that you are in TO to see little e and cutie c!) and all the best in the coming year. xoxo!

foiled at the movie theatre!

i am not doing very well with my attempts to be nice, lately.

as you have seen, mom and dad have been so very good about letting me steal food from their fridge and cupboards during the great may grocery challenge this month (an apple and a cheese slice here, a baggie of cereal there…it all adds up). yes, i have felt more than a weeee bit guilty over taking, taking, taking (i think the tipping point was having dad get that lettuce for me at the market!).

as a gesture of thanks, i invited mom and dad to join me as my guests for a night out at the movies this past sunday. we could walk over to the princess twin for the 6:30 pm showing of the best exotic marigold hotel.


i had seen the trailer for this movie [i forget exactly what i was at the theatre to see when i saw it], and it looked like an inoffensive, engaging story – one that you are not uncomfortable to see with your parents [or your daughter, for that matter, i imagine!].plus, we are all great fans of judi dench and maggie smith.

what a gorgeous evening for a quick walk up to the cinema!

we arrived before 6:25 pm…only to be greeted by patrons exiting the theatre – the movie was sold out!


[apart from giving me free groceries, i also owe mom and dad for letting me boss them around about how to pose for photos for the blog – such good sports, always!].

what a shame! all three of us were genuinely surprised that the movie would be sold out on such a lovely evening of a long weekend (isn’t everyone supposed to be camping or at the cottage??). ah, well. not meant to be, obviously.

at least we enjoyed a short stroll in the evening sunshine!

mom and dad, we will reschedule!

plan b was quickly devised: we settled in for a knitting party (ok, not dad) at mom and dad’s condo, and watched the latest (pvr’d) episode of top chef canada -> highly entertaining!

and – will wonders never cease – i went home without stealing a thing!

what is the last movie you saw, and please give it a rating out of **** stars. i would like to go see the five-year engagement and/or what to expect when you’re expecting. i have no desire to see the avengers.

may grocery challenge: update #3

i had an a-ha realization during this, the third week of the great may grocery challenge, and i am interested to know whether you have ever found this phenomenon to be true, too: whatever the event, be it your work day, a marathon (ok, any distance of running race, actually), a plane ride, a crafty project…it is the 1/2 to 3/4 span of time that is the slog zone. if you are going to lose momentum, interest and steam, it is going to be during this 50-75% completion mark. agree? disagree? thoughts???

while i wouldn’t say i became disheartened from may 15-21, i will admit the project was not quite as *!fun!* as it was for the first two weeks. i did not want to give up or drop out, it didn’t reach that extent at all [i tell you blogging is the best way to stay accountable] but i just wanted to buy a da*n apple in 30 seconds, without thinking and planning, already!

here are assorted randoms from week #3 (may 1-7 is recapped here! may may 8-14, here!):

~ a drought no more: i was paging through last saturday’s paper when an ad for central’s grocery deals caught my eye – lettuce, $0.99 each. i shook my head and rolled my eyes and refocused on the page just to make sure it was not a too-good-to-be-true moment. yippee!! no need to beseech dad to get me lettuce this week! last tuesday, i hopped in the rav and excitedly drove over to central [luckily, it is nearly in the ‘hood. you can read about my visit to this indy local grocery institution during last year’s grocery challenge here!].

the best sight of the whole week!

…and then i spotted a delightful surprise!

can you believe that?!! ORGANIC broc, TWO for a dollar??!

frankly, i don’t make a point of buying organic, but i welcomed the sight of “organic” + “special” on the same sign – sweeeeet!!!!

~ a lucky find: i ran out of glucosamine this past week. to be honest, i stocked up on vitamins in april, knowing that supplement purchases would spike my may grocery bill. but, i obviously overlooked the nearly-empty glucosamine bottle. guess what? shoppers had glucosamine on 40% off! plus, the bottle was bonus size -> 360 tablets for the price of 300! thank you, jamieson brand and shoppers drug mart!!

~ a yesno~yesno~yesno raging debate: i also ran out of protein powder this week:

what, you don’t keep saran wrap, AA batteries, empty plastic bags and protein powder all on the same shelf??!

i dislike drinking protein shakes. but i love, ♥ love ♥, LOVE mixing protein powder with just enough water so that it is of icing or pudding consistency and then eating it with a spoon or spreading it on an apple. yum! now, i could have replaced my pro powder while staying within the rules of the grocery challenge because i can get the powerbar brand at the store, thereby making use my employee discount, thereby saving $$. but even with my discount, that tub is still over $20, ie not that cheap. the unfeeling rational side of my brain argued that when breaking down the cost per serving, other quality protein sources are a lot cheaper (hello, $1 tuna). but chocolate protein tastes so goooood!, whined the emotional half of my head. at present, that tub is still on the store shelf. but, that could change…today! or later this week! i am wavering…

~ a worthwhile splurge: i am blaming manager paul entirely for causing me to make this unnecessary purchase:

chocolate flavoured almonds!!

paul casually mentioned last week how much he was enjoying cocoa roasted almonds. well, once he said that, i could not get the thought out of my mind! must find! must try! and wouldn’t you know it, in valumart, i spotted said almonds…on sale! now, even on sale,they were still $5.69 for that container (and i could have gotten regular ol’ plain almonds on sale for about $2.99 at shoppers), but paul was not kidding – these are absolutely knock-out delicious! [this happy find cancels out the crappy date squares bust from week #2].

~ a mooched meal: saturday brunch over at mom and dad’s before i went to work!

a mixed-berry medley; a slice of leftover pizza; a few potato chips; homemade rhubarb crisp. thanks, ‘rents!

~ a veritable bonanza: valumart has the best cereal sale going on this week that i have seen in years. there’s gotta be at least ten different varieties that i like (plus others i don’t like) marked down. some are  2/$5 others are $2.99 or $3.99 per box – it’s a joy to behold the shelves. hmmm, still ten days left in may…i think it is worth the investment to stock up!

~ a new water: president’s choice has introduced a collection of carbonated waters:

$0.79 per bottle – on sale!

that flavour is fantastic! but what is that red fruit on the bottle, with the blueberries? i dunno, but the water is extremely refreshing!

~ a close call: sunday morning, 5:45 a.m., all of a sudden the power went out. this is not a rare occurence – our building frequently gets a blip where we lose electricity (just long enough so you have to reset all the clocks) but on sunday, the power was STILL out when i left for work at 8 a.m.! i was getting pretty concerned about my fridge and freezer goods – what if the power is out for hours upon hours, and i have to ditch everything??, i despaired. thankfully, the power returned at 8:04 a.m., i was told, so i didn’t end up losing approx $25 of groceries. whew!


and that’s it for week #3! we’ll review week #4 next tuesday, then do a final monetary tally and analysis [the plan is to buy the last of may’s groceries on may 30th so that we can find out if i came in under budget ON the last day of may].

i think we’re over the psychological hump – the end is nearly in sight!

may grocery challenge: update #2

whoa – hold your horses! how did it get to be the middle of the month, as of tomorrow?!

it’s time for our second update for the great may grocery challenge – that means that (hopefully) i have spent less than $200 on groceries, so far. no tabulating allowed, but my hunch is that i am doing well. however, we won’t know for sure until approx 10:00 p.m., may 31st!

here’s an example of one of my shopping trips (this one was to valumart) from the past seven days…

clockwise, from L: yogurt; frozen mixed veg; oatmeal pacs; crab (on sale + a coupon!); pickles; pears; date squares

…and here are some observations!

the end of the line jar: i finished my maranatha crunchy pb this week…that means no more of this fabulous brand until june as it is never on sale.

the gratis restaurant occasion: our family outing on mother’s day to solé restaurant in honour of g’ma’s 90th bday! (recap + photos coming tomorrow!).

the discovery: peanut butter on PEAR tastes just as delicious as pb on APPLE! highly recommended! [i picked up pears when valu had this fruit on sale, and absolutely zero varieties of apples on special].

the swap: cauliflower for broccoli ($0.99 on sale vs $2.99 not on sale at valumart).

the disappointing failure: those date squares in the photo, above? virtually inedible. they are tasteless and dry. i still have 5/6 of the tray in the freezer, and i think i am going to need to chuck them, unfortunately, that’s how totally unpleasant they are. [i think i need a tshirt that says, “life is too short to eat cruddy date squares.”].

the cheat workaround solution: i need my everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salads. despite scouring the sale flyers, the only greenery i could find on sale was romaine hearts, 2/$6 at valumart. do you know how puny and skimpy romaine hearts are?? and that price is still highway robbery! no way was i forking out that much moola for rabbit food. so, brilliant plan: i asked DAD to pick up lettuce for me at the market since mooching and freeloading is allowed for this project. (yes, i did feel a little chagrined). thankfully, this week there are more – and cheaper – options available in the greens dept at area stores!

the problem with a rule of this challenge: since the (self-imposed) rules state that only items on sale may be purchased, sometimes the sale price is more than the regular price. case in point: those oatmeal pacs – it’d be cheaper to buy a bag of oats, but they were not on sale, and the individual pacs WERE on sale, so that box went into the grocery cart. i always used to buy my oatmeal in those individualized serving sizes, and i realized buying them again now that you get spoiled, just grabbing a pac instead of measuring out oatmeal (like it’s such a hardship, that extra 23 seconds!) and you create more garbage! [for whatever reason, i swear the oatmeal tastes miniscule-y better from the little package…].

the yucky substitute: when i finally did locate apples on sale (zehrs at conestoga mall), i had to settle for the macintosh variety. thank goodness i only purchased two because they were mealy and soft – exactly the texture and taste i intensely dislike in an apple.

next tuesday will be recap #3!


the k-w record featured a really interesting grocery-related opinion piece last thursday. check out busy grocery shoppers shouldn’t read this column.

how much time would you say your average grocery shopping trip takes you? me = 5-10 minutes. most often, i buy a backpack’s worth of groceries at a time (so, not a whole lot). i never shop without a list. the only variable is how long the checkout line takes!


an idea for a future kiki project??!

in the latest issue of runner’s world, this small story caught my eye:

now this is creative!

this woman ran every day…and also drank a DIFFERENT TYPE of beer every day! how fun would it be to streak run and consume a NEW CEREAL every day??! that might be a bit preposterous for a year…but totally do-able for a month! need to ponder!…

may grocery challenge: update #1

tuesdays will be grocery challenge check-in day for the month of may…only because may 1st was a tuesday!

~ financial report: i don’t have a total on money that has exited my wallet thus far because there is no tallying allowed until the end of the month. however, i am mentally guesstimating the perceived exertion spending rate, and things are looking good.

~ three mooching examples: lunch with dad; 3/4 of an avocado and a slice of banana bread from mom; lunch and dinner chez the brother and sil ana. i am trying not to be obnoxiously cheap. but, i do think a cereal raid is on the horizon, fyi mom and dad!

~ lesson learned: i need to stop my natural stockpiling tendencies! i am so accustomed to building up a stash of items when they are on sale that i automatically did that with peanut butter and salad dressing this week. however, if i want to meet and beat my $400 spending target, i need to curtail the stockpiling. if i will go through the items during the month of may, i should take advantage of the sale price; if it’s going to take a while to get to x item, i need to leave it on the shelf.

~ shopping style evolution: i’ve translated my fashion buying question, “is this a want or a need?” to groceries. something like yet another flavour of mustard is not essential; milk is essential, for example. for one month, i can forgo some garnishes.

~ great deals of the week: tuna, cereal, salad dressing, lettuce, peanut butter, carbonated water, milk, chicken pot pie…those are the main discounted items that i snapped up. valumart was a surprisingly good resource this week with their “dollar days” promotion.

~ where i shopped: valumart, food basics, shoppers.

~ concluding impression: all is good! i am not lacking any essentials, and am financially on track.

~ goal for this week: pick up some products to try that i usually would not purchase just because they are on sale.

feedback on your own grocery shopping experiences this week?? paying in cash is super-helpful in terms of sticking to a budget!


i’d like to wish a happy 90th birthday to my grandma, today!

file photo: christmas, 2010

grandma does not read the blog, but i want to give her landmark birthday a special mention because reaching the age of ninety is quite a milestone. we have a family celebration planned for this weekend, and i know g’ma will love just having us all together – that’s how grandmothers are!

the return of the may grocery challenge

happy first of may!

i don’t know about you, but for me, may kicks off the summer season. it is blissful to think about the upcoming four months of summery weather that lie ahead [september first = autumn, in my book, and we have to start thinking about the return of colder temps – ick].

last year this month, i conducted a personal grocery challenge. at that time, my goals for the thirty-one days of may were simply to track my grocery spending and use coupons/take advantage of sales. i wanted to get a grasp of where i was at – it was an eye-opening experience!

this year, i’m reinstating the grocery challenge, but with a twist. here is the theme for this month:

if it’s not on sale, i am not buying it.

and here are the rules and escape clauses details!

  1. i will only buy groceries that are at a specially reduced/temporary sale price.
  2. i can shop at any store. between valumart, zehrs, sobey’s, food basics, shoppers, bulk barn, the health food stores, etc. [yes, specialty stores do have sales! i scored a box of envirokids peanut butter panda puffs for $2, the other day, at eating well organically!] i have many easily accessible shopping options at my disposal, and it will be easy to hit any of these stores at pretty much any time.
  3. coffee and carbonated water are exempt. i need my diet coke substitute morning java and i need my bubbly. the good thing is that some brand of carb h2o is very often on sale somewhere. and i have a well-stocked pantry of instant coffee. [oh the irony….it is not lost on me how much money would be saved by drinking diet pop in lieu of water and coffee…eesh].
  4. i can mooch all i want. watch out mom and dad, sil ana – your cupboards may be ransacked – haha! free handouts are allowed.
  5. i am going to try to come in at under $400 total grocery spending for the month. for some of you, this may be a high amount, for some of you a low amount, it matters not, but according to my tracking, this is a feasible budget to aim for.
  6. if i end up spending less than $4oo, the extra money gets specially marked in my disney fund [so, for example, i can say, “this is the tshirt i bought with my may grocery challenge savings!”].
  7. money spent during coffee shop outings with friends is exempt because this falls under ‘”entertainment” in my budgeting system.

the hypotheses that i hope to prove:

  • you can eat healthfully while purchasing only sale priced goods
  • you can save a lot of money by reading store flyers and searching out sales
  • you can enjoy a wide variety of products even when only buying sale items
  • it’s ok to deviate from the norm: for example, i always use lite catalina dressing on my salad. what if it is not on sale and i have to try something else? that’s ok!
  • you can save a sh!tload of money by shopping this way. or will this theory backfire? will i see that x is on sale and buy it just because it is a deal??

this is going to be a fun – and funny? – experiment. the worst case scenario: luckily, cereal and milk are always on sale, somewhere!

i think i’ll do a once-a-week update for the month of may about the challenge….so, stay tuned!

bland/boring question: do you like grocery shopping? i do! dad does! mom does not!

nosey/prying question: how much do you spend on groceries a month, and do you think this is a lot or a little? it is probably a good thing that whole foods is not in my ‘hood (although we do have the indy vincenzo’s which is very similar) – i love that place and would have no control on spending, if given easy access to their products!

Aruba Blue + Grocery Blues

I was paging through the newspaper on Canada Day at the store (seeing as how I had *a little* time on my hands) when this full page ad in the Shoppers Drug Mart flyer caught my eye:

notice the name of the nail polish colour??!

Hey hey! Only my favourite hot spot on earth:

file photo from my trip, march 2011

Some Essie-brand Nail Polish Colour-Namer must ♥ Aruba to pieces, too. Question: are they referring to the blue water or the blue sky? Both are fantabulous shades of gorgeousness.

As you see, the nail polish is available for $8.99…hmmm, remember the $10.11 I still have left on my Adidas Amex card? And after I tell you this next little story, I really think I’m meant to use it on “Aruba Blue“….

Inspired by “Aruba Blue,” (and the thought of writing this blog post), I decided to slap on some nail colour give myself a manicure last eve. Of course, my colour choice had to be blue.

I no sooner got out the little bottle of colour and look what happened:

i really am a full-fledged blogger now: for the first time ever, i thought to grab my camera before starting clean up

the crash 'n' smash happened so suddenly, i swear gremlins were at work...

Wah. (For the record, Wet ‘n’ Wild  – at about $3 a bottle – makes the best nail polish, in my books. I would choose it any day over OPI or another $$ brand. Doesn’t chip easily and dries super-quick).

Luckily, my pause to snap photos did not impinge on my ability to wipe up the (quickly drying) spilled nail colour. No harm done. I switched to my back up blue:

i have a whole series of metallics: this blue, a silver, a pink and a light purple

very summery. shall we call it "lake huron blue?!"

So, I’m feeling severely tempted to go pick up some “Aruba Blue” later today. I’m still chuckling because I’ve never dropped a bottle of nail polish in my life – it’s a sign!!!

Although, after you hear this next story, you’ll agree that I should be putting my $10.11 towards groceries…

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Following Holly‘s lead, back in May, I conducted my own May Grocery Challenge which basically consisted of me tracking grocery expenditures and also trying to use coupons. I loved doing it! For June, I kept up the practice of saving all my receipts (and searching out coupons). I didn’t tally my money spent until June 30th.

Ho-ly. S*#& !!!

There is no way in H – E – double hockey sticks that I am going to tell you the final result. I was floored, completely and utterly (yes, that is double adjective usage, but that just shows my shock level).

I’m singing crying the grocery blues.

Now, of course, I’m going to justify my expenditure. Here goes:

  • I lump food, vitamins, toilet paper/bathroom necessities etc all together as “groceries.” So what I spent is not for food, alone.
  • I did a lot of stockpiling this month (except for coffee! Still good from May’s stashing!) when I found oft-used items on sale – maybe I over-stashed, but I can’t contain myself when I know I need and will eventually use an item. This month, I loaded up on: ~toilet paper ~peanut butter ~almond milk ~Puffins ~vitamins ~contact solution ~eye drops ~stevia ~tinned tuna, salmon, and shrimp – – > I am set on these items until 2012 for a while, I sure hope.
  • I refuse to go without fresh produce. Apples, lettuce, avacados, zucchini, cucumbers…these items are on the “daily edibles” list, and I will pay whatever I need in order to have them on hand. Sadly, you can’t stockpile fresh veggies and fruit. Happily, the grocery gods are smiling on me this coming week: both lettuce and avacados are on sale at Valumart!

With any luck, all this bulk-buying in June will impact the July totals (I do like tracking my bills, so I’m going to keep doing this). We shall see at the end of the month!

Favourite nail polish brand and/or colour? I like black, but it’s too heavy for July, IMO. And, Wet ‘n’ Wild is the way to go, friends, trust me.

Did you do any stockpiling in June? I’m now very low on storage space. TP is piled in the guest bathroom shower!

Happy Sunday, all!

Oh – I’m patting myself on the back because here we are at July 3rd and I have not spent one red cent on groceries this month (although I will have to make a run to Valumart later this eve).

She’s Just Not That Into Me

After work on Tuesday, VFBF Joanne and I met up at Coffee Culture. Wow – three visits in three months. When we decide to renew our friendship, we mean business. As always, our time together was unequivocally delightful. I Joanne!

hey sister, soul sister...

Speaking of girlfriends, I have…this friend. Let’s call her Amy.* Amy came to me the other day with a dilemma. She wants to break up with her gal pal…Hilary.* Amy and Hilary have been seeing each other socially for about six months. All was great at the beginning of their friendship: they chatted non-stop on their outings, they discovered many common interests, all was fine and dandy.

According to Amy, things began to sour after the third or fourth *date.” Amy totally got the vibe that Hilary was on edge; she didn’t really seem to be enjoying their gallery outing that eve. Then the length of time between their get-togethers started to lengthen.

A month or so ago, Amy decided to stop contacting Hilary. It was just too obvious that Hilary was seeing their friendship as an obligation, not as a joy. Their last face-to-face social, a wine-tasting event, was the last straw – Amy could totally tell that Hilary was not happy being out. She was negative, snippy, and patronizing. Amy came home feeling perturbed, but also fed up. She’s decided to decline any future invitations from Hilary, should any be issued (Amy believes that Hilary will not be proposing any more *dates,* though).

So, Amy wanted my advice on how to break up with Hilary. That’s a tough one, eh? I suggested she just come up with excuses, say she’s busy etc etc – but that’s because I am a confrontation-avoider. I guess I would just hope that Hilary stops asking after a few negative responses.

How would you deal with this situation? Have you ever been in Amy’s shoes? I don’t think the answer is for Amy to say outright, “I don’t wish to see you any more, Hilary. You just aren’t fun and you make me feel tense.” But I’m wondering if there are other options…

*names have been changed to protect the identities of the persons involved.

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May Grocery Challenge- The End is Near!

My goal of looking for sales/coupons/deals continues. Just to share two “yeSSS!” moments…

$0.75 savings on a product i would buy anyway!

Before May: I purchased individual containers of cottage cheese.

The Month of May: I switched to bigger containers, and just dollop out the same amount as the individual sizes. I save $ and save extra packaging from the recycling bin!

I think I’ll be utilizing more of these coupons!

almond milk - my favourite!

Healthy Foods and More has Almond Breeze on sale from $2.89 to $1.99! While skids last. I’ll def be back for more. Stash much?!

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Recommended Reads from The Globe and Mail:

From culinary catastrophe to taste sensation [this was the headline in the newspaper; the online title is “University revolutionizes Winnipeg’s food scene”] – – > Gina, this article is for you!

The O Effect: How Oprah Conquered the World [I want to talk more about Oprah at another time]

The missing girls of India [online title: “With greater education and wealth come greater risks for India’s unborn females” – and to think we are in 2011…]

Americans open wallets, Canadians tighten belts [perfect timing with the May Grocery Challenge]

Whole Foods It Ain’t

Look what I found in my knapsack pocket!

$40 loaded on this gift card

I have this tendency to totally forget about Gift Cards. This one has been in my possession since last May. I also found Gift Cards in the same pocket for Chapters and Costa Blanca. What am I doing holding on to free money??!!

Finding the Central Gift Card was perfect timing in regards to the Great Grocery Challenge for May. It’s like someone said, “Here’s $40! Happy spending!”

I really do enjoy grocery shopping at new locales (a favourite past-time when in the States, for sure!). Of course, my top destination, bar none, would have to be Whole Foods. How sad that I can count on one hand the number of forays I have made to this grocery paradise (and one of them ended up an aborted attempt):

Yesterday, then, I headed over to Central Fresh Market. This place is a local institution. It’s as much renowned for its history as it is for bargains. Last time I was there was a few years ago, and I have vague memories from childhood of a dungy, dark hole-in-the-wall.

first impression! wow! clean and neat appearance, renovated since i last remember

I arrived at Central with no set agenda in terms of purchases to make. I did know that produce was not high on my list; I’m still pretty stocked from last week!

First impression once inside…what happened to that scuzzy, 1960s era industrial facility??! This fruit & veg section looks half-decent!

spotless: i peered into corners and into displays...everything was tidy and clean

I decided to play a Price Is Right-style Grocery Game: how close could I come to spending $40, exactly? And how many specials could I snap up?

i'll take one of these...(excellent price)

Another positive found in the Bakery section:

i remember "great canadian bagels" from their sponsorship at running events; and check out those unique flavours!

More neatly stacked goods:

this is the "weekly specials" aisle

Score one for Central over Valumart AND Vincenzo’s:

now i know where the best selection of kefir is in town!

a treat for him, on sale...

...and a super price on apples, for her!

I guesstimated my total expenditure, and hit the check out:

yes, the cashier gave me a weird look when i snapped a photo of the tally; i explained it was for my blog. she was cool with that.

Off by $10! At least I was under! Back through the store went I…

different cashier. she was younger and entirely unfazed by "it's for my blog!"

$5.61 over! Could have put back the Palmolive, but I’ll need dish soap at some point, anyway.

Here’s what $40 will get you at Central:

first time through the check-out...

second time through the check out!

Not bad at all.

So, not only were the prices reasonable, the store was organized and clean, and the selection included items I don’t see at my usual store. The store is really quite small, so their variety in stock is really quite impressive. It’s nothing to drool over (ahem, what happens upon entering Whole Foods) but it wasn’t the make-your-skin-crawl experience I anticipated.

While I’m still hoping and praying that Whole Foods finds its way to Waterloo (we’re the home of the Blackberry! isn’t that a drawing card?!), it was fun to explore a new-to-me store. And even more fun to get free groceries!

How are you at using up Gift Cards? I need to use mine asap or they sit around forever!