One of the main reasons people eat out is convenience either because of time barriers or lack of meal planning at home.

If you don’t know it already eating out can drastically alter your monthly budget especially if you are spending more time at the restaurants then you are at the grocery store. Reader Favorites From Canadian Budget Binder!Play Video

How many times have you seen an advert on the television or in a magazine for food and said, “I want to try that”, probably quite a few times.

I know because I do that quite often, the art of marketing does work.

Factor in the costs of tips and drinks for the meal and you’ve just spent enough for a weeks worth of groceries for one meal.

Consider how much it costs to make a batch of your favourite muffins, subs or take-out chili in comparison to drive-thru.

What doesn’t work is prices which keeps us at home working on ways to create mouth-watering meals in our kitchen.

Grocery shopping for some people is just B.O.R.I.N.G but I don’t know many people who shop to party.

Of course it’s not the most exciting chore but when it affects your finances it should be the smartest.

What is a copycat recipe?

Well it’s a recipe you love but there is no recipe or if there is you aren’t going to get your hands on it because it’s a SECRET.

This means that if you want to enjoy your favourite foods at home to save money you’ll have to do your best to pick apart the ingredients used in the original recipe.


For the home cook creating copycat recipes might be a fun way to get creative in the kitchen.

Not everyone likes to cook but sometimes it takes ‘effort’ to increase enthusiasm for it.

Too often we depend on others for our meals but I bet if you were alone you’d have to figure it out by yourself.

This is where eating out comes in to play for lots of people who are alone and enjoy the atmosphere and conversation more than the savings.

Related: Eating out Vs. Eating in

Anyone influenced by co-workers, family or friends to frequent fast food and eat-in restaurant should ask themselves whether it’s impacting their financial goals.

The hardest thing to get out of your mouth might be no but if you’re running on credit card swipes for money it must be.

It’s not until someone creates and actually uses a budget for more than a month do they see the damage eating out can cause.

Related: The costs of coffee and lunch between co-workers- Take-out vs. Homemade


Copy Cat Starbucks Lemon Loaf Recipe

I can’t tell you the last time we went to a restaurant…oh wait yes I can in the UK and it cost me a fortune.

The reason for this was because I wanted to treat my family to dinner out because they can’t afford to do so.

Why? It’s too expensive and they just don’t have the money.

With a family of 4 to feed my sister has limited funds in her grocery budget so she opts for making copycat recipes at home to satisfy cravings.

After our eating out treat we decided to go grocery shopping at Aldi’s to help off-set the extra food costs having us there.

Oddly enough Mrs. CBB and I have tried our hand at copycat recipes in the past with our favourite being the Starbucks Lemon Loaf that went what I considered viral for this blog.

Although eating out is nice doing it too often can lead to high grocery bills and even higher eating out expenses in your eating out budget category.

If you grocery shop and then eat out you are left with food at home that possibly could waste unless eaten on time or frozen (if it can be).

If you’re working on cutting out either you must balance both.

That means buying less food for home leaving more money to eat out or eating out less leaving more money for groceries.

Ideally, you’d want to eat more at home plus it WILL be cheaper-by a landslide.


copy cat tim hortons chocolate chip muffins
copy cat tim hortons chocolate chip muffins

I realized that people who are conscious of their grocery budget or want to eat out but can’t DO WANT to try copycat recipes to recreate the eating out satisfaction.

Kudos to you because you’re the winner enjoying all the benefits of cooking foods you love but can do without the extra “convenience” expenses.

To choose copycat recipes that pique your interest you may consider the following;

  • Tried the product before but can’t or don’t want to keep buying it. ExampleTim Horton’s Chocolate Chip Muffins.
  • The copy cat recipes looks mouth-watering
  • Copycat recipes are easy to follow
  • Copycat ingredients are inexpensive in comparison to eating out.

Some of our favourite copycat recipes that Nicola or myself have created are treats, sauces, appetizers and condiments as opposed to meals. Now that I’m looking at this list and other copycat recipes I’m finding that people are recreating their favourite packaged foods at the grocery store. Oreo cookies, Twinkies, Ding-Dongs etc.

easy cherry bakewell cheesecake blondies recipe


It’s amazing that most copy-cat recipes come from fast-food joints or eat-in casual restaurants that offer a specific sauce, appetizer, drink or dessert on the menu.

Most popular copycat recipes that consumers flock to.

  • Cheesecake Factory recipes in the USA are to-die for but the closest you’ll get is a copycat version or the real thing if you have a CF nearby.
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken specifically the KFC secret recipe and KFC gravy and Classic KFC Macaroni Salad.
  • Tim Hortons recipes are popular especially the muffins, donuts, soup, chili and bagels.
  • Red Lobster recipes– You can buy a box of pre-made Red Lobster biscuits at Costco or make them yourself.
  • Applebees recipes are all app and meal based like their popular burgers.
  • Olive Garden is all about the salads and sauces
  • McDonald’s recipes– Did you see the new Big Mac sauce offered in a squeeze bottle at the grocery store yet?
  • Chinese restaurant food– This is popular for Canadians especially creating a healthier version.

Some of the best copycat recipes come from inside information which means you know someone who works at an establishment or you work(ed) there yourself.

Most restaurants won’t give up the recipe or leave out ingredients so food is not part of a copycat recipes community.

You might even try copycat recipes that come SO CLOSE to the real thing you consider it just that or better but more so for your pocketbook then your taste-buds.


Copycat Cinnabons Cinnamon Rolls

Red Lobster Cheese Biscuits

red lobster cheese biscuits

KFC Secret Recipe

KFC Secret Recipe

McDonald’s BIG MAC Secret Sauce

secret Big Mac Sauce McDonald's

Olive Garden Salad Dressing


IHOP Copycat Pancakes


Copycat Orange Julius

Wendy’s Frosty

Wendy's Frosty Copycat recipeWendy's Frosty Copycat recipe

Little Caesars Crazy Bread

Little Caesar's Crazy Bread Copycat recipe

Costco Muffin Copycat Recipe

copycat costco muffin recipes

Buffalo Wild Wings Copycat Wing Sauces

Buffalo Wings Copycat recipes

Cheesecake Factory Copycat Red Velvet Cheesecake


Auntie Anne’s Copycat Pretzel Bites

homemade-pretzels-466x700 Auntie Anne's copycat recipe

KFC Copycat Coleslaw

Copycat Arby’s Sauce


Discussion Question: What copycat recipes do you make at home or would like to make at home? Leave your comments below.


Join in the 2017 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post.

Here are The Grocery Game Challenge rules to get you started and where you’ll also find a link for the 2017 GGC schedule.

Please feel free to download, save and even print the schedule.

Post your shop and you can be next.

New monthly prize: See the Grocery Game Rules


Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!

This is the budget that brought us to debt freedom back in 2013 and now I’m offering to all of you for FREE. We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.

2014 Free Money Saving Tools

Don’t pay someone for these services, I’ve done the work for you along with some help from other amazing bloggers.

You can download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel It’s FREE! We use it to budget and in large part a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years, check it out!

Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.

Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE.

CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet. So many free resources at your fingertips.


the ultimate grocery shopping guide cbb

Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is packed into this amazing FREE grocery shopping guide that has taken 5 years to create.

The Ultimate Grocery Shopping guide is ongoing with new informative money-saving posts added every month.

Even if you don’t live in Canada there are some amazing budget saving tips that will help put you on the path to more savings at the supermarket.

Share this guide with your friends and tell them about Canadian Budget Binder especially if they are struggling with their grocery budget.

The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries so please enjoy the  many money-saving posts in the The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.


Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2017: $3180 or $265/month (The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)

  • Total Grocery Budget for this Month: $265
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $265
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
  • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 632,000
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
  • Shoppers Optimum: 983,000 O.M.G

Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)

  • Zweet to cash out : $18.25… no idea where the money went but it seems we have $0.
  • Checkout51 to cash out : $24.50 we cashed out so we’re back at O.



  • Big bag No Name Marshmallows $0.50
  • 2 x No Name cream cheese $5.78
  • 2 x dozen large eggs $3.94
  • Milk $4.27
  • Strawberries $3.99-50% plus 300 PC Plus Points
  • Mild Italian Pork Sausage Fresh $7.03-50%= $3.52
  • 3 x D’Italiano Bread $3.39 each -50% = $5.10

Total Out-of-pocket $25.11

All totals below already have tax factored into them.

  • Total to spend this month : $265
  • Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00/month
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $25
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $1
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $10.60
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $652.80
  • Total spent this week: $25.11
  • Total spent so far this month: $237.53
  • Total over/Under spend this shop:
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: under $27.47
  • Total left to spend for the month: $27.47
  • Total Spent To Date 2017: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $231.06+Feb $255.16+March ($5 budget increase) $263.60 + April $273.83+ May $257.15 + June $65.43+July $226.84+August $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

With 5 weeks in August it’s a good thing we have a small pot of money to use up which we might end up going over. We’ll see.

Maybe we an hit the jackpot on fruits and vegetables when we go home to the in-laws this weekend which will help our budget.

I picked up a few loaves of bread to make grilled cheese for the little guy as he is starting to warm up to them but only 1 slice at a time.

Boring week but on a good note we still found some deals.


Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons! These are your latest Checkout 51 offers which you can use to help save money. We’re finding less and less coupons in the stores these days. What are your thoughts? Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?

If you notice I’m missing a valuable link please message me and I’ll get it added to the savings list below.

Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards. I did this in the UK and loved it!!

Where can I find Canadian Coupons 2017?

Plus check out these other hidden areas online to get more coupons!!

If any of the links below don’t open properly please report them to my email address or use comment form.

  • Danone Coupons Get up to $25 in coupons
  • Clorox Coupons Sign up to print coupons in the Clorox family which include Greenworks, Glad etc.
  • Kraft Canada Sign up and receive recipes and coupons by email
  • Printable Smart Source Coupons
  • Walmart Canada Printable Coupons
  • Proctor and Gamble PandG Sign up for printable coup
  • Hidden Coupon Portals You Should know about – I found this over at Save a Loonie and you’ll want to sign up for notifications and check out the site so you get notified every time a hidden coupon is available from, Brandsaver, Smart Source etc.


  • Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible. The rules have been updated to reflect changes for the 2017 challenge year.
  • Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
  • What is the monthly prize and who can claim it?- The monthly prize is a $10-$20-$50 PC Loblaws Gift Card and for our out of country friends it’s $CDN via PayPal.  Please see GGC rules.
  • When does the Grocery Game close each month?: The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. If you choose to post monthly or bi-weekly you will only get 1 ballot for that shop. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it altogether. Don’t let that be you! You can post your shops all month-long.
  • Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: No, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year in order to plan accordingly our budget.
  • Do you stockpile food? We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any longer as we found we weren’t eating it fast enough. Stockpiling is still great and just one way to help cut your budget to save money if you do find items that you can buy in bulk at a sale price.
  • Canadian Coupons:Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest  Checkout 51 offers that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge. There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
  • Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading with mobile coupon apps being the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile app joining forces with the many other coupon apps available. If you find an app that I don’t talk about please let me know as they are always being added and I’d like to review them.
  • What is the Best Flyer App- We use Flipp on our Iphone so if you wan to have all your flyers in one spot download Flipp from the Apple Store or get it on Google Play.
  • What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
  • What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
  • How Do I Know what stores accept coupons?:  If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
  • How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.

Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget like many people do.

This is why The Grocery Game Challenge is one of the most popular hang out spots for people who want to save money on groceries.

If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2017 get ready to look at your grocery budget by learning;

  • Where you are spending money
  • How much money you are spending
  • How much money you are saving every month

If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!

If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email. If I use your topic I will put your name in a draw for a prize at the end of the year.

You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2017!


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