Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    • 9,148Posts
    • 17,100Thanks
    October 2016 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    October 2016 Grocery Challenge 13th Oct 14 at 12:54 PM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the tenth Grocery Challenge of 2016 !!!!

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your September budget, then keep on posting in the September challenge.

    As always this challenge is to reduce your own grocery budget to levels that you will be pleased with, not forgetting that we always recommend that you stay inside your own comfort levels and take things gently one step at a time. Remember that this is not a's designed to take you and your grocery spending to a level you are happy with.

    If you are new to the challenge I have quoted the advice from Galtizz below which will help you get started.

    Please post into this thread for help and advice and support at any time. Good luck to everyone taking part!

    I have said this before, but for all the newbies to the challenge;

    For the first month I took a guess at the budget but I really had no idea how much I was spending.

    I found the best thing is to have a guess the first month but SAVE ALL OF YOUR RECEIPTS (and yes, that does include the ones from the local shop when you run out of milk ), then at the end of the month add them all up and have a look if you were on budget, if not, it doesn't matter because your budget was a guess. For the next month you can use the total of your receipts and take a bit off to get a realistic budget, just shave off as much as you think you can, it could be 1 a week or 20 a week.

    If you are currently spending 200 a month don't suddenly drop it to 100 - you'll never do it but if you cut 20 a month off for a few months you'll get there eventually without feeling you're missing out on anything.

    You might think you've done everything you can in the first month but someone always comes up with a new idea and, if you try it you often find you save a bit more (unless you are SarahSaver who is an expert at this and could only save more if she turned her back garden into a paddy field and lived on rice ) In the first month I thought, I'm planning meals, I couldn't possibly save any more, but then I started double cooking and freezing, and making soup instead of buying it in tins.

    I've been doing this since Feb but only saved ALL of my receipts last month, it has given me a much better idea of where it is all going. Budget for next month is 80 for 2 of us, I'll start on 30/4. I could probably save more, by eating different foods but I can afford to live on 80, I have saved a lot of money since Feb. and I don't waste food or money any more. So I'm happy with my budget.
    By request, here is Spiggles wonderful helpful post

    We all have different budgets that suit our households. The most important thing to remember is that you set yours according to your needs and finances. It can take time to get to where you want to be too so don't knock yourself out if you go over in the first few months. We are here to support each other and it is not a competition.

    I thought it might help to outline where we've come from and the top tips I've learned.

    When we started in March 2010 we had spent in excess of 600 in the previous month. This had to stop, (there's only me and him and our two beautiful black cats) something which thankfully my OH completely agreed with so I have been lucky that he has been on board from the start. He gave me his debit card voluntarily and I still keep hold of it until he needs to get something for the home. At the same time we set up a system of pocket money (pm) at 15 each per week which doesn't count towards the GC and which we can each spend as we wish with no comebacks or complaints. OH predominantly uses his pm on his beer and I ferret mine away mostly.

    The next step was to set up my own spreadsheet which is absolutely simple onto which I put all spends so that I have a continuous running total for the month and for the year. We initially set our budget at 280 per month and brought it down to 240 where it resides for most of the year it is occasionally increased to allow for extras e.g. Christmas to 260.

    The important 'tools' we found greatly helped and continue to do so now are:

    Stocktake cupboards, fridge, freezer - make lists and ensure that the older products get used up first. You'll be amazed at what you find squirrelled away and it will help with your shopping list as you'll realise that you don't actually need so much.

    Before you go shopping check staples - running out of milk, bread, butter, etc often leads to going into a shop for one thing and coming out 20 lighter. Always check these and if they'll run out tomorrow buy them the same time as getting other things.

    Always make a shopping list and stick to it - the supermarkets (sm) try every which way to get us to spend so having a list and strong resolve is the only way to beat them.

    Keep every receipt - and then note it down on your spreadsheet/spend diary so that you always know where you are.

    When tempted, ask yourself do you NEED it or just WANT it - now this advice goes with two things. Firstly, the things you see in store when shopping that APPEAR to be bargains - if you hadn't planned spending the money then its not a bargain. Secondly, the sm send us loads of vouchers for X off a spend of XX - if you had no NEED to spend XX then have you SAVED anything???

    Use my supermarket to compare prices (limited to four of the biggies) - The site may be used to actually do an online shop at whichever of the big four offers the best value or, if you have the time and sm availability, to make up lists for visiting each of the stores so that you can purchase all you need at different stores thus getting the best possible value. (I'd add, do a 'shop' virtually on this site and take the list you create on it with you, whichever one you shop at, it will help keep target prices in your head and allow you to spot bargains. MrM is not included but you can do a virtual list on their website so you know what you're going to be spending.)

    Always have a list - this is just as important when shopping online as shopping on foot.

    Use Approved Foods online (with a list!) - if you don't mind out of date things (ood) or you can search for only in date items. The only drawback is storing the goods as far as I can tell. Oh, and watch the delivery as it's done on a scaled charge for weight so keep an eye on it. You can of course do an AF order with friends, family, colleagues or like minded neighbours. Other GCers use Big Br*nds 4 Less too.

    Invest in a breadmaker - we have saved so much by making our own bread. The prices in the shops are extortionate for bread these days. There's loads of advice on this thread and others in the forum on this.

    Use the recipe lists - always posted at the front of a new thread. There are fantastic, tasty, healthy and economical recipes to use on them and there are a number of other threads on the forum such as Weezl's that will help you to eat well on a budget.

    Shop locally - the local greengrocer (or preferably market but I don't have one ) is usually cheaper as an option for fruit and veg (f&v) than the sm. Often the prices may look the same but when you look at the quantity for the same price the greengrocer will be cheaper. The same goes for the local butcher. Often you will have far more variety of meat available, advice on how to cook a particular meat can be offered and there is (for me at least) no comparison in terms of quality. We buy our huge FR eggs there and I'm yet to find an equivalent FR egg in a sm at the same or lower price. Obvioulsy if you have your own chicks/know someone who has chicks you can get them even cheaper again.

    Grow your own - it's quite simple to grow some f&v at home even if it's only in pots on the patio. There are also supportive threads on the forum for this.

    Cook your own - making meals at home from ingredients is far more economical, often tastes better than shop bought and is probably far better healthwise.

    Meal Plan - this is something that others can advise on as we don't do it. I have a tremendous capacity for eating the same food over many days but presented in slightly different form. For example, we could buy 7 worth of brisket from the butchers and eat it as pot roast for a couple of days, sliced for sarnies, sliced with a salad, chucked into a casserole or shredded up and fried as crispy beef.

    Don't waste food - either only make what you need or use any leftovers for other meals/creations or freeze it for another day.

    Withdraw the cash you want to spend - and keep it in a separate purse. This can be particularly effective as you have the money in front of you reducing rather than spending with plastic which is so easy to lose track of. Very useful when you first start out.

    Don't go to the shops to browse - this can only lead to pain and hardship!!!

    Keep posting and reading the thread - there really is no better supportive, wise and inspirational place to be! I think I saw that somebody mentioned forgetting to read/post. I get around this by using the Advanced button to post, below the window where your text is displayed you will see Additional Options. In the Thread Subscription box use the dropdown to select either instant email notification (this is what I use) or daily email notification before you submit your latest post. Then you will get an email into your inbox from which you can click to the thread to see what others are saying.

    Always remember the sm is not your friend - it wants to profit from you and take as much of your money as it can coerce out of you!

    So, there you go as a starting point. Others on here will offer tremendous advice on meal planning. And don't forget, the only silly question is the one you didn't ask!

    See you all later,
    For quidelines on posting in this thread please read the second post in this thread.

    For the Grocery challenge Recipe Index please see posts #3, #4, #5 #6 #7 #8 & #9 on this thread (the list is growing!!!!!)

    For everyones totals, see post #10 on this thread

    I hope everyone has a great month!

    Last edited by zippychick; 05-08-2016 at 12:43 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide of Old Style MoneySaving, The Northern Ireland board,How Much Have you Saved? and Martin's Blogs.
    This means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and can move and merge posts there. However, do remember that Board Guides don't read every post. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to It is not part of my role to deal with reportable posts. Any views are mine and are not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
    New to the Forum? Why not watch the Guide?
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 14
    • just trying
    • By just trying 15th Oct 16, 11:28 PM
    • 622 Posts
    • 2,095 Thanks
    just trying
    Evening all, spent 85 today in aldi for the week. Yes over this week and not updated again recently but been sticking to budget, except today. Plus last month under, just as well. I only shop once because I don't drive, my oh takes me
    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 15th Oct 16, 11:38 PM
    • 4,489 Posts
    • 44,680 Thanks
    I know we are in the middle of the month, but may I join in please?
    I am aiming for 100 for the rest of the month
    Originally posted by FrugalinShropshire
    Welcome to the 'Fred' Frugalin and good luck with the challenge. Hope you've found the first few posts helpful and there's loads of recipes to peruse as well. Feel free to ask if you have any questions

    Another NSD here today

    Need to get weekly shopping at Al*i and some stock-up stuff at FF t/m

    Hope you all have a super Sunday
    GrocC ..2014=2162:2015=2083..2016=1378.60....OCT=184.32/200
    Bulk buy...OCT=64.55....NSD 2015=216..2016=151...OCT=14/15
    SPC130 x52 ......2014=1178.....2015=1287...........2016=1404

    OS WL= 2/4 ...... CC = NIL Savings = 6000+SPC

    • t14cy t
    • By t14cy t 16th Oct 16, 6:49 AM
    • 736 Posts
    • 4,329 Thanks
    t14cy t
    spends of 6.40 purely on snacks at the 90p shop!! xx
    • PennyGrabber
    • By PennyGrabber 16th Oct 16, 10:47 AM
    • 1,024 Posts
    • 19,665 Thanks
    Off to do my aldililly shop in a bit. I need bread, milk, bananas, lunchbox fruit, puff pastry, carrots and not a lot else, as I have most stuff in for this week already. Plus, I'm only feeding the children up until Weds, as they're at their dad's for nearly a week after that - when they're away, I eat whatever is in. I do need to go to ffoods as well, as a friend has been looking after my dd after school some days, so I'm giving him a crate of fizzy. May end up buying a few bits in there, but hopefully not!

    I'll return with the damage later.

    PG x
    Family of three - me, dd(11) and ds(9), feeding dp 2 or 3 x a week too.
    Sept 2016 00.00/120.00
    • BeTheChange
    • By BeTheChange 16th Oct 16, 1:24 PM
    • 88 Posts
    • 400 Thanks
    Bit of a spendy weekend on foodie treats so now up to 154.08/250

    I am going to struggle with meals next week and don't think that shopping in l!dl will work for me. Although items are cheaper I find it harder to plan and control my spending. Doing it online I am much stricter with myself so going back to that.
    Debt @ Sept '16 = 51804 Oct '16= 51,095 1.37% paid off
    Oct grocery challenge = 229.05/250
    Oct AFD challenge = 20/31
    Oct NSD = 13/18
    Emergency Fund member #209 = 376/1000
    • Mrs Cheshire
    • By Mrs Cheshire 16th Oct 16, 8:36 PM
    • 606 Posts
    • 6,051 Thanks
    Mrs Cheshire
    I need to watch my spending when it comes to grocery's again, but will be starting properly in November. Will follow along this month to see any tips. I'm also looking for quick and easy child friendly meals for the slow cooker as hubby's hours are changing soon so need something easy to serve. Kids only really eat chicken and sausages unless the meat is really soft and don't like gravy based dinners!
    SPC #148 2014-25 2015-5.50 My stars from Sue-UU

    Grocery Challenge 2016
    Jan 337.88/420 Feb 269.93/300 March 293.55/300 Nov 22.62/320
    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 16th Oct 16, 11:08 PM
    • 4,489 Posts
    • 44,680 Thanks
    Hiya everyone

    Spends today in Al*i of 29.24. This leaves me with less than 70 for the rest of the month.

    There are two more weekends this month and I really need to go to F Foods. Will just have to try to keep the amounts down a bit

    Hope you all have a money-saving Monday
    GrocC ..2014=2162:2015=2083..2016=1378.60....OCT=184.32/200
    Bulk buy...OCT=64.55....NSD 2015=216..2016=151...OCT=14/15
    SPC130 x52 ......2014=1178.....2015=1287...........2016=1404

    OS WL= 2/4 ...... CC = NIL Savings = 6000+SPC

    • t14cy t
    • By t14cy t 17th Oct 16, 7:21 AM
    • 736 Posts
    • 4,329 Thanks
    t14cy t
    good morning all, spends of 6 in morrisons yesterday, all YS bits to top freezer up. xx
    • FrugalinShropshire
    • By FrugalinShropshire 17th Oct 16, 12:26 PM
    • 129 Posts
    • 1,297 Thanks
    40.13 in Aldi today, including 2 bags of onions to go in the dehydrater for winter stews. This total also included toiletries and washing powder etc, so I am a very happy bunny.
    Meal plan for week as follows:
    M: egg, beans and chips
    T: baked potatoes with veggie chilli
    W: chicken noodle stir fry
    Th: ratatouille, with potato bake
    F: leek and potato soup
    S: burgers and rolls/glamorgan sausages with sweet potato wedges
    Su: lentil mushroom roast with roast potatoes and parsnips.

    Lunches will be hm soups and sandwiches

    Breakfasts will be porridge or toast

    Puddings will be fruit, yogurt, jelly and rice pudding
    Proud to be mortgage free
    Food budget for October 99.92/100
    • Baileys Babe
    • By Baileys Babe 17th Oct 16, 6:15 PM
    • 2,073 Posts
    • 9,258 Thanks
    Baileys Babe
    Please may I join in. I used to do the grocery challenge a few years back, but since then I have lost my way.

    My budget will cover all food and drink consumed in the house, OTC medication, toiletries, cleaning materials and most snacks and drinks consumed away from home.
    My month will run from 1st to 28th October, my budget that I'm hoping to not go over is 280 so far I have spent 58.78.
    Originally posted by Baileys Babe
    So far this month I have receipts for 125.42 plus I have lost a receipt, as I paid by credit card and I know when and where I shopped I will be able to find out the cost, hope it is not too much, I remember it contained lots of f & v
    • BeTheChange
    • By BeTheChange 17th Oct 16, 9:19 PM
    • 88 Posts
    • 400 Thanks
    Last big shop of the month sees me up to 215/250. Should be fine main meal wise and just need some top ups.

    I was a tad overzealous at the beginning of the month and weekly underspends I was transferring to Emergency & Christmas funds. That means I actually only have about 3 left available!! I may need to steal some back from the Christmas fund!

    Next month I will wait until the end of the month before re-assigning the money!!
    Debt @ Sept '16 = 51804 Oct '16= 51,095 1.37% paid off
    Oct grocery challenge = 229.05/250
    Oct AFD challenge = 20/31
    Oct NSD = 13/18
    Emergency Fund member #209 = 376/1000
    • PennyGrabber
    • By PennyGrabber 17th Oct 16, 10:13 PM
    • 1,024 Posts
    • 19,665 Thanks
    Well, my weekly shop came to just over 15. I got a few more bits than I'd listed, but all were needed stock items.

    I used my new pie maker today - omw, lush! I made a cheesy mash, sausage, mushroom and onion pie. Yum! I have enough left over for two lunches.

    I enjoyed a roast dinner yesterday - oh provided the chicken, and I did everything else, so I got the good deal! I also have loads of leftovers from that. Think I'm sorted for the week!!

    PG x
    Family of three - me, dd(11) and ds(9), feeding dp 2 or 3 x a week too.
    Sept 2016 00.00/120.00
    • t14cy t
    • By t14cy t 18th Oct 16, 6:09 AM
    • 736 Posts
    • 4,329 Thanks
    t14cy t
    spends of 13 on fruit and veg etc in morrisons. 25 left in budget for this month. xx
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 18th Oct 16, 9:42 AM
    • 2,281 Posts
    • 23,869 Thanks
    Away with work last week and a busy weekend has meant we have missed a weekly shop but have spent on a takeaway and some sarnies from M&S as well as beer, milk and crisps.

    My total is now 272.70/500.

    DH fished a gammon joint out of the freezer for tea tonight which we will have with oven chips and beans and I have enough stuff in the freezer to cover main meals until the end of the week. I may have to get creative with lunches but as I am working from home this week I will have a little more time to prepare something like a soup or chicken and rice. DH has 2 RMs left in the freezer if he ever remembers to take them to work for his lunch.

    I may need milk and bread but if I can get away with only buying this until next weekend when I do a proper shop I will be over the moon
    OCT GC 448.51/500

    MFiT #36 Goal 30,000
    2016 mfw #13 20,000
    Save 12k in 2016 #89 Target 5000
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 18th Oct 16, 2:03 PM
    • 527 Posts
    • 2,475 Thanks
    16 in Asda, tonics and a few other bits, will have to go tesco Thursday too, need dog food next week, think it`s going to be tight.
    April 50 = 149, May 102=2.June 100 = 125 July 125 = 6 August= 97= 43/207=107Sept 125= 26/464, =364 car repairs.
    Oct 100-2 = 98,13=85, -24=61,-16=45-30=15, 2=13/
    100- 12=88,6=82,-1=81,-65=16,-18= -2, -48= 50, -25=75,

    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 18th Oct 16, 5:05 PM
    • 4,489 Posts
    • 44,680 Thanks
    Afternoon peoples

    We had an NSD yesterday and another one today

    Hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday
    GrocC ..2014=2162:2015=2083..2016=1378.60....OCT=184.32/200
    Bulk buy...OCT=64.55....NSD 2015=216..2016=151...OCT=14/15
    SPC130 x52 ......2014=1178.....2015=1287...........2016=1404

    OS WL= 2/4 ...... CC = NIL Savings = 6000+SPC

    • Wysiwyg49
    • By Wysiwyg49 18th Oct 16, 9:20 PM
    • 79 Posts
    • 574 Thanks
    77.90 on main shop (Sainsb) plus a top-up of 6.39 during the week last week to add to total.

    Plus some steak medallions 5.53 tonight to go with the stuffed mushrooms (yum). I was going to get the steak from the butcher but it ended up easier to get at Sainsbobs along with DD's D of E rations (which I haven't included). Will update sig later.
    GC 2016: Oct 335.82 / 320
    • t14cy t
    • By t14cy t 19th Oct 16, 7:41 AM
    • 736 Posts
    • 4,329 Thanks
    t14cy t
    spends of 12 yesterday unusually in sainsburys as i had vouchers and coupons to use!!!
    • Slowly57
    • By Slowly57 19th Oct 16, 11:59 AM
    • 199 Posts
    • 1,223 Thanks
    .... another 17.00 (rounded up) on yellow stickers, bread and butter - just yoghurt and apples to take me to GC end!
    Nov GC 20.97 / 200 26/10/16 - 30/11/16
    Oct GC 243.82 / 200 28/9/16 - 26/10/16
    • hazeldreams
    • By hazeldreams 19th Oct 16, 4:32 PM
    • 140 Posts
    • 331 Thanks
    278/400 so pleased!! This is the best we've done in a long time
    4721.34 to clear by 24/2/2017 when 0% ends
    25,064.60/74146.41(start 1/9/14) 33.8% paid off
    Current balance: 49,081.81
    DFD target February 2018
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

858Posts Today

6,213Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • Superb and chilling piece on #newsnight right now, animated reading from someone under ISIS rule in Mosul

  • In my view that's a usually a mistake see my

  • Does anyone know when we get US election results - ie is it a watch it overnight on morning of 9nov or watch the next day, or is it days?

  • Follow Martin