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  • FIRST POST
    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    • 9,325Posts
    • 17,732Thanks
    zippychick
    March 2017 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    March 2017 Grocery Challenge 13th Oct 14 at 12:54 PM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the third Grocery Challenge of 2017 !!!!

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

    Zip
    Last edited by zippychick; 16-01-2017 at 11:32 AM.
    I'm a Board Guide of Old Style MoneySaving, The Northern Ireland board,How Much Have you Saved? and Martin's Blogs.
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Page 14
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 11th Mar 17, 11:46 AM
    • 42 Posts
    • 421 Thanks
    JingsMyBucket
    Here are my recent spends the past few days:

    March 8th
    €2.39 for a dozen eggs and peanuts
    €5.17 for parmesan cheese and bread at Lidl - I'm really glad I was able to go in and get out with just the items on my list.

    March 9th
    NSD - yay!

    March 10th
    €4.65 - cheddar and bananas at M & S. I realized yesterday that bananas must be a loss leader at our M & S or something because they're only 85¢ per kilo whereas everywhere else is at least €1.25/kg. Duly noted for next week when it's time to stock up on those.

    Total for 3 days = €12.21
    Total so far = €91.14
    Remaining = €108.86


    I'm feeling a bit scared now but I'll still press on. This weekend I'll buy: olive oil and fresh vegetables ≈ €15. Next week there are some good sales at Lidl for things I need like butter, eggs, avocados, and chicken thighs which would also be about €15 – €18.

    * Marge Simpson worried noise...*
    April GC = €63.87 / €250 // 0 NSD
    March GC = €296.17 / €200 // 12 NSD
    February GC = € 392.27 / €400
    • Fruittea
    • By Fruittea 11th Mar 17, 12:12 PM
    • 730 Posts
    • 2,678 Thanks
    Fruittea
    Just a small spend of £5.51 on eggs, butter and broccoli for me. This week and no veg box. I've also cooked up a batch of bolognese sauce which will give 6 meals for 2 either as bolognese or turned into lasagne. So that's 2 meals on next weeks meal plan. The budgets blown though as the Hello Fresh box was £36.
    "Save 12k in 2017" - £9970.12 Number 71
    May Grocery Challenge £0.00/£150.00
    The great, good and not so good bits about growing your own dinner 2017

    No Clutter To Be Seen 476/2017
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 11th Mar 17, 12:18 PM
    • 2,228 Posts
    • 32,768 Thanks
    Islandmaid
    Another NSD here Not leaving the house today
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!


    Sept GC £250/£0.00
    • WantToBeSE
    • By WantToBeSE 11th Mar 17, 12:40 PM
    • 6,778 Posts
    • 30,547 Thanks
    WantToBeSE
    Sorry I'm a bit late this month!

    Can i please aim for £450 this month? It's a 5 week month for us, hence the more expensive than normal cost. £200 has already been spent.
    Secretly hoping to come in under budget, but shhhh, don't tell anyone. I Don't want to tempt fate

    Really on a roll with taking money out of the account every week, it's helping me a LOT. Instead of going over on the grocery budget every single week, i rarely go over now

    My next aim is to work my way through the food stores i have. I don't have excessive amount, but i do have about 15 tins of beans and lentil to use up, so am concentrating on using those up this month. I also have a freezer drawer full of meat (mainly chicken) so will be looking in the recipe post to get some ideas.
    I also have 2 squash to use up. 1 is a BNS and the other is a Coquina Squash that i bought at the end of January and they have both stayed in the pantry ever since. So i am planning on using them up as well
    Last edited by WantToBeSE; 11-03-2017 at 12:54 PM.
    3/6 month emergency fund challenge #20
    PODBX17 #122

    Debt Free Diary http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5501794

    Total debt:
    14/01/2017 £6247.89
    24/02/17 £5623.17

    Estimated DFD Jan 2018
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 11th Mar 17, 6:33 PM
    • 267 Posts
    • 2,698 Thanks
    Ginmonster
    Hubby made the dreaded Costco trip today and spent £32.44 on 3 slabs of 24 cans each of diet pepsi, a pack of 4 packets of halloumi and a huge pizza for our lunch. Although that's quite a big dent in the budget (and half of it was on pop which is hardly an essential!) I'm quite relieved he didn't get too sidetracked.

    £60.27/£100
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 11th Mar 17, 6:58 PM
    • 2,588 Posts
    • 26,722 Thanks
    XSpender
    Went to Aldi this afternoon with DH which is usually a dangerous thing to do but he only added 4 blueberry muffins and a frozen apple pie. Him who says he doesn't have a sweet tooth. He also decided to try some of their own brand lager at £2.15 for 4 cans and has decided it is drinkable so I hope he will swap his expensive brand for that sometimes.

    £62.13 spent today which includes a big pack of chicken and enough F&V to open a greengrocers as I start my new diet plan on Monday.

    I will need to pop to Sains tomorrow for the few bits I couldn't get in Aldi namely a sponge thing to polish shoes, reduced fat sour cream, GF tortillas, courgettes or courgetti and fresh mint.

    Total stands at £234.43/£400 with 2 more weekly shops to go and I could do with some carb killas which will be £20 but will last 6 weeks. This will leave me with just under £73/week which is very tight but I am going to do my best to come in on budget. I am doing better than I usually do this far into the month so I will keep plugging away
    PAYDBX 2017 #99 from 4/5 - £2664.28/£10,000 26.6%
    Total Owed £39,547.78 May '17 Total owed July 17 £36883.50 Savings goal £1000 EF - £400
    DFD - May 2021 goal Feb 2020
    • just trying
    • By just trying 11th Mar 17, 9:39 PM
    • 747 Posts
    • 2,714 Thanks
    just trying
    Hubby made the dreaded Costco trip today and spent £32.44 on 3 slabs of 24 cans each of diet pepsi, a pack of 4 packets of halloumi and a huge pizza for our lunch. Although that's quite a big dent in the budget (and half of it was on pop which is hardly an essential!) I'm quite relieved he didn't get too sidetracked.

    £60.27/£100
    Originally posted by Ginmonster
    Do you have a farmfoods near, they sell cases of Pepsi, sure it's cheaper than Costco, plus they do vouchers.

    We call Costco the £100 shop anything less is a bonus.

    Dipping back out, to much going on to do the challenge.
    SEALED POT CHALLENGE MEMBER 098
    WILL SAVE ATLEAST £500!.
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 12th Mar 17, 6:58 AM
    • 594 Posts
    • 3,815 Thanks
    armchairexpert
    Second big shop of four done and I'm standing at $550 spent, $450 remaining. Which I was feeling alright about until DH pointed out that we're low/out of basically every single cleaning product we own. I'm not sure I'm dedicated enough to scrub the house with baking soda!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    September 2017 - $218,597.77
    • Pennydreams3
    • By Pennydreams3 12th Mar 17, 7:53 AM
    • 88 Posts
    • 465 Thanks
    Pennydreams3
    Spent £1 at the market yesterday as I passed some beautiful clementines and couldn't resist. I got 5 for £1. And stand on 55.54/120 left for the month, that's £21 something a week. I'm a bit nervous! But we are going away next weekend so only need 5 meals for the meal plan this week and food spends come out of holiday budget when we are there so that'll save me a little on my grocery budget!
    Sealed pot challenge 10 - 123 : )
    It all started with a penny and a pot..
    MFW 2017 #107 £934.50/£3000
    Remaining balance £157,719.60
    • Fruittea
    • By Fruittea 12th Mar 17, 8:39 AM
    • 730 Posts
    • 2,678 Thanks
    Fruittea
    NSD for me today as I won't be going near the shops. And I have a meal plan in place for the rest of the week that doesn't need any additions.
    "Save 12k in 2017" - £9970.12 Number 71
    May Grocery Challenge £0.00/£150.00
    The great, good and not so good bits about growing your own dinner 2017

    No Clutter To Be Seen 476/2017
    • Bluegreen143
    • By Bluegreen143 12th Mar 17, 9:07 AM
    • 1,027 Posts
    • 11,841 Thanks
    Bluegreen143
    Suffolk lass I did indeed do the recipes what seems like a lifetime ago (probably about three years or so but as I've got married, moved house and job and had a child since it feels like longer!

    No spends yet. Today little monkey had pancakes from the freezer for breakfast with banana and yoghurt. I had HM peanut butter granola (a Jack Monroe recipe). Being taken out for lunch by my papa which is lovely. And going to do HM breaded pork escalopes for dinner.
    Married 1 March 2014 <3
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 12th Mar 17, 9:52 AM
    • 1,086 Posts
    • 13,121 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    Spent £15.33 on a couple of dairy free cheeses & cream, couple of boxes of turkish delight (ahem), having a sugar moment, few packs of biscuits, meatfree meatballs & burgers. Not much really, but will make some nice meals. Really do need lentils & garlic and that's kind of it for the week. Have updated sig.
    GC September £42.64/£60, Alcohol £10.75/£20, Bulk Buy £59.76
    Save 12k in 2017 #132 = £1,900/£5,000 (38%)
    KonMari: Clothes, Wardrobe, Drawers, shoes, bags, Papers
    Bedding, Books, Toiletries,Bric a Brac, Kitchen, Pantry

    • Suffolk lass
    • By Suffolk lass 12th Mar 17, 10:55 AM
    • 1,470 Posts
    • 16,846 Thanks
    Suffolk lass
    I'm up to £153 so far this month (out of £250) but should be OK as I am off away for next weekend so no big shops for the weekend or following week and will go for a freezer/stores dive that week. And although here the following week we are off away from 31st for a while and don't want to leave a load of uneaten food behind so hopefully that will be an essentials week too.
    MFiT T4 #2 update 31.2% after Q6
    Save £12k in 2017 #64 - £8112.39 saved (73.74%) after August - my annual target is £11,000
    OS Grocery Challenge 2017 budget of £3,600 £3000 (reduced from Apr) - 61.61/66.66% including stores after July
    My DFD is http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5593594
    • poohbear59
    • By poohbear59 12th Mar 17, 1:08 PM
    • 4,820 Posts
    • 55,723 Thanks
    poohbear59
    No spends today as I am desperately trying not to spend any money until I get paid on Friday.
    I found a topside joint in the freezer so I seared it on all sides and have put it in the slow cooker with half a carrot, minute parsnip, four swashy tomatoes, four small onion, half a leek , four mushrooms and two sticks of celery. And odd mixture but I hope I have success. I have some potato, sweet potato and loads of eggs so was thinking of roasting the potatoes and making some Yorkshire puds later.

    That leaves me with some beetroot, lettuce, ham and 2 dozen eggs. I do have meat and vegetables in the freezer. Thinking of shepherds pie tomorrow and then something g to use up eggs on Tuesday. Any ideas?

    Living on freezer contents is going to be easier than I thought.

    ETA I have found four small carrots in the garden so out dinner is looking even better
    Last edited by poohbear59; 12-03-2017 at 2:01 PM. Reason: Found carrots ��
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 12th Mar 17, 1:27 PM
    • 2,228 Posts
    • 32,768 Thanks
    Islandmaid
    Another NSD here - having a lazy weekend pootling round the house and not spending
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!


    Sept GC £250/£0.00
    • Lauralozzle
    • By Lauralozzle 12th Mar 17, 1:50 PM
    • 405 Posts
    • 3,727 Thanks
    Lauralozzle
    Weekly top up shop done

    A!di - £30.79
    A*da - £25.25 (lots of yellow sticker goodies though! )

    I'm now at £216.35. I'm a little over what I like would at this point but I should be able to claw it back!
    September grocery challenge £168.69/£275| Emergency £1,000 challenge - £55/£1,000 | September NSD 9/18
    Credit Card: £245 (0%) | Car Finance: £8,427 (7.9% APR) | Mortgage: £111,817 (3.99% APR)
    Wedding Fund: £3,564.74
    • Whoknowskt89
    • By Whoknowskt89 12th Mar 17, 3:38 PM
    • 261 Posts
    • 622 Thanks
    Whoknowskt89
    Went and got some food bits in as had a few friends over for dinner (also they helped with some diy) £82.84/£110 £27 left for the month which should be highly doable! It'll only be bread and mushrooms I need fresh now I believe! And that's only if I'm too lazy to make the bread
    August 2017 £9510/£11,150 savings aim for EF and moving (by Jan 2018)
    Mortgage £67 483 Emergency fund £1500 Moving fund £8010 Treats account £648 Doing up flat £1050
    Christmas 2017 £120/£160
    • Franalamadingdong
    • By Franalamadingdong 12th Mar 17, 5:43 PM
    • 328 Posts
    • 3,266 Thanks
    Franalamadingdong
    Guess who left her purse at home! Doi! Thankfully the party was all paid for and i didn't want anything. It meant we couldn't go to lidlly or morries, which is annoying, but not the end of the world. It'd have been an hour round trip to pick up my purse and go back so i just let DS keep playing and I'll go somewhere more local tomorrow after work.
    Nov: £144.48/200 (£55.53 left) Dec: £207.43/200 £7.43 over Jan: £167.33/180 (£12.67 left)
    Feb: £159.95/176 (£16.05 left)
    March Grocery Challenge: £128.78195 (£66.22 left)
    • sweetpea26
    • By sweetpea26 12th Mar 17, 6:39 PM
    • 687 Posts
    • 4,510 Thanks
    sweetpea26
    No spends today as I am desperately trying not to spend any money until I get paid on Friday.
    I found a topside joint in the freezer so I seared it on all sides and have put it in the slow cooker with half a carrot, minute parsnip, four swashy tomatoes, four small onion, half a leek , four mushrooms and two sticks of celery. And odd mixture but I hope I have success. I have some potato, sweet potato and loads of eggs so was thinking of roasting the potatoes and making some Yorkshire puds later.

    That leaves me with some beetroot, lettuce, ham and 2 dozen eggs. I do have meat and vegetables in the freezer. Thinking of shepherds pie tomorrow and then something g to use up eggs on Tuesday. Any ideas?


    Living on freezer contents is going to be easier than I thought.

    ETA I have found four small carrots in the garden so out dinner is looking even better
    Originally posted by poohbear59
    What about fried/poached/scrambled egg and chips Pooh with a little bit salad on the side. If you had a can of beans that would be perfect.

    Do you have curry powder? Use bit of the leftover silverside and make a nice little curry with lots of vegetables added, diced sweet potatoes bit of garlic herbs.???

    Its amazing what we can do when we are down to using what we have.

    STock cube, potato and whatever veg you can get your hands on..hearty soup pop in slow cooker for the day.

    Hope this helps
    • Suffolk lass
    • By Suffolk lass 12th Mar 17, 6:59 PM
    • 1,470 Posts
    • 16,846 Thanks
    Suffolk lass
    No spends today as I am desperately trying not to spend any money until I get paid on Friday.
    I found a topside joint in the freezer so I seared it on all sides and have put it in the slow cooker with half a carrot, minute parsnip, four swashy tomatoes, four small onion, half a leek , four mushrooms and two sticks of celery. And odd mixture but I hope I have success. I have some potato, sweet potato and loads of eggs so was thinking of roasting the potatoes and making some Yorkshire puds later.

    That leaves me with some beetroot, lettuce, ham and 2 dozen eggs. I do have meat and vegetables in the freezer. Thinking of shepherds pie tomorrow and then something g to use up eggs on Tuesday. Any ideas?

    Living on freezer contents is going to be easier than I thought.

    ETA I have found four small carrots in the garden so out dinner is looking even better
    Originally posted by poohbear59
    You could make a frittata or Spanish omelette with some of your eggs and veg - I always bake my omelettes on the floor of our hot oven as it stops any spatter and they are cooked top and bottom. - You could grate some potato in to the eggs so it cooks quicker, or roast some sweet potato and add it as caramelised interest to the omelette
    MFiT T4 #2 update 31.2% after Q6
    Save £12k in 2017 #64 - £8112.39 saved (73.74%) after August - my annual target is £11,000
    OS Grocery Challenge 2017 budget of £3,600 £3000 (reduced from Apr) - 61.61/66.66% including stores after July
    My DFD is http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5593594
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