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    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    • 9,342Posts
    • 17,803Thanks
    July 2017 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    July 2017 Grocery Challenge 13th Oct 14 at 12:54 PM
    Hi everyone,

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

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your June budget, then keep on posting in the June 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; 10-06-2017 at 11:47 AM.
    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.
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Page 9
    • PennyGrabber
    • By PennyGrabber 9th Jul 17, 10:06 PM
    • 1,180 Posts
    • 21,135 Thanks
    Oops. I'm now at £61.44. I went to £streeeetcher and bm bargs yesterday and got some awesome deals, then did the weekly shop today. Got so much for that money, but now my stocks are even higher! Oh well, can't change it now - can only go from here, with lots more food to choose from when meal planning!

    Had chicken salad today, with lo ys chicken that oh bought yesterday, homegrown lettuce, and loads of other bits. Really filled me up. Children had pasta with sauce as they don't like salad. I have loads of theirs left over so that will be lunches for the week. I'll put the last of the chicken in the freezer, to make a pie at the weekend.

    The only thing I didn't get, which I do need, is lard, so I'll pop somewhere during the week to get that before Saturday's pie...

    Have a great week everyone!

    PG x
    Family of three - me, dd(12) and ds(10), feeding dp 2 or 3 x a week too. Only food, not toiletries.
    Sept £29.38/£100 Aug £124.60/£100 July £100/£100 June 2017, £113.38/£100.00
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 10th Jul 17, 7:01 AM
    • 2,706 Posts
    • 27,961 Thanks
    I seem to have forgotten to post my target this month

    I am aiming to be under £425 for everything excluding booze. This is a 5 week month for us.

    So far I have spent £202.39 which will last us until the weekend. DH spend on food at work is too high so we have spent £15 on SW ready meals for him instead. These are not cheap but he really enjoys them and stop him buying rubbish or fast food.

    I have picked up an idea from another poster on DFW and have split my budget weekly on YNAB for the rest of the month. I either go wild in the first week or blow it at the end of the month so I am hoping this will keep me on track. I have just started now though and not at the beginning of the month which is why I am over.
    EF £1000 - £0
    • t14cy t
    • By t14cy t 10th Jul 17, 7:10 AM
    • 644 Posts
    • 6,498 Thanks
    t14cy t
    £20 spent yesterday on YS at morrisons....what bargains I had!!!! freezer full and now purse firmly shut!! xx
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 10th Jul 17, 10:07 AM
    • 291 Posts
    • 3,050 Thanks
    £1.60 spend yesterday on bananas (only 4 in the pack for that price but we were travelling back from a weekend away so had to buy them at the services). We're away on Friday night for a week's hols so I'm intent on not spending any more and using up all the perishables before we go.

    We're going to a cottage with my folks and since we paid for the cottage they're paying for the food for the week so I really will have no excuses for not coming in under budget this month!

    • spendaholic
    • By spendaholic 10th Jul 17, 10:34 AM
    • 1,434 Posts
    • 7,535 Thanks
    Week 1 came in at £75, bang on budget. £225 to go.
    Highest debt: £35k (2005); Current debt: £7k (2017)
    July GC: £300 (£75)
    June GC: £375 (£71/£59/£70/£101/£64 = £365)


    2 tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters; designer cat food caddy; £2,500 cash; £36 cash; Jesus Christ Superstar tickets + 2 t-shirts; Creative Craft Show tickets; Birmingham City v Barnsley FC tickets; Marillion tickets; Beyond the Pole DVD; £1,000 cash; Legend of the Guardians goody bag; Dancing on Ice tickets; Barnsley FC v Millwall tickets
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 10th Jul 17, 10:47 AM
    • 769 Posts
    • 4,175 Thanks
    Just over £3 in Aldi, eggs and cauliflower.
    OCTOBER, £200=£106
    DECEMBER,£200-£27.34=£172.66-£24=£148,- £40=£108,-£25=£83, -£71=£12
    • Suffolk lass
    • By Suffolk lass 10th Jul 17, 12:47 PM
    • 1,587 Posts
    • 18,089 Thanks
    Suffolk lass
    Just under £48 this week. I stocked up on nuts and seeds that I use for my breakfast so have enough until after our hols in August now.
    MFiT T4 #2 update 42.67% after Q7 £5,465 behind where I should be
    Save £12k in 2017 #64 - £9,260.94 saved (84.19%) after October - my annual target is £11,000
    OS Grocery Challenge 2017 budget of £3,600 £3000 (reduced from Apr) - 78.56% including stores after October
    My DFD is
    • Wysiwyg49
    • By Wysiwyg49 10th Jul 17, 7:22 PM
    • 173 Posts
    • 1,478 Thanks
    Hi everyone,

    [Reposted as I accidentally put it in June...]

    Been a frantic July so far with family illness (elderly parents) and Uni visits. We are the sandwich generation! but doing OK so far at £187.58.

    I've added household items (cleaning, tinfoil, light bulbs etc.) so increased the budget a bit because in earlier months they didn't add up to much. So of course this week I spent about £10 on LED GU10 bulbs which were half price!

    Meal plan this week (have lost my mojo for meal planning so it's a repeat of many other weeks ):

    Sat: pizza (DD), Spanish chicken bake (Hairy Bikers)
    Sun: sausages / wedges / beans
    Mon: chicken casserole and dumplings
    Tues: spag bol
    Wed & Thurs: haven't got that far yet...
    GC Oct £92.34/£450(?) Sept £408.47/£360
    • PennyGrabber
    • By PennyGrabber 10th Jul 17, 10:10 PM
    • 1,180 Posts
    • 21,135 Thanks
    Evening everyone.

    I had a much-needed nsd today. We had sausage, cheesy mash and beans for dinner, followed by strawberries, Bakewell tart and icecreams. Well, it was hot, and they all needed to be used up!!

    Tomorrow was supposed to be sweet and sour chicken, but a) dd will fuss and b) it's only last week that some chicken was off... So, we'll decide in the morning what we fancy for dinner. There's loads of choice! I may even make a pie, which would save freezing the chicken for a weekend pie. But then I'd have to plan something else for then. Ooh, it's complicated! My poor brain can't cope today!

    PG x

    Ps the chicken to freeze was from a sm rotisserie, whereas the off chicken was a breast from the freezer.
    Last edited by PennyGrabber; 10-07-2017 at 10:12 PM. Reason: Chicken clarification :)
    Family of three - me, dd(12) and ds(10), feeding dp 2 or 3 x a week too. Only food, not toiletries.
    Sept £29.38/£100 Aug £124.60/£100 July £100/£100 June 2017, £113.38/£100.00
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 11th Jul 17, 8:54 AM
    • 1,352 Posts
    • 9,934 Thanks
    Hi all, I'm being a bit absent this month. Basically, I've lost control of my money this month, and with 2 weeks to go, I am worrying a bit! Will do a proper update later as I refuse to stop logging spends, just need to go through my receipts (and memory, ugh).
    I'm a Board Guide on the Old Style, Greenfingered, Energy & Going Out Deals boards which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and I can move and merge threads there. Please remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to (it's not part of my role to deal with this) Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
    GC: Nov £0/£165 | Oct £220/£220 | Sep £244.34/£250 | Aug £190.38/£200 | Jul £194.08/£150 | Jun £179.03/£150 | May £158.54/£150 | Apr £316.94/£200 | Mar £170.47/£120 | Feb £199.45/£160
    Vegan 27-8-13
    • Florence J
    • By Florence J 11th Jul 17, 10:15 AM
    • 1,814 Posts
    • 10,260 Thanks
    Florence J
    Just been shopping, have been away for a few days so I am hoping that claws back some of the budget as we now have £63.53 left, which is actually a pretty decent amount for us at this point in the month so hopefully we will be ok.
    Sealed Pot Challenge 11 #553
    £1000 Emergency Fund Challenge #253
    Wombling free 2017 = £2118.64
    Pay off all your debts by Xmas 2017 #53 (£3133.08/£3000)
    November 2017 Credit Card Debt: £3980
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 11th Jul 17, 12:40 PM
    • 2,706 Posts
    • 27,961 Thanks
    No spending on food since Saturday

    DH has offered to pay for any money he spends on food at work from his personal spends. His lunches will be provided from the grocery budget if he takes food from home but he will pay for 'fat Friday' and when it is his turn to pay for the breakfasts for his team. This will save a lot out of our budget as over £30 has gone on this so far this month.

    We narrowly avoided a takeaway last night. I had bought frozen pizza at the weekend this kind of tired and short of time night when it is too easy to order a takeaway and it worked

    Chocolate banana bread, GF bread and wheat bread found in freezer and DH had the last bit of 2 boxes of muesli from the back of the cupboard for his breakfast.

    Tonight's tea is sausages from the freezer, new potatoes, black kale and carrots with gravy as it is wet and miserable here today.
    EF £1000 - £0
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 11th Jul 17, 2:07 PM
    • 769 Posts
    • 4,175 Thanks
    Top ups of tonic water needed, picked up a couple of other bits, total of £13-93 spent, will need my dark chocolate by weekend so no shopping till then.
    OCTOBER, £200=£106
    DECEMBER,£200-£27.34=£172.66-£24=£148,- £40=£108,-£25=£83, -£71=£12
    • YorksLass
    • By YorksLass 11th Jul 17, 3:33 PM
    • 351 Posts
    • 4,379 Thanks
    Time to go shopping. I must try to avoid the "restaurant" mentality that means I buy with three options available for any meal. I AM NOT RUNNING A RESTAURANT - "we are having this" is perfectly acceptable as a response to, "What's for dinner?"
    Originally posted by Suffolk lass
    Quite right too! I used to fall into this trap many moons ago ... but not any more. Although it's easier with just the two of us now.

    DH has offered to pay for any money he spends on food at work from his personal spends. His lunches will be provided from the grocery budget if he takes food from home but he will pay for 'fat Friday' and when it is his turn to pay for the breakfasts for his team. This will save a lot out of our budget as over £30 has gone on this so far this month.

    We narrowly avoided a takeaway last night. I had bought frozen pizza at the weekend this kind of tired and short of time night when it is too easy to order a takeaway and it worked
    Originally posted by XSpender
    Well done to DH for his offer and also on resisting the takeaway. Win-win all round.

    I knew I shouldn't have let DH off the leash at the weekend. He went into town to get a new battery for his watch and on the way back wandered through the market. I hate shopping but he doesn't mind hence the "wander" that resulted in him bringing back: 6 bread cakes, 6 slices of lunch tongue, 8 slices of cooked turkey and a large punnet of strawberries. So another £8.30 gone from the GC budget and me altering the meal plan. I've still got 2 of the bread cakes to use up tomorrow (bacon & egg sarnies spring to mind) and enough strawberries for another two servings (just for me, DH doesn't even like them). Another £1.05 spent yesterday on milk. Total spent so far this week is £9.35, with £65.78 left in budget. With 2 weeks to go that's not too bad.

    Keep up the good work everyone and if you're struggling, still keep going - you will get there!
    Last edited by YorksLass; 11-07-2017 at 3:55 PM.
    Be kind to others and to yourself too. Life has its ups and downs, use the ups to overcome the downs!

    Dec £66.03/£160 9/28 NSDs
    Nov -£2.60 Oct +£9.92 Sep +£42.85 Aug +£84.62 July +£7.98 June -£3.13 May +£10.37

    • Budgetbabe
    • By Budgetbabe 12th Jul 17, 11:54 AM
    • 9 Posts
    • 101 Thanks
    Morning all,

    So, we 'accidentally' went on holiday this last weekend
    It was a well needed break, and we got to spend some lovely time in the sunshine relaxing with family and making memories.
    This unfortunatley set us back an extra £81.82 in food costs (eating out once, and preparing our own food for other meals). I have decided to not include this in my monthly budget, as the budget is for everyday living costs, not holidays.

    This weeks food order came in at £67.91.
    It includes lots of healthy items (chicken breasts, brown rice, green vegetables), with the odd treat (smoothies and fruit lollies for hot days).

    I have however been very much reminded this week of how much convenience 'costs' us.
    My order included packets of microwave rice. Which are obviously much more expensive than the sum of it's parts!!
    My dilemma - a baby just over a month old, and I'm trying to 'do it all'.

    I have just over £70 of my budget to last us the last half of July.
    Very achievable, however I need to make sure that my last 2 shops are a little bit more mindful, and focussed on both eating up what is in the cupboard (there was some food wastage this last week), and include less convenience/pre-packaged food.

    Definitely some food for thought

    Hope that everyone is well, and has a successful week (and fab weekend).

    September GC £250 / £58.13
    • Suffolk lass
    • By Suffolk lass 12th Jul 17, 12:04 PM
    • 1,587 Posts
    • 18,089 Thanks
    Suffolk lass
    Quite right too! I used to fall into this trap many moons ago ... but not any more. Although it's easier with just the two of us now.
    Originally posted by YorksLass
    I used to say that too. I have found that rather like a vampire, without a stake through the heart, it keeps coming back. After 6-7 years on here I never assume I have ended my spendy ways for good
    MFiT T4 #2 update 42.67% after Q7 £5,465 behind where I should be
    Save £12k in 2017 #64 - £9,260.94 saved (84.19%) after October - my annual target is £11,000
    OS Grocery Challenge 2017 budget of £3,600 £3000 (reduced from Apr) - 78.56% including stores after October
    My DFD is
    • DaniS
    • By DaniS 12th Jul 17, 1:19 PM
    • 19 Posts
    • 118 Thanks
    £80.81 spent online shopping. This did include a few store bits that I don't buy each week so not too bad.


    Freezer is still coming down, really hoping to defrost it this weekend when my parents come to help me 'spring clean' before DS2 arrives on 21st.
    • purpleybat
    • By purpleybat 12th Jul 17, 3:08 PM
    • 277 Posts
    • 2,126 Thanks
    small impulse shop for me today, only popped in to get a lettuce and came out with 2 boxes of ice cream lollies, some pies, tomatoes, said lettuce and a bottle of wine (that doesn't come in in grocery budget), grand total of £9.81.
    I've ended up shopping on the Saturdays the last few weeks and it really is horrid, this week i'm thinking i'll just pick up sarnie and veggie bits as needed so as to avoid the supermarket on sat afternoon.
    gc jan 148.59/150 feb 134.58/150 mar 148.35/160 apr 139.24/160 may 165.78/160 june 129.05/160 july 148.23/170 aug 163/170 sep 123.67/160 oct 151.56/160 nov 141.30/150
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 12th Jul 17, 4:07 PM
    • 3,422 Posts
    • 10,540 Thanks
    Spent £6.19 today.
    Found a pack of peppers that didn't have green in them, not as keen on the greens so I usually look for packs with only one but a pack with none is perfect.

    £53.44 left.
    28 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 12th Jul 17, 6:16 PM
    • 769 Posts
    • 4,175 Thanks
    Spent £6.19 today.
    Found a pack of peppers that didn't have green in them, not as keen on the greens so I usually look for packs with only one but a pack with none is perfect..
    Originally posted by Doom_and_Gloom
    I don`t like the green either.
    OCTOBER, £200=£106
    DECEMBER,£200-£27.34=£172.66-£24=£148,- £40=£108,-£25=£83, -£71=£12
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