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    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    • 9,342Posts
    • 17,877Thanks
    January 2018 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    January 2018 Grocery Challenge 13th Oct 14 at 12:54 PM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the first Grocery Challenge of 2018 !!!!

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your December budget, then keep on posting in the December 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 #4 to #10 this thread (the list is growing!!!!!)

    For everyones totals, see post #3 on this thread

    I hope everyone has a great month!

    Last edited by zippychick; 29-12-2017 at 12:48 PM.
    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 11
    • ma-ri-ella
    • By ma-ri-ella 5th Jan 18, 2:57 PM
    • 931 Posts
    • 8,903 Thanks
    Today is NSD. I’m getting really into using up leftovers at the moment, I hate waste and I don’t see why that shouldn’t extend further into what we eat.

    So today for breakfast we had potato pancakes made with some leftover cheesey mash potato pie from last nights dinner, with a poached egg and a slice of bacon. Was really good and used up something that may have been binned previously being ‘only mash’

    Also just made ‘stem soup’ with a few broccoli stems I’ve kept and some cauli stem and leaves too. It’s really yummy, like a broccoli soup but milder.

    I have ANOTHER £5 Morrisons voucher to use up but not sure what to spend it on yet, may wait until they have a good offer on laundry or something, I’m finding it much cheaper to use Mr A and ald! even with staff discount....
    Originally posted by Grannymolly
    Do you work at morries aswell? ive been the same .I did pick up a 40 wash daz for £4 though so after discount 3.60 . A lot of things like herbal tea etc can be 1.12 morries ..67p asda .. Bread/milk is standard most shops? . You could maybe buy some of the reduced xmas stuff keep for presents during the year
    91.50£365 a year spend challenge - this has included food/clothes/beauty
    20,000 step a day challenge
    • Grannymolly
    • By Grannymolly 5th Jan 18, 3:07 PM
    • 42 Posts
    • 500 Thanks
    Morning everyone.

    Well I've managed to blow over half the budget by 5 days in. This should be a fun month! I've been off work ill for a couple of days and pretty much confined to my bed exhausted but I'm starting to feel a bit better today so I've started doing a few things in the house and reading stuff online. That took me to looking on the AF site and sure enough to making an order. £54.43 down on lots of great bargains. I've got tons of bread flour, pasta, beans, cereals etc but heaven knows where I'm going to store them all!

    So the rest of the month I'll need to be very sensible and just buy the fresh things I really need. Bread won't be one of them - I've got 12 bags of bread flour coming!

    £ 54.43/£100
    Originally posted by Ginmonster
    Hubby does

    We can only use Ariel so I get that usually when it’s on offer, I’ll just wait probably and buy it when it’s half price and that’ll save me some money.

    I just find their meat prices so much more now, veg is never that cheapeither and there never seems to be any of the wonky veg left.
    I used to ALWAYS shop there but I find myself using them so much less now when I compare prices and it’s still dearer even with 10% off.

    Family of 4 and a cat, trying to reduce outgoings GC JAN £225.94/£250 GC FEB £93.20/£250
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 5th Jan 18, 4:35 PM
    • 152 Posts
    • 1,668 Thanks
    May I ask why you!!!8217;d throw out the potatoes? They don!!!8217;t go off. Potatoes keep for months, although they will eventually sprout.
    Originally posted by PipneyJane
    What about potatoes that are a bit green? Our tiny Christmas potatoes were a bit green when we bought them but I can see more becoming green now. Should I just peel them then slice them to freeze for later use?

    Today I headed to Lidl to get toilet paper and pork belly but walked out with some other stock up items including a huge chunk of parmesan that was on sale. They were selling huge pieces for !!!8364;11.99/kg compared to the usual !!!8364;16.49/kg price for the much smaller wedges. Funny thing is they didn't have the smaller wedges at all in the store, only the huge ones. Sneaky Lidl. The bill came to !!!8364;20.52.

    I tried going to my halal store to get a tray of 30 eggs and some ground beef from the butcher counter but for some reason they were closed when I arrived. Probably for lunch or lunch time prayers. I'll have to head back there tomorrow even though I wanted to not spend money this weekend. We only have 3 eggs left and I wanted to prep ground beef for the coming week.

    Total So Far:
    !!!8364;93.77 / !!!8364;250.00
    1 NSD

    Ginmonster, I totally hear you about spending a lot so early in the month. I'm actually a bit frustrated. Maybe meal planning for part of the month may help me curb things a bit. I'm also trying to eat from the freezer while buying things to change my eating habits.
    MAR 18 GC: €156.14/€400.00 // 11/10 NSD // £0/£150 UK stock up
    FEB 18 GC: €250.44/€450 and 15/10 NSD
    JAN 18 GC: €377.92/€550.00 // 8 NSD
    Dec 17 GC: €406.50/€350.00 // 11 NSD // £198.57/£200 UK stock up
    • YorksLass
    • By YorksLass 5th Jan 18, 6:59 PM
    • 305 Posts
    • 5,722 Thanks
    YorksLass what do you do with the brandy sauce? OH bought a bunch of different creams/sauces like this for Christmas and we haven't used them yet. I've never had them before so am a bit lost as to how to incorporate them into cooking. Plus, I think OH is trying to cut down on rich stuff this January so if we don't find a way to use it, I may have to chuck it.
    Originally posted by JingsMyBucket
    Well, I guess it would depend on what your sauces are made of – are they sweet or savoury? Google something like “how to use up XXX sauce” and I’m sure some recipes would come up. It would be worth a try before you resort to chucking them.

    The brandy cream sauce I have is sweet (a mix of sweetened pasteurised milk, double cream and brandy); I had some last night (instead of custard) on a thick slice of Stollen that I’d pinged in the MW and it was lush.

    It goes well in coffee (just the same as adding ordinary cream) or added to porridge oats that have been soaked overnight in water or milk in the fridge (for extra creaminess). It would also work with rice pudding or as a topping for fruit. Another idea would be to make extravagant bread and butter pudding.

    I’ve just made a batch of Christmas pudding ice cream with the bulk of it. Mash the pudding and cream together (you could use any rich fruit cake or crushed mince pies instead of the pudding), add some freshly made custard, whip well and freeze. Yum.
    Be kind to others and to yourself too. Life has its ups and downs, use the ups to overcome the downs!

    Mar £96.84/£140 + 18/35 NSDs (Jan +£25.41 Feb +£15.25)

    • JIL
    • By JIL 5th Jan 18, 7:03 PM
    • 2,882 Posts
    • 19,624 Thanks
    I had £115 left then I spent £4.90 in m&s = £110.

    Tonight I went to aldi, got a few fresh bits in for next week, spent a few pence short of £18
    I have organised my fridge and made a banana bread. I chucked out a few manky carrots and a cucumber that was laying at the back of the fridge. Best before mid Dec and for once I was glad it was covered in sellophane.

    So £92 left.
    Last edited by JIL; 05-01-2018 at 7:06 PM.
    • ceb1995
    • By ceb1995 5th Jan 18, 7:14 PM
    • 216 Posts
    • 514 Thanks
    DH went into the supermarket whilst waiting for me and got some yellow sticker branded stuff (i'm very anti brands:P) and some more noodles for his lunches so he should now have enough for the month, so that's £ 19.42/190 .
    Weekly shop planned for tomorrow morning but recon we shouldn't need much as there's a lot of meals we have in.
    Make £2018 in 2018 challenge
    £22.09 /2018
    2018 Grocery Challenge:
    £99.31 /2220
    • Glenda
    • By Glenda 5th Jan 18, 7:21 PM
    • 127 Posts
    • 523 Thanks
    So far this week I have already spent from my grocery budget £43.39. This challenge is going to be more difficult than I originally thought....It doesn't help that I have also given up the nicotine replacement therapy which has been my crutch for many years.

    It's madness I have been forgetful, restless and irritable and all I want to do is eat or shop. Not just as bad as when I give up the actual cigarettes.
    Grocery Challenge 2018
    January £164.96/£150 February £150.15/£150
    March £40.20/£150
    • PennyGrabber
    • By PennyGrabber 5th Jan 18, 7:34 PM
    • 1,246 Posts
    • 22,103 Thanks
    Evening everyone,

    I spent £1 today from the GC budget on 3 cartons of passata. I needed them so they were on my weekly shopping list, ready for Sunday in aldililly, but they were cheaper in ff00ds today so bought them early. I was in there for cat food as it's technically my corner shop and I'd run out.

    Takes me up to £8.03/£100, which I'm happy with so far. 4 weekly shops to go.

    PG x
    Grocery challenge for family of three - me, dd(12) and ds(11), feeding dp 2 or 3 x a week too. Only food, not toiletries. Jan £87.97/£100 Feb £0/£100
    Frugal 2018 needed! Saving and NOT spending
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 5th Jan 18, 7:41 PM
    • 2,599 Posts
    • 32,475 Thanks
    Another one here who's spent nearly half the budget for the whole month! £120 spent today, £50 at the market and £70 at the wholesalers. This included £20 that would normally have come from the Entertainments budget, but that got "blown" when DS3 requested a family takeaway the night before he went back to uni. As the timing of his MA graduation ceremony last month was just all wrong for us to take him out for a celebratory meal, we felt a takeaway was the least we could do, so we did it!

    It was also much higher than I'd hoped at the market because several regular stallholders weren't there; the butcher was missing due to illness (half the county is down with 'flu) and the fishmonger because apparently the New Year catch was very poor, and the supermarkets snapped it all up at ridiculous prices. So I had to buy more expensive options than usual. No doubt they'll be lovely, but it was money I'd rather not have spent. So I'll need to be very - vigilant - for the rest of the month. But there's still plenty in the freezer and the cupboards, so I'm not despairing - yet! 3 more Friday shops to go, some cat food to acquire, and a few small top-ups of fresh bread & veg; I can do this...

    ETA: trotted off online to acquire the catfood that seems to suit the resident mistresses of the universe - vet bills soar if we feed elder Madam anything else, and it's not a "posh" brand, just not the cheapest - to discover to my horror that it has literally doubled in price since I last bought some in October. So I have split out a "bulk-buy purse" as I have done previously, and ordered 3 months-worth. I will use the bulk-buy purse for pet & livestock food & also for flour (generally bought by the sack from the mill) and assorted dried pulses & beans to keep the resident veggies going.
    Last edited by thriftwizard; 05-01-2018 at 8:12 PM.

    GC Mar18 £293.38/£400
    Bulk-buy purse 2018 £193.03/£435

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
    • short_bird
    • By short_bird 5th Jan 18, 8:30 PM
    • 1,885 Posts
    • 26,567 Thanks
    Pickled Onion Monster Munch. I ask you. Of all the things for a mid afternoon snack 60p.
    Took a friend for a coffee today so that was £6.65 in total.
    Remaining balance £111.07, still plenty in the fridge and freezer.
    Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas.
    • starting_again_in_the_sun
    • By starting_again_in_the_sun 5th Jan 18, 9:10 PM
    • 116 Posts
    • 612 Thanks
    I've had to reduce our budget by 100 euros... For a variety of reasons, but I'm hoping we can manage (not much choice!).
    MIL kindly gave me 10euros towards shopping today so only spent 3.74.
    This leaves 125.99 until the end of the month!
    • Wysiwyg49
    • By Wysiwyg49 5th Jan 18, 9:13 PM
    • 184 Posts
    • 1,647 Thanks
    Trying to control my topup shopping as have gone a bit AWOL the last couple of months!!

    Already spent £110, hoping to "do" January (4 weeks up to 28th) for £360.

    I discovered another budget meal plans blog via Thrifty Lesley - Eat Not Spend. There are quite a few plans and I've already tried the sweet potato and chorizo soup which was very nice. DH is away part of next week so I'm going to try out some meals before dazzling him with roast cauliflower or butter bean stew

    Just doing meal plan for next week, which also includes veg/beef burgers (veggie for me and DD, beef for DS), chicken dinner, chicken pie and chips, tacos and guacamole.

    Hopefully all the Christmas feasting means everyone has gone off snacking because that's what really costs, not the main meal food, I find...
    GC Mar £239.57/£360 : Feb £352.71/£320
    • Merlin's Beard
    • By Merlin's Beard 5th Jan 18, 9:41 PM
    • 132 Posts
    • 1,245 Thanks
    Merlin's Beard
    £65.21/£100 so far... new slow cooker turns out to have been accompanied by slow cooker recipe book, many of which look amazing... hopefully the novelty of 200 meat dishes cooked over 10 hours will wear off soon and I'll go back to my normal semi-veggie state!

    (Hopefully I'll stop running out of my most expensive toiletries soon as well!!)
    • Bettyboo87
    • By Bettyboo87 5th Jan 18, 11:24 PM
    • 11 Posts
    • 66 Thanks
    Just catching up. I’ve done a big shop on Tuesday then a trip to the butchers. Fully stocked for a while I think - total spend of £204.01/£300
    • lil_me
    • By lil_me 5th Jan 18, 11:39 PM
    • 13,087 Posts
    • 115,124 Thanks
    Costco .... OH fault, did get £68 shop for £27 as had a voucher so not all bad. Definitely shouldn’t have bought frozen stuff but again OH purchase ideas on what he wants to eat. He’s asked me to do some meal stuff for work that isn’t sandwiches which makes a change for him, a positive as he often wants to eat lunch out at work so won’t eat into the budget so much.
    Dogs destroyed a kitchen cupboard door and ate all the food out of it which has infuriated me to say the least.

    Meal plan, must meal plan
    One day I might be more organised...........:confused:
    GC March : £48.30 / £400
    Slinkies target 2018 - another 70lb off (half way to what the NHS says) so far 16
    • VfM4meplse
    • By VfM4meplse 6th Jan 18, 8:23 AM
    • 25,151 Posts
    • 53,479 Thanks
    I!!!8217;m going to join this month, budget £30, on food alone. I have stacks of food in but am eating one small meal a day. So I plan to spend a great deal less, 2 NSDs so far

    Going to read through this month!!!8217;s thread now for inspiration.
    Last edited by VfM4meplse; 06-01-2018 at 9:22 AM.

    "No man is worth, crawling on the earth"- adapted from Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio

    Hope is not a strategy ...A child is for life, not just 18 years....Don't get me started on the NHS, because you won't win...If in doubt, don't pull out... I love chaz-ing!
    • Suffolk lass
    • By Suffolk lass 6th Jan 18, 8:53 AM
    • 1,807 Posts
    • 19,784 Thanks
    Suffolk lass
    For anyone new to this, please meal plan - but do so around what you already have in, then write your list for the extra things you need, add additional meals based on those ingredients, and buy only what is on the list. Aim to reduce any stores you have in this month, and stop storing ingredients for the shops at your expense.

    I have reduced my spend from over £700 down to approx £200-£230 per month by changing habits, not quality. For most of us, this is how to reduce our costs. Good luck.
    MFiT T4 #2 update 51.75% after Q8 £5,203 behind where I should be
    Save £12k in 2018 #53 - after Jan £634.93/£10,000
    OS Grocery Challenge 2018 spent £238.47/£3,500 including stores so far
    My DFD is here
    • VfM4meplse
    • By VfM4meplse 6th Jan 18, 9:23 AM
    • 25,151 Posts
    • 53,479 Thanks
    Hello, could I please set our monthly budget at £400. We are a family of three and a beautiful hound, we live in Sweden where unfortunately the cost of food (and everything else) is exceptionally high. This will include groceries, household (toiletries etc), dog food and alcohol.
    Originally posted by Frugal Queen
    Lagom to you, my friend

    "No man is worth, crawling on the earth"- adapted from Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio

    Hope is not a strategy ...A child is for life, not just 18 years....Don't get me started on the NHS, because you won't win...If in doubt, don't pull out... I love chaz-ing!
    • pipkin71
    • By pipkin71 6th Jan 18, 9:25 AM
    • 19,023 Posts
    • 85,831 Thanks
    For anyone new to this, please meal plan - but do so around what you already have in, then write your list for the extra things you need, add additional meals based on those ingredients, and buy only what is on the list. Aim to reduce any stores you have in this month, and stop storing ingredients for the shops at your expense.

    I have reduced my spend from over £700 down to approx £200-£230 per month by changing habits, not quality. For most of us, this is how to reduce our costs. Good luck.
    Originally posted by Suffolk lass
    Some good advice there. Meal planning really does help with cutting costs
    There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you - Beatrix Potter
    • Tink_04
    • By Tink_04 6th Jan 18, 11:02 AM
    • 905 Posts
    • 4,608 Thanks
    Still got £63 left of my £80 for the month - it’s me DH, DD8 & DS4 our month runs 20th to 20th and I’m lucky i made so much for the freezer so we have been living off that and just buying fresh stuff when we need it - starting to struggle now as the fridge is bare but will maybe do a online shop to keep us going until payday!! I hate January!!
    1p savings challenge 2018
    £2 savings challenge
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