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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.
    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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    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 14
    • caronc
    • By caronc 7th Jan 18, 4:53 PM
    • 3,406 Posts
    • 22,542 Thanks
    First GC spend of 2018. £22 today mainly on F&V and much needed teabags. Aim is to shop no more than once every 8 days during 2018. I'm sure this wont always work but if I can manage it most weeks it should help run down cupboards/freezer and as a bonus every so often I'll gain a "free" week or have spare GC for any overspends.
    Total so far £22/£120
    GC - Jan18 £55/£120, Feb18 £68/£120, Mar £70/£150
    GC YTD - £193/£390
    • Josh1994
    • By Josh1994 7th Jan 18, 5:19 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 108 Thanks
    £1.47 spend today on milk - had to get from co-op as feel awful today, caught a bug that's been going round and just needed copious amounts of tea!

    This puts me at £9.35 / £80 for the month.
    • bustiblondilocks
    • By bustiblondilocks 7th Jan 18, 7:30 PM
    • 24 Posts
    • 238 Thanks
    Spent this morning...just 2 hours... intensively decluttering my bathroom.
    I've cleared the cupboards and got rid of them! I decanted the part bottles of shampoo and conditioner and bubble bath into the biggest bottle of each one and got full ones left over too. I've binned (to recycling) 25 now empty bottles!!! I've found I have 17 tubes of toothpaste and enough shampoo, conditioner, bubble bath and toilet roll to last the rest of the year. Whilst I'm quite pleased that I can now save on that part of the shopping list I'm mad at myself for hoarding so much to start with. Consoling myself with having paid lower prices than they will be now.
    Another no spend day today! Well, bought petrol but that's in the bills budget so accounted for already. Going to bed happy and eager to blitz rest of the house
    Year to date spend on non bills: £171.69
    Year to date debt:£12500

    Practically perfect people never permit sentiment to muddle their thinking!
    Mary Poppins
    • short_bird
    • By short_bird 7th Jan 18, 7:33 PM
    • 1,885 Posts
    • 26,567 Thanks
    As I'm at work for the next 4 days, needed to top up fresh stuff so I've enough food at work and can ignore the call of the Monster Munch... £104.27 left. but there will probably be a milk investment in the morning.
    Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas.
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 7th Jan 18, 8:43 PM
    • 35 Posts
    • 487 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    Lauralozzle like the sound of your menu for the week.

    Have spent another £33.Think that brings my total to £67.60.
    Have a small chicken out defrosting. Was £3 in M&S. (YS)
    Will cook in slow cooker tomorrow and then portion for a few meals.
    Shopping for a new freezer at the moment so running down food stores in my old one.
    • Mrs Cheshire
    • By Mrs Cheshire 7th Jan 18, 10:17 PM
    • 795 Posts
    • 8,117 Thanks
    Mrs Cheshire
    Just been adding up my spends this week, got a few bits yesterday at Ald! spent £12.99, also needed to add drinks in cost* £2.60, another juice earlier in the week £2.20, lunch out on friday £8.91 and a stop at a cafe £2.40 and lunch from Morris*ns £7.10, altogether I've spent £100.13 this week on all groceries and any food or drink eaten out.
    Going to have to be better about taking food/drinks out with us as I could have saved over £18 if I'd taken food/drinks with me the last few days, not worried about the odd £2 spend but would rather not spend 1/5 of my weekly budget on food/drinks out of the house.
    SPC #148 2014-£25 2015-£5.50 My stars from Sue-UU

    Grocery Challenge 2018
    Jan £400.33/£400 Feb £383.02/£400 Mar £275.38/£370
    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 7th Jan 18, 11:00 PM
    • 5,324 Posts
    • 54,972 Thanks
    Evening all

    Weekly shopping at Al*i today was 17.37 which puts us on 21.45/200 so on course so far

    Also on 5 GC NSDs so far this month

    Hope you all have a money-saving month
    Bulk buy.......MAR=159.75
    OS WL= -2/8 ......CC =00......Savings = £13,140
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 7th Jan 18, 11:37 PM
    • 1,382 Posts
    • 10,242 Thanks
    January So Far...
    Hugs to those that need them and thanks to those posting inspirational words... love them!

    So far I have spent the vast majority of my January budget like some others here... I have £30.01 left of my £150 with 2 weeks shops to go! So I'll need to be really careful to only spend my £15 each week! It's basically going to go on oats, chocolate almond milk (I'm on Slimming World and I use 250ml of this as my Healthy Extra A every day and it's really important to me! Plus, I'm saving a lot of money on wine!) and the rest on vegetables as my cupboards are pretty well stocked and I have a good stash of freezer meals plus the makings of a pea stew which will do 3-4 portions (will freeze a couple) and also the makings of a slow cooker veggie and butter bean casserole which will again do 3-4 portions (again will freeze a couple).
    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
    • pipkin71
    • By pipkin71 8th Jan 18, 4:12 AM
    • 19,023 Posts
    • 85,831 Thanks
    Going to have to be better about taking food/drinks out with us as I could have saved over £18 if I'd taken food/drinks with me the last few days, not worried about the odd £2 spend but would rather not spend 1/5 of my weekly budget on food/drinks out of the house.
    Originally posted by Mrs Cheshire
    It's surprising how it all adds up, isn't it
    There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you - Beatrix Potter
    • Dizzy Imp
    • By Dizzy Imp 8th Jan 18, 7:34 AM
    • 2,187 Posts
    • 20,486 Thanks
    Dizzy Imp
    I also need to be more prepared with packed lunches. Football tournament yesterday led to a spend of around £30, which is shocking! Mutter, mutter......

    Fresh fruit, veg and milk needed soon, so I might pop out today.
    • Grannymolly
    • By Grannymolly 8th Jan 18, 9:27 AM
    • 42 Posts
    • 500 Thanks

    No spending here today, waiting in for the roof man.
    Big pot of lentil soup on the go and leftover chicken pie for dinner

    Kids back at school so it’s very quiet and very odd today....
    Family of 4 and a cat, trying to reduce outgoings GC JAN £225.94/£250 GC FEB £93.20/£250
    • simplelivingislandlife
    • By simplelivingislandlife 8th Jan 18, 10:25 AM
    • 32 Posts
    • 346 Thanks
    Morning all,

    Went for our weekly shop and managed to only spend £18.01. That means that I am £16.99 down on my weekly budget this week.

    My monthly total is £60.89/ £151!!

    So so happy.
    Frugal Living Challenge, Household £0/5,000 Personal £0/3,000 Starting on the 25th Jan.
    January 2018 Grocery Challenge - £42.88/280 20p Savers - £5.20p Virtual Sealed Pot No. 14 - £19.04/£260 Mortgage Overpayments - £0/£1,200 Sealed Pot No 37
    • X Duvessa X
    • By X Duvessa X 8th Jan 18, 10:57 AM
    • 33 Posts
    • 284 Thanks
    X Duvessa X
    Morning all. I've had quite a few NSD up to 5 not including today. Popped to Lid! yesterday for a few little bits spent £7.63 then Ald! £3.17 brings my total to £26. little worried now as I've spent over half my budget already. On the bright side its free coffee and fruit at work today.
    Jan GC £57.26/£50
    Feb GC £17.06/£60
    Jan - Mar WLC 6/11
    • CattyCatX
    • By CattyCatX 8th Jan 18, 11:57 AM
    • 64 Posts
    • 376 Thanks
    End of the first week for me and I've spent £35.88/200. Fairly pleased and think this week will be similar but I know next week is going to be spendy as I'm going to visit friends and the travel and eating/drinking out will add up... hopefully I'll be able to cover it with the savings from this week and next - fingers crossed!!
    • YorksLass
    • By YorksLass 8th Jan 18, 5:16 PM
    • 305 Posts
    • 5,722 Thanks
    So far, so good. Just £9.15 spent in Wk 1 with 6 NSDs.

    The only thing I will need this week is milk that I'll get from the local C!op. It's dearer than in Sainsbobs but it's nearer to home and doesn't entice me to spend as much. I also have one of their 50p MOCs for meat/pate products that I may or may not use, depending on what they have in stock. Same applies to ys items.

    This week's meal plan has been done, with everything coming from the freezer, fridge and cupboards.

    Sun (yesterday) - Roast pork, gravy, chestnut & apricot stuffing, roast and mashed potatoes, sprouts
    Mon (today) - Liver, bacon & onion casserole, mash and Savoy cabbage
    Tues - Ham, red pepper & chorizo pasta bake
    Wed - Baked cod fillet in mustard sauce, mash, peas
    Thur - 1/4lb beefburgers, baked courgette slices, chips
    Fri - Battered fish fillet, mushy peas
    Sat - Seafood platter

    For this week's soup I'm trying curried carrot & chickpea; no recipe - just adding what I think will work.

    I'd second what others have said about meal planning before going shopping. And keeping a record of every spend, on what and when is also an eye-opener that helps you to see where your cash is going. It might seem a bit of a faff at first but it pays dividends in the long run.
    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)

    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 8th Jan 18, 7:01 PM
    • 152 Posts
    • 1,668 Thanks
    Evening all. Thank you PipneyJane for the potato suggestions. I!!!8217;m filing that for this weekend.

    The last two days have been NSDs.

    Totals So Far:
    3 NSD
    !!!8364;110.27 / !!!8364;250.00

    I!!!8217;ll be doing some shops tomorrow as I want fresh greens instead of cooked veg and to get pork chops which are on sale at Lidl. I!!!8217;m already thinking of removing some things from my Lidl list to scale back my total. This Saturday we!!!8217;re hosting a dinner party so I!!!8217;ll have to plan my spends for that. There will be about eight of us in total. I!!!8217;m going to make the ice cream with all that leftover brandy cream as a dessert.
    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
    • SilverBird
    • By SilverBird 8th Jan 18, 7:09 PM
    • 242 Posts
    • 2,014 Thanks
    I'd to join this year's Grocery Challenge please, with a budget of £180 each month. (This amount is for two adults, but also feed visiting friends, family and grandchildren!!!) Have food in larder and freezer to use, so hoping to have a low-spend month with lots of thrifty but tasty meals
    #Life isn't about waiting for the storms to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain #We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us #If you focus on what you have left behind, you will never see what lies ahead - Gusteau/Ratatouille
    GC: Mar £64.68/£180 (£305.07/£2,160)
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 8th Jan 18, 8:09 PM
    • 466 Posts
    • 5,747 Thanks
    Hi all..
    Shopping day... spent £38.69 in L*dls & £14.99 in my mums local butcher (got chicken bo*obies, small n large sausages, burgers and 2lb mince)
    Decided on a roastie for tea, chicken from the slow cooker, various veg & yummy roast potatoes and parsnips
    Also made a large cornflake cake for packed lunches this week, grated up a large bag of breadcrumbs (froze them) & will make a banana loaf tomorrow thanks to some squishy ones in the fruit bowl!
    Feeling really positive about the challenge.. It's given me focus for what I want my family to eat!
    Totals have been adjusted and currently stand at £83.95/£350..
    Living life happily! Debt Free date: 2018!!!
    Jan 18 GC:£249.95/£350.. Feb 18 GC: £328.94/£300 Mar 18 GC: £228.50/£300
    • Dizzy Imp
    • By Dizzy Imp 8th Jan 18, 9:55 PM
    • 2,187 Posts
    • 20,486 Thanks
    Dizzy Imp
    Shopped for fruit, veg, milk, coffee and bread today. Came home with hot chocolate, cat biscuits, crumpets and lots more, not on the list. £77.67 spent, which added to my fist shop and the food bought at the cafe during footie tournament means I'm already at £196.90/£600. Almost a third of my budget gone...gulp...
    • VfM4meplse
    • By VfM4meplse 8th Jan 18, 10:32 PM
    • 25,152 Posts
    • 53,489 Thanks
    For this week's soup I'm trying curried carrot & chickpea; no recipe - just adding what I think will work.
    Originally posted by YorksLass
    Now that sounds good! Its one to aim for later this month. So far I'm using up stuff from the freezer....very, very slowly. There's only so much that can be eaten in one day, after all! The fridge is still half full and I hope to hold off a shop until Saturday at least. £11.63 spent so far, but £5.50 of that was spent on YS goodies that I gave away.

    4 NSDs so far - more than I expected at day 8. Just as well, because my credit card took a real hammering last month, and the bill arrived today to prove it

    "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!
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