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    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 31st Jan 18, 2:03 PM
    • 680Posts
    • 4,621Thanks
    2018 £50 February Challenge
    • #1
    • 31st Jan 18, 2:03 PM
    2018 £50 February Challenge 31st Jan 18 at 2:03 PM
    As requested, here is a separate thread for the £50 February Challenge.

    The challenge is to spend a total of just £50 for your food and grocery purchases throughout the entire month of February. The £50 excludes things like takeaways Ė say for Valentineís Day - but includes items such as sanitary products, cleaning products and laundry detergent purchased during the month. Yes, Itís tight but the aim is to limit your spending to that amount, not to limit the value of the groceries that you consume (if you have a freezer full of fillet steak, you can eat it). Would you care to join me?

    In my case, this £50 will be for all grocery purchases for two adults for the month. If you have a larger family, one online friend suggested adding £25 extra for her two small children or £25 each per additional adult. If itís bought from a supermarket, Costco, butcher, farm shop or market stall, then it will be included. We eat 3 meals a day plus snacks and the majority are home made. (We both take our lunch to work.) We have a friend staying this weekend and any spend for that will be included.

    There are a couple of reasons why itís ď£50 FebruaryĒ but nothing to stop you doing this in, say, June. The first is the alliteration: I like the sound of it. The second is that, in 1991, I had a really tough February, where I found myself with only £25 plus my train fare for the month. I had two adults to feed, with a handful of items in the freezer and some rice, flour and pasta in the pantry. I remember going to Mr Tís with a carefully collated shopping list: 1lb cheddar, butter, 6 or 8 tinned tomatoes, rice, bran cereal, a couple of tins of tuna and pilchards, squash, a bag of minced beef... I found a local greengrocer, who was quite cheap, and lugged home 5lb of onions and 10lb of potatoes for £2.50. Londis own-brand coffee was horrible but it was 59p or 79p so I bought that to drink. I had no choice; Dumbo, (my now long-time ex), had wiped out my salary even before the month had started. I was lucky that work provided me with lunch every day, so I only had to do breakfasts and dinner.

    This is the third year that Iíve done a £50 February Challenge. Each year, I try - and fail - to explain to my DH why I want to do it. Itís not as if we need to do it, but Iím trying to prove to myself that I can keep us both sane, well fed and comfortable on very little. So many people are literally one pay cheque from destitution and, in the years I lived with Dumbo, that would have been me. I lived with the consequences for years afterwards - it took a long time to recover. I guess I just want to prove to myself that I can do it if I had to. DH is a reluctant participant but he plays along.

    I have two exclusions to my challenge:-

    • We only use recycled toilet paper, so if L!dl suddenly stock Nouvelle or their own-brand 4-ply, then I will stock up. I will charge one packet to the challenge and the rest to the Bulk Fund (which grows at £40/month). Reason: the main supermarkets no longer stock Nouvelle and the L!dl 4-ply is lovely and soft if you can find it. (Nouvelle is softer than most supermarketís.)
    • We also have one known spend that Iíll be excluding from the challenge: we have a family party in Scotland at the end of the month, so Iíll be ordering haggis - 2 left feet and 2 right - from the butcher up there, together with some steak bridies and black pudding.

    Some helpful hints and tips. I may add to this list later on:-

    • Try to shop for the month in one go. It helps to make the money go further.
    • Use Ė and abuse Ė your freezer. As well as buying frozen veggies or meat, a lot of things sold fresh can be frozen until youíre ready to eat it/cook with it (cheese, bread, cake).
    • To make life easier for cooking from scratch, consider batch cooking and freezing the starters to recipes. Almost all my recipes start ďfry onion with garlic, add mushroomsĒ so I will multiply up the ingredients and cook 4 recipes-worth together, before freezing 3 batches and finishing cooking dinner with the fourth. It takes less than 5 minutes to prepare four recipesí-worth of onions.
    • Long Life Skimmed Milk tastes the same as fresh and costs 49p/litre. (Other long life milk has a funny taste from the cream.)
    • If you buy fresh milk, consider freezing half. In my fridge, it takes 2 days to defrost completely. (Allow for an inch an expansion in your container.)
    • L!dl sells the cheapest own-brand tampons that Iíve found. (79p a packet.) Note: in L!dl-speak, ďsuperĒ is regular sized; ďsuper plusĒ would be super anywhere else.
    • Toiletries: until it disappeared from the shelves, Mr Tís ďvalueĒ and Sainsbobís ďbasicsĒ baby shampoo was the cheapest shampoo available at 25p. (Itís a badly kept secret that Mr T and Sainsbob's use exactly the same supplier for their own brand toiletries. Ditto squash and many other products.) Next cheapest toiletries that Iíve found are L!dlís Cien range.
    • Except for YS markdowns, Lidl sell the cheapest mature cheddar cheese Iíve found.
    • The cheapest rice Iíve found was 45p for a 1kg in Mr Tís. That was this weekend.
    • Donít buy juice; buy Value squash, which is highly concentrated, and drink flavoured water.
    • Eggs. With the bird-flu alerts last summer, all the free-range hens in the UK were confined to barns. Now is the time to swallow your scruples and buy the basics 18 eggs for £1.25 tray from Sainsbobís.
    • Ignore use by and best before dates. If it doesnít smell funny and isnít mouldy, you should be able to eat it. (My baking powder is nearly 10 years past its best before date; it still works fine.)
    • There are hundreds of links to cheap recipes at the start of each monthís Grocery Challenge. (Februaryís can be found here ium=Email&utm_term=30-Jan-18)
    "Be the type of woman that when you get out of bed in the morning, the devil says 'Oh crap. She's up.' "

    C.R.A.P R.O.L.L.Z. #47 Official Brain Harvesting Body Counter
Page 2
    • joedenise
    • By joedenise 5th Feb 18, 4:34 PM
    • 4,882 Posts
    • 36,729 Thanks
    Surely the pressure cooker doesn't get to pressure if it doesn't seal?
    Originally posted by purpleivy
    If I've read it correctly it's the slow cooker, not the pressure cooker, which doesn't seal.

    • purpleivy
    • By purpleivy 5th Feb 18, 8:18 PM
    • 3,325 Posts
    • 20,540 Thanks
    "Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad"
    Trying not to waste food!
    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 5th Feb 18, 11:11 PM
    • 5,249 Posts
    • 54,484 Thanks
    .........I actually hate our current slow cooker - it is big (10L) and cheap (£20-ish on Amazon) but the lid doesn't seal, so everything dries out...... I even put a layer of foil under the lid, in the blind hope it would prevent too much steam leaving. Not a hope. I didn't put in half as much liquid as it needed whereas, in my old slow cooker, those quantities would have been fine, if not a little runny....
    Originally posted by PipneyJane
    Personally, I'd save up and buy a new, better quality one asap. After all, they save a lot of money in the long run.

    In the meantime, maybe if you use some thicker, turkey foil or thick greaseproof paper. Cut quite a bit bigger and tuck over the top and down the sides, sealing it as tight as possible, then put on the lid. (Bit like cooking en papilotte).

    Bulk buy.......FEB=102.96
    OS WL= -2/8 ......CC =00......Savings = £13,140
    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 11th Feb 18, 6:02 PM
    • 680 Posts
    • 4,621 Thanks
    Evening All

    Apologies for the radio silence, but life got in the way of me posting during the week. I had two job interviews after work - Wednesday and Thursday - which culminated in a job offer on Friday. Soon, I will stop being a contractor and actually belong somewhere again. Yay!!!

    Yes, it!!!8217;s the slow cooker I hate. LynneJK, I have tried tenting it with foil and have had mixed results. A replacement may be what I will buy with the money saved from this challenge.

    The pressure cooker is OK but I will trade it in at some point for a more old-fashioned one, with the weights on top. (Mine is controlled by a nob and has developed !!!8220;issues!!!8221; where the pressure relief valve sticks. The latter can!!!8217;t be replaced.). Lidl have 6L ones on sale this week for £39.99, if you are interested. I would not buy one any smaller.

    I have 3 spends to declare for this week:-
    1. DH went to the farm shop, bought a dozen eggs, carrots, potatoes, broccoli and purple sprouting broccoli (he knows I love the latter), spending £8.70 in the process. Most of the eggs were used in the Austrian Potato Pudding he made, from an ancient Sainsbug recipe book called !!!8220;Potato!!!8221;. It also used up some black pudding from the freezer
    1. Yesterday, we dropped into Tosco at lunchtime, buying yoghurts (32), YS cheddar (£1.46) and a YS packet of 6 mini pork pies (£1.20), for a total of £4.66. (The pork pies turned into our lunch-on-the-run.).
    1. Today, we collected the Sunday paper and a packet of Value eggs, spending £1.25 in the process. (We subscribe to the paper, so get a weekly voucher to !!!8220;pay!!!8221; for it. It doesn!!!8217;t count in the GC challenge.)

    Anyway, the above brings our total spend for February to £22.34/£50 leaving a balance of £27.66 for the rest of the month.

    (Still can!!!8217;t figure out how to get the numbers to change on the bullet points.)

    Besides fresh veg, we!!!8217;ve mainly been eating out of the freezer and the pantry. Dinner on Wednesday was Cuban Black Bean Stew. Thursday was the aforementioned Austrian Potato Pudding, while Friday we had a stir fry, using a 250g bag of Christmas turkey from the freezer. Yesterday was salmon, again from the freezer. Lunches were leftovers during the week, yesterday!!!8217;s pork pies and today we had cheese toasties. (We made the bread ourselves.)

    Plans for meals for this week are a little disjointed because we!!!8217;re going to see Bill Bailey perform tomorrow night, so will need to eat out. Tonight, I!!!8217;m cooking a mung bean curry which will use up the open, plain yoghurt. Tuesday is Pancake Night. Wednesday is St Valentine!!!8217;s Day, so we will do our annual !!!8220;order a curry and accompany it with sparkling red wine!!!8221; night. I haven!!!8217;t thought any further ahead.

    I made Jam Crumblies earlier for our mid-week snacks. (The recipe is here ). For once, I used the microwave as a microwave, instead of using its oven feature and baking them at 180C for 20-25 minutes. The Jam Crumblies used up an ancient tub of !!!8220;I can!!!8217;t believe it!!!8217;s not butter!!!8221; which has been lurking in my fridge for well over a year. (Someone who stayed bought it. I rarely butter bread.)

    Lunches will be leftovers, accompanied by small pots of yoghurt. I buy the 450ml tubs of full-cream Yeo Valley, which are always on 2-for-£2 in MrT, and decant each tub into 4 small Lock-n-Lock boxes. (Full-cream because it has a higher oestrogen content - helps with infertility - and Yeo Valley because it tastes better and they don!!!8217;t dye their strawberry/raspberry flavours with beetroot to make them pinker.)

    Have a good week.

    Last edited by PipneyJane; 11-02-2018 at 6:06 PM.
    "Be the type of woman that when you get out of bed in the morning, the devil says 'Oh crap. She's up.' "

    C.R.A.P R.O.L.L.Z. #47 Official Brain Harvesting Body Counter
    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 17th Feb 18, 3:38 PM
    • 680 Posts
    • 4,621 Thanks
    Well, things got changed around a bit, meal-wise. Sunday night, we ended up having Mexican Refried Beans, Monday we ate out as planned, Tuesday we made pancakes from scratch, Wednesday was a takeaway, Thursday a nut loaf with roasties and broccoli and Friday became Mung Bean Curry Night.

    I think one of the main skills needed to stick to the challenge is the ability to look in the fridge, recognise what is there that needs to be used up and figure out something to make with it. For instance, the nut loaf was made with almonds that had been lurking in the fridge since the summer, plus carrots that were bought last week. Apart from the fresh veg, virtuallly everything has come out of the store cupboard or the freezer.

    We have had three small spends: £1.10 for milk on Wednesday (I have frozen half of it), £2.87 for peppers and mushrooms yesterday and £3.20 for bratwurst today at Lidl. That brings our total spend so far to £29.51/£50.

    There is £20.49 left in the kitty and tomorrow we will do our big spend. Wish me luck!

    - Pip
    Last edited by PipneyJane; 17-02-2018 at 3:39 PM. Reason: To get rid of the stray marks
    "Be the type of woman that when you get out of bed in the morning, the devil says 'Oh crap. She's up.' "

    C.R.A.P R.O.L.L.Z. #47 Official Brain Harvesting Body Counter
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 18th Feb 18, 9:49 AM
    • 129 Posts
    • 1,377 Thanks
    You keep your almonds in the fridge? Is that to prevent them going rancid? Do you keep all your nuts in there or just the almonds?

    Good luck shopping today. Just 10 more days left in the month!
    FEB 18 GC: Ä180.60 / Ä450 and 9 / 10 NSD
    JAN 18 GC: Ä377.92/Ä550.00 // 8 NSD
    Dec 17 GC: Ä406.50/Ä350.00 // 11 NSD // £198.57/£200 UK stock up
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