Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 4th Jun 11, 11:19 AM
    • 9,343Posts
    • 17,889Thanks
    • #1
    • 4th Jun 11, 11:19 AM
    4th Jun 11 at 11:19 AM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the first Grocery Challenge of 2012

    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 Grocery 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.
    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 and #6 on this thread.

    For everyones totals, see post #7 on this thread

    I hope everyone has a great month!

    Last edited by zippychick; 27-12-2011 at 12:52 PM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 20
    • meg72
    • By meg72 31st Dec 11, 6:33 PM
    • 5,082 Posts
    • 46,072 Thanks
    Right have put my 100 in my grocery purse and am determined to use as little as possible this month.

    I aim to beat my way through the food already stocked up and make a real dent in it. I am starting with all the little odd packs of leftovers in the freezer. Should be some suprises in there.

    1st one for today is Gammon in parsley sauce with carrots and Brocolli, will bake a potato to go with it. Only about another 50 packs to go I think.
    Slimming World at target
    • SueP19
    • By SueP19 31st Dec 11, 6:40 PM
    • 1,706 Posts
    • 14,488 Thanks
    Afternnon All,

    Welcome and good luck to our newbies! And good luck to everyone of course!

    I'm not sure if the following will help any of you but here goes anyway ...

    I hope my fellow regulars won't mind me posting this again but it may be of some help to all the enthusiastic and excited people joining us. I believe it has helped others in the past. So here goes:

    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,
    Originally posted by Spiggle
    Thank you so much for that...........I wish I could use the "thank you" button several times, from a newbie on this thread your post is a focal point and yes the sm is the enemy
    Mort Oct 15 70,353 66,422 58,804 MF Dec 31 Jun 31(191 176 mnths)
    EF 2016 700/1,000 Debt May 09 30,217Oct 17 14,093Nov 18 6,336.12[/B]
    • freyasmum
    • By freyasmum 31st Dec 11, 6:42 PM
    • 16,731 Posts
    • 48,920 Thanks
    Quick update - 6.50 spend in M&S today.

    Steak - 4. It's amazing, butter-meltingly tender and utterly delicious. Daughter can't get enough!
    Milk, 4pints - 50p x 5

    The milk should do around a month and the steak, depending whether it's a steak dinner or an ingredient, will last either one or two meals.

    Now I've just got to try and fit it in the freezer

    Got my meals planned out till next Sunday and all I need to buy is a carrot for some sizzling beef strips
    • sproggi
    • By sproggi 31st Dec 11, 6:43 PM
    • 1,517 Posts
    • 6,376 Thanks
    I really can't believe just how much I am looking forward to a new year of the GC

    Thank you to everyone for running this thread

    Now for my January budget. I have been mulling this over a fair bit and I think I am going to go for 350 for 5 of us, 3 adults and 2 children (13 & 10), plus occasional extra adult and DGS (14m). This will allow for any glitches and any sales, but will not include dog food as she has a poorly liver and her food is quite expensive.

    Now off to see out 2011


    Last edited by sproggi; 31-12-2011 at 6:49 PM. Reason: Forgot to highlight for HJ
    'We can get over being poor, but it takes longer to get over being ignorant'
    Jane Sequichie Hifler
    Beware of little expenses.A small leak will sink a great ship
    Benjamin Franklin
    • mrs-moneypenny
    • By mrs-moneypenny 31st Dec 11, 7:02 PM
    • 15,518 Posts
    • 198,189 Thanks
    evening all
    did a morrys shop and a little sains one today so ive updated my sig
    got lots of reduced bits from morrys so reezer is now rammed full

    i wish everyone health and happiness in the new year
    SPC~12 ot 124

    In a world that has decided that it's going to lose its mind, be more kind my friend, try to Be More Kind
    • quintwins
    • By quintwins 31st Dec 11, 7:04 PM
    • 5,003 Posts
    • 29,347 Thanks
    20.90 on chinese and coke well it is new year
    DFW 7632/28996 26.3%
    • tessie bear
    • By tessie bear 31st Dec 11, 7:08 PM
    • 4,324 Posts
    • 29,765 Thanks
    tessie bear
    hi...lovely meal out today...soon ooff to new years eve do so other people taking the food prep strain...i will enjoy it while i can.....also going out for a new years day lunch tomorrow....might even get to bring home some leftovers to start 2012 off on a money saving note

    still havent done the meal plan for next week ...need to get amongst that

    happy new year

    onwards and upwards
    • recovering spendaholic
    • By recovering spendaholic 31st Dec 11, 7:11 PM
    • 3,049 Posts
    • 15,426 Thanks
    recovering spendaholic
    Went to Matalan to get shoes for DD2 for her party tonight and on way home I was "persuaded" to go to McDonalds - that means that I spent 9 that I hadn't budgetted for already - I really do need to get some backbone, but TBH I really wanted a Big Mac as I hadn't had one for ages.....

    Anyway it is New Year tomorrow and all junk food is out! We have none in the house so that is good!

    ENDIS. Employed, no disposable income or savings!
  • queenie68
    Hi everyone

    i would like my budget set at 200 for january please

    I totally messed up my december budget and went over by 100 so i am going to be very strict and stick to my budget or even try to spend less than the budget
    My big pig eats 2 coins 20p 5p 2p 1p plus any money kind people leave on the pavements and gets emptied on 15th september each year sept 2011 total was 261 which helps pay xmas

    spent 0/200 Jan shopping budget NSD's
    I scored 65% on the tightness test
    • nmlc
    • By nmlc 31st Dec 11, 7:30 PM
    • 3,430 Posts
    • 48,003 Thanks
    Evening all

    Wishing you all a Happy and healthy New Year.


    Have lost my way somewhat so need to get back into the GC, have done the first shop of the January 2012 budget, haven't spent that much but as I've overspent so much in the last 2 months, I haven't got much freezer/fridge/cupboard space left! Have got a joint of pork loin out of the freezer for tomorrow's New Years Day roast lunch, and will then be following a menu plan etc (she says in eternal hope!!). Will possibly sort through remainders of veg/fruit and try to salvage what I can.

    Have a good evening and all the best for 2012, stay safe and well x

    Kind regards
    nmlc x
  • MumOf2Beasties
    Hello to everyone,

    Have been MIA for the past few months, life just kind of got in the way of ANY budgeting....oops!!

    I'm planning on getting back on track in January, have started by buying most of this years birthday presents in the sales at half price, I don't include presents in my GC but that's lots of saving that will take pressure off throughout the year
    My budget this month is 220 Please!!

    Thank You so very much to everyone who runs the thread and contributes, good to know i always have a place to go to motivate me

    Off to catch up on the thread now. Happy New Year Guys and Gals
    1 adult, 3 children-Newborn and ages 4 & 6, 1 rabbit
    budget of 250 is for food, toiletries, nappies, wipes, cleaning/washing products and pet supplies (litter, sawdust, food)
    • ms_night_ryder
    • By ms_night_ryder 31st Dec 11, 7:46 PM
    • 3,001 Posts
    • 11,582 Thanks
    Hiya can i up my budget to 56.25 as i am also doing a yearly budget of 675 this is what it is monthly, with the extra being for cost co items or any bulk items or glitches lol

    Went shopping in sainsburys needed oil, chilli powder and washing up pads, also got paprika, deli coleslaw and grated cheese reduced, also whoopsies of a family chicken pie for 89p and some frying steak 1.89, was gonna make a pie, so did need it, but it was grey inside the steaks, its rump, dont know if it is supposed to be like that, but i used only the red pieces, cut themand froze them, also got a bag of crisps and a drink 8.77 on that, then went to tesco, after i went to the nail shop, it was nearly closing, got 2 packs of sausages fo 10p each and some juice 1.30 there
    Lose 28lb 3/28lb
    SPC Member 1522/2012-264/ new pot 2013
    • SueP19
    • By SueP19 31st Dec 11, 7:59 PM
    • 1,706 Posts
    • 14,488 Thanks
    Well I had a go at my first meal planner today for the month, enjoyed making it as I love spreadsheets

    From it I made a list of all the things I had in stock and what I needed for the month I then added prices, double

    Well worth it, if only to tell me I spend way too much on certain things .........................PG T*ps 17 (4x 160 box) I know, shocked the living daylights out of me and OH. He is now accommodating (not sure how long it will last)

    So I have a plan, I know it will take a few weeks of buying special offers to get into the swing but it will be worth it
    Mort Oct 15 70,353 66,422 58,804 MF Dec 31 Jun 31(191 176 mnths)
    EF 2016 700/1,000 Debt May 09 30,217Oct 17 14,093Nov 18 6,336.12[/B]
    • icontinuetodream
    • By icontinuetodream 31st Dec 11, 8:12 PM
    • 985 Posts
    • 6,606 Thanks
    OH went to shop today...had to buy bin sacks as kids had a clear out last week (news to me!!) and used all the spares without letting me know.....

    anyhoo....1 pk bin sacks, 5 cartons soy milk, 1 light bulb, 1 pk sugar, 1 roll cling film, 1 pk kitchen roll, five ENORMOUS leeks (obtained from farm shop down the road at 15p each) and half a dozen eggs (also from farm shop 65p) later and I am 13.86 lighter.....

    Not impressed, but hey, what can you do??!!!
    Mortgage 12.12.12 55842 12.12.13 42716 14.12.14 28837 13.12.15 25913
    Mortgage OP 50/600 House Fund 420/5000
    • SueP19
    • By SueP19 31st Dec 11, 8:25 PM
    • 1,706 Posts
    • 14,488 Thanks
    OH went to shop today...had to buy bin sacks as kids had a clear out last week (news to me!!) and used all the spares without letting me know.....

    anyhoo....1 pk bin sacks, 5 cartons soy milk, 1 light bulb, 1 pk sugar, 1 roll cling film, 1 pk kitchen roll, five ENORMOUS leeks (obtained from farm shop down the road at 15p each) and half a dozen eggs (also from farm shop 65p) later and I am 13.86 lighter.....

    Not impressed, but hey, what can you do??!!!
    Originally posted by icontinuetodream
    Know just what you mean, my OH is constantly telling me "it's only.................." I try to make sure my OH has as little contact as he can with any shops at all, he only goes to the petrol station once a week now but still manages to spend an average of 7 on top of any fuel he gets

    Sometimes I could just hit him
    Mort Oct 15 70,353 66,422 58,804 MF Dec 31 Jun 31(191 176 mnths)
    EF 2016 700/1,000 Debt May 09 30,217Oct 17 14,093Nov 18 6,336.12[/B]
    • allie23
    • By allie23 31st Dec 11, 8:29 PM
    • 1,336 Posts
    • 14,594 Thanks
    ....hoping you're all too busy celebrating to notice that I have another spend on my siggy.

    So, I've updated my siggy with anticipated NSDs and No Car Use days for January, and the ONLY way I can possibly come in on budget now is to make sure I only spend 10 a week for the next 4 Fridays, and don't spend a penny any other day.
    Originally posted by LavenderBees
    Hi LavenderBees. I love the idea of keeping track on days where I don't use the car - think I will follow your example and put this in my sig too. Best of luck with your Jan budget.
    February 2019 Grocery Challenge
    Frugal Living Challenge 2019
    Save 12k in 2019 - Challenger No 69 - 13,310/40,000
    • cat4772
    • By cat4772 31st Dec 11, 9:28 PM
    • 2,455 Posts
    • 4,348 Thanks
    Please put me in for jan for 400.

    I'm currently on maternity leave and whilst money isn't brilliant at the moment, when I return to work and 80% of my wage will disappear on childcare (with no hope of CTC / WTC) we're cutting back on lots of areas and our grocery budget is an obvious choice.

    DFW Nerd Club #545 Dealing With Our Debt
    never attribute anything to malice which can be adequately explained by stupidity, [paranoia or ignorance] - ZTD&[cat]
    the thing about unwritten laws is that everyone has to agree to them before they can work - *louise*

    March GC 113.53 / 325
    • tigerfeet2006
    • By tigerfeet2006 31st Dec 11, 9:33 PM
    • 13,812 Posts
    • 29,889 Thanks
    Just updated signature with a small spend at the Co Op of a banoffee dessert for tomorrow & some satsumas. Gosh they are expensive there compared to Aldi or the market where I normally get them from. have also asked OH to get some cream & some g/f cereal on his travels. Bit cross as I just tried to make some gluten free shortbread simply by substituting normal flour for g/f plain & rice flour (50/50) and it has turned out rubbish. That was a snack to take to a party tonight for DS. I also defrosted some h/m stock yesterday by leaving it out all day & have turned it into soup today. However it wasn't until today that I realised it had bits of left over turkey in it so now not sure how safe it will be to eat. Sometimes I get a bit fed up when I try to do things & they often go wrong!

    Anyway, happy new year to you all. Oh, OH is now back so I shall update signature again with another 2.79!
    Originally posted by Long tall sally
    When you use a normal recipe and try to change it to GF then you tend to have to add some extra liquid to make it work as the flours are so different. I make a fantastic Peanut Butter biscuit, recipe in the index at the front.

    Also a GF Ginger Biscuit which is
    350g gf plain flour
    2tsp ginger
    1tsp bicarb soda
    100g cold butter diced
    100g dark brown sugar
    75g caster sugar
    1 egg
    4tbsp honey

    Preheat oven to 190degC or Gas 5. Lightly grease baking sheet.

    Sift flour into a large bowl. Add ginger and bicarb. Rub butter into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add sugars, egg and honey and mix to make a dough. If dough is to wet add a little more flour, if to dry add some water.

    Knead dough until smooth, on a floured surface. Roll it out to about 5mm thick.

    Cut the biscuits out with cookie cutters amd put on the baking sheet.

    Bake for about 12 mins ontil lightly brown. Leave to cool slightly before putting them on a wire rack.

    Store in a tupperware container for 2-3 days. These freeze well but are never around long enough to get in there, they are loved by the GF and GF people alike.

    I also do a iced sugar cookies which the kids like if you want the recipe.

    I wouldn't worry to much about the turkey being in the soup mix, if you have heated it up well then it should be fine. I often leave a chicken out for a couple of hours to finish defrosting as it seems to take forever in my fridge.
    Last edited by tigerfeet2006; 31-12-2011 at 9:36 PM.
    The only stupid question is an unasked one
    I now live in a country that is 4 hours ahead of the UK so you may now find I post at weird times
    • LavenderBees
    • By LavenderBees 31st Dec 11, 9:46 PM
    • 1,703 Posts
    • 17,718 Thanks
    Hi LavenderBees. I love the idea of keeping track on days where I don't use the car - think I will follow your example and put this in my sig too. Best of luck with your Jan budget.
    Originally posted by allie23
    Thanks Allie. I don't know if other MSER's do this, but it can help focus the mind on another money saving method.

    What I do is go through the calendar and try to see which days in the month can be no car days, and that is the total I aim for. I have no/very little public transport so it's only feasible some days (e.g. weekends). Last year I was able to car share with some people from work sometimes. I'm hoping we can manage that again at times. Even once a week makes a big difference on a 40 mile round trip.

    I find it far easier to stop myself using the car than i do stopping myself buying food....obviously
    Last edited by LavenderBees; 31-12-2011 at 9:52 PM. Reason: Thought of something else
    • feefeelalabelle
    • By feefeelalabelle 31st Dec 11, 9:52 PM
    • 526 Posts
    • 3,721 Thanks
    hi all,
    happy new year
    hopefully your a friendly bunch
    sooo i really need to stop wasting food and cut the food bill down, i havnt really got a clue how much i currently spend on the shopping, id guess over 350
    i am going to start using up what we have in the freezer and in the cuboards

    i am going to say i would love to keep below 200. From january 1st to the 31st,i am going to keep all my reciepts but am not going to limit myself when i do go in the shops, just monitor what i spend silly money on this month to give me a true idea of the budget

    hopefully in february i will be able to post a proper budget to try to stick to

    sorry if ive rambled......... i need to ramble for motivation
    need to pay my dad back challenge3000: 2950: 2750: 2640:2560:1560 0.00

Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

84Posts Today

1,658Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • RT @IsabelHardman: This is really good. For all the stuff about noisy rows over the past few days, it?s worth remembering that a lot of abu?

  • This is why I wrote the guide to financial abuse. It's tough to know when it's happening to you. It's also worth?

  • RT @David_Challen: Really happy @MartinSLewis is raising awareness of economic/financial abuse. My mother cleaned her cousins home for poc?

  • Follow Martin