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    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 4th Jun 11, 11:19 AM
    • 9,343Posts
    • 17,889Thanks
    March 2012 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 4th Jun 11, 11:19 AM
    March 2012 Grocery Challenge 4th Jun 11 at 11:19 AM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the March Grocery Challenge of 2012

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your February budget, then keep on posting in the:
    Grocery Challenge - February 2012

    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 squeaky; 27-02-2012 at 8:58 AM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 6
    • mummygems
    • By mummygems 29th Feb 12, 9:41 AM
    • 340 Posts
    • 3,963 Thanks
    I am off to costco later for a little stock up on some cheese, dishwasher tabs, flora light and chicken breast.

    I have been given a celeriac and chinese leaf - erm what do I do with them lol. Is celeriac like swede? Have googled a couple of recipes but they all involve lots of other ingredients that I dont have so wanted something a bit easier (if thats possible!).

    I think once I have been to costcos I will be stocked up on the majority of things and it will be just the usual weekly fruit & veg, milk, yoghurts, bread etc each week.
    2 adults and 3 children DD (12), DD (10) & DS (7) and 2 mental beagles
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 29th Feb 12, 9:56 AM
    • 1,700 Posts
    • 12,583 Thanks
    Thought I would also just tell you that I made a Victoria sponge on Monday as I had people coming round the house for a cricket meeting and I was trying to do it quickly. After the cake mixture had been made I put my hand into the cupboard & put in a few drops of what I thought was vanilla essence only to find out it was green food colouring! I neither wanted to waste the ingredients or the time making another one, so tried to scoop out the green liquid as best as I could but the cake still looked rather green & mouldy! Tasted ok though!
    Originally posted by Long tall sally
    LMAO at that story! Highly amusing, thanks for sharing


    I have been given a celeriac and chinese leaf - erm what do I do with them lol. Is celeriac like swede? Have googled a couple of recipes but they all involve lots of other ingredients that I dont have so wanted something a bit easier (if thats possible!).
    Originally posted by mummygems
    I've seen recipes for celeriac mash but I vaguely remember something about it being quite bitter if not prepared properly... I'll see what I can find...



    Here is the recipes from Good Food for celeriac, good mix of things there:

    Here is another site I found: haven't used it before so no responsibility!!!
    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.
    SPC No 074
    GC: Apr 19 £59.94/£200
    Vegan 27-8-13
    • mummygems
    • By mummygems 29th Feb 12, 10:00 AM
    • 340 Posts
    • 3,963 Thanks
    Thanks elsiepac will have a look.
    2 adults and 3 children DD (12), DD (10) & DS (7) and 2 mental beagles
    • Kylieminoag
    • By Kylieminoag 29th Feb 12, 10:32 AM
    • 159 Posts
    • 2,649 Thanks

    I have been given a celeriac and chinese leaf - erm what do I do with them lol. Is celeriac like swede? Have googled a couple of recipes but they all involve lots of other ingredients that I dont have so wanted something a bit easier (if thats possible!).

    Originally posted by mummygems

    We love remoulade made with celeriac..... Its like a coleslaw but tastier. I like Nigel Slaters recipe because its so easy. Sometimes I use chives or spring onion instead of parsley. Last week I ran out of Dijon mustard so used wholegrain - it was still yummy. It doesnt keep well so I usually half this recipe and make it fresh when I want it:

    Peel then shred a medium-sized (450g) celeriac. The shreds should not be too fine, nor should they be thicker than a matchstick. Toss them immediately in the juice of half a lemon. Mix together 4 heaped tbsp of good mayonnaise, 2 tbsp of smooth Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp of double cream or crème fraîche and 2 tbsp of chopped parsley. Season with salt and black pepper, then fold into the shredded celeriac. Set aside for 30 minutes then serve with thin slices of ham.

    Toss the shredded roots quickly in lemon juice to stop them discolouring and to tenderise them. The dressing should be just thick enough to cling to the roots – in other words creamy without being soupy. Thin the sauce down with lemon juice if it gets too thick. Cream or crème fraîche sounds extravagant, but is essential if the salad is to be more than just roots in mayo. Don't attempt to keep it overnight. It will become soft and claggy as the celeriac soaks up the dressing. Chop the parsley finely – this is not the time for roughly chopped.

    DFWNerd 1417
    MFW by 2018 Jan 2012 £186,000 Sept 2015 £50,000
  • sheselectric
    Hi Everyone,

    Long time lurker first time poster...please be gentle

    Can i join in for March? Happy to just note it on my signature.

    I'm setting a budget of £150 for me and DH. Includes all food, cleaning products, toiletries and food for 2 cats
    • tigerfeet2006
    • By tigerfeet2006 29th Feb 12, 11:28 AM
    • 13,817 Posts
    • 29,889 Thanks
    Just bumping Spiggles excellent post for the newbies

    Hope i have done this ok as per last post. This is by Spiggles and is an excellent read.

    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 JIL
    The only stupid question is an unasked one
    Loving life as a Kernow Hippy
    • tigerfeet2006
    • By tigerfeet2006 29th Feb 12, 11:36 AM
    • 13,817 Posts
    • 29,889 Thanks
    I am going to go for £400 again this month. Probably could reduce it but I don't feel confident enough yet.

    Helen I don't mind not being on the front page as I update my siggy.

    Welcome to all the newbies and good luck on your journey. It will be a bit of a roller coaster ride but you will get there. The folks on here are great at supporting each other through all the ups and downs.
    The only stupid question is an unasked one
    Loving life as a Kernow Hippy
  • mummybearx
    Okay, I'm jumping in headfirst again this month!!

    zepsgal - £250

    I wrote a list of all freezer and fridge ingredients last night, not too much in there. Few bits of meat for DH like phesant, duck and something else.... think it's maybe a goose breast? Was given them from a friend who works as a beater

    But the cupboard list..... Oh my! Who knew I had so much food!! Kilo's of flour, kilo's of passata, jar after jar of indian cooking sauces, loads of herbs and spices, kilo's of dried green lentils, chickpeas, red lentils, dried butter beans, packet after packet of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds.........
    Wrote everything on a lined piece of A4 paper, side one is one item per line, side two is two items per line.... both sides are full! Is this too much food for me to be saying there is 'nothing for dinner'??!!!

    Will be checking out the recipes at the start of the thread, need to add new things to my collection. Problem I have is that we cook all the same sort of dishes week after week, get sick of them and phone a takeaway

    March is Must Try Harder month for me!!!
    Can't think of anything smart to put here...
    • Cheapskate
    • By Cheapskate 29th Feb 12, 11:54 AM
    • 1,663 Posts
    • 20,517 Thanks
    Afternoon everyone

    helen jelly - please will you put me down for £400 for March and I will try so hard to get it right this month?! Thank you!

    We've had 2 adult kids living here on and off since Jan, poorly littlies, me & DH stressed due to work, so GC disappeared I'm afraid.
    We are getting short of money now, so I have to make a real effort SOON. TC will be going down soon, along with gas/elec/council tax/water going up by about £40 together by April, so I need to plan/shop better (like I used to do) and use SC more.

    Off for a read through the thread - thanks for all your inspiring stories!

    A xo
    Feb GC £0.00/£300
    Decluttering 332/2019 items this year
    • OS QS
    • By OS QS 29th Feb 12, 12:07 PM
    • 333 Posts
    • 2,097 Thanks
    OS QS

    Please can I join in again this month?

    I did so well using up what I had in the house, and only buying fresh, that i'm all set to do it again!

    Please can I be put down for £120 again this month

    Mortgage debt : -£20,300
    2019 overpayments : £19,500
    • catznine
    • By catznine 29th Feb 12, 12:08 PM
    • 3,187 Posts
    • 24,544 Thanks
    Please can you put me down for £200 in March! Going to try to pop some more savings away! Still using up odds and ends from the freezers so could be interesting and plenty for soups and smoothies (dentist visits to come )
    Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind.

    Jan grocery challenge £35.77/£120
  • kj*daisy
    Please put me down for 280 to try and recoup some Febs overspend!!

    Thank you
    Last edited by kj*daisy; 29-02-2012 at 12:24 PM. Reason: Error
    Grocery challenge July £250

    45 asd*/
    • Sparklyfairy
    • By Sparklyfairy 29th Feb 12, 12:25 PM
    • 751 Posts
    • 1,539 Thanks
    Hi All!

    I need to start this up again - please put Sparklyfairy down for £150 for March for me, DH, DD's (8 & 6) & 1 fussy cat!

    Thank you! xx
    • LavenderBees
    • By LavenderBees 29th Feb 12, 12:37 PM
    • 1,703 Posts
    • 17,718 Thanks
    Hello, My Lovelies

    Hope you are all well, and doing well with your challenges. My aim this month is to try to keep up with the thread...and use the recipes at the front.

    Can I declare myself a challenge of £100 again for this month, please. Even though I failed in February, it still really focused my mind on what was important, and, looking at last year's spends, I'm easily cutting that by 2/3s. Unbelieveable that I thought anyhere between £200 - £300 was ok to spend on food and bits and bobs for myself. I always knew deep down that I was overspending here as it makes me feel MUCH more secure to have a house full of food.

    Strangely, I still do have a houseful of food but am spending much less. If I could bottle it, I'd make a fortune! Mind you, shopping now takes me hours as I compare prices per 100g, prices per kilo...look on the bottom shelf, search through the bins...(this last one's a joke...just in case anyone is horrified...)

    After work tonight, I am going food shopping...I do need a few things so I will easily be able to use the £3 off £40 spend at Mr M's...then I'll be very frugal the rest of the month.

    And I really will try very hard to keep up with the thread this time. I'm sure I could learn loads more if I did keep up. So, can you all just "shurrup" once in a while so I can catch up?

    Good luck to you all. We can do it
    • mummyyof5
    • By mummyyof5 29th Feb 12, 12:49 PM
    • 1,839 Posts
    • 39,830 Thanks
    Have decided my budget this month will be £520...I can do this...I hope..March is such a long month.

    Also have DS1s 18th..and mums birthday and Mothers day eekkk...At least Ds1s party is from seperate budget.
    Feeding 6 Adults 1 Teen a 8 year old with hollow legs and a very fussy 5 year old. Also 3 cats and 3 fishies
    To include all Food,Toiletries and Petfood.
  • cleggie
    can i change to weekly instead of monthly please. I will aim for £60 a week.

    • tigerfeet2006
    • By tigerfeet2006 29th Feb 12, 12:56 PM
    • 13,817 Posts
    • 29,889 Thanks
    Opened up the Kirkland washing powder (Costco own make). The powder really gets on your chest though. The amount you need though is absolutly miniscule. I found my self putting in double of what they said and found that the wm really suded (is that a word?) up. So next wash I put the recommended amount in and it was better. The clothes have come out lovely though I have to say, very impressed so far.

    I have just put the wm on a maintenance wash, I used to do it every month but haven't done it for a while so thought I had better. The water is looking a bit grey and there are a few suds in there, was definatly past time to do it
    The only stupid question is an unasked one
    Loving life as a Kernow Hippy
    • tessie bear
    • By tessie bear 29th Feb 12, 1:16 PM
    • 4,328 Posts
    • 29,793 Thanks
    tessie bear
    hi...feb has gone very quickly...on to march i am trying to save a few quid in march to give to charity as it is lent....not getting on very fast but trying to get something together

    need to do a bit of meal planning for the next couple of weeks and use up what we have in

    take care tess
    onwards and upwards
  • Mrs Addicted to Spending
    Hi please can you put me down for £450 for this month as it's a 5 week month for me. I'm still trying to keep to less than £90 but may try and reduce it next month. I've spent £73.66 in first week. Thanks
    Pay debt in 2012 #278 £2347/£5364
    Sealed Pot 5 #1713 £78.57 //Crazy Clothes Challenge #97 £79.49/£100
    Grocery Challenge:
    Feb £359/£360 Mar £390/£450 Apr £335/£320
    May £330/£320 Jun £455/£400 Jul £321/£320
    Aug £399/£370 Sep £345/£300 Oct £421/£400 Nov £0/£320
    • rising from the ashes
    • By rising from the ashes 29th Feb 12, 1:23 PM
    • 12,321 Posts
    • 59,551 Thanks
    rising from the ashes
    Good trip to edinburgh yesterday and noticed in weaving shop (up be the castle, has FREE yes totally FREE exhibition with working looms)
    Originally posted by DundeeDoll
    Ohhhhh thanks for that DD must have a look the next time I'm in town as I'm fascinated with old things like that!

    Managed to put £24.91 into my new groceries "pot" by rounding down in Feb - great idea and I never missed the money at all! Hopefully I'll be able to get to an "in advance" place with this budget soon!

    Def no need for any meat to be bought in March so hoping for a bit less than it's allocation of £140 ... but we'll see!
    Grocery Challenge £211/£455 (01/01-31/03)
    2016 Sell: £125/£250
    £1,000 Emergency Fund Challenge #78 £3.96 / £1,000
    Vet Fund: £410.93 / £1,000
    Debt free & determined to stay that way!
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