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

    Welcome to the fourth Grocery Challenge of 2012

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your March budget, then keep on posting in the:
    March 2012 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 competition....it'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,
    Spigs
    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!

    Zip
    Last edited by zippychick; 25-03-2012 at 4:56 PM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 5
    • MrsCD
    • By MrsCD 28th Mar 12, 6:46 PM
    • 753 Posts
    • 11,263 Thanks
    MrsCD
    Hello everyone. Hope you don't mind me popping in.

    Mysticshaz, you can buy the packets of Ainsley's couscous very cheaply in Asda at the moment or just buy plain. Make it up as per instructions on the packet and add chopped cucumber, tomatoes or whatever cooked veg you have left over in the fridge, e.g. peas or sweetcorn. I also like tinned beans mixed in - not baked beans!!
    You can make salads with cooked pasta in the same way, or cooked rice, but be VERY careful with rice as you can get Baccillus Cereus (a type of food poisoning) if it's kept too long in the fridge Hope this helps
    • rising from the ashes
    • By rising from the ashes 28th Mar 12, 6:53 PM
    • 12,321 Posts
    • 59,551 Thanks
    rising from the ashes
    You can make salads with cooked pasta in the same way, or cooked rice, but be VERY careful with rice as you can get Baccillus Cereus (a type of food poisoning) if it's kept too long in the fridge Hope this helps
    Originally posted by MrsCD
    Totally agree with the Rice advice ... it's apparently something to do with how quickly it's cooled down as the bacteria breeds in the warm rice (or so I've been told!).

    When I make Risotto (2 portions), I plate up both, put one plate in the sink with very cold water in and by the time I've eaten the other plate, it's cold & goes straight in the fridge (in a sealed tub). Touch wood, never had any problems by doing it this way.

    Question .... how do you stop the pasta from going hard again?

    I've tried to do this for various pasta salads and it always goes rock hard
    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!
  • VickyVics
    Hey there, I was wondering whether it would be ok to join the challenge? I was trying to find some more tips to reduce my monthly spending budget and stumbled upon this challenge. I think this could possibly be just the thing I'm looking for.

    My month starts on the 1st because that is when I get paid. My monthly budget will be 200 for 2 adults and a very hungry dog. I think this will be just enough to challenge me without having to really struggle. As the months go on I will aim to reduce it bit by bit. Hopefully this will help me to save for my wedding and house diy that I would like to get done. I will try and create a sig for it :-p

    I'm considering taking the whole of my money out at the beginning of the month and putting it in a safe place in a jar. Just so that I can physically separate my shopping budget from the rest of my money. I was wondering how everyone else keeps their money?
    • LavenderBees
    • By LavenderBees 28th Mar 12, 7:04 PM
    • 1,703 Posts
    • 17,718 Thanks
    LavenderBees
    hi all

    thanks for the responses. i do tend to buy the salad bags purly because i like the mix of rocket etc and really cant eat iceberg! i have had little success with using the living leaves you put on your window sill as i find i eat it all before more grows?? i do have a big garden and grow my own tomatoes and fruit trees which helps when they are in season, also going to try and grow peppers from the seeds in the pepper from the SM. i will try again with the living salad leaves though.

    and thanks for the offer saim any alternative ideas to salad leaves would be great especially couscous :-)
    Originally posted by mysticshaz
    Hi, Mysticshaz,

    the key to having continuous salad crops is to sow some seeds, then as they start to germinate, sow another pot of seeds, and so on, then cut them with scissors, leaving the root to regrow, so use a few from each pot, and let each pot have a wee rest to replensih. It's a little bit of work, but I find it very satisfying, delicious and cheap!

    My only problem is trying to keep youngest pusscat from using the pots as loos...

    HTH

    LB xx
    • Florenceem
    • By Florenceem 28th Mar 12, 7:07 PM
    • 3,996 Posts
    • 52,590 Thanks
    Florenceem
    Wednesday.
    I had my second NSD for my April month.
    Dinner tonight - 4 sausages cut into chunks - 6ozs plain flour/grind of black pepper/1 egg/mix of milk and water - makes Toad in the Hole batter. I cook this in a round Ikea dish - makes six portions - as only Mr F and I - three day's dinners. We are having roast potatoes/carrots/peas/onions and gravy as well. Cheap/easy and delicious.
    15 in 2015 1/15
    • mumofthetwins
    • By mumofthetwins 28th Mar 12, 7:43 PM
    • 1,042 Posts
    • 4,027 Thanks
    mumofthetwins
    Hi Everyone
    I would love to join the challange
    Its me - Lisa hubbie & 2 growing 9 year old boys
    I think 300/month For us for packed lunches/work lunches and food. This will start on the 1st of the month.
    I have been lurking on the OS threads for a while and have used a couple of the recipies at the start of this thread .... with only 6 months untill holidays i have decided that its time to cut the budget and get saving.
    I am also going to stop buying cakes/biscuts/sweets an make my own ( unless its mega cheap whoopsies )
    I have decided i am going to take out enough cash for the months shopping/guitar lessons/petrol and justy leave the cards in the house as i always spend to easily on a card

    Well here going really looking forward to starting this .....

    Lisa
    • S-I am
    • By S-I am 28th Mar 12, 7:43 PM
    • 42 Posts
    • 877 Thanks
    S-I am
    Hiya Mysticshaz,
    Here's my couscous salad recipe. I like it make with bulgar wheat too. Both keep well and are great the next day.

    250g couscous or 200g bulgar wheat
    400ml hot stock - from a cube is fine.
    1 fresh chilli, finely chopped or a few flakes of dried chilli flakes. Whatever you have in.
    1 onion, chopped
    80g sultanas
    80g nuts - I use peanuts from Sainsbobs basics range
    A sm bunch of fresh parsley! Chopped. Not too finely, but that's my taste.
    A tbs oil

    Place the couscous in a shallow bowl and pour over the hot stock. If using bulgar wheat simmer in the stock until tender. Usually 10-15 mins.

    In the meantime add the oil to a frying pan. When it's hot add the chopped onion and cook over a gentle heat for about 8 mins, until the onion is soft. Then add the chilli and cook for another 2 mins.

    Drain any excess liquid then Fluff up the couscous / buglar wheat with a fork - don't use a spoon as it causes it to clump together. Then, still using the fork stir in the onion and chilli mixture, sultanas, nuts and parsley. Taste and season.

    Serves 4

    Enjoy

    We love this served with sausages or chicken.
    Last edited by S-I am; 28-03-2012 at 9:04 PM.
    • hex2
    • By hex2 28th Mar 12, 7:46 PM
    • 4,722 Posts
    • 80,174 Thanks
    hex2
    My best tip, from years ago, when my family was exceptionally hard up, is to splash out on Madhur Jaffrey's Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. This way you can live on very cheap eastern staples, which are exciting, exotic meals for many of us. It's like eating in a good restaurant every day!
    Originally posted by iQueen
    Thanks - 2.80 on Amazon, very tempted.
    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need' Marcus Tullius Cicero
    • tigerfeet2006
    • By tigerfeet2006 29th Mar 12, 7:15 AM
    • 13,826 Posts
    • 29,891 Thanks
    tigerfeet2006
    Was having a little giggle at this this morning

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/covent-garden-tesco-closes-over-%E2%80%9Cextremely-serious%E2%80%9D-mouse-problem--.html
    BSCno.87
    The only stupid question is an unasked one
    Loving life as a Kernow Hippy
  • MunniMuncha
    Hello everyone - my oh my this thread shifts like bolt lightning! Was away last weekend so am still trying to catch up with March's thread, only to discover that we are FIVE pages into Aprils!!!

    Anyway this month I am trying a new strategy and have set myself a new limit of 350 (up from 250) which even though is alot, I feel that 250 was unrealistic. Will try tho to get it down from 350 but at the moment this is more doable. That equates to 75 pw so as I am now trying weekly budgets hope this is more helpful for me. This week have spent 108 and even though this is over my weekly budget includes all my meat for the month, so over the month equates to 12 per week, which means I am on budget for week one

    Also didn't start this month until 26th as was away (usually 22nd) so that was a 4 day head start and don't plan on going shopping until a week Friday for next week as have enough in til then really should be doable. Good luck everyone and here's to a new fresh shiny month
    When you were born, you were crying and everyone around was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying!


    June GC - 352.04/350
    SP challenge 3P 171.28
    • NickJW
    • By NickJW 29th Mar 12, 7:33 AM
    • 678 Posts
    • 13,646 Thanks
    NickJW
    I just can't believe that I eat food from this store often - my flatmate does nearly all of his shopping there when it's his day to cook!

    Just glad I ate brekkie (bought from Mr S! ) before reading it!
    Grocery Challenge 14 Jan 14 46.05/130

    Grocery Challenge 13 -spent 1453.06
    Grocery Challenge 12 -spent 1565.51

    DFD 1st March 2011
    • tigerfeet2006
    • By tigerfeet2006 29th Mar 12, 7:43 AM
    • 13,826 Posts
    • 29,891 Thanks
    tigerfeet2006
    Sorry Nick, glad you managed to eat your brekkie first

    It just amused me as they usually show the small independants on these Life of Grime type programmes and this shows that even the big guys can get it wrong.
    BSCno.87
    The only stupid question is an unasked one
    Loving life as a Kernow Hippy
    • sistercas
    • By sistercas 29th Mar 12, 8:06 AM
    • 4,842 Posts
    • 58,667 Thanks
    sistercas
    bought a couple of things yesterday in marks , one was some ham on 3 for 2 , dated till 2nd april , ive opened it this morning and it smells rank that means a trip to town to return it and complain, its really annoying because i havent got my car at the moment and its a bit of a trek , i never normally buy from marks as its too far away
    • tessie bear
    • By tessie bear 29th Mar 12, 9:07 AM
    • 4,364 Posts
    • 30,028 Thanks
    tessie bear
    hi...lovely here again...going to have ribs for tea and think about making a curry for the weekend.....kids break up today and tomorrow so that will mean an increase in the spends as they always eat more than a packed lunch

    might go to home bargains and get some crisps and drinks for a couple of picnics over easter...fingers crossed for the weather

    take care tess
    onwards and upwards
    • mumofthetwins
    • By mumofthetwins 29th Mar 12, 9:09 AM
    • 1,042 Posts
    • 4,027 Thanks
    mumofthetwins
    Well i have started early - 2 packs of wrights bread mix 18p and 5 bags of rowntrees jellys whoopsied to 10p each = 68p.

    just going to figure out how to update mt signature ....

    Lisa
    DFW
    July 0/17100
    June 2400/19500 Murphy 500/500
    May 3085/23042
    April 1266/25843 STF 1500/1500
    MFW OP 2018 600/1600
    • debbym
    • By debbym 29th Mar 12, 9:47 AM
    • 460 Posts
    • 2,747 Thanks
    debbym
    Was going to have my first NSD in "April" yesterday but DS and DD managed to empty the bottle of suntan lotion they were sent to school with this week. Bought a Boots Kids 8-hour bottle (7.99) it was halfprice luckily, but since it lasts 8 hours I can apply it at home before they go to school so it should last longer. Had to justify the diesel for the trip so bought some other bits and bobs from MrM's at the same time so another 22.50 bites the dust but I should be OK now until Sunday....
    • fozziebeartoo
    • By fozziebeartoo 29th Mar 12, 10:03 AM
    • 1,566 Posts
    • 12,676 Thanks
    fozziebeartoo
    I would like to join for April please!

    I am living alone for the 1st time ever, but still shopping like I have all the family here......

    It's great for my store cupboard (Sallys Stores) on Second Purse thread, but not good for my bank balance

    I am experimenting and trying to find what suits my new lifestyle best, currently I am withdrawing cash and trying to just use that - but sometimes I forget and use my cards.

    I still feed youngest DD and DGD often and often have family or friends round to be fed at weekends so I swing from catering for 1, to catering for 6, so that doesnt help my budgeting!!

    I am going to start with an April budget of 350 for all food, toiletries, consumables etc and will track it from April 1st to 30th in my signature.
    • FrugalLina
    • By FrugalLina 29th Mar 12, 10:27 AM
    • 360 Posts
    • 3,357 Thanks
    FrugalLina
    Fozziebeartoo, I had the same problem when my son moved out - it took me ages to readjust to shopping (and cooking) for just one. Likewise, I often cater for visitors, but just make a big dish of something and freeze what is left.

    At least your stores of food will be plentiful!
    17.5/100
  • jumblejack
    Hiya Mysticshaz,
    Here's my couscous salad recipe. I like it make with bulgar wheat too. Both keep well and are great the next day.

    250g couscous or 200g bulgar wheat
    400ml hot stock - from a cube is fine.
    1 fresh chilli, finely chopped or a few flakes of dried chilli flakes. Whatever you have in.
    1 onion, chopped
    80g sultanas
    80g nuts - I use peanuts from Sainsbobs basics range
    A sm bunch of fresh parsley! Chopped. Not too finely, but that's my taste.
    A tbs oil

    Place the couscous in a shallow bowl and pour over the hot stock. If using bulgar wheat simmer in the stock until tender. Usually 10-15 mins.

    In the meantime add the oil to a frying pan. When it's hot add the chopped onion and cook over a gentle heat for about 8 mins, until the onion is soft. Then add the chilli and cook for another 2 mins.

    Drain any excess liquid then Fluff up the couscous / buglar wheat with a fork - don't use a spoon as it causes it to clump together. Then, still using the fork stir in the onion and chilli mixture, sultanas, nuts and parsley. Taste and season.

    Serves 4

    Enjoy

    We love this served with sausages or chicken.
    Originally posted by S-I am
    Loving this idea

    For lunch today we are having potato and leek soup (the leeks cost 10p whoopsied) and freshly baked bread.

    For tea, we are having leftover turkey casserole n potatoes (the turkey drumstick was 50p and the veggies were 8p and 5p respectively-whoopsies again of course!)

    Gotta love the reductions

    Definitely looking our for some couscous again now. Your recipe sounds easy and adaptable
    Every moment is a gift. That's why we call it the present.!
    Grocery Spend Weekly Challenge (Sat-Fri):30.50/40
    • S-I am
    • By S-I am 29th Mar 12, 10:52 AM
    • 42 Posts
    • 877 Thanks
    S-I am
    Loving this idea:

    Definitely looking our for some couscous again now. Your recipe sounds easy and adaptable
    Originally posted by jumblejack
    Thanks. The recipe is completely adaptable, the sultanas could be substituted for dried apricots or dried cranberries, whatever dried fruit you have in the cupboard. And the same goes for the nuts.
    Enjoy.

    We haven't been paid yet, and have no funds left, so we've been living out of cupboards since Mon. Things are now getting interesting. I went to make some bread today only to realise that we've ran out of white bread flour. So, I'm making an Empty the cupboards bread So far my dough is comprised of strong white flour, rye flour, wholemeal bread flour and spelt . Haven't a clue what it's going to taste like. But here's hoping.

    Has anyone else come up with strange but successful combinations as the store cupboard, fridge etc gets low?

    Sx
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