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    • 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 eleventh Grocery Challenge of 2012 EEEEEKKKKK!!!!, Terrifying how quickly the year has flown in!

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your September budget, then keep on posting in the:
    October 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's designed to take you and your grocery spending to a level you are happy with.

    If you are new to the challenge I have quoted the advice from Galtizz below which will help you get started.

    Please post into this thread for help and advice and support at any time. Good luck to everyone taking part!

    I have said this before, but for all the newbies to the challenge;

    For the first month I took a guess at the budget but I really had no idea how much I was spending.

    I found the best thing is to have a guess the first month but SAVE ALL OF YOUR RECEIPTS (and yes, that does include the ones from the local shop when you run out of milk ), then at the end of the month add them all up and have a look if you were on budget, if not, it doesn't matter because your budget was a guess. For the next month you can use the total of your receipts and take a bit off to get a realistic budget, just shave off as much as you think you can, it could be £1 a week or £20 a week.

    If you are currently spending £200 a month don't suddenly drop it to £100 - you'll never do it but if you cut £20 a month off for a few months you'll get there eventually without feeling you're missing out on anything.

    You might think you've done everything you can in the first month but someone always comes up with a new idea and, if you try it you often find you save a bit more (unless you are SarahSaver who is an expert at this and could only save more if she turned her back garden into a paddy field and lived on rice ) In the first month I thought, I'm planning meals, I couldn't possibly save any more, but then I started double cooking and freezing, and making soup instead of buying it in tins.

    I've been doing this since Feb but only saved ALL of my receipts last month, it has given me a much better idea of where it is all going. Budget for next month is £80 for 2 of us, I'll start on 30/4. I could probably save more, by eating different foods but I can afford to live on £80, I have saved a lot of money since Feb. and I don't waste food or money any more. So I'm happy with my budget.
    By request, here is Spiggles wonderful helpful post

    We all have different budgets that suit our households. The most important thing to remember is that you set yours according to your needs and finances. It can take time to get to where you want to be too so don't knock yourself out if you go over in the first few months. We are here to support each other and it is not a competition.

    I thought it might help to outline where we've come from and the top tips I've learned.

    When we started in March 2010 we had spent in excess of £600 in the previous month. This had to stop, (there's only me and him and our two beautiful black cats) something which thankfully my OH completely agreed with so I have been lucky that he has been on board from the start. He gave me his debit card voluntarily and I still keep hold of it until he needs to get something for the home. At the same time we set up a system of pocket money (pm) at £15 each per week which doesn't count towards the GC and which we can each spend as we wish with no comebacks or complaints. OH predominantly uses his pm on his beer and I ferret mine away mostly.

    The next step was to set up my own spreadsheet which is absolutely simple onto which I put all spends so that I have a continuous running total for the month and for the year. We initially set our budget at £280 per month and brought it down to £240 where it resides for most of the year it is occasionally increased to allow for extras e.g. Christmas to £260.

    The important 'tools' we found greatly helped and continue to do so now are:

    Stocktake cupboards, fridge, freezer - make lists and ensure that the older products get used up first. You'll be amazed at what you find squirrelled away and it will help with your shopping list as you'll realise that you don't actually need so much.

    Before you go shopping check staples - running out of milk, bread, butter, etc often leads to going into a shop for one thing and coming out £20 lighter. Always check these and if they'll run out tomorrow buy them the same time as getting other things.

    Always make a shopping list and stick to it - the supermarkets (sm) try every which way to get us to spend so having a list and strong resolve is the only way to beat them.

    Keep every receipt - and then note it down on your spreadsheet/spend diary so that you always know where you are.

    When tempted, ask yourself do you NEED it or just WANT it - now this advice goes with two things. Firstly, the things you see in store when shopping that APPEAR to be bargains - if you hadn't planned spending the money then its not a bargain. Secondly, the sm send us loads of vouchers for £X off a spend of £XX - if you had no NEED to spend £XX then have you SAVED anything???

    Use my supermarket to compare prices (limited to four of the biggies) - The site may be used to actually do an online shop at whichever of the big four offers the best value or, if you have the time and sm availability, to make up lists for visiting each of the stores so that you can purchase all you need at different stores thus getting the best possible value. (I'd add, do a 'shop' virtually on this site and take the list you create on it with you, whichever one you shop at, it will help keep target prices in your head and allow you to spot bargains. MrM is not included but you can do a virtual list on their website so you know what you're going to be spending.)

    Always have a list - this is just as important when shopping online as shopping on foot.

    Use Approved Foods online (with a list!) - if you don't mind out of date things (ood) or you can search for only in date items. The only drawback is storing the goods as far as I can tell. Oh, and watch the delivery as it's done on a scaled charge for weight so keep an eye on it. You can of course do an AF order with friends, family, colleagues or like minded neighbours. Other GCers use Big Br*nds 4 Less too.

    Invest in a breadmaker - we have saved so much by making our own bread. The prices in the shops are extortionate for bread these days. There's loads of advice on this thread and others in the forum on this.

    Use the recipe lists - always posted at the front of a new thread. There are fantastic, tasty, healthy and economical recipes to use on them and there are a number of other threads on the forum such as Weezl's that will help you to eat well on a budget.

    Shop locally - the local greengrocer (or preferably market but I don't have one ) is usually cheaper as an option for fruit and veg (f&v) than the sm. Often the prices may look the same but when you look at the quantity for the same price the greengrocer will be cheaper. The same goes for the local butcher. Often you will have far more variety of meat available, advice on how to cook a particular meat can be offered and there is (for me at least) no comparison in terms of quality. We buy our huge FR eggs there and I'm yet to find an equivalent FR egg in a sm at the same or lower price. Obvioulsy if you have your own chicks/know someone who has chicks you can get them even cheaper again.

    Grow your own - it's quite simple to grow some f&v at home even if it's only in pots on the patio. There are also supportive threads on the forum for this.

    Cook your own - making meals at home from ingredients is far more economical, often tastes better than shop bought and is probably far better healthwise.

    Meal Plan - this is something that others can advise on as we don't do it. I have a tremendous capacity for eating the same food over many days but presented in slightly different form. For example, we could buy £7 worth of brisket from the butchers and eat it as pot roast for a couple of days, sliced for sarnies, sliced with a salad, chucked into a casserole or shredded up and fried as crispy beef.

    Don't waste food - either only make what you need or use any leftovers for other meals/creations or freeze it for another day.

    Withdraw the cash you want to spend - and keep it in a separate purse. This can be particularly effective as you have the money in front of you reducing rather than spending with plastic which is so easy to lose track of. Very useful when you first start out.

    Don't go to the shops to browse - this can only lead to pain and hardship!!!

    Keep posting and reading the thread - there really is no better supportive, wise and inspirational place to be! I think I saw that somebody mentioned forgetting to read/post. I get around this by using the Advanced button to post, below the window where your text is displayed you will see Additional Options. In the Thread Subscription box use the dropdown to select either instant email notification (this is what I use) or daily email notification before you submit your latest post. Then you will get an email into your inbox from which you can click to the thread to see what others are saying.

    Always remember the sm is not your friend - it wants to profit from you and take as much of your money as it can coerce out of you!

    So, there you go as a starting point. Others on here will offer tremendous advice on meal planning. And don't forget, the only silly question is the one you didn't ask!

    See you all later,
    For quidelines on posting in this thread please read the second post in this thread.

    For the Grocery challenge Recipe Index please see posts #3, #4, #5 #6 #7 #8 & #9 on this thread (the list is growing!!!!!)

    For everyones totals, see post #10 on this thread

    I hope everyone has a great month!

    Last edited by zippychick; 22-10-2012 at 1:33 PM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 4
  • poppy-glos
    Thank you. I'll have to set up budgets for different things...
    I'm trying to make vanilla butter cream but have run out of vanilla essence. how do you use vanilla pods to flavour butter cream please?
    I've started a new thread for this question but I'm in the middle of doing it band have run out of essence and butter cream. I can make some more but am clueless as to how to use the vanilla pods I found in the cupboard. Can anyone help please?
    Originally posted by tattycath
    Hi, one way is to cut the pod in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds and whip into buttercream. Add a bit at a time as may not need all of them. Then put your used pod into a tub of sugar to flavour that to use next time.
    nov grocery challenge, £.227.69/300, 9/25 nsd: , 7 Cmo, 10 egm.
    Me, 10 yo dd, and the dog. all food and drinks, in and out, plus household shopping.
    • DanielleNic87
    • By DanielleNic87 23rd Oct 12, 9:29 PM
    • 1,038 Posts
    • 13,314 Thanks
    I would like to be put down for £50 please

    Have got 2 freezers full and a massive sack of spuds. My aim by saving money this month is to eat out of the freezer. Money is tight for another month

    Still got a few days left of Oct GC.

    Annual GC 2017 £1634.61/£2200
    • rupe34
    • By rupe34 23rd Oct 12, 9:33 PM
    • 1,016 Posts
    • 2,619 Thanks

    Please put me down for £300 again please. Need to do better than October...
    Onward and upward - with the odd step to the side

    November GC £255/£300
    • meg72
    • By meg72 24th Oct 12, 12:09 AM
    • 5,082 Posts
    • 46,072 Thanks
    Hi everyone

    Long time no see... but I'm back with my tail well and truly between my legs

    I've managed to get myself into debt again and am entering a DMP (again) - I'm absolutely gutted and can't believe how stupid i've been.

    I have a new job for nearly 3 months now and loving it, although it's hard work and long hours and less pay (it's a career move and it WILL pay this space!) so I'm really going to need to be careful

    I've discovered that planning elaborate meals just doesn't work out for me, due to time spent and the fact I'm in a shared house, but batch cooking is ok as long as the prep doesn't take too long so I can do it on a weekend and I don't mind making new stuff on a weeknight as long as it's quick.

    I've quickly discovered that it will massively help me if I have a few of "my own" ready meals in the freezer, but the place I'm really falling down is lunchtime - just completely uninspired.

    To cap it all off, I SERIOUSLY need to lose weight.


    Am sheepishly declaring £80 for November.

    This is my food and household budget (i.e. includes any cleaning stuff and things like soap and loo roll, but not make-up or "luxury" toiletries).

    I get paid around the end of the month - can vary HUGELY, so basically until I get paid I'm living off what's in. Hence starting November now.

    Right! *deep breath*

    Off to figure out a meal plan...

    Originally posted by elsiepac
    Hi Welcome back, sorry about the debt, but I recall your posts and you did so well then, you know you can do it again, best wishes Meg
    Slimming World at target
    • vanoonoo
    • By vanoonoo 24th Oct 12, 6:39 AM
    • 1,860 Posts
    • 7,742 Thanks
    changed my mind sorry - gonna go for a five week month this month from 26oct-30nov inclusive so £250 for me please sorrreeeeeeeeee x
    • camNolliesMUMMY
    • By camNolliesMUMMY 24th Oct 12, 7:42 AM
    • 893 Posts
    • 4,464 Thanks
    Actually as the above poster brought to my attention it's a five week month please increase mine to £250 allowing £50 a week.
    Given I only spent £39 I have loads in and I also plan to eat out the freezer.
    I have no excuse to not pass this task for nov, I just need to stay focused.
    We have everything we could possibly need including some uht whole milk to stop us spending in the local small sainsburys.
    Ds2 born 3/4/12 8lbs 8.5
    Ds1 born 28/4/07 9lb 8
    Frugal, thrifty, tight mum & wife and proud of it lol

    Make money for Xmas challenge 2014 £0/£270
    • fedupandskint
    • By fedupandskint 24th Oct 12, 9:50 AM
    • 10,351 Posts
    • 97,525 Thanks
    Trying again with a £100 budget for November with my new system of drawing out the budget in one go and splitting it over 4 weeks. Let's see if this helps me stay on track a bit more than last month!

    November budget £100
    final unsecured debt to repay currently £8333
    Proud to be Dealing With my Debt
    DFW Nerd 1154 Long Haul 155
    • malamay
    • By malamay 24th Oct 12, 10:13 AM
    • 346 Posts
    • 4,698 Thanks
    I haven't finished with October yet, but am dreading adding up the few final spends. We've gone over; in the last couple of weeks we've been stocking up on good offers, etc. And we're going out for dinner tonight..

    I'll increase to £200 for November please. It's a lot for 2 people + cat, but I buy and bake more in the run up to Christmas.
    • tessie bear
    • By tessie bear 24th Oct 12, 10:56 AM
    • 4,369 Posts
    • 30,042 Thanks
    tessie bear
    hi...i plan to have a more relaxed meal plan for next week as it is half term...might get a few frozen bits (fishfingers/pizza) then i wont have to defrost and if we get a better offer they can just bide their time in the icy depths

    need to get some nice sausages for hotdogs over halloween but i think we have everything else we need...i am planning a costco trip nect week so need to have a think about what we need....make a list i think

    good luck to all take care tess
    onwards and upwards
    • WantToBeSE
    • By WantToBeSE 24th Oct 12, 10:59 AM
    • 6,795 Posts
    • 30,577 Thanks
    Argh, my 1st weekly shop of my November budgt, and i went over!
    But it's half term next week, and my grocery bill always gord through the roof when the kids are home!
    £10k of Debt

    Debt Free Diary
    • mollythewestie
    • By mollythewestie 24th Oct 12, 11:14 AM
    • 1,846 Posts
    • 10,645 Thanks
    Can I join for November please? My husband gets paid tomorrow, but he is leaving his current job and starting a new job in few weeks.
    As we will be without any pay for at least fortnight we need to cut back our budget.

    We normally spend around £400-£450 a month , please put us down for £330 for november.

    We have plenty of cupboard ingrediants and a well stocked freezer, so should be ok.
    Above budget to include all food, toiletries & cleaning stuff etc. for 3 people and 1 dog.
    Value of prizes 2010 - 2017: £8374 // 2019: £124
    Debt free thanks to MSE Weight loss 2019: 6lbs
    • mummygems
    • By mummygems 24th Oct 12, 12:40 PM
    • 345 Posts
    • 4,032 Thanks
    Can I please be put down for £475 this month please

    Woo came in under budget by £12! Would have liked it to have been a bit more but its under what it has been these past 6+ months so I am happy with that.

    DH gets paid tomorrow and I get paid next Friday. I am doing a mini "big" shop tonight after work for juice, deodrant etc but wont be doing a massive big shop this month and will instead be splitting the budget into 4 and getting the cash out and seeing how that goes instead.

    Just done a meal plan from Monday 29th October-Sunday 25th November which is the pay day to pay day payments.

    We also have half term here next week so am going to allow a little bit extra so the kids and me can do some cooking and some little treats etc.

    Thank you to everyone who makes this thread run so smoothly
    Last edited by mummygems; 24-10-2012 at 12:53 PM.
    2 adults and 3 children DD (13), DD (11) & DS (8) and 2 mental beagles
  • stafftopets
    Thanks for the ideas Suffolk Lass - i need all the help i can get.

    Just logging to declare £13.92 spend at local shop - mainly household stuff like washing powder etc. Must admit joining this challenge has already made me think more what i am buying.

    Will be back later as weekly shop planned for this evening.
    • MrsCD
    • By MrsCD 24th Oct 12, 2:01 PM
    • 753 Posts
    • 11,263 Thanks
    Thank you. I have already improved from last year-last year at this time I had just spent over £100 on birthday cakes-in a one month period . this year I have made the same amount of cakes in a one month period and I think it's probably cost me less than £15 - total
    Originally posted by tattycath
    Well done

    Could I be added for November, we have recently been cutting down our costs but Groceries is the big spend. We spent £648 in September for a fimly of 2 adults and 2 children (oldest is almost 3 youngest is 8 months). I was thinking of setting a limit of £400 a month to start.

    I didn't realise how much we spend until i sat down and worked it out. Its 2 pounds cheaper than our rent.

    Does any one with a family have a shoppping list they could send me? Just trying to get an idea of what others are doing.

    Originally posted by john2009black
    Not sure a shopping list would help you as we all like different things , but as Suffolk Lass said, check out exactly what you have in your cupboards etc., first, then make a meal plan and work out what you need to buy based on that. It's not easy but it gets easier after a while, and you know what you have in stock. Well done for taking things in hand

    Hello elsiepac - nice to see you again Sorry to hear of your troubles, but you have given lots of good advice as I remember, so welcome back on board!

    My weekly shopping yesterday came to £74.50, so not too bad.
    • bossymoo
    • By bossymoo 24th Oct 12, 2:09 PM
    • 6,817 Posts
    • 87,056 Thanks
    Hi All

    Having realised I am much confused with my budget, am going to switch from calendar month to paid month. So I will wrap up October, under budget.

    For November, please put me down for £300 which will last from 20th Oct to 20th November. This way I can manage my grocery budget alongside my usual spends.

    And, I would like to report my first spend today of £49.79 which I'll round up to £50 to add to my sig. Been to @ldi and got bags full of stuff to stock the fridge, and I have both my freezers stocked now.


    Away with the fairies
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 24th Oct 12, 3:03 PM
    • 3,412 Posts
    • 34,917 Thanks
    Today is looking like a NSD as I am leaving work shortly to go to college. Tomorrow will be for certain as I am leaving the house at 6 to drive to a meeting and won't be in til 8pm so won't be shopping then

    I have written a meal plan and a shopping list for Ald1/Mr S or Mr A and M&S for the weekend. I would rather shop at just one shop (ald1) but have to go to the others for GF stuff. DH may be going walking with a friend on Saturday so I might be going shopping on my own which will save a few quidMy shopping list including some flowers/chocs for my Mum and a shed load of wine is coming out at about £70 which is under the £88 I have for the week.

    Meal plan is:

    Sausage casserole, mash and veg
    Chicken and leek gratin, broccoli and potatoes
    Shepherds Pie with turkey mince, cabbage and parsnips
    Salmon fishcakes/chicken grills and chips with peas
    HM Pepporoni and Salami Pizza
    Veg chilli with spicy wedges or Pasta bake or chicken curry

    Lunches will be HM soup, leftover curry or beans ad sausages (HM not tinned)

    I am planning to make a lemon drizzle cake, peanut butter cookies and a cheese and herb loaf too. I need to make some treat things and stop buying GF bics and cakes are they are so expensive. £3 for 4 sweet mince pies
    October Grocery Challenge - £277.74/£220
    • Coxy11
    • By Coxy11 24th Oct 12, 4:03 PM
    • 2,323 Posts
    • 27,347 Thanks
    Budgets done to here Anyone reading this thread who no longer wants to be on the list, please PM me - thanks
    Cross-stitch WIP: Pretty Maids in a Row
    • mossy
    • By mossy 24th Oct 12, 7:50 PM
    • 1,143 Posts
    • 8,206 Thanks
    A couple of spends.

    Icy £5
    Lids 55p

    Need to be good and keep it together! Go on holiday next week and must stick to that budget too!! Thank goodness it's half term next week!!!!
    Saving for Disney again, oops why book one Disney holiday when you can book two!

    Emergency Fund Savings - #148 - £10/£1000 1%
    #083 SPC6 £63 - SPC7 £90 - SPC8 £63 - SPC9 £54 - SPC10 £26 - SPC12 £70
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 24th Oct 12, 9:06 PM
    • 1,776 Posts
    • 12,848 Thanks
    Thanks meg72 and MrsCD for the words of encouragement and welcome

    I'd like to share a recipe I stole and then adapted over time... it has the bonus of being VERY versatile as well! I had it for my tea today and have 3 portions in the fridge

    elsiepac's storecupboard curry

    frozen veg, any variety, about 1/2 bag or 500g
    2 tins beans
    2 tins chopped tomatoes
    1 tin coconut milk, reduced fat if you like!
    curry paste

    Chuck all in a saucepan, boil for a while and serve over noodles (makes a soupy texture) or rice (absorbs liquid!).

    For example, the one I made today was:
    1/2 bag frozen veg with peppers (the Mr T one) - 50p
    1 tin chickpeas (east end) - bought on offer 3 for £1 so 33p
    1 tin mixed pulses (sainsbobs) - £1.09 (had them in cupboard!)
    1 tin value tomatoes - 31p
    1 tin finest cherry tomatoes (you get the whole tommy's!) - 89p
    1 jar jambalaya paste - £1.79
    1 tin coconut milk (full fat as cheap one! 2 for £1) - 50p

    This would total ROUGHLY £5.41 but 4 portions so £1.35 each

    Huh, thought it would be cheaper, however I had everything in the cupboard so for me it was storecupboard food!

    Another version I made was as follows:

    1 jar Levi R00t5 Caribbean Curry sauce (offer) - £1
    1 Tin coconut milk (chinese supermarket) - 69p
    1/2 bag ald1 roast med veg - 75p
    1 tin chickpeas - 69p

    Total £3.13 but 2 large portions so £1.56 each

    Hope this helps someone! I love this recipe... or lack thereof

    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: Sep 19 £tbc/£250
    Vegan 27-8-13
  • rosieben
    its now in the recipe index elsiepac
    ... don't throw the string away. You always need string!

    C.R.A.P.R.O.L.L.Z Head Sharpener
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