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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 final Grocery Challenge of 2012 EEEEEKKKKK!!!!, Terrifying how quickly the year has flown in! I genuinely am in shock it's december grocery challenge.

    Hope you all have a happy poposturus prosperous Christmas and new year. Here's to 2013!!!

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your November budget, then keep on posting in the:
    November 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; 18-11-2012 at 2:53 PM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 25
    • pinkypig
    • By pinkypig 11th Dec 12, 8:19 PM
    • 1,576 Posts
    • 12,109 Thanks
    A couple of small spends to report. Spent 1.65 in Asian supermarket on spices and some rice flour (fancy having a go at making Tiger bread) and 1.69 today on 7 packs of YS bread buns (down to 10p), YS cabbage and potatoes (down to 15p) and some sparkling water and squash. Don't often get lucky with YS stuff so was quite chuffed
    Still hoping to get to the weekend before Christmas without a big shop. I managed to resist using an Approved Foods voucher code they sent me on stuff I don't need which is good for me as I usually fall for their marketing tricks

    PP xxx
    MFW 2018 #157 Target 15,000

  • njk2125
    Thank you for all the replies re iceland. I managed to stock up on meat I bought a fair few chicken breasts, chicken portions, pork and lamb mince, frozen veg, prawns and a few large joints including the christmas turkey. Came to just 3.50 after the vouchers which was included in yesterdays total.

    I thought it would be a no spend day today however I was informed at short notice that I had to provide a bottle of wine for the football team hamper raffle prize and that my son needed mincemeat for cooking at school tomorrow. So ended up adding another 5.00 to my total.

    Had a roast chicken dinner yesterday so today it was chicken curry and vegatable rice to use up the leftovers. Not sure what time I will be home tommorow so might be something I can just bung in the oven from the freezer.

    Good luck with your interview mossy! x
    GC 10/12/2012 to 10/12/2013 611.71/ 5000
    Jan 343.33
    Dec 268.38.

    • Coxy11
    • By Coxy11 11th Dec 12, 8:41 PM
    • 2,323 Posts
    • 27,347 Thanks
    Hi everyone,

    Sorry, haven't posted in a few days. RL getting in the way lol!

    Have had a fair few spends. MrT Sunday and today and Co$tco on Monday. Freezers are full, quite a bit of Christmas party food which I've picked up ys/rtc over the last few weeks. Went to MrT this evening to get f&v and packed lunch bits plus some bits for the meal plan. Fully expected that on a frosty night at 8pm they'd have some ys meat, but no luck. Did strike lucky on the ISB tho and got 4 x 4pks of puff mince pies at 25p a pack and two large fruit pies for 25p each. All now in freezer for the coming weeks

    Have a day at home tomorrow as waiting in for two deliveries. Have fresh soup and rolls to look forward to nomnomnom.

    Cross-stitch WIP: Pretty Maids in a Row
    • Bluegreen143
    • By Bluegreen143 11th Dec 12, 8:49 PM
    • 1,108 Posts
    • 12,739 Thanks
    Bluegreen143 - do you mind sharing the recipe for carrot lentil and ginger soup? I have a lump of ginger I need to use up (leftover from alcohol infusing adventures) and I have a big bag of carrots and lentils just waiting to go with it!
    Originally posted by minicooper272
    No problem - I make it all the time, and it is also one of those soups you can easily vary quantities of and don't really need to measure.

    I generally use:

    1 onion
    5 large carrots or more little ones
    1/2 cup to a cup red lentils
    Thumb sized piece of ginger or more to taste!
    Vegetable stock to cover
    Dash of soy sauce

    I grate the carrots, onions and ginger in the food processor, which you can do by hand but is obviously more time consuming. Then gently fry in a little vegetable oil for a few minutes. Cover generously with vegetable stock and pour in the lentils (half a cup will be more carroty, which I prefer, a full cupful is a bit more lentily, but either way is good). Cook for 20 minutes until the red lentils are tender and all mushed up. Add a good dash of soy sauce to taste.

    I find I get four decent lunch portions if made as described above, five if I've added more lentils. It is really tasty and you can really change any of the quantities!

    Hi, I'm just wondering what other people do about meal planning. I definately think it helps me to keep on budget if I plan but I'm not sure of the best way to do it. So far I have been planning meals approx a week at a time (I work on a calendar month) but up to the whole month in one go. I don't usually decide what meals to have on any given day too far in advance, just shop for a few meals at a time. But I'm wondering if it wold be cheaper to plan my meals around special offers on things like meat...? In the past (waaayy in the past!) I used to just wader around the sm and pick up stuff which seemed like a good deal and then figure out what to cook with it - I don't want to go back to that as I used to waste a lot. But what way do you meal plan? I want to bring my monthly budget down from 450 pm to 400 pm by the start of April. Then maybe see about reducing it further......

    Sorry for waffling - any suggestion much appreicated
    Originally posted by liz-paul
    Hey, I meal plan weekly, usually on a Thursday/Friday night when I also do my shopping list. My meal plans run Sunday-Saturday as I either shop on a Sunday or order my delivery for then. I do meal plan pretty rigidly - sometimes I miss the spontaneity but I find I waste food without the plan. I am reasonably flexible about which days we eat it though.

    No spends today or yesterday. Made homemade chicken kievs last night which were lovely and went down VERY well with the OH

    Tonight made a very quick stir fry with home made hoisin sauce, peppers, courgette, beansprouts, noodles and cashews. before you get too excited, it tastes NOTHING like hoisin sauce but was tasty nonetheless
    Married 1 March 2014 DS born 06 Dec 2014 DD born 14 Dec 2018
    • mossy
    • By mossy 11th Dec 12, 9:02 PM
    • 1,143 Posts
    • 8,206 Thanks
    Good luck with your interview mossy! x
    Originally posted by njk2125
    Aww bless ya, I don't actually have an interview tomorrow it's xSpender who has the interview, but thank you for being kind.
    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
  • njk2125
    ooopsy! think I need more sleep, either that or new glasses.
    GC 10/12/2012 to 10/12/2013 611.71/ 5000
    Jan 343.33
    Dec 268.38.

    • Bluegreen143
    • By Bluegreen143 11th Dec 12, 9:15 PM
    • 1,108 Posts
    • 12,739 Thanks
    AHHH just realised I spent 3.88 yesterday on value cocoa pops and coffee, whoops! Also got email confirmation of refunds for Mr A delivery so will update sig to reflect both spends.
    Married 1 March 2014 DS born 06 Dec 2014 DD born 14 Dec 2018
  • rosieben
    Bluegreen, your Carrot Lentil and Ginger soup is in the index
    ... don't throw the string away. You always need string!

    C.R.A.P.R.O.L.L.Z Head Sharpener
    • mummyyof5
    • By mummyyof5 11th Dec 12, 10:36 PM
    • 1,839 Posts
    • 39,830 Thanks
    Asda shop delivered,only one substitute..better pasta than I actually ordered so will use that when OH is around...hes a picky so and so when i comes to rice,pasta and teabags..ok on most other stuff though...47 including delivery and got all the heavy stuff as OH is away...NSD tomorrow as i NEED to do some wrapping
    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.
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 12th Dec 12, 12:22 AM
    • 819 Posts
    • 5,405 Thanks
    Meal planning: I plan for the week, but then if I go to the butcher's and find that something else is on super special, I can switch things around in my head (Ok let's substitute those cheap pork chops instead of the planned chicken burgers, which also means that I don't want a pork roast the next day so I'll buy a roasting chicken instead which will give me an extra meal actually so let's also abandon the lamb shank casserole and I'll make a chicken soup for the end of the week). If you get used to meal planning, you tend to have a set number of meals you use in rotation anyway, so I find it easy enough to do substitutes now. I agree it makes no sense to stick rigidly to a plan if you get to the shop and find that your planned ingredients are premium priced and there's other specials.

    The alternative, I guess, is to keep a 'reserve' amount of money for specials and buy them for the next week. So stick to your plan this week but also buy the specials and freeze. Next week, plan around those things you have in the freezer, and also buy specials for the following your meal plan is one week behind your base ingredient purchases, does that make sense?

    (I have lost the plot this month, have to add up all my food bills and see where I am, but that's not going to stop me offering advice!)
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    January 2019 $211,580 Current MFD 31 June 2036
    • tigerfeet2006
    • By tigerfeet2006 12th Dec 12, 6:55 AM
    • 13,826 Posts
    • 29,891 Thanks
    Morning folks.

    Just thought I would check in with you and see how you were all doing.

    We are now settled in to a house out here and I am getting used to shopping. I haven't set a budget at the moment but will probably look at doing something in the New Year as I want to take driving lessons so will have to sort budgets out.
    The only stupid question is an unasked one
    Loving life as a Kernow Hippy
    • liz-paul
    • By liz-paul 12th Dec 12, 7:25 AM
    • 895 Posts
    • 4,806 Thanks
    Thanks for the suggestions re meal planning. Looking at the last few months I think I've done ok with dinners but I think we might be spending a lot on lunch stuff, drinks & snacks. I'll figure it out as I go along..... Am seriously considering slashing my budget in half for January to get us in the 'mindset'!!!
    1% at a time no. 40. 8000 (For dream family holiday) 94/100
    MFW 2013 no. 62 10,000/10,000
    MFW 2014 no 62 8000/7000
    • NickJW
    • By NickJW 12th Dec 12, 7:26 AM
    • 678 Posts
    • 13,646 Thanks
    Received a Mr T delivery last night - after discounts and vouchers were used it came to 44.35, but 10 of that was wine for stocking up over Xmas which isn't included in my spends. So 34.35 + 2.19 spent yesterday in Mr T at lunch.
    Grocery Challenge 14 Jan 14 46.05/130

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

    DFD 1st March 2011
    • lottie3000
    • By lottie3000 12th Dec 12, 8:06 AM
    • 429 Posts
    • 1,875 Thanks
    A couple more spends!! F.foods stocked up on the things we like and some potatoes 16.00 and Mr T which was bread and things on offer 13.92.
    • meg72
    • By meg72 12th Dec 12, 8:34 AM
    • 5,082 Posts
    • 46,072 Thanks
    Morning folks.

    Just thought I would check in with you and see how you were all doing.

    We are now settled in to a house out here and I am getting used to shopping. I haven't set a budget at the moment but will probably look at doing something in the New Year as I want to take driving lessons so will have to sort budgets out.
    Originally posted by tigerfeet2006
    Hi Tigerfeet lovely to hear from you, glad that you are getting settled in, have a lovely Christmas.
    Slimming World at target
  • pinchingpenny
    Morning everyone, just checking in with the latest.
    Sounds like you're all doing really well in the challenge and with all your meal planning, thanks for keeping me inspired! Lucky for me I only have myself to please at the moment but I'm so glad for all the OS recipes I'm getting under my belt as I expect (hope) it won't be that way forever!

    Popped to Mr. T last night and the price for value penne has gone up 39p now, so I'm glad I stocked up when it was a bit cheaper! I think the value spaghetti was still 20p but the shelf was completely cleared out, as it always has been when I go! Also no value rice left, so I might have to make a trip to Mr. A on a more regular basis.

    Small spend of 2.65 stocking up on soup while it's on offer. They're always going to come in handy if I need to whip something up quickly or if I get home late and need food fast! (I would be more inclined to make my own if there was more freezer space but hey ho!) Also got some YS lamb, not the best reduction ever but I love lamb and whenever I find it reduced it's still upwards of 4 so I refuse to get it! That's gone straight in the freezer and probably won't come out til Jan as I only have 6 days left at home so I've added it to my store cupboard category. Still have plenty of mince and some beef steaks in the freezer.

    I baked two sourdough loaves at the weekend, first one was not great, the second was bread and it was yummy though still quite far from how it's supposed to be! So I will continue to bake every weekend to perfect my technique. I've used the second one to make sandwiches this week so it was definitely worth it!
    Nov Groceries: approx 90
    Dec GC: 31.93/60 Jan GC: 33.55/45 Feb GC: 0/45
    Pot: Dec 195/ Jan 147/ Feb 114/ Mar 43
    Total: 499
    • Dreamer80
    • By Dreamer80 12th Dec 12, 9:36 AM
    • 60 Posts
    • 235 Thanks

    Can I be really daft and ask what YS stands for?

    Small spend in greengrocers yesterday. Lettuce, cucumber and grapes 5.50 The cost of grapes is crazy!

    • slowlyfading
    • By slowlyfading 12th Dec 12, 9:41 AM
    • 13,041 Posts
    • 75,262 Thanks
    Can I be really daft and ask what YS stands for?
    Originally posted by Dreamer80
    *de-lurks* It stands for Yellow Stickered, i.e. whoopsies!
    Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind - Dr Seuss
    Personal Finance Blogger / In pursuit of FIRE
  • welshdreamer71
    Another 28 whooshed away in th c00p mainly on tea party bits plus a cake for school, this birthday mallarchy is blooming expensive!!
    2 week 5:2=5.5lb off.
    • Dreamer80
    • By Dreamer80 12th Dec 12, 9:47 AM
    • 60 Posts
    • 235 Thanks

    Thankyou! Obvious now that I know but would never have guessed!

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