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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 first Grocery Challenge of 2013

    Hope you all have a happy 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 December budget, then keep on posting in the:
    December 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; 12-12-2012 at 1:40 PM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 14
  • angel13
    Were on our fifth GC NSD but will need to nip to the shop tomorrow for milk. OH has offered to go but that could be lethal, so I'm going to have to try and get out of the house before him in the morning.
    I had a rummage in the fridge earlier and discovered prawn toasts that needed throwing away . So thought I'd best check on everything else in there. Ended up cooking a stupid amount of mushrooms that were looking past their best making soup with half and i'll figure out what to do with the other half tomorrow. Also rescued an unopened ham joint which is now safely stuffed in the freezer.
    Does anyone know if you can freeze fresh brandy sauce and fresh double cream? Have a fair amount left in the fridge that I haden't planned using over the next few days.
    Planning not to throw any more food away!
    Originally posted by njk2125
    hey i am new but can actually help someone yes if you whip cream it can then be frozen.

  • angel13
    things i could do with help with are mentions of veg boxes are these from a set place???? We are veggie so most of what we eat is fresh. also i have seen mention of sacks of potatoes and I just cant find them in our supermarkets any longer so any tips on where to buy a sack?

    • DanielleNic87
    • By DanielleNic87 29th Dec 12, 4:26 PM
    • 1,038 Posts
    • 13,314 Thanks
    things i could do with help with are mentions of veg boxes are these from a set place???? We are veggie so most of what we eat is fresh. also i have seen mention of sacks of potatoes and I just cant find them in our supermarkets any longer so any tips on where to buy a sack?
    Originally posted by angel13
    I buy our sacks of potatoes from my local market. I did have to google and it appears not many people around here sell them.

    Another spend of 15 today at the Co-0p. This includes 4 big bags of crisps to take to a NYE party, 2 x cravendale and 45 toilet rolls.

    Sig already updated.

    Annual GC 2017 1634.61/2200
    • lottie3000
    • By lottie3000 29th Dec 12, 4:28 PM
    • 429 Posts
    • 1,875 Thanks
    I get sacks of potatoes from our greengrocer 25kg fr 11/12 depending on variety.

    Another spend today on veg 16
    • Suzexxx
    • By Suzexxx 29th Dec 12, 5:41 PM
    • 173 Posts
    • 1,590 Thanks
    Hi can i join for January please?

    My budget for myself and partner is going to be 250.

    Thank you
    • MrsCD
    • By MrsCD 29th Dec 12, 5:57 PM
    • 753 Posts
    • 11,263 Thanks
    Another NSD but not really in Jan yet as I'm starting from 1st to the end of the month.

    A tip for newbies - have a read through the first page of the thread - it will give you an idea of how the GC works and there are loads of recipes to choose from!

    Quick carrot soup for whoever it was that asked (if I'm not too late!)
    Chopped carrots
    Chopped onion
    Vegetable stock - powder or cube, made as per packet
    Water to cover

    Put everything in a big pan, cook until tender then blitz - either with a hand blender or a jug blender
    You can add red lentils to make a thicker soup, or ground ginger to make a really warming soup.
    You can make soup from just about any veg, especially bendy veg about to be thrown on the compost heap

    For anyone on a budget needing help with healthier recipes the nhs change4life have some good ideas.
  • Mamjak
    Another spend before budget really starts
    Needed milk & bread but also got few YS bits so 14.11 to add to total. Just done big month online shop but will post when delivered on monday so know actual cost.

    I get my veg box from Riverford who deliver around the country and can highly recommend them.
    We usually have local farms advertise potato sacks or sometimes a van in a main road lay-by will sell them but I suppose it depends where you live. We are semi-rural as on edge of Peak District but quite close to major cities.
    Home Schooling mum budgeting for 2 adults, 2 teens, 2 little ones & 3 cats
    Want to be debt free - one day!
  • stafftopets
    Well I am back for another attempt at keeping my grocery spending under control, got lost somewhere along the way but this year coming I really need to make a concentrated effort.

    My month runs from 29th December to 31st January 2013.

    My aim for this month is 250.00 (as it is 5 weeks pay month).

    So far only spent 2.72 and that was on my pet rabbit , we are still living off food brought for Christmas.
  • Annie 99
    I relooked at my food inventory and included my cupboards, fridge and freezer and I have enough food to last me for the next 15 days!
    Here is the menu!
    Fishfingers, chips and sweetcorn
    Roast lamb, Roast Potatoes, sprouts, Honey glazed parsnips, yorkshire pud and Christmas Pudding.
    Stir fry with Egg fried Rice
    Jkt Potatoes with Tuna and Salad
    Spaghetti Bol with pasta and Garlic Bread
    Chicken curry, basmati rice and bhajis and naan bread
    Bacon, mushrooms, beans, poached eggs, hash browns
    Chilli, Cous cous and mixed salad
    Chicken tonight cassarole, mash and mixed veg
    Chilli wedges and nacho chips and salad
    Gammon, Roast Potatoes and Cauliflower cheese
    Crispy chicken, chips and peas and sweetcorn

    Its our Silver Wedding on the 23rd January and we are having Open house with Cakes and a cuppa and inviting folks to drop in, so while I was out today I got 2 big M&S cakes for 5.60. Im going to try and build up a Cake/biscuit/chocolate stock for our Soiree!

    Im going to try to reduce my GC of 300 to 100 due to finding I have so much in!! Woop!
    • blue eyes
    • By blue eyes 29th Dec 12, 7:28 PM
    • 42 Posts
    • 545 Thanks
    blue eyes
    Hi everyone, this thread is really hitting up and I am enjoying following it. Quite excited as I am doing my grocery shop tomorrow for the grocery challenge. We are starting on jan 1st but have loads in so reckon I only need about 12 worth of shopping. Going to run the freezer down and have submitted meal plans to another thread for week beginning 7th jan but it should be week beginning 31st. But I have also meal planned for the following week to get ahead! Will post tomorrow on my trip to the supermarket
    GC = 150.58/250
    • msgnomey
    • By msgnomey 29th Dec 12, 7:32 PM
    • 1,605 Posts
    • 26,365 Thanks
    Well I am now ready to start my tracking for January.

    4 weeks til payday
    shopping once a month (usually on a Sunday)

    Think I might try getting out cash each week and then I'll be forced to add up as I go round the super market. My new car payments start this month so I MUST cut back on other spending!!

    so 240 for the month
    I'll get 60 out each week and see how I get on!!!
    Go hopefully into each new day, enjoy something from every day no matter how small, you never know when it will be your last
    • couldsavemore
    • By couldsavemore 29th Dec 12, 7:35 PM
    • 264 Posts
    • 2,470 Thanks
    tomorrow we will have to do a shop for the week. we dont need much just milk bread and some fresh veg so hopefully no more than 20. we have lots in fridge and freezer so should be a very cheap month but will see how it works out.

    will put all older veg in pan and make soup and freeze for lunches during week.

    we do go to c**tco and buy things in bulk if the price is right about once a month but not planning a trip there until end of January.we have enough toiletries to last a few months along with dog food and wild bird food.

    spending Sunday doing spreadsheets/budgets so will be able to update signature etc.(will also know exact debt not so good but has to be faced) I'm getting excited now only 2 days to go.
    You can if you think you can .
  • FrugalFinn
    Hi there,
    Can I join this challenge please? I haven't been on here for ages and I'm really keen to make this year the year that I get a handle on our finances!
    At the moment I actually have no idea how much we spend on groceries, or anything else for that matter, as I don't record it anywhere, we each shop on our way home for bits n bobs and I don't keep receipts to check back on! So this will be a challenge in lots of ways.
    Make a menu for each week
    Do a shopping list and stick to it
    Do one shop per week, with only absolute essentials bought in between times.
    Keep records of how much we're spending.

    There's 4 of us, 2 adults and 2 kids, 9&3, plus a dog, cat and 2 tortoises. This budget will also therefore include pet food and supplies, plus all our cleaning stuff and toiletries. Erk!

    To start with I'm just gonna have to guess a figure and once I've started actually checking what I'm spending I can work out ways to cut it right down. So initially it might look like I'm spending loads, but eventually I'll (hopefully) be keeping up with the best of you! I'm totally in awe of those of you who have whittled your spend down to 15-20 a week! I spend that in one day at the moment! BUT I'm really hoping to make huge improvements, so any words of encouragement will really help.

    So, I suppose I'd better put a figure to it now. My challenge amount per month is 400to start with. I think that's about what I spend at the moment, so lets hope I'm not in for a horrible surprise!
    I've got plenty of food left over from Xmas so my challenge will start on 1st January and my months will be calendar months to make it easier for my untrained brain to get to grips with.
    Keep your fingers crossed for me please! I hope to keep posting once a week to keep everyone updated and to keep myself motivated.
    Is there a 'poke' feature on here to remind me? Lol.
    • mossy
    • By mossy 29th Dec 12, 8:24 PM
    • 1,143 Posts
    • 8,205 Thanks
    Hello, still away (at mums now ) so haven't had chance to catch up properly yet. Spent 1 on parsnips for Christmas dinner, gave them a fiver and they gave me two 2 coins for change so have to hold them hostage and will put them in the sealed pot when I get home. Which means 5 off my grocery budget.
    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
    • gien
    • By gien 29th Dec 12, 8:53 PM
    • 1,645 Posts
    • 15,704 Thanks
    Can I join back into this thread please? I did quite well back in October and November and this month we are so tight I need to really keep a close eye on things.
    I won't start until the 3rd (we're away on holiday until then) so I'm going for 400 for 23 days! Should be doable, and really has to be doable as there's no wriggle room at all!
    Trying to keep in budget.

  • Samantha22
    Good evening everyone,
    Hope you've all had a wonderful Christmas & are looking forward to your New Year challenges/celebrations.

    I would be very grateful if you could put me down for 200.00 for January 2013 Grocery Challenge, please. My month will begin on Weds January 2nd. 2013. I tried a few in 2012, but did not do as well as I had anticipated. Hopefully, 2013 will be much more successful on every front. Apart from trying to budget the food shopping, I also need to de-clutter my home & try to sell some unwanted items on eBay. To add to my list, I need to lose a whole load of weight. Paying off my Credit Card, is another item on the to-do-list. I was very happy to clear one of my Credit Cards early in Dec 2012. Now, the other one needs tackling. I'm pretty good at paying my bills on time, so have not got any interest charges. That, I'm very grateful for. I need to update my signature, as soon as I've posted this message. It's been so long since I've been on this site, I feel like a newbie, all over again. I am very grateful to everyone who has helped me with their ideas, etc. in 2012.
    Wishing you all the very best for 2013.
    Kind regards,
    Feb GC: - 0/200 beginning Feb 3rd 2015
    Multiple Catalogues: 3,500 due (approx.) Must sort!
    Capital One CC: 500.00 to be paid back asap
    Aqua CC: 250.00 to be paid back asap
    Vanquis CC: 500.00 to be paid back asap
    Current Weight: 13st 2lbs - Ideal weight: 10st
  • Samantha22

    we do go to c**tco and buy things in bulk if the price is right about once a month but not planning a trip there until end of January.we have enough toiletries to last a few months along with dog food and wild bird food.

    Hi couldsavemore,
    I've heard soo much about costco & would love to be able to shop there. Does one need to own a business to shop there, or can anyone go there?

    Thanking you in anticipation,
    Feb GC: - 0/200 beginning Feb 3rd 2015
    Multiple Catalogues: 3,500 due (approx.) Must sort!
    Capital One CC: 500.00 to be paid back asap
    Aqua CC: 250.00 to be paid back asap
    Vanquis CC: 500.00 to be paid back asap
    Current Weight: 13st 2lbs - Ideal weight: 10st
    • lilian1977
    • By lilian1977 29th Dec 12, 9:48 PM
    • 4,656 Posts
    • 18,375 Thanks
    10.02 spent in last two days from budget, Sig updated.

    My debt free diary
  • Zend
    January 2013 Grocery Challenge
    Hi, I joined last year but the budget went out the window due to travelling long distances twice a week to visit ill parents. Hope to have better luck this year. As we have hardly eaten any of our Christmas food yet, could you please put me down for 100. My month starts on January 1st.

    Thank you.
    January spend = 100
    Spent =
    saving =
    • Coxy11
    • By Coxy11 29th Dec 12, 10:34 PM
    • 2,322 Posts
    • 27,347 Thanks
    Hi everyone,

    Budgets done to here

    Welcome, and welcome back to:
    Islandmaid, Morgana3577, angel13, Suzexxx, stafftopets , FrugalFinn, Samantha22 and Zend.

    Looking forward to joining you all officially on Monday.

    Cross-stitch WIP: Pretty Little London by Satsuma Street
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