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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 27
  • Peanut2013
    Mrs T M I love baking cupcakes but have never attempted bread! Am I likely to not have the things in though? We have a constant stash of flour but no yeast etc.

    But yes please for the recipe! Our freezer is crammed unfortunately but I am contemplating looking for a second one on gumtree etc
    • WantToBeSE
    • By WantToBeSE 2nd Jan 13, 11:44 AM
    • 6,778 Posts
    • 30,548 Thanks
    Have updated my sig to show todays grocery spend. I have cut my grocery budget by only 5 a week, and i am hoping that because its such a small difference it'll be easy.

    As from today, i'll be shopping at a different town to normal. Normally, i drive 8miles to the nearest Lidl, then a further 8 miles to Morrisons.
    Well, to save petrol money (and time) i will be driving to a different town, 9.6miles away, and they have a Lidl and Morrisons right next to each other
    3/6 month emergency fund challenge #20
    PODBX17 #122

    Debt Free Diary

    Total debt:
    14/01/2017 6247.89
    24/02/17 5623.17

    Estimated DFD Jan 2018
    • Mrs Toast
    • By Mrs Toast 2nd Jan 13, 11:44 AM
    • 446 Posts
    • 3,295 Thanks
    Mrs Toast
    Happy new year everyone. Well I am currently on track on my budget. DH had to buy a bottle of Jamesons for new year but it had gone up to 17 when he got to the shop. Never mind, it's the one thing he has to have on new year as we used to go to his grandparents for new year and he'd drink Jamesons with his Grandad.

    Updated sig
    TOTAL DEBT 12,212.46/2000 paid off
    Debt Free Goal September 2017
    #106 Emergency Fund 482.53/1000
    • Mrs_T_M
    • By Mrs_T_M 2nd Jan 13, 11:45 AM
    • 1,986 Posts
    • 13,245 Thanks
    Mrs T M I love baking cupcakes but have never attempted bread! Am I likely to not have the things in though? We have a constant stash of flour but no yeast etc.

    But yes please for the recipe! Our freezer is crammed unfortunately but I am contemplating looking for a second one on gumtree etc
    Originally posted by Peanut2013
    Ok, I don't trust the online conversions that I've made with the recipe, so I'll be making these this afternoon and will report back on how they go. They do require yeast, but I'm thinking about making up a sourdough starter. I'm not sure that we will use as much bread as that can make though!

    I'll post the metric recipe as soon as I'm finished making these buns!
    Baby Dale
    26th January 2014 - Forever in our hearts

    Eli Gabriel 19th February 2015

  • Peanut2013
    I'm happy to take it in ounces etc if that's what you have as my scales do both
    • Mrs_T_M
    • By Mrs_T_M 2nd Jan 13, 12:06 PM
    • 1,986 Posts
    • 13,245 Thanks
    I'm happy to take it in ounces etc if that's what you have as my scales do both
    Originally posted by Peanut2013
    It's in cups (which 1 cup = 8 fluid ounces). If you have a measuring cup with fluid ounces on it, that will work!
    Baby Dale
    26th January 2014 - Forever in our hearts

    Eli Gabriel 19th February 2015

  • Peanut2013
    Ah rats no I don't, lol.

    Thank you though
    • Mrs_T_M
    • By Mrs_T_M 2nd Jan 13, 12:09 PM
    • 1,986 Posts
    • 13,245 Thanks
    Ah rats no I don't, lol.

    Thank you though
    Originally posted by Peanut2013
    No worries! I'm in the middle of mixing it up, so once it's time to let it rise I should be able to write it up in weights for you.

    And don't worry, it isn't an inconvenience, I need to do this to all of my recipes, plus I enjoy converting and baking!
    Baby Dale
    26th January 2014 - Forever in our hearts

    Eli Gabriel 19th February 2015

    • totallybored
    • By totallybored 2nd Jan 13, 12:16 PM
    • 1,082 Posts
    • 2,506 Thanks
    I'm going to give this a go again for 2013. I did try last year but I got too busy to keep on top of tracking everything. I have now got myself a new budget app and intend to record everything I spend though.

    I'm going to set my monthly budget at250

    This is for 2 adults plus my dad for at least one week every month.
    • mossy
    • By mossy 2nd Jan 13, 12:38 PM
    • 1,142 Posts
    • 8,199 Thanks
    Done some shopping today, spent a bit more than I had planned but that was because I bought a big pack of toilet rolls on offer which should last almost two months!!

    Walked to shops which saved petrol and as I have to carry it all means I don't buy too much!! Also took out cash and have meal planned!

    Sainsbugs 13
    L!dl 6.84
    Icy 5.25
    Mossy Market 1

    Total spends 26.09.

    Just need to go to Waitrose to pick up some soup for DH lunches and Hi-juice squash. We're on a low carb health kick this year so we'll being trying to fill up on veg rather than cheap carbs. (If he keeps to it might get him started on making soups as he already makes a mean chicken/turkey broth!!)
    Saving for Disney again big a target to face up to yet!
    Emergency Fund Savings - #148 - 10/1000 1%
    #083 SPC6 63 - SPC7 90 - SPC8 63 - SPC9 54 - SPC10 26 - SPC12
  • Lovethenight
    Count me in!
    Hi Everyone,

    Please can you count me in! I had a go at this last year and didn't do very well at keeping track, however I now have a very motivating reason - maternity leave (and going down to 1 income) starts in March, so the more I can cut back and save the better!!

    Please put me down for 160 for January, but this should really come in as much, much less as I simply don't have that much money until I get paid!

    This is to feed 3 adults and includes all household stuff and toiletries.
    Thanks for the inspiration!
    • Mrs_T_M
    • By Mrs_T_M 2nd Jan 13, 12:58 PM
    • 1,986 Posts
    • 13,245 Thanks
    Peanut - Here's the recipe (it worked up quite well!)

    Hamburger or hot dog buns
    Makes 12 servings

    1 cup (236 ml) milk
    1/2 cup (118 ml) water
    1/4 cup (55 g) butter
    up to 4 1/2 cups (700 g) plain flour
    1 1/4 tsp (~7 g) yeast
    2 tbsp (25 g) sugar
    1 1/2 tsp (~9 g) salt
    1 egg

    In a small saucepan, heat milk, water and butter until very warm, between 110F-120F (44C-48C) (if you don't have a thermometer, stick a clean finger in the mix, you want to be able to hold it there for about 4-5 seconds, but no longer).

    In a large bowl, mix together 1 3/4 cups (270 g) flour, the yeast, sugar, and salt. Mix the warm milk mixture into the flour mixture, then add the egg.

    Add just enough flour to form a loose dough, I added 3 doses of 100 g flour each time, for a total of 570 g flour used. This will vary based on the ambient humidity. The drier it is, the less flour you need, the wetter it is, the more flour you need.

    Once the dough has pulled together (and by this point your arm will feel like it will fall off from stirring!!!), lightly flour a clean kitchen counter or table, dump the dough ball out onto the floured surface and knead for about 5-8 minutes.

    Make the dough into a log (remember your play dough or clay from primary school!) and cut into 12 pieces. I use a pair of clean scissors to make this easier. They don't have to be exactly the same size, after all, that's one of the charms of homemade bread!

    Shape the dough into round balls and place on a greased baking sheet (or use greaseproof or parchment paper). Flatten each ball slightly. Cover and let rise for 30-35 minutes. This step can take as long as an hour or so, depending on the temperature where they are rising and the humidity.

    I placed the two pans of dough balls into the oven (turned off and cooled from when I was baking earlier) on the two top racks, then I put a baking dish under those on a third rack (the floor of the oven works fine, so long as there isn't a heating element down there!). Boil some water in the kettle, pour the water slowly into the baking dish, slide the baking dish into the oven and close the door. The heat and humidity from the boiled water will make the dough rise quicker, even with a cold house. Be sure to place a towel below your oven door, the humidity can run down the front of the door onto the floor. Great way to clean an oven door though!

    Anyway - after the dough has risen, bake at 400F/205C/gas mark 6 for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

    For hot dog buns: Shape each of the 12 pieces into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle (or close to it, doesn't need to be exact). Starting with the longer side, roll up tightly and pinch the edges and ends to seal. Let rise for 20-25 minutes. Bake the same as the hamburger buns.

    To make onion rolls (my favourite!): add 2 tbsp dried minced onion and 1/2 tsp onion salt to the flour mixture (reduce the salt in the recipe to 1 tsp (~6 g)). Brush with egg and sprinkle dried onion over the tops and bake as normal.

    Hope this helps!

    Also, sorry if I've made any mistakes with my spelling!
    Baby Dale
    26th January 2014 - Forever in our hearts

    Eli Gabriel 19th February 2015

    • meanmarie
    • By meanmarie 2nd Jan 13, 12:59 PM
    • 5,091 Posts
    • 49,542 Thanks
    First spend of 2013 was €45.85, which I am determined is going to last us for at least 2 weeks.....OH doesn't know that,but if he wants to spend more he can use his pocket money!

    Belt really needs to be tightened this year....first budget trial was €200 over income, so some severe tweaking to be done.

    Last edited by meanmarie; 02-01-2013 at 1:03 PM.
    Weight 08 February 86kg
    • Coxy11
    • By Coxy11 2nd Jan 13, 1:22 PM
    • 2,295 Posts
    • 27,317 Thanks
    Hi everyone,

    Worked yesterday so didn't get a chance, but now budgets are done to here

    Welcome to those joining/returning:
    lucylollipop, Penry, lynney88, hedgesparrow, Chloris, 4weeladdies, loobylou79, chirpycheap, Byatt, emmad5689, wannabe sybil, theskintfamily, TylersMummy, twisting, LMac, loveasale, Karb, hex2, WonderfulLife, thewestfive, FrugalinStrood, cheesedoffwithdebt, missmucksmum, Mrsgibbs1503, Sazdaz, dizzy lizzie, tyaca, Want-To-Fit-In, newleaf88, flyingmamma, xx_Jo_xx, jem132, totallybored and Lovethenight

    DPJames - as others have said, the thread is very long this month due to lots of new people joining. For many people this thread is invaluable for getting a grip of finances, usually after a LBM or a change in circumstances. The recipe section is extremely useful and I for one have used it many times to great success. A lot of folks need to track their spends and like to share if they have seen something on offer that may interest others. This thread is a lot of things, to a lot of people. Please don't do it down. Keeping track, making lists, and being accountable for every penny is, unfortunately a way of life for many of us, and not just those born under Virgo

    My own Jan GC is now up and running! Nice to see you everybody

    Cross-stitch WIP #1: Collecting Shells by Nancy Cole
    Cross-stitch WIP #2: Pretty Little London by Satsuma Street
    • lucylollipop
    • By lucylollipop 2nd Jan 13, 1:23 PM
    • 168 Posts
    • 1,418 Thanks
    Went for a lovely long walk around town after ny marking today. Spent 10.90, picking up some toiletries, the bits I needed for the rest of the week, and a crochet hook. Obviously, the most important bit there is the hook - it'll keep me out of trouble later! Also, I'm probably miles behind here, but I was very excited to find WW biscuits and crackers (amongst other ww goodies) in poundstretcher today
    *2016 - the year of the savings account!*

    GC: Jan (300/179.76) 8 NSD
    Diet: 60lbs this year - so far: 0.5
    • Solstice_3
    • By Solstice_3 2nd Jan 13, 1:27 PM
    • 460 Posts
    • 5,018 Thanks
    10.83 spent at Asda on veg, fruit and beans mostly. Tesco delivery came this morning - it was late so had the delivery charge refunded which was nice. Had some substitutions one of which I returned so I think my spend was 25.52, this is for this week and some dry/canned goods for next week.
    Stay at home Mum to DS Oct 2011 and DD Dec 2013
    Grocery Challenge

    April 298.08/300.00 NSD 14 May 213.56/300 NSD 4
  • Peanut2013
    Thank you so much for the recipe! Need eggs and yeast but am hitting Mr T tomorrow so will grab them then
  • pinchingpenny
    Hello, hope you're all well!
    I'm back in my flat and have stocked up on most of the cupboard items I will need for Jan- I got as much as I could carry in Mr.A so I hope I won't need another trip there this month but we shall see!

    I got 2 each of SP pasta and SP spaghetti- 30p each, I know they were 20p for a while but prices seem to have gone up everywhere, these are the cheapest as far as I know. Also got basmati rice, bread flour, wine and nibbles for new year (not counting that as groceries though- that's my 'fun' budget!)
    I won't have chance to bake any bread til the weekend but I resisted buying some and have opted to have pasta for my lunch every day rather than sandwiches this week.
    Also got some fruit, veg, milk and eggs for the week. Managed to get away with paying 2p for 6 bananas I did try to tell the cashier the scales didn't seem to be working properly but he wasn't interested!

    Forgot to get meat out of the freezer so looks like it will be a vegetarian dinner again tonight, whoops, must remember tomorrow morning!
    Signature updated
    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
    • Chloris
    • By Chloris 2nd Jan 13, 1:56 PM
    • 651 Posts
    • 9,422 Thanks
    Sig updated, 5.43 in the c0-0p, milk etc. Will need to meal plan from tomorrow but my dh does the shopping and I don't know when he will want to do it! We are so out of routine. Will look in the fridge and cupboards and work out what needs using up first and go from there!
    • chirpycheap
    • By chirpycheap 2nd Jan 13, 2:00 PM
    • 176 Posts
    • 2,205 Thanks
    I'll be doing the grocery challenge this year. But reading through this thread is far too time consuming. And once you've waded through all the inane comments, there's not very much advice at all really, and what there is is common sense. I've honestly nodded off twice just reading the last 5 pages.

    I'll go it alone and save you all from even more pointless comments about how I spent 2.17 on milk and butter in Tescos today. Or about how many kids, dogs, fish, sponging brother in laws I have.

    And to those sticking around, before you hit 'Post Reply', just have a think and see if what you're posting is actually relevant to anyone else.
    Originally posted by DPJames
    I am new here but in contrast to DP James have found this forum motivating and useful. People explaining how they have spent their grocery money is exactly what I would expect from a 'Grocery Challenge' thread!

    Anyway used up bruised bananas today to make banana 'icecream' - delicious! Car passed it's MOT so only the 47 for the test to pay - MOTs can turn into such an unexpected and unpredictable expense so relieved that it passed. Often wonder whether it would be cheaper to give up the car and use taxis!
    Stashbusting 2019 - 230/300
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