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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 third Grocery Challenge of 2013

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your January budget, then keep on posting in the:
    February 2013 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; 20-02-2013 at 7:57 AM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 22
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 5th Mar 13, 1:19 PM
    • 3,346 Posts
    • 34,469 Thanks
    I reorganised my fridge on Sunday and had to throw some bits away that didnt get eaten due to us having colds. I am determined to use everything that is left by the weekend. This will help my budget as I have not much left especially since DH wanted a takeaway last night after a bad day at work

    I have cooked a big ham joint in the slow cooker today which has been sitting in the fridge for 2 weeks We we will be having it with new pots and veg tonight (from the fridge stock), with jackets (fridge stock) and beans for lunch tomorrow and in a SW cheesy pasta bake recipe (veg in it and salad from the fridge stock) out of their latest mag tomorrow night. If there is anything left it will go into a frittata for lunches using up any last bits of veg and salad stuff from the fridge.

    I have a bag of diced carrot and swede that is about to go out of date. Do you think I could freeze it as it is or will I need to cook it first?

    I will have to pop to Mr S for bananas tonight as we have them every day and DH had the last one this morning

    I have meal planned (well, shifted this weeks plan to next week really) and made a shopping list for Friday. It is small and I am going to really try and keep the cost down this week.
    • lizalloareds
    • By lizalloareds 5th Mar 13, 2:55 PM
    • 1,808 Posts
    • 17,414 Thanks
    spends today
    2.12 Mr T
    83p Aldi
    70p greggs
    sig updated
    September GC 30th aug-4th Oct 332.74/375 NSD 3
    Gc Jan 234.85/200 Feb 298.92/280March 298.42/280 April 270.49/280 May Gc 351.08/350 June 300.06/280 July 256.15/240
    Aug 318.74/280
    • meg72
    • By meg72 5th Mar 13, 3:10 PM
    • 5,082 Posts
    • 46,072 Thanks
    Hi all

    Thank you all so much for the good wishes i had a little boy named Oliver!

    Back on the grocery challenge now although finding time to catch up on the thread is a little harder nowadays.

    Had a couple of NSD so far this month, which i will add to the total and i've done my weekly shop at Mr Ms this week totalling 57.55 after using my 10 off voucher and i had a couple of different baby product vouchers. Hopefully will have a couple more NSDs this week and probably only do a small top-up shop for milk/bread etc.

    Hope everyone has a good day!

    Originally posted by Suzexxx
    Congratulations Suze, what a lovely name.

    Well done you on getting organised so soon after haing your baby.
    I recall total chaos and lot of chippy meals for weeks with my two.
    Slimming World at target
    • polkadot90
    • By polkadot90 5th Mar 13, 3:33 PM
    • 159 Posts
    • 3,600 Thanks
    70 (rounded up with various expenses) spent in the last week. Will update signature with the new total! I keep track but keep forgetting to write it on here!! :/
    Trying to save up for a deposit for a mortgage....could be a while!!

    Comping since 15/06/2014 - thanks to all those who post the competitions ❤️😀
    • NickJW
    • By NickJW 5th Mar 13, 3:57 PM
    • 678 Posts
    • 13,646 Thanks
    Hi Bluegreen

    Thanks for putting those recipes in the menu

    I went to have a look at them, but I get a 'Ooops' message and the links don't work

    NSD for me today - had the reduced ready made I bought from Mr T last night and housemate is cooking dinner this evening.
    Grocery Challenge 14 Jan 14 46.05/130

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

    DFD 1st March 2011
    • bargain hunter
    • By bargain hunter 5th Mar 13, 4:20 PM
    • 542 Posts
    • 1,184 Thanks
    bargain hunter
    First visit to march thread after busy weekend - loads of supermarket visits for food/drink for dd's party but only declaring grocery purchases as took drink/nibbles from different purse ! Spend 52.32 between asd*/Morries and aldi - sig updated -fridge/freezer full of party leftovers so determined to stay in budget this month Saving for dollars for summer holiday -every little bit I manage to shave of the grocery budget, I convert to dollars and really feel I'm getting something back for all my supermarket hopping to save a few pennies
    . FEB GC 255.82240
    MAR GC 230.46/ 240
    APRIL GC 237.84/ 230
    MAY GC 296.10/ 270 (5 week month !)
  • stafftopets
    Well I did it.......

    First time ever, went into Mo******* for Kale and Lettuce for my lovely house rabbit and that is all I bought.

    Total spend today ....... a grand total of 2.00

    Grocery Challenge: 42.13 /100 September 2013
    Current Debt: 32,000 (31.08.13) Final LBM (31.08.13)

    Out of debt, out of danger - Joan Jonker
    • Kitchenbunny
    • By Kitchenbunny 5th Mar 13, 5:06 PM
    • 1,860 Posts
    • 20,252 Thanks
    Evening! Popped on to report today's spend 23.33 at Mr M - I shall update my sig now. As usual, that's for everything this week with the exception of whatever we might need over the weekend, and that will be bought on Friday (poss. Thursday if anything happens). Tea tonight is going to be Mexican - either Fajitas or Enchiladas depending on what Mr KB fancies the most. I think it'll be enchiladas, although we did have them last week!

    Have a lovely evening, everyone. Good luck with the challenge and keep on keeping on.

    KB xx

    • SpendingSensible
    • By SpendingSensible 5th Mar 13, 5:17 PM
    • 51 Posts
    • 809 Thanks
    Got treated to lunch today!

    Still had to do a small shop but that should last us until bigger weekend shop on Friday. But realised I was completely out of flour and down to last egg, so popped into shop and got that + some fresh veggies and fruit. Total just over 5.31
    • ImDoingItForMe
    • By ImDoingItForMe 5th Mar 13, 5:42 PM
    • 870 Posts
    • 4,795 Thanks
    Congratulations Suzexx on the birth of Oliver.
    Ive had 3 NSD days which is a first for me. But today i spent 3.01 on eggs and anti bac floor wipes.
    • january_23
    • By january_23 5th Mar 13, 6:17 PM
    • 172 Posts
    • 1,427 Thanks
    Spent 114.62 . We should will only need to buy fresh fruit and vegetables and other basics for the rest of the month though which should be possible on the 15.58 left.

    Have a vegetable curry in the slowcooker right now. Will be having that with rice for dinner tonight. The extra portions will be put in the freezer for a later date.
    Have meal planned for the next two weeks so far and I am hoping to meal plan for the whole month by the end of the day.

    2 adults groceries: June 35.79/200
    # 3 - Saving for Xmas 2015 1 a day. 122/365
    TTC #1 since 06/08/12
    • medsdemon
    • By medsdemon 5th Mar 13, 6:51 PM
    • 745 Posts
    • 6,098 Thanks
    Spent 86.00 in Tes*o on sunday as had NOO food in the house. Yesterday bought milk 1.20 from Sains and a 1 in Pound*and today on crisps 6 pack for my lunches.
    Grocery challenge October: 228.28/250.00 NSD 4 ( not completed)
    Grocery challenge November : 291.65/300.00 NSD 10
    Grocery challenge December : 0/240.00 NSD
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 5th Mar 13, 7:04 PM
    • 3,110 Posts
    • 42,224 Thanks
    Norabatty - sorry to take so long to get back with flapjack - been hectic

    I use tate and lyle recipe - but play with it, add what you fancy, i,ve used coconut or dried fruit, nuts, choc bits, whatever your family enjoys, about a 100g of additions works for me, and use cheapest oats and cheapest 'hard' marg - this makes about 12, but doubles or more easily - use baking parchment or greaseproof to line your tin and one great tip, use a pizza cutter to cut up - enjoy x


    * 150g butter
    * 75g soft sugar
    * 3 rounded tbsp Golden Syrup
    * 250g rolled oats (porridge oats)


    1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160Cfan/ gas 4. Grease and line a shallow 20cm square tin with baking parchment.
    2. Put the butter, sugar and Golden Syrup into a medium pan and gently heat until melted. Stir in the oats. Turn into the tin, level and press the mixture evenly and firmly with the back of a spoon. Bake for 25 minutes, or until just golden around the edges.
    3. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes then mark into 12 or 16 pieces whilst still warm. Cool completely before turning out onto a board and cutting again with a sharp knife.
    Tip: Flapjacks will keep up to a week in an airtight container.

    PS - NSD today
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!
    • brighteyes1987
    • By brighteyes1987 5th Mar 13, 7:17 PM
    • 167 Posts
    • 1,751 Thanks
    Evening all,

    Is it me or are the days really flying by at the mo?

    Another NSD here
    This thread is really helping me stay focused!

    Dd was out for dinner so I had the remaining chicken mixed in with some couscous, simple but yummy!

    Have a great evening all.

    BE x
    March grocery challenge 147.28 / 150.00

    April grocery challenge 60.36 / 150.00
    • minicooper272
    • By minicooper272 5th Mar 13, 7:29 PM
    • 2,127 Posts
    • 16,678 Thanks
    First real stock up of the month today, so bought lots of fresh veg and a quick throw in the over dinner for tonight. Always pleasantly surprised when I do a big stock up at A1di, as it only came to 15.

    So far I've spent about 23 (leaving 57) this month, as I had to buy a couple of pasta pot meal deals over the weekend. I'm hoping I can make good use of the food I have in so that I can recoup some of the spends, but don't think that will be too difficult! My cupboards are fit to burst!
    • CupOfChai
    • By CupOfChai 5th Mar 13, 7:45 PM
    • 1,319 Posts
    • 7,295 Thanks
    I've spent 110.93 out of 160 so far and it's only the 5th . How much does anyone want to bet on me making my target?
  • Michelle63x
    NSD today!!!!
    • Smoosh
    • By Smoosh 5th Mar 13, 8:26 PM
    • 1,081 Posts
    • 12,615 Thanks
    Spent just over 40 so far, slightly worried as it's only the 5th! But I'm sure we can make up for it over the rest of the month. Did a reduced shop today and got loads of stuff, mainly meat for OH, so the freezer is absolutely packed. Spent about 11, if it hadn't have been reduced then it would've come to about 47, so very happy with that Planning a shopping day with OH tomorrow, so we're going to pack a picnic and hope the weather holds up so that we don't have to buy lunch. Homemade chips and veggie burgers with pitta bread and halloumi salad for dinner tonight! Yummy
    • Florenceem
    • By Florenceem 5th Mar 13, 8:43 PM
    • 3,984 Posts
    • 52,562 Thanks
    NSD yesterday and today. No dinner photos as having bits from freezer - busy in garden.
    15 in 2015 1/15
    • frankerooney
    • By frankerooney 5th Mar 13, 9:11 PM
    • 166 Posts
    • 3,429 Thanks
    Sadly, there is no way I can hope to read anywhere near all the posts on this thread, but I will pop in now and again.

    I'm going for 350 again this month. One of these days, we might come in under budget!
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