Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

    • 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 fourth Grocery Challenge of 2013

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your March budget, then keep on posting in the:
    March 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; 24-03-2013 at 10:36 AM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 7
    • Sweetie83
    • By Sweetie83 27th Mar 13, 7:46 PM
    • 48 Posts
    • 669 Thanks
    Thanks Zippy, where has time gone!

    Please can you put me down for 220 Mwwaaaa
    Grocery Challenge: Jan 15 323/280, Feb 275/280
    One DH, 2 DD's aged 6 and 3 and a hungry cat!

  • she who can not cook
    Oops, I think I clicked on report as a message popped up saying thanks for reporting, but I'm on my IPad and sometimes I can't control it! Very sorry, don't know what post I reported but I didn't mean it!

    As to Grocery challenge can i be down for 400 for April, wasn't very successful during March so will try harder this month.
    Originally posted by Chellie1964
    I have done this on my kindle lol
    Gc 2013 +26 -5. -4 -7 -14 -15 -10.-8.20 +15p+30+5.80 Dec +9 GROCERY challenge 2014 Jan -2Feb -3 March -1.50 April +5.40 May +4.90 June -3.July 16.50/85

    God bless my sweet "old man" Goldie that died in the early hours of 27 th March please see him on my avatar
    • Florenceem
    • By Florenceem 27th Mar 13, 8:01 PM
    • 3,996 Posts
    • 52,590 Thanks
    3rd NSD in a row.
    Will need milk tomorrow.
    Dinner tonight - we had roast pork, roast potatoes & parsnip + cabbage, leeks, onions + gravy.

    15 in 2015 1/15
    • savingpennies
    • By savingpennies 27th Mar 13, 8:44 PM
    • 670 Posts
    • 4,351 Thanks
    I've fallen off the wagon in the last couple of months but seriously need to get back on board. I'm off work now for a couple of weeks on leave so will delve into all my recipe books to plan menus for the next month and write a shopping list based on that. I did an inventory of the freezer back in January and will now go through the cupboards. Wish me luck.
    Books - the original virtual reality.
    2019 in 2019, No.63: 831.63
    2019 2 savers:
    • Bluegreen143
    • By Bluegreen143 27th Mar 13, 8:50 PM
    • 1,108 Posts
    • 12,739 Thanks
    OH went to the shop today and spent 7.46 on cr*p - a tiny pot of coffee for 1.85 (the only thing we actually needed), value kitchen towels 31.15, 3x chickpea tins 1, Br*ston pickle 1, S*riously strong cheddar 2.46.

    By popular demand:

    Pinto bean and mushroom burgers (makes two small burgers or one large one)
    • 1 tin pinto beans, drained and rinsed 39p
    • 1 large mushroom or two medium/small ones 15p (Mr M value)
    • 1 small onion 3p (Mr M value 49p a kilo last week!)
    • 1 clove garlic 3p
    • large pinch dried thyme (use fresh if you have any in – can substitute other herbs like sage or rosemary) 2p
    • handful breadcrumbs (counting as free as I whizz stale bread and keep it in the freezer)
    • teaspoon or so of vegetable oil 2p

    Preheat the oven to 200C. Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently cook the onions for a few minutes, adding the mushrooms and cooking until both are soft. In the last 30 seconds, add the garlic and herbs and stir through. Mix in the beans and breadcrumbs, season and mash thoroughly with a potato masher.

    Shape into a ball and squeeze together, then separate into two and flatten to make two burgers.

    Bake for roughly 20-25 minutes, turning halfway and adding a slice of cheese if desired for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

    Total cost per burger is just 31p including a bun but excluding chips, salads and extras like cheese. Cost is 56p if you make one big burger. The small ones are about the size of ones you might buy in the freezer dept of a SM are are fine for me with a big salad and maybe some chips, but if I was feeding it to my OH, he'd need a bigger one

    Will add to the index as well.
    Last edited by Bluegreen143; 27-03-2013 at 8:54 PM.
    Married 1 March 2014 DS born 06 Dec 2014 DD born 14 Dec 2018
  • DollyBongo
    April Budget
    300 for me please. This is a long month but I'm determind to stick to budget. Wish me luck! xx
    March GC - 336.75/300 oops! April GC - 370.83/300 bigger oops!
    May GC - 237.82/280. June GC - 277.38/280. July GC - less said about that the better!!. Aug GC - 216.99/200

    *In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer*
    • craigywv
    • By craigywv 28th Mar 13, 5:58 AM
    • 1,976 Posts
    • 27,825 Thanks
    small spend in mr t to use up vouchers of 4.87 also got from another budget 2 of the legs of lamb better thanhalf price safely hidden in back of freezer .will just need milk this weekend and that should be me till next weekend as have loads of fruit and veg and off now from tomorrow till next thurs so will do my own bread. have a lovely day all xxx
    C.R.A.P.R.O.L.L.Z #7 member N.I splinter-group co-ordinater I dont suffer from insanity....I enjoy every minute of it!!.
    • lushlifesaver
    • By lushlifesaver 28th Mar 13, 6:27 AM
    • 2,312 Posts
    • 18,637 Thanks
    Spends yesterday:
    Treats: 1.56
    General groceries: 6.18

    Total spends today: 7.74

    Total spends so far: 19.76

    I suddenly realised that due to bank holidays and leave I have booked I have four day weeks at work until the middle of April! But also forgot that we have a tournament in Copenhagen for which we are away 11th-15th - all meals are included 12th-14th, I *think* breakfast is on the last day (in with the overnight accomodation I think?) but on the 11th I don't know if anything is. I will eat breakfast before we leave and then not sure as apparently Copenhagen is expensive. Must find out what the deal is!

    Today I will need to buy oven chips (1) and bacon (1.64). Don't *think* there is anything else.

    We are off to the cinema tonight as it's the first anniversary of us getting together but the tickets will be paid for by bf (bogof with his ceop card) and the treats will come from my entertainment budget.

    Must research general prices in Copenhagen whilst on my lunch in case we do need to provide any of our own meals and/or me and bf or me and a couple of the carers get out in to teh town for a few hours!
    Perfect Princess born 26/03/14 <3
  • bekkikay
    That pinto burger looks delicious. I'll definitely try that soon. We had falafel burgers yesterday which picky OH promptly put onto my plate after a quick taste. My 12 year old wasn't keen either. But I loved it and so did my 9 year old. I'm trying to figure out what to do with a pack of boneless chicken thighs that are currently defrosting. I was going to make nuggets to make everyone happy but its so boring. I wish OH didn't have such simple and picky tastes sometimes. He instantly recoils if he discovers there's no meat in a meal.
    Decided to run my budget by the month not by income dates this time. I went over by 100 in March so April is going to have to be very frugal. NSD today and yesterday. But I might have to pop out to buy some bread flour as my bulk flour order has been delayed again.
    Better bake some bread for toasties later. I seem to be constantly kneading dough when both kids are home.
    Jan-March: reduced monthly food bill by 400 (cancelled overdraft and started saving)
    April: 112.17/180 food budget. 9.39/20 household. 4/15 NSD's.
    TTC#3 since June 2012
    • Vickyh
    • By Vickyh 28th Mar 13, 8:33 AM
    • 96 Posts
    • 192 Thanks
    need to update sig- but spent 18 in Mr L and 29 in Mr S- sent an annoyed email to Mr S as they are not stocking Basic nappies in my branch anymore- i ended up spending double on nappies as a result!

    I was also going to buy soapnuts this month, but found a hidden bottle of fabric conditioner so- fabric liquid was bought- in all honesty i spent money on stuff i needed stocking up or buying 2 as hubby was picking me up in the car! I am have veg boxes delivered so- i theory i shouldn't be stepping into a supermarket to buy any veg or meat (as i am going to attempt the butchers)

    fingers crossed!!
  • dollydog
    Oh my - those pinto bean burgers look good!!!

    My April starts today, and I need to go shopping aaarrrgh!! but there is NO WAY I am putting a foot out of the door until I m happy I ve written everything i need on my list - I m one of those daft people s/ms love. Wish me luck.........
  • goldopals
    Hi, I have just joined this site and am aiming for $150 AUD for April starting from today. I live by myself, and groceries are apparently more expensive in Australia, so this budget may not be entirely realistic.

    I have spent $52.08 AUD on groceries to cover the next fortnight. This covers vegetables, fruit, porridge, noodles and stock cupboard ingredients for a bolognaise sauce.

    Normally I cook in bulk on the weekend and freeze portions.
    Last edited by goldopals; 28-03-2013 at 9:24 AM. Reason: Unrealistic expectations of budget
    • tessie bear
    • By tessie bear 28th Mar 13, 9:23 AM
    • 4,361 Posts
    • 30,013 Thanks
    tessie bear
    Hello hope everyone is staying warm. I have a few Easter treats to pay for later but dont plan any food shopping in April budget until later next week. I think April will be a bit cheaper than March but those are famous last words.

    The freezer is holding up well from the costco meat shop. i have been very pleased with everything we have tried so far.

    Take care Tessa
    onwards and upwards
    • cw18
    • By cw18 28th Mar 13, 9:31 AM
    • 8,081 Posts
    • 86,080 Thanks
    The freezer is holding up well from the costco meat shop. i have been very pleased with everything we have tried so far.
    Originally posted by tessie bear
    OH and I are totally converted to their fresh chicken (we've both had boneless thighs, and he's had drumsticks as well), turkey (I got a reduced to clear crown at the end of December) and minced beef (the scotch stuff that was on offer in the last book is amazingly lean).

    We've also tried a few cooked meats for sandwiches, and have prettty much stopped buying those from supermarkets as well. Luckily the sliced beef (definitely our favourite) freezes well, as a pack can then be eeked out over 2-3 weeks due to not having to watch the date on it (nor pinching an odd slice every time we go into the fridge for something like milk for a brew!)
    • PrincessLou
    • By PrincessLou 28th Mar 13, 9:37 AM
    • 496 Posts
    • 1,928 Thanks
    Today is my first shop of the April grocery challenge. The catch is that i'm sending my husband to do the shopping as i am away at the moment. However, i have written him a very specific list of what i want him to buy and given him strict instructions not to buy anything else.
    To be honest i'm really dreading it - last time he went shopping by himself when i was too ill to go he came home with completely different items to what i had written on the shopping list and had managed to spend twice as much haha.

    I know he tries his best. Fingers crossed though haha
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 28th Mar 13, 9:39 AM
    • 3,406 Posts
    • 34,882 Thanks
    Some spends to report since my last post including 10 on alcohol (probably less but didnt get any change from DH so will call it a tenner) to celebrate DH first big bonus in his new job and 19.46 in Mr S on over chips, hash browns for Easter weekend fry up, eggs, ham, fruit and garlic butter. Oh and the four GF hot cross buns that jumped into my basket

    We will be visiting Mr T at the weekend to use my 2 vouchers and to take advantage of the 25% off wine promotion and get a couple of bits to put away for our holiday and a toy I want to get DS for his birthday in May to make up the total. Just need to hide the wine in the garage or DH will guzzle the lot twice as fast as buying it weekly

    I will also need to add in tomorrow's fish and chips lunch for the three of us.

    I added up my change pots last night. I had intended to use this money to pay for our food on holiday and I have 86!!
    October Grocery Challenge - 122.00/220
    • p-pincher
    • By p-pincher 28th Mar 13, 9:48 AM
    • 725 Posts
    • 3,631 Thanks
    HI Everyone, cannot believe it the April challenge already.

    My month started on the 26th of march and runs til the 25th may. Ive already had 2 NSD but today will be another story, desperately need milk and bread so nipping to the corner shop to last til tomorrow. My budget for this month is going to be cut by 20 so it will be 220. Not sure if its possible but I want to really challenge myself this month. I came in 3 under my 240 budget for March but theres still about a weeks worth of meat in the freezer.

    Planning a couple of shops over the weekend to top up for the month. Aldi, tesco and iceland and a them quick nip in poundland tomorrow. Maybe also a trip to Wilko as i really need to top up on toiletries and cleaning bits.
    March 2014 Grocery challenge 250.00
  • bekkikay
    To be honest i'm really dreading it - last time he went shopping by himself when i was too ill to go he came home with completely different items to what i had written on the shopping list and had managed to spend twice as much haha.

    I know he tries his best. Fingers crossed though haha
    Originally posted by PrincessLou
    My partner is exactly the same. I search the websites and do screenshots of the exact products I want and ask him to check the dates and he still comes back with different items with only 1 day shelf life left plus 5 tubs of ice-cream that I can't store. He says its too much pressure once he's in the supermarket. This is a grown, intelligent man with a highly pressurised job.
    I try and make sure that he never needs to do any top-up shops now but sometimes its unavoidable. Hope your OH does a lot better than mine.
    Jan-March: reduced monthly food bill by 400 (cancelled overdraft and started saving)
    April: 112.17/180 food budget. 9.39/20 household. 4/15 NSD's.
    TTC#3 since June 2012
    • PrincessLou
    • By PrincessLou 28th Mar 13, 10:13 AM
    • 496 Posts
    • 1,928 Thanks
    My partner is exactly the same. I search the websites and do screenshots of the exact products I want and ask him to check the dates and he still comes back with different items with only 1 day shelf life left plus 5 tubs of ice-cream that I can't store..
    Originally posted by bekkikay
    Haha, i know right? I don't think i can be any more specific on my list. I even tell him the colour of the packaging, price and everything.
  • maximus_leeds
    Hello April - big thanks to Billie-Jo for flagging the new month's thread for me on March, I couldn't find it for toffee doing a search!

    I'm not starting this month's GC until the 1st, but wondered if you could knock me down to 375 this month? I've been doing really well since the new year after switching to Al*i and meal planning - it's been a real eye opener! New Baby #3 due this month (the 6th, though I reckon we'll be lucky to get passed the weekend!), so not sure how that will effect the spends this month (can imagine us relying on internet shops and a fair few takeaways), but we will try! Happy GCing for April people - and have a fabulous Easter xx
    ************************************************** **********
    GC 2014: Jan 24.68/400
    ************************************************** **********
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

634Posts Today

6,041Users online

Martin's Twitter