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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 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 16
    • NickJW
    • By NickJW 1st Apr 13, 9:20 PM
    • 678 Posts
    • 13,646 Thanks
    Had the most disgusting meal tonight - horseradish bbq chicken - that's been deleted from my meal list! Even covering with ketchup made it only vaguely edible!

    Guess you have to try things to see if you like them, and thankfully it's rare I do anything really bad, but it's so annoying when it goes wrong.
    Grocery Challenge 14 Jan 14 £46.05/£130

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

    DFD 1st March 2011
    • Wentthedaywell?
    • By Wentthedaywell? 1st Apr 13, 9:43 PM
    • 522 Posts
    • 2,952 Thanks

    Had a lovely day with dd & didn't spend a penny. I promised her we could do whatever she wanted as I have been working loads & haven't really spent a lot of time with her lately. I offered the usual expensive places but she wanted to stay home & play/ do craft etc.. We had a fab time!
    Originally posted by brighteyes1987
    Ah, isn't that lovely? Goes to show that you don't have to spend money to enjoy yourself - it's just as true (well, perhaps not quite as true!) of adults too.
    Save £15k in 2019 # 4 May £11,000 (73%)
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 1st Apr 13, 9:46 PM
    • 803 Posts
    • 10,156 Thanks
    Wow.. 16 pages already!! Will take a looksey when I can..
    Thanks for the wonderful thread, keeps me motivated!

    I'm in again this month & am going to stay at £300 (please) just to see what happens... Good luck everyone x
    "There's a little witch in all of us"
    2018 GC 93 2019 GC 3 2 JUNE GC £192.92/£300
    : DEBT FREE 06/2018
    • Cheapskate
    • By Cheapskate 1st Apr 13, 9:48 PM
    • 1,660 Posts
    • 20,485 Thanks
    Hi everyone

    My April has had a wobbly start - I spent £23-odd in SM today, plus £1.49 HB and £2.67 M&S and then we went out for tea! To be fair we had a voucher for £20, so I just spent £13 of actual cash, but that's over £40 already, and it's only the 1st!

    I have £6.50 in T@sco vouchers, and a full freezer and pantry, so we'll wade our way through. The kids are still off school until 15th, and I find it's much easier to keep to budgets and meal plans when I'm not rushing around after people!

    We have some LO beef from yesterday, so it will become chilli or something tomorrow for tea.

    Happy shopping!

    A xo
    Feb GC £0.00/£300
    Decluttering 183/2019 items this year
    • Scarlet1982
    • By Scarlet1982 1st Apr 13, 11:27 PM
    • 270 Posts
    • 1,216 Thanks
    Hi everyone,

    Can you put me down for £200 please. I've decided to give a few challenges a go as I desperately want to be a DFW and hopefully save some cash for a much needed holiday.
    • Frogletina
    • By Frogletina 1st Apr 13, 11:42 PM
    • 3,204 Posts
    • 11,586 Thanks
    Please can you put me down for £100 this month - thanks
    Not Rachmaninov
    But Nyman
    The heart asks for pleasure first
    SPC 8 #441 £1567.31 SPC 9 #441 £1014.64 SPC 10 #441 £1164.13 SPC 11 #441 £1598.15 SPC 12 #63
    • Smoosh
    • By Smoosh 2nd Apr 13, 12:52 AM
    • 1,081 Posts
    • 12,615 Thanks
    Right, first spend of the month, £27.06. For that we got: 18 litres of drinks, 2 jars of sweet and sour sauce, 2 tins of spaghetti hoops, 6 tins of soup, 2 pints of milk, 5 cans of energy drinks, tomato ketchup, pasta ready meal thing, bar of chocolate, 2 cans of deodorant, 4 lots of toilet paper, hotpot ready meal, 8 chicken burgers, shampoo, 72 weetabix (lasts about a month), cat litter.

    Forgot to get sweetener and we'll need cat food soon, but they didn't really have any good offers on, so I left it for today.

    Happy with that though, should be most of the cupboardy bits we'll need for the month.
    • dreamingofmoney
    • By dreamingofmoney 2nd Apr 13, 6:55 AM
    • 419 Posts
    • 4,753 Thanks
    Hiya All

    I have done the Gc challenge before with the help of you lovely people and succeeded. However i got a little bit cocky and thought i could do it on my own and have failed miserably. I would like to rejoin if possible and am going to set my target super low at £200. This is for a family of 4, i have never set it so low so going to be a challenge but the cupboards and freezer are jam packed so will be doable.

    Fingers crossed as i have some saving to do this year.

    Big Thanks to all

    Paying back 1% at a time 79% of total debt paid off.
    No. 82 PAYDBX19 £5794.39/£13000 of debt paid from this years goal 44.6%
    Hfax loan, Bcard £438/£5852.07 7.5% Lloyd’s £250/£592.99 42.1%
    Debt free date Mar 2020.
  • bekkikay
    Had the most disgusting meal tonight - horseradish bbq chicken - that's been deleted from my meal list! Even covering with ketchup made it only vaguely edible!

    Guess you have to try things to see if you like them, and thankfully it's rare I do anything really bad, but it's so annoying when it goes wrong.
    Originally posted by NickJW
    Horseradish is repulsive. It's one of those rare "foods" which makes me wonder if my taste buds are defective. It doesn't seem edible. I've become more adventurous with my cooking lately and so far nothing has been a complete disaster but its only a matter of time. I did almost ruin a toastie with English mustard though, horrible stuff.

    Today I'm making fish pie. One from the change4life recipes as we're all starting to get a bit podgy from HM pies and winter comfort foods. Decided to use smoked haddock with white fish which I stocked up on from Farmfoods 2 for £5 in March.
    So the meal plan is looking like this:
    Monday: Tomato pasta with chorizo and bacon.
    Tuesday: Fish pie
    Wednesday: Leftover fish pie with veg and rice
    Thursday: Salmon with spring onion mash and veg
    Friday: Spaghetti and meatballs
    Saturday: Chicken tikka masala with garlic naan and somosa with mango chutney.
    Sunday: Chicken chow mien, egg fried rice with (shop bought) spring rolls and poppadoms.

    My aim to have 2 vegetarian meals a week has hit a brick wall of opposition as you can see. Best stock up on chicken then.
    The children have agreed to ration out their mountain of chocolate eggs (for health reasons, not financial). Well, I say agreed, it was more like quiet resignation. So I won't have to buy any puddings or treats for a few weeks as they can eat their eggs as a treat. They've only asked me 5 times this morning to reverse my decision.
    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
    • Kitchenbunny
    • By Kitchenbunny 2nd Apr 13, 10:00 AM
    • 1,860 Posts
    • 20,252 Thanks
    Morning all. Been to Mr T for the weekly shop and have spent much more than I normally do. Oh well, here's £35.52 to add to my total and the annual total so far is £562.57.

    KB xx

    • lbnblbnb
    • By lbnblbnb 2nd Apr 13, 10:38 AM
    • 564 Posts
    • 5,881 Thanks
    Hiya All

    I have done the Gc challenge before with the help of you lovely people and succeeded. However i got a little bit cocky and thought i could do it on my own and have failed miserably. I would like to rejoin if possible and am going to set my target super low at £200. This is for a family of 4, i have never set it so low so going to be a challenge but the cupboards and freezer are jam packed so will be doable.

    Fingers crossed as i have some saving to do this year.

    Big Thanks to all

    Originally posted by dreamingofmoney
    Good luck. I set my budget at £200 for 4 of us, it is much easier than I thought. All the money I have wasted over the years! We don't eat much meat though, that might make it easier.
    Grocery Challenge (2 adults 2 kids)
    19th June -18th July £91:15/£150 61%

    Save £12,000 in 2013 No. 188 £7382/£12,000 62%
    2013 Frugal Living Challenge
    Debt free October 2012
    • WantToBeSE
    • By WantToBeSE 2nd Apr 13, 11:48 AM
    • 6,778 Posts
    • 30,548 Thanks
    Morning all.
    Still no spending for me today.
    I made some raisin scones using water instead of milk (no milk left) and mixed dried fruit instead of raisins, and bicarb instead of baking powder.

    i thought they were going to be a disaster, but they turned out to be lovely They are more like puffy biscuits than scones, but they have filled a hole!

    Determined not to spend ANYTHING until Friday, so will go without my cups of tea (no milk), or try it black...we'll see!

    lbnblbnb i am impressed with you managing on £200 for a family of 4, i struggle to keep in that budget with a family of 3! Good luck to dreamingofmoney
    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
    • Bluegreen143
    • By Bluegreen143 2nd Apr 13, 12:06 PM
    • 1,101 Posts
    • 12,692 Thanks
    bluegreen that looks lovely. We all love gnocchi and I have half a butternut squash already roasted in the fridge...!
    Would you mind sharing your blog? Always interested in delicious but frugal recipes. X
    Originally posted by lbnblbnb
    I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post it here (though there's no ads or anything, I don't make money from it) but its listed as my homepage in my user profile

    Edit - very impressed with your low budget, mine is £185 for two of us!! But OH does like rubbish like crisps, coke etc. If I stay in budget I'm going to try reducing again next month but its getting hard to stick to now...
    Married 1 March 2014 DS born 06/12/15

    CC - £2,182.17/£2,182.17
    Family loan 1 - £1,680/£1,680
    Family loan 2 - £3,500/£5,000
    • SpendingSensible
    • By SpendingSensible 2nd Apr 13, 12:24 PM
    • 51 Posts
    • 809 Thanks
    Started the month with a NSD, but went to MrT today for shop. Was supposed to be mainly top ups, fresh veg and milk, but ended up stockpiling some offers, so total spend was 49.20.

    And this also included 6.99 for flowers and one of those pyrex dishes (discounted with points from 9.99 to 3.99), so I actually think it's not that bad for the amount of shopping I got.

    Meal plan for rest of the week is:
    Today: lamb chops, peas and potatoes
    Wed: toad in hole, broccoli, carrot
    Thu: salmon with potatoes, mixed veg
    Fri: HM pizza

    Might swap Wed with Thu depending on what we fancy on the day itself
    Have not done any baking this weekend, but will see if I can whip up something today or tomorrow.

    Hope everyone is able to enjoy the sun today!
    • pinkypig
    • By pinkypig 2nd Apr 13, 12:37 PM
    • 1,519 Posts
    • 11,773 Thanks
    Bitterly cold here today and trying to snow so today will be a NSD because I can't face venturing out.
    Had family over for dinner last night which was lovely. We had roast beef but because it was a large joint I only carved and put out half of it but did loads of veg, mash, roasties and gravy. Everyone was stuffed and there were two decent slices of beef left plus the other bit of the joint will do us two more meals. I have made a meat and pot pie for the freezer with the left over slices, veg and gravy. We will have the rest tonight with peppercorn sauce and rice and the remainder in hot baguettes with fried onions, wedges and salad tomorrow. Feel less guilty about spending £10.45 on it now

    Also had enough left over pastry to make a quiche for the freezer and 8 jam tarts
    PP xx
    MFW 2018 #157 Target £15,000

  • sheeppappar
    hurrah just went through my receipts and actually spent less than i thought - £80 so far instead of £100 as other stuff was birthday presents and the dvd and buckets i had remembered.. hurrah!
    hope everyone's enjoying the short week x
    CC1 £7,944.10
    CC2 £2,680.03
    CC3 £1,020.88
    • Welsh Poppy
    • By Welsh Poppy 2nd Apr 13, 2:19 PM
    • 980 Posts
    • 5,912 Thanks
    Welsh Poppy
    craigywv For you:-) Thanks for making me bold or would have missed the post.

    We went to Prague and my DH had this and wanted me to recreate it it is the best I could do and it is his favorite meal.

    Wp's Hungarian Goulash

    740gm beef shin
    2-3 tablespoon oil
    2 onions finely sliced
    1 red pepper chopped
    2 tablespoon paprika
    10z plain flour
    2 tins chopped tomatoes
    1 pint beef stock
    Bouquet garni
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/4 pint natural yoghurt
    parsley to garnish

    1.Saute meat in oil in a large pan,remove to a dish
    2. Lower heat and saute the onions and red peppe in the remaining fat in the pan until softened.
    3.Add the flour and paprika,cook stirrng for a minute and then add tomatoes and stock and bring to a smmer Stirring constantly.eturn meat to the pan along with Bouquet garni and thyme and sesoning.
    4.Transfer to slow cooker and cook on a simmer for 6-8 hours
    5. Make dumplings and add to slow cooker.
    6.Serve with fresh parsley and a dollop of yoghurt (or cream)on top and enjoy.
    Weight loss challenge 66lb to go /59lb's lost

    Grocery Budget January £150/£175
    Feb £150/
    • Welsh Poppy
    • By Welsh Poppy 2nd Apr 13, 2:23 PM
    • 980 Posts
    • 5,912 Thanks
    Welsh Poppy
    NSD today so 2 days without sending money.
    I had poached egg and beans on toast out after long walk so just a roll for dinner for me.

    Menu Plan
    Wednesday....veggie meat loaf and salad
    Thursday Mushroom,onion topped with mash potato and veggie sausage(making veggie toad in hole for DS who is visiting)
    Friday lentil burger and potato wedges
    Saturday sausage and bean pie(topped with mash not pastry)
    Sunday Roast dinner minus the roast part:-)
    Weight loss challenge 66lb to go /59lb's lost

    Grocery Budget January £150/£175
    Feb £150/
    • liz-paul
    • By liz-paul 2nd Apr 13, 2:33 PM
    • 895 Posts
    • 4,806 Thanks
    Today I have baked apple & banana muffins, giant choc chip cookies (used an easter egg to make the choc chips ), flapjacks & I have brownies in the oven which are nearly ready. Was thinking I would do scones too but I'm a bit fed up with baking now

    I'm fed up with myself cos I baked the cookies for too long and they are hard rather than soft & chewy. Still perfectly edible but not quite what I wanted.... Once it's all cool will sort out freezing some and work out what else will be for what days (I have 2 days childminding, one play date at our house and another at a friends house this week so need stuff for all of those.....).

    Meal plan for this week in no particular order:
    Chicken in mushroom sauce (from a jar)
    Chicken tikka masala (from a bake in the bag kit)
    Roast gammon
    Falafel & wraps
    Fish lasagne
    And one night we're going out.
    I don't normally use a lot of things like sauces in jars but I bought some recently because basically my kids are fussy and its depressing to cook for them sometimes & I'm sick of eating the same few meals all the time. This way I can eat something a bit different without making any effort and you never know we might find something they like!!!!!
    1% at a time no. 40. £8000 (For dream family holiday) 94/100
    MFW 2013 no. 62 £10,000/£10,000
    MFW 2014 no 62 £8000/£7000
    • bargain hunter
    • By bargain hunter 2nd Apr 13, 2:48 PM
    • 542 Posts
    • 1,184 Thanks
    bargain hunter
    £4.60 spend in ffoods on milk bread and some roasties
    oh goodness -just checked auto spell and it had changed roasties to rosaries
    Hopefully don't need much at all this week, freezer and larder full to bursting !
    . FEB GC £255.82£240
    MAR GC 230.46/ £240
    APRIL GC 237.84/ £230
    MAY GC £296.10/£ 270 (5 week month !)
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