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 21
    • tessie bear
    • By tessie bear 4th Apr 13, 8:37 AM
    • 4,361 Posts
    • 30,013 Thanks
    tessie bear
    hi...posted last night and it got lost...never mind i have been relaxed over the holidays with meal planning and havent done very much shopping but plan to do a plan later and fancy making a chilli to use uo a few bits in the fridge for the weekend

    i have a lot of veg and pots for some reason and plan a few roast dinners and as it is snowing again this seems suitable

    quite fancy making a steamed pudding as well and i got some lovely looking rhubarb so will make a nice crumble for tea

    take care tessa
    onwards and upwards
    • forever saving
    • By forever saving 4th Apr 13, 9:00 AM
    • 565 Posts
    • 8,850 Thanks
    forever saving
    Please could i be put down for 300 for April. My month started on the 1st and i have already spent 75.47. I did get a few bits and pieces for the freezer today from Aldi, all reduced. I got two pork loin joints, a large chicken, three trays of chicken mini fillets, a tray of haddock fillets, two trays of tikka chicken and a stonebaked pizza all for 15.70. That has all been added to the total so far.
    I will have to get a few top ups over the weekend.
    Good luck to everyone else.
    Jan GC 298.62/300 Feb 298.01/300 March 331.06/300 April 69.96/300
    Learning to accept the things i cannot change
    • WantToBeSE
    • By WantToBeSE 4th Apr 13, 9:11 AM
    • 6,795 Posts
    • 30,577 Thanks
    Ii get my Tax Credits tomorrow, so today we will be living off peanut butter on toast and tomato soup

    Dinner will be lasagna (i already have mince in the freezer to use up).

    So, no spends for me today again
    10k of Debt

    Debt Free Diary
    • Vickyh
    • By Vickyh 4th Apr 13, 10:19 AM
    • 96 Posts
    • 192 Thanks
    I have updated the sig, and have spent 89 already!! its only the 4th!

    I am not going to buy anything else except meat- i do not have any 'stock' in the freezer.

    Doesn't help i had to spend extra on nappies as Basic Mr S are not being made anymore and my hubby is off for easter hols- so he constantly hungry!!

    Fingers crossed i can do it!!
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 4th Apr 13, 10:43 AM
    • 2,127 Posts
    • 18,279 Thanks
    Loving all the Mr T vouchers :D
    Mr T delivery just came; and minus 9.00 cat food which was on offer ( for one fussy cat who actually doesn't like the more expensive stuff) and 5.38 cat litter, then 3.40 promotions and 12.50 ( incl 5 off one)vouchers .... i managed to whittle it down to 34.96. I only wish when i had booked the delivery saver i had managed not to botch up the half price offer, but too late worrying about it now.

    I mistakenly ordered two number 1 candles and the 0 was OOS, so have to go on a candle hunt shortly. I'm also going to get DD's cake today instead of tomorrow. So, hopefully tomorrow will be a NSD; and the weekend also, as we are stocked up to the rafters. I'm keeping my fingers crossed i will only need top up shops in C*-*p ( possibly milk and fruit) up until the 13/14th when i can use another Mr T voucher . I am a sucker for the YS items in the C*-*p though!

    Nice to see the weather has booked up.
    Making me feel very virtuous. Already had a tidy in the kitchen, unpacked the shopping and prepped DD's tea

    Have a nice day all
    GC 2017 3,434.09 GC 2018 2,250.95 GC 2019 Jan 268.24/200 Feb 158.01/200 Mar 220.05/200 April (moving) May (adjusting 270.73), Jun 291.01/280 Jul 344.31/300 Aug 232.48/300 Sep 320.91/300 Oct 92.97/300
    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
    • BeckyC2be
    • By BeckyC2be 4th Apr 13, 10:46 AM
    • 171 Posts
    • 455 Thanks
    Good luck Vickyh, I know how hard it is when you live with a gannet :P

    Bought a big pack of mince from Mr T's today, half price at 2.75 so that'll do us for three or four meals. Hopefully that'll be the last money spent until Monday.
    Rubbish at the grocery challenge!
    • Welsh Poppy
    • By Welsh Poppy 4th Apr 13, 11:10 AM
    • 980 Posts
    • 5,912 Thanks
    Welsh Poppy
    Another no spend day for us
    Dinner will be cheese and potato pie with peas and pigs in blankets

    I am getting used to using what i have up and reduce my stash in freezer and pantry,
    Weight loss challenge 66lb to go /59lb's lost

    Grocery Budget January 150/175
    Feb 150/
  • sheeppappar
    hello all.. just about to redo my meal plan to make sure we keep on track next week when mr sheep's kids are here.. think I will do a Tsco everyday value-only shop with the free click and collect to keep costs down..
    Need to update sig for tea last night - M+S ready meals, part paid for by the last of my vouchers from credit card.. but also couldn't resist YS smoked salmon 12 slices reduced from 12 to 3.. now in the freezer all bagged up in portions. I hope the posh M+S salmon doesn't mind its future in with value pasta and value garlic + herb soft cheese for a lovely supper
    Hope everyone's enjoying the sunshine... xx
    CC1 7,944.10
    CC2 2,680.03
    CC3 1,020.88
    • becsxxx
    • By becsxxx 4th Apr 13, 11:43 AM
    • 792 Posts
    • 15,903 Thanks
    Anyone got a good spicy receipe for red cabbage that doesnt include sugar, raisins or apple? Family really dont like fruit in savoury meals.
    Originally posted by russetred
    Hi, my favourite is an adaptation of a Nigel Slater recipe.

    Lightly fry chopped garlic and onion. Fry the chopped cabbage a little then add: a few strands of thyme, half a glass of red wine, half a glass of red wine vinegar, sprinkle of chilli powder and cumin. Cook on low for a couple of hours adding the odd splash of water if it dries out. Add a knob of butter and serve - ta da!
    • MrsCautious
    • By MrsCautious 4th Apr 13, 12:14 PM
    • 1,161 Posts
    • 13,728 Thanks
    Thank you JIL I may well give that recipe for mushrooms a go as I have all the ingredients with mushrooms and half a lemon to use up. Looks great.

    Spent 7.23 in S'bury's on bread rolls, Warburton loaf, Bertolli margerine, dog bone, crisps, (12 bags Walkers Lites on offer, for 2, usually 3.60) YS baked beans, reduced to 25p for big can of reduced salt and sugar. Disappointed not to get YS bread but picked up then put back YS reduced fat mayonnaise at 39p a jar. (Best before April 2013)

    Filled up on petrol (different budget) so hoping for a couple of NSDs tomorrow and Saturday now.

    Hope everyone has a good few days, will look forward to catching up with this thread when I'm back from a few days away x
    Last edited by MrsCautious; 04-04-2013 at 12:21 PM.
    • MrsCautious
    • By MrsCautious 4th Apr 13, 12:29 PM
    • 1,161 Posts
    • 13,728 Thanks
    I hope the posh M+S salmon doesn't mind its future in with value pasta and value garlic + herb soft cheese for a lovely supper
    Hope everyone's enjoying the sunshine... xx
    Originally posted by sheeppappar
    You made me smile - sounds like my kind of meal I've been mixing stuff bought with a freebie of Waitrose vouchers with Aldi veg and S'bury's Basics stuff, sometimes my children try and guess which bit of their meal is from where....we really must get out more
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 4th Apr 13, 1:27 PM
    • 2,127 Posts
    • 18,279 Thanks
    Another little spend ...
    Birthday cake for 6.50 and 0.25 YS cadburys 5pack of lemon cake bars ... a few other spends, but that was it for Grocery.

    Hope to not be reporting any more spends now until next week at least.

    Sig updated.
    GC 2017 3,434.09 GC 2018 2,250.95 GC 2019 Jan 268.24/200 Feb 158.01/200 Mar 220.05/200 April (moving) May (adjusting 270.73), Jun 291.01/280 Jul 344.31/300 Aug 232.48/300 Sep 320.91/300 Oct 92.97/300
    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
    • AimingForBetter
    • By AimingForBetter 4th Apr 13, 2:17 PM
    • 182 Posts
    • 2,316 Thanks
    Hello everyone

    Hope you are all having a good week.

    Just a quick update on spends so far -

    Monday 5.00 on part of a birthday present (have to count in as used shopping money as no other funds avail at the mo).

    Today 99.52 in Sains first proper shop this month, should keep us pretty much OK for next 2 weeks other than milk & prob some bread.

    Have reduced the budget this month but still hoping it will come in at less, will need to restock some meat and storecupboard things but aiming to keep the next shop to a max of about 150.

    We shall see how it goes!

    • becsxxx
    • By becsxxx 4th Apr 13, 2:49 PM
    • 792 Posts
    • 15,903 Thanks
    WOW, finally read through all 21 pages - can't believe it's only 4th April and I've only been away a couple of days!

    Well done everyone!

    Well, fantastic weekend away in Ireland for us, not as expensive as feared... until... had a horrible car accident on the M1 on the way home. Very upsetting and going to cost a fortune no doubt (and my fault too..)

    Makes it even more imperative to save on the groceries this month. Off to Aldi tonight for just fresh stuff for next week. I'm away all weekend on a hen do (expensive again but a different budget) so goodness knows how DH will get on!
    • smokies
    • By smokies 4th Apr 13, 3:14 PM
    • 137 Posts
    • 1,314 Thanks
    Oh dear, went to Mr T last night with DH, and spend 52.00, which was the last of my budget....... freezers/fridege/cupboards are full and i have done a meal plan for next week........

    Must be extra extra careful for the next 2 weeks, will have to borrow some cash ( if needed for fresh things ) out of the "other" budget.......

    As a said this is a real eye opener and its so easy to go off track......
    Sell 750.00
    Jan-feb-march - 150.00

    • Billie-jo
    • By Billie-jo 4th Apr 13, 3:23 PM
    • 1,221 Posts
    • 15,892 Thanks
    Becs- Sorry to hear about the accident but thank goodness you are ok. Cars can be mended but people not so easily.

    The first spends of April today and it came to 30.96. Not too bad all things considered as did buy one or two items that were not on list but will get used.
    Tomorrow I am taking mum to Te$co and I have about 17 in vouchers that need using up for the end of this month so my plan is to spend these (and only these) on any good offers that will keep.
    [COLOR="Purple"][B] MARCH 62.38/250 [B][COLOR="Purple"]
  • sheeppappar
    ... had a horrible car accident on the M1 on the way home. Very upsetting and going to cost a fortune no doubt (and my fault too..)
    Originally posted by becsxxx
    O no xx I hope you and yours are all ok!

    i did my everyday value shop online to collect tomorrow and have spent another 35 getting stuff for mr sheep's 2 to eat this weekend/next week.. but what i bought should also keep us in meat till end of month + also bought dog food with that as well. got some everyday value shower gel to continue my campaign of secretly topping up the "proper" shower gel in the bathroom (same colour so no-one realises )

    i have to stick to the meal plan this week as i am back on the we!ghtw@tchers bandwagon and won't lose if i don't eat what's planned

    i am having potato dish for tea tonight! can't remember who posted it but i have added it to my list of MSE recipes and am looking forward to it
    CC1 7,944.10
    CC2 2,680.03
    CC3 1,020.88
    • becsxxx
    • By becsxxx 4th Apr 13, 3:41 PM
    • 792 Posts
    • 15,903 Thanks
    thanks Billie-jo and sheeppappar for your kind words - we are shaken up but ok (and the dog was terrified but no physical damage thank goodness). Apparently 2k worth of damage! 245 excess for me to pay which isn't ideal (plus the massively increased premiums in the future which I can't bear to even think about now!)
    • Baileys Babe
    • By Baileys Babe 4th Apr 13, 3:45 PM
    • 2,586 Posts
    • 13,538 Thanks
    Baileys Babe
    Please sign me up for the April challenge 300 This is for all food, eating out, takeaways, snacks, alcohol, toiletries, household, OTC medicines and prescriptions.

    Last month we over spent hugely 495.56/432.27 (310+122.27) as I don't anticipate many meal out (March's downfall) this month I'm hoping to do a lot better.

    Off now to catch up on how everyone is doing.

    Thank you to everyone who helps run this thread
    • xxlouisexx56
    • By xxlouisexx56 4th Apr 13, 3:56 PM
    • 2,191 Posts
    • 30,133 Thanks
    First shop of the month today.

    20 including cheese, milk, juice, crisps and tonnes of packed lunch bits (I buy in bulk when good offers are on) ham
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

576Posts Today

5,798Users online

Martin's Twitter