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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 fifth Grocery Challenge of 2013

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your April budget, then keep on posting in the:
    April 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; 02-04-2013 at 2:56 PM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 9
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 29th Apr 13, 9:46 PM
    • 2,113 Posts
    • 18,219 Thanks
    Hi all, after doing our budget and realising things have to change I have decided to join this challenge!

    In our house there are 6 of us and 3 cats (kittens due too!!). My challenge will include all food - including packed lunches - pet food and alcohol. My aim is if I spend under 100 p/w on these we are allowed a treat at the weekend. I know, that might sound a bit contrary, but as our bill was 100 plus eating out every weekend.

    So, I may need a little guidance to get this right! I would like our budget to be 100 a week please. Starting today and ending Friday 31st (Surely that should be a treat weekend?!)

    Now, how do I write what we spend today on here? For example a running total?

    Originally posted by sugarwalsh
    Go to the dark green banner at the top of the page and select user CP, and then on the left edit signature. Then you can add your figures
    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 200.99/280
    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
  • sugarwalsh
    Thank you K9. Hopefully I have worked it out! Here's to savings and a weekend treat...
    May GC - 100 per week
    Week 1 - 120/100 , Week 2 110/100, Week 3 110/100, Week 4 50/100Week 5

    DFW - March '13 - c/c 5600, April 4500, May 2500
    • getting-sorted-sarah
    • By getting-sorted-sarah 29th Apr 13, 10:04 PM
    • 719 Posts
    • 3,756 Thanks
    It has been a not very good weekend (for non-GC reasons), resulting in no sleep last night and not much planning. Pretty sorry for myself and spent 2.20 on a sandwich at work. Also 3.50 in Waitross.
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 29th Apr 13, 11:04 PM
    • 2,113 Posts
    • 18,219 Thanks
    Thank you K9. Hopefully I have worked it out! Here's to savings and a weekend treat...
    Originally posted by sugarwalsh
    You're welcome.

    @Getting sorted Sarah - Chin up hun. Know only too well what those days can be like.
    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 200.99/280
    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
    • MrsCautious
    • By MrsCautious 30th Apr 13, 8:08 AM
    • 1,161 Posts
    • 13,728 Thanks
    Good morning all, I'm still in April and will have some last spends today.

    I just wanted to share the following in case it's of use. Since starting the challenge I have been entering competitions via the Competitions Time part of this forum, by searching for competitions with vouchers as prizes.

    I've planned to use the vouchers to save my own money -- sorry stating the obvious there but what I'm trying to say is, our family may consume 200+ worth of groceries but my spend is brought down, even more with nectar points through various means including Adpoints.

    Yesterday I won 50 of Love to Shop vouchers and you can use these in Iceland, so in May, I plan to stock up there -- I have a target of 180 for the month and rather than thinking 'wahay that's 50 extra' I'm going to be as tight as possible and realistically, taking into account the voucher, I should spend around 130. (We'll see!)

    Anyway the competition where I won the 50 worth of vouchers is running again, you have to like a facebook page called Rant and Rave and then either rave (I did about Approved Foods) or rant (I did with a stream of consciousness about Next) for a chance to win -- or you can do this on the Rant and Rave website, I posted the links here:

    Other vouchers I've received in the last 3 months or so:

    100 Waitrose for being in a magazine
    11.70 Love2Shop -- for signing up to Top Cashback (it took since November)
    10 off Dr Oetker pizzas -- another facebook competition listed on here.

    I have 150-ish to be paid out from Top Cashback which I may also put on a shopping voucher, I'm also chasing about 100 worth of missing cashback -- this has come from Xmas shopping plus insurance policies/mobile phones.

    I just wanted to pass on the tip that it may be worthwhile trying for these competitions/other ways of getting vouchers as it's new to me and I wondered if it could be useful to anyone else.

    I know it can be a slog for some compers but I've focused on food we would eat anyway, plus vouchers.

    There are regular chances to win small vouchers through blogs, twitter, facebook and different websites -- I've been bitten by the bug now.
    Wishing you loads of luck if you do try it.

    Bye xx
    Last edited by MrsCautious; 30-04-2013 at 1:43 PM.
    • becsxxx
    • By becsxxx 30th Apr 13, 8:59 AM
    • 792 Posts
    • 15,903 Thanks
    MrsCautious - I do exactly the same! This year when I've had small wins like weetabix or 2 litres of milk, I've actually felt disproportionately happy that these have helped my grocery budget (sad or what!!!). Having said that, I didn't turn my nose up when I won 500 of vouchers to spend in a nice women's clothes shop either....!!!

    It is also worth checking out the freebies board if you don't already. For example, this week, got a voucher for a free (small) bottle of coke zero. Nothing massive, but will stop OH buying one for that day at least!
    • becsxxx
    • By becsxxx 30th Apr 13, 9:03 AM
    • 792 Posts
    • 15,903 Thanks
    Oh yes, also on the freebies board, it is worth registering for bzzzagent - free products to trial and report on and money off vouchers for them too. You also get tesc0 clubcard points for submitting some surveys/reports.

    In the last month I've had some packs of aero, some moisturiser, deodorant and now am getting posted out some coffee samples! All for free, just for sharing your opinion and good luck with your friends!

    becs xxx
  • In_it_not_to_giveitaway
    Could you put me down for 225 please.

    i am growing some cress on my kitchen window sill baby steps to self sufficiency
    Originally posted by tessie bear
    I have got basil, rosemary, mint and thyme on the window sill but performance is a bit patchy because there isn't really enough sun. Going to start in the very small back yard this weekend and cover with a metal cage to prevent intereference. Thinking of putting in spring onion and lettuce too.

    Hope everyone is doing well.
    • Bluegreen143
    • By Bluegreen143 30th Apr 13, 9:55 AM
    • 1,101 Posts
    • 12,692 Thanks
    Just popping on to report no spends yesterday (thank goodness). No picture because I was at a friend's for dinner, she made me a lovely chicken stirfry and another friend who lives with her made lemon & poppy-seed cakes, yum.

    My OH had pizza and salad, both already in, and also managed not to buy anything
    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
    • pajama
    • By pajama 30th Apr 13, 10:12 AM
    • 103 Posts
    • 1,586 Thanks
    Reporting a spend yesterday of 50.52 in Aldi.

    So shocked when I called into Tesco yesterday to pick up something Hubby had ordered off Tesco direct. I went to the flour section to grab a bag of Tescos own bread flour and its price has shot up to 1.21!!!! Last time I bought some, only a couple of weeks ago, it was about 69p a bag. Time to see if I can find it elsewhere cheaper
    Grocery Challenge - Sept 205.56/350.00

    • lizalloareds
    • By lizalloareds 30th Apr 13, 10:28 AM
    • 1,808 Posts
    • 17,414 Thanks
    spends today

    1.28 Ald*
    70p Mr T
    1.24 Lid*

    sig updated
    Last edited by lizalloareds; 30-04-2013 at 2:20 PM.
    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
    • medusasmummy
    • By medusasmummy 30th Apr 13, 10:40 AM
    • 158 Posts
    • 1,313 Thanks
    Reporting a spend yesterday of 50.52 in Aldi.

    So shocked when I called into Tesco yesterday to pick up something Hubby had ordered off Tesco direct. I went to the flour section to grab a bag of Tescos own bread flour and its price has shot up to 1.21!!!! Last time I bought some, only a couple of weeks ago, it was about 69p a bag. Time to see if I can find it elsewhere cheaper
    Originally posted by pajama
    no sure what shops you have locally but asda and sainsburys own brand strong white is 80p

    also its been a few weeks but lidl sell it for about 69p

    • Nicki_Sue
    • By Nicki_Sue 30th Apr 13, 10:47 AM
    • 1,216 Posts
    • 7,405 Thanks
    Could you put me down for 350 for May please (running for the full month - 1st - 31st). I'm aiming to reduce this for June however need to work on some stockpiling first as Mother Hubbard has nothing on my pantry!
    • sefilby
    • By sefilby 30th Apr 13, 11:06 AM
    • 143 Posts
    • 1,628 Thanks
    Sig updated - had to make a slight adjustment to April for a recipt hidden at the bottom of my handbag and came over budget but not by much :-/
    Spent 6.48 yesterday; food on the go, had to catch a train early - missed breakfast and had to be at an exam centre by 9am. Passed the exam (instant results yay!)
    Now to stick with the shopping lists and NO on the spot spending!
    Christmas budget 266.38/535 15/27gifts
    Read a book a week challenge 50/52
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 30th Apr 13, 11:24 AM
    • 2,113 Posts
    • 18,219 Thanks
    Sig updated - had to make a slight adjustment to April for a recipt hidden at the bottom of my handbag and came over budget but not by much :-/
    Spent 6.48 yesterday; food on the go, had to catch a train early - missed breakfast and had to be at an exam centre by 9am. Passed the exam (instant results yay!)
    Now to stick with the shopping lists and NO on the spot spending!
    Originally posted by sefilby

    Well done. Totally worth the spend
    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 200.99/280
    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
  • sheeppappar
    hello all x
    well my total is creeping up bit by bit.. went to sains last night for cottage cheese to make quiche.. ouchy 1.55!!! loads more than i would normally spend on value c cheese! never mind though as it will do 2 days lunches and i got a bag of YS salad for 34p.
    I froze cooked ham for the first time this weekend as it was going to go out of date.. not cooked by me, just supermarket sandwich meat..had some defrosted yesterday in salad and it was perfect.. can't believe i have chucked out cooked meat before!! never again!

    Also just wanted to say I haven't bought biscuits for about the past month or 6 weeks thanks to this board.. the Everyday Biscuits from the index are a firm favourite, also Delia ginger oat biscuits.. all using storecupboard stuff and saving about a quid a go on a packet of biscuits.. last night i googled a recipe for idiot biscuits as my mam used to make them with me when i was tiny .. especially for mr sheep as my weekend experiment was lemon and earl grey shortbread and he didn't like it (only I didn't have lemon or earl grey so i did orange and darjeeling.. totally lush).. all for zero pence unless you count cost of oven being on

    Anyway hope everyone is having a fab week .. roll on bank hol weekend!

    PS here's the recipe if anyone wants it.. i should say I got it from this blog and amended it to what's below
    Lemon Orange and Earl Grey darjeeling shortbread

    175g/6oz plain flour
    Pinch of salt
    55g/2oz caster sugar plus extra for sprinkling
    115g/4oz butter, chopped into chunks (i used Stork as had no butter)
    2 tea bags, tear open the bags to remove the tea, discard the paper bags....
    Unwaxed lemon orange zest, finely grated


    Pre heat oven to 150'C/300'F/Gas mark 2 and grease a baking tray

    Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, tea and grated zest in a bowl, then rub in the butter lumps of stork, mix until it forms a soft dough, you have to mash it together a bit with your hands as it's not butter but it comes out ok

    Roll into a sausage about 1.5 inches in diameter
    Slice the sausage into approx 1/4 - 1/2 inch slices
    pr!ck with a fork and sprinkle sugar on.
    Put on baking tray and pop in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until the shortbread is firm and just coloured.

    Leave to cool. Scoff.
    They do look slightly odd.. black and speckly with orange bits in.. but are tasty as can be!
    Last edited by sheeppappar; 30-04-2013 at 12:23 PM. Reason: Add recipe
    CC1 7,944.10
    CC2 2,680.03
    CC3 1,020.88
  • agreenmess

    Can you put me down for 100 (25 spare if needed) already spent 47.33 of that so fingers crossed we can manage. Really wanting to cut all my spending down to a minimum to save up for a downpayment.

    Nessy x
    House Deposit - 0 /20,000
    Weight Loss - .5lbs
    • MrsCautious
    • By MrsCautious 30th Apr 13, 1:46 PM
    • 1,161 Posts
    • 13,728 Thanks
    Thanks becsxxx will definitely take a better look at those, I have entered prize draws for a lone bar of chocolate even thought I sort of said to myself I wouldn't. I'd love to win Weetabix, nothing sad about that...
    • ajt85
    • By ajt85 30th Apr 13, 2:15 PM
    • 31 Posts
    • 207 Thanks
    Hi all, we are a family of me and three hungry boys 3yrs,4.5yrs and 38! Due to husband having to pay big final bill from our previous supplier, as well as sons third birthday start of June (has to come out of May budget).
    Really need to try and be super conscious of budget this month and would really like to get the money to cover LO'S b-day party (which having at the house to save on hire costs, heaven help me) and gifts.
    Do you guys inc toiletries and cleaning products in this budget (as i do)?
    Can you guys give me an idea of a weekly/monthly spend for you guys in a similar situation. My husband is a meat lover so the dinners need to at least have meat in. Also have two cats though have managed to find them non-branded items and littlest one no longer has nappies any advice well recieved as really want to make our money work for us!
    • BeckyC2be
    • By BeckyC2be 30th Apr 13, 2:47 PM
    • 171 Posts
    • 454 Thanks
    Hi everyone in May Just popping in to add my budget to the list

    Going for 150 this month, to include me and a hungry OH ad two kitties.

    Good luck everyone
    Rubbish at the grocery challenge!
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