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
    If you haven’t already, join the forum to reply. If you aren’t sure how it all works, read our New to Forum? Intro Guide.

    This Forum Tip was included in MoneySavingExpert's weekly email

    Don't miss out on new deals, loopholes, and vouchers

    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the eighth Grocery Challenge of 2013

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your July budget, then keep on posting in the:
    July 2013 Grocery Challenge

    As always this challenge is to reduce your own grocery budget to levels that you will be pleased with, not forgetting that we always recommend that you stay inside your own comfort levels and take things gently one step at a time. Remember that this is not a's designed to take you and your grocery spending to a level you are happy with.

    If you are new to the challenge I have quoted the advice from Galtizz below which will help you get started.

    Please post into this thread for help and advice and support at any time. Good luck to everyone taking part!

    I have said this before, but for all the newbies to the challenge;

    For the first month I took a guess at the budget but I really had no idea how much I was spending.

    I found the best thing is to have a guess the first month but SAVE ALL OF YOUR RECEIPTS (and yes, that does include the ones from the local shop when you run out of milk ), then at the end of the month add them all up and have a look if you were on budget, if not, it doesn't matter because your budget was a guess. For the next month you can use the total of your receipts and take a bit off to get a realistic budget, just shave off as much as you think you can, it could be 1 a week or 20 a week.

    If you are currently spending 200 a month don't suddenly drop it to 100 - you'll never do it but if you cut 20 a month off for a few months you'll get there eventually without feeling you're missing out on anything.

    You might think you've done everything you can in the first month but someone always comes up with a new idea and, if you try it you often find you save a bit more (unless you are SarahSaver who is an expert at this and could only save more if she turned her back garden into a paddy field and lived on rice ) In the first month I thought, I'm planning meals, I couldn't possibly save any more, but then I started double cooking and freezing, and making soup instead of buying it in tins.

    I've been doing this since Feb but only saved ALL of my receipts last month, it has given me a much better idea of where it is all going. Budget for next month is 80 for 2 of us, I'll start on 30/4. I could probably save more, by eating different foods but I can afford to live on 80, I have saved a lot of money since Feb. and I don't waste food or money any more. So I'm happy with my budget.
    By request, here is Spiggles wonderful helpful post

    We all have different budgets that suit our households. The most important thing to remember is that you set yours according to your needs and finances. It can take time to get to where you want to be too so don't knock yourself out if you go over in the first few months. We are here to support each other and it is not a competition.

    I thought it might help to outline where we've come from and the top tips I've learned.

    When we started in March 2010 we had spent in excess of 600 in the previous month. This had to stop, (there's only me and him and our two beautiful black cats) something which thankfully my OH completely agreed with so I have been lucky that he has been on board from the start. He gave me his debit card voluntarily and I still keep hold of it until he needs to get something for the home. At the same time we set up a system of pocket money (pm) at 15 each per week which doesn't count towards the GC and which we can each spend as we wish with no comebacks or complaints. OH predominantly uses his pm on his beer and I ferret mine away mostly.

    The next step was to set up my own spreadsheet which is absolutely simple onto which I put all spends so that I have a continuous running total for the month and for the year. We initially set our budget at 280 per month and brought it down to 240 where it resides for most of the year it is occasionally increased to allow for extras e.g. Christmas to 260.

    The important 'tools' we found greatly helped and continue to do so now are:

    Stocktake cupboards, fridge, freezer - make lists and ensure that the older products get used up first. You'll be amazed at what you find squirrelled away and it will help with your shopping list as you'll realise that you don't actually need so much.

    Before you go shopping check staples - running out of milk, bread, butter, etc often leads to going into a shop for one thing and coming out 20 lighter. Always check these and if they'll run out tomorrow buy them the same time as getting other things.

    Always make a shopping list and stick to it - the supermarkets (sm) try every which way to get us to spend so having a list and strong resolve is the only way to beat them.

    Keep every receipt - and then note it down on your spreadsheet/spend diary so that you always know where you are.

    When tempted, ask yourself do you NEED it or just WANT it - now this advice goes with two things. Firstly, the things you see in store when shopping that APPEAR to be bargains - if you hadn't planned spending the money then its not a bargain. Secondly, the sm send us loads of vouchers for X off a spend of XX - if you had no NEED to spend XX then have you SAVED anything???

    Use my supermarket to compare prices (limited to four of the biggies) - The site may be used to actually do an online shop at whichever of the big four offers the best value or, if you have the time and sm availability, to make up lists for visiting each of the stores so that you can purchase all you need at different stores thus getting the best possible value. (I'd add, do a 'shop' virtually on this site and take the list you create on it with you, whichever one you shop at, it will help keep target prices in your head and allow you to spot bargains. MrM is not included but you can do a virtual list on their website so you know what you're going to be spending.)

    Always have a list - this is just as important when shopping online as shopping on foot.

    Use Approved Foods online (with a list!) - if you don't mind out of date things (ood) or you can search for only in date items. The only drawback is storing the goods as far as I can tell. Oh, and watch the delivery as it's done on a scaled charge for weight so keep an eye on it. You can of course do an AF order with friends, family, colleagues or like minded neighbours. Other GCers use Big Br*nds 4 Less too.

    Invest in a breadmaker - we have saved so much by making our own bread. The prices in the shops are extortionate for bread these days. There's loads of advice on this thread and others in the forum on this.

    Use the recipe lists - always posted at the front of a new thread. There are fantastic, tasty, healthy and economical recipes to use on them and there are a number of other threads on the forum such as Weezl's that will help you to eat well on a budget.

    Shop locally - the local greengrocer (or preferably market but I don't have one ) is usually cheaper as an option for fruit and veg (f&v) than the sm. Often the prices may look the same but when you look at the quantity for the same price the greengrocer will be cheaper. The same goes for the local butcher. Often you will have far more variety of meat available, advice on how to cook a particular meat can be offered and there is (for me at least) no comparison in terms of quality. We buy our huge FR eggs there and I'm yet to find an equivalent FR egg in a sm at the same or lower price. Obvioulsy if you have your own chicks/know someone who has chicks you can get them even cheaper again.

    Grow your own - it's quite simple to grow some f&v at home even if it's only in pots on the patio. There are also supportive threads on the forum for this.

    Cook your own - making meals at home from ingredients is far more economical, often tastes better than shop bought and is probably far better healthwise.

    Meal Plan - this is something that others can advise on as we don't do it. I have a tremendous capacity for eating the same food over many days but presented in slightly different form. For example, we could buy 7 worth of brisket from the butchers and eat it as pot roast for a couple of days, sliced for sarnies, sliced with a salad, chucked into a casserole or shredded up and fried as crispy beef.

    Don't waste food - either only make what you need or use any leftovers for other meals/creations or freeze it for another day.

    Withdraw the cash you want to spend - and keep it in a separate purse. This can be particularly effective as you have the money in front of you reducing rather than spending with plastic which is so easy to lose track of. Very useful when you first start out.

    Don't go to the shops to browse - this can only lead to pain and hardship!!!

    Keep posting and reading the thread - there really is no better supportive, wise and inspirational place to be! I think I saw that somebody mentioned forgetting to read/post. I get around this by using the Advanced button to post, below the window where your text is displayed you will see Additional Options. In the Thread Subscription box use the dropdown to select either instant email notification (this is what I use) or daily email notification before you submit your latest post. Then you will get an email into your inbox from which you can click to the thread to see what others are saying.

    Always remember the sm is not your friend - it wants to profit from you and take as much of your money as it can coerce out of you!

    So, there you go as a starting point. Others on here will offer tremendous advice on meal planning. And don't forget, the only silly question is the one you didn't ask!

    See you all later,
    For quidelines on posting in this thread please read the second post in this thread.

    For the Grocery challenge Recipe Index please see posts #3, #4, #5 #6 #7 #8 & #9 on this thread (the list is growing!!!!!)

    For everyones totals, see post #10 on this thread

    I hope everyone has a great month!

    Last edited by zippychick; 20-08-2013 at 1:27 PM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 23
  • sheeppappar
    Hello everyone!
    Had a couple of top up shops which came to about 25 I reckon.. will update signature...
    Hope you are all having a good week this week!

    Bluegreen / other breadmakers.. maybe a daft question but how do you fit breadmaking into your routine?.. genuine question.. I have tried a couple of times but then normally only think of doing it when I get in from work.. then by the time the dough's had a chance to rise twice then it's really late at night. I assume you fit it in to your busy lives so would be interested to know how you do it.. Bluegreen I see you freeze yours - do you just do a big batch at the weekend or something?

    Off to check the recipe index for Bluegreen's butter bean onion + cheddar bake as I have all those ingredients in and it sounds lush!
    CC1 7,944.10
    CC2 2,680.03
    CC3 1,020.88
    • lushlifesaver
    • By lushlifesaver 7th Aug 13, 9:34 AM
    • 2,312 Posts
    • 18,637 Thanks
    Morning all, 2 spent yesterday in the new 99p shop that has opened in the local shopping centre. I can see that place saving us a bit as the local pound shops are only small and barely stock anything we'd touch where are the 99p shop stock lots we'd eat. Especially stuff to allow me a bit more variety of hot lunches in winter and bits for when we take the team away (I'm responsible for food at lunches etc!)
    Perfect Princess born 26/03/14 <3
    • Billie-jo
    • By Billie-jo 7th Aug 13, 9:43 AM
    • 1,221 Posts
    • 15,892 Thanks
    Nicki_Sue - I have a bread maker but only use it to mix the dough then bake in the oven. I don't make my own bread ALL the time but when I do its so much nicer than shop brought. I also mix base up for pizza's in it but to be honest if/when it no longer works I doubt I would buy another one just do it all by hand. I buy flour and yeast from A1di or Te$co depending what shop I am in when I need some.
    Daughter also has a bread maker that was given to her and as yet she has never used it but does make her own bread using the mixes she buys from A1di and they are not bad.

    Bluegreen - rolls look lovely and very professional.
    [COLOR="Purple"][B] MARCH 62.38/250 [B][COLOR="Purple"]
    • b_girl
    • By b_girl 7th Aug 13, 10:04 AM
    • 261 Posts
    • 1,135 Thanks
    Hi all,
    I'd love to join this thread if it's not too late? Since we are already a week into this month I'll aim for 80 this month for DH, baby DD and I. Including all food, toiletries and cleaning products.

    My grocery spending has become out of control since moving house 2 weeks ago and I desperately need to get back on track!

    Trying to live a good life on little money
    • meg72
    • By meg72 7th Aug 13, 11:29 AM
    • 5,082 Posts
    • 46,072 Thanks
    Have to make some bread and scones today as my DGD made her very first batch of strawberry Jam, she bought me a jar yesterday.

    Its lovely and only homemade bread or scone is going to do it justice
    Slimming World at target
  • Mrs-s
    Mr T shop 41.65 not including the present for ds1 I got in there. Should've been 79 something before offers and the 20 off voucher I had so pretty pleased with that! Includes 9 bottles of coke and bagful of bits for lunch boxes I'm hiding ready for September. And a few things that will make meals for next week too.
    Will update sig with current total - 146.21 left and 24 days left!
    January Grocery challenge - 165.31/350
    • girlatplay
    • By girlatplay 7th Aug 13, 12:38 PM
    • 2,539 Posts
    • 14,813 Thanks
    12.76 in the fruit & veg shop today and I have big plans for it. I have made a list of the things I am "home making" this week. As long as I am careful in the supermarket I should come in nicely under budget for this week.
    Loan (7,500) current balance: 6,798.44
    IO Mortgage current balance: 87,630

    • WantToBeSE
    • By WantToBeSE 7th Aug 13, 1:15 PM
    • 6,778 Posts
    • 30,548 Thanks
    Not buying anything today, as i actually cant! Bank is at -8.90, despite the fact that i dont have an OD
    NEED tax credits to be processed, and to get my 1st wage from my new job. Haven't been this dire in a while now, but it's to be expected when waiting between being unemployed and getting a new job.

    Instead, we are baking Nigella Christmas cookies today..they are just plain choc biscuits.
    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
  • sheeppappar
    He he! just noticed the August GC has a mention on the weekly MSE email!
    Fame at last
    CC1 7,944.10
    CC2 2,680.03
    CC3 1,020.88
    • lizalloareds
    • By lizalloareds 7th Aug 13, 1:21 PM
    • 1,808 Posts
    • 17,414 Thanks
    spends today 2.25

    74p Lid*
    94p Ald*
    57p Mr T
    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
    • joedenise
    • By joedenise 7th Aug 13, 1:39 PM
    • 6,302 Posts
    • 46,317 Thanks
    Has been a NSD for me today. Will be doing a weekly shop tomorrow, hoping it won't be too expensive as already have quite a lot in freezer and cupboards which I need for the coming week.

    • CountingPennies
    • By CountingPennies 7th Aug 13, 2:28 PM
    • 1,882 Posts
    • 15,036 Thanks
    NSD here. Breadrolls look amazing! Gonna give them a try after my holiday
    Slimming World Challenge 2017 0/30.5lb

    Grocery challenge 2017 JAN: 5.56/350
    • Bluegreen143
    • By Bluegreen143 7th Aug 13, 3:15 PM
    • 1,101 Posts
    • 12,692 Thanks
    sheeppappar - yes, I do most of it on a Sunday. I go climbing on Sunday mornings*, get the shopping on the way home (if it's not an online delivery) then spend most of Sunday in the kitchen.

    This week I made - 12 rolls (sometimes I make 6 rolls and a loaf); 12 choc chip muffins; roast dinner for that day's dinner; duck stock from the carcass of the roast; 5 portions of soup for my lunches; soaked and cooked a whole pack of butter beans for the freezer; 4 portions veggie chilli for the freezer; and made the dough for a batch of wraps (I rolled and cooked them the next day as I was knackered by then!).

    I don't always make so much but make a minimum of a loaf/batch of rolls (usually two batches as above) + soup (unless there's enough soup left in the freezer for the week. I freeze the rolls straight away in a bag and freeze the loaf sliced and retrieve a roll each day for OH's lunches the night before, so it can defrost. I take mine straight out of the freezer to work as it's defrosted by the time I want it.

    All this advance cooking is necessary as I'm back at around 7.30 most evenings (finish work at 5 then go to the gym/swimming or sometimes meeting a friend for coffee after work). So we have quick to cook meals (e.g. fajitas, mac and cheese, strifry) or made in advance meals (e.g. the chilli I made on Sunday) 3 or 4 times a week. HTH.

    *well, we meet at 11.30, so not that early, I like me a lie-in if I've been out on a Saturday night

    OH and as for the butter bean bake, it's so tasty, the recipe is from a good blog I follow called Stonesoup, where she blogs mostly 5 ingredient recipes:
    Edited to say she just calls it 'white bean bake' so you can use cannelini instead!
    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
    • getting-sorted-sarah
    • By getting-sorted-sarah 7th Aug 13, 3:43 PM
    • 719 Posts
    • 3,756 Thanks
    Nicki sue - here you go! And Bluegreen - your rolls look yummy! Sheepappar - this recipe requires minimal time, just some space in the fridge!

    Basic recipe makes 3 or 4 loaves (not all at once though) depending on how big you want them, this uses American cup sizes, measuring volume rather than weight. Cup measures are available in a lot of supermarkets and in Lakeland kitchenware shop.

    In a large bowl pour
    3 cups of warm water, add
    1.5 tbspn dried yeast, and
    1.5 tbspn good salt - rock salt ideally, then
    6.5 cups of bread flour (I tend to use a mix of white and stoneground)

    Stir the ingredients together with a wooden spoon. That's right, stir, don't knead. Combine everything into a sloppy dough and cover with clingfilm (not airtight).

    Allow the dough to rise for about 2 hours at room temperature and then pop the bowl into the fridge. This dough mixture will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, so you can choose to bake as and when you need or want to.

    So, when you're ready to bake, ideally you'll have left the dough in the fridge overnight. Flour a worksurface or bread board and flour your hands. The dough is pretty sticky so you may need to use more as you go along to stop the dough sticking to your hands. Take a piece of dough from the bowl, a quarter, or a third. Cut it from the rest with a serrated knife. Holding the dough in your hands, stretch the dough across the top of the ball and underneath, turning a little and then repeating. In this way the top of the dough becomes smooth. It seems at this point, just the consistency of kneaded dough, but you are only doing this very gently, and for less than a minute.

    Place the dough, in a flattened ball shape, onto the board and allow to rise at room temperature for about 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 225C. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with flour and score across the top several times with a sharp knife. Bake on a tray or in a buttered pyrex dish (my preference) for 30 minutes, or until golden. Turn out and allow to cool on a wire rack.

    This may seem like a lot of steps, but remember you still have enough dough to make several more loaves, and the preparation for each loaf takes a few minutes - mostly you're just leaving it to do it's own thing! Once you've done it a few times it is like second nature.
    Last edited by getting-sorted-sarah; 07-08-2013 at 3:45 PM.
    • NickJW
    • By NickJW 7th Aug 13, 5:54 PM
    • 678 Posts
    • 13,646 Thanks
    Bluegreen - climbing? That makes me feel like a lazy so-and-so when I get back from work to sit and watch TV. Need to start making better use of the gym membership I pay monthly for!

    Spend of 1.50 in Mr S on some potatoes for tonight's BBQ chicken.
    Grocery Challenge 14 Jan 14 46.05/130

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

    DFD 1st March 2011
    • xx_Jo_xx
    • By xx_Jo_xx 7th Aug 13, 6:27 PM
    • 2,854 Posts
    • 62,609 Thanks
    Hey all, I hope you are all well! Yet again I have fallen from the grocery budget wagon, this time due to moving house, summer holidays and visiting families!

    I dread to think of how much I've spent, and also seem to have gotten into a bad habit of buying bargains without actually meal planning! So have two freezers pretty full and full cupboards and still seem to think I've no food!

    So I have actually done my meal plan!!! And will really only need fresh fruit, salad and milk! Now I just have to learn to go and buy what I actually need instead of getting distracted while I'm in there!

    Since I'm well stocked, I'm aiming for 150 from 9th - 9th
    Sometimes lurking, sometimes posting, but always flying
    You are supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for God's sake! - The Holiday
    DFW August 2013... Debt total 15,475.56 - Jan 15 11,738.66 - DEBT FREE by 2015
    Feb GC 48.02/250 (201.98)
    I will declutter my house and debts
    • forever saving
    • By forever saving 7th Aug 13, 7:18 PM
    • 565 Posts
    • 8,850 Thanks
    forever saving
    A nsd for me today, two days in a row.
    Quite a productive day. We dug up one a half rows of potatoes from our allotment. A big potato sack full. We have several more rows to do. Enough broad beans picked to fill up an empty ice cream container, now in the freezer. Half an ice cream tub filled with raspberries from our allotment,also in the freezer. Hopefully this will help with the budget.
    Can anyone help with this question. I took out of the freezer today a pack of chicken and a pack of beef, which were already cooked a little while ago. I was cooking a curry with both meats. I only used the beef in the end as there was more in there than i thought. Will the chicken be ok for me to use tomorrow for dinner? It has been in the fridge since it came out of the freezer this morning.
    Thank you in advance.
    Sorry for long rambling post.
    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
  • she who can not cook
    A nsd for me today, two days in a row.
    Quite a productive day. We dug up one a half rows of potatoes from our allotment. A big potato sack full. We have several more rows to do. Enough broad beans picked to fill up an empty ice cream container, now in the freezer. Half an ice cream tub filled with raspberries from our allotment,also in the freezer. Hopefully this will help with the budget.
    Can anyone help with this question. I took out of the freezer today a pack of chicken and a pack of beef, which were already cooked a little while ago. I was cooking a curry with both meats. I only used the beef in the end as there was more in there than i thought. Will the chicken be ok for me to use tomorrow for dinner? It has been in the fridge since it came out of the freezer this morning.
    Thank you in advance.
    Sorry for long rambling post.
    Originally posted by forever saving
    I would say yes ,but if you had it out of the fridge then...
    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
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 7th Aug 13, 7:37 PM
    • 3,346 Posts
    • 34,469 Thanks
    Blue green - please could you share your sundries tomato and chorizo recipe? I am on a use it up month and have a chorizo, arborio rice and sundries toms that all need using but have never made a risotto before. Thanks

    We were supposed to be having the chicken and chorizo Spanish rice from the recipe index tonight but I didn't like the smell of the chicken as I was dicing it. I am new to meat eating and it doesn't take much to put me off. DH said he didn't know what 'funny' chicken smelt like so would cook it for the dog. He decided half way through cooking it that it was fine so turned it into a madras with half a punnet of past-their-best mushrooms. There is enough for about three meals. We had use it up omelettes instead of the chicken.

    We have a takeaway to add to our total which I will update in a bit. DH is really getting in to the challenge this month (he told me I had to post and tell you about him making the curry) and if we can continue like this going forward we might just have cracked it
    • Nicky Noo Na
    • By Nicky Noo Na 7th Aug 13, 7:55 PM
    • 760 Posts
    • 6,713 Thanks
    Nicky Noo Na
    Bluegreen - I was also going to ask for the chorizo risotto recipe, I have some risotto rice in and if we like it I might modify it to try me orzo instead!

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

4,308Posts Today

7,244Users online

Martin's Twitter