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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 first Grocery Challenge of 2014

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

    December grocery challenge - sorry cant seem to get the hyper link to work

    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; 30-12-2013 at 10:55 AM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 15
    • BlueCow1975
    • By BlueCow1975 3rd Jan 14, 10:41 AM
    • 1,398 Posts
    • 4,867 Thanks
    Well.......I was up until late last night reading this thread and am hugely inspired by all your efforts / tips and advice. I have never done this challenge before and I know that the grocery shop is a huge area of money wastage for us!

    To some extent I think we are the supermarkets "dream" with no shopping list, no real meal plan beyond a day or 2 in advance and impulse buy all those interesting offers and none food items that all of a sudden become essential! I am worse for this in Ald !!

    I am sick and tired of needing milk and bread, then coming out having spent 28. So - this is the time to do something about it!!!!! I have a great slow cooker and my in laws bought us an actifry for Christmas which will also come in handy.

    So, meal plans, shopping lists and budgets are sooooooo the way forward. I suspect in reality if I added it up properly our family spend is around 500 a month which is absolutely ridiculous!!! So, for this month will go for 400 and see how I get on. As I get more into this would like to reduce it down even further.

    So, BlueCow1975 400

    Really looking forward to getting control of this

    • Soworried
    • By Soworried 3rd Jan 14, 10:47 AM
    • 2,144 Posts
    • 19,942 Thanks
    I've been doing a lot of cooking from scratch this week - fritatta tonight and we've already had home-made fish fingers (delicious but what a faff to make!) and a chicken and chorizo gratin.

    This weekend I have family in town, so it's likely that we'll be out for dinner a few times. That should help my food budget
    Originally posted by mooomin
    The gratin sounds really nice, do you have a recipe please?

    I have just prepared parsnips and sprouts for the freezer and I still have some onions and potatoes to use that are getting a bit ropey. I might make some french onion soup, I can't decide.
    One step must start each journey
    One word must start each prayer
    One hope will raise our spirits
    One touch can show you care
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 3rd Jan 14, 10:51 AM
    • 3,346 Posts
    • 34,469 Thanks
    I was hoping to resist spending until Monday but we are down to 1 apple and 1 banana which won't last tomorrow never mind the weekend. I will pop to the shop after work to avoid making a seperate journey.

    I have a short list for Mr S:

    Fruit - apples, bananas, oranges, basics grapes
    Dishwasher salt
    Basics eggs
    Yogurts - going to check to see if the basics are GF
    Skimmed milk
    Basics tissues
    Basics sandwich bags
    Wholemeal wheat loaf

    Let's see if I can stick to my list.

    My meal planning is going OK and we have taken lunch to work everyday. We still have lots of treats in so no baking for me this weekend but I will be making rice salad and DH favourite WW soup on Sunday for work lunches next week.
    • angelatgraceland
    • By angelatgraceland 3rd Jan 14, 10:54 AM
    • 3,318 Posts
    • 23,074 Thanks
    Hi all

    I have a bit of query re: NSD'. Do you count a NSD as not spending money that counts towards the grocery challenge or a day of no spending whatsoever? I assume it's the latter, but if not today would be a NSD for me in that i haven't spent any of my grocery money, but i've spent money on other things budgeted for elsewhere.

    Food shopping tomorrow at Aldi where i expect to spend around 40 and around 20 in Morrisons on extras that i cant get from Aldi, but this should last just over a week as we go shopping every 8 days in line with my partner's shifts.

    Originally posted by Suzexxx
    For me it is a day where I don't spend anything on groceries. If I buy petrol for instance it won't count as it is not part of the grocery challenge. So in short-whatever I am counting as groceries also applies to what is a NSD.
    Annual Grocery budget 2018 is 1500 pa 125 calendar month 28.84 pw for 3 adults
    • mooomin
    • By mooomin 3rd Jan 14, 10:56 AM
    • 13,655 Posts
    • 134,514 Thanks
    The gratin sounds really nice, do you have a recipe please?
    Originally posted by Soworried
    Not to hand, but I'll try and remember to post it when I get home
    Comping again

    Wins this year: - two night trip to Belgium, 100 Gett taxi credit, tickets to Newcastle game, FIFA 2016 for PS4, stitch markers, Cumberstitching book
    • mrs-moneypenny
    • By mrs-moneypenny 3rd Jan 14, 10:56 AM
    • 15,518 Posts
    • 198,189 Thanks
    re NSDs i count mine as days when i dont spend any of the money budgeted for groceries
    SPC~12 ot 124

    In a world that has decided that it's going to lose its mind, be more kind my friend, try to Be More Kind
    • angelatgraceland
    • By angelatgraceland 3rd Jan 14, 10:58 AM
    • 3,318 Posts
    • 23,074 Thanks
    Ithought I had done my shopping but did more last night! I popped into Mr A as I was very close(I don't live by one) to get gravy granules and coffee. They had just reduced some minced beef and minced turkey-500g packs from 5 down to 25p. I did buy some other things too-all reduced and spent about 8. Now going to update spending diary. I did sell some of my App foods to my cousin tho so reaped back 11.50 but that is to be deducted from Decembers spending. Going to cook for the pets again today as I truly do not have room to keep much of the beef-tho I will be popping it into small bags and trying. Fridge is also full of homecooked food! I must stop shopping! however-who could resist those buys! Going to pop into Mr A every thurs eve now when I see my cousin!

    Edit-Looked at the mince and it is the 5% lean one! Too good for the dog! Bagged up now in 12 little bags along with the turky mince it squeezed in the freezer!
    Last edited by angelatgraceland; 03-01-2014 at 11:39 AM.
    Annual Grocery budget 2018 is 1500 pa 125 calendar month 28.84 pw for 3 adults
    • miss empty piggy
    • By miss empty piggy 3rd Jan 14, 10:58 AM
    • 645 Posts
    • 6,663 Thanks
    miss empty piggy
    Hi All
    could I possibly join?
    Usual spend was over 400 per month but am hoping to reduce that to 350.00 for a family of 4 sometimes 5 occasionally 6. I don't include school dinners.
    Thanks x x
    Originally posted by miss empty piggy
    thought I had better make this a bit clearer!


    DFW Nerd No: 600
    • CherryPie
    • By CherryPie 3rd Jan 14, 11:14 AM
    • 427 Posts
    • 5,349 Thanks
    look on the front page there are loads of fantastic recipie ideas there, i often forget about it but have had some brilliant meals made from those pages. (the quorn and leek pie someone put on is lovely -sorry cant recall the OPs name)
    Originally posted by mrs-moneypenny

    Oops!! I always forget about that too! Off to have a trawl, I maybe some time......
    My name is CherryPie and I'm addicted to grocery shopping!!

    Grocery Challenge

    Feb 2016 - 46.73 / 100.00
  • michelle568
    Can I join please? I'm going for 5200 ANNUAL BUDGET

    This is for two adults, a pre-teen who eats the equivalent of an adult, and a ten year old who eats mouse portions.

    I'm not planning on spending that much, but guessed it out at 100 a week. At the moment my freezers look quite full up, the cupboards too, and that was after a pre-christmas clear out.

    I'm planning on making use of home delivery as seem to not buy so much.
    52 Week Money Challenge (Week 1) 1/1378
    2014 Frugal Living Challenge
    Grocery challenge 40.45/5200 (Annual budget)
    • tootoo
    • By tootoo 3rd Jan 14, 11:41 AM
    • 671 Posts
    • 3,044 Thanks
    Tes o and mor yesterday=65.34.

    154.66 of my budget left.
    MFW.....Apr 33 Aim - Dec 26
    • Chloris
    • By Chloris 3rd Jan 14, 11:42 AM
    • 651 Posts
    • 9,422 Thanks
    This sounds lovely! As a fairly new veggie, I struggle with inspiration for recipes. If you have time, can you point me in the direction of a recipe?

    Hopefully my 3rd NSD in a row today!
    Originally posted by CherryPie

    Its not so much a recipe as a throw in what you have! But loosely; in olive oil or a knob of butter fry about 3 cloves of garlic and 10 sliced mushrooms until soft. Then wilt in fresh spinach or today I am going to make with frozen spinach (cheaper!). Then layer up as a usual lasagne with sheets and white sauce. Top with grated cheese! Bake in oven 30 mins approx. If you get a good deal on mushrooms or spinach this recipe is great frozen in those foil trays. But use a very big pan if batch cooking and using fresh spinach as it takes up so much space before it wilts! HTH x
    • angelatgraceland
    • By angelatgraceland 3rd Jan 14, 11:43 AM
    • 3,318 Posts
    • 23,074 Thanks
    Michelle-some of the shops deliver free if you order 100 worth. asda and Sainsburys do. However-I think that is a very generous allowance and if you mealplan I think you will cut it down to 80 pw easily! Don't miss out on thos free delivery slots!
    Annual Grocery budget 2018 is 1500 pa 125 calendar month 28.84 pw for 3 adults
    • Upsy Staffordshire
    • By Upsy Staffordshire 3rd Jan 14, 11:54 AM
    • 374 Posts
    • 3,791 Thanks
    Upsy Staffordshire
    This sounds lovely! As a fairly new veggie, I struggle with inspiration for recipes. If you have time, can you point me in the direction of a recipe?

    Hopefully my 3rd NSD in a row today!
    Originally posted by CherryPie
    Hi CherryPie, we sometimes have Creamy courgette lasagne, which is yummy.

    Ingredients (serves 4): 9 dried lasagne sheets, 1 tbsp sunflower oil, 1 onion finely chopped, 700g courgettes (about 6) coursely grated, 2 garlic cloves crushed, 250g ricotta, 50g cheddar, 350g jar tomato sauce for pasta (or make your own).

    Method: heat oven to 220. Put a pan of water on to boil and cook lasagne sheets for about 5 mins until softened. Rinse in cold water, drizzle with a little oil to stop them sticking together. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, fry the onion. After 3 mins, add courgettes and garlic and fry until courgette has softened and turned bright green. Stir in 2/3 of ricotta and cheddar, season. Heat the tomato sauce. In a large baking dish, layer up the lasagne, starting with half the courgette mix, then pasta, then tomato sauce. Repeat, top with blobs of remaining ricotta, scatter the rest of the cheddar. Bake on the top shelf for about 10 mins until pasta is tender and cheese is golden.
    Thank you to everyone who posts on here
    • Bluegreen143
    • By Bluegreen143 3rd Jan 14, 12:02 PM
    • 1,101 Posts
    • 12,692 Thanks
    Upsy Staffordshire - your Creamy Courgette Lasagne is in the index (under 'L')
    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
    • Bluegreen143
    • By Bluegreen143 3rd Jan 14, 12:03 PM
    • 1,101 Posts
    • 12,692 Thanks
    Chloris - I've also added your Mushroom and Spinach Lasagne (again under 'L')
    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
    • Ladyluck1
    • By Ladyluck1 3rd Jan 14, 12:58 PM
    • 612 Posts
    • 7,237 Thanks
    Spent 10.64 in lidl on;

    Reduced mozzarella with the 7th on!?
    Puff pastry
    15 eggs

    That should be it now until well into next week as I have a lot of cupboard freezer stock!
    We had hm chicken and veg soup for lunch with dregs of veggies and some chicken stock from freezer and I used some LO mash to thicken it. Was lovely
    I'm C, Mummy to DS 29/11/2010 and DD 02/11/2013

    Overdraft PAID OFF
    GC Sept 141.17/200
    • kayester
    • By kayester 3rd Jan 14, 1:01 PM
    • 1,800 Posts
    • 9,338 Thanks
    My Dad went to pay my rent for me so no need for me to go out the house. I will need nappies tomorrow though I think.
    So today is NSD #3
    Pizza for tea tonight
    Chicken breast and noodles tomorrow
    Pie on Sunday then I really need to get meal planning and order Mr A for Monday
    216/2018 (make in 2018)

    Grocery challenge
    Jan 227/400
    swagbucks target 2018 1452/27375
    • katkin
    • By katkin 3rd Jan 14, 1:02 PM
    • 577 Posts
    • 7,336 Thanks
    Can I join in too please?

    I get paid on the 10th Jan this month and usually spend 200 per month on food and household goods for my husband, me and our 2 cats. I menu plan, cook from scratch and use old style cleaning products like star drops, vinegar etc but I've been finding over the last 3-4 months I'm slipping over budget. We also spend too much on alcohol (not in that 200). Time to tighten the budget up and make our lifestyle better.

    I will aim for 180 spend this Jan pay-month.

    Think we eat too many meat based meals, so I'm going to try to up meat-free meals to 3-4 times a week and reduce portion sizes. Hubby will hate it...
    • just the two of us
    • By just the two of us 3rd Jan 14, 1:20 PM
    • 1,142 Posts
    • 18,690 Thanks
    just the two of us
    Can I join in too please?

    Think we eat too many meat based meals, so I'm going to try to up meat-free meals to 3-4 times a week and reduce portion sizes. Hubby will hate it...
    Originally posted by katkin
    Welcome Katkin - and I agree - even with cheapish things like bacon and corned beef hash we would be better eating veggie more often. My DH is also a meat and veg kinda guy so probably not going to make much of a difference in our household. perhaps I'll try just one!!! Does anyone have any ideas please?
    July 16 95/200
    Nov 16 0/200

    "To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don't need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself." Thich Nhat Hahn
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