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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 41
  • CH27
    I've spent my week's budget & managed to include 3 in savers stamps so i'm pleased with week 1.
    Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.
    • samtoby
    • By samtoby 12th Jan 14, 8:12 AM
    • 2,396 Posts
    • 11,999 Thanks
    Decided I am going to use up some more eggs and bake some cakes for lunch boxes as I have so many baking indegredients!
    DS 18.06.2004 --2013-- 2.05.2014
    E-Bay Power Seller - Amazon Seller, Etsy Seller
    April GC 36.56 so far
    0/ 4,533.47 0% 28th April 2014
    4kw Solar PV system with Immersun
    • fingersxed
    • By fingersxed 12th Jan 14, 8:16 AM
    • 265 Posts
    • 2,664 Thanks
    Can't believe I have had only 2 days grocery shopping.

    Spent quite a bit Fri but not as much as I would have if I hadn't been doing this challenge. Did a Lidl visit, Sainsbury visit (only cause I had a 6 voucher and Ariel was on offer a 4!!).then nipped to local chicken out let n got 13 from there. Freezer going down nicely but still a lot of frozen veg to use so needed more meat. Signature updated.
    • Soworried
    • By Soworried 12th Jan 14, 8:21 AM
    • 2,144 Posts
    • 19,942 Thanks
    Can't believe I have had only 2 days grocery shopping.

    Spent quite a bit Fri but not as much as I would have if I hadn't been doing this challenge. Did a Lidl visit, Sainsbury visit (only cause I had a 6 voucher and Ariel was on offer a 4!!).then nipped to local chicken out let n got 13 from there. Freezer going down nicely but still a lot of frozen veg to use so needed more meat. Signature updated.
    Originally posted by fingersxed
    I'm probably being thick but what is a chicken outlet?
    One step must start each journey
    One word must start each prayer
    One hope will raise our spirits
    One touch can show you care
    • meg72
    • By meg72 12th Jan 14, 8:26 AM
    • 5,082 Posts
    • 46,072 Thanks
    NSD here.
    We had HM wedges + baked beans + fried egg for dinner tonight.
    Originally posted by Florenceem
    Looks absolutely YUM, always had this on Thursdays when I was a kid and have always included it in my meal plan.

    I think today that we feel pressured into more fancy dishes, this sauce and that shake etc that we tend to forget how delish a simple meal can be.
    Slimming World at target
    • fingersxed
    • By fingersxed 12th Jan 14, 8:26 AM
    • 265 Posts
    • 2,664 Thanks
    It's moy park chicken factory. Factory shop
    • Soworried
    • By Soworried 12th Jan 14, 8:32 AM
    • 2,144 Posts
    • 19,942 Thanks
    It's moy park chicken factory. Factory shop
    Originally posted by fingersxed
    I didn't know that you got chicken factory shops

    I wonder if there are any near me. Does it work out cheaper than the supermarkets per kg?
    One step must start each journey
    One word must start each prayer
    One hope will raise our spirits
    One touch can show you care
  • mags50
    Would you be kind enough to share your chutney recipe. Bought loads of apples from Lidls, but they are mushy tasting and not very nice. So would be great to turn them into something other than cake!
    Originally posted by K9sandFelines
    I would love too

    1lb peeled/cored apples
    1lb de-stoned dates
    1lb peeled onions
    1lb sultanas
    1 pint malt vinegar

    Finely chop all ingredients, I use my processor, and mix them together in a large bowl. Stir in the vinegar and leave overnight. Mum in law used to put a small bag of mixed spice in as well, and then take it out when ready to put in jars, but I don't bother, I suppose you could add a teaspoon or two if you wanted, but we like it without.
    Then give it a good stir and put it in jars.
    It keeps well because of the vinegar and it's so simple to make.


    A family that eats together, stays together

    NSD 50/365
    GC JAN 259.63/400 FEB 346.41/350.00 MAR 212.57/300 APR 1/250
    • mooomin
    • By mooomin 12th Jan 14, 9:08 AM
    • 13,655 Posts
    • 134,514 Thanks
    The cat howled and howled like she'd never seen food until I caved and gave her half a plate of white fish which she scoffed down without even breathing, I think! Little menace.
    Originally posted by Magpye
    This made me laugh Ours has a special love for a roast chicken and sits beside me with HUGE eyes with one paw off the ground like a dog begging. He normally ends up with some scraps

    If you're replacing your hoover, look at Vax. We had two cats until last year when one sadly died, both white and ginger menaces and they moult like CRAZY. Henry was ok, but when he finally bit the dust we got a Vax and it's superb for cat hair, better than any "pet hoover" we've ever had.

    Florenceem - your picture of egg wedges and beans has reminded me how much I love ham egg and chips. MMMMM
    Originally posted by samtoby
    Me too! I have it on the meal plan for next week as I have another massive YS gammon to cook and we have a lot of hammy meals in plan
    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
  • In_it_not_to_giveitaway
    Do you have a recipe for the sauce at all please. I have a glut of Clementines which are reaching the end,so would be good to use them up. Cheers.
    Originally posted by K9sandFelines
    Zest all the clementines and then, using a sharp knife (I use a stanley knife that I keep in the kitchen for finely slicing ginger etc), cut out the triangles of flesh from the clementines. Per 8 clementines - one teaspoon of chinese five spice, one teaspoon of ground ginger, one teaspoon of ground cinnamon, finely shred half an inch square of raw ginger into a pan with boiling water from the kettle just covering the clementine flesh. Add the zest and juice of two lemons to make it more tart at this stage and for the pectin that helps thicken the sauce. Add the finely chopped flesh of an apple and half a handful of raisins/sultanas to make up the constituency numbers. Add a shot of port/madeira.

    Bring to the boil and then very gently simmer for about 40 mins.

    Now the tricky bit. Essentially, a sauce that complements game needs to balance tartness with the sweetness of the meat, so the sweeter the meat the more tart it needs to be (hence you don't put sugar in apple sauce for pork). Pheasant is quite a fatty game and so is quite sweet, so using clementines that are less tart than lemons means that you need to add lemons so that you can judge the sweetness later in the simmer process as you go. You need to bear in mind that as you taste it the alcohol will make it taste more tart until it has burned off so wait for about 25/30 mins in before deciding whether to add more sugar (and if you use muscavado/molasses rather than white sucrose, not only is it healthier, it better allows for misjudgement because a bit of lemon zest can always be added later). So it depends on what it is intended to accompany.

    Don't allow it to reduce too much because it will get thicker as it cools owing to the pectin. The more lemon juice you have added the quicker and thicker it will set.

    I have still got some home made cranberry sauce and tried fresh galangal and lemon grass (very finely sliced and soaked for a couple of hours in lime juice) and lime zest etc - absolutely smashing!
    Last edited by In_it_not_to_giveitaway; 12-01-2014 at 12:40 PM.

    • Ladyluck1
    • By Ladyluck1 12th Jan 14, 9:30 AM
    • 612 Posts
    • 7,237 Thanks
    Big shop day today hoping for some YS meat for freezer.
    Then I've got 80 cash out for the next 4 weeks top ups and DH has 10 for bread milk top ups
    I'm C, Mummy to DS 29/11/2010 and DD 02/11/2013

    Overdraft PAID OFF
    GC Sept 141.17/200
    • miss empty piggy
    • By miss empty piggy 12th Jan 14, 9:44 AM
    • 645 Posts
    • 6,663 Thanks
    miss empty piggy
    Quick update from me: 73.24 so far on the grocery challenge. Am a bit miffed that most of that is from our day out in London on the 1st when we spent 60.00 on eating out - Two of us in one day!!

    But, on the other hand that means that so far I've really only spent 13.24 on groceries since then which shows me that cupboard-cooking is going pretty well - especially as I've had 3 adults round for a very nice meal and fed me and 2 DDs for over a week - OH is away until Friday - let's see how the budget goes then. He is a real brand snob but is slowly mending his ways now he lives with us (does evil laugh with associated facial expression and hand rubbing!!)

    Got to do a little shop today but am planning on doing a meal plan. Reading all your ideas has really inspired me. Can't wait to have Egg and Chips - I forgot how much I LOVE this meal. Yum Yum.
    Have a great day everyone.
    DFW Nerd No: 600
    • DanielleNic87
    • By DanielleNic87 12th Jan 14, 11:15 AM
    • 1,038 Posts
    • 13,314 Thanks
    Spent another 10 yesterday (already updated sig). This was spent on stocking up on the M&S meat offer. I got 40 sausages and a gammon joint.

    Got the gammon in the SC now. Hopefully only have to get fruit, veg and milk this week but got a T's gift card in the post so will use that so hopefully no more spends.

    Annual GC 2017 1634.61/2200
    • Soworried
    • By Soworried 12th Jan 14, 11:34 AM
    • 2,144 Posts
    • 19,942 Thanks
    A spend of 6.43 in lidl on 960 teabags and a bunch of spring onions to make a quiche.

    I'll update my signature.
    One step must start each journey
    One word must start each prayer
    One hope will raise our spirits
    One touch can show you care
    • Magpye
    • By Magpye 12th Jan 14, 12:29 PM
    • 605 Posts
    • 1,807 Thanks
    Just to add on here....I want a little advice.

    What are your views on the 15.00 delivery pass with Asda for 3 months, and do you personally think it is worth it?
    Originally posted by kayester
    Hi kayester. We took the 3-month pass out in October, and did one grocery shop online every week for the first eight weeks - definitely got my money's worth as most of the delivery slots were more expensive ones. Doubly worth it over Xmas as the pass also covers deliveries from George and Asda Direct!

    mooomin, thanks for the vacuum recommendation. Was looking at the Vax uprights as they are less than half price in Sains at the mo and then 10% discount... Will have to wait til next pay day though.

    Spent 4 on a dozen free range eggs at Lidl and a double pack of bacon for breakfast egg muffins and to feed the baking habit. Have a pan of roasted butternut squash soup on the go which will use up the last of the sour cream when finished, and tea tonight is definitely corned beef and cabbage potato cakes - unless I change my mind again.
    "All cruelty springs from weakness" - Lucius Annaeus Seneca
    Personal pronouns are they/them/their, please.

    I'm intolerant of wheat, citrus, grapes, grape products and dried vine fruits, tomato, and beetroot, and I am also somewhat caffeine sensitive.
    • fingersxed
    • By fingersxed 12th Jan 14, 12:39 PM
    • 265 Posts
    • 2,664 Thanks
    I didn't know that you got chicken factory shops

    I wonder if there are any near me. Does it work out cheaper than the supermarkets per kg?
    Originally posted by Soworried
    Yes much cheap at least half supermarket price or sometimes even less
    • meg72
    • By meg72 12th Jan 14, 1:00 PM
    • 5,082 Posts
    • 46,072 Thanks
    A spend of 6.43 in lidl on 960 teabags and a bunch of spring onions to make a quiche.

    I'll update my signature.
    Originally posted by Soworried
    Wow these do seem cheap, much better than the 1p a bag I usually set as my comfort zone.
    Slimming World at target
    • Coxy11
    • By Coxy11 12th Jan 14, 1:05 PM
    • 2,296 Posts
    • 27,317 Thanks
    Hi everyone,

    Budgets all updated

    Spends for us yesterday. Sainsbobs in the morning for mussels, milk, marg, French stick, sweets for the children (weekly treat after swimming) - 10.57. !celand for frozen French fries, pink n whites and blue riband - 4. Toscos for frozen B!rds eye chicken pies, sushi (), crisps, drinks - 8.52.


    Will go to A!di tomorrow, kid free, to make a concerted effort for a week's shop without the need for tops ups. Fingers crossed.

    Xspender - sorry to hear your redundancy news Hope something turns up for you soon.

    Have a good day all.
    Cross-stitch WIP #1: Collecting Shells by Nancy Cole
    Cross-stitch WIP #2: Pretty Little London by Satsuma Street
    • kayester
    • By kayester 12th Jan 14, 1:13 PM
    • 1,800 Posts
    • 9,338 Thanks
    Hi kayester. We took the 3-month pass out in October, and did one grocery shop online every week for the first eight weeks - definitely got my money's worth as most of the delivery slots were more expensive ones. [I]Doubly worth it over Xmas as the pass also covers deliveries from George and Asda
    Originally posted by Magpye
    Thanks think I might go for it next week
    216/2018 (make in 2018)

    Grocery challenge
    Jan 227/400
    swagbucks target 2018 1452/27375
    • storytime
    • By storytime 12th Jan 14, 1:42 PM
    • 331 Posts
    • 1,469 Thanks
    Spent 10.48 in Lidl mainly on things for our holiday as off to sunny Gran Canaria for a week to get rid of all the rust! Emptied one freezer and defrosted it and we have been using up all the bits that lurked in the freezer. So the rest of food money this month will go on restocking the freezer and fresh food when we get back. Sig updated .
    My secret fantasy is having 2 men....
    1 cooking and 1 cleaning.
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