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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 third Grocery Challenge of 2014

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

    February 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; 20-02-2014 at 1:23 PM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 12
    • lushlifesaver
    • By lushlifesaver 28th Feb 14, 11:57 AM
    • 2,312 Posts
    • 18,637 Thanks
    I have ordered two Pre-paid mastercards one for petrol and one for food / toiletries etc for me and my husband. These arrived today .
    The plan is i load how much i need to use on the cards , keep some cash in house to cover Ald* shop and fresh veg off market and milk.
    And when its gone , its gone.
    Not sure if anyone else has used these ? or if they are any good ?
    Originally posted by Zippy001

    Bf and I did this for a while using O2 money cards (he kept the fuel card and I kept the household one) we bought a text alert after every spend and could track the balance online/via a phone app. It worked well for a while but then it got awkward as some places took forever to process the payment via the card machine and it just got awkward - I can imagine it being easier with one not linked with a non-financial provider.

    I'm considering something similar for groceries but by using a 'gift' card as I can get a discount through a rewards scheme run by my health insurance provider (work perk).

    Off to a shop (Iceland or Morrisons not decided yet) on lunch after I pop in to the bank for bf; we don't need much but are in need of ham, cheese, and bacon as well as a treat for dessert after tea tonight (new 'tradition' to celebrate the end of the week )
    Perfect Princess born 26/03/14 <3
    • tattycath
    • By tattycath 28th Feb 14, 12:12 PM
    • 6,820 Posts
    • 35,979 Thanks
    My month starts today. Nothing spent yet but DD1 is getting some chicken this afternoon and we're doing a 'main shop' tomorrow.
    GE 36 *MFD
    MFIT-T4 No 83
    Mortgage overpayments:

    Emergency savings 100/2000
    Savercard Christmas savings 10
    12/3/17 175lb - 15/3/17 173lb - 28/6/17 167lb - 14/7/17 164lb - 12/9/17 160lb - 29/12/17 155lb
    • poppycracker
    • By poppycracker 28th Feb 14, 12:33 PM
    • 1,511 Posts
    • 4,494 Thanks
    Main Tesco shop today, hopefully will last 2 weeks. 45.83. Have done a meal plan at least for this week.

    Yesterday was pizza
    Today is going to be scampi and chips
    Saturday - Onion, potato and bacon hotpot
    Sunday - spicy citrus chicken thighs, potatoes and veg
    Monday - garlicky chicken fillets with egg fried rice and sweetcorn
    Tuesday - sausage rolls, HM chips and veg
    Wednesday - curried veggy pasta
    DFW Nerd no 239.....Last Personal Debt paid off Nov 2012!
    Donated 50 pints so far.... gold badge got 17/11/13! Blood Group O+
    mummy to 3 cats, 2 budgies and a cockatiel
    • joedenise
    • By joedenise 28th Feb 14, 12:34 PM
    • 6,289 Posts
    • 46,236 Thanks
    I had my first big spend of the month yesterday but didn't have time to get on to post but did update my signature. I spent just under 50 between Aldi, Mr Ts & Mr Ms (have just shredded receipts so can check exact amount but think it was 49.34 but signature is correct).

    Will need to pop to town tomorrow to pick up some fruit from the market (we only have a market Tuesdays and Saturdays and haven't enough to last until Tuesday).

    Today is NSD #4 so pleased with that as aiming for 20 between 24 Feb - 23 Mar.

    • lushlifesaver
    • By lushlifesaver 28th Feb 14, 1:47 PM
    • 2,312 Posts
    • 18,637 Thanks
    Spent more than I intended but now stocked up on bacon, ham and cheeses for the next fortnight.

    Total spent 13.95

    2x smoked cheese slices (for bf's lunches - 1 pack=1week)
    1 x smoked ham - enough for 1.5/2weeks lunches so will last with bf away and therefore not eating it next Friday-Sunday! (I bag and freeze in one week 'batches')
    2 x lean bacon rashers/medallions (8 per pack so probably enough for bacon bagels on Sunday morning and 3 meals so that's another 1.5weeks worth)
    1 small block of red Leicester - will grate half and then freeze some of that and keep the rest in the fridge will last a while; should get a couple of pizzas plus toppings for 5 other meals minimum!
    1 malt loaf - will last a week as bf gets a couple of slices on training days

    I also bought 6 frozen chocolate eclairs 0.81 and 16 frozen profiteroles (1) to make up a little treat for after tea tonight and on another night too!

    Was working on a rough budget of 32 for the fortnight so I am slightly over that but next week should only need milk, cucumber and tomatoes as bf is away at camp for a chunk of it so not too bad really.

    Going to make up some pasta for work lunches next week which I will mix with tuna and a little veg, alternative will be sausage roll and salad. Meal plan as it stands is:

    Tonight: chicken topped with bacon and cheese served with wedges, baked beans and egg
    Saturday: date night (bfs choice)
    Sunday: turkey dinner
    Monday: meatballs and pasta served with garlic bread
    Tuesday: chicken, rice and veg sauce if at home ... salad if not!
    Wednesday: scampi and wedges

    I have a couple of other 'stand by' options too in case we change our minds but I have plenty in to keep us going!

    Off to update my sig
    Perfect Princess born 26/03/14 <3
    • Make-it-3
    • By Make-it-3 28th Feb 14, 2:34 PM
    • 1,550 Posts
    • 7,040 Thanks
    Hi all, my new month starts tomorrow and I managed my best ever month in Feb at 137.63/200. So I am going to go for 180 for March.

    This is for 2 adults, 1 child and 1 cat and includes all groceries, cleaning products and toiletries.

    Good luck to everyone for March - its almost Spring!
    We Made-it-3 on 28/01/11 with birth of our gorgeous DD.
    • Busymumofthreeplusdog
    • By Busymumofthreeplusdog 28th Feb 14, 3:21 PM
    • 304 Posts
    • 3,463 Thanks
    Top up shopping today. Will order Asda online to come next week.

    Morrisons - 29.12
    Farmer-12.00 (mince)

    Total 53.48
  • Zippy001
    Hi i am really trying to be organised just planning next weeks meals, lots of meat in freezer on YS items yesterday.
    I have ordered two Pre-paid mastercards one for petrol and one for food / toiletries etc for me and my husband. Not sure if anyone else has used these ? or if they are any good ?
    Originally posted by Zippy001
    Hi i know this is not strictly grocery talk but i promised to let you lovely guys know how i got on with the pre-paid master cards.
    well we ordered two one for petrol one for groceries, we loaded the petrol one with 300.00 no problem in two transactions as only add 250.00 at any time.
    my husband went to load the grocery one , it came up declined.
    I contacted customer services who said the system got confused as two seperate cards for same address. so they have locked both cards - it will be sorted mon or tuesday.

    Obviously this seemed a bit worrying, so we have applied for an additional account for spending with our bank . we will continue to just use the 1 pre-paid card for petrol see how we get on. once its unlocked that is.

    I hope this helps others who were also thinking of doing something like this x
    March GC 01-29th 458.77 / 500.00. NSD 6/15
    April GC 29th-30th 239.36 / 450.00 NSD 1/15
    For 2 adults, DS11, DD9 & 2dogs. Includes all food, toiletries, take-aways, lunches etc.
    • twigpig
    • By twigpig 28th Feb 14, 5:27 PM
    • 1,210 Posts
    • 4,422 Thanks
    It was just that I had never seen anyone making a baby's feed on a bus before.
    Originally posted by Florenceem
    He he. I've made a bottle in the middle of a supermarket aisle before when my little one was about to raise the roof!

    Blooming car needed 2 new tires today, so must must try to stick to my budget for March. Freezer is bursting so just need to use up a lot of what's already in......

    Hope those cards are sorted quickly zippy. Not the best start..... Hope you complained when you rang....
    Last edited by twigpig; 28-02-2014 at 5:41 PM.
    TTC #3..........
  • Mama10
    Hi I decided to start the March GC today instead of tomorrow. I got a newspaper today in Mr.A to get the 5 off Lidl shop so that was 40p and then spent 62.32 in Lidl so total spend today was 62.72. I did get lots for my money though. I'm sure iv been spending close to 500-600 a month on groceries so really hoping to save to help pay off our CC's and towards our holiday to DLP later this year.
    Reading everyone's posts is very motivating so fingers crossed I can do this.
    March GC 606.33/400
    April GC 387.96/400[/COLOR]
    May GC 0/500
    2 Adults, DD5, DS 2, DS 8months
    • skintmum2012
    • By skintmum2012 28th Feb 14, 6:58 PM
    • 458 Posts
    • 2,893 Thanks
    I spent 5o in aldi today leaving me with 43 till the 24th o dear not looking good.
    February GC 261.97/24 NSDS 10/12
    march 300/290 NSD 12/6
    ARPIL 300/ 238.23 NSD'S 10/3

    • JIL
    • By JIL 28th Feb 14, 7:18 PM
    • 4,245 Posts
    • 23,423 Thanks
    My new month starts today as its payday. I didnt buy the daily mirror the other day so missed the voucher. however my mother did and she keeps the newspapers for me to use when I clean out the pets so I will have it for next week and will do my Aldi shop a day early.

    So I spent 53 in Aldi today. Tomorrow the OH will be up early as always and will pop to Lidl to buy six packs of half price mince and some tomatoes so will add a further 7.

    So one day in and its 60/180
    • Ladyluck1
    • By Ladyluck1 28th Feb 14, 7:37 PM
    • 612 Posts
    • 7,237 Thanks
    Thanks for the reminder JIL will send hubby round to lidl (it's a 2 min walk away!) at 8 for the mince!
    I'm C, Mummy to DS 29/11/2010 and DD 02/11/2013

    Overdraft PAID OFF
    GC Sept 141.17/200
  • superrhinos
    Am desperately trying to use up what I already have in the freezer and cupboards so only spent 4.66 in Aldi and 4.16 in Waitrose. Hopefully i should be able to maintain spending at this level for the rest of the month.
    GC: Feb (16th Jan - 15th Feb) 46.25 / 50
    Mar (16th Feb - 15th Mar) 61.96 / 70
    • islandhoppa
    • By islandhoppa 28th Feb 14, 7:55 PM
    • 149 Posts
    • 2,673 Thanks
    30 spend in Ald! today, on fresh stuff that should last most of week along with stores from freezer and cupboards
  • dogmom
    My first shop of March - 25.50 in LIDL. I'm running the freezer down to defrost it this week so hopefully i won't be buying much else until next week's shop.
    February GC 173/200
    March GC 193.60/190
    April 221/250
    • Florenceem
    • By Florenceem 28th Feb 14, 8:30 PM
    • 3,984 Posts
    • 52,562 Thanks
    Mr F went shopping today!
    We had HM Fish Pie + sprouts,carrots for dinner.
    15 in 2015 1/15
  • SarahB1989
    Bike has flat tyres so no lidl visit for me, walked to town and went to Morrisons instead as someone (forget who, sorry!) said they do cheap meat. Indeed they do - got 600g of pork mince for 2.49!! Overall spent 16.21 but won't be making it my regular shop, the till girl pretty much threw my items down to the bagging area and double-scanned something that I didn't notice til I was home. Aside from the meat it wasn't any cheaper than Tesco anyway.
    New graduate trying to get debt-free.
    Make 5/day challenge: August 84.08/155
    I owe 5400 (plus
    34,000 Student Finance)

    • recovering spendaholic
    • By recovering spendaholic 28th Feb 14, 10:55 PM
    • 3,049 Posts
    • 15,426 Thanks
    recovering spendaholic
    I went to Tescos today and spent 47 and then to Asda and spent 52. This bought me enough meat and veggie options for the whole of March, plus loo rolls, dishwasher stuff,tins and packets of pasta, rice and other dry goods. With careful planning I should only need to buy fresh milk, fruit and veg for the rest of March. I am determined not to buy any takeaways or Starbucks either!

    The other night I made Weetabix brownies and they were really nice - I didn't put any flour in them - used a recipe from Nigella. Really cheap way to make 12 brownies which were really chocolatey:
    4 crushed weetabix ( I used the chocolate ones which I had in and no one liked)
    50g sugar
    2tbs cocoa
    100g melted butter/marg.
    1 egg
    100g dark chocolate ( used the 30p smart price dark chocolate)

    just crush Weetabix and mix with sugar and cocoa, then melt butter and chocolate and mix with Weetabix mixture and beat in the egg.

    I put some walnuts in but they weren't in the recipe.

    Bake 30 minutes at 180.

    They were really fudge and not too sweet.

    ENDIS. Employed, no disposable income or savings!
  • Timetogrowup
    Hi, can I join the GC from tomorrow. Haven't really a clue what we are spending but I know it is too much! 5 of us including rapidly growing boys and fussy girl so food is always a challenge plus I hate cooking! However we do produce some of our own so should be able to rein in the spending. I do like to buy organic though.....

    So I will tentatively set a monthly target of 700 to run from tomorrow to March 31st. Hopefully I will be able to spend a lot less than this and reduce it considerably-just being gentle on myself for this first month!
    Feb 10 a day challenge: 728.50/280
    March 10 a day challenge: 79/310
    March Grocery Challenge:41.46/700
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