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
    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 31
    • meg72
    • By meg72 9th Mar 14, 11:00 AM
    • 5,082 Posts
    • 46,072 Thanks
    NSD 9 today really want to try for 14 now as I havent managed to achieve this yet. this would bring me to Friday when I will need fresh fruit and veg, long life milk and eggs so not a very big shop.
    Slimming World at target
  • Anzac Biscuit
    Just popping in to update sig. Did a big grocery shop yesterday and I think I'll be over budget for the grocery part of my budget at least - but I got a lot of stuff on special that will last me a few months, so I don't feel too bad.
    Will have another big shop next weekend but shouldn't need much at all after that for the last couple of weeks of the month.

    NSD today
    Married my best friend Nov 2014
    Food for 2 (1 gluten free) OSWLC2 0/10. GC Jan $460. Feb 451/400. March 451/450. April 161/450.
    • Kayalana99
    • By Kayalana99 9th Mar 14, 11:29 AM
    • 3,520 Posts
    • 6,229 Thanks
    Well had my first week shopping out of four yesterday and spent just under 50 :-)

    Just on our way to As*a to get some chips as they are 1.30 cheaper their so that will be estimated

    51/300 so far :-) 24 under budget for the week!

    First time I sat down and worked out what we had in the freezer and did a meal week will be more expensive as we will be running stuff down this week but its a good start !

    Fingers crossed we don't need anything now till next Sat.
    People don't know what they want until you show them.
    • smokies
    • By smokies 9th Mar 14, 11:55 AM
    • 137 Posts
    • 1,314 Thanks
    Did a big shopping yesterday as planned still in budget for the month. Hopefully having a few more NSD went to butchers wholesalers got loads of meat enough to last about 2 months but will have to monitor this as it's the first time I have shopped there.
    • recovering spendaholic
    • By recovering spendaholic 9th Mar 14, 2:09 PM
    • 3,049 Posts
    • 15,426 Thanks
    recovering spendaholic
    Some nice sounding meals and bakes!

    I got up late so didn't eat breakfast and have just made a big bowl of tuna salad for lunch which was lovely. DD wouldn't eat it so had potato waffles and l/o chicken from last night, so I have another portion which I can eat tomorrow.

    I also have loads of L/O vegetable and barley soup from yesterday and I really didn't like it, so I don't fancy having it for dinner.

    Just sorting out meals for the week.

    I know the feeling about hollow legged teenagers!

    ENDIS. Employed, no disposable income or savings!
    • craigywv
    • By craigywv 9th Mar 14, 2:09 PM
    • 1,976 Posts
    • 27,825 Thanks
    hi lush, this is my recipe.....250g plain flour,1 tea spoon ground ginger,1 tea spoon cinnamon or mixed spice, three quarters tea spoon bicarb of soda,1 eigth teaspoon nutmeg,3 tablespoons milk,125g butter or marg,8 tablespoons black treacle or honey, I use treacle as colour is deeper,8 tablespoons golden syup,125g brown sugar,110 ml water,2 eggs lightly beaten,,oven 170 degrees or gas mark 3 or 150 for fan oven.sorry this is written in long hand as I useless with keyboard. grease 2 lb loaf tin with butter then greaseproof paper then butter again.. in a bowl add flour,ginger,spices, and mix. in a jug add milk and bicarb. melt and mix the butter,treacle and syrup ,sugar and water and add to flour mix stirring well. gradually add the 2 beaten eggs. pour into tin, put in oven for 1 hour -1 hr 30 halfway thru baking cover top of cake with tinfoil to prevent burning. cool cake on wire rack. ok that's the recipe from the cook book. what I noticed myself was just cook it till it done as the time stated needed a bit longer just keep checking. also it sounds like a really fussy cake mix with loads of ingredients but once you open your baking cupboard everything is there beside each other so you use a good array of your storecupboard which is good if your like me and have a lot needs using up . enjoy the cake its lovely.x
    C.R.A.P.R.O.L.L.Z #7 member N.I splinter-group co-ordinater I dont suffer from insanity....I enjoy every minute of it!!.
    • lushlifesaver
    • By lushlifesaver 9th Mar 14, 2:26 PM
    • 2,312 Posts
    • 18,637 Thanks
    Thank you craigy! That will be a perfect rest for me and my mum when we're both off :-)

    The weather has gone lovely here, I've taken the roast out of the oven and I must say I'm glad I've cooked it early!
    Perfect Princess born 26/03/14 <3
    • JIL
    • By JIL 9th Mar 14, 2:34 PM
    • 4,980 Posts
    • 25,135 Thanks
    Can I also recommend this ginger cake recipe, very simple and cheap to make.
  • Zippy001
    I often get my meat from an online butcher and the Clare Barry Green Offers are great for bulk buying top quality butcher meat (I split the package up then freeze).

    The green offers are here.
    Originally posted by Nicki_Sue
    Thank you so much that is great, I think you have just solved my problem , and my husband also works in worcester so he may be able to pick them up.
    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.
  • SarahB1989
    Very pleased with todays grocery shop but absolutely knackered! Walked over 3 miles to go via Aldi and Asda - was heading for Asda then realised there was an Aldi near there too, not too impressed with it though. I've been to Aldi with my mum before but not taken notice of the prices, when I went round today it seems very much like it's cheaper versions of nice things rather than being the cheapest for basics. Bought veg there and went on to Asda for the rest. Spent 7.20 in total, have finally come round to the concept of buying only what I need for this week rather than building up my cupboards.
    New graduate trying to get debt-free.
    Make 5/day challenge: August 84.08/155
    I owe 5400 (plus
    34,000 Student Finance)

    • catandy
    • By catandy 9th Mar 14, 4:08 PM
    • 863 Posts
    • 1,941 Thanks
    just done a whizz around Aldi and stocked up for the week - then had a mad baking hour when I got in -

    1 x veggie quiche
    1 x frittata with a bit of everything in it
    1 x batch of scones
    1 x batch of flapjacks
    big pot of veggie soup simmering on the stove that will go in fridge for lunches
    tuna/ pasta salad made up and in a tub for sons to help themselves during the week
    spicy veggie/ rice salad (as above)
    bowl of salad stuff and a fruit salad bowl ....
    ham/ cheese/ roast chicken drumsticks...
    Plan is with all of that in the fridge DS1/DS2 will not need to raid the food that is planned for dinners - fingers crossed it works.

    big shop of 66.74 but got masses of stuff, including store cupboard basics (had to get flour etc for baking as I couldn't remember how long the stuff in the cupboard had been there...

    so up to 138.15 / 240 for the month - should only need milk later this week and that's a pound a time so going ok
    rent arrears - 250 council tax arrears - 273 : Vodaf - 303 : PPC - 150 : mechanic - 140 : CC - 1453 : DMP - 30.52/21341 OD - 250 - EF 5000

    total debt 21614 / 25160
    • bmma
    • By bmma 9th Mar 14, 4:50 PM
    • 603 Posts
    • 6,831 Thanks
    spend today of 4.10p-next week should be NSD week
    March's spend total to date-56.58/250.00p
    Penny Pincher in training
    Keep Calm Keep Vegan
    year's food budget 1,920
    • Nicki_Sue
    • By Nicki_Sue 9th Mar 14, 5:34 PM
    • 1,216 Posts
    • 7,408 Thanks
    Thank you so much that is great, I think you have just solved my problem , and my husband also works in worcester so he may be able to pick them up.
    Originally posted by Zippy001
    Even better! I can vouch for the chicken, pork loin and more... everything I've had from there has been tip-top and the bulk buy and split up saves a fortune. Let me know how you get on! x
  • Taranaman
    Been missing in action. After blowing my budget in Feb, I've just added up my receipts so far this month and it's 92.48. I'm a bit disappointed as my cupboards don't have much to show for it, but I've noticed since starting this challenge back in January, I'm throwing away a lot less.

    Off to update my signature
    January GC 299/300
    February GC 295/270
    March GC 92/243 then lost the plot and stopped recording for two months and went way over
    May GC 372/250 still looking for the plot
    June GC 118/250
    • debbiedeejay
    • By debbiedeejay 9th Mar 14, 6:20 PM
    • 504 Posts
    • 5,182 Thanks
    Evening everyone

    Just "marching" through to update this months grocery spends.

    Mozzies 29.56
    B& MMMMM's 8.59
    Local Garden centre (fruit veg stall) 4.46
    Chip shop tea mid week last week 5.50
    work lunch 2.50
    total 50.61

    Which has totally peeved me off but wasn't feeling too great during week hence work lunch one day and chippy tea, which was shared with DD2.

    The garden centre spend included a bunch of 50p bendy rhubarb which I made into 2 jars of rhubarb and ginger jam with a wrinkled bit of ginger languishing on window sill and two lemons that looking at them should have been binned 2 weeks ago, but the yield of juice from them was amazing!
    The B&MMMMMMMM's trip was not a normal one,only went as DD3 never been before so she wanted a couple of things to try( the most fussiest vegetarian I have ever known but is getting better and trying new things - thing is she is 17 not 7!)

    Anyway off to catch up with reading all the posts - have a good week everyone
    Crazy Clothes Challenge 2012 57.20/100,CCC 2013 68.67/100 ,CCC 2014 94.32/100
    *Frugal Living Challenge 2012, 2013, 2014*
    GC 2014 Jan 154.14/180;Feb 103.49/180;Mar 117.63/160
    • Florenceem
    • By Florenceem 9th Mar 14, 7:09 PM
    • 3,996 Posts
    • 52,590 Thanks
    NSD again.
    We had HM Woolton Pie + roast potatoes + roast parsnips + leek,carrots,onion for dinner.
    15 in 2015 1/15
  • Hollygym
    Feeling very brave to confess my spiralling grocery costs. Last month, I've just recalculated we spent 469/380 . I lost my will a bit and look what happened!! Not very impressed even if this is for my family of 2 adults and 4 growing children.

    This month has started off better, but I will need to keep a tight reign on things. I've so far spent 173.90 but that includes a 12 bottle wine order. I've decided to calculate the wine into several months rather than march's finances taking all the hit.

    I'm sneaking in with a 380 (again) budget for march - running to the 24th. I'll update my sig with the spends so far.
    sealed pot member 100. Saving for a dream holiday for 6!!

    100 SPC 6: 338.14
    Jan GC 220.66/400, Feb GC 469/360, March 308/380
  • superrhinos
    What a nice change it made to have a nice sunny day. Spent the afternoon in the park with DS and some friends and am whacked now after a lot of walking.
    And on to my groceries:-

    Yesterday I spent 1.93 in Mr Al and 4.86 in Mr W. I then spent 1.01 in Mr S today on bananas.

    As the end of March for me in on Thursday I will definitely be coming under target again this much but just not quite sure of exact figures yet.
    GC: Feb (16th Jan - 15th Feb) 46.25 / 50
    Mar (16th Feb - 15th Mar) 61.96 / 70
    • lovefullshelves
    • By lovefullshelves 9th Mar 14, 8:28 PM
    • 647 Posts
    • 7,440 Thanks
    7.31 in aldilly...bread, rolls, milk and salad for DS who has decided he feels like being healthy!!
    2013 NSD 100. CC2014CC- 31.50/135
    2014 NSD 86 so far - May 20/21
    2014 G/C spend 741.55 so far May 107.99/91
    Debt Free - 30.05.13 Emergency tin - 1000
    C.R.A.P.R.O.L.L.Z #54 - toilet paper tunneller
    • Make-it-3
    • By Make-it-3 9th Mar 14, 8:54 PM
    • 1,550 Posts
    • 7,040 Thanks
    Had to pop out for paracetomol today as my sick OH had used them all and is still flu-ridden. On the upside is he is too sick to eat so meals are stretching further!

    Also bought coffee as the current jar obviously isn't going to last till shop day.

    3.45 spent - 127.70/180 remaining.
    We Made-it-3 on 28/01/11 with birth of our gorgeous DD.
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

2,117Posts Today

7,388Users online

Martin's Twitter