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    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 4th Jun 11, 11:19 AM
    • 9,343Posts
    • 17,889Thanks
    September 2014 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 4th Jun 11, 11:19 AM
    September 2014 Grocery Challenge 4th Jun 11 at 11:19 AM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the ninth Grocery Challenge of 2014 !!!!

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

    August grocery Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    For everyones totals, see post #10 on this thread

    I hope everyone has a great month!

    Last edited by zippychick; 20-08-2014 at 7:38 PM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 27
    • Lizling
    • By Lizling 21st Sep 14, 8:36 PM
    • 863 Posts
    • 1,675 Thanks
    A few more spends to report over the last few days.

    £1 on chocolate
    £1 on a bowl of baby red pointy peppers. Never seen them before and they'll be perfect for stuffing with cheese and things.
    99p on toothpaste
    £4.71 on top-up shop: eggs, spinach, feta, lemons

    So another £7.70 spent, making £63.66/£80

    Only got to make it last until Sunday next week, so should be OK.
    Saving for deposit: Finished!
    House buying: Finished!
    Next task: Lots and lots of DIY
    • physicsgirl
    • By physicsgirl 21st Sep 14, 9:57 PM
    • 126 Posts
    • 1,425 Thanks
    Treated to lunch both days this weekend by visiting relatives, so dinner both days has been soda bread with butter and jam which has made things nice and cheap and easy

    Spends this weekend:
    £12.76 in L!dl
    £7.34 in Ald!
    £5.10 in T3sco (who still have the 3kg bags of pasta for £2 which is a great deal for fusilli and conchiglie)
    £3.12 in L!dl (return visit, the half price chocolate was too good not to get more...)
    £7.70 in Farmf00ds
    Plus I added £1 to my running total for the £1 pizza I got for lunch last Monday

    Meal plan for this week:
    Monday - Bean burgers with spicy wedges
    Tuesday - HM Curry
    Wednesday - Fajitas
    Thursday - Lasagne
    Friday - Cheesy chickpea cake
    Saturday - HM Pizza
    Sunday - Roasted veg couscous and falafals
    Monday - Pea and mint risotto
    November GC: £50.55/£130. October GC: £72.60/£150
    September GC: £131.27/£170. July GC: £62.48/£80. May GC: £135.00/£150
    April GC: £201.91/£140. March GC: £194.98/£200. January GC: £111.41/£200.
    December GC: £67.45/£80. Nov GC: £159.32/£220. October GC: £208.07/£250.
    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 21st Sep 14, 10:59 PM
    • 5,343 Posts
    • 55,198 Thanks
    Hiya everyone

    Meg - don't know how it works out for you but Al*i have onions at 39p per kg atm

    Lessons learnt:
    1. Create a general budget before tackling the GC, for example have separate budget figures for entertainment, treats etc.

    2. Do not enter the challenge in the middle of a stressful and protracted kitchen refurbishment. No brainer, in hindsight.

    3. PLAN. Plan, plan, plan. In advance. For contingencies. For emergencies. For those days when only a takeaway will do.

    4. Have a stock of easy frozen meals for days when all you want to do is crash on the sofa.

    5. Budget realistically, factoring in bulk buy, or alternatively have a separate bulk buy budget heading and reduce the day to day budget accordingly.

    6. Budget for holidays separately and adjust regular budget accordingly.

    I would love to have comments and suggestions from experienced GC veterans, to be able to meet my next challenge successfully. Thank you.
    Originally posted by Caterina

    Sounds much along the lines that we work our budget. Treats and entertainment come out of small personal budgets and we don't have take-aways. Money left from GC goes into bulk-buy in case I spot something like B. beans or tuna on special, buys my meat from butcher and l/o go towards C*.

    Plus I calculated yearly spends on everything and divided by 12. All monthly bills are paid by direct debit from bank (get cashback) and all shopping done on c/c (get cashback) which is paid off every month so no charge and monies for c/c sit in a bank account earning interest every month

    Had to go shopping this weekend and so Morrys = £15.50, £stretch = £7.17 (Nesc*fe x 3) and Al*i = £20.52. Budget looking good for this month as steadily using freezer stuff.

    Hope you all have a magical Monday
    Bulk buy.......APR=233.76
    OS WL= -2/8 ......CC =00......Savings = £13,140
    • Caterina
    • By Caterina 22nd Sep 14, 5:30 AM
    • 5,809 Posts
    • 40,355 Thanks
    Thank you for your ideas Lynnejk, I shall implement them on my return. Having a short break in Scotland so might wave at you while passing by!

    What cashback card do you have? We have the Saint Anderr 123 one but I am usually so reluctant to use cards, I tend to pay all of our groceries in cash, from my babysitting jobs and DS's little weekly contribution.

    Off now, but will have a sit down and talk with family on our return and hope to see all the other challengers in the October thread!

    Bye x
    Finally I'm an OAP and can travel free (in London at least!).
  • CH27
    Week 4, Day 1

    Son went back to uni on friday so hopefully this will be a very frugal week using up bits & bobs in the freezer.
    I'm going to start planning for next week too then I can start October organised.
    Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.
    • Meezel
    • By Meezel 22nd Sep 14, 12:18 PM
    • 33 Posts
    • 295 Thanks
    After some bad news in the family, I didn't have the energy to go shopping.

    Last Thursday, I checked (not done it in a while) to find an email from Tesco's saying I can have £15 off my first online shop so I decided to do just that.

    After doing the online shop and with the £15 off I had spent £55.72 on a shop which really didn’t have much compared to my usual shop at A*di.

    Anyway onwards and upwards, the new thing for me is do a ‘To Do List’ towards the end of every month, just to help me with budgeting, save money, keep coming back to this website for ideas and support, meal planning especially for slow cooker recipes! Next month is a start of 5 week month for us so tonight I am sitting down with a cup of tea, feet up to complete the ‘To Do List’…. Wish me luck!! xx
    Debt: Loan 369.41/22,579.20 2%, MBNA CC 733.87/7200 10%, Barclaycard CC 1617.13/4500 36%
    The £1000 Emergency Fund Challenge #184 306.36/1000 31%
    • allie23
    • By allie23 22nd Sep 14, 12:45 PM
    • 1,343 Posts
    • 14,647 Thanks
    Just under £3 spend on bread, milk and cream as we a well stocked up on everything else. Pretty pleased about that.
    February 2019 Grocery Challenge
    Frugal Living Challenge 2019
    Save £12k in 2019 - Challenger No 69 - £13,310/£40,000
    • anna-marie
    • By anna-marie 22nd Sep 14, 2:28 PM
    • 68 Posts
    • 227 Thanks
    Chicken and Sweetcorn Chowder
    Hi, I'm joining September challenge a little late. My goal is £35 a week (2 adults and 3 kids, no pets)

    I'd like a place to put my weekly shopping list, meal plans and recipes/photos, to share with others but also to keep a track myself for future reference. Is this the place or should I be posting somewhere else?

    Not posted a pic before so don't know if I've done it right....

    • anna-marie
    • By anna-marie 22nd Sep 14, 2:29 PM
    • 68 Posts
    • 227 Thanks
    It worked
  • rosieben
    Welcome to the GC, anna-marie, well done on getting the photo posted!

    The grocery challenge is a great place to share your recipes. I'll be adding them to the front page recipe index!

    We also have a weekly Meal Plan thread - here's the current week's thread - might be worth a look for inspiration.
    ... don't throw the string away. You always need string!

    C.R.A.P.R.O.L.L.Z Head Sharpener
    • cheexy
    • By cheexy 22nd Sep 14, 3:33 PM
    • 430 Posts
    • 1,813 Thanks
    Did a top-up shop of £6.10 at Mr T today. This has brought the total for this month to £68.57
    £380 outstanding in C.C (Interest free till May 2016)
    52 week money challenge £1378/£1378
    Save £12000 in 2015 challenge #26

    SPC 8 #461 target £200 . 2015 NSDs = 114/113 | July NSDs 12/15
    Ultimate biggest loser number 42 =4.3/20lb
    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 22nd Sep 14, 4:11 PM
    • 5,343 Posts
    • 55,198 Thanks
    Thank you for your ideas Lynnejk, I shall implement them on my return. Having a short break in Scotland so might wave at you while passing by!
    What cashback card do you have? We have the Saint Anderr 123 one but I am usually so reluctant to use cards, I tend to pay all of our groceries in cash, from my babysitting jobs and DS's little weekly contribution.
    Originally posted by Caterina
    Sorry - didn't see you waving but hope you enjoyed yourself on your break.
    We have the 123 Santy one as well - I set up direct debit to pay in full each month and keep an eye as bank online anyway. Think it's horses for courses and whatever best suits - I like earning money for spending it IYSWIM but I am a miserly s*d after years of being skint

    Another NSD today so hoping to be able to put some into bulk buy to start saving for C* food treats

    Hope you all have a terrific Tuesday
    Bulk buy.......APR=233.76
    OS WL= -2/8 ......CC =00......Savings = £13,140
    • bmma
    • By bmma 22nd Sep 14, 5:12 PM
    • 603 Posts
    • 6,831 Thanks
    Week 4 spends to date £ 8.53/50.00p x
    Last edited by bmma; 23-09-2014 at 8:06 PM.
    Penny Pincher in training
    Keep Calm Keep Vegan
    year's food budget £1,920
  • LynseyLou
    Did my weekly shop at A*di. Plan to use some stockpiled ingredients, so I came in on budget. I even managed to buy myself some pretty flowers and a nice apple strudel that will do us for two nights pudding.

    Week 4: £25.81
    September Grocery Challenge Total: £103.85/£100

    I won't have any more grocery spends this week. I may be over-budget but I am proud of that as a first attempt at the GC! I am looking forward to the October challenge.

    On second thoughts, maybe the strudel and flowers weren't such a good idea :-D
    The Good : Topcashback: £70.01; RBS cashback: £5.04
    The Bad:Virgin Atlantic CC: £372.21
    Challenges: GC October: £7.50/£100; GC September: £103.85/£100
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 22nd Sep 14, 8:12 PM
    • 3,348 Posts
    • 34,483 Thanks
    Our total spend now stands at £281.34 after a small shop in Aldeee on Sunday on milk, ham, crisps and more tissues. 8 boxes so far this month, bl00dy virus

    DH forgot to remind me before I did the food shop for this week that he is away with work tonight and until Wednesday. I will scrap the meal plan and feed myself odds and ends and something on toast until he returns.
    • CountingPennies
    • By CountingPennies 22nd Sep 14, 10:03 PM
    • 1,882 Posts
    • 15,036 Thanks
    Popped to Mr T's for bread and milk. Annoyed with myself for spending £22.18! Picked up a couple of xmas gifts for the eldest and birthday card, paper for youngest which wouldn't normally come out of GC budget but I have no other budget left so I have to, lol.

    Never mind.... Onwards and upwards!!

    CP xx
    Slimming World Challenge 2017 0/30.5lb

    Grocery challenge 2017 JAN: £5.56/£350
    • meanmarie
    • By meanmarie 22nd Sep 14, 10:05 PM
    • 5,099 Posts
    • 49,600 Thanks
    A family death has meant that all the offspring have arrived or are arriving shortly so my budget for September has collapsed, I shall retire gracefully and hopefully join you all again in October

    Weight 08 February 86kg
    • craigywv
    • By craigywv 23rd Sep 14, 11:23 AM
    • 1,976 Posts
    • 27,825 Thanks
    Thoughts are with you marie xxx nsd here too heading over to oct thread bye xxx
    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!!.
    • anna-marie
    • By anna-marie 23rd Sep 14, 12:58 PM
    • 68 Posts
    • 227 Thanks
    Middle child decided she wanted to buy her own hot dinner in school today after I had lovingly prepared a packed lunch for her, grrr! But I don't add that to my grocery bill because that's her choice to buy out of her pocket money. On the plus side she did take the sandwich to have for "brunch" so no waste.

    Hubby and I both working from home today so we had heated up leftovers for lunch which tasted better the next day - probably because there was no cooking involved. It was this:

    Chickpea and Vegetble Stew with Couscous


    1 tsp olive oil
    1 onion
    2 garlic cloves
    3 celery sticks
    3 carrots
    400g tinned chopped tomatoes
    400g tinned chickpeas
    150ml stock
    some green beans
    salt and pepper


    1.Fry the chopped onion in the oil for a couple of minutes, then add the chopped celery, carrots and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.
    2.Add the tomatoes, stock and chickpeas. Simmer for 15 minutes.
    3.Add the green beans and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes.
    4.Add seasoning to taste.
    5.Serve with couscous made up according to pack instructions.
    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 23rd Sep 14, 5:43 PM
    • 5,343 Posts
    • 55,198 Thanks
    Hiya everyone

    Managed another NSD.

    Need to do a stock-take and clear out/defrost freezers in the next few weeks so have decided to try to have a good run down of stuff and use up some stores (I hope).

    Would someone please give me the odd kick up the derrière to get on with it - thanks

    Hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday
    Bulk buy.......APR=233.76
    OS WL= -2/8 ......CC =00......Savings = £13,140
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