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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 26
    • CountingPennies
    • By CountingPennies 20th Sep 14, 4:14 PM
    • 1,882 Posts
    • 15,036 Thanks
    Lunch for me and friend yesterday and a couple of things from Mr T's. Fabric softner, potatoes, pepsi max.... Total is around 25. Lost tesco receipt so don't know for definite.

    REALLY need to get to shops tonight, but students are back this weekend so I just know its gonna be awful! Plan on doing a 30-40 shop and using MOC. Fingers crossed I can stick to budget!

    Kids want a takeaway tonight. We don't get them one very often so i'm thinking about it. Might try a "fakeaway" and let them pick what they fancy.... Tho its probably cheaper getting a takeaway!

    CP xx

    CP xx
    Slimming World Challenge 2017 0/30.5lb

    Grocery challenge 2017 JAN: 5.56/350
  • patinessex
    Vanish and stuff
    Notice posters buying Vanish - no need. I use cheapest -Aldi or something on offer - liquid wash... pour a tiny bit on to stain (if washing white items you can put a teaspoon of thin (cheaper) bleach on the stain) along with the dose in machine. Then let machine fill with water and run for a couple of revolutions then switch off (overnight?) for a good soak. Switch on to wash in the morning and see brilliant results!
  • patinessex
    Vanish and stuff
    It goes without saying your machine will be full!
    • Soworried
    • By Soworried 20th Sep 14, 6:08 PM
    • 2,146 Posts
    • 19,960 Thanks
    I had a spend of 6 today on ys fish, prawns and scones.

    I now need to do a meal plan to get through the next week. I'll do that in the morning. I want to use up the things I've had the longest.
    One step must start each journey
    One word must start each prayer
    One hope will raise our spirits
    One touch can show you care
    • Towser
    • By Towser 20th Sep 14, 6:16 PM
    • 1,287 Posts
    • 2,329 Thanks
    I have been converted to mysupermarket and I even mostly shop from Aldi now. I have been looking at the food forums to try and get it lower.

    I just wish there was some kind of spreadsheet with all the cheapest foods per gram to buy. I would make up recipes with the cheapest foods with a recipe finder. There must be a shopping list for this somewhere.

    I have been trying to find out what people buy per month when they are being frugal. Their basic shopping list.
    • Billie-jo
    • By Billie-jo 20th Sep 14, 7:31 PM
    • 1,221 Posts
    • 15,892 Thanks
    6.77 today - got a Garn!er shampoo and a conditioner today half price each in Morry's also brought some tomatoes and a melon.
    Spent a couple of hours in the kitchen and made 20 portions of plum crumble, meat & potato pie filling is cooked ready to have pastry on it tomorrow - should be about 10 portions, 2 tubs of beef stock for the freezer and also frozen a portion of chicken curry that was left.
    [COLOR="Purple"][B] MARCH 62.38/250 [B][COLOR="Purple"]
    • Frizzle
    • By Frizzle 20th Sep 14, 9:49 PM
    • 1,104 Posts
    • 15,700 Thanks
    Did the weekly shop in aldi so 20.47 spent. Did a bare minimum shop, so mainly milk, fruit, veg, ham and yoghurts. Pleased with that. Will do a big shop next week.

    Had chicken burgers in buns, wedges and salad for tea. The chicken burgers were huge and the buns were just normal roll size. So I cut a burger in half for the kids so they each had half a chicken burger in a while bread roll. It was still massive for them and hubby had one chicken burger, cut in half between two rolls, he said he was so full after dinner and this was such a cheap meal!
    So three chicken burgers (1), 5 rolls (less than 50p), 1/3 cucumber (15p), tomatoes (homegrown from the garden), lettuce (homegrown from the garden), wedges ( 6 potatoes from a massive sack about 40p???)
    So meal for 2 adults and two children for about 2. Ok not brilliant for nutrition (although there was lots of salad) but great for a Saturday night treat.

    Oh just thought I bought the chicken burgers from farmfoods, 6 In a pack and they were three packs for 5 so even cheaper (about 80p for three chicken burgers!)
    Grocery challenge-
    J- 52.40/200 M- 187.56 A- 212.93 M-193.44 F-201.31 J- 240.62 D- 149.27 N- 210.69 O- 196.80
    S- 213.68 A- 213.03 J- 249.66 J-206.29, M- 252.91, A-250, M- 250

    debt free as of feb 2015. Now saving for deposit for new house! Moving in June 2015!!!
    • Ellie BB
    • By Ellie BB 20th Sep 14, 9:59 PM
    • 62 Posts
    • 682 Thanks
    Ellie BB
    Reporting in at month end at 253.33/250 so quite happy with that now off to the oct thread and hoping I can do better
    • Saver-upper
    • By Saver-upper 20th Sep 14, 10:16 PM
    • 1,835 Posts
    • 14,008 Thanks
    For a few weeks on the Slimming World thread people have been talking about Ryvita crispbreads.Well,I haven't eaten them for years,but looked at them in a couple of different supermarkets this week.Wasn't prepared to pay 1.80-odd.I told myself when I see them for 1 a packet,I will buy them.Well,out and about today,I saw them advertised for 1/pkt in Sainsbury.Walked in,spent 2 on ryvitas,and bought nothing else .
    Total spend for the month is 281.72/300.
    SPC #108 x 8.SPC7=751.10 SPC8=651.04 SPC9=843.00 SPC10=872.76
    Pinecone 301,Valued Opinions 10.50

    • CountingPennies
    • By CountingPennies 20th Sep 14, 10:50 PM
    • 1,882 Posts
    • 15,036 Thanks
    Spent much more than I anticipated at Mr T's tonight. Then also went to Ald* and spent in there too. However I got lots of stuff in that I need for all the packed lunches next week. Plus a joint of pork and a big pack of mince.

    Anyway, 42.04p in Mr T's after my MOC's and 21.07 in Ald*. So 63.11p to add.

    Still don't even have everything I need. Need flavoured water for packed lunches but will send my parents to Ice*and tomorrow with 3 for 3 packs of 4 so I don't spend even MORE! Money already out my purse for them so will add that to make a total of 66.11p

    Working all day tomorrow so will try and work on my meal plan tomorrow night. Probably should have done that BEFORE i went shopping. Never mind!

    CP xx
    Slimming World Challenge 2017 0/30.5lb

    Grocery challenge 2017 JAN: 5.56/350
    • Caterina
    • By Caterina 21st Sep 14, 5:35 AM
    • 5,809 Posts
    • 40,356 Thanks

    I now realised it was a mistake to start a grocery challenge in the middle of the chaos of renovating the kitchen. Too much stress, too little planning, not enough tools to cook from scratch, all these factors have contributed to my failure to stick to the budget.

    I was just about managing, though, and so were my family members, when life threw us a curved ball, a rather traumatic event that has left us all shaken.

    In this emotional environment I need to hold my family together with care, treats and a small modicum of extravagance.

    Stressful days meant no energy to cook in difficult circumstances and resulted in the odd takeaway.

    Then we had an unexpected guest stay with us and no full kitchen facilities, meaning we got fish and chips.

    On this occasion we entered our brand new kitchen for the first time and felt we needed a celebration, so Prosecco and chocolate truffles were part of it. And a celebration was very much needed, lots of fun and very healing in many ways.

    In the greater scheme of things I still managed to bust the budget in a controlled way, using special offers, vouchers, YSs etc.., but busted it is, no two ways about it.

    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.

    So, on this occasion I failed to plan and it went a bit pear shaped. Not by much, mind you. Taking into account all the factors, it could have been a lot worse. We are not hundreds of pounds out, we have a lot of food in the house, we are still solvent and as a family we are prepared to keep to a budget.

    Next month will be better planned, in advance, and I hope to be back on the October GC, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, with a brand new budget and a brand new kitchen to make it all happen.

    I would love to have comments and suggestions from experienced GC veterans, to be able to meet my next challenge successfully. Thank you.
    Last edited by Caterina; 21-09-2014 at 5:41 AM.
    Finally I'm an OAP and can travel free (in London at least!).
    • sweetpea26
    • By sweetpea26 21st Sep 14, 8:43 AM
    • 764 Posts
    • 5,573 Thanks
    Caterina that was a very helpful post..thank you...sorry for all you are going through

    Have not posted in over a up to 383.75 ... have been very watchful of what I spend but think I could do a lot better.

    Bought hair dye John F 6.49 at present in Mr T's normally watch out for the shampoo and conditioner 2 for 8...decided to take a chance on the Sainsbugs own brand both for 4 so am happy with that price and good size bottles too.

    Have got lots of reduced salad recently peppers etc ... freezer going down a bit but plenty in to keep me going to end of month. Hard to believe we are 3/4 of the way through.

    Finding my weekly grocery delivery very helpful in stopping me going into shops. So as I have purchased a yearly delivery I am certainly going to continue with it.

    All the best to everyone
    2019 Clutter Free Challenge 96 / 250 bags donated /recycled / Disposed of ...and any other tat I no longer need
    9 large pieces of furniture are now gone !

    Weight Loss Declutter Goal 45lbs 10 / 45
    35 lb to go
    • bmma
    • By bmma 21st Sep 14, 9:19 AM
    • 603 Posts
    • 6,831 Thanks
    this weeks spending total is 35.29/50.00p, so far so good x
    Penny Pincher in training
    Keep Calm Keep Vegan
    year's food budget 1,920
    • Soworried
    • By Soworried 21st Sep 14, 9:24 AM
    • 2,146 Posts
    • 19,960 Thanks
    I've done this weeks meals planner by coming up with ways to use the longest inhabitants of the freezer/cupboard so it is not very exciting but it badly needed doing.

    Sunday- Fish, chips and peas, rhubarb crumble and custard
    Monday- Kedgeree to use up some smoked kippers
    Tuesday-Chicken goujons with salad and HM spicy wedges
    Wednesday-HM pizza and garlic bread slices
    Thursday-Mince and herby dumplings with mash and LO frozen veg
    Friday- Chicken kiev, chips and peas
    Saturday-LO smokey chorizo mince in HM wraps with basics tortilla chips

    Lunches will be Spanish quiche to use up some peppers and chicken and rice soup, then it will be sandwiches with egg mayo or corned beef.
    I'll need to buy fruit as we only have strawberries and blackberries in or rhubarb in the freezer. I need to grab the salad and some mozzarella as well.
    Snacks will be dried and fresh fruit with HM yoghurt and I will make some flap jacks today. I have a tonne of raisins to use up so I'll add them to it and also have them with porridge for breakfasts.

    Have a frugal week every body
    One step must start each journey
    One word must start each prayer
    One hope will raise our spirits
    One touch can show you care
    • Coxy11
    • By Coxy11 21st Sep 14, 10:15 AM
    • 2,300 Posts
    • 27,322 Thanks
    Hi all,

    Sorry I've been AWOL this week - RL getting in the way!

    Caterina - sorry you are going through a tough time, sending (((hugs)))

    We finished about 29 under budget for September. My October budget started yesterday with a small spend on milk.

    I see the October GC is up, so I will see you all over there!

    Cross-stitch WIP #1: Collecting Shells by Nancy Cole
    Cross-stitch WIP #2: Pretty Little London by Satsuma Street
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 21st Sep 14, 11:36 AM
    • 1,704 Posts
    • 12,608 Thanks
    I was very happy to find dried black beans for the first time. They were one of the last ingredients I had to go to a big supermarket for, and now I can have cheap, homemade Mexican food [/COLOR]
    Originally posted by Lizling

    This reminded me of an amusing encounter I had a few weeks ago.

    I'll start by saying that for some reason, I do tend to end up helping people in shops quite a lot - no idea why! (one year in HMV when DS's were new out, I ended up spending half an hour with a woman buying one for her son trying to explain to her all the different offers and what the best deal was! She was everso grateful and then said - I think as a compliment - that I should work there! Didn't have the heart to tell her I probably earn more than twice what I would if I worked there, bless!)

    Anyway, I was buying tinned black beans in the world foods aisle as there was an offer on, 3 for 1 I think. So I was in the Caribbean bit. A man of Indian looking origins approached me and was asking me what kind of beans are used in Mexican cooking that aren't these black beans! So ended up having a very random conversation about pinto beans and how he can get them dried and where to go get them and how to quick soak them - it was very strange as he was almost demanding the information of me as though he thought I was an assistant there or something - when I was clearly holding a basket full! Maybe it was just his manner. Anyway I just thought it was so funny. White English girl in the Caribbean section being asked by Indian(type) man about Mexican food! We truly live in a multicultural society nowadays don't we!!

    LC x
    I'm a Board Guide on the Old Style, Greenfingered, Energy & Going Out Deals boards which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and I can move and merge threads there. Please remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to (it's not part of my role to deal with this) Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
    SPC No 074
    GC: Apr 19 59.94/200
    Vegan 27-8-13
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 21st Sep 14, 4:30 PM
    • 2,115 Posts
    • 18,236 Thanks
    21.61 spent on paracetamol,toiletries,sweets,drinks and groceries between Asd*, L*dl and B and M. Will add to sig, but will have to catch up on thread later on; as back in work at 6pm.

    Four and a bit hours to go and counting!!
    GC 2017 3,434.09 GC 2018 2,250.95 GC 2019 Jan 268.24/200 Feb 158.01/200 Mar 220.05/200 April (moving) May (adjusting 270.73), Jun 291.01/280 Jul /300
    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
    • p-pincher
    • By p-pincher 21st Sep 14, 4:30 PM
    • 725 Posts
    • 3,631 Thanks
    2 left to last til Friday. Spent 10 Friday on a big block of cheese from Iceland and a 500g nescafe from Sainburys, 11 in Sainsburys on Satuday and 15 today in Asda and shop.

    All fruit, bread and rolls bought for lunches. Need some lettuce on Wednesday for Taco night but thats it, Hoping to spend under a pound on it and then a pound left for milk midweek, Cutting it mighty fine but i've amazed myself on how disciplined i've managed to be. All dinners have been planned and really hoping there are no surprises.
    March 2014 Grocery challenge 250.00
    • x_raphael_xx
    • By x_raphael_xx 21st Sep 14, 4:57 PM
    • 3,711 Posts
    • 19,516 Thanks
    30.25 spent today, which puts me 4.57 over my target hopefully it should last me until the end of the month, as I'm away next weekend so will be fed by my family.
    On the plus side, it's the lowest I've been over budget so far getting closer to target!
    Debt Free as of 17/01/2009 Turtle Power!!
    NSD's - 0/30 / EF Challenger #3 514.56/5000
    • cheexy
    • By cheexy 21st Sep 14, 8:15 PM
    • 430 Posts
    • 1,813 Thanks
    Spent 25.00 on grocery last week leading to a total of 62.47
    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
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