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    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 28th Jul 18, 10:09 PM
    • 1,755Posts
    • 12,802Thanks
    March 2019 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 28th Jul 18, 10:09 PM
    March 2019 Grocery Challenge 28th Jul 18 at 10:09 PM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the third Grocery Challenge of 2019 !!!!

    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 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. Mr M 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 bread maker - 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. Obviously 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 health wise.

    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 guidelines on posting in this thread please read the second post in this thread.

    For the Grocery challenge Recipe Index please see posts #4 to #10 this thread (the list is growing!!!!!)

    For everyone's totals, see post #3 on this thread

    I hope everyone has a great month!


    This Forum tip was included in's weekly email!
    Last edited by elsiepac; 15-03-2019 at 11:55 AM.
    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: Sep 19 £tbc/£250
    Vegan 27-8-13
Page 2
    • becky170
    • By becky170 28th Feb 19, 6:23 PM
    • 561 Posts
    • 4,432 Thanks
    Thanks for setting up the new thread Elsie.
    MFW 2019 #7 £1377/1615
    • ma-ri-ella
    • By ma-ri-ella 28th Feb 19, 7:37 PM
    • 972 Posts
    • 9,459 Thanks
    in for another month. not doing to bad on the takeaways etc just need to yellow sticker and meal prep more!
    £365 a year spend challenge - this has included food/clothes/beauty?? who knows where I am
    20,000 step a day challenge
    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 28th Feb 19, 9:29 PM
    • 1,349 Posts
    • 9,900 Thanks
    Thanks Elsie for the new thread.

    Please put me down for £162, which is our usual £120 plus £42 left over from February.

    - Pip
    "Be the type of woman that when you get out of bed in the morning, the devil says 'Oh crap. She's up.' "

    C.R.A.P R.O.L.L.Z. #47 Official Brain Harvesting Body Counter
    • euronorris
    • By euronorris 1st Mar 19, 8:01 AM
    • 10,386 Posts
    • 48,842 Thanks
    OK additional spends yesterday:

    £8.50 Waitrose (DH's favourite ale, on offer in Waitrose, so cheaper here than anywhere else at the moment, including Aldi and Lidl!)
    £23.33 Asda various bits on shopping list
    £13.66 Lidl this morning - beef mince and Richmond sausages

    Total now: £145.75/£300

    Planning a spend of circa £4 in Aldi tomorrow. Peas, garlic bread slices, whole chicken and Worcestershire sauce. And that'll be the end of the large spends for this month.

    Next week's total is anticipated to be in the region of £30. I would expect weeks 3 and 4 to be around the same. If I manage this, I will definitely come in under budget.

    The challenge definitely helped to keep me under control yesterday. As I was walking around Asda's I saw so many things I would usually mindlessly put in my trolley, but as I had my shopping list, a budget and I'm dieting at the moment, I resisted all the extras (with the exceptions of seeds and a toy for DD - separate budget - also picked up more seeds in Lidl this morning - SOOO cheap!).

    Also, I had two over ripe bananas in the house yesterday, and rather than waste them I used them in a Banana and Oat cookies recipe I had seen a few days earlier. So, nice little snack made for us all, and food not wasted! Win, win!
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 1st Mar 19, 8:06 AM
    • 1,329 Posts
    • 15,828 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    Hi, hope everyone is keeping well. I would like to be put down for my usual £80. I'm going to deduct the overspend from last month, which was £10.57, as most of that is in the freezer and cupboards, and will be used this month. I have spent a further £5 on 3 packs of Linda Mc Sausages, 6 avocado and a large bowl of mushrooms. I'm not intending buying anything 'till next week, as I've more than enough in stores, but want sweet potatoes, onions and coconut milk. I have updated sig.
    August GC - Food £55.56/£80 Alcohol £17.24/£20
    Bulk Funds - Food £19.73
    Save 12k in 2019 £1,300/£5,000 - #155
    • EdithB
    • By EdithB 1st Mar 19, 11:17 AM
    • 2 Posts
    • 30 Thanks
    Hi! I'm new and I'm in for this month's challenge. I've got a budget of £395 for two adults, one teen, one tween and a cat. It ought to be very doable judging from most of the posts on here but I'm out of practice when it comes to restraint

    I've set myself a spreadsheet and am going to have a look through all the recipes at the start of the thread for inspiration.

    Anyway - hello and nice to meet you all
    • euronorris
    • By euronorris 1st Mar 19, 1:04 PM
    • 10,386 Posts
    • 48,842 Thanks
    I'm still keeping my eyes peeled for a bread maker. Might give the manual method another go this weekend and see how I get on, but still leaning towards bread maker. DH is a stay at home dad to DD, and if we have the machine, he can just pop the ingredients in with her and let the machine do the rest. I fear he'd just forget about if he had to leave it to rise! haha

    I'll also be making another batch of pizza dough. I lifted the last lot out of the freezer this morning for tonights tea.
    • Suffolk lass
    • By Suffolk lass 1st Mar 19, 1:40 PM
    • 3,300 Posts
    • 29,344 Thanks
    Suffolk lass
    Welcome EdithB - lots of lovely supportive people on here, and lots of ideas on how to budget, plan, and reduce your grocery spending. Well worth reading through the first few posts and one or two of the links (some have been around ages, but the wisdom holds good). We wish you success.
    Save £12k in 2019 - #68 target is £7k £8,766.30 after Sep
    OS Grocery Challenge 2019 target £3k - 57.28% spent after Sep
    Mortgage Free Wannabes 2019 #37 108.23% £43,292.24 including Sep - reducing now to avoid fees
    MFIT T5 target to clear our mortgage completely (£59,998) Q2 £30,085 or 50.14% paid
    My DFD is here
    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 1st Mar 19, 1:48 PM
    • 1,349 Posts
    • 9,900 Thanks
    As mentioned in the February challenge, we went shopping last night. We did our big monthly shop, spending £58.26 in MrT's, which included £4 for 10kg of flour. I've got a small shop planned for Lidl tomorrow (mainly for butter) and a visit to the farm shop on Sunday for eggs and veg; together this should keep us going for a week or two.

    We also spent £48.20 in Costco last night, but the Meat Fund paid for that not the grocery challenge kitty. I've started tracking our Meat Fund purchases in the same spreadsheet that I use for the Grocery Challenge. It'll be interesting to see how we do over 6 months or a year. (We contribute £40/month to the Meat Fund.)

    Anyway, the above brings our Grocery Challenge spend for March to £58.26/£162, leaving £103.74 for the rest of the month.

    Hi! I'm new and I'm in for this month's challenge. I've got a budget of £395 for two adults, one teen, one tween and a cat. It ought to be very doable judging from most of the posts on here but I'm out of practice when it comes to restraint

    I've set myself a spreadsheet and am going to have a look through all the recipes at the start of the thread for inspiration.

    Anyway - hello and nice to meet you all
    Originally posted by EdithB
    Hello, EdithB. Welcome to the Grocery Challenge.

    Most people here start their shopping list by planning what meals they're going to have for the week/fortnight. I don't but then I tend to shop for the month and not weekly, so my meal planning consists of looking a couple of days ahead and asking "What have we got in? What needs using up? What's in the diary? And if I defrost X, what can I make with it?". I keep a running shopping list, recording things as they're running low/running out and starting a new page after each shop.

    My other big "tricks" are keeping a stash of long-life skimmed milk (tastes like fresh and saves running out), and batch cooking then freezing meal bases for days when I'm late home. (Do you know how many recipes start "Fry onion with garlic"? Millions. Ditto those that start with a basic tomato sauce. It's a matter of minutes to prepare enough "base" for three or four meals, and then you only have to decide what you're going to make with it when you haul it out of the freezer.)


    - Pip
    Last edited by PipneyJane; 01-03-2019 at 3:20 PM.
    "Be the type of woman that when you get out of bed in the morning, the devil says 'Oh crap. She's up.' "

    C.R.A.P R.O.L.L.Z. #47 Official Brain Harvesting Body Counter
    • candygirl
    • By candygirl 1st Mar 19, 1:52 PM
    • 27,563 Posts
    • 117,434 Thanks
    Can you put me down for £120 again this month please ELSIE ? I seem to be managing at this amount, which includes all food, loo rolls , washing powder n dog food
    "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf"

    (Kabat-Zinn 2004)
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 1st Mar 19, 3:36 PM
    • 405 Posts
    • 5,938 Thanks
    A happy St David's Day to all! Here we are in March already - how did that happen?

    Can you put me down for £120 again please? I'm going to try and stop anxiety-buying for the B-word now. We have enough in the cupboards to survive of it gets a bit crazy for a week or two and I don't want to end up fighting my way out of the house past the tins of tomatoes!

    I started the month today with a spend of £15.29 on some fruit, veg and butter (including lemons for Tuesday!). I'm going to try my darnedest to not buy anything else before next Friday when my MIL is coming to stay so I'll need to get some bits in.

    Good luck everyone!
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 1st Mar 19, 4:21 PM
    • 3,133 Posts
    • 38,351 Thanks
    Can I go for £450 this month, please? It's a 5 weekend month, and Fridays are when I do my main weekly shop. Plus I may or may not have an operation towards the end of the month; I'm hoping so, but am aware that these things rarely go according to the patient's wishes! And if so I will need to lay in extra supplies to keep the family afloat whilst I put my feet up in hospital. Not to mention any possible political upheavals...

    GC Oct 19 - £149/£420
    2019 Fashion on the Ration Challenge: 30 coupons left out of 66

    (Money's just a substitute for time & talent...)
    • allie23
    • By allie23 1st Mar 19, 5:16 PM
    • 1,343 Posts
    • 14,647 Thanks
    Please count me in again for £200]. Thanks for the new thread elsie.
    February 2019 Grocery Challenge
    Frugal Living Challenge 2019
    Save £12k in 2019 - Challenger No 69 - £13,310/£40,000
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 1st Mar 19, 6:23 PM
    • 806 Posts
    • 10,228 Thanks
    Small spend today, bread, milk and cream.. will work out receipt (other purchases for different budgets) and add to total..
    Last edited by MadamMim2013; 01-03-2019 at 6:23 PM. Reason: Oops
    "There's a little witch in all of us"
    2018 GC 93 2019 GC 3 2 JUNE GC £192.92/£300
    : DEBT FREE 06/2018
    • Lifeisforliving19
    • By Lifeisforliving19 1st Mar 19, 6:50 PM
    • 337 Posts
    • 2,278 Thanks
    I'm hoping to come in under £180 this month...fingers crossed
    DMP 2015 £57,549, now £36,112 (37% paid)
    EF £200 Mortgage OP's this year £115

    There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, Shining at the End of Every Day!

    • becky170
    • By becky170 2nd Mar 19, 2:35 AM
    • 561 Posts
    • 4,432 Thanks
    We had our first online shop delivered from MrS on Thursday so we've currently spent £85.25/£450. Will probably need to get some milk during the week but hopefully not much more than that. Accidently brought two packets of courgettes so have been looking at weaning recipes which involve courgette to help use them up. Will probably also make some courgette and carrot fritters which I think are yummy even if the rest of the family doesn't!
    MFW 2019 #7 £1377/1615
    • VickyV
    • By VickyV 2nd Mar 19, 7:15 AM
    • 169 Posts
    • 2,094 Thanks
    Spends of 29.19 in Ald1 and £4 in w8rose yesterday. The w8rose spend was for 2 big bottles of ecover washing up liquid - the last one was started in late November and is still going so I thought I'd pick up a couple while they're on offer.
    Anyway £33.19/£260 for the month so far.
    Grocery challenge July 2019 £0/£260.
    2019, Q1 Weight loss challenge 20/11lb
    Q2 weight loss challenge 16/16
    Saving money, decluttering and getting fit. How hard can it be?
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 2nd Mar 19, 7:17 AM
    • 1,385 Posts
    • 8,372 Thanks
    Popped into Aldi yesterday to replenish dogs chicken thighs, not a thigh could be had, so bought 2 packs of 4 chicken legs, rethinking over night, I like a leg, so will keep those for my use and go back again at 9 a.m. got some lemons as I have lemon in hot water everyday, in the super 6 and quite often this is the best time of year taste wise too dentalstix for dog bought total to £11.81, going over to morries whilst out so will update sig then.
    RETURNED, managed to get the last 4 trays of chicken thighs, hope they have more or sold out by 9 01 receipt stamped, more lemons and 2 boxes of the very nice cod/haddock in batter, 2 in the box and a good size, shot to morries got a famous grouse, 9 ariel a newspaper and 3 y.s. mozarella to make £50 and get a £5 voucher.

    Been thinking about my shopping, I am now stockpiling for my neighbours, ariel 3x £10 on offer I have about 18 bottles so will sell to them as they need, will get more before offer ends in 10 days, 1 of my neighbours has a tassimo coffee machine 3 x £10 Asda, have £20 worth waiting for her to say I need coffee. I have outlaid about £60 which I will get back in time.
    I don`t count that spend in my budget.
    Last edited by pamsdish; 02-03-2019 at 9:18 AM.
    2018 £2285/£2149
    2019 £2000=£364-£19=£345-£7=£338-£32=£306
    • tiredwithtwins
    • By tiredwithtwins 2nd Mar 19, 7:27 AM
    • 464 Posts
    • 1,532 Thanks
    can I be put down (lol) for £120 please? last month was ok, was my twin boys 18th birthday so a lot of money went out lol.
    freezer and cupboards are full so working them down and hoping for a minimum spend this month!!
    good luck at sticking to the budget everyone!!
    S x
    dec gc epic fail!/150 ..jan 140/160 ..feb gc 90/150
    mar 100/120 apr 85/120
    wading through the treacle of life!
    • Graciefields
    • By Graciefields 2nd Mar 19, 9:43 AM
    • 77 Posts
    • 504 Thanks
    Hi, this is my 5th Month. Please put me down for £125.00 for the month

    For me and my dog to include dog food and treats, cleaning products and toiletries.
    Last edited by Graciefields; 02-03-2019 at 9:43 AM. Reason: error
    Barclay Card £3600 HSBC CC £2587 ZERO
    Total CC Debt £7755
    COLOR="Red"]$7151[/COLOR] £6487
    November 2018 GC £25Pw/£100Pm Nov Grocery Challenge £83.56/£100 Dec GC £95.64/£125Jan 2019 GC COLOR="Red"]64.86/£125[/COLOR] Feb GC COLOR="DarkRed£100.43/]£125[/COLOR]March GC OR="Red"]145.00/125[/COLOR]
    April GC £130/£125 Aug GC £72.71/£100
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