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

    Welcome to the first Grocery Challenge of 2014

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

    December grocery challenge - sorry cant seem to get the hyper link to work

    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; 30-12-2013 at 10:55 AM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 22
    • craigywv
    • By craigywv 5th Jan 14, 8:45 AM
    • 1,976 Posts
    • 27,825 Thanks
    Faete, that's an awful thing to do to anyone I would be raging ! some people are so self centered did they not think you would have put yourself out! well need go mr t later need salad stuffs and veg and yogurts son aged 10 has packed lunch tomorrow schools are back yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy sorry about that love his company but just so much minecraft game I can take. oh in work too so house is all mine mine mine!!! again sorry but just so much oh I can also take lol only joking! will sit and do a meal plan for next week , could prob mealplan till about November the amount of food in these freezers. anyway hope for spend of 10 -15 quid today and that's it!!!! any more will be wasteful. have a good day all 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!!.
  • CH27
    MY GC starts tomorrow so I will spend some time today planning a menu for the rest of the week around what I already have in.
    I'm hoping for a really cheap week to help me get back in the budgetting zone.
  • NeroliJasmin

    Another great challenge!!!
    Please could I join as well? I started doing this on my own last month and would like to try to keep bringing costs down. My budget was 266 and came in at just under 250....Coming down but not by much, will see if I can do better this month.
    List & comparison done...Off to do monthly shop.
    Monthly budget: 240

    Thanks & good luck all

    DF by Xmas 2014 Challenge #074: 1500/ 1500 CLEAR NOV 2014!!!
    SP Challenge~7 #297 (Target 100)
    GC: Jan 14 221.02/240 , Feb 148/220
    • MrsCautious
    • By MrsCautious 5th Jan 14, 9:33 AM
    • 1,161 Posts
    • 13,728 Thanks
    Hello, happy Sunday I really should be doing some work, so much to do!

    I've updated my signature to 7.75, I took 2 gift vouchers to pay with at Sains yesterday and went 'off list' a fair bit -- but I have stocked up on items which should reduce my spend later this month -- sounds good that, hope it's true. . .

    I had 2 gaps in a 10 day main meal plan and I bought 2 x 2 Birds Eye chicken chargrills reduced on offer to 1 each, I also bought 2 packets of an Italian brand of fresh pasta parcels, which does 3 of us, on offer for 1 each -- one is chicken and bacon and one is 'rich bolognese' (with Basics garlic bread and salad, this is a v cheap meal that doesn't feel cheap to me, I had been making my own pasta sauce but have switched to Basics to save time, I think it's 40p a jar?) A one litre bottle of light olive oil, which I needed, was half price at 3 something on offer. My brand match coupon said my shop was 8.89 cheaper than the other big sms, they aren't near me so am loyal Sains shopper.

    I put back some items before I went through the till -- taste the difference scones, bread rolls and biscuits, I try and do that to curb impulse buys.

    Was woken yesterday by mystery shop people asking me to visit a different supermarket, spent 2.69 in there on milk and veg. Made good use of the six things on offer -- and all covered by my (v low) fee, still made me smile though. I haven't named the sm as I'm not allowed to, but despite the low fee, I appreciate the effect these visits can have on my GC!

    I have been easing myself into healthier eating these last couple of days and plan to continue, have so much weight to lose, feel in an ok place to start, touch wood, hope this also has a positive effect on my finances!

    Bit of a ramble from me I think, oh well, thanks all for continuing to show me how it's done -- the GC of course not the rambling. . .
    Last edited by MrsCautious; 05-01-2014 at 9:47 AM.
    • Make-it-3
    • By Make-it-3 5th Jan 14, 10:39 AM
    • 1,550 Posts
    • 7,040 Thanks
    Started my experiment with budget supermarket shopping yesterday with a mouch round Lidl and a 10.81 spend, so my remaining budget for Jan is now 162.75. Aiming for 3 NSD's now till weekly shop on Wed. Should be doable we have enough bread and milk.
    We Made-it-3 on 28/01/11 with birth of our gorgeous DD.
    • happytails
    • By happytails 5th Jan 14, 10:52 AM
    • 1,530 Posts
    • 9,233 Thanks
    Well we've done a food inventory of all the dried, tinned and bottled foods and sauces etc along with best before dates. Got 4 tins of plum tomatoes and 1 tin of chopped tomatoes that were bbe dec 2013 so we will use those this week! I'm sure they'll be fine.

    Now I just need to think of some recipes lol. Off to have a look at page 1....I have to say I'm quite enjoying this.

    Sarah x
    MFW Total 183,637.21 to clear by 2035
    DFW Total 35,420 to clear by 2024

    2019 in 2019 0.00/2019
    • Living proof
    • By Living proof 5th Jan 14, 10:59 AM
    • 1,568 Posts
    • 10,219 Thanks
    Living proof
    First spendy day of the year and #3.76 was the total. I bought a stewpack of veg in Aldi rather than separate carrots and onions which would have been more expensive and too many at once. A good sized swede and a parsnip were also included, so for once this was a good option. Also a pint of cider for a visiting friend and at 99p this is better price than any of the SMs. Poundland had a terrific offer for W-U liquid with Morning fresh bottles 50% extra and two for a pound. (For some reason the pound sign is coming out as a hash today). Last night we used up the remainder of NYE chicken and ham in a tasty cheese sauce and most of the leftovers have been rammed somehow into the freezer. Milk and bread should be the only mid-week requirements and I want to see how long I can go like this without having to buy another 'bargain'. I must condition myself to accept that there will always be more YS items next month, and the month after....
    Solar Suntellite 250 x16 4kW Afore 3600TL dual 2KW E 2KW W no shade, DN15 March 14
    Mortgage and Debt Free. Unfortunately Pension Free too!
  • Fru-gal
    First spend of the month 45 on an ocado shop last night. We got a mainly fruit hamper last week for DH birthday. We ate our favourites (mango, melon and grapes) but neither of us are keen on pears and bananas. So today I froze the underripe bananas for smoothies, made a banana and nut cake with LO Xmas nuts in the breadmaker and an apple and pear compote in the slow cooker which I'm hoping DH will eat in his porridge or I will have it with yogurts. It feels good to use food up that we would previously have thrown away after a week or in the fruit bowl!
    • dumpling
    • By dumpling 5th Jan 14, 11:43 AM
    • 1,707 Posts
    • 23,790 Thanks
    Another 5.22 to add to my total as I popped into the Co-op after church and found a couple of reduced bargains including a baking camembert with pancetta for 60p and it's dated till February . Bit alarmed to see lots of Easter stuff out already .

  • Fru-gal
    Just testing signature
    Grocery challenge: dec 294/280, January 250/250, February 168/200 march 258/260
    • poppycracker
    • By poppycracker 5th Jan 14, 11:55 AM
    • 1,511 Posts
    • 4,494 Thanks
    Hi all, am a bit late joining as I also have not been well. Managed to go all year without a cold, then on the 27th of December, started feeling the tell-tale prickles in the back of the nose and throat. Even with the Vit C and Zinc I still managed to turn into a major snot monster.....
    Still, its on its way out now, and I need to focus on the food spending this month. We are away for a week next week and are still eating the christmas food we bought last month so its really only the cat food I bought just before Christmas when DH got paid that I'm declaring so far.

    I'm going for a budget of 170 this month, 10 less than November, lets see if I can do it......

    Out of that I have to declare a spend of 27 for cat food and litter which should last us the month.
    DFW Nerd no 239.....Last Personal Debt paid off Nov 2012!
    Donated 50 pints so far.... gold badge got 17/11/13! Blood Group O+
    mummy to 3 cats, 2 budgies and a cockatiel
    • hex2
    • By hex2 5th Jan 14, 11:58 AM
    • 4,722 Posts
    • 80,174 Thanks
    I notice that MrT have 3 for 2 on some of the cheeses until 21st January. Includes value mozzarella at 44p - which takes it down to under 30p each if you buy three. Freezes nicely too. The not quite Feta type value salad cheese would work out at 50p per pack as well and is usually long dated.
    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need' Marcus Tullius Cicero
    • Soworried
    • By Soworried 5th Jan 14, 12:07 PM
    • 2,146 Posts
    • 19,960 Thanks
    I notice that MrT have 3 for 2 on some of the cheeses until 21st January. Includes value mozzarella at 44p - which takes it down to under 30p each if you buy three. Freezes nicely too. The not quite Feta type value salad cheese would work out at 50p per pack as well and is usually long dated.
    Originally posted by hex2
    Thankyou I didn't know it was back on again. I'll grab 3 mozzarella tomorrow
    One step must start each journey
    One word must start each prayer
    One hope will raise our spirits
    One touch can show you care
  • Jacksmummy
    Just been farm shop and picked up the veg to last us till the end of the week 6.52 spent on
    a big bunch of bananas
    a swede
    4 carrots
    a bag of mushrooms
    a pk of celery
    a celeriac
    a bag of spuds
    2 leeks
    3 apples
    1 cabbage
    and a bag of onions.
    G.C July 21.09/100

    • Upsy Staffordshire
    • By Upsy Staffordshire 5th Jan 14, 12:25 PM
    • 374 Posts
    • 3,791 Thanks
    Upsy Staffordshire
    Small spend for us yesterday. Had to nip to T3sco to get some milk, as Ald had none the other day, so we walked to the express one round the corner. Spent 2.79 on a bottle of milk and two packs of Thorntons chocolate cake bars, which were reduced to 70p each for a pack of 5.

    We only used half of the pate yesterday for lunch so had the other half today with toast using homemade bread. Made another loaf of homemade bread today which should do for sandwiches for me and OH for most of this week. Also made a fruit loaf for a cheap snack throughout the week.

    Should be an NSD for us today, as we've been invited round to my parents for dinner tonight. We used half a jar of sauce for chicken Friday night so will finish the other half tomorrow for dinner with chicken and veg from the freezer and some mash. We should spend very little, if anything, for the rest of the week, but OH starts back to work tomorrow and he has a tendency to buy himself lunch, snacks and drinks when I'm not around, even though we have plenty in the house! Fingers crossed he will behave!
    Thank you to everyone who posts on here
    • storytime
    • By storytime 5th Jan 14, 1:04 PM
    • 331 Posts
    • 1,469 Thanks
    Small spends at Lidl and Iceland total 19.11. Sig updated. Trying to use up what's left in fridge and cupboards to cut down on spending this month. Plus we are off to sunny Gran Canaria next week for a week of sunshine and warmth hopefully!
    My secret fantasy is having 2 men....
    1 cooking and 1 cleaning.
    • sharronej
    • By sharronej 5th Jan 14, 1:04 PM
    • 563 Posts
    • 4,784 Thanks
    I only spent 3.60 for the FB stuff but did get a lot for my money. 3 x tins soup, 1 x potatoes, 1 x beans & sausage, 1 x chopped toms, 1 x peas, 1 x carrot, 1 x tuna, 1 pkt instant coffee, 1 box teabags..... Looking into volunteering for them too.
    Originally posted by CherryPie

    This is a great idea and I think I will join you in donating once a month, I don't think our local stores have anywhere to put donations however I know our Church take donations for a charity whose name I have forgotten - other than that I guess I could donate money directly to the FB's? I volunteer with the Scout Association working in a very deprived area and although it's hard to eek out the time needed it is very rewarding.

    I came in well under for week one which delighted me and I've hopefully done a good enough shop for week two but I guess time will tell! I spent 35.81 in Mr T - I forgot to get childrens fromage frais however I have a 57p off voucher so I will endeavour to take 20p in with me tomorrow to pick these up - this will be my most frugal action ever I think lol. I then spent 5.85 in Aldo's but hopefully after tomorrow I shouldn't need to go near the supermarkets again until next Sunday.

    I am trying to empty my freezer but now I'm back to my money saving ways with batch cooking etc it's actually getting more full rather than emptier!!
    • DanielleNic87
    • By DanielleNic87 5th Jan 14, 2:24 PM
    • 1,038 Posts
    • 13,314 Thanks
    I am so angry, the friends have decided not to come and stay but buy a new wardrobe!

    I bought all sorts of thing we didn't need - luckily we've managed to squeek some of it into the freezer, but I'll have to have a serious replan of the week's meals to fit things in before they go off.

    Well, if they propose a visit again they can jolly well take pot luck with whatever we're having! Grrrrrrrrrrr!

    Fae xx
    Originally posted by Faete

    You mean you are going to invite them again?!? I bleeding well wouldn't. How rude are some people.

    I notice that MrT have 3 for 2 on some of the cheeses until 21st January. Includes value mozzarella at 44p - which takes it down to under 30p each if you buy three. Freezes nicely too. The not quite Feta type value salad cheese would work out at 50p per pack as well and is usually long dated.
    Originally posted by hex2

    What is the value mozzarella like? When we make pizzas hubby always wants to get the grated stuff which is something stupid like 2 packs for 3.

    Annual GC 2017 1634.61/2200
    • DanielleNic87
    • By DanielleNic87 5th Jan 14, 2:26 PM
    • 1,038 Posts
    • 13,314 Thanks
    Just popping on to update my signature with 13.60 spent on a cheeky couple of kebabs last night. They were alright but I kept thinking about how much shopping I could get with the money I spent on them so it's kind of put me off. This is a good thing!
    Originally posted by dumpling
    I have found the SW version of the kebab which apparently tastes just like the real thing, so I'm going to give that a go as hubby is partial to a shop bought kebab.

    Annual GC 2017 1634.61/2200
    • Rachiedabbler70
    • By Rachiedabbler70 5th Jan 14, 2:31 PM
    • 262 Posts
    • 2,427 Thanks
    Hi All

    Just catching up on all the posts - looks like everyone is doing really well.

    I did my big shop yesterday after a long haul of 12 NSDs in a row. We really needed some food so it cost a lot, but I am happy to report that I got some good bulk buys and expect to mainly last 2 weeks on food and the whole month on cleaning/ toiletries. Luckily I didn't need much meat or veg as I have lots in the freezer.

    Total spend of 138.33. Skip the following if you get bored

    1 DS and 2 PC games for the kids (8.95), a central heating thermostat (12.49), lunch out for 3 (12.20), 2 kg of rice, 18 loo rolls, 30 eggs, 3 bags of flour, 2 tubes of toothpaste, pressie for my FIL for his birthday, 3 deoderants, 4 jars pasta sauce, 2 jars pizza sauce, 4 litres milk, 2 litres lacto free milk, 2 blocks lacto free cheese, 2 packs mozzarella, salad items, 24 bottles of water, 2 loaves of bread, 6 part baked baguettes, 2 packs of ham, 24 Actimel drinks, 14 bars of choc, 14 packs of crisps, 12 oven bottom muffins, 8 English muffins, shampoo, food bags, chicken wings, milk shake powder, yogurts, shower gel, olive oil, cereals, 2 bottles of cordial, 2 litres of OJ, 2 bags sugar, 2 packets of biscuits, 2 packs bacon, handwash, 16 cans of drink, 8 tins of beans
    and a partridge in a pear tree (not really although that would have been good)
    Blitz that mortgage
    Jun 2016 152,000
    Jul 2019 113,630.35 (25.2% paid)
    MFW 2019 #81 6,254.71/8,000 (78%)
    Contingency pot savings 11,935.98 Jul 2019
    July GC 152/140
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