Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

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

    Welcome to the 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 26
    • By LESLAMP 6th Jan 14, 1:04 PM
    • 110 Posts
    • 1,010 Thanks
    Spent 3.94 yesterday in Asd*. We are starting the decorating and at the last minute nipped out to buy some rubber gloves to start washing paintwork with sugar soap. Marigolds were cheaper than own brand so 2 pairs came to 3 plus some smart pr1ce dish clothes (75p) and a hedgehog loaf for 19p (bargain). Had to put it on my card though as used the rest of the grocery cash to buy a top in M&S for 4.99. Very pretty and a lovely bargain as wanted something new for my 50th birthday dinner on the weekend.
    Credit Card 2332.04 at 1st Jan 14 now 2089
    Joint debts currently 25000 17388 Debt Free date dec Jan 2025 2022

    PAD since 20/08/15 61.16
    • xmillyx
    • By xmillyx 6th Jan 14, 1:05 PM
    • 80 Posts
    • 860 Thanks
    First shop of the month done for this week.. Total spent was 25.23 so a touch over 1/4 of the months total spend.
    • Bluegreen143
    • By Bluegreen143 6th Jan 14, 2:52 PM
    • 1,101 Posts
    • 12,692 Thanks
    Thought I'd post up my meal plan -
    Su - veggie egg fried rice (leftover cooked rice from dinner party night before )

    M - spicy sausage & roasted pepper pasta and salad (leftover cooked sausages in freezer)

    T - haddock (from freezer) in a tomato & thyme sauce with HM chips and veg

    W - mixed bean enchiladas and salad (beans and wraps in freezer)

    Th - chicken & veg casserole with dumplings (chicken thighs in freezer)

    F - gnocchi with roasted squash, pine nuts and pesto (need to use up potatoes!)

    Sa - out for dinner on date night with OH as we've saved up so much money in our joint account (seperate to other savings) also to congratulate him as on Sat it will be nearly 6 weeks for him without a single cigarette I'm so proud of him as he's been quite a heavy smoker for 15 years (since he was 14-15!!)
    As you can see, I'm trying to reduce freezer contents a bit Used my electric slicer I got for Christmas to slice up my HM bread last night, totally love it and can't wait to cook a joint of meat up (sad I know lol!).

    Hope everyone's having a frugal day.
    Married 1 March 2014 DS born 06/12/15

    CC - 2,182.17/2,182.17
    Family loan 1 - 1,680/1,680
    Family loan 2 - 3,500/5,000
  • Juliajojo
    I fancy some chicken stew with dumplings tonight but had no suet so popped in and the Co-operative and purchased a box for 1.19. I had a NSD yesterday, and am hoping that tomorrow and Wednesday with be NSD's too.

    January 2014 GC: 483.86/580.00

    2014 in 2014/33.92
    • Florenceem
    • By Florenceem 6th Jan 14, 2:55 PM
    • 3,984 Posts
    • 52,562 Thanks
    Monday 2.
    Cleaned and tidied fridge - lots in there!
    Mr F has gone out - told - no GC money spending.
    15 in 2015 1/15
    • nicknack
    • By nicknack 6th Jan 14, 3:10 PM
    • 89 Posts
    • 1,861 Thanks
    Hi everyone,

    Haven't posted for ages but I've still been reading the threads and doing the challenge but have decided that for the new year I will try to post a lot more! Can I be put down for my usual of 200 please? I've been taking 200 out in cash every month and putting it in my shopping purse so not spending on my card, and this seems to have been working for me. I tend to do a shop at HBs at the beginning of the month (for toiletries, cereal bars and cleaning products etc), as well as one at A!di for cupboard items and then doing weekly shops for F&V and meat.

    Good Luck everybody x

    • Ali-OK
    • By Ali-OK 6th Jan 14, 3:15 PM
    • 4,058 Posts
    • 16,645 Thanks
    I fancy some chicken stew with dumplings tonight but had no suet so popped in and the Co-operative and purchased a box for 1.19. I had a NSD yesterday, and am hoping that tomorrow and Wednesday with be NSD's too.

    Originally posted by Juliajojo
    Perfect dumpling weather I made beef stew and dumplings yesterday, so we'll have leftovers tonight and I also froze a few portions.

    Have had to buy more suet today, milk, and porridge as I'd run out and also picked up Basics coffee and Basics bourbon biscuits. Wish Aldi would bring the bourbons back! I do wonder if there's a shortage though - SB hasn't had any for a couple of months and according to my Mum, her Asda and different SB has been the same. DS will be very happy now!

    Spent 4.34p, 4 in Luncheon Vouchers from doing P!necone Research surveys and 34p of money. I'm only adding in the cash spend bit to the challenge, otherwise it won't tally with what I've got in my purse
    Back on the DFW Wagon:

    CC - 3,300 on 0% til 04/2020
    CC - 4,500 on 0% til 02/2019
    Loan - 12,063.84 as at 4/1/18
    • dumpling
    • By dumpling 6th Jan 14, 3:27 PM
    • 1,708 Posts
    • 23,803 Thanks
    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.
    Originally posted by DanielleNic87
    I would love it if you could post the recipe please. I'm counting calories and quite often use SW or WW recipes. Thanks x

    • lushlifesaver
    • By lushlifesaver 6th Jan 14, 3:43 PM
    • 2,312 Posts
    • 18,637 Thanks
    just spent 1.50 on bags of dried fruit with choc chips in it was rtc in sains it was 1.65 a bag before christmas now its going through till at 15p a pack so got 10 bags to use in baking etc and for snacks
    Originally posted by mrs-moneypenny
    Wish I could find this is my local Sains but there's nothing Have picked up some mincemeat for 10p a jar though (3 jars today) bit miffed as I paid 30p for the same stuff last week! No harm or foul though I suppose as it's reduced down from just over 1 a jar!

    Thu Chicken and leek gratin with carrots and green beans
    Originally posted by XSpender
    Don't suppose I could get your recipe for the Chicken and leek gratin? Sounds right up my street for whilst bf is on his travels!

    Got a bag of Sains basics parsnips reduced to 45p today. It's a 750g bag so will blanche some and freeze for roasting (bf doesn't like them so will do about 1/3rd of the bag this) and then will make parsnip soup (maybe parsnip and chicken)
    Perfect Princess born 26/03/14 <3
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 6th Jan 14, 4:32 PM
    • 3,137 Posts
    • 42,344 Thanks
    Spent another 9 at Ald! On salad bits and bread rolls etc, made the mistake of taking DD who NEEDED popcorn and biscuits
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 6th Jan 14, 4:34 PM
    • 3,348 Posts
    • 34,483 Thanks
    Recipe as requested lush lifesaver

    Chicken and Leek Gratin

    40g butter
    1 tsp vegetable oil
    2 sliced medium leeks (works with fresh or frozen)
    2 gloves garlic chopped
    300g cooked chicken
    25g plain flour
    100mls vegetable stock
    tsp mustard powder
    200ml milk

    Enough fresh breadcrumbs and grated cheese mixed together to cover. A bit of Parmesan is nice or mature cheddar.

    To make the filling melt the butter and oil in a saucepan add the leeks and cook for 5 mins over a medium heat until softened but not coloured stir in the garlic and chicken and cook for 2 mins
    Stir in the flour and mustard powder and cook for 1 min gradually add the stock and milk stirring until the sauce thickens season to taste spoon the mixture in to a pie dish and cover with a mixture of fresh breadcrumbs and grated cheese.

    Cook for about 25 minutes at 160-180.

    Sorry the recipe is a bit vague it is a quorn recipe with a pastry top that I have converted to a chicken recipe and replaced the pastry top with a (GF) crumb top! I usually cook the chicken first.
    • DanielleNic87
    • By DanielleNic87 6th Jan 14, 5:10 PM
    • 1,038 Posts
    • 13,314 Thanks
    I would love it if you could post the recipe please. I'm counting calories and quite often use SW or WW recipes. Thanks x
    Originally posted by dumpling
    Here you go dumpling

    SW kebab

    1 teaspoon plain flour
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    500g/1.1 lb lamb mince
    Preheat oven to gas mark 4/180C/350F
    In a large bowl, combine the plain flour, dried oregano, dried Italian herbs, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.
    Add the lamb mince and mix thoroughly for 2-3 minutes. Take out all of your aggression on the kebab mixture, punching and kneading until no air pockets remain and the kebab meat is extremely smooth.
    Shape the seasoned mince into a loaf and place on a baking tray.
    Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour 20 minutes, turning the loaf half way through the cooking time to ensure even browning.
    Once cooked, remove from the oven and cover with foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
    Slice the donor kebab as thinly as possible and serve with pitta, salad and sauces!!!

    Hubby spent 9 odd at T's so just going to round it up to 10. I asked him to get chicken breasts and he bought home some chicken quarters which were only about 2.50 for 2 and then the ingredients to make SW quiche.

    Now off to teach hubby the importance of knowing the shopping bill to the exact penny
    Last edited by DanielleNic87; 06-01-2014 at 5:14 PM. Reason: Forgot to add my spends :

    Annual GC 2017 1634.61/2200
    • lushlifesaver
    • By lushlifesaver 6th Jan 14, 5:11 PM
    • 2,312 Posts
    • 18,637 Thanks
    Thank you! Sounds lush and perfect for me and my mum when I go round for a couple of nights later this month!
    Perfect Princess born 26/03/14 <3
    • mrs-moneypenny
    • By mrs-moneypenny 6th Jan 14, 5:14 PM
    • 15,518 Posts
    • 198,189 Thanks
    re the 15p dried fruit in sains local
    Wish I could find this is my local Sains but there's nothing Have picked up some mincemeat for 10p a jar though (3 jars today) bit miffed as I paid 30p for the same stuff last week! No harm or foul though I suppose as it's reduced down from just over 1 a jar!
    Originally posted by lushlifesaver
    the bags of dried fruit were on the top shelf of the fresh fruit and veg section in our store in a plastic basket, hope you manage to find some.
    SPC~12 ot 124

    In a world that has decided that it's going to lose its mind, be more kind my friend, try to Be More Kind
  • CH27
    I spent 8.74 on fruit & veg & should have enough until friday.
    Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.
    • marris
    • By marris 6th Jan 14, 5:41 PM
    • 593 Posts
    • 4,704 Thanks
    just lost big post MARRIS recipe and method please those baps look great!
    Originally posted by craigywv
    I used this recipe and also put a roasting tin in the oven with 1 pint of cold water to have crusty top.30min and they were perfect!
    Jan GC 66,82/100 Jan NSD 17/31; Feb GC 71,67/100 Feb NSD 14/28;Mar GC 81,82/100 Mar NSD 16/31;Apr GC 99,54/100 Apr NSD 14/30; May GC 127,20/100 May NSD 12/31; June GC 70,05/100 June NSD 17/30; July GC 47,52/100 NSD 05/31
    • marris
    • By marris 6th Jan 14, 5:43 PM
    • 593 Posts
    • 4,704 Thanks
    another NSD again.
    Jan GC 66,82/100 Jan NSD 17/31; Feb GC 71,67/100 Feb NSD 14/28;Mar GC 81,82/100 Mar NSD 16/31;Apr GC 99,54/100 Apr NSD 14/30; May GC 127,20/100 May NSD 12/31; June GC 70,05/100 June NSD 17/30; July GC 47,52/100 NSD 05/31
    • islandhoppa
    • By islandhoppa 6th Jan 14, 5:53 PM
    • 149 Posts
    • 2,673 Thanks
    another NSD to report, took lunch to work and had some of the Bolognese sauce I made a batch of yesterday with some pasta for tea
    • happytails
    • By happytails 6th Jan 14, 6:02 PM
    • 1,530 Posts
    • 9,233 Thanks
    NSD here. Hoping to do a slow cooker sausage casserole tomorrow. Im really enjoying this challenge. Going to have to either order a delivered shop for weds as Friday deliver charges are extortionate or do a mini morrisons shop one evening and order big shop for next Tuesday, hmmm I'm tempted with the latter as Tuesday will be near enough 1/2 way through the month then.

    Kids seem to like what I'm cooking too. Bonus

    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
    • jammy dodger
    • By jammy dodger 6th Jan 14, 6:07 PM
    • 1,112 Posts
    • 5,384 Thanks
    jammy dodger
    Just popping on to update my spends - currently standing at 74.34 / 165 so I'm quite happy as there's only two weekend shops left, so we should be OK.

    Made some amazing hot and sour lentil soup today - will post the recipe once I've written it up for the blog. Pretty frugal and very very nice also made a nice seeded loaf too, so that's my lunches sorted.
    Originally posted by Bluegreen143
    bluegreen if you do have time to share recipe that would be fab sounds right up my street i love lentil soup and love hot and sour so this sounds amazing combining the too

    lamb chops out of freezer with veg tonight . No spends here today though was tempted by going to chipper to treat DS who is back off to uni tomorrow but he said he would prefer chops...good lad

    must be a day for fridge cleaning mine got attacked today too

    JD xx
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

294Posts Today

5,297Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • A brilliant and gripping profile of Boris Johnson by the great @JPonpolitics well worth the 15 minute read

  • Boris Johnson is now going to be our prime minister. Worth a pause for thought, whatever your political persuasion.

  • Boy they're dragging out this #conservativeleadership announcement.Three introducers now each grabbing air time. Get on with it please!

  • Follow Martin