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@.

    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 28th Jul 18, 10:09 PM
    • 1,649Posts
    • 12,201Thanks
    January 2019 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 28th Jul 18, 10:09 PM
    January 2019 Grocery Challenge 28th Jul 18 at 10:09 PM
    Hi everyone,

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

    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 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!

    Last edited by elsiepac; 24-12-2018 at 9:23 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: Apr 19 59.94/200
    Vegan 27-8-13
Page 27
    • Hopeless Case
    • By Hopeless Case 31st Jan 19, 6:27 AM
    • 942 Posts
    • 5,809 Thanks
    Hopeless Case
    My new month started on 28 Jan, and I came in at 128.54/200 in Jan which I'm really pleased with
    Feb GC 54.80/200
    NSD target: Jan 15/20
    Bring Your Lunch to Work Target Jan 13/18
    1 a day: Jan 22.7/35
    Tesco CC Aug 18 10,151.56 9753.37 0% 30mnths, First Direct CC Aug 18 4321.80 3627.85 0% til Feb 20
    • piglet27
    • By piglet27 31st Jan 19, 11:24 AM
    • 174 Posts
    • 2,100 Thanks
    Declaring for January 200.78 I am extremely happy with that as, I've basically halved the usual amount spent over the last year.

    However we have used 90% of freezer stores and all pantry except for carbs (grains, pasta, rice) We also did one week of no spends at all which went much better than expected.

    I am much less confident about February due to needing meat and fish as we have non left at all.
    GC Jan 200/200.78 Feb 250/156.07
    #161 2019 in 2019 132.01
    2019 Frugal Living
    • NeverendingDMP
    • By NeverendingDMP 31st Jan 19, 1:37 PM
    • 289 Posts
    • 1,130 Thanks
    Declaring for jan. My payday to payday method was a total bust but if i cheat and look at 1st -31st jan then it was 429.20 out if 433. Going forwards im doing calender months.
    35,213 - Jan 2018, 30113 remaining.
    Mortgage 77230- Jan 2018
    73892 remaining.
    Emergency fund 18
    Make 2019- 632.33/2019
    1% challenge. At ...somewhere in single figures again....
    • VickyV
    • By VickyV 31st Jan 19, 2:27 PM
    • 157 Posts
    • 1,991 Thanks
    Hopefully the last spends for this week/month. 1.70 on bread and restocking the milk lake. Will update sig.
    Vicky x
    Grocery challenge March 2019 175.87/260.
    2019 GC slush fund: 147.80
    2019, Q1 Weight loss challenge 20/11lb
    Saving money, decluttering and getting fit. How hard can it be?
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 31st Jan 19, 4:11 PM
    • 2,960 Posts
    • 37,058 Thanks
    Well, declaring with a sneaky 10.35 added to January's budget, though it could as easily go under February's, at a satisfactory but not entirely accurate 334.06/400. Will try to get the family to declare their "little" spends - a loaf here, a tub of yogurt there - in Feb!

    GC Apr 19 - 321.30/420 "Entertainments" 0/50
    Bulk-buy purse '19 42/250, pet & livestock food '19 69/400

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
    • lantanna
    • By lantanna 31st Jan 19, 4:57 PM
    • 2,608 Posts
    • 19,810 Thanks
    21.5o spent in Lidl today. Steak and salmon for the weekend.
    2019, A year of saving, getting healthy again and turning 40
    2793.67/184 debt cleared in 2019 #5o
    GC Feb 170 / 169.43
    • VickyV
    • By VickyV 31st Jan 19, 9:44 PM
    • 157 Posts
    • 1,991 Thanks
    Declaring for this week at 28.71/65. Really pleased with that! I think next week may be more spendy, I need to get some stocks back up.

    See you all over in Feb!

    Vicky x
    Grocery challenge March 2019 175.87/260.
    2019 GC slush fund: 147.80
    2019, Q1 Weight loss challenge 20/11lb
    Saving money, decluttering and getting fit. How hard can it be?
    • Legittrying
    • By Legittrying 31st Jan 19, 9:45 PM
    • 14 Posts
    • 162 Thanks
    Went over by 3.56 but lowest month I’ve had for a LONG time

    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 1st Feb 19, 7:32 AM
    • 1,211 Posts
    • 7,617 Thanks
    Happy with January spends, from my annual budget, quite a bit of bulk buying included, not a lot of day-day food required.
    2018 2285/2149
    2019 2000=1445-13=1432-31=1401-32=1369-4=1365=18=1347
    • Graciefields
    • By Graciefields 1st Feb 19, 10:32 AM
    • 71 Posts
    • 475 Thanks
    Wow, I've done it again! 65/125. I had a little help from 20 of Morrisons vouchers. Thanks for all the tips and encouragement. Another 60 toward my bulk fund.
    Barclay Card 3900 HSBC CC 2587
    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="DarkRed100.43/]125[/COLOR]March GC OR="Red"]145.00/125[/COLOR]
    April GC 57.94/125
    • ma-ri-ella
    • By ma-ri-ella 1st Feb 19, 10:44 AM
    • 968 Posts
    • 9,417 Thanks
    in for another month . ive written it all down but not added up as i was over at half way . biggest problem areas have been medicine / flu /cough remedies which wasnt budgeted for but has been quite high (first time ill in a few years though so could be worse) ive also went for more convience foods and eating out as feeling to ill to cook or make anything with effort.

    Anyways feb shall be better .
    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 1st Feb 19, 3:55 PM
    • 1,045 Posts
    • 8,034 Thanks
    Declaring for January
    Following a small (6.02) spend by DH yesterday, I'm declaring for January at 102.04/120, which should leave us with an under-spend of 17.96. However, when I counted the contents of the Grocery Challenge purse earlier today it was 22.20! And that was after the usual quarantining of accumulated coppers, 5p and 2 coins into their own savings jars.

    I'm flummoxed(!) but will roll it into February's Grocery Challenge.

    - 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
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 1st Feb 19, 4:47 PM
    • 3,772 Posts
    • 12,866 Thanks
    So we finished yesterday for January.

    0.27 over.

    I'm calling that a win
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • tighteningthebelt
    • By tighteningthebelt 2nd Feb 19, 8:08 AM
    • 134 Posts
    • 1,707 Thanks
    Really pleased with January... Finished at 1648.63 from annual budget of 1800. Its nice to be here amongst frugal friends... Thank you all.
    "Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more" Louis L'Amour
    GC (annual budget) 1279.75 left of 1800
    12k in 2019 challenge #152... 1720 of 8000 is 21%
    • pennywisepoundstupid
    • By pennywisepoundstupid 2nd Feb 19, 10:03 AM
    • 5,056 Posts
    • 18,296 Thanks
    Just popped on to declare my grocery spends for January 266.21/300. Really pleased we came under budget.
    Be mindful of your self-talk. It's a conversation with the Universe."
    Debt free and saving for my future
    • taka
    • By taka 2nd Feb 19, 4:31 PM
    • 3,230 Posts
    • 17,192 Thanks
    So close... 161.43 out of 161.20. This included about 34 at costco bulk buying stuff for the next few months (costco membership due in Feb but its not worthwhile renewing for me so stocked up on a few bits while I could). I also got 10 worth of 2 coins in my change (which go to my mortgage overpaying fund). All in all a good month! Was doing so well but miscalculated the amount I had left and overspent by 23p! Ooops! This overspend is coming out of Febs budget.

    My cupboards, fridge and freezer are all groaning with the amounts of food I have in so I'm hopeful for Feb. Off to the Feb thread!
    2019 MFW #51 218.27/500
    MFiT-5 no 45
    You can't fly with one foot on the ground!
    • sinkorswim2018
    • By sinkorswim2018 6th Feb 19, 6:50 AM
    • 98 Posts
    • 1,230 Thanks
    Almost half way through my grocery budget on 6th Feb! 94.16/200. I do have a packed freezer and a lot of dried/tinned and jar stuff. A short month at least. I think beans and jacket potatoes may be hitting my menu, and I have a huge catering bag of quorn sausages in the freezer from f4rmfoods- 3.99 for 2kg! Bangers and mash, toad in the whole. You know it's sounding quite good now.

    • sinkorswim2018
    • By sinkorswim2018 6th Feb 19, 6:51 AM
    • 98 Posts
    • 1,230 Thanks
    Can't edit on my mobile, toad in the hole, not whole.��

    • squirrelgirl
    • By squirrelgirl 6th Feb 19, 8:29 AM
    • 429 Posts
    • 2,294 Thanks
    Declaring 270/ 3600(annual) for Jan...I'm actually pretty happy with that as had unexpected expenses to cover! off to sign up for feb now!
    12 Month Challenge:[COLOR=]"Red"Mortgage - 4900/16000 ; MFW 2019 No. 58 GC 587.26/3600 Jan 270/Feb 50/ March 87.26/April 180
    • Lifeisforliving19
    • By Lifeisforliving19 12th Feb 19, 11:48 AM
    • 310 Posts
    • 2,070 Thanks
    Well January was a fail as came in at 204/200, but I did buy the massive box of loo rolls and they should keep us going for a long while....although I seem to have developed a tummy bug over

    So started Feb with a budget of 190, and so far I am on 35.50/190. Think this should be a good month as it is a short one as well.
    DMP 2015 57,549, now 42,292 (26% paid)
    EF 280 Mortgage OP's this year 65

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

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

583Posts Today

5,620Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • Have a great Easter, or a chag sameach to those like me attending Passover seder tomorrow. I?m taking all of next?

  • RT @rowlyc1980: A whopping 18 days off work for only 9 days leave! I?ll have a bit of that please......thanks @MartinSLewis for your crafty?

  • RT @dinokyp: That feeling when you realise that you have 18 days of work and only used 9 days of your annual leave! Thanks @MartinSLewis h?

  • Follow Martin