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    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 28th Jul 18, 10:09 PM
    • 1,652Posts
    • 12,239Thanks
    February 2019 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 28th Jul 18, 10:09 PM
    February 2019 Grocery Challenge 28th Jul 18 at 10:09 PM
    Hi everyone,

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

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your January budget, then keep on posting in the January 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; 25-02-2019 at 2:18 PM.
    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 2
    • Crowdpleaser
    • By Crowdpleaser 25th Jan 19, 3:30 PM
    • 1,031 Posts
    • 11,202 Thanks
    Hi all and thanks for the new thread!

    I'm in for February with £350 again please.

    Same as last month but I have a bit of stocking up to do and we all know January has 45632135 days in it...... so I'm still slogging away over there for another week yet!
    Save £500 for christmas 2016 £161/£500
    GC March 16 £252.91/£300
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 25th Jan 19, 6:33 PM
    • 774 Posts
    • 9,856 Thanks
    Hi all, I’m in again for £300 please
    This will be from the 1st Feb as get paid the end of Jan
    Last edited by MadamMim2013; 26-01-2019 at 10:05 AM. Reason: Forgot a bit..
    "There's a little witch in all of us"
    2018 GC 93 2019 GC 3 April GC £206.80/£300
    : DEBT FREE 06/2018
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 25th Jan 19, 11:14 PM
    • 376 Posts
    • 4,180 Thanks
    Happy Burns’ Night all. Thank you elsiepac for starting the new thread. I still need to update my January numbers but I'll mark my place now.

    $450 for February 1st — 28th please. I’ll be back in my expensive US home city and will be buying for just me. I’ll have to readjust to prices and look at new ways of saving on food like joining a food co-op where I can work 1 shift per month in exchange for shopping there.

    Like a PP, I’ll be mentally breaking down my budget by the week and allocate some of it to restocking on basics like olive oil, detergent, etc. I’ll be moving back into my old apartment and setting up my pantry again.
    MAR 19 GC: $312.83/$300.00 // 12/12 NSD
    FEB 19 GC: $451.32/$450.00 // 15/10 NSD
    JAN 19 GC: €104.88/€350.00 // 7/12 NSD
    Save 12K in 2019 - $132.86/$12,000 #123 (1.1% )
    • CRANKY40
    • By CRANKY40 26th Jan 19, 9:19 AM
    • 3,240 Posts
    • 35,751 Thanks
    Good morning all,

    Thanks for the new thread Elsiepac. February is a 4 week month for me so I have £200 at my disposal for groceries. Out of this I would like to add £20 to my freezer restock fund and £20 to my celebration fund so that leaves £160 to spend on food and associated bits (washing liquid, foil etc). I do have a separate cat food budget but sometimes bits like cat treats get thrown in with the general food shop because it's easier (and yes, she knows bed time is cat treat time and she's very vocal about it so I'd rather not do without them ).

    The freezer is reasonably full, the HT (14 year old son who was a house elf from the age of two until the teens happened but is now a house troll) has a fairly full crisp stash and the cupboards look ok too so I'm hopeful for this month
    Weight loss 2019 challenge two = 2.5 lbs
    Grocery challenge April £250/£300
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 26th Jan 19, 9:25 AM
    • 2,111 Posts
    • 18,198 Thanks
    Going to try for £200 again this month being as I've done two big shops at the end of January and I blew the budget. Hopefully I can stick with it. Not a good way to start the 2019 challenge, so need to reign it in already!!

    I will alter colour once I can get on a laptop/tablet, as quickly posting on phone before work.
    Last edited by K9sandFelines; 29-01-2019 at 1:58 PM.
    GC 2017 £3,434.09 GC 2018 £2,250.95 GC 2019 Jan £268.24/£200 Feb £158.01/200 Mar £220.05/£200 (up to & incl 29th.
    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
    • CAFCGirl
    • By CAFCGirl 26th Jan 19, 10:15 AM
    • 8,657 Posts
    • 19,102 Thanks
    £240 for me for February

    This month I'm planning on trying some new recipes - proper cooking - and restocking the cupboards so budget will need to be expanded for the month.

    10 years and still don't have a clue what I'm doing

    Trying to get by on a single Emergency Services income
    Fashion On The Ration Coupons 14\66
    March Grocery Challenge £250\£46.77
    • allie23
    • By allie23 26th Jan 19, 11:58 AM
    • 1,335 Posts
    • 14,577 Thanks
    Thanks for the new thread elsiepac. Please sign me up for £200 for February please.

    My month started yesterday and I stocked up on some things I had run out of like flour, tin foil, tea bags, kindling for the fire etc. Will need to get the receipts off OH who shopped for these to update my total. Main food shop for the week today so will update my totals once that's done.
    February 2019 Grocery Challenge
    Frugal Living Challenge 2019
    Save £12k in 2019 - Challenger No 69 - £9930/£40,000
    • Rachiedabbler70
    • By Rachiedabbler70 26th Jan 19, 1:51 PM
    • 250 Posts
    • 2,302 Thanks
    Thanks Elsiepac for the February thread. Please could you put me down for£200for 3 adults for calendar month. £70 less than last month as I've got a good freezer stock of meat and vegetables and one of sons is away on holiday with friends for a week.
    Good luck everyone 😁
    Blitz that mortgage
    Jun 2016 £152,000
    Apr 2019 £116,946.46 (23.06% paid)
    MFW 2019 #81 £2938.56/£8,000 (36.7%)
    Contingency pot savings £11,074.16 April 2019
    • YorksLass
    • By YorksLass 26th Jan 19, 5:43 PM
    • 509 Posts
    • 8,346 Thanks
    Thanks for the new February thread elsiepac and good luck (in advance) to all taking the challenge.

    Technically I'm still in January but have already declared so am booking a place now for February. Two adults, groceries only (separate budgets for household/cleaning and toiletries/OTC meds) to run from Feb 3 to Mar 2. Four weeks at a slightly lower £38pw, so £152 for the month.

    I already have an up to date inventory for the freezer stock and keep a running list of fridge stuff stuck on the door with a magnet but I really need to do a stock take of what's in the cupboards. As I'm not planning on going out this coming week (if I can avoid it), I should have plenty of time to get-round-tuit . I've been stocking up a lot recently and really have no idea what I've got so it will be a worthwhile exercise and I should be able to spot where there are any gaps/shortages.
    Be kind to others and to yourself too. Life has its ups and downs, use the ups to overcome the downs!
    Mar: £0/£132 and 0/28 NSDs
    2019 to date: £57.81 under budget (2018: £172.45 under budget)

    • taka
    • By taka 26th Jan 19, 6:07 PM
    • 3,230 Posts
    • 17,195 Thanks
    Hi all. Thanks for running this thread elsiepac. Can I be put down for £145.60 for 1st to 28th Feb please? Thank-you!
    2019 MFW #51 £218.27/£500
    MFiT-5 no 45
    You can't fly with one foot on the ground!
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 26th Jan 19, 6:25 PM
    • 2,964 Posts
    • 37,093 Thanks
    Thank you, elsiepac, please may I go for £380 this time? Not much of a reduction for short month, and I know I'll have at least one boy home for a part of February, but this will be the last month of my treatment and I gather I can expect to be a bit below par! But we've done OK between us so far & the freezer is still pretty full.

    Feeding & cleaning up after 4 adults full-time, which goes up to 6, sometimes 8, from time to time - i.e weekends! Two omnivores, one pescatarian & one full-on veggie (as of last week) - pets & livestock (4 cats, 9 chickens & 2 cockatiels) are currently accounted for from a separate "purse" as one elderly cat has strict dietary requirements, as are bulk-buys of health-foods & "entertainments" i.e. the odd takeaway, wine, beer & cider, which can be "rolled-over" from month to month. I buy basic cleaning supplies & toiletries from within the budget, but if the younger inhabitants require anything fancier they have to buy or otherwise earn it themselves - one being currently unable to work outside the home, but very capable of pulling her weight in household tasks & extra jobs. Complicated but it works for us!
    Last edited by thriftwizard; 26-01-2019 at 6:28 PM.

    GC Apr 19 - £388.30/£420 "Entertainments" £40/£50
    Bulk-buy purse '19 £42/£250, pet & livestock food '19 £69/£400

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
    • Pablosmummy
    • By Pablosmummy 27th Jan 19, 3:49 PM
    • 316 Posts
    • 2,739 Thanks
    Can I be added please? Trying to save for a house deposit so need to get the spending under control. I'll try £360 for 2 adults, two children and a fussy cat. My month doesn't start until Friday so I'll update from then.

    I have no idea how I can get it lower than this but I'll aim for a realistic amount the first month.
    May Grocery Challenge -£216/400
    • caronc
    • By caronc 27th Jan 19, 6:19 PM
    • 5,237 Posts
    • 32,207 Thanks
    Please add me in for £120 this month, thanks

    • becky170
    • By becky170 27th Jan 19, 6:37 PM
    • 498 Posts
    • 4,255 Thanks
    Can I be put down for £450 again for Feb. Didn't manage to stick to the budget in either December or January so hopefully I'll do better this month. Was trying to do a bit of stockpiling of orange juice, cereal, pasta etc incase things are rocky with Brexit, but my husband keeps finding my stashes and eating/drinking them so giving up on that idea now!
    MFW 2019 #7 £668/1615
    Grocery challenge April £215/450
    • MrsLottie
    • By MrsLottie 27th Jan 19, 6:45 PM
    • 110 Posts
    • 1,326 Thanks
    A four week month for me so going to try for £200 to cover all food and cleaning products for two people .Should be doable by good meal planning ,shopping at Aldi and both of us eating healthily and aiming to lose 1lb each a week .I have to eat a wheat free diet so have to use Morrison for free from shopping but ask Mr Lottie to go there so I’m not tempted !
    • Wysiwyg49
    • By Wysiwyg49 27th Jan 19, 8:40 PM
    • 198 Posts
    • 1,915 Thanks
    Hi all,

    Count me in for £300 for Feb (3 adults and occasionally DD home from uni). I usually keep this for food only so take off spends on household stuff, toiletries and pet food. However just read “The No Spend Year” which was really interesting including using white vinegar for pretty much all cleaning! Anyone tried?

    Starting Feb counting on Friday 1st. I have recently got a prepay debit card which is brilliant but doesn’t let you split transactions between groceries/wine/toiletries etc so I have to add a note and do it manually. It’s made balancing my bank account loads easier though!
    GC Feb 2019 (to 10th) £397.07/£300
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 29th Jan 19, 9:40 AM
    • 1,652 Posts
    • 12,239 Thanks
    Budgets updated to here

    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
    • Money_mess
    • By Money_mess 29th Jan 19, 11:56 AM
    • 38 Posts
    • 164 Thanks
    hi can you put me down for £440 for Feb!
    • Esthermate
    • By Esthermate 29th Jan 19, 1:07 PM
    • 22 Posts
    • 361 Thanks
    £120 for me. Thank you.
    • dingdongsaving
    • By dingdongsaving 30th Jan 19, 5:45 PM
    • 375 Posts
    • 4,700 Thanks
    Back in for £320 from 1-28th please
    This covers all food, drinks, toiletries & cleaning bits for our family of 4 plus pet food & supplies for our 2 dogs & cat.

    Good luck everyone!
    Last edited by dingdongsaving; 30-01-2019 at 5:45 PM. Reason: Forgot to say good luck! ;-)
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