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    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 28th Jul 18, 10:09 PM
    • 1,652Posts
    • 12,232Thanks
    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 3
    • shabbychic12
    • By shabbychic12 30th Jan 19, 9:19 PM
    • 139 Posts
    • 1,259 Thanks
    In for 200 again please x
    2019 early retirement wannabe
    Save 12K in 2019 no 94
    All this saving l'm turning into my Dad
    • Airthrey
    • By Airthrey 30th Jan 19, 11:19 PM
    • 63 Posts
    • 817 Thanks
    After budgeting for just 1 per day for January, the cupboards and freezer have emptied enough for me to be able to see more clearly what I have enough of and what I need to restock. So I'm aiming for a more realistic and sustainable February with a budget of 100.
    Apr 2019 85.68/75
    Mar 2019 GC 118.77/150 Feb 2019 GC 101.88/100 Jan 2019 GC 31.11/31
    • Cheapskate
    • By Cheapskate 31st Jan 19, 6:19 AM
    • 1,655 Posts
    • 20,401 Thanks
    Morning everyone

    Please can I go down for 300 for February? Made a bit of a hash of January, but going to do better from tomorrow! Plenty in the cupboards and fridge, but the freezers are a bit bare - late night YS trips may become more frequent!

    Thank you for keeping these threads going, I hardly post but read a lot!

    A xo
    Feb GC 0.00/300
    Decluttering 174/2019 items this year
    • Hopeless Case
    • By Hopeless Case 31st Jan 19, 6:29 AM
    • 942 Posts
    • 5,810 Thanks
    Hopeless Case
    Thanks for the new thread - can you put me own for 200 please

    And I've started off by spending 54.80 (big shop to get petrol voucher from Mr T)

    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, 12:08 PM
    • 174 Posts
    • 2,100 Thanks
    Thank you for the new thread - could you put me down for 250 please. That's for 2 adults, 2 pre teens all cleaning, toiletries etc.

    Apart from 1/2 tub ice cream and some veggies which are going in a sc chicken meal tomorrow, the freezer is empty so going to de-ice (help efficiency) and then use the extra 50 as and when to re-stock as I find good deals.
    GC Jan 200/200.78 Feb 250/156.07
    #161 2019 in 2019 132.01
    2019 Frugal Living
    • candygirl
    • By candygirl 31st Jan 19, 12:22 PM
    • 27,303 Posts
    • 115,977 Thanks
    Can I be put down for 120 again please? I need to reign my spends in due to massive vet bills this month
    "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf"

    (Kabat-Zinn 2004)
    • lessonlearned
    • By lessonlearned 31st Jan 19, 12:57 PM
    • 11,348 Posts
    • 77,726 Thanks
    Hi.....can I join in please. I'll try for 120.
    • GotToStopSpending
    • By GotToStopSpending 31st Jan 19, 1:23 PM
    • 4 Posts
    • 71 Thanks
    Hello, please can I join? My grocery shopping has gone through the roof and I don't know why. In Jan we spent 608 on grocery and that was with we me being 'good'. So, am going to meal plan everything this month and bring it down. Going to try for 580 which may seem really high still but if I bring it down each month by a little bit, I will make progress
    This is for 2 adults, 2 pre-teens and 1 pre-teen and includes all food, alcohol, toiletries and cleaning but not school dinners and eating out.
    Here goes........
    • NeverendingDMP
    • By NeverendingDMP 31st Jan 19, 1:34 PM
    • 291 Posts
    • 1,136 Thanks
    Hello everyone.can i aim for my 433 again please.
    Only change is i am following the calender month as ive downloaded the frugal living spreadsheet to use. Tommorow is my start day for feb. Good luck everyone.
    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....
    • Legittrying
    • By Legittrying 31st Jan 19, 9:49 PM
    • 14 Posts
    • 162 Thanks
    Thanks elsiepac

    My budget for Feb is 300

    Did well last month. Low on a lot of stuff but still got plenty in.

    Had extra guests for a few weeks and looks like will for a few weeks more. Not really batch cooking as sharing a kitchen so see how we go for Feb.
    • VickyV
    • By VickyV 31st Jan 19, 10:16 PM
    • 157 Posts
    • 1,991 Thanks
    Hi All,

    I'm finally joining you in Feb! Thank you Elsie for running the thread again!
    Can I be put down for 260 for the month, which I'll run as 65 per week, with my month starting on 1st Feb. This includes all food (not takeaways, which come from personal spends), toiletries, cat food and cleaning stuff.

    Jan went well so let's hope February follows suit!

    Good luck all!

    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?
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 1st Feb 19, 8:03 AM
    • 1,652 Posts
    • 12,232 Thanks
    Budgets updated to here

    Snow here but only a couple of inches - enough for chaos haha! I walk to work so I'm in the office but loads of people working from home! Glad I did a mini shop last night to top up fresh veg as I have plenty in for the next few days now if needed. Still need to confirm budget - have spent a lot so far on restocking and offers - ridiculous really.

    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
    • Rubyslippers77
    • By Rubyslippers77 1st Feb 19, 10:16 AM
    • 310 Posts
    • 1,856 Thanks
    I didn't manage to finish my January challenge but am starting again in Feb with a 4.20 spend today! Thank you to elsiepac for the new thread!!

    My cupboards are quite bare after two weeks with hardly any shopping, so February may start with a very big shop.....
    Finally debt free!! March 2018
    • MrsLottie
    • By MrsLottie 1st Feb 19, 10:28 AM
    • 109 Posts
    • 1,310 Thanks
    First spend of February budget of 34.50 / 200. Pleased with that just hope it lasts the week !
    • Graciefields
    • By Graciefields 1st Feb 19, 10:43 AM
    • 71 Posts
    • 475 Thanks
    Please put me down for 125 again for the month. Just for me and my dog. To include dog food, cleaning products, toiletries.
    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
    • CRANKY40
    • By CRANKY40 1st Feb 19, 10:44 AM
    • 3,235 Posts
    • 35,723 Thanks
    First week's shopping done - 37.77 with 5 added to the freezer restock fund and 5 added to the celebration meal food. I'm not quite sure what we're planning to celebrate other than mine and the HT's birthdays but at least we'll be able to go for a meal out if we want to knowing I've saved the money for it from our grocery allowance.
    Weight loss 2019 challenge two = 4.5 lbs
    Grocery challenge April 52.50/300
    • ma-ri-ella
    • By ma-ri-ella 1st Feb 19, 10:47 AM
    • 969 Posts
    • 9,424 Thanks
    in for another month at 1 pound a day . Cupboards etc are full from January as felt too ill /lazy to do much cooking . I am however going to try buying no plastic this month so dont know if that will make things way more expensive or if i will spend less because i cant buy certain things . i am cheating slightly because i will use the items with plastic i currently have
    365 a year spend challenge - this has included food/clothes/beauty?? who knows where I am
    20,000 step a day challenge
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 1st Feb 19, 12:23 PM
    • 2,963 Posts
    • 37,071 Thanks
    And I'm off into February's budget with a massive 77 spent at the market this morning; this bought us fish, meat, cheese, baked goods, fruit & most of the veg the four of us will need for the week, plus 15-worth of health food supplies as the stallholders are off on holiday for much of February - and who can blame them?! So, more than I'd like, but every penny of it good value for money. That'll do...

    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...
    • White_musk
    • By White_musk 1st Feb 19, 12:25 PM
    • 166 Posts
    • 1,787 Thanks
    Greengrocer 3.57
    Butcher 9.71
    Coop 2.93

    Total 16.21

    I also went into the Chemist but am not adding that to shopping as it was cold meds.
    Feb 2019 GC 151.53/300

    God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, wisdom to know the difference.
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 1st Feb 19, 1:54 PM
    • 397 Posts
    • 5,756 Thanks
    I'm off to a flying start as I went into Manchester today and while I was there I went to the big H&B to get some vegan chorizo and lo and behold they had a whole load of it half price as it was short dated. I bought 6 packs and have thrown 5 straight in the freezer. So 9.90 gone there and another 3.28 on tofu and kimchee from the Chinese supermarket. All nice-to-have things rather than essentials bit I don't go into the city very often these days so they'll have to last me.

    I went way over budget in January so here's to a better month ahead!

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