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    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 28th Jul 18, 11:09 PM
    • 1,792Posts
    • 12,905Thanks
    October 2019 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 28th Jul 18, 11:09 PM
    October 2019 Grocery Challenge 28th Jul 18 at 11:09 PM
    Hi everyone,

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

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your September budget, then keep on posting in the September 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; 18-09-2019 at 8:15 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: Sep 19 £tbc/£250
    Vegan 27-8-13
Page 2
    • Doing it my way
    • By Doing it my way 19th Sep 19, 8:50 PM
    • 178 Posts
    • 810 Thanks
    Doing it my way
    Me too please
    Still doing September so I don't know how that will finish yet, but I think I need to up the budget slightly so please can I be put down for £280 for the month starting 1 October.
    Thank you for doing this thread it is really, really helpful
    Weight loss 22lb/27lb 5lb to go - Oct. shopping budget £279/£172.78 left
    Total debt : Was £21,562.26Now: £19,006.01 Mortgage £168000.00/ Now: £149,191.03 Keep digging
    • Justforme
    • By Justforme 19th Sep 19, 9:40 PM
    • 130 Posts
    • 1,233 Thanks
    Could I join please for £300 for October. First time in years I will be watching pennies but will aim to improve month on month..
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 20th Sep 19, 4:05 PM
    • 1,792 Posts
    • 12,905 Thanks
    Budgets updated to here

    Welcome to all newbies and of course our returners!!

    I'm in for £200. It's something like a 4 week and 1 day month for me, so I'm going for £40 per week and £40 for a few things I need to top up. Could this be my month to get back on track? I certainly hope so!!
    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: Sep 19 £tbc/£250
    Vegan 27-8-13
    • Vanlady
    • By Vanlady 21st Sep 19, 2:21 PM
    • 84 Posts
    • 800 Thanks
    Can I jump in for October please?
    It's been a while since I joined the challenge, but i have been continuing wherever possible to add up all my spends and NSD, so addictive and enlightening!
    Please put me down for 16 NSD and
    £210 for the month,
    that's for 3 adults (1 has now flown the nest....again!!), no alcohol, and all cleaning/toiletry stuff. £210 is a bit of a guess so we shall see.
    Thank you for running the thread elsiepac.
    • Cheapskate
    • By Cheapskate 22nd Sep 19, 9:05 AM
    • 1,697 Posts
    • 20,947 Thanks
    Morning everyone

    Please can I go down for £350 for October? Think I've spent a bit more than I planned in September, but not as bad as previous months, so I'm getting better!

    Thanks in advance

    A xo
    Decluttering 713/2019 items this year
    Aug GC £39.77/£300
    • Chloris
    • By Chloris 22nd Sep 19, 7:29 PM
    • 659 Posts
    • 9,479 Thanks
    Hi. I'm in again for October, please Elsepaic. I'll go for £500 again for the 5 of us. There will be about 4 celebration dates to cater for so it might be a stretch as I will be feeding the extended family for a party/buffet. I'll run 1st till 31st so will keep posting over on the September thread. Good luck everyone. X
    • jenni_fer
    • By jenni_fer 22nd Sep 19, 9:15 PM
    • 188 Posts
    • 839 Thanks
    I've started these challenges a few times and then got sidetracked but going to give it another try for Oct.

    £300 to cover 2 adults and 2 kids (who have most of their meals at school/nursery in the week). To cover all spend in a supermarket/similar shop EXCEPT anything bought ahead for Xmas.
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 23rd Sep 19, 8:44 PM
    • 3,194 Posts
    • 38,818 Thanks
    Thank you, elsiepac! I'd like to go for £420 again, please. That's food, basic toiletries & cleaning stuff for 4 adults on weekdays and anything up to 9 at weekends, but mostly just 6. I'm havering over whether to include pet & livestock food, currently running at about £40 per month, which is for 3 cats, 2 cockatiels and 12 chickens/bantams. Two of the full-time inhabitants are pescatarian & I'm staying away from a number of foods (mushrooms, chickpeas, processed meats & cheap bread, cakes & biscuits) for medical & health reasons.

    Pretty sure I'm going to go over-budget in September, but it included a major family event (DS2's 30th Birthday) and me working two weekends - when the cat's away, the mice don't half play with ingredients like cream, cheese & butter! Lovely, but not frugal in great quantities... October should be calmer, quieter, and - shorter!
    Last edited by thriftwizard; 23-09-2019 at 8:47 PM.

    GC Nov 19 - £344.66/£450
    2019 Fashion on the Ration Challenge: 11 coupons left out of 66

    (Money's just a substitute for time & talent...)
    • cheerfulness4
    • By cheerfulness4 24th Sep 19, 7:41 AM
    • 2,825 Posts
    • 25,407 Thanks
    £200 for me please for October. Need to reign in the spending so best start now.
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 24th Sep 19, 10:41 AM
    • 3,433 Posts
    • 35,097 Thanks
    Please may I join in again? My budget for October, which is a 5 week month for us, is £500. This is no where near what I want our spending to be at but is a significant decrease to what we spent weekly in September!
    • wannabee_in_credit
    • By wannabee_in_credit 24th Sep 19, 9:40 PM
    • 1,737 Posts
    • 7,845 Thanks
    I used to post on here years ago, and found it really helpful for getting me out of debt.
    Unfortunately my debt returned when I got divorced and I am really struggling to adjust to running a house on just one wage.
    Groceries seem to be the one place I could cut back on further so if you don't mind I would love to join in for October please. My budget will be £200 for me, 2 teenagers and our cats. It's a bit of a guess and I'm going to have to start keeping receipts etc again, but I certainly can't continue going the way that I have been these past few months.
    Looking forward to joining in and doing something useful
    Ninja Saving Turtle
    • Crowdpleaser
    • By Crowdpleaser 25th Sep 19, 2:30 PM
    • 1,044 Posts
    • 11,274 Thanks
    Rejoining please! Taken my eye off the ball again lately....

    325 please! My budget runs 4 weekly so runs 27 Sept to 25 Oct this time. This includes everything inc cleaning and hamster stuff. I'm on a low fodmap diet so have to watch what I eat and husband doesn't care what it is as long as there is a mountain of it. Packed lunches for 3 5 days a weeks too.

    Save £500 for christmas 2016 £161/£500
    GC March 16 £252.91/£300
    • shopaholicnumber1
    • By shopaholicnumber1 27th Sep 19, 10:33 AM
    • 77 Posts
    • 234 Thanks
    I'll give it a go!
    Hi all - having been spending obscene amounts on food all my life, now my offspring are both at uni and it's only me, a dog and a cat in the house, it seems like a good time to reign it in and shop more carefully! Please put me down for £225 for October for absolutely everything (except prescription cat food which I am picking up on Monday but will last about 10 weeks or so). Thank you and good luck everyone!
    Mortgage: £81,154.58 (03/19)/£79296.40 (09/19) £78924.55 (10/19)

    Emergency savings: £2500 (08/19) / £2700 (09/19) £2800 (10/19)
    • joedenise
    • By joedenise 27th Sep 19, 10:35 AM
    • 7,149 Posts
    • 51,273 Thanks
    Scraped by last month by the skin of my teeth with just £1.14 left of the budget! I got lost along the way somewhere as by what I posted I should have had a bit more than that.

    I'm going for £200 again for the month but will probably be a bit tight as I need to go to the butchers for some more meat.
    • tessie bear
    • By tessie bear 27th Sep 19, 12:46 PM
    • 4,382 Posts
    • 30,135 Thanks
    tessie bear
    hello i have totalled up sept and am happy very happy with it so im in oct now a little early but no real spends planned for the last few days of sept

    im off to plan some food for the weekend and puree some soup i made this am...lentil/bacon and a sweet potato effort i made up hope they taste ok

    have a great weekend all
    onwards and upwards
    • zafiro1984
    • By zafiro1984 27th Sep 19, 1:43 PM
    • 1,547 Posts
    • 11,751 Thanks
    Thanks Elsiepac for doing the thread, it's really helping. Just finished September and I came in slightly under budget, probably for the first time in a long time.

    Can you put me down for 225.00 for October. That's for 2 adults but more at the weekend. Thanks
    • quintwins
    • By quintwins 27th Sep 19, 3:42 PM
    • 5,058 Posts
    • 29,580 Thanks
    Hi folks, I'm already on oct budget (I run the last fri of the month till the last fri of the month) I took all 4 kids shopping with me! I spent £18.39 in home bargains on lots of snacks foods, toilet roll, wipes and part baked bread.

    Then I spent £60.76 in Asda! considering I had no meat and not really any dinners this is insane! I mostly stuck to my list but a lot of the cheaper items we usually get were out of stock and the kids added a few bits in. I have another planned spend tomorrow as lidl have chip pan oil on sale and I need 12 litres! then that should be me for the week.

    OCT GC £196.12/£200
    • jam2019
    • By jam2019 27th Sep 19, 4:57 PM
    • 24 Posts
    • 167 Thanks
    Hi all! Not quite finished with the September spend, but looks like I'll come in under budget so I'm aiming for £40 again this month.
    Grocery Challenge
    November: £26.41 / £32.15
    October: £47.85 / £40
    September: £37.12 / £40
    August: £31.69 / £60
    • millymouse
    • By millymouse 27th Sep 19, 9:18 PM
    • 17 Posts
    • 268 Thanks
    Hi can I come in on this please. Just totted up shopping for September and it came in as a hefty £600 that's for 3 adults and a dog. Hoping to reduce this to £300 this month
    Last edited by millymouse; 27-09-2019 at 9:19 PM. Reason: Tried to change text colour
    • Cherry Burton
    • By Cherry Burton 29th Sep 19, 5:14 PM
    • 126 Posts
    • 697 Thanks
    Cherry Burton

    I would like to join again after coming in below budget in September. It's just me this month and I will lower the budget to £120. I'm hoping to get it down month by month to below £100 so this is a step on the path.

    My major downfall is buying sandwiches while at work when I have left a prepared lunch in the fridge or haven't got round to making one. I'm going to concentrate on lunches during October.
    1/10/2015 Debt Free
    1/1/2018 Mortgage Free
    Now saving for early retirement
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