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  • FIRST POST
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 28th Jul 18, 10:09 PM
    • 1,683Posts
    • 12,460Thanks
    elsiepac
    December 2018 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 28th Jul 18, 10:09 PM
    December 2018 Grocery Challenge 28th Jul 18 at 10:09 PM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the last Grocery Challenge of 2018 !!!!

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your November budget, then keep on posting in the November 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 competition....it'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,
    Spigs
    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!

    elsiepac

    This Forum tip was included in MoneySavingExpert.com's weekly email!
    Last edited by elsiepac; 24-12-2018 at 9:21 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 forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (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
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 29th Nov 18, 3:27 PM
    • 1,683 Posts
    • 12,460 Thanks
    elsiepac
    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 forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (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
    • candygirl
    • By candygirl 29th Nov 18, 4:14 PM
    • 27,383 Posts
    • 116,503 Thanks
    candygirl
    Thank you, elsiepac for this thread! It helps us a lot to keep ourselves in check.
    Please keep me (us) for 200 this month? Our month goes 1st to 31st. We include all food and nonalcoholic drinks. Chinchillas have their own budge. Toiletries, cleaning items etc are also budgeted separately.
    Originally posted by Doom_and_Gloom
    Aww I love chinchillas Don't think the pooches would though
    "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf"

    (Kabat-Zinn 2004)
    • Jami74
    • By Jami74 29th Nov 18, 10:24 PM
    • 298 Posts
    • 264 Thanks
    Jami74
    Jami74 for 500 again please.

    I'll reduce it in January but don't want to set myself up for failure over Christmas.

    I'll also look into buying more things in bulk (pet food) for 2019 and might consider a yearly budget (divided by 12 of course).

    Edited to add: Have managed to convince the doubters in my family that Sainsbury's own baked beans taste as good as Heinz. It was the last of the brands and we get through quite a lot of beans in a month
    Mature student 2011-2016
    Professional
    • Suffolk lass
    • By Suffolk lass 30th Nov 18, 7:07 AM
    • 2,880 Posts
    • 27,268 Thanks
    Suffolk lass
    Jami74 for 500 again please.

    I'll reduce it in January but don't want to set myself up for failure over Christmas.

    I'll also look into buying more things in bulk (pet food) for 2019 and might consider a yearly budget (divided by 12 of course).

    Edited to add: Have managed to convince the doubters in my family that Sainsbury's own baked beans taste as good as Heinz. It was the last of the brands and we get through quite a lot of beans in a month
    Originally posted by Jami74
    If you are going for an annual budget, may I suggest you add a thirteenth "month" for your bulk buying or stores? it will let you buy any brands (I know you said they have gone for food, but maybe toiletries) when they are on offer and take advantage of better pricing without it impacting that month's budget. We like Original Saucer Mint and Tea-tree oil shower gloop for example, and have not spend 2.20 on a pack for over four years. Always waiting for 2 for 2 offers and checking MySupermarket when things run low. I do typically buy 6 when they are on offer though so space and budget availability play their part.

    And you need to avoid the pit-fall of one person on here (who shall remain nameless) that had effectively insulated their loft with Bogoff packs of toilet rolls (hundreds, literally). Brexit-proof or price-proof stores is one thing; Bogoff or YS addiction is something else entirely
    MFIT T5 target to clear our mortgage completely (59,998) Q1 26,828 or 44.71% paid - Mortgage Free Wannabes 2019 #37 29,215.99 after May
    Save 12k in 2019 - #68 target is 7k 4,998.99 or 71.41% after May
    OS Grocery Challenge 2019 target is 3k - 36.16% spent so far, after May
    My DFD is here
    • Vanlady
    • By Vanlady 30th Nov 18, 2:40 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 503 Thanks
    Vanlady
    Monthly budget will aim for 300
    To include all food, toiletries, cleaning stuff, cat food and cat litter, non alcoholic drinks.
    NSD will aim for at least 15

    Hi all,
    Thanks for this thread Elsiepack. Please may I join for December. I lurked on the November gc but have decided to take the plunge and join in . What a great thread! Full of fab ideas and helped to keep me on track.
    • Jami74
    • By Jami74 30th Nov 18, 9:37 PM
    • 298 Posts
    • 264 Thanks
    Jami74
    If you are going for an annual budget, may I suggest you add a thirteenth "month" for your bulk buying or stores? it will let you buy any brands (I know you said they have gone for food, but maybe toiletries) when they are on offer and take advantage of better pricing without it impacting that month's budget. We like Original Saucer Mint and Tea-tree oil shower gloop for example, and have not spend 2.20 on a pack for over four years. Always waiting for 2 for 2 offers and checking MySupermarket when things run low. I do typically buy 6 when they are on offer though so space and budget availability play their part.

    And you need to avoid the pit-fall of one person on here (who shall remain nameless) that had effectively insulated their loft with Bogoff packs of toilet rolls (hundreds, literally). Brexit-proof or price-proof stores is one thing; Bogoff or YS addiction is something else entirely
    Originally posted by Suffolk lass
    That's such a good idea! Thanks.

    And lol at the loft insulation. I wish I had space to do that.
    Mature student 2011-2016
    Professional
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 30th Nov 18, 11:08 PM
    • 396 Posts
    • 4,367 Thanks
    JingsMyBucket
    Hi everyone. Looks like some folks are off to the races already. I still have to tally my November amount but I know Ive gone over by a lot. For December, Id like to do 350, please. That will cover OH and me from the 1st to 31st; well be away for Christmas the 23rd to 31st but Im going to include our travel food in that amount.
    MAY19 GC: $182.18/$450.00 // 10/12 NSD
    APR19 GC: $722.15/$500.00
    MAR 19 GC: $312.83/$300.00 // 12/12 NSD
    Save 12K in 2019 - $633.95/$12,000 #123 5.2% )
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 1st Dec 18, 8:40 AM
    • 1,250 Posts
    • 7,875 Thanks
    pamsdish
    First spend today,69.21, that includes 2 lge beef joints to cut into smaller joints, 2 jars of coffee, bottle brandy and a grouse, 2 reduced gorgonzola.
    Going to remove alcohol as only a yearly spend and will last .
    Last edited by pamsdish; 07-12-2018 at 7:32 AM.
    2018 2285/2149
    2019 2000=1071-15=1056-11=1045-6=1039-20=1019-59=960-59=901
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 1st Dec 18, 10:27 AM
    • 109 Posts
    • 1,331 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    Good morning everyone
    well I spent 40 in Markies yesterday evening but will count it in my December budget.
    The lovely thing was a man at another checkout handed me a voucher for 5 off shopping so total came to 35. I am an advocate of sharing random acts of kindness and it was lovely to be on the receiving end of one.
    • selloptape
    • By selloptape 1st Dec 18, 10:46 AM
    • 576 Posts
    • 2,838 Thanks
    selloptape
    Thanks for the December thread elsiepac

    Please can I be put down for 306.25 again... I was slightly over last time so sticking with the same budget for December.

    I wasnt sure how to deal with Christmas food, its just me and one teenager this year and he often doesnt want a full on Christmas dinner. Im hoping that if I cut down in other areas I can spend similarly to a normal month but still have a few festive treats. Will be interesting to hear what everyone else does
    GC Start again in Apr 0/278.61
    Save 12k in 2019 #8 2352.65/2,500
    MFiT T5 #22 Save 20k over 3 years 4873.42
    Walk 1500 miles in 2019 - 645.92/1500
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 1st Dec 18, 3:29 PM
    • 2,993 Posts
    • 37,342 Thanks
    thriftwizard
    I'm off into the festive budget with a combined spend of 65 at the market yesterday & today. That's bought us meat, fish, cheese, fruit & veg for the week, although as per usual there'll be a little top-up shop early-to-middle of the week.

    I will be having a little follow-up treatment before "reconstruction" next spring, so am likely to be a little below par for the next 2-3 months. It's just a precaution, so whilst recognising that I may feel like cutting corners and taking the easy way, I don't want to lose the plot with our budget, or with the quality of what we eat. The diet recommended after the first operation really didn't suit me (though it was of course necessary) and I feel much better now for eating more normally, so I think I'll have to indulge in some serious planning to get through this little interlude with as little damage to the budget or my tastebuds as possible; stock up & batch-cook whilst feeling OK, so there are easy answers for the days when I'm not.
    Angie

    GC June 19 - 307.68/400

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
    • candygirl
    • By candygirl 1st Dec 18, 3:42 PM
    • 27,383 Posts
    • 116,503 Thanks
    candygirl
    Just spent 4 on crisps, cheese n pizza today .This weather isn't helping the diet 4/150
    "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf"

    (Kabat-Zinn 2004)
    • Vanlady
    • By Vanlady 1st Dec 18, 3:51 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 503 Thanks
    Vanlady
    Monthly budget will aim for 300
    To include all food, toiletries, cleaning stuff, cat food and cat litter, non alcoholic drinks.!
    NSD will aim for at least 15 1/15

    Hi everyone,
    Had an unexpectly good day today.
    Went to a xmas market this afternoon with dh and ds and, I nearly gave into temptation but they weren't interested in any of the food, unbelievable but I'm very pleased about that. We did have lunch before we went out so it would just have been greed.
    We ALMOST need some milk but dh says it can last till Monday, so I'll go with that. I'm a bit of a sucker in a smt; can't just buy one thing.
    Ds asked us if we want fish N chips tonight, once again I'm going with dh in avoiding this temptation ad he's set on making us a vegetarian chilli with brown rice, all from store cupboard (would just LOVE fish N chips tho��! ).
    Ps loving all the ideas and suggestions from you all.
    • NeverendingDMP
    • By NeverendingDMP 2nd Dec 18, 5:37 AM
    • 371 Posts
    • 1,347 Thanks
    NeverendingDMP
    Up to 157 spend out of my 341 budget. 8 days in. Hhmm must have a proper look in the cupboards and on my meal planner to see where im up to.
    35,213 - Jan 2018, 28500 remaining.
    Mortgage 77230- Jan 2018
    73364 remaining.
    Emergency fund 55
    Make 2019- 1075.46 /2019
    1% challenge 33%
    • Suffolk lass
    • By Suffolk lass 2nd Dec 18, 8:48 AM
    • 2,880 Posts
    • 27,268 Thanks
    Suffolk lass
    My Annual budget means I have 589.95 left for December, including some stores (always good for YS on Christmas Eve) and Christmas excess. We are not buying the usual boxes of sweets or biscuits this year. I will buy some regular crackers and a packet of McYitties Digestives to go with cheese and I intend getting some of those red ball chocolates to intersperse with cracking walnuts (they look very festive).

    I might also do something with my stash of macadamia (already shelled) nuts that might involve homemade chocolate fudge or dipping them in something lovely, but it will be small. We have not spent this autumn carefully losing weight and taking our food back to simple home-cooked vegetable-heavy meals to throw all away. I have a medium frozen turkey crown that will indulge our desire for turkey salad and sandwiches with HM bread and I will be buying a much smaller FR turkey for the day (so some premium and some economy ingredients). I love Christmas hosting for lots of family and friends (it makes us clean and tidy up too!)
    MFIT T5 target to clear our mortgage completely (59,998) Q1 26,828 or 44.71% paid - Mortgage Free Wannabes 2019 #37 29,215.99 after May
    Save 12k in 2019 - #68 target is 7k 4,998.99 or 71.41% after May
    OS Grocery Challenge 2019 target is 3k - 36.16% spent so far, after May
    My DFD is here
    • Chloris
    • By Chloris 2nd Dec 18, 1:51 PM
    • 651 Posts
    • 9,422 Thanks
    Chloris
    I've managed to spend 13 already, new toothbrushes and our shampoo was on special offer so I stocked up. I will do a freezer and cupboard inventory before the next shop. We are batch cooking a vegan leek, chestnut and mushroom stuffed seitan loaf which should keep us fed on Sundays for a few weeks.

    Good luck everyone.
    • candygirl
    • By candygirl 2nd Dec 18, 1:58 PM
    • 27,383 Posts
    • 116,503 Thanks
    candygirl
    I've managed to spend 13 already, new toothbrushes and our shampoo was on special offer so I stocked up. I will do a freezer and cupboard inventory before the next shop. We are batch cooking a vegan leek, chestnut and mushroom stuffed seitan loaf which should keep us fed on Sundays for a few weeks.

    Good luck everyone.
    Originally posted by Chloris
    That sounds delish
    "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf"

    (Kabat-Zinn 2004)
    • Greymalkin12
    • By Greymalkin12 2nd Dec 18, 3:21 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 89 Thanks
    Greymalkin12
    I've already managed to spend 51.74 / 250 two days into the month, which includes 15 takeaway and 36.74 of combined supermarket shops. The supermarket shop includes a 10 kg bag of rice, various spices / herbs, lots of tins of tomatoes and chickpeas, and a lot of washing powder so bulk items - however it does feel rather as if I've overspent! I need to improve my shopping skills - I wandered around three supermarkets this afternoon trying to shop wisely and feel I took a lot of time with very little to show for the effort!
    Nov 18 Grocery Challenge (started 15.11.18 - target is half a month) 143.69/125 -overspend 18.69
    Dec 18 Grocery Challenge (started 1.12.18) 148.57 /250
    • YorksLass
    • By YorksLass 2nd Dec 18, 3:37 PM
    • 513 Posts
    • 8,380 Thanks
    YorksLass
    Thanks for the new thread elsiepac (last one of 2018 ), hello to regulars and welcome to newbies and returners.

    I'm in again please, two adults, groceries only, with a reduced budget of 110 for 2nd - 29th December. It should be 140 for a 4-week month but I've cut 30 off to make up for the overspend I had last month. Should be perfectly do-able as the freezer, fridge and cupboards are well stocked and Christmas dinner at home this year is just for the two of us. It will be pretty much like a normal Sunday dinner with a couple of added extras. Definitely don't need ginormous amounts of "stuff" to have to deal with post-Xmas Day - I'd rather have some room for the reduced bargains that I come across.

    Good luck everyone!
    [I][SIZE=2][COLOR=Blue]Be kind to others and to yourself too.
    • Vanlady
    • By Vanlady 2nd Dec 18, 6:23 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 503 Thanks
    Vanlady
    Monthly budget will aim for 300 60/300
    To include all food, toiletries, cleaning stuff, cat food and cat litter, non alcoholic drinks.
    NSD will aim for at least 15 1/15

    Evening all
    had a spend day today. The milk ran out and we needed a few of our other usual things so we decided to do our weekly shop. We did it in record time. ..about 40 mins around A**I. No time for browsing as we were in a rush. All just spent on food as didn't need any cleaning or toiletry supplies.
    Bought an UNPACKAGED swede in the super six box, great to see no plastic wrapping involved. Well have that mashed up with chicken tomorrow and any leftover can be frozen for another time.
    Yorkshire lass, we're another family here who will just have a glorified Sunday dinner on xmas day, and to include HM yorkies. Infact we don't even like turkey so we rebelled last year and just bought a large FR chicken and ham.
    Chloris; love the sound of your leek, chestnut and mushroom loaf. Any chance you can post the recipie?
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