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    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 28th Jul 18, 10:09 PM
    • 1,698Posts
    • 12,515Thanks
    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'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!


    This Forum tip was included in'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 (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 4
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 2nd Dec 18, 8:30 PM
    • 2,113 Posts
    • 18,219 Thanks
    No budget this month, though going to try and spend similar to previous months. I have spent £1000 ish less than last year; so this is brilliant for me, as I must have been doing this now for about seven years. I feel truly accomplished this year.
    Next year could go to pot though as we are moving in the summer and I will have two extra mouths to feed as DD1 & GD are moving in. I am so glad I have reigned everything in before this happens, as I will hopefully be well equipped at pinching the pennies. However, i am not sure I will have access to as many bargains as I have done this past year in my place of work, so might mean the opposite.

    Spent £3.19 yesterday at Morrisons, and £3.99 in B and M, and £2.16 in work today.
    Total: £9.34
    Last edited by K9sandFelines; 02-12-2018 at 8:45 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 April (moving) May (adjusting £270.73), Jun £200.99/£280
    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
    • selloptape
    • By selloptape 2nd Dec 18, 10:33 PM
    • 576 Posts
    • 2,838 Thanks
    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
    Would also love the recipe for this, it sounds sooo good

    Progress today... Went to Mr Ts for my normal Sunday shop and managed to restrain myself to only one rogue item not on the list

    Had to pick up some snacks and drinks as popping to a friends for dinner in the week which has pushed the budget out a little.

    Hope everyone has a good week
    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
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 3rd Dec 18, 7:38 AM
    • 1,256 Posts
    • 7,897 Thanks
    £8.55 in B&M and Wilkos on dog treats as running low, while I was in town getting last few personalised Christmas cards.
    2018 £2285/£2149
    2019 £2000=£1071-£15=£1056-£11=£1045-£6=£1039-£20=£1019-£59=£960-£59=£901
    • Chloris
    • By Chloris 3rd Dec 18, 8:24 AM
    • 651 Posts
    • 9,422 Thanks
    That sounds delish
    Originally posted by candygirl
    I found a link, Sellotape and Vanlady! It is from a 2016 magazine.
    This is the recipe We make it quite regularly. It is a faff but we freeze in slices and it reheats well. We ran out of time this week, so we made vegan cauliflower and leek cheese instead, the loaf will be made next week now. x
    Last edited by Chloris; 03-12-2018 at 8:30 AM.
    • becky170
    • By becky170 3rd Dec 18, 12:07 PM
    • 518 Posts
    • 4,308 Thanks
    I've already managed to do two top up shops and a online shop since I set my budget a week ago �� top up shopping is definitely my downfall. £63.27 spent so far this month.
    Last edited by becky170; 04-12-2018 at 1:10 AM.
    MFW 2019 #7 £926/1615
    Grocery challenge June £440/450
    • Vanlady
    • By Vanlady 3rd Dec 18, 1:27 PM
    • 51 Posts
    • 520 Thanks
    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 2/15

    Notching up a NSD today, yippee
    Thankyou for the recipie Chloris, I've never heard of a 'seitan' before, I like experimenting now and again.
    I have managed to get DH, DS and DD ( yes, they've both returned to live back home for a bit) onboard to only eat meat based meals once or twice a week, I think there is now a term for it. ....' flexitarian' ??? So I'm always on the look out for new ideas.
    Me and DH started eating that way about 9 months ago and we feel great for it plus have lost weight which has miraculously stayed off. Its also alot easier on the pocket
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 3rd Dec 18, 10:23 PM
    • 396 Posts
    • 4,367 Thanks
    Hi all. The first two days of the month were NSDs and I finally did some grocery shopping today. The fridge was rather bare.

    €47.41 at Delhaize this evening on veg, fruit, a bucket of blueberries, eggs, peanut butter, yoghurt, halloumi, and coincidentally, lots of other dairy and cheese. The amount is so high due to buying multiples to last until the end of the week.

    I was trying to do a big enough shop there to not shop again until Thursday or Friday but unfortunately that didn't happen. They didn't have a 2 for 1 chicken thighs deal which was the main reason I even went to this particular branch. I also couldn't find the dish detergent there either. They've moved a lot of things around since the last time I was there, possibly due to the holiday stock. I'll have to go to another store tomorrow for some chicken to last me the rest of the week and other items.

    2 / 12 NSD
    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% )
    • Chloris
    • By Chloris 4th Dec 18, 7:07 AM
    • 651 Posts
    • 9,422 Thanks
    Vanlady, hope you all enjoy it. I found the chestnuts on special offer in sa1ns. X

    Top up shop as I was out of healthy snacks, so £6.82 in c0-0p for homous, rice cakes etc. Healthy eating is not as cheap as toast or biscuits ��. I batch cooked a rice salad as a base for packed lunches and raided the freezer for cauliflower and pea curry for tea tonight. I'll be glad when dd finishes her food tech rotation because the random ingredients are not helping my budget!
    • CRANKY40
    • By CRANKY40 4th Dec 18, 10:28 AM
    • 3,287 Posts
    • 36,174 Thanks
    Didn't manage to post last week's total as the end of the week turned a bit manic - I had a few things to make to take with me when we went away so I spent most of Friday in the kitchen. My first week's total is £42.66 - not as low as I'd hoped but maybe it will even out over the month.

    We've bought sweets and popcorn home with us that my friend bought for us (he does it every time) so the treat cupboard is full. The stuff will last us weeks as the HT doesn't really bother with sweeties very often. We usually have chicken for Christmas dinner - the HT doesn't like turkey much so no great expense there. Even the cats are eating less as they're spending more time indoors.
    • candygirl
    • By candygirl 4th Dec 18, 11:21 AM
    • 27,393 Posts
    • 116,547 Thanks
    Went to ALDI yesterday, n spent £21 , making it £25 /150 so far
    "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf"

    (Kabat-Zinn 2004)
    • Merlin's Beard
    • By Merlin's Beard 4th Dec 18, 12:51 PM
    • 284 Posts
    • 2,373 Thanks
    Merlin's Beard
    £52.70 spent at Morries, that's not including cat litter. So, half the budget gone already. Not entirely sure if it's that much because Morries is just more expensive than Mr T's, that my local Morries is just that bit smaller so doesn't have as much value range, or that I'm just not as good as finding the cheap alternatives in Morries....!

    It might just be that I needed a lot of store type items (washing powder, toothpaste etc) but I'm not convinced.

    10% back at M's this month when I use my Amex credit card though, and I spent enough to get 10p off petrol if I go this week, so I'll see how it goes over the next few weeks.
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 4th Dec 18, 3:28 PM
    • 1,256 Posts
    • 7,897 Thanks
    Spent £10 ish at local butcher, really should go there for all my meat, 6 thick slices of belly pork £5.40, had one for dinner with roasties, cauli and cavello nero, delicious, then remembered wanted some stewing beef, piece of shin about 450g £4 something lost receipt, cut it into pieces and enough for 2 meals.
    2018 £2285/£2149
    2019 £2000=£1071-£15=£1056-£11=£1045-£6=£1039-£20=£1019-£59=£960-£59=£901
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 4th Dec 18, 5:18 PM
    • 3,784 Posts
    • 12,947 Thanks
    We've spent £26.41 so far.

    £173.59 left.
    I am a vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 4th Dec 18, 10:22 PM
    • 396 Posts
    • 4,367 Thanks
    Evening folks. This morning I spent €12.07 at Delhaize on ham, dish liquid, milk, cilantro, yoghurt, and coffee.

    I finally made the chipotle corn chowder I was supposed to cook last week To make it vegetarian I omitted the bacon and subbed the chicken stock for vegetable bouillon. It was absolutely delicious and very warming. I had friends over the whole day working on our client projects together and one of them went back to the pot 4 times! I also ate it all day because it was so good. OH packed a serving for his lunch and there’s one more left in the fridge. I also made cornbread to along with it and slathered the cornbread in butter:

    2 / 12 NSD

    Tomorrow’s meal will be pork with white beans. I’ll head out to get some greens to add to the pot plus a chicken to roast later this week.
    Last edited by JingsMyBucket; 05-12-2018 at 8:39 AM.
    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% )
    • Vanlady
    • By Vanlady 5th Dec 18, 12:33 PM
    • 51 Posts
    • 520 Thanks
    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 3/15

    Afternoon challengers
    Ooo some lovely recipies being posted up on here.
    I notched up a NSD yesterday and looks like I'm heading for another one today!
    It helps that we used uht for porridge in the mornings and for any sauces that we make. We generally only use fresh milk in tea and coffee.
    Bought a big bag of spuds at the weekend so mid week meals are comprising of chicken and veg with potatoes, fish fingers (my weakness ) with veg, parsley sauce and potatoes, and mushroom onion and cheese omlettes with veg or salad and yes, you guessed it......potatoes
    • flubberyzing
    • By flubberyzing 5th Dec 18, 1:23 PM
    • 1,261 Posts
    • 8,501 Thanks
    I've upped my budget to £80 this month... £12.73 spent so far, and zero Christmas food purchased! I do need to start grabbing a few of the cupboard bits in my food shop for next week.

    I only worked this morning, so on the way home I stopped off for more cold meds (I've got a real stinker), and a pizza. When I'm ill, I always want fats and carbs. I grabbed a maccys breakfast on the way to work on Monday, which I NEVER do, but the rule when I'm ill is "what the body wants, the body gets."
    Because it's fun to have money!
    £65.41/£70 June GC
    January-May 2019 = £291.53/£350

    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 5th Dec 18, 5:26 PM
    • 396 Posts
    • 4,367 Thanks
    Another €15.46 spent today at Delhaize for strawberries, toilet paper, a chicken, and some kale. That’s three to four euros more than I would usually pay for this stuff but I did it just so I could be done with shopping until at least Saturday.

    2 / 12 NSD

    That’s way higher than where I’d normally be right about now and I’d like to put the brakes on spending for the next few days.
    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% )
    • Mrs Cheshire
    • By Mrs Cheshire 5th Dec 18, 8:38 PM
    • 861 Posts
    • 9,053 Thanks
    Mrs Cheshire
    First shop of the month done on Monday, spent £48.27.
    I've meal planned for the whole month, based mostly around what's already in the house.
    I'm also planning on shopping on the 20th/21st but getting enough to last until the 30th (off to family for a few days), as I don't want to be shopping between Christmas and New Year! Might even see if I can get a home delivery on the 2nd Jan, so I don't have to go then either!

    I've already got the turkey in the freezer, need to think about getting some more nibbles to put away and a couple of quick options should our plans change.
    SPC #148 2014-£25 2015-£5.50 My stars from Sue-UU

    Grocery Challenge 2019
    Jan £396.91/£400, Feb £/£400
    • ancientmum
    • By ancientmum 6th Dec 18, 6:54 AM
    • 181 Posts
    • 1,597 Thanks
    Just popped in to update my signature. I think I will be spending another £100-150 before the end of the year taking my total for the year to about £1400 but not too worried about that. I am eating more meat now the weather is miserable but I am also working more. Good luck with all those "must haves" and "essentials" that we are told we need to have at this time of year,
    If life is a journey, I want comfy shoes
    Grocery Challenge 2019 £615.50/2000, including pet stuff, toiletries and take-aways
    Make 2019 in 2019 no. 110 £553.26/2019
    • CRANKY40
    • By CRANKY40 6th Dec 18, 11:19 AM
    • 3,287 Posts
    • 36,174 Thanks
    NSD for me today. I'm cleaning the house ready to put the tree up at the weekend. I liberated some braising steak from the freezer last night so that's in the slow cooker for tonight's dinner.
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