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    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    • 9,342Posts
    • 17,879Thanks
    March 2017 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    March 2017 Grocery Challenge 13th Oct 14 at 12:54 PM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the third Grocery Challenge of 2017 !!!!

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your February budget, then keep on posting in the February 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. MrM 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 breadmaker - 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. Obvioulsy 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 healthwise.

    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 quidelines on posting in this thread please read the second post in this thread.

    For the Grocery challenge Recipe Index please see posts #3, #4, #5 #6 #7 #8 & #9 on this thread (the list is growing!!!!!)

    For everyones totals, see post #10 on this thread

    I hope everyone has a great month!

    Last edited by zippychick; 16-01-2017 at 11:32 AM.
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Page 19
    • Franalamadingdong
    • By Franalamadingdong 20th Mar 17, 3:07 PM
    • 328 Posts
    • 3,266 Thanks
    Hi armchair, i have shopped at the end of one month, for the next, and billed myself for the stuff used for the items used in either month, i see no problem in it so long as it is billed somewhere!

    I plan a month's worth of evening meals, not so much lunch or breakfast though, as there is just two of us, DS gets free school dinner as he is in year 1 and i will have whatever so it doesn't matter much. I've only done this for a couple of months, but i rather like it.

    Popped to the shops today. I've kept DS's party food as separate in his party budget. Our grocery spends were 18.92. Party supplies were about the same again, picked up mother's day cards and a new clothes airer as ours lost a leg. Haha.

    Total is 128.78/195 with 66.22 left over!
    Nov: 144.48/200 (55.53 left) Dec: 207.43/200 7.43 over Jan: 167.33/180 (12.67 left)
    Feb: 159.95/176 (16.05 left)
    March Grocery Challenge: 128.78195 (66.22 left)
    • Suffolk lass
    • By Suffolk lass 20th Mar 17, 4:36 PM
    • 1,911 Posts
    • 20,211 Thanks
    Suffolk lass
    Annual 2017
    DanielleNic87 2200
    FurryBeastOz 3000
    K9sandFelines 4000
    Matron Midge 5200
    mrsnicewriting 2000
    Rachiedabbler70 3250
    squirrelgirl 4800
    Suffolk lass 3600
    willowx 1560
    Originally posted by Coxy11
    Please can I change my annual budget to 3000 instead of 3600. Cheers Coxy
    MFiT T4 #2 update 51.75% after Q8 5,203 behind where I should be
    Save 12k in 2018 #53 - after Feb 13.3%/10,000
    OS Grocery Challenge 2018 spent 452.64/3,000 including stores so far
    My DFD is here
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 20th Mar 17, 5:46 PM
    • 2,937 Posts
    • 30,126 Thanks
    No meal plan following a tummy bug has pushed our spending up last week. I also stocked up on chicken and turkey mince to make meals for this weeks plan.

    Total is now 363.87/400

    Spending Split is:

    Lunches - 25.93
    Beer/wine - 79.59
    Takeaway x 2 - 17.20
    Food - 241.15

    I am hoping to go no more than 50 over budget. We still have some way to go to reduce our budget to a level I am happy at while still eating the healthy diet we prefer. Bearing in mind in February we spent nearly 700 and don't have masses of food in the cupboards/freezers to show for it we are heading in the right direction
    Action Plan Part 1 - Clear First 3 Balances
    Target Debt Lloyds (Me) Part 1 666.22/0
    Target Debt Virgin (Me) Part 1 1176.49/599.42
    Target Debt Virgin (Me) Part 2 1038/1038
    Big black hole of debt - 53,515.15 @ 16.12.17 52,811.64 @ 28.02.18, 50,638.77 @ 28.03.18, 49,778.78 @ 20.04.18
    • Redshank
    • By Redshank 21st Mar 17, 12:44 AM
    • 39 Posts
    • 493 Thanks
    March Fail *head wall*

    April it is then.
    Newbie doing the best I can

    Grocery Challenge Jan 2017 144.17/250
    Aiming to save 2,017 in 2017 - 156 so far
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 21st Mar 17, 1:29 PM
    • 305 Posts
    • 4,035 Thanks
    March Fail *head wall*

    April it is then.
    Originally posted by Redshank

    We don't have failure here we have 'alternative success'!

    Seriously, have you reduced your spends from what they were before you started the challenge? If you have then it's still a win even if it's not where you want it to be yet. You might not have got the gold medal but maybe you got the bronze or the silver. :-)
    • *Margaret*
    • By *Margaret* 21st Mar 17, 2:44 PM
    • 87 Posts
    • 1,023 Thanks
    I've been to Aldi today and spent 8.31 so I'm up to 28.26/45 which is fine. I'm a bit low on storecupboard items but should make it through the month and then I can reassess - I really don't have space for things I don't use often, unless I want to go back to keeping tins of potatoes in the wardrobe. I am having a no cheese week so that's shaved off a few pounds from cost and will hopefully help shave a few lbs off me!
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 21st Mar 17, 3:52 PM
    • 305 Posts
    • 4,035 Thanks
    Small spend of 1.71 on 2 bags of bread flour and some vinegar. The wholemeal flour was 6p more expensive than the white. I've found that's the same with rice, pasta, everything. If you want the healthy 'whole' option it costs you more and it annoys me as logic says it should need more processing and therefore cost more to produce the white version. I can afford to choose the more healthy option but some people can't and then politicians moan that we're all costing the NHS too much by not eating healthily enough. If I was in charge we'd be taxing sugar and subsidising veg. Of course then I'd get carried away with the power and reduce the tax on gin to zero and before long it'd all go a bit 'Gin Lane' and the NHS would be coping with a whole load of liver problems.

    That was a bit of a rant over 6p wasn't it? Maybe it's time for a cuppa.

    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 21st Mar 17, 6:29 PM
    • 2,513 Posts
    • 37,447 Thanks
    Ginmonster- don't see it as a fail, look at what you would have spent if you weren't keeping an eye on your budget - so it's still a win, just not first place in our own heads - bit like eating a chocolate bar on a diet, it's only you that is dissapointed, and makes you concentrate harder in the future

    NSD here again, but shopping day tomorrow - I,m over budget too due to DS2 appearing 3/4 days a week from Uni as his seasonal job has started.
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!

    March GC 250.00/ .00
    • LesP50
    • By LesP50 21st Mar 17, 6:30 PM
    • 25 Posts
    • 331 Thanks
    Between 9/3 and today I spent 53.08 on 3 Aldy /lih1 shops and a couple of top ups. So 91.02+53.80 = 144.82 total.
    175.00- 144.82 = 30.18 til payday 31/3. Should be do-able as I have meals for the rest of this week.
    • Wysiwyg49
    • By Wysiwyg49 21st Mar 17, 8:49 PM
    • 186 Posts
    • 1,679 Thanks
    Woohoo made chicken pie last night with mixed meat (breast, leg, etc.) from roast Sunday chicken and NO-ONE noticed! Normally I only buy breast fillets.

    Meal no. 3 from the chicken was some pasta, garlic/herb cream cheese, sweetcorn and peas with more LO chicken stirred in. Did my lunch at work and I still have the carcase for stock to use in a soup.

    Tonight is baked fish (cod cooked from frozen) with peperonata and potato wedges.

    Bought more milk so 1 to add later.
    GC Mar 239.57/360 : Feb 352.71/320
    • PennyGrabber
    • By PennyGrabber 21st Mar 17, 11:05 PM
    • 1,267 Posts
    • 22,412 Thanks
    Hi armchair,

    I meal plan a month at a time...

    I start by writing down the dates and days (helps to know which are weekends!). Then I cross off days that my ch are with their dad - I just eat leftovers or freezer surprise those days. Then I put easy meals on the days I know we're busy - weds is a difficult day for us, so pizza or stuff on toast, or soup. Then I get my children to choose a couple of meals each which I spread out. Lastly, I fill the rest of the days with things I know we have in the freezer etc.

    Every week, all I then have to do is look at the plan and write down what I need to buy for it. Usually not a great deal, as I've got the hang of planning from what's in!!
    The trick is to remember that it's just a plan, and you can deviate from it without punishing yourself - in fact, I quite like having to carry meals over to the next month, even less to buy!!


    Grocery challenge for family of three - me, dd(12) and ds(11), feeding dp 2 or 3 x a week too. Only food, not toiletries. Jan 87.97/100 Feb 0/100
    Frugal 2018 needed! Saving and NOT spending
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 22nd Mar 17, 12:34 AM
    • 768 Posts
    • 4,984 Thanks
    Hi armchair, i have shopped at the end of one month, for the next, and billed myself for the stuff used for the items used in either month, i see no problem in it so long as it is billed somewhere!
    Originally posted by Franalamadingdong
    Thank you, this answers not only the original question, but my new dilemma about how to count my huge Costco run into the monthly challenge! I bought heaps of things, most of which will get used next month, so if I count it all into this month's budget I'll feel like I'm cheating next month (and I'll fail this one!) I think I've gone a bit mad, honestly.

    Hi armchair,

    I meal plan a month at a time...

    I start by writing down the dates and days (helps to know which are weekends!). Then I cross off days that my ch are with their dad - I just eat leftovers or freezer surprise those days. Then I put easy meals on the days I know we're busy - weds is a difficult day for us, so pizza or stuff on toast, or soup. Then I get my children to choose a couple of meals each which I spread out. Lastly, I fill the rest of the days with things I know we have in the freezer etc.

    Every week, all I then have to do is look at the plan and write down what I need to buy for it. Usually not a great deal, as I've got the hang of planning from what's in!!
    The trick is to remember that it's just a plan, and you can deviate from it without punishing yourself - in fact, I quite like having to carry meals over to the next month, even less to buy!!


    Originally posted by PennyGrabber
    That does help, and I thank you. I'm hoping it means I can work smarter: like, poaching an entire chicken on Sunday for one meal, using the meat for sandwiches for another and then freezing the chicken stock for a future week.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    December 2017 - $214,653.00 Current MFD 31 July 2035
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 22nd Mar 17, 6:36 AM
    • 851 Posts
    • 4,861 Thanks
    14-45 top up yesterday as needed a 10 sack of dog food included in my totals
    OCT200106NOV200CRUISE,DEC200XMAS.JAN 200=107FEB200=40,MARCH175=50
    APRIL200-5=195-22=173,-6=167,-28=139,-21=118,-10= 108
    • t14cy t
    • By t14cy t 22nd Mar 17, 6:36 AM
    • 686 Posts
    • 6,581 Thanks
    t14cy t
    spends of 7 on ys bits in morrisons yesterday, so 34 left out of budget for the month. loads in so will be ok. chooks are laying like mad so im giving eggs away to everyone!!!! xx
    • poohbear59
    • By poohbear59 22nd Mar 17, 9:46 AM
    • 4,820 Posts
    • 55,754 Thanks
    I needed some fresh items so nipped into the 5par and came out 25.65 lighter
    Grocery challenge 75/250 business mortgage 13798))''(+ Barclay's business kitchen loan 7116=Total of 20914, 69% paid off was 68105 Weight to lose 42lbs 0 to go!! PPI claimed and received 11117 Save 12k in 2017no 116. 0/5000
    'I had a black dog, his name was depression".
    • zafiro1984
    • By zafiro1984 22nd Mar 17, 10:28 AM
    • 1,273 Posts
    • 10,131 Thanks
    Just updated signature and realise that I've only 31.83 left to last until the end of the month. I'll have to be careful but I expect I can do it with what is in the fridge and freezer. I don't know how my parents managed without a freezer and mum worked full time which was a rarity in the 50's I'll never know.
    Jan grocery 50 per week
    • Suffolk lass
    • By Suffolk lass 22nd Mar 17, 12:00 PM
    • 1,911 Posts
    • 20,211 Thanks
    Suffolk lass
    I do so hate it when the supermarket overcharges me. I have just checked out my receipt from Morries and they charged me 77p instead of 50p for grapefruit. I checked with the Marketplace staff who assured me they were 50p so I bought 4. So that is 1.08 I will queue up to get refunded when I next shop there.

    I have the overwhelming feeling that I have bought enough to last the month out now. I do hope so. A five week month is such a struggle!
    MFiT T4 #2 update 51.75% after Q8 5,203 behind where I should be
    Save 12k in 2018 #53 - after Feb 13.3%/10,000
    OS Grocery Challenge 2018 spent 452.64/3,000 including stores so far
    My DFD is here
    • purpleybat
    • By purpleybat 22nd Mar 17, 3:07 PM
    • 336 Posts
    • 2,879 Thanks
    have done 2 shops in the last few days .4.91 and 33.90 both in lidles.
    I needed to get vegetarian sausages for my sister and husband and was a little distraught to find they no longer stock linda mc ones that she really likes so she got lidles own brand Lincolnshire ones. I think I over baked them (the oven was on with other bits of dinner and I like to fully utilise it) cos she said they were a little dry but apparently they were tasty. I think dousing dinner in veggie gravy helped

    totting up so far I nearly had a heart attack when I saw I had 3.12 to last the next week and then remembered that i'd upped this month by 10. 13 for next week should be okay, will only need some veg I think, I will have to be strict with myself.
    gc 2017 1841.27.
    2018 jan 124.69/130 feb 157.97/150 mar 221.33/200
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 22nd Mar 17, 3:49 PM
    • 305 Posts
    • 4,035 Thanks
    In typical small child fashion my son whinged this morning that we don't have any cornflakes in the house, despite the fact that I had to use the last lot up in cakes because he never wanted them, so I promised I'd get some for his breakfast tomorrow. What's the betting he won't want any by tomorrow morning?

    Anyhow, I picked up a few other essentials like butter and bananas and a couple of non-essentials like some veggie sausages and nuggets for easy meals when my hubby gets back (he doesn't like cooking and I find having things like that in means I can head off the call for a takeaway). 9.75 spent so still under budget for the month. I think I should be able to make with just over a week to go.

    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 22nd Mar 17, 6:10 PM
    • 851 Posts
    • 4,861 Thanks
    10 today lidl and poundstretcher, not much more needed this month.
    OCT200106NOV200CRUISE,DEC200XMAS.JAN 200=107FEB200=40,MARCH175=50
    APRIL200-5=195-22=173,-6=167,-28=139,-21=118,-10= 108
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