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    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 4th Jun 11, 11:19 AM
    • 9,343Posts
    • 17,889Thanks
    • #1
    • 4th Jun 11, 11:19 AM
    4th Jun 11 at 11:19 AM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the first Grocery Challenge of 2014

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your December budget, then keep on posting in the:

    December grocery challenge - sorry cant seem to get the hyper link to work

    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; 30-12-2013 at 10:55 AM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 77
  • maryarm
    well thank god january is over!!!
    came in at 575.21 so over budget but its only month 1. can only get better lol
    Sealed pot challenge #310
    • First_Trouble
    • By First_Trouble 4th Feb 14, 10:34 AM
    • 974 Posts
    • 3,142 Thanks
    Declaring 101.92 only slightly over budget but am happy with this.
    That voice in your head that says you cant do this is a LIAR!

    Debt Free - January 2021
  • Anzac Biscuit
    I'm flagging... grumpy and tired and couldn't-be-bothered-ish.
    Managed to get through the work day without buying anything but ended up buying dinner after an event in the evening. Plus hadn't eaten enough so was feeling a tad faint by then!

    Humph. Now officially over in my entertainment budget - though still nowhere near the official groceries one. I'm feeling the pinch though cos I just got my medical bills, which is pretty much wiping out my savings. Oh well. I guess I'll just have to recover next month - and at least I've been spending less than usual, which has gotta help, right?

    Off to bed.
    Married my best friend Nov 2014
    Food for 2 (1 gluten free) OSWLC2 0/10. GC Jan $460. Feb 451/400. March 451/450. April 161/450.
  • Anzac Biscuit
    Looks like everyone has moved to the Feb thread. Think I'll stay here til payday on the 15th and then skip straight to March

    I've had a bad week for spending - lots of lunches out, coffees and other snacks. Just been feeling rough, and overtired, and disorganised at home. I suspect tomorrow will be more of the same but hopefully I'll get in a good shop on the weekend and set myself up well for the final week of this very long month!!

    It's still been great to keep track of exactly what I spend - and posting on here makes me actually take note. I've been making progress too - and I think will be in a much better position next month to avoid known weaknesses and be more disciplined. I'm still pretty shocked at how much more I've spent on eating out/ent than on proper 'groceries' - had an idea it was bad but wow I don't mind quite so much if it's in order to catch up with a friend (seems to be my main social activity) - but I would definitely like to cut out any bad-planning-related eating out (ie lunches at work or unnecessary coffees/snacks due to bad planning or lack of discipline).
    Married my best friend Nov 2014
    Food for 2 (1 gluten free) OSWLC2 0/10. GC Jan $460. Feb 451/400. March 451/450. April 161/450.
  • Anzac Biscuit
    Just had coffee to catch up with a friend (so I don't mind too much) and did a small shop, mostly baking supplies. Definitely flagging but I'm still hoping to pull myself together a bit better next week for the race to the finish line!! One more week til payday....

    Dinner last night (and I think the night before) was veg and lentil soup that I made a week or so ago in the slow cooker to use up some veg that was about to go off. Breakfast this morning was rice and prunes (no more cereal, bread or milk) - the prunes have been hanging fire for MONTHS so I'm trying to use them up.

    Mostly I think I should be fine for this week, provided that I actually do the cooking. Plenty of food in, just need to get over the slump and prepare it.
    On the menu for this week: beetroot, salad of some sort to use up olives and sundried toms, some sort of cottage pie or mince thing, and hopefully a chicken casserole in the slowcooker to use up a pack of frozen chicken thighs. I also have frozen berries, some dead (frozen) bananas and a small bit of crumble topping, so hopefully I can use those up too and start the next pay month with a clear freezer!
    Married my best friend Nov 2014
    Food for 2 (1 gluten free) OSWLC2 0/10. GC Jan $460. Feb 451/400. March 451/450. April 161/450.
  • mags50
    You're doing so well Anzac and all on your own too
    See you in the new thread x
    A family that eats together, stays together

    NSD 50/365
    GC JAN 259.63/400 FEB 346.41/350.00 MAR 212.57/300 APR 1/250
  • Anzac Biscuit
    Thanks mags!

    I've updated the sig for the weekend - spent a bit on berries and plastic cups for a church afternoon tea. More than I would have liked to spend but oh well. They all liked it! NSD yesterday

    Today I made a tiny bit of progress after falling apart last week cos I actually made dinner tonight and lunch for tomorrow

    Hurray, go me

    Didn't have any breakfast though

    Lunch was Thai (paid for by a friend, and planned ahead). Dinner was puy lentils with tomato and lettuce. The cottage cheese I was going to have with it was off so went in the bin, which was a shame. Not the most interesting of dinners really but it was progress nonetheless!

    Cooked the whole packet of lentils cos they've been sitting around for ages - so some will get cooked up tomorrow with some mince in a cottage pie or something similar; the rest has gone into the freezer in batches to add to things.

    Lunch tomorrow is lentils with lettuce, olives, tomatoes and some chopped anchovies to make it more interesting than dinner was

    I think I may possibly have gone a little too overboard in the whole frugal/pantry challenge thing - it's getting that I don't want to spend anything at all, which just means that I don't feel inspired by the frugal-but-boring things in the fridge, so don't bother cooking it, so don't have anything for lunch. *sigh*

    Hmmm. Must do better next month.
    Last edited by Anzac Biscuit; 10-02-2014 at 12:23 PM.
    Married my best friend Nov 2014
    Food for 2 (1 gluten free) OSWLC2 0/10. GC Jan $460. Feb 451/400. March 451/450. April 161/450.
    • meg72
    • By meg72 10th Feb 14, 7:16 PM
    • 5,082 Posts
    • 46,072 Thanks
    So sorry you are here lonely but will make a point of checking back
    until you come over to Feb. It is possible to be too frugal and be totally bored with what you have in, I hit a rut like that same old menu all the time, but my DD and DGD challenged me to a healthy eating completion. the first one to lose 7lbs gets to choose a lunch out, if my DGD wins its going to be Sushi, no way, I am so determined she dosent win have splashed out a bit more and am really enjoying my new healthy recipes.
    Slimming World at target
  • Anzac Biscuit
    Thanks meg70. I think you're right - if I spend a little bit more I'll be much more excited about what I have planned

    Ate lunch out today cos I just couldn't face those lentils (and I was cold in the office and wanted something hot).

    Three more days....!!

    Tonight's dinner - chilli made with beef mince and lentils, and whatever else I find to use up I'll make sure it's tasty!! Some will go in the freezer for lunches or an easy meal next week.
    Married my best friend Nov 2014
    Food for 2 (1 gluten free) OSWLC2 0/10. GC Jan $460. Feb 451/400. March 451/450. April 161/450.
  • Anzac Biscuit
    Done. I'm declaring my end of the month
    Clearly I have a long way to go but I think this is the first time EVER that I've managed to keep track of all my spending for a whole month - and I've certainly learnt a lot!

    Thanks to everyone for the support - and now on to Feb!

    Married my best friend Nov 2014
    Food for 2 (1 gluten free) OSWLC2 0/10. GC Jan $460. Feb 451/400. March 451/450. April 161/450.
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