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    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 4th Jun 11, 12:19 PM
    • 9,343Posts
    • 17,881Thanks
    • #1
    • 4th Jun 11, 12:19 PM
    4th Jun 11 at 12:19 PM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the final Grocery Challenge of 2012 EEEEEKKKKK!!!!, Terrifying how quickly the year has flown in! I genuinely am in shock it's december grocery challenge.

    Hope you all have a happy poposturus prosperous Christmas and new year. Here's to 2013!!!

    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 2012 Grocery 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; 18-11-2012 at 3:53 PM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 17
    • Flat Eric
    • By Flat Eric 4th Dec 12, 9:10 PM
    • 3,958 Posts
    • 23,877 Thanks
    Flat Eric
    In order to keep on track need to note every spend - 64p on a couple of YS items today.

    Flat Eric - I think the curry will be fine for one extra day, I often use stuff up a couple of days after their date and have never had a problem.
    Originally posted by Nicky Noo Na
    I wouldnt think just one day over would be a problem
    Originally posted by meg72
    Thank you. I thought it would be fine but I just thought I would post and get other opinions. I think all stores build in a day or 2 of error - because how many people have stuff in their fridge and don't check the date before they cook? I'm sure the stores scare us into be frightened of sell by dates so that we needlessly throw food away only to fill their coffers with more money to replenish.

    I haven't caught up properly but in answer to the recent post, doing this challenge hasn't made me any better with my food budgeting and that is something I shall be working on in 2013.

    • Bluegreen143
    • By Bluegreen143 4th Dec 12, 10:34 PM
    • 1,099 Posts
    • 12,661 Thanks
    I keep an A5 sized diary and I draw a line down the centre. One half of each page is non food and the other half is food. It is a godsend to refer to for many things as well as budgets. Good to know how long something lasted-what you spent on petrol the last month etc-I am often referring to it. I also keep notes in it if I lend the kids any money or if they pay me any back-its my all in one refernce moneywise! I look down each receipt and I do separate my spends so if its 50 spend and 15 is on household stuff I write it as 15 and 35 respectively sometimes with extra notes on the household side to list what it was. I found over the last couple of years that quite a large chunk was indeed on "other" stuff and not all of it necessary!
    Originally posted by angelatgraceland
    What a fantastic idea!! I will try this too :-)

    No grocery spends today by me, but Oh bought some mini naans for 50p so ruined my no spend day lol. He did make a lovely veggie curry with egg fried rice to make up for it:

    Also, it's not GC related, sorry , but I just wanted to share the British Paraorchestra's single True Colors, which was released yesterday. They are the world's first-ever ensemble for professional disabled musicians, performing with Paralympics athletes and a kid's signing choir. I work for a charity helping people with a certain disability and when I watched it today it made me cry as it's so inspiring sorry about the digression but I just wanted to share!!
    Married 1 March 2014 DS born 06/12/15

    CC - 2,182.17/2,182.17
    Family loan 1 - 1,680/1,680
    Family loan 2 - 3,500/5,000
    • debtmess
    • By debtmess 4th Dec 12, 11:07 PM
    • 698 Posts
    • 3,045 Thanks
    Jumping in with 450. This month

    Sorry cannot change font to put spend in red, have my family for this Christmas, my online shop for 21st December to be delivered is just off 200 (ouch)

    Spend so far is 16.65 at local shop last night.
    That's including cat food for the month and some cleaning bits, leaving me around 50 a week for everything else which should be very do-able

    Happy December
    Debt free

    Married 15/02/14
    • Scuff
    • By Scuff 4th Dec 12, 11:39 PM
    • 521 Posts
    • 2,087 Thanks
    Two small shops to confess to, 11.95 on cheese, bread, butter and potatoes (there was a fair bit of cheese ) and 14.38 on what started out to be a 'pick up some stuff for some sandwiches' trip and ended up a yellow sticker shop as well. Oops this brings my total to 60.86
    September 2016 GC 21.37/120
    • Shortie
    • By Shortie 5th Dec 12, 12:19 AM
    • 2,192 Posts
    • 11,760 Thanks
    Oh my.... I went to Mr T to pick up the remainder of the order and picked up some bits to see us through

    I picked up bread and milk for the freezer, a couple of reduced cripsy half ducks to make a cheaper Chinese 'take out', the Christmas chicken (as we ended up eating the one we'd bought when one we bought for dinner one day was off the day we bought it!) but that had gone up in price since last time which stung a bit, and some fruit.

    We now have a little over 40 left to last us until 20th of this month. WHOOPS. We have quite a lot in now, so really and truly this should be do-able, but I know what we're like for buying bits (a good reason for doing this challenge I suppose!)

    It's becoming quite an eye opening challenge to have joined - and goes quite a way to explain to me why I seem to spend so much in Mr T when we've alsways had a set budget..!
    Apologies if there are random typos - I am usually replying via my phone
    • tessie bear
    • By tessie bear 5th Dec 12, 9:06 AM
    • 4,255 Posts
    • 29,387 Thanks
    tessie bear
    hi...went to the coop and waitrose yesterday and got a few bargains of the fruit and veg variety I didnt get anything for the freezer as it is full to the brim

    i have made a christmas food list and have done meal plan all the way to christmas eve so thats useful and will hopefully keep costs down...i can hope

    we are having a roast chicken for tea and will use up the leftovers in a pie later in the to stew some fruit i got yesterday and check i have some nice veg for tea

    have a great day tess
    on the brink...
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 5th Dec 12, 9:07 AM
    • 889 Posts
    • 5,016 Thanks
    This is my 3rd N.S.D...
  • pinchingpenny
    Morning all!
    I think I'm doing reasonably well so far. I have been trying to put off buying things I haven't yet run out of to keep the spends down, but considering I visit different shops to get the best price it isn't always easy! I would hate to have to fork out 90p for a cucumber from the local shop should I run out when I know I can get one for 50p near work

    I topped up my stock cube supply last night, thought I was getting a bargain but turns out I hadn't done my research properly, grrr, oh well it's a lesson learned for next time. So just reporting a spend of 1.99 on chicken, beef and veg cubes.

    I'm excited for my first attempt at sourdough bread this weekend, I have been feeding and checking my 'starter' and some bubbles have started to appear, definitely a good sign! Imagine if I never had to buy bread again...

    Have a good day everyone
    Nov Groceries: approx 90
    Dec GC: 31.93/60 Jan GC: 33.55/45 Feb GC: 0/45
    Pot: Dec 195/ Jan 147/ Feb 114/ Mar 43
    Total: 499
  • nicolula87
    A 3.77 spend last night picking up fish for tea and milk. Poor planning on my part as normally buy enough milk to get us through the week when I do the big shop in Asda, and had to pay 32p more in Co-op! Oh well, lesson learned! Will add to my total spend on my sig.

    Going to be big spends this weekend as have to cook enough food to get us through most of 2 weeks of evening meals as new kitchen going in. Lots of planning required I think!
    Kitchen Debt - 2820/260
    Save 12k in 2013 #060: 1293.24/3000
    MFW: 88760.00/85000.00 (4.24% paid)
    • karenccs67
    • By karenccs67 5th Dec 12, 11:55 AM
    • 1,022 Posts
    • 5,493 Thanks
    Oh my goodness, it took me 2.5 hrs to get my son to school this morning and another hour to get home I was busting after I dropped him off so I popped into Waitrose to use their facilities, and I found out you can get 1 free pot of tea or coffee a day with their My Waitrose card, its a reward card I think. The pot of tea has enough for 2 cups, I did however spend 1.59 on a toasted teacake ! I just hope the afternoon school run doesnt take as long
    ***Dont save what is left after spending, spend what is left after saving***
    • Coxy11
    • By Coxy11 5th Dec 12, 1:51 PM
    • 2,173 Posts
    • 26,349 Thanks
    99p in the petrol station on milk - was passing when walking to school this morning. Do need some veggies for tonights tea but will get those on the afternoon school run at C00p.

    Snow has cleared here now thank goodness!

    Cross-stitch WIP #1: Collecting Shells by Nancy Cole
    Cross-stitch WIP #2: Pretty Little London by Satsuma Street
    Crochet WIP: Apres-ski blanket by Black Sheep Wools
    • Billie-jo
    • By Billie-jo 5th Dec 12, 2:21 PM
    • 1,221 Posts
    • 15,892 Thanks
    And were off . . . first spends of Dec today on a few bits from A!di - bread, celery, curry sauce, orange juice and cream. 8.01 spent.
    Have used some of the celery in a soup which is almost ready to be blitzed up and then some cream added. Should be nice with some crusty bread later on.

    Curry & rice for tea tonight with naan breads. Will be going to do the weekly shop either tomorrow or Friday.
    No snow here yet but it is cold although sunny.
    [COLOR="Purple"][B] MARCH 62.38/250 [B][COLOR="Purple"]
    • thriftylass
    • By thriftylass 5th Dec 12, 2:30 PM
    • 3,310 Posts
    • 27,082 Thanks
    I just checking in briefly. Still no further food spends and should hopefully be fine till Saturday/Sunday. BF is away tonight and Saturday night and I'm at a free works dinner on Friday. So that should save some proper cooked meals as I'll just have toast or sth. Tried baking a bread yesterday but it didn't rise properly, so I'll try again tonight.
    NST May
    SFD6/20 spends 294/400
    Exercise 4/15
    Debt - all 0% 1010 to go from 5290
    DFD 5/2018 Mortgage 109343 (04/17) 104915 (02/18) OP 0
    • Solstice_3
    • By Solstice_3 5th Dec 12, 2:49 PM
    • 460 Posts
    • 5,018 Thanks
    My NSD turned into a small spend day. Was going to make bread today but ended up going out for coffee with a family member. So bought bread, crumpets (for freezer) and a packet of cooked meats for lunches. Spent 4.74 - not bad!
    Stay at home Mum to DS Oct 2011 and DD Dec 2013
    Grocery Challenge

    April 298.08/300.00 NSD 14 May 213.56/300 NSD 4
    • mummyyof5
    • By mummyyof5 5th Dec 12, 3:13 PM
    • 1,839 Posts
    • 39,830 Thanks
    NSD today..thankfully,fish,chips and mushy peas for tea.
    Feeding 6 Adults 1 Teen a 8 year old with hollow legs and a very fussy 5 year old. Also 3 cats and 3 fishies
    To include all Food,Toiletries and Petfood.
    • bossymoo
    • By bossymoo 5th Dec 12, 4:34 PM
    • 6,817 Posts
    • 87,056 Thanks
    I've just added 12 to my sig as had 11 something at tosco extra. Bread, cheese, ingredients for nachos for the weekend. Wanted to go today before I collect the kiddies as the weather forecast isn't good, and I don't want to be taking the littlies round shopping in bad weather. Or good weather, for that matter

    We are going to the christingle service on Sunday, and have invited a friend and her DD hence the nachos, hopefully something warm and fun to eat, party style before we head out into the cold. Will do bolognese topped for the littlies and chilli topped for us big 'uns.

    ETA I saw some reduced items inc chocolate (not huge reductions) but did not waver, I only bought what we needed 6months ago I'd have spent twice as much!

    Away with the fairies
    • CRANKY40
    • By CRANKY40 5th Dec 12, 6:21 PM
    • 2,798 Posts
    • 30,089 Thanks
    I like the idea of a budget diary too! I might actually do that for 2013!!!!

    Brilliant idea!!
    Originally posted by jumblejack
    I keep a cash book, hand written. I write in the money available at the start of each month, then all my bills and direct debits out (including petrol), then an amount out for each week's food shop and an amount each week for "odds, sods and other things". I like to keep track of what should be in the bank and this is the easiest way. I tick each item off as it is spent/paid. Boring but effective.

    I hope I don't get stoned but I CAN'T do the grocery challenge for December. Hubby is coming back from overseas and I will be spending on goodies such as a duck for Christmas Day. We have a birthday and a wedding anniversary. We also have a family reunion to celebrate a wedding and baby in the family and we are suppose to bring something to the event.
    I will try to keep the budget around 300 but don't think I can do it for less.
    Sorry, I feel like such a wimp...
    Originally posted by MoonJelly
    Don't feel bad, just enjoy your family being together.

    We are going to the christingle service on Sunday, and have invited a friend and her DD hence the nachos, hopefully something warm and fun to eat, party style before we head out into the cold. Will do bolognese topped for the littlies and chilli topped for us big 'uns.
    Originally posted by bossymoo
    The last time we went to one of those my small son couldn't believe his luck at being handed a lighted candle. I spent most of the time a nervous wreck watching him carry it (with some justification, he'd just shaken his "charity penny collection candle" so hard that he'd caused a money fountain in the aisle).

    I've spent 42.64 this week, but the cats won't starve if we're snowed in and neither will we run out of cat litter. We won't starve either, but I'd already seen to that
    May Grocery Challenge 154.60/350
    Weight loss 2018 14.5 lbs
  • welshdreamer71
    A small spend for me today 6 to add clemintines mince pies pointy peppers bread n biscuits ... everyone seems to be hanging onto their pennies really well so far this month x
    2 week 5:2=5.5lb off.
    • Nicky Noo Na
    • By Nicky Noo Na 5th Dec 12, 7:16 PM
    • 760 Posts
    • 6,713 Thanks
    Nicky Noo Na
    29p on some YS buns

  • optimistic-mummy
    came in under budget last month aiming for 250 this month please
    200 weeks 25,000.00 / 700
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