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    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 4th Jun 11, 12:19 PM
    • 9,342Posts
    • 17,879Thanks
    • #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.
    I'm a Board Guide of Old Style MoneySaving, The Northern Ireland board,How Much Have you Saved? and Martin's Blogs.
    This means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and can move and merge posts there. However, do remember that Board Guides don't read every post. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to It is not part of my role to deal with reportable posts. Any views are mine and are not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
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Page 2
    • Tiglath
    • By Tiglath 18th Nov 12, 9:33 PM
    • 3,555 Posts
    • 11,584 Thanks
    Please put me down for 350 for December, starting on 23rd November. I bust the budget for November by going nuts on Mr T yellow stickers, so I will be on track for December.
    Looking forward to a move to the country!
    • meanmarie
    • By meanmarie 18th Nov 12, 9:42 PM
    • 4,964 Posts
    • 48,123 Thanks
    Please put me down for 250 for December, will take that to feed the masses who will assemble here for at least 5 days!

    Weight 08 February 86kg
  • mummybearx
    Not counted up my November spends so far, but I did manage to do a stock take today

    Please put me down for

    zepsgal 180

    Going to DH's sisters for Christmas dinner, so that will help my budget x
    Can't think of anything smart to put here...
    • Shortie
    • By Shortie 18th Nov 12, 10:13 PM
    • 2,192 Posts
    • 11,760 Thanks
    Hello, I'd like to join in this month please. Could you please put me down for 250, ta

    It's for feed and clean a house of 2 adults, 2 children, 2 cats, 2 dogs and some chooks. 250 is currently supposed to be our budget, but I recon we blow it every month as I seem to spend in Mr T with my current account as well as having taken the 250 out at the beginnign of the month, sigh..

    So, this month I want us to hit the budget we're supposed to be, and then next month I'll try and shave some money off that

    My month starts on the 20th
    Apologies if there are random typos - I am usually replying via my phone
    • CRANKY40
    • By CRANKY40 18th Nov 12, 11:39 PM
    • 2,758 Posts
    • 29,549 Thanks
    Could I join please? My budget for December is 200. I also pledge not to buy the piles of unhealthy junk that Asd@ want me to buy over the festive period. I have done the extra food shopping already. One turkey crown (used Tesc0 double up vouchers so technically free), two bottles of pinot grigio (same), a packet of crackers for cheese, some chilli cheese, a bag of chilli peanuts and two bags of sweet popcorn for me and little master cranky to be eaten watching Crimbo films.

    Every year I fall for it and think "ooh, that looks nice", and bring home junk. I can't afford it and this year I'm not going to fall for it.

    I'll be having Christmas dinner with my friends - I provide the turkey, they provide the rest of it and cook it. Last year I made Christmas cake....I think we were still eating it in February. This year I'm going to make mince pies. I have the stuff in for those already, so I should only need the usual shopping from now until the end of December. Famous last words and all that.
  • welshdreamer71
    300Can I please join in for december I wont officially start counting till 30th nov but at least its a start...250 for a normal month but as the big fellas coming we will no doubt spend more, but have been guilty of near enough spending that in tesc0s in 1 hit in years gone by tut .. good luck all x
    • craigywv
    • By craigywv 19th Nov 12, 7:31 AM
    • 1,975 Posts
    • 27,825 Thanks
    hi can i please be put down for 200 please, i didnt do last months gc so need to stay on track . Thanks .
    C.R.A.P.R.O.L.L.Z #7 member N.I splinter-group co-ordinater I dont suffer from insanity....I enjoy every minute of it!!.
    • tessie bear
    • By tessie bear 19th Nov 12, 9:49 AM
    • 4,250 Posts
    • 29,346 Thanks
    tessie bear
    thankyou to all who get the thread going...i am going to spend as little as possible and not go mad and lumber myself with a load of food we spend the rest of the year cake/pickles/bread sauce/cranberry sauce....we like all these but i need to limit the amount coming into the house so we arent drowning in them...not a nice thought

    i am going to carry on with my weekly plan up until the week before christmas then will go with the flow a bit as we plan get a better offer and dont eat the planned meal so will take it a day or 2 at a time

    also need to make some food in the freezer to fit some christmas bits in..lots to do

    good luck tess
    on the brink...
    • flubberyzing
    • By flubberyzing 19th Nov 12, 10:59 AM
    • 951 Posts
    • 6,597 Thanks
    Even though I won't start December until the 1st, I'm still going to keep my budget at 50...

    I think I might end up going over, but at least the tight limit should keep me under control!
    In previous years I've always ended up buying all the junk in the red boxes that clog up the freezer sections every year, like mozarella sticks, and I'm ALWAYS disappointed. So this year I'll be cutting out altogether, or making my own.
    Will be spending a few days over Christmas with family at the parents house, so haven't got that to pay for... But I do like to turn up with some home-made contibution in-hand... I'm thinking this year, Jamie Oliver's sausage rolls and some biscuits of some sort...
    Because it's fun to have money!
  • afeitar
    I'm going to aim for 150 again this month, looks like we will be coming in under budget for November and we have been quite frugal so we will probably treat ourselves a bit more in December. However we will also be eating out at families more so we might come out under budget again! We'll see... My lovely Mum also always gives us a Christmas hamper in December full of christmassy food. Going to start on the 1st December.
    November Grocery Challenge = 83.47/150
    • xxlouisexx56
    • By xxlouisexx56 19th Nov 12, 12:51 PM
    • 2,191 Posts
    • 30,133 Thanks
    Can I be out down for 250 please

    I've bought some Xmas supplies already and have been stock piling normal things like cereal and pasta.

    Will post here again on dec 1st!
  • agreenmess
    Oooo would it be possible to put me down this month, will be my first month in a real effort to get our food/household account down, were looking at buying a house in a coupld of years so every extra will help.

    300 for the month

    With the idea to get it to around half that!

    Nessy x
    House Deposit - 0 /20,000
    Weight Loss - .5lbs
    • Coxy11
    • By Coxy11 19th Nov 12, 4:26 PM
    • 2,173 Posts
    • 26,338 Thanks
    Hi everyone,

    I'm still posting on the November thread but just wanted to say THANK YOU to Zippy for getting December's thread up and running

    Budgets done to here

    Welcome to all the newbies: wmf, JackieRHE, Shortie, CRANKY40, Welshdreamer and agreenmess

    I will be reading along but won't join you officially until 1st December.

    Good luck everyone
    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 19th Nov 12, 4:36 PM
    • 1,221 Posts
    • 15,892 Thanks
    Hello to the new people on here.

    thanks to all who run the thread.

    After much changing of my mind have decided to go for 280 for Dec please. Have increased slightly but not as much as usual so hope that its achievable.
    We are for the first time EVER going to be out for Christmas day at our daughters but are providing most of the food as they are skint and have a young family. Am looking forwards to it but it is going to be very different to usual.
    Will really try to curb the impulsive buying for what is basically two days as its so unneccesaryand results in so much being wasted or crammed into already cramped freezers.

    So just Dec to go and then its time to really try to get to grips with the GC in 2013 as want to decrease from the usual 260

    Have managed in the last two months to bring internet & phone bill down by 50 per month, diesel by 40 per month and car ins by 50 per year . . . .
    a HUGE 1130 a year if it continues (think I deserve two for that)

    Good luck to everyone and to those who are on a yearly budget I hope there is the money there to still come under budget IYKWIM

    Still on Nov until last day.
    Last edited by Billie-jo; 19-11-2012 at 4:39 PM.
    [COLOR="Purple"][B] MARCH 62.38/250 [B][COLOR="Purple"]
    • camNolliesMUMMY
    • By camNolliesMUMMY 19th Nov 12, 5:15 PM
    • 884 Posts
    • 4,464 Thanks
    As its going to be Christmas il put 250 on our budget please
    Ds2 born 3/4/12 8lbs 8.5
    Ds1 born 28/4/07 9lb 8
    Frugal, thrifty, tight mum & wife and proud of it lol

    Make money for Xmas challenge 2014 0/270
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 19th Nov 12, 7:39 PM
    • 2,930 Posts
    • 30,076 Thanks
    My December started today with an 8 odd spent on fruit, bread, ham, w-up liquid and kitchen spray. Will update when I find the receipt later on.

    I am going for 400 for December with a separate 50 budget for the Christmas food.

    Got given a 2 voucher for the works canteen today so that will be a nice lunch for me later in the week.
    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,
  • Spending Vs Saving
    Please can i be put down for 200 for december please this is to include all dog food, toiletries, booze, cleaning stuff and general stocking up plus normal food. Last year i was really lucky on yellow sticker stuff and january was suitably super cheap because of it. One thing i will try not to over indulge in is the non "healthy eating" naught but nice foods.... honest
    Consolidated and under control 42 payments to go.
    ; ): o
    Aim: 35 and Debtfree
    • malamay
    • By malamay 19th Nov 12, 8:53 PM
    • 346 Posts
    • 4,698 Thanks
    December is such a big month! My wages come through a week early, which I absolutely hate. It makes such a mess out of the planning! I transfer wages to savings, then pay myself on the correct date, otherwise it gets spent.

    So onwards with grocery planning. We have no idea where we'll be for Christmas dinner. I'll be cooking one here sometime over Christmas week, and possibly entertaining. I'll give 250 for the budget this month. I've been saving on the weekly stamp scheme at Mr. T, and will not include this 50 in the budget, as it will be spent on a few gifts and some booze.

    December spends start here o the 30th, and we are still within budget for November, even while stocking up on dairy to get petrol vouchers from Mr. T. Hubbs spends 400-500 in diesel a month, and it's nice to get a little savings here. It'll more than make up for any overspend in grocery this month
    • CRANKY40
    • By CRANKY40 19th Nov 12, 9:18 PM
    • 2,758 Posts
    • 29,549 Thanks
    Hi everyone,

    I'm still posting on the November thread but just wanted to say THANK YOU to Zippy for getting December's thread up and running

    Budgets done to here

    Welcome to all the newbies: wmf, JackieRHE, Shortie, CRANKY40, Welshdreamer and agreenmess

    I will be reading along but won't join you officially until 1st December.

    Good luck everyone
    Originally posted by Coxy11
    Thanks. I won't be starting just yet, I'm still in Novembers budget but it's a bit late to join that. I'll be starting at the beginning of December with most people.
    • esmf73
    • By esmf73 20th Nov 12, 6:55 AM
    • 1,772 Posts
    • 14,248 Thanks
    Will have a go, unofficially. Fingers crossed
    2014 will be all about ME!
    ( well that hasn't happened!!!)
    Mortgage free. Will be debt free in Nov 2014. Credit card 250
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