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    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    • 9,343Posts
    • 17,881Thanks
    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.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 15
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 12th Mar 17, 9:46 PM
    • 2,660 Posts
    • 33,276 Thanks
    Just swinging by to report an update to my bulk-buying "purse" of 55-odd - a sack of oats and some other bulk "health" foods are safely gathered in! I'm sitting out this month's challenge, but still keeping track and am pleased to say that things are progressing pretty much normally. We've adopted another cat, so my careful calculations that pouches were slightly cheaper than tins have gone out of the window; with 3 moggies to feed, tins will work out cheaper once again, so when the bulk-bought pouches run out, back to tins we go again... have to say, the chickens will be pleased. Don't tell Defra, but they will gang up to get into the kitchen & steal the catfood, just like something out of Chicken Run!

    GC May 18 326.16/400
    Bulk-buy purse '18 145.26/250, pet & livestock food '18 131.45/300

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 12th Mar 17, 11:00 PM
    • 5,343 Posts
    • 55,181 Thanks
    Evening all

    Spends today at Al*i of 11.43. Just on essentials as we go on our holibobs on Friday - returning on 31st

    Made a SC full of chilli today - using up last of already browned/then frozen mince and last pack of pre-cooked/then frozen onions, carrots and peppers.

    I will have at least two meals out of it, one with jacket spud, sweetcorn and peas and one with wraps and salad, and then portion/freeze the rest.

    I can have black pudding, eggs, toms, beans and HM rosti for another meal and loads of frozen HM Bolognese sauce so can make a lasagne with salad. So that's this week sorted, not much cooking to do, and should just about use all fresh stock as well

    I've plenty of HM veggie soups and bread in the freezer, eggs and tins of beans for lunches. Enough fruit frozen and fresh for four days. Only thing that might be tight is milk - we'll see how it goes.

    Hope you all have a money-saving Monday
    Bulk buy.......APR=233.76
    OS WL= -2/8 ......CC =00......Savings = 13,140
    • mrs-moneypenny
    • By mrs-moneypenny 13th Mar 17, 7:04 AM
    • 15,461 Posts
    • 197,564 Thanks
    Sorry I am in again and would like to go for the usual 400 for march time just seems to be running away.

    I was below budget last month by a little and make my final total 379 which I'm pleased with
    grocery challenge April budget 400 spent 108
    SPC~11 No100 : : X4 O/t fund so far 1400
    read your books challenge-currently on After you
    cherish all living things
    17in 2018challenge 3/18
    • Fruittea
    • By Fruittea 13th Mar 17, 8:43 AM
    • 744 Posts
    • 2,722 Thanks
    I'll be popping in to T=sco today to pick up the free Cross and Blackwell soups and some coriander. That's all I need for the meal plan this week. I seem to have done very well on soups what with the New Covent garden freebies and now the C & B. I usually prefer my own but when it's free it would be rude not to.
    I'll be making some beetroot hummus later today - it looks alarming but tastes great and makes a change from the usual stuff.
    • purpleybat
    • By purpleybat 13th Mar 17, 10:50 AM
    • 344 Posts
    • 2,935 Thanks
    i had a small spend on Friday but i've lost the receipt, i think it was about 5. it was for a few veggies and a loaf of bread and I know I paid cash and i never have more than 5 cash on me.

    ill need to shop tomorrow for things like veg, bread and sarnie fillings. but as i have a groaning freezer to be used up and lots of potatoes and tins in i don't think it'll be a massive spend, well i hope not, i'm not doing very well this month.

    the downside of saving money here is that i bought a cross stitch kit
    eek! also got a bit carried away buying yarn for a sweater, found it was cheaper to buy bulk packs of 10 balls at a time, so i ordered 3 different colours! 30 balls of cotton type wool for 55 i don't think is bad at all and it comes out of 'fun' budget.
    Last edited by purpleybat; 13-03-2017 at 11:10 AM.
    gc 2017 1841.27.
    2018 jan 124.69/130 feb 157.97/150 mar 221.33/200 apr 223.04/250
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 13th Mar 17, 1:53 PM
    • 305 Posts
    • 4,038 Thanks
    Had to nip to the shops to pick up some more flour this lunchtime as I have some OOD yoghurt that needs using up and I'm going to turn it into a whole load of naan breads for the freezer. While I was there I also picked up peppers, mushrooms, a cauli and avocados for a total of 5.08. I'll need more fruit later in the week but I should be OK until then.

    • zafiro1984
    • By zafiro1984 13th Mar 17, 2:20 PM
    • 1,295 Posts
    • 10,283 Thanks
    progressing as expected this month, the excitement about staying in budget has gone. It's now about the daily grind.
    May Grocery challenge 117.37/150 only got 32.63 left
    • Franalamadingdong
    • By Franalamadingdong 13th Mar 17, 2:53 PM
    • 328 Posts
    • 3,266 Thanks
    Oof! Just spent 47.97 at Tes of co! They had that meridian smooth peanut butter on sale at 1, cheaper than the cheapest smooth peanut butter, so i picked up a couple of jars. Got mouthwash for me and for DS as they both had 1 off. I bought most of the fish/poultry/meat i need this month too, so other shops won't be so pricy. Although next week I'll be shopping for DS's party too.

    Total is 109.86/196/5
    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)
    • PennyGrabber
    • By PennyGrabber 13th Mar 17, 9:42 PM
    • 1,267 Posts
    • 22,414 Thanks
    Managing well on the nsd front this week. I love those days when I don't feel the urge to spend - they're often few and far between!!

    We had sausages tonight for dinner. I have enough left for two lunches as well. The fridge is slowly looking emptier - can't wait to be able to organise it properly!

    Must organise meals for the rest of the week now. I have no inspiration atm. Weds has to be a quickie, like scrambled egg or stuff on toast, so tom should be a decent meal. Then it's just me to feed until Sunday dinner as the children will be with their dad. Must use stuff up, while also dieting!!

    PG x
    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
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 13th Mar 17, 9:43 PM
    • 2,562 Posts
    • 37,743 Thanks
    NSD here again - must pop to Aldi tomorrow though, but that will be it for the week
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!
    • t14cy t
    • By t14cy t 14th Mar 17, 7:27 AM
    • 694 Posts
    • 6,594 Thanks
    t14cy t
    first spends of the month at tesco yesterday, spent 8 on basic bits and of course offers!! xx
    • sweetpea26
    • By sweetpea26 14th Mar 17, 8:55 AM
    • 707 Posts
    • 4,657 Thanks
    Morning all

    Did a good shop yesterday at Lidl and purchased fruit veg, stock up on some cupboard items like jam Olive Oil Orange juice etc.

    Popped Mr Teee to buy large refill coffee and yogurt..
    I did something that i never do when I enter a Tosco's and that was not to take a trolley or a basket. I was going in for these two items and nothing else. So I only could buy what I could carry !! for me this is a success

    Have to do errands for an elder member of family today and will pick up a few cupboard specials in smaller stores when I am out.

    So I am very happy with my progress at present.
    • Dharma Bunny
    • By Dharma Bunny 14th Mar 17, 9:55 AM
    • 122 Posts
    • 409 Thanks
    Dharma Bunny
    25kilo??? wow! that's a HUGE sack of spuds. the one I buy I think is 7.5 kilo and that lasts a month. saying that we eat lots of pasta and rice
    Originally posted by purpleybat
    It really is a huge sack. :-D
    One day...

    GC March 320.05/200
    • Dharma Bunny
    • By Dharma Bunny 14th Mar 17, 10:02 AM
    • 122 Posts
    • 409 Thanks
    Dharma Bunny
    So I've added up what we spent the last week and my total is now 173.97/200.
    I think I can safely say at this point we probably won't make the 28th under 200!
    I cannot imagine what we must have been spending before because I've been really quite rigorous in comparison.
    One day...

    GC March 320.05/200
    • *Margaret*
    • By *Margaret* 14th Mar 17, 11:08 AM
    • 87 Posts
    • 1,023 Thanks
    I've spent 7.55 in Aldi today, will be spending 2.10 elsewhere tomorrow so I'm on 19.96/45. My challenge for this week is to make the milk last - I'm not making cauliflower cheese this week (I have some in the freezer) and I'm putting an end to my brief, expensive and fattening fling with hot chocolate so really there is no excuse for it not to last.

    So I've added up what we spent the last week and my total is now 173.97/200.
    I think I can safely say at this point we probably won't make the 28th under 200!
    I cannot imagine what we must have been spending before because I've been really quite rigorous in comparison.
    Originally posted by Dharma Bunny
    It's difficult to plan if you're not sure what you were spending before - you've surely spent less so that's a positive. At the end of this month you can tot up your spends and you'll have a better idea of where the money is going and what to aim for

    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 14th Mar 17, 2:58 PM
    • 2,562 Posts
    • 37,743 Thanks
    Ahhhh - DS back from Uni 3 days a week as he takes up his seasonal job this week - just spent 90 at Aldi

    I rarely buy convenience food but as he will have no access to cooking facilities it's got to be 'grab' food - crisps, biscuits, sarnies, pasta, sausage rolls, loads of fruit - loads of money

    I do make the snacks (biscuits/cakes) but this is a massive restock and a month earlier than I expected - good job I love the bones of him x
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!
    • meg72
    • By meg72 14th Mar 17, 4:04 PM
    • 5,020 Posts
    • 45,759 Thanks
    Another 20.70 over the weekend, bringing the total so far to 76.32/200, quite high but stocks were really depleted.
    This included 12.50 for a 25kg sack of spuds that'll last 2 or 3 weeks.
    Originally posted by Dharma Bunny
    I buy a 25kg sack for 4,95 from a local farm shop and then share with family, lasts me wees.
    Slimming World at target
    • Wysiwyg49
    • By Wysiwyg49 14th Mar 17, 6:28 PM
    • 186 Posts
    • 1,679 Thanks
    Up to 208.35 this month and fighting off slight feeling of panic as it's only Tuesday and I have no Big Lumps of Meat left...

    Tonight is chicken goujons n chips for the kids and cauliflower cheese with bacon/mushrooms and garlic bread for the adults. Tomorrow is sausage casserole and Thursday baked potatoes with whatever we can find to stuff them really I am fine.

    Also got rice, pasta and spuds to last the rest of the month at least, plus cupboards full of tins etc. And took my own lunch to work, so saved about 4 there!
    GC Mar 239.57/360 : Feb 352.71/320
    • Pennydreams3
    • By Pennydreams3 14th Mar 17, 10:05 PM
    • 88 Posts
    • 465 Thanks
    I managed to stretch this weeks shopping and extra day which is good BUT. Despite only have 21 something to spend each remaining week of this month, I managed to come out having spent 37.01! Eek! I doubled up on most things and hope it will last me two weeks instead of one but who knows?! I didn't think it through, just decided I'd do it while I was at the supermarket! I did also buy a few items that I don't usually manage to get hold of that I won't use until next month. So hopefully only teeny tiny top ups until the 28th...
    28.45 remaining!
    Sealed pot challenge 10 - 123 : )
    It all started with a penny and a pot..
    MFW 2017 #107 934.50/3000
    Remaining balance 157,719.60
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 15th Mar 17, 10:08 AM
    • 305 Posts
    • 4,038 Thanks
    I bought some yoghurt yesterday as I know I'll need it for pudding tomorrow when I have my day at home with my boy. 45p spent.

    I used up a whole load of wilting greenery (lettuce, mixed leaves and kale) by making it into a pesto with cashews, garlic and oil last night. It was really nice with pasta and some fried up bits of other veg that needed using (celery, onions, broccoli). There's still some left for another meal as well.

    I also got organised this morning and put some pizza dough on in the breadmaker before going to work so we can have a movie and pizza night tonight.

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