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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 16
    • zafiro1984
    • By zafiro1984 15th Mar 17, 10:10 AM
    • 1,291 Posts
    • 10,260 Thanks
    Everything gone a bit awry this month, fortunately I'm still in budget and probably have enough to last until the end of March. Just need to readjust the meal plans and only get what I need, - it's going to be close.
    May Grocery challenge 117.37/150 only got 32.63 left
    • Wysiwyg49
    • By Wysiwyg49 15th Mar 17, 11:32 AM
    • 186 Posts
    • 1,679 Thanks

    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...
    Originally posted by Ginmonster
    HM pizzas - keep forgetting to do those! Great way of stretching small amounts of toppings. Thanks. The pesto sounds lovely too, I definitely have some wilting stuff I could use.
    GC Mar 239.57/360 : Feb 352.71/320
    • Dharma Bunny
    • By Dharma Bunny 15th Mar 17, 1:15 PM
    • 122 Posts
    • 409 Thanks
    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

    Originally posted by *Margaret*
    Yes, it's good that I know I have cut down and I think I can see other places in the grocery budget I can cut back now we've tackled the obvious. :-)

    Meg72, I'd love that price! As I don't drive we're a bit limited to fitting the potato run in on a Saturday and it's a local business so I don't mind so much. They're always good spuds too and I've had issues with other places I've tried in the past.
    One day...

    GC March 320.05/200
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 15th Mar 17, 2:37 PM
    • 1,418 Posts
    • 10,446 Thanks
    Isn't 2.50 for 250ml a good price for the green hand wash? I thought that was rather good (someone selling packs of four for 9.99)
    Originally posted by Suffolk lass
    I saw the same, and it's not, no. Mr T full price is (was) 1.80 but usually they would have them on offer for 1!!
    I'm a Board Guide on the Old Style, Greenfingered, Energy & Going Out Deals boards which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and I can move and merge threads there. Please remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to (it's not part of my role to deal with this) Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
    GC: Nov 0/165 | Oct 220/220 | Sep 244.34/250 | Aug 190.38/200 | Jul 194.08/150 | Jun 179.03/150 | May 158.54/150 | Apr 316.94/200 | Mar 170.47/120 | Feb 199.45/160
    Vegan 27-8-13
    • pinkypig
    • By pinkypig 15th Mar 17, 5:47 PM
    • 1,204 Posts
    • 9,917 Thanks
    Hi everyone. There is some seriously impressive budgeting going on out there - well done
    I'm sadly not a member of that group this month as I'm up to 105.65/140 it could be the serious restock I needed after my ultra frugal Feb or it could be including wine and beer in my GC for the first time!!
    Either way, it's gonna be tight

    PP xx
    MFW 2018 #157 Target 15,000

    • caronc
    • By caronc 15th Mar 17, 6:29 PM
    • 3,779 Posts
    • 24,305 Thanks
    I got a large meat order this week but save separately for that. I have a cashback reward for on my current account and save that every month so I can treat myself to online butcher meat.
    This week a spend of 24 mainly on F&V, cheese, pet supplies and mould remover! So total so far is 96/150- think I might go a few quid over but not by much still much less than I previously spent as a minimum. I suspect it will take a few months for me to get more accurate with this
    GC - Feb18 68/120, Mar 104/150, Apr 164/200, May 96/120
    GC YTD 2018- 487/710
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 15th Mar 17, 6:42 PM
    • 2,556 Posts
    • 37,702 Thanks
    NSD here - still recovering from my massive shop yesterday

    HM Chilli and garlic bread - all from scratch
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!
    • Bluegreen143
    • By Bluegreen143 15th Mar 17, 7:34 PM
    • 1,099 Posts
    • 12,662 Thanks
    Husband spent 1.80 on milk and two bottles of own brand cola yesterday. Wish I could cure him of his fizzy drink habit, I only drink water myself (well unless I'm having alcohol) so it's just a massive waste of money to me (plus ridiculously unhealthy). He has zero interest in stopping the habit though and he is very good in other ways so I suppose I shouldn't moan

    Up at 71.35 / 120 with three weekly shops left (damn this five week month) to I can't see how I can possibly come under budget, I'll do my best though!
    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
    • funfairprincess
    • By funfairprincess 15th Mar 17, 8:50 PM
    • 1,709 Posts
    • 34,928 Thanks
    Hi all x

    Been rubbish at keeping up with the thread, sorry.

    I've done a few bits of shopping, tinned toms, bread, milk fruit, veg, cooked meats and irn bru but nothing much as I'm trying to make some room in the freezer.

    I'm thinking of buying a water filter we dislike our tap water, I'd like to get rid of the fizzy drinks they cost far too much and rot my teeth. Does anyone have any recommendations of which one to buy?
    I'm not a muggle...I'm just magically challenged
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 15th Mar 17, 11:14 PM
    • 774 Posts
    • 5,019 Thanks
    Doing fine over here, except that my Mum wants to share a Costco run with me next week. I love Costco and it's her card, so I do need to fit it in with her, but it's not in my budget! Can I go and only buy my beloved hot sauce and some lunch things I'd buy anyway? Probably not, but let's find out.

    I'm also aware that my budget next week has to somehow include a whole bunch of cleaning supplies. It's not looking good...
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    May 2018 $211,274.60 Current MFD 31 June 2035
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 16th Mar 17, 6:29 AM
    • 889 Posts
    • 5,019 Thanks

    I'm thinking of buying a water filter we dislike our tap water, I'd like to get rid of the fizzy drinks they cost far too much and rot my teeth. Does anyone have any recommendations of which one to buy?
    Originally posted by funfairprincess
    My water is vile, so bad over Christmas I complained bitterly, the smell of chemicals when filling the kettle etc, I drink my coffee black no sugar, I have noticed people who take sugar don`t notice the taste.
    Since Christmas all my water goes through the filter jug even for cooking, I have had my jugs for years, one Britax the other from Aldi, they take the same slim filters, both as good as the other, wherever cheapest I would say, it`s the filters doing the job, instructions say replace monthly, I have had the same filter in since Christmas and still no taste, I will change when it starts tasting again. I keep my eye open for filters on sale and usually get a box of 3 from Wilkos in the Jan sale.
    • Franalamadingdong
    • By Franalamadingdong 16th Mar 17, 9:41 AM
    • 328 Posts
    • 3,266 Thanks
    Re nasty water. I bought a kettle with a filter, so i don't have more things cluttering up the place. I can pour water from the kettle or flip it to boil it. Added advantage is that i only fill one jug, so no waiting around for the one to filter before filling the kettle and no descaling the kettle.

    No spends by us since Monday.
    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)
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 16th Mar 17, 9:54 AM
    • 889 Posts
    • 5,019 Thanks
    Small spends in Morries 13-40, top up my tonic water and a kilo piece of rump steak, on special, going to have a go at beef jerky.
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 16th Mar 17, 1:07 PM
    • 1,418 Posts
    • 10,446 Thanks
    Hi all

    Just realised I haven't bored you all with a giant post for nearly a week so time to rectify that!

    Just kidding, I'm just updating mybudgets. I'm over now, but the reason for a spendy time in Mr T last week was because I bought a load more stock pots as they are on offer - so 4 of the 30 odd went on them, plus my little choc pots were on offer with a long expiry, so another 4 on those alone! Few other more expensive bits in there too, but I didn't shop off plan really as it's all stuff that'll get used.

    I just have tonight's shop to go and that should be my last one for the month as I get paid next Friday (so will shop a day late next week). Tonight shouldn't be a huge shop as I have two "main" bits made plus the makings of two other "mains". I have some veggies leftover as well.

    Actually, looking at it properly, I just need to decide on what to make for me and mum next wednesday (I always make something "extra nice"), and apart from that just need to sort dinner for 4nights (if I include Friday) plus make some kind of soup for weekday lunches.

    Definitely spent a lot less this month, and although I have had the odd extra visit to grab 1 or 2 items, I can really tell I've stayed out of the shops a lot this month. Perhaps most notably, I have managed not to have any nights where I've thought I'm hungry and tired and CBA and ended up buying up every vegan convenience food. Which is a huge step forward as I reckon I did that maybe twice a month usually!

    Other big thing is that I have planned properly and all beans I've used (which have been a lot this month) have been dried except for kidney as I always buy them tinned. Also, the only vegan convenience food I've used this month has been 3 packs of linda m sausages, and that could have been 2 really. No tofu, no other "meats". I'm sure this has gone a long way to saving some pennies!

    Date.......Shop......Amount.....Remaining (from 120 budget)
    24 Feb.....M&S.......03.10.....116.90 (reduced hot nibbles)
    24 Feb.....A1d1......08.27.....108.63 (proper grocery shop)
    24 Feb.....T35c0.....53.56.....55.07 (proper grocery shop)
    25 Feb.....H&B.......04.93.....50.14 (2x nutirional yeast - planned)
    25 Feb.....T35c0.....00.93.....49.21 (veg suetas forgot on Thursday)
    27 Feb.....T35c0.....06.60.....42.61 (EXTRA BITS - not on meal plan, but incorporated leftovers!)
    2 Mar......A1d1......08.23.....34.38 (proper grocery shop)
    2 Mar......T35c0.....15.40.....18.98 (proper grocery shop)
    5 Mar......M&S.......01.07.....17.91 (potato)
    6 Mar......Tesc0.....01.00.....16.91 (loaf)
    7 Mar......Tesc0.....06.79.....10.12 (YS veg + rest of proper shop + Rennie)
    9 Mar......A1d1......09.96.....00.16 (proper grocery shop)
    9 Mar......T35c0.....30.22....-30.06 (proper grocery shop)
    10 Mar.....Te5c0.....01.70....-31.76 (bread)

    Just looking at this I've decided my new goal is to keep up the weeklies in A1d1 and Mr T as they work very well indeed, and my new goal is to only have ONE extra shop in a week, so if I forget something or run out or whatever I have to think just go once. I notice two extras were just for bread, and the reason is because I was planning to make bread those weeks but didn't get onto it. So I need to think about that.
    Last edited by elsiepac; 16-03-2017 at 1:17 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Old Style, Greenfingered, Energy & Going Out Deals boards which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and I can move and merge threads there. Please remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to (it's not part of my role to deal with this) Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
    GC: Nov 0/165 | Oct 220/220 | Sep 244.34/250 | Aug 190.38/200 | Jul 194.08/150 | Jun 179.03/150 | May 158.54/150 | Apr 316.94/200 | Mar 170.47/120 | Feb 199.45/160
    Vegan 27-8-13
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 16th Mar 17, 1:31 PM
    • 2,556 Posts
    • 37,702 Thanks
    NSD here

    Trying a new recipe for Belly pork tonight Shanghai style Pork- loads of veg in veggie noodles too
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 16th Mar 17, 7:56 PM
    • 2,965 Posts
    • 30,468 Thanks
    DH and I have been felled by sickness bug this week so we have eaten the easy bits and still have stuff in to make some meals.

    A quick tot up puts us on 263.21/400 and breaks down roughly as:

    24.83 Lunches
    65.72 Beer and wine
    13.00 Chinese
    172.66 Food, laundry, toiletries, cleaning and dog food
    Action Plan Part 1 - Clear First 3 Balances
    Target Debt Lloyds (Me) Part 1 666.22/0
    Target Debt Virgin (Me) Part 1 1176.49/0
    Target Debt Virgin (Me) Part 2 1038/995
    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, 46,093.32 @ 18.05.18
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 16th Mar 17, 11:33 PM
    • 1,225 Posts
    • 14,631 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    Did a mini shop today, after 5 NSDs. Spent 6, not too bad. Just want to get some breakfast muffins to see me through to the end of the months and then some serious meal planning on the menu. Not too much left in the kitty, but I am on track. Have updated sig.
    May Grocery Challenge - Food 45.62/80, Alcohol 15.25/20
    Bulk Fund Left/Food 63.50 Bulk Fund/Alcohol
    Save 12k in 2018 #80 = 2,000/5,000
    Yoga 30 Day Challenge 3/30
    Lose 12lbs - 5/12 - Goal 9st
    • t14cy t
    • By t14cy t 17th Mar 17, 6:45 AM
    • 694 Posts
    • 6,594 Thanks
    t14cy t
    nsd again yesterday, only spent 8 out of the 80 monthly budget so far. will be shopping sunday
    • funfairprincess
    • By funfairprincess 17th Mar 17, 8:48 AM
    • 1,709 Posts
    • 34,928 Thanks
    Hi all x

    Oh spent 8.20 last night at f@rmf00ds on bread, milk and chocolate that's what I get for sending him!
    Trying for a Nsd today as I should have everything in.
    I'm not a muggle...I'm just magically challenged
    • ancientmum
    • By ancientmum 17th Mar 17, 8:53 AM
    • 139 Posts
    • 1,164 Thanks
    Just popped in to update sig for last week. Hope everyone is ok.
    If life is a journey, I want comfy shoes

    2018: Trying to keep to annual budgets 1080 for groceries, 480 for cat needs
    Update: 417.35/1080 173.04/480
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