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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 18
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 18th Mar 17, 6:29 PM
    • 2,557 Posts
    • 37,703 Thanks
    NSD here

    Hubby cooked tonight, he's a great cook, just doesn't get the chance often, he made chicken Kiev from scratch with baked spuds and salad - it was yummy
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!
    • PennyGrabber
    • By PennyGrabber 18th Mar 17, 10:07 PM
    • 1,267 Posts
    • 22,414 Thanks
    Ive just had the best ys haul ever!! Went to M and got there earlier than usual. Ended up with 16 chicken breasts for 2.44!! All separated and in the freezer, ready to be used over the next few weeks.

    I very rarely get meat reduced, so that's a mega saving for me. Got a few other bits too, which I won't need to get during tomorrow's weekky shop now.

    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
    • just trying
    • By just trying 18th Mar 17, 10:56 PM
    • 776 Posts
    • 2,783 Thanks
    just trying
    Sorry, if not been mentioned but this ends tomorrow at Morrisons, I got 2.

    They have a meat pack, for butchers week.

    900g pork joint,
    454g mince same diced steak, though mines was more,
    6 sausages & 4 pork steaks for 10.
    • Baileys Babe
    • By Baileys Babe 19th Mar 17, 9:23 AM
    • 2,242 Posts
    • 10,895 Thanks
    Baileys Babe
    The meal planning this month is really working for us, I love waking up each day knowing what we are going to eat. Even better we batch cooked some of this month's meals meaning a lot less work day to day.

    Spends: 48.11
    Monday 46.37
    Tuesday 1.74 ys items

    Remaining: 169.95

    Day 14 of my March GC 10 nsd's

    Looking at this week I think we will need fresh stuff I guess 20 and we are going out for a meal on Friday, not sure how much we will spend would be good to keep it under 80.
    Originally posted by Baileys Babe
    This week went really well, once I had a good look through our fresh food the only thing on my list was bananas, I went shopping and only bought bananas, in fact I didn't look at anything else, 80p spent out of my predicted 20 On Friday we needed to travel through the rush hour so our plan had been to go for a meal through the worst of it, as the roads were a lot clearer than expected we drove home picking up a takeaway instead, 30.50 spent when we were hoping to keep it below 80 Another bonus of having a takeaway is we have enough for tonight meaning we will move tonight planned meal to further in the month into one of the 3 gaps.

    Spends: 31.50
    Monday 0.80
    Friday 30.50 takeaway

    Remaining: 138.23

    Day 23 of my March challenge 17 NSD.

    I had planned to go shopping yesterday, but by using UHT milk and excepting the only fresh fruit being apples, oranges and bananas I have delayed it to Monday, also helps that OH makes our bread and we have the ingredients in stock at all times. Today I need to make a list of everything we need until Friday, so I can get up and shop first thing Monday.
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 19th Mar 17, 9:59 AM
    • 1,225 Posts
    • 14,635 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    Spent 2.06 on a couple of cartons of soya milk, some chilli beans and some wholemeal rolls. Hoping not to spend until hopefully mid next week. 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
    • Dharma Bunny
    • By Dharma Bunny 19th Mar 17, 12:29 PM
    • 122 Posts
    • 409 Thanks
    Dharma Bunny
    Hi everyone!

    I am now at 257.86/200

    I've plenty of staples in, got loads of potatoes, rice, tins of toms etc. and there's a few bits in the freezer I can aim to use up during the week too, so hopefully two small shops can take us through to next Monday.
    Going to roast a chicken later that can be stretched and I shall write a list to take with me to Asda as we usually stock up on treats there so I need to watch myself.

    Still happy with how it's going, learning where the gaps in the planning are, eg. need to work on what set days for shopping/online deliveries should be.
    One day...

    GC March 320.05/200
    • Wysiwyg49
    • By Wysiwyg49 19th Mar 17, 1:11 PM
    • 186 Posts
    • 1,679 Thanks
    Had a look at some of Thrifty Lesley's meal plans for inspiration this week...went to A1di then Tesco to fill in the gaps, and only spent 49.19! This included 2 whole large chickens to roast (about 4 each - got one from each shop, but the A1di one looks bigger). We;ll have a roast chicken dinner today and use the rest in lots of different meals.

    Really pleased about this total, going to try some meals from some of the meal plans incl. chicken satay and a peperonata which sound very nice. Also planning roast parsnip and apple salad for lunch tomorrow.
    GC Mar 239.57/360 : Feb 352.71/320
    • funfairprincess
    • By funfairprincess 19th Mar 17, 1:24 PM
    • 1,709 Posts
    • 34,928 Thanks
    Hi all x

    Just back from Morries and have spent 32.55 on packed lunch food, fruit, veg, dog food, soap powder/softener, toothpaste.
    I will probably need a couple of things mid week but I will wait and see.
    I'm not a muggle...I'm just magically challenged
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 19th Mar 17, 2:00 PM
    • 2,557 Posts
    • 37,703 Thanks
    NSD here

    My turn to take the strain today - making roast Lamb with all the usual accompaniments. Left over 'lazy' Lime Cheesecake for pud.

    The washing has been finished and is all put away, sandwiches and pasta made and packed up for the first couple of days lunches, work clothes all laid out - I leave very early and hate digging around for something to wear !!!55357;!!!56839;
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!
    • caronc
    • By caronc 19th Mar 17, 6:55 PM
    • 3,781 Posts
    • 24,315 Thanks
    An expectedly spendy weekend as son home and offered to go and get some bits from M&S for me so total now at 115/150
    GC - Feb18 68/120, Mar 104/150, Apr 164/200, May 96/120
    GC YTD 2018- 487/710
    • FurryBeastOz
    • By FurryBeastOz 19th Mar 17, 7:32 PM
    • 1,193 Posts
    • 15,845 Thanks
    Had to do another small shop today. DH hadn't even bought milk - I've just made Rice Pudding with the on the turn stuff.

    47.42 total this month then.

    Shouldn't need anything else this week. Away over the weekend, so should be a great month.
    Goals - Weight loss 6/26lb at 22nd Jan 18
    • Rachiedabbler70
    • By Rachiedabbler70 19th Mar 17, 8:46 PM
    • 223 Posts
    • 2,016 Thanks
    Hi All
    Caught up on everyone's posts to here - looks like all doing well. I'm still within my budget - about 30 left until the end of the month after doing this weeks shop and I have some HM freezer meals that will last into the following week as well. I got the Morrisons butchers pack for 10 - very good value and multiple meals can be made. 4 pork steak meals, 8 pork roast meals, made 4 portions of spag bol with the minced beef, 4 portions of stew and dumplings with the beef and finally 6 sausages were used on 4 sausage and egg muffins. 24 meat portions for 10!

    Enough of my ramblings - 712.52/3250 spent. I think I'm getting better at stretching food for more meals and my budget includes any food we eat out, toiletries and rabbit food.
    Blitz that mortgage
    Jun 2016 152,000
    Jun 2017 142,575 (6.2% paid)
    May 2018 129,737 (14.65% paid)
    GC May 18 58.41/240
    MFW 2018 #169 5,793.18/12,000 (48.3%)
    • freyasmum
    • By freyasmum 19th Mar 17, 10:56 PM
    • 16,641 Posts
    • 48,585 Thanks
    Well so far this month, we are at 196.58/310.

    I've been awful at keeping up with the thread this month (6 pages to read through ) - we've been fixing the garden up for most of it. But we're still under budget; with teeming cupboards and a full freezer.

    I am not in the slightest bit green fingered, but I have sowed some cucumber and tomato seeds, so hopefully they'll come to something. My granny used to grow tomatoes and you could never buy anything that tastes anywhere near as good! So I'm excited at the thought of something that tastes as scrumptious.

    Just a quick hello and a realization that feels good: isn't it funny when you get to the point of actually not wanting to spend money?
    Originally posted by JingsMyBucket
    I totally agree.

    I feel so much happier now than when I was working in town - I used to go out at lunchtime so I had something to do. And, without fail, ended up buying SOMETHING every day. Sometimes (reduced) food from M&S, other times nice little dresses in the sale. All money that was easily afforded, but that I didn't need to spend
    Last edited by freyasmum; 19-03-2017 at 11:19 PM.
    • t14cy t
    • By t14cy t 20th Mar 17, 6:20 AM
    • 694 Posts
    • 6,594 Thanks
    t14cy t
    total spends of 31 over the last few days, so have 41 left for this month out of the 80 budget. still got room in the freezer for more bargains but am refraining atm!!! got a big bounty of ys goods from tesco yesterday. xx
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 20th Mar 17, 7:56 AM
    • 890 Posts
    • 5,021 Thanks
    Visiting rellies yesterday 8-40 in local Morries as I had forgotten I said I would bring the veg, and we got a pie and ice cream for dessert.
    Will have to refuel car too,
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 20th Mar 17, 8:45 AM
    • 305 Posts
    • 4,038 Thanks
    Morning all and a happy Monday to everyone!

    I spent 5.72 on fruit at the greengrocer over the weekend which included some delicious raspberries that I had with yoghurt and oats this morning for my breakfast. Yum! I resisted buying duck eggs as we already have normal eggs in but the old me would definitely have bought them. This board is doing me good!

    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 20th Mar 17, 9:10 AM
    • 774 Posts
    • 5,020 Thanks
    I'm off to Costco tomorrow but I'm thinking I might approach it as next months' budget: we don't really need much bulk stuff, and my budget's too tight this month for treats, but I only get to go about twice a year. So I might go, but if I don't use anything this month it doesn't count. Am I kidding myself?

    Relatedly, do any of you meal plan for a month at a time? I was thinking I might try that in April, but it's a bit intimidating. I'd love to know how you do it, if you do.
    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
    • Matron Midge
    • By Matron Midge 20th Mar 17, 10:17 AM
    • 474 Posts
    • 4,079 Thanks
    Matron Midge
    I'm declaring 373.49 for the month.
    I've done really well this month although we had a week away and didn't count the food spends whilst we were there.
    I am expecting April will be a relatively expensive month as I need to replenish dishwasher tabs, sack of potatoes, washing powder and baking supplies.
    See you on the April thread.
    • Fruittea
    • By Fruittea 20th Mar 17, 12:04 PM
    • 744 Posts
    • 2,722 Thanks
    Just a small shop for me bread, carrots and bean sprouts 1.95. All other meals planned in for this week. I know I've busted my target but I'm doing ok. Just needing to think things through a bit more.
    • zafiro1984
    • By zafiro1984 20th Mar 17, 12:14 PM
    • 1,291 Posts
    • 10,260 Thanks
    do any of you meal plan for a month at a time? I was thinking I might try that in April, but it's a bit intimidating. I'd love to know how you do it, if you do.
    Originally posted by armchairexpert
    I do, I keep it very simple and also use it so I don't repeat too many of the same meals, it also means I can use up things from the fridge and if I'm pushed for time I can do something quickly. You will find your own way of doing things, what suits you best, but this is what I do and it suits us, I find it flexible, it fits in with our lifestyle/work, I have very little waste and not much stress in deciding what to put on the table on a daily basis.

    I use an excel spreadsheet.
    In our case (but other families will have differing criteria) I list each month 32 lunches, 32 dinners, 32 desserts, breakfast is always the same.
    I then pick and choose something from each list to cook/eat each day, but I always check the fridge first to see what needs using up and work around that. I keep a fairly well stocked store cupboard so have plenty of other ingredients. Veg is mostly fresh or home grown and in the freezer, same with fruit. When a particular meal is used I delete it.
    I cook from scratch, I batch cook as much as I can and put FR before the meal on the list to indicate it is already cooked and in the freezer. We don't eat much rice or pasta. I have some meals 'not used' by the end of the month.

    Give planning a month a go, I spend a couple of hours doing it and sometimes even try out new recipes - keeps ideas fresh.
    May Grocery challenge 117.37/150 only got 32.63 left
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