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    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    • 9,343Posts
    • 17,881Thanks
    July 2017 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    July 2017 Grocery Challenge 13th Oct 14 at 12:54 PM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the seventh Grocery Challenge of 2017 !!!!

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your June budget, then keep on posting in the June 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; 10-06-2017 at 11:47 AM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 7
    • ancientmum
    • By ancientmum 5th Jul 17, 6:44 AM
    • 140 Posts
    • 1,173 Thanks
    First spends of July not bad as it includes cat food for the month, 34.34 in Sainsbos and 2.39 at Tesco.
    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
    • Cappella
    • By Cappella 5th Jul 17, 7:04 AM
    • 467 Posts
    • 6,231 Thanks
    I'm very late I'm afraid, too many hospital visits and health issues with MrC and I took my eye off the ball completely in June. Please put me down for 350 Zippy, for July, if I'm not too late.

    So far have spent 30.00 at Saynos but am not as well stocked up as usual, and the cardio friendly diet we are now both on is proving a little more costly - have always cooked from scratch so that's not a problem at all fortunately.
    Will update my signature later.
    • PennyGrabber
    • By PennyGrabber 5th Jul 17, 7:06 AM
    • 1,267 Posts
    • 22,414 Thanks
    Morning everyone,

    I left my purse at home yesterday when I went out, to help my rubbish willpower! Therefore, nsd .

    We had mince n mash for dinner. The ch liked it, except they moaned that I put too much onion in it... So next time, I shall do some big bits that they can scoop out easily, then grate the rest!

    Tonight is soup for the ch as it needs to be quick. I've taken out a small tub of bolognese from the freezer and I'll have that on a jacket spud.

    I've a child free weekend, so thurs-sat dinners are just me (or me plus oh) so I'll be rooting through the freezer. I'll need to get a few things on Sunday - I've started writing the list which so far includes cheese, lard, lunchbox drinks, brioches, bread, milk, carrots, bananas, and a few other bits.

    On another note, I'm really proud of myself. Usually, I have to have a hoard of everything in, otherwise I get itchy. However, this week I have run out of things because I purposely didn't buy them last week, and I've really enjoyed the feeling. This is a huge step for me, and I'm hoping that it marks the real start of getting rid of my ridiculous stockpiles. Go me!

    Have a great day - mine WILL be a nsd!!

    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
    • mouche
    • By mouche 5th Jul 17, 2:14 PM
    • 879 Posts
    • 4,359 Thanks
    New Lidl near me has given me a 5 off a 30 spend voucher so I will be going to visit tomorrow. I do need a few bits and bobs for the week ahead but have done a meal plan so hopefully will be able to keep it to a minimum.
    Mortgage (original/ current):193,000 (23/09/11)/ 144,515.84 (16/06/2017).
    MFW target for 2017: 2355.48/ 5,000
    2017 Challenges
    Grocery Challenge: 162.32/200 (July); 200.76/ 200 (June)
    Make 300 a month: 107.42/300 (July); 237.88/ 300 (June)
    Lose 3st 9lb: 1st 12lb/3st 9lb
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 5th Jul 17, 3:13 PM
    • 890 Posts
    • 5,029 Thanks
    First spend of July today 10, stocked up on broccoli spears and fish to last a couple of days, had some dental work, 2 extractions and 2 partial dentures, feels like I am chewing a lump of plastic, where I can chew, hope to be better by weekend.
    • DaniS
    • By DaniS 5th Jul 17, 3:37 PM
    • 15 Posts
    • 118 Thanks
    31.98 spent yesterday, but this did include nappies and wipes.

    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 5th Jul 17, 4:03 PM
    • 3,511 Posts
    • 11,089 Thanks
    Spend of 7.63 today.
    OH needed milk, cheese and bread. Total for these the items 3.55.
    I got a bottle of diet lemonade then I found some really good reductions; tagine chickpeas x2, gluten free ice cream cones, cranberry pomegranate drink, baked beans, red grapes, spinach and two heads of broccoli. Total 4.08 for that including my lemonade.

    77.45 left.
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • PennyGrabber
    • By PennyGrabber 5th Jul 17, 8:39 PM
    • 1,267 Posts
    • 22,414 Thanks
    Evening everyone,

    Today was a nsd. I went to work and came home, so no chance to spend anything. Dinner went as planned, although I gave the ch a different brand of tomato soup tonight, and dd could tell (she has a very sensitive palette). It was branded, but cheaper than H. I told her we'd have to have the other three from the pack, then I won't get them again. Shame, but worth a try.

    Oh has said he'd like to go ysing with me tomorrow evening. I haven't really seen him properly for the last few weeks, thanks to work, so I've said yes. I absolutely don't need anything, but that doesn't mean I won't buy anything!! I'll make sure it's only good, helpful stuff though.

    I'm still at 2.83 so far - so pleased with that.

    Have a good evening all,
    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
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 6th Jul 17, 2:44 AM
    • 774 Posts
    • 5,020 Thanks
    I'm ditching the tuna patties plan for tonight in favour of defrosted lentil soup from the freezer for me, leftover taco meat sauce in jacket potatoes for the girls...not sure what Mr E's going to eat, since he doesn't like the former option and I don't think there's enough of the latter to go around. Might be a single portion of curry left in the fridge, or he could make himself an omelette. I'm thinking aloud because I usually do cook for everyone, but the leftovers won't stretch to more than a couple of people per, and I want to use things up.
    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
    • t14cy t
    • By t14cy t 6th Jul 17, 7:00 AM
    • 694 Posts
    • 6,594 Thanks
    t14cy t
    spends of 4 in sainsburys yesterday, used coupons/vouchers etc. x
    • FoxFace
    • By FoxFace 6th Jul 17, 7:13 AM
    • 238 Posts
    • 2,579 Thanks
    See that? Right over there? That's where I fell off the wagon this week

    Lots of heavy family stuff and work stress going on and tbh following my meal plan has been the least of my worries. Couldn't honestly say what I have spent and some of it was out of my personal money so wouldn't really count... still, I have been doing well up to now so won't beat myself up too badly.

    Marked this one up as a loss, damage limitation for the rest of this week and will pick back up on Sunday.
    Last edited by FoxFace; 06-07-2017 at 7:15 AM.
    Debt Free Wannabe 21.05.2017
    ~Loan 04/07/17: 5500.00/5028.98p~Credit Card: 4861.51/4090.68p
    Total Starting Debt = 11,020.01p Currently: 9119.66p
    ~Grocery Challenge: 5 Weeks under budget/1 over~
    Click>Fox's Debt Free Diary ~ Fox's Vegan Recipes<Click
    • DaniS
    • By DaniS 6th Jul 17, 8:10 AM
    • 15 Posts
    • 118 Thanks
    NSD yesterday.

    Meal planning on track and hopefully today will be a similar story of using up odds and ends and getting the freezer down.

    I am running low of fresh fruit, but with one working day left I'm going to make a nice banana loaf for OH to take in his packed lunch instead of going to the shop. He's off work this weekend and we're off to see my parents at their caravan for the weekend so there's no point in buying fresh to sit in the fridge.
    • olgemama
    • By olgemama 6th Jul 17, 9:51 AM
    • 17 Posts
    • 93 Thanks
    Had to do a couple of top up shops in the village coop as I have no time to get to a cheaper supermarket until the weekend. Way too much going on with end of term, end of primary school events.

    Big un has a friend over for tea this evening so have splurged on 'posh' pizza - worth it for him to be happy, he's been having a rough time at school of late.

    Spend to date 101/600

    Have very very bare cupboards and freezer so an inventory planned for this evening and meal plan for next week. Planning on a visit to cheap supermarket on Saturday, just need some ham and bread to make tomorrows pack up before then.
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 6th Jul 17, 10:28 AM
    • 1,420 Posts
    • 10,491 Thanks
    Hmm. With a larger than intended shop last week, and then a top up shop as well, I've gone over my budget. With 3 weekly shops to go!!

    Tonight should be my week 3 shop but honestly, I'm so stocked up still, with fresh stuff too, that I am not going to do it. Instead I am going to inventory the remainder of what I have and meal plan from that. I should be able to get away with little to no extra being bought, apart from maybe a couple of fresh veg. I definitely have the making of a red lentil bolognese type pasta sauce, and a Jamaican curry. It's more lunches I'm thinking of where I might fall short of fresh stuff. Plus some fruit perhaps.

    Last week's week2 shop was so big because of taking advantage of offers on some tins (things I was going to buy one of but then on 3 for 2 etc). So my cupboards are bursting! I have all my spices and stock and condiments, plus dried and tinned food.
    Freezer is very low still, which is good, but I'm not liking not having a selection of emergency meals to choose from!
    I've managed to sneak in 2 mains and a soup though, so feeling a bit better now.

    Hope everyone is having a better month than me!!

    ................................150 Budget
    24 Jun.....A1di........01.24....148.76
    25 Jun.....Ocad0.......33.72....115.04
    25 Jun.....Tesc0.......69.87.....45.15
    29 Jun.....0cad0......-01.40.....46.55
    29 Jun.....A1di........01.49.....45.06
    29 Jun.....Refund.....-03.00.....48.06
    1 Jul......A1di........11.70.....36.36
    1 Jul......Tesc0.......32.25.....04.11
    1 Jul......Tesc0.......07.26....-03.15
    1 Jul......Tesc0.......04.50....-07.65

    Date....Fresh/Frozen..Cupboard/Dry Goods..Cleaning/Toiletries..Treats..Bags
    24 Jun..01.24........-...................-....................-.......tbc
    25 Jun..04.00........14.90..............31.64...............-.......-02.00 (15 off whole order)
    25 Jun..33.85........25.32..............-....................10.70..-
    29 Jun..01.49........-...................-....................-.......-01.40

    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
    • mouche
    • By mouche 6th Jul 17, 3:32 PM
    • 879 Posts
    • 4,359 Thanks
    The good news is the new Lidl is so cheap! The bad news is it's so cheap that when I took my trolley full of things that I felt sure were worth more than 30, they turned out to be 25 and the sales assistant wouldn't let me go back and grab 5 worth of stuff to be able to get the 5 discount.

    Never mind. They've sent another voucher for next week so I will tot it up as I go around. My MuscleFood order has also arrived so I have NO REASON to buy anything for a week. Must not do it.
    Mortgage (original/ current):193,000 (23/09/11)/ 144,515.84 (16/06/2017).
    MFW target for 2017: 2355.48/ 5,000
    2017 Challenges
    Grocery Challenge: 162.32/200 (July); 200.76/ 200 (June)
    Make 300 a month: 107.42/300 (July); 237.88/ 300 (June)
    Lose 3st 9lb: 1st 12lb/3st 9lb
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 6th Jul 17, 4:22 PM
    • 2,562 Posts
    • 37,739 Thanks
    I think my brain cells must be on the fritz.

    I swear I had joined earlier, sorry but may I be put down for 250
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!
    • YorksLass
    • By YorksLass 6th Jul 17, 7:24 PM
    • 346 Posts
    • 6,214 Thanks
    Week 1
    Have spent 84.87 this week: 4.67 Co-op, 9 market, 64.07 Sainsbobs (large online order for delivery) and 7.13 Co-op with 4 NSDs. So, 75.13 left in budget for the next 3 weeks. Definitely do-able as fridge, freezer and cupboards are all well stocked up.

    Tomorrow should be shopping day but I don't need anything at all so a free day to do what I want.

    Meal plan for next week already done (my week starts on a Friday), all meals being made from what I already have. And I've listed everything in the fridge with use-by dates so it's easier to see what needs using first.
    Be kind to others and to yourself too. Life has its ups and downs, use the ups to overcome the downs!
    May 130.30/175.00 NSDs144/35 (Jan-Apr 66.88 under budget)

    • PennyGrabber
    • By PennyGrabber 6th Jul 17, 9:18 PM
    • 1,267 Posts
    • 22,414 Thanks
    Hello everyone.

    I spent the grand total of 2 today, on some beautiful-looking raspberries and a punnet of nectarines. We went to two other shop too, and oh paid for my meagre ys buys, and he also bought kfc for us for dinner. So, bargain night for me!

    I'm out with work tomorrow night so won't be eating at home, but I'll work out Saturday's meals tomorrow so I know where I am. List for Sunday is growing, but not by much so that's good.

    Total for the month now at 4.83, with 4nsds.

    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
    • pinkypig
    • By pinkypig 6th Jul 17, 10:09 PM
    • 1,212 Posts
    • 9,953 Thanks
    Hi everyone. I've just done my second weekly shop of the month and have spent 63.25\140. This means I'm slightly under budget but I will need milk mid week. Mind you I should be under budget as I had no meat to buy due to a freezer full of ys meat so I mustn't get complacent
    I got some good ys fruit in Asda yesterday which still looks really fresh so that helped. They also had bags of either 6 or 8 of the artisan rolls that are usually sold individually for 24p a bag so I got four bags for the freezer. Posh packed lunches for us this month

    PP xx
    MFW 2018 #157 Target 15,000

    • FurryBeastOz
    • By FurryBeastOz 7th Jul 17, 7:24 AM
    • 1,193 Posts
    • 15,845 Thanks
    1st proper shop today. We have guests for tomorrow so a lot of this will come from another budget.

    Lots of weird meals and bits and pieces so far this week, but the cupboards and freezer are still full. I have too much stuff!
    Goals - Weight loss 6/26lb at 22nd Jan 18
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