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

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

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your September budget, then keep on posting in the September 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 #4 to #10 this thread (the list is growing!!!!!)

    For everyones totals, see post #3 on this thread

    I hope everyone has a great month!

    Last edited by zippychick; 21-09-2017 at 10:24 AM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 4
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 1st Oct 17, 4:55 PM
    • 2,663 Posts
    • 33,300 Thanks
    Not thrilled to get back from the final instalment of my holidays (4 days up & back to my uncle's 60th wedding anniversary) to find, "There's no FOOD in this house!" from the girls. Even though I'd left them the last of the September food budget, plus the code for the allotments so they could go & help themselves to spuds, beans, the sweetest sweetcorn ever and no end of chard, kale & courgettes - they are both veggie/pescatarians. So I've had to run up to the local W8rose for some basic supplies. I debated not declaring it, as it's just under the £30 they hadn't spent from September's budget, but decided it would be more honest to put it down & adjust the total I'm aiming for later if necessary.

    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...
    • NewShadow
    • By NewShadow 1st Oct 17, 4:55 PM
    • 2,859 Posts
    • 12,825 Thanks
    Assuming I can now stay out of the shop until next weekend - and assuming the popcorn and flapjacks save me money at the cinema - I'm happy with that...
    Originally posted by NewShadow
    Film was good

    Ninjago (lego) early screening - Wouldn't have paid to watch it (far too many 'grown-up films I want to watch), but now really, really want a shark gun

    Friend paid for a Chinese buffet after the film - Stuffed!

    No dinner tonight methinks so the only spend was on the train ticket.

    Plus - because it was an early showing - we didn't eat the popcorn or flapjacks, so I have those left for the theatre on Tuesday. Just need to make sure I remember to refill my water bottle before then.

    Total spends so far this month = £8.75 on food + £3.60 train ticket.

    Breakfast Porridge and frozen/dried fruit + Banana

    One 'free' Sunday lunch
    Spanish style omelette
    Baked potato with beans and cottage cheese
    Baked potato with beans and cottage cheese

    LO Beef stew
    One 'free' after show dinner
    Tangine style meal with aubergine and sweet potato
    Tangine style meal with aubergine and sweet potato
    Roast turkey dinner
    An eat-up/leftover day

    Flapjacks x 13 (shush...)
    That sounds like a classic case of premature extrapolation.

    House deposit: 26% = £23,000 + £700pm * 16 months = £33,000

    Goal: Keep the bigger picture in mind...
    • chocoholic_chick
    • By chocoholic_chick 1st Oct 17, 4:58 PM
    • 628 Posts
    • 3,126 Thanks
    Spend of £28.46 in Lidl today and went to Asda for the things I couldn't get from Lidl so another £8.83 in there. £2 of this was on a big bar of galaxy I've put away for Christmas. Don't think DH has seen the secret stash yet, trying to spread out the luxuries we normally get over a few months when they're on offer so we don't end up spending a fortune in December, just have to resist eating them!

    Made a big pan of bolognese out of which I've made 3 two person lasagnes and have 3 individual portions of bolognese for the freezer. Also used two of the chicken breasts to make a chinese style chicken and mushroom curry which has made 4 generous portions and have one of the small gammon joints in the slow cooker to make a broth for lunches for the week. No need to bake any sweet treats today (trying to do that rather than buying) as there's still flapjacks left from yesterday - though DH is quickly demolishing them!

    Portioned up the rest of the meat I bought - impressed with the chicken breasts, they're huge! So that should see us OK for the next couple of weeks
    New House... New Mortgage! February 2017: £144,000
    Current Mortgage Balance: £124,487.52
    2017 OP's:£5,935 2018 OP's: £5,970
    Total Debt £29,209 £0 Debt free 6/8/16
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 1st Oct 17, 5:51 PM
    • 3,533 Posts
    • 11,237 Thanks
    I'm doing another challenge in this month. This will sound complicated most likely but works.
    So yes our total budget is £155 for the month of which £67.57 was spent on bulk items. I'm challenging myself not to spend more than £31 now for food and drink for myself for the rest of the month.
    So OH personal budget for month started at £56.43 (what was left of month budget £87.43-£31). He spent £7.12 today. He now has £49.31 left.
    I've spent nothing today; £31 left.

    Biggest reason for doing this is to get through freezer and cupboard food. This will force me to do that.

    Bulk - £67.57.
    OH - £7.12/£56.43 . £49.31.
    Me - £0/£31. £31.

    Over all budget.
    £80.31 left.
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • YorksLass
    • By YorksLass 1st Oct 17, 6:45 PM
    • 377 Posts
    • 6,556 Thanks
    Small spend on Friday of £20.67 (£8.10 in market, £12.57 in Co-op). This included 2 medium-size chickens (normally £4.69 each but on offer at £7 for 2) and 2 packets of Maggi So Juicy Sticky BBQ on offer at 50p from £1. I've cooked one of the chickens for dinner today and this will do 3/4 meals for 2, probably a few bits for a snack plus stock. The other one I'm going to attempt cutting into joints for freezing - not done it before, but I'm always up for a challenge!

    Apart from milk mid-week, I'm not shopping again until Friday when a trip to Sainsbobs will be the order of the day; so far only onions and butter needed.
    Be kind to others and to yourself too. Life has its ups and downs, use the ups to overcome the downs!
    June £86.25/140 and 10/28 NSDs (Jan-May £70.66 under budget)

    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 1st Oct 17, 7:18 PM
    • 2,972 Posts
    • 30,674 Thanks
    £2.82 to add for sweeties for DS and me yesterday and £5.10 to add for bread rolls for DS pack lunch at the end of this week, brown sugar, milk, 2 cans of energy drink for DH and a carrier bag.

    The thought of getting home after a 5 hour drive on Wednesday to no milk if DH forgot to buy it was too much to bear so I got it today instead.

    The sugar was to convert a M&S chocolate R2D2 from easter and a Thorntons chocolate reindeer into a try of milk chocolate brownies for DS who loves them. He has had one tonight, one each for our lunches tomorrow and I will portion and freeze the rest.

    I was rummaging in the freezer for a couple of sausages for DS's tea tonight and the amount of food in the upright freezer is outrageous and I am thinking of cutting the budget down in further.
    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/£970
    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
    • CattyCatX
    • By CattyCatX 1st Oct 17, 10:46 PM
    • 76 Posts
    • 448 Thanks
    So, I did my first batch cook of the month today! Thanks to all those who replied re: how many portions you would get out of 640g mince. I ended up with 2 x portions of bolognese, 6 x portions lasagne and 4 x portions of chili con carne, so 12 portions altogether. I'm pretty pleased with that and am sure I could make it last further with a bit more practice/experience. Also, today was a NSD! This week is going to be tricky budget-wise as I have a friend visiting but I'm very glad to have got the first big cook out of the way.
    Thanks for all the inspiration; love reading through the old-style board!
    • zafiro1984
    • By zafiro1984 2nd Oct 17, 12:21 AM
    • 1,310 Posts
    • 10,363 Thanks
    First spend of £11.35 at waitrose on things I couldn't get at Lidl which was 40.67. Bought 6 pork chops at Lidl plus 12 belly slices and decided to cook and freeze them - horror of horrors I put them in the ironheart and forgot about them as I was busy, - overcooked but not black so I will have to use them over the next few days, I could have done without that hiccup.
    May Grocery challenge 117.37/150 only got 32.63 left
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 2nd Oct 17, 2:15 AM
    • 787 Posts
    • 5,137 Thanks
    Hi, I'm a bit late this month, can I be at $1050 please? This is for five Saturdays (so five weekly shops as well as top ups): I usually run a strict calendar month but this month I started on the last day of September for reasons.

    First weekly shop: $183.93/1050. Mr E and the girls are home this week, so expecting a higher spend than usual in top-up shops - and I also laid in more meat than usual because he's cooking - but next week he's away for the whole week so that should even things out.

    Meal plan:

    Saturday: salmon poke
    Sunday: whole pink snapper, rice, asian greens
    Monday: lamb chops, mash and veg
    Tuesday: chicken cacciatore
    Wednesday and Thursday, no idea, we do have some pork roasts in the freezer
    Friday (when I wrest cooking control back): vegetarian lasagne in slow cooker
    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
    • zoelikesjam
    • By zoelikesjam 2nd Oct 17, 6:32 AM
    • 405 Posts
    • 5,523 Thanks

    Could I join, please? Thinking we are currently spending about £350 month. Would love to get that down to maybe £300

    Feeding is slightly complicated in our household! Over the month...8 days feeding 2adults 5children...then the rest of the month, so 23 days its 2adults 2teenagers! The teenagers are eating us out of house and home, snacks etc and I honestly don't know how to keep up with them. Also, I am Type one diabetic, so can't have sugar or many boot I am disabled, so hubby does all the cooking! We also have four moggys.

    Wish me luck xxx
    May the force of the flyladies be with you
    Zoelikesjam Is loud...Obnoxious and completely inappropriate for all ages!
    Viewer discretion is strongly advised!
    I am pretty sure you DONT want to know whats on my mind!
    • pajama
    • By pajama 2nd Oct 17, 12:44 PM
    • 103 Posts
    • 1,586 Thanks
    Can you please put me down for £280
    Grocery Challenge - Sept £205.56/£350.00

    • NewShadow
    • By NewShadow 2nd Oct 17, 1:16 PM
    • 2,859 Posts
    • 12,825 Thanks

    I had a muscle food order pending for delivery on the 6th (with payment due 48 hours before).

    Looking at the plan and the freezer I didn't need it - so I decided to push it back a month to be delivered the first Friday in November.

    I moved the date and clicked confirm - then had an email telling me my order had been completed and no further changes were possible - it seems changing anything in the basket switches the payment option back to immediate payment with no further confirmation.

    Completely my fault, but £62.95 I hadn't expected to spend... this day off work lark is turning out to be a mite expensive.

    Still - should make November cheaper

    Total spends so far this month = £71.70 on food + £3.60 train ticket.

    Breakfast Porridge and frozen/dried fruit + Banana

    One 'free' Sunday lunch
    Spanish style omelette
    Baked potato with beans and cottage cheese
    Baked potato with beans and cottage cheese

    LO Beef stew
    One 'free' after show dinner
    Tangine style meal with aubergine and sweet potato
    Tangine style meal with aubergine and sweet potato
    Roast turkey dinner
    An eat-up/leftover day

    Flapjacks x 12
    That sounds like a classic case of premature extrapolation.

    House deposit: 26% = £23,000 + £700pm * 16 months = £33,000

    Goal: Keep the bigger picture in mind...
    • Chrystal
    • By Chrystal 2nd Oct 17, 3:18 PM
    • 284 Posts
    • 1,882 Thanks
    My budget for October is £300
    this includes everything household apart from pet food.

    Going to go through the freezers and try and come up with a meal plan!
    GC. Oct.17 = £261.18/ £300 = + £38.82 NSDs 20/31
    GC. Sept.17 = £354.89/£300 = - £54.39

    • Wysiwyg49
    • By Wysiwyg49 2nd Oct 17, 7:25 PM
    • 186 Posts
    • 1,689 Thanks
    Bit late joining this month but please add me in for £450 as it's a 5-Friday month and I start everything on Fridays...

    This is about average but I am struggling with reducing spend on snacks / fruit juice etc., it's not the basic food that costs but the add-ons for sure. However we don't need to cut the nice stuff out, at least I will know where to start if ever in dire straits!! Speaking of which, I am going to add a food bank item to every weekly shop so I don't go past the collection box without putting something in. Our local Sainsbobs put a sign up every week with shortage items which is a great idea.
    GC Mar £239.57/£360 : Feb £352.71/£320
    • Need2bthrifty
    • By Need2bthrifty 2nd Oct 17, 7:32 PM
    • 1,057 Posts
    • 9,117 Thanks
    I would like to join in please, there's only me and the occasional visitor to budget for so I'm starting off very strict with £60.00 for all household items (not alcohol, that's in the entertainment budget) I've been very lazy regarding household budget and making some very poor choices, but the freezer is pretty well stocked and I'm getting into a good routine with menu planning, I need to do my first shop tomorrow for some fresh stuff so here goes
    • El Debster
    • By El Debster 2nd Oct 17, 8:03 PM
    • 26 Posts
    • 87 Thanks
    El Debster
    2nd of October and already spent more than I planned in the first week
    So far 28.46 at Lidl on Saturday and this afternoon I spent 9.57 at Sainsbury’s. I had to stock up on teabags, catfood and cereal. Thing is some of the stuff from Aldi I really don’t like. The prawns were on offer but they tasted of nothing but water. I put them in tomato and veg sauce with some chilli flakes served with Linguine it was lovely but with just dressing on avocado for lunch they were too bland. Also their lighter cheddar I thought tasted like chemicals, have to be back to my usual brand next time. But it can go in mac n cheese with spinach, mustard and tomatoes cover the taste!
    Still there is quite a lot of veg in the fridge and I bought mince and smoked salmon and am well stocked with eggs.
    Here’s the plan
    Porridge, banana
    Ratatouille and new potatoes
    Mac n Cheese
    (Making Bread and Carrot Cake)
    Porridge, banana
    Spanish omelette, Spinach,
    Bolognaise Linguine
    Lentil and Carrot soup
    Veg Moussaka
    Porridge, banana
    Lentil and Carrot Soup
    Haddock, peas oven chips
    Mushroom Stroganoff, Rice
    Smoked salmon quiche.
    If I manage to do this - I will be
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 2nd Oct 17, 8:22 PM
    • 3,533 Posts
    • 11,237 Thanks
    OH spent £3.14 today on a few bits.
    I spent £1.87. For that I got; a cauliflower, celery, mushrooms, runner beans, fine beans, 6 organic apples, a pineapple and 2 large punnets of grapes .

    Bulk - £67.57.
    OH - £10.26/£56.43. £46.17.
    Me - £1.87/£31. £29.13.

    Over all budget.
    £75.30 left.
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • El Debster
    • By El Debster 2nd Oct 17, 8:31 PM
    • 26 Posts
    • 87 Thanks
    El Debster
    Wow - 1.87 on all that veg, I am amazed
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 2nd Oct 17, 8:37 PM
    • 3,533 Posts
    • 11,237 Thanks
    I'm a big fan of reductions, though I rarely do that well! Store was on our way home as we'd been out. Went in on the off chance just in case. Very glad we did.
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 2nd Oct 17, 9:02 PM
    • 2,663 Posts
    • 33,300 Thanks
    Eeeek! Another £29.97 down already, as OH has had his dietary advice updated. And that's only what was easily available here in this little town today; two items out of about eleven. I'm thinking I should add that £30 unspent in September back onto this month's target, taking it up to £430 to cover some of this. Some bits I'll be able to pick up at the market far cheaper than the supermarket, but it's not on until Friday...

    Great bargains, Doom_and_Gloom!

    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...
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