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

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

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your November budget, then keep on posting in the November 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!


    This Forum tip was included in's weekly email!
    Last edited by MSE Andrea; 29-11-2017 at 12:35 PM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 6
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 4th Dec 17, 9:10 PM
    • 47 Posts
    • 640 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    Thank you very much elsiepac.

    First spend of the month. £25 from village shop. Shopping like this is expensive but have been very poorly and just popped in on my way back from doctor. Hopefully once the steroids start to work I will be on the mend again.
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 4th Dec 17, 9:55 PM
    • 2,659 Posts
    • 33,262 Thanks
    An accidental NSD today! I wandered up to town for some frozen veg & eggs (DS2's return means that we need approximately 6 more chickens; his secret nickname is "The Midnight Egg Eater") but the Co0p only had mashed swede & carrots, and didn't have any free-range eggs, so I was on my way to W8rose when I got distracted by the bookshop. I have over £100 in book tokens to spend and knew that DD2 (currently without income) wanted a specific book for a Christmas present for DD1, which they did have, and I ended up trotting happily off home with a massive book on Norse mythology but without any veg or eggs. However I managed without them, given some allotment veg and today's haul of 4 eggs, so that's a bit of a lesson in its own right!

    But we may seriously need to invest in a couple of extra chicks next spring, if he's planning to stay, which it seems that he is... it's an opportunity for him to save up & do some of the things he always wanted to do, before he tied himself up in a serious relationship at the age of 20.
    Last edited by thriftwizard; 04-12-2017 at 10:00 PM.

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

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 4th Dec 17, 10:50 PM
    • 5,343 Posts
    • 55,181 Thanks
    Evening all

    First spends of the month.

    Saturday for emergency stuff on holibobs return in Morries = £14.72
    Today weekly f & v, milk etc from Al*i = £15.90.
    So total of £30.62 and two NSDs so far

    Hope you all have a great Tuesday
    Bulk buy.......APR=233.76
    OS WL= -2/8 ......CC =00......Savings = £13,140
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 4th Dec 17, 11:00 PM
    • 185 Posts
    • 2,069 Thanks
    Evening everybody! I hope y'all had a good Monday.

    I almost had a NSD today but I just ordered £66.64 of food, essential oils and supplements from Holland & Barrett online to pick up when I arrive in London on Friday. Some of the items aren't food but I can't be bothered to subtract it all out. I'll hedge by about £20 this weekend. That brings me to:

    £66.64 / £200 London stocking up fund
    !!!8364;30.22 / !!!8364;350.00 for groceries
    1 NSD

    I'll probably get a few things tomorrow on my way home from the office. Heck, I may not even go into the office since I'm still feeling tired as heck from being sick this past weekend. @Highland Fling, I know exactly how you feel. I'm still trying to rally myself a bit too. I'm supposed to meet an acquaintance for lunch tomorrow along with my OH and I think I may skip it. There will be added bonus of saving money too.

    @thriftwizard, what a great bit of serendipity, using up the book store credits! Every little bit helps. I should look at using up some airline points to buy a gift card for my SIL for Christmas. She'll appreciate it and those points will be used instead of expiring.
    Last edited by JingsMyBucket; 04-12-2017 at 11:08 PM.
    MAY 18 GC: €112.63/€400.00 // 6/10 NSD
    APR 18 GC: €406.12/€400.00 // 16/10 NSD
    MAR 18 GC: €193.98/€400.00 // 17/10 NSD // £162.19/£150 UK stock up
    FEB 18 GC: €250.44/€450 and 15/10 NSD
    JAN 18 GC: €377.92/€550.00 // 8 NSD
    Dec 17 GC: €406.50/€350.00 // 11 NSD // £198.57/£200 UK stock up
    • dingdongsaving
    • By dingdongsaving 5th Dec 17, 6:09 PM
    • 353 Posts
    • 4,361 Thanks
    Shop 1 of December done. £81, so def. beyond our usual family weekly cost. We have neighbours invited for supper at the weekend and friends visiting for brunch on Sunday. The shop included dog food, so we should be set fr pet food until mid January.
    We often do a main 'monthly' shop and then purchase fresh/top up bits weekly, but this month we need the space to store food to feed our mini crowds, so we're taking it 1 week at a time.
    We've worked hard to clear out little larder cupboard and some space in the chest freezer for this, and at the moment the freezer is stuffed with bags of scrunched newspaper to help keep things efficient.

    I always enjoy the December and January versions of this thread so much. Thank you all for keeping us so motivated, and huge thanks for all of the organisation needed to keep it running smoothly month on month.
    • chocoholic_chick
    • By chocoholic_chick 5th Dec 17, 7:16 PM
    • 627 Posts
    • 3,118 Thanks
    A few spends to report. Firstly £19.99 on Saturday on my Gousto box (was supposed to be £34.99 but had a £15 credit). Then went to Lidl on Sunday and spent £26.50 on fresh fruit/veg and some treats. Monday spents of £1.79 on milk and £2 on some mince pies for the office. Total spends so far £50.28.

    Have people round Saturday so will need some picky food for then, one of them is stopping over so will need stuff for breakfast on Sunday and also need to do some baking for an event I'm going to at the weekend.
    New House... New Mortgage! February 2017: £144,000
    Current Mortgage Balance: £127,469.13
    2017 OP's:£5,935 2018 OP's: £4,975
    Total Debt £29,209 £0 Debt free 6/8/16
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 5th Dec 17, 8:59 PM
    • 185 Posts
    • 2,069 Thanks
    This evening I picked up eggs, pizza dough, and lardons for !!!8364;6.23. I made myself put back the separate pack of bacon and just told myself to use the lardons in omelettes this week.

    Totals so far are:

    !!!8364;36.45 / !!!8364;350.00 for groceries
    £66.64 / £200 London stocking up fund
    1 NSD
    Last edited by JingsMyBucket; 05-12-2017 at 8:59 PM. Reason: Forgot add NSD
    MAY 18 GC: €112.63/€400.00 // 6/10 NSD
    APR 18 GC: €406.12/€400.00 // 16/10 NSD
    MAR 18 GC: €193.98/€400.00 // 17/10 NSD // £162.19/£150 UK stock up
    FEB 18 GC: €250.44/€450 and 15/10 NSD
    JAN 18 GC: €377.92/€550.00 // 8 NSD
    Dec 17 GC: €406.50/€350.00 // 11 NSD // £198.57/£200 UK stock up
    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 5th Dec 17, 9:47 PM
    • 5,343 Posts
    • 55,181 Thanks
    Evening all

    On-line shop at Mr T delivered today = £37.24 after taking out the alcohol (separate budget )

    Hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday and stay dry
    Bulk buy.......APR=233.76
    OS WL= -2/8 ......CC =00......Savings = £13,140
    • starting_again_in_the_sun
    • By starting_again_in_the_sun 6th Dec 17, 12:05 AM
    • 117 Posts
    • 628 Thanks
    Have spent 14.32!!!8364; over the last 2 days.

    Bought rice, milk, bread, tinned tomatoes, leeks and biscuits, as well as some healthy snacks requested by DD who has a nasty cold and 2 bottles of cava to put away for Christmas.

    Tomorrow is a holiday so will be a nsd .
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 6th Dec 17, 4:45 AM
    • 47 Posts
    • 640 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    Hi everyone, well steroids have started working. Proof to that fact I am here on forums at silly o'clock in the morning because I can't sleep.

    Sister brought me up some bits and bobs from Ald: yesterday so that is another £10.

    Total so far £35
    • RedFraggle
    • By RedFraggle 6th Dec 17, 7:07 AM
    • 658 Posts
    • 1,783 Thanks
    Not added up yet properly but i think this month will be blown. Move house today, didn't eat planned freezer meal last night but had "picky tea" of stupidly expensive deli bits and fresh bread from Sainsbob.
    Also spent £32 on rat food Saturday. Didn't really need it but was attending a rat show (yep, they exist) and rat rations were there and it saved me £10 postage by ordering for collection. Reckon I've spent £70 of my £400 already!
    Officially in a clique of idiots
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 6th Dec 17, 8:23 AM
    • 890 Posts
    • 5,026 Thanks
    About £24 last night in Morries, friends owe me £27 for beef and pork joints, I wanted to spend £50 to get 10p off per litre of petrol as I am travelling to visit rellies over the weekend, and will nearly empty my tank.
    • CattyCatX
    • By CattyCatX 6th Dec 17, 12:07 PM
    • 76 Posts
    • 448 Thanks
    I came in only a few pounds over for November so really very pleased with that (sorry, have been too busy to post for a while ), I have upped the budget for December to take account of Christmas, though the tree is up already and all decorations are made/bought and cards sent so most spend should be food-related. Majority of presents done too. Trying to decide what to do for Christmas dinner (my first time hosting) as one of my family members has just gone on a strict diet that rules out most traditional things... eek! I'm looking at it as a fun festive challenge
    • Need2bthrifty
    • By Need2bthrifty 6th Dec 17, 2:01 PM
    • 1,056 Posts
    • 9,113 Thanks
    A quick shop in Mr T's for a loaf and 2 bottles of basic diet lemonade = £1.44.
    Keep Moving = 282.50mls/1000mls @ week 15

    GC - Apr - £55.82/£80.00, Mar - £59.87/£60.00
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 6th Dec 17, 6:17 PM
    • 890 Posts
    • 5,026 Thanks
    £37 in tesco and £3 wilkies, wanted some stilton and chocolate, got the stilton no choc, I had a £6 off £40 spend, £10 on stilton £18 on nicotine patches, few other bits, so topped up with dogs chicken thighs, enough now to last till end of Feb
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 6th Dec 17, 6:48 PM
    • 185 Posts
    • 2,069 Thanks
    !!!8364;6.73 on toilet paper plus pesto and boxed soup for OH. Buying that toilet paper actually pained me because I know I could get much more cheaply in Lidl tomorrow. Harumph.

    Tomorrow I'll head to Lidl for paper towels, fabric freshener (Febreze type stuff) and bathroom cleaner. I'll get some olive oil at a market on the way there as well.

    Totals so far:

    !!!8364;43.18 / !!!8364;350.00 for groceries
    £66.64 / £200 London stocking up fund
    1 NSD


    @RedFraggle, why is your budget blown for the month? Can you stretch it a bit?
    MAY 18 GC: €112.63/€400.00 // 6/10 NSD
    APR 18 GC: €406.12/€400.00 // 16/10 NSD
    MAR 18 GC: €193.98/€400.00 // 17/10 NSD // £162.19/£150 UK stock up
    FEB 18 GC: €250.44/€450 and 15/10 NSD
    JAN 18 GC: €377.92/€550.00 // 8 NSD
    Dec 17 GC: €406.50/€350.00 // 11 NSD // £198.57/£200 UK stock up
    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 6th Dec 17, 7:36 PM
    • 740 Posts
    • 5,199 Thanks
    Good evening All

    Six days into the month and we’ve spent £27.49 in Mr T’s, £7.30 at the farm shop (veg and eggs) and £2.58 in L!dl (my husband spent that entirely on chocolate). That brings our total spend so far to £37.37/£162.70 leaving a balance remaining of £125.33.

    Annoyingly, since half this month’s grocery budget is in Clubcard vouchers, we didn’t have the grocery purse with us when we dropped into Mr T’s last night after our weekly quiz. It was an (almost) unplanned visit, without the shopping list. DH started 3 week’s work yesterday and needed some bits to make wraps for his 10am “lunch” break. (He’s working 6am - 2pm.).

    Thanks Zippy and Coxy for keeping the thread up to date.
    "Be the type of woman that when you get out of bed in the morning, the devil says 'Oh crap. She's up.' "

    C.R.A.P R.O.L.L.Z. #47 Official Brain Harvesting Body Counter
    • Mrs Cheshire
    • By Mrs Cheshire 6th Dec 17, 10:32 PM
    • 814 Posts
    • 8,400 Thanks
    Mrs Cheshire
    Had a few spends, c0-0p for toilet roll £3.29, they used to be £2.99!
    Tosco for a small top up and I also got the wine for Christmas and a few events coming up as it was 25% off 6 bottles with staff discount too.
    Wine should have been £46.50 but with the 25% and staff discount and vouchers it came to £26.38. spent £17.42 on the rest as I'm not counting £6.20 on Christmas tree lights.
    £3.98 in ald! yesterday on breakfast bits and strawberries, and £5.18 today on bits for tea and lunch bits for tomorrow.
    We're off to my parents to do an early christmas this weekend, so won't be spending too much.
    SPC #148 2014-£25 2015-£5.50 My stars from Sue-UU

    Grocery Challenge 2018
    Jan £400.33/£400 Feb £383.02/£400 Mar £392.60/£370 Apr £211.17/£400
    • trifle-wist
    • By trifle-wist 7th Dec 17, 11:02 AM
    • 15 Posts
    • 192 Thanks
    Spends so far of £29.74, including this week's big shop in Aldi for £14.62. All I need now is to get hold of tahini for a dressing but at around £2 I'm not sure I can justify it!

    Our food for the rest of the week will be:
    Thurs homemade falafels & salad
    Fri homemade falafel & feta wraps
    Saturday blue cheese & butternut squash tart
    Sunday leftovers
    • caronc
    • By caronc 7th Dec 17, 2:24 PM
    • 3,788 Posts
    • 24,336 Thanks
    This should be my last spend from GC for 2017 as move to festive budget from next week. £24 today so £46/£60 for December
    GC - Feb18 £68/£120, Mar £104/£150, Apr £164/£200, May £96/£120
    GC YTD 2018- £487/£710
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