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    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    • 9,343Posts
    • 17,881Thanks
    January 2018 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    January 2018 Grocery Challenge 13th Oct 14 at 12:54 PM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the first Grocery Challenge of 2018 !!!!

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your December budget, then keep on posting in the December 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; 29-12-2017 at 12:48 PM.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 12
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 6th Jan 18, 11:19 AM
    • 533 Posts
    • 6,579 Thanks
    Hellooo everyone, seems like we are all either struggling with illness or weather issues.. Hugs for those in need
    Managed a NSD yesterday & after a walk to my local shop this morning I picked up all I needed for a £13.54 spend and it contained mainly ys goodies! (Saved £4.37)
    Off to work in a while so shall go update my total..
    Living life happily! Debt Free date: 06/2018!!!
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June GC £236.20/£300
    • 2018saver
    • By 2018saver 6th Jan 18, 1:45 PM
    • 50 Posts
    • 428 Thanks
    Small spend of £1.91 in L*dl this morning on toiletries.
    • pipkin71
    • By pipkin71 6th Jan 18, 1:50 PM
    • 19,360 Posts
    • 87,163 Thanks
    Spent £5.38 in Farmfoods today, on toilet roll and Kitchen roll, so a total of £67.85 off £300, leaving £232.15 to spend.
    There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you - Beatrix Potter
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 6th Jan 18, 1:54 PM
    • 908 Posts
    • 5,240 Thanks
    £15 spent, between morries, lidl and B&M, fresh veg, butter and lard, coffee, salt and some store cupboard soups.
    APRIL£200=£35 May£200=£61,
    • ceb1995
    • By ceb1995 6th Jan 18, 1:54 PM
    • 246 Posts
    • 553 Thanks
    Bought some bits to go with what we had in the freezer and should now have enough things for lunch and breakfasts for the next couple of weeks, so now on £37.81/ £190. The various yellow sticker meats we have are really helping us to stick to the budget i think.
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 6th Jan 18, 3:32 PM
    • 201 Posts
    • 2,215 Thanks
    YorksLass, thanks for mentioning ice cream. That reminded me of several no churn ice cream recipes I've been meaning to try for a while. I also have some frozen berries I can mix into it. Ooh, I'm all excited to try it now!

    Today I returned to the halal store and bought fresh chicken (€3.85) along with eggs, frying oil and almond flour for baking (€12.65). Total comes to €16.50.

    Totals So Far:
    €110.27 / 250
    1 NSD

    That's it, I'm declaring a moratorium on spending for myself for the next two days. I'm going to use up veg from the freezer to eat with the fried chicken instead of buying brussels sprouts tomorrow; I'll use up the soup in the fridge, etc. This can be done and rather easily.
    JUN 18 GC: €223.92/€300.00 // 8/10 NSD
    MAY 18 GC: €333.04 /€400.00 // 16/10 NSD
    APR 18 GC: €406.12/€400.00 // 16/10 NSD
    • Sparkysteph
    • By Sparkysteph 6th Jan 18, 4:36 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 57 Thanks
    Grocery Challenge
    Well it seems I like to shop, I’ve spent £32.47 already this month and I’m not sure I needed any of it! Did have to buy cat litter and I got some yummy vegan snack food. Other that I have some baking supplies as I plan on making vegan muffins and possibly protein bars. I will be throwing away some of the homemade feeezer food that have aubergines in them as they are yuk and slimy after they’ve been defrosted. I think I have enough food for next week so would like to try and stay out of a supermarket till next weekend!!

    I have £62.53 left to spend.
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 6th Jan 18, 5:35 PM
    • 313 Posts
    • 4,116 Thanks
    As always, I'm feeling more positive after reading what everyone else is up to. I can definitely manage this by using up what I already have in store.

    I'm feeling lots better as well which is motivating me to cook properly. I made some fishcakes with some tinned sardines for the boy and a huge and very spicy veggie chili for hubby and me. I also tried out a black bean and peanut stew recipe that Jack Monroe posted recently. I'm hoping the boy might like it too as it's not spicy at all but you never can tell when giving new things to 5 year olds!

    I had to stock up on bananas today so 95p spent.

    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 6th Jan 18, 5:40 PM
    • 313 Posts
    • 4,116 Thanks
    . I will be throwing away some of the homemade feeezer food that have aubergines in them as they are yuk and slimy after they’ve been defrosted.
    Originally posted by Sparkysteph
    Could any of it be whizzed up with a bit of water or stock to make a soup? Might be with a try.
    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 6th Jan 18, 5:44 PM
    • 746 Posts
    • 5,272 Thanks
    Wing Yip was visited
    Afternoon All

    Today we made our annual trip to Wing Yip. I can’t remember the last time I went; I think it was when I was unemployed in September 2016. We spent £43.26 out of our Bulk Fund, so it doesn’t count towards Grocery Challenge spending. Didn’t buy a huge quantity of stuff but I thought you might be interested in some of the details:

    10kg Basmati Rice - £9.95
    Box of 6 pairs Marigold gloves - £7.10
    5L “Cook’s” brand washing up liquid - £3.85
    4 x 500g packets of egg noodles at £1.25/packet

    The rice is the best price I’ve seen in months AND it’s not broken basmati. It was £2 cheaper than the Tilda rice they stocked. The next cheapest I saw was a Thai jasmine rice at £10.95 for 10kg. (I didn’t check out their price for broken basmati but it’s bound to be cheaper than Mr T’s.)

    The Marigolds work out at about half the usual supermarket price and will last me about 18 months. (I go through a pair every 3 months.). However, the washing up liquid was the real reason why we made our visit today. This is our usual brand and we’d run out. It comes in a 5 litre bottle, so I decant it into a recycled, pump-action soap dispenser and - because of our extremely hard water - mix it about 70:30 with distilled white vinegar. (The vinegar stops glasses going milky.). At three squirts per sink-load, the last bottle lasted for 32 months! (I wrote the starting date on it - 18 April 2015.)

    JIngs - are you storing your potatoes in a cupboard or out in daylight? Usually, potatoes go green when they’re exposed to the light. They are also more likely to sprout. As long as you cut the green bits off, they should be fine to eat.

    For an idea of what to cook, we had cream to use up so used the last of our potatoes on Thursday in a Dauphinoise-style dish. I used/abused the BBC recipe. It says to cook your potatoes in a lot of milk and cream. Instead, I cooked mine in boiling water for the suggested 3 minutes, layered them into a dish, then heated considerably less milk and cream with some crushed garlic and poured that over. Some chopped ham and a bit of grated cheese on top and into a preheated oven for half an hour at 180c. Our “potatoes” also included some sweet potatoes, because we didn’t have enough of the regular variety. Very garlicky and quite yummy.

    - Pip
    Last edited by PipneyJane; 06-01-2018 at 5:46 PM.
    "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
    • BrassicWoman
    • By BrassicWoman 6th Jan 18, 5:50 PM
    • 1,627 Posts
    • 6,743 Thanks
    £38.26 on loads of frozen fruit and veg. I WILL have a healthy year.... well January.. well, weekend...
    Jan 18 grocery challenge £105.13/ £150
    • LizzieWb
    • By LizzieWb 6th Jan 18, 5:54 PM
    • 12 Posts
    • 152 Thanks
    Hi everyone,

    I've just put 6 x ragu meals and 2 x turkey cottage pie meals in the freezer, looking forward to using them when I can't be bothered to cook - and must have saved some money too....

    Feel like I'm going to the shops more often but have been spending small amounts each time, and I think I'm wasting less food this way too. I did a meal plan for the first two weeks which seems to be working quite well, so plan to do a big shop every two weeks or so and then just top up with bits and pieces as needed.

    So far, £320 of £500 remaining.

    Sealed pot challenge - 11 - #004

    • Sparkysteph
    • By Sparkysteph 6th Jan 18, 8:29 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 57 Thanks
    Could any of it be whizzed up with a bit of water or stock to make a soup? Might be with a try.
    Originally posted by Ginmonster
    Brilliant idea, thanks for that !!!128522;
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 6th Jan 18, 9:07 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 668 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    Hi Save Dosh
    thank you very much for your explanation re sticking to budget. You are an inspiration.
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 6th Jan 18, 9:19 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 668 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    Hi Pipney Jane
    thank you so much for the helpful advice. I can certainly use some of your strategies and adapt others to suit my circumstances.
    I really appreciate others taking the time to pass on and share their expertise.
    • ma-ri-ella
    • By ma-ri-ella 6th Jan 18, 9:46 PM
    • 938 Posts
    • 8,970 Thanks
    spent 1.53 today bringing my total up to 2.97 for week. Got quite a few days lunches and started to get a few stockpile essentials for when the yellow stickers are low. They have really made a difference tho - I'm only really checking the 1 supermarket aswell.... might start doing more of them so i can hopefully get a wider selection, i seem to be low on the fruit/veg/salad this week . At the minute seem to have 6 days lunches for 39p total (might change depending on any other bargains )the loaf of bread for 6p will cover toast for the week (14 slices) so that just leaves dinner (hopefully will pick up bargains) which i have pasta etc in house so woudnt be in my total but even if i did include would still leave me under £1 a day .
    91.50£365 a year spend challenge - this has included food/clothes/beauty
    20,000 step a day challenge
    • Puddleglum
    • By Puddleglum 6th Jan 18, 10:47 PM
    • 550 Posts
    • 4,550 Thanks
    Hello. Can I join in please? I've been AWOL for years! I'm going to aim for £35a week on groceries including alcohol and will separately be recording my petrol expenditure this year to motivate very careful driving over long distances each week.
    "A thousand candles can be lit from a single candle without shortening the life of that candle."

    Pay off debts and save 2018. Time to turn my life around (candle moment).
    • Esthermate
    • By Esthermate 6th Jan 18, 11:01 PM
    • 9 Posts
    • 96 Thanks
    I'd like to join. I lurked last month and I'd like to try for £60 for January. Only me most of the time.
    I am shopping once a week with one milk top up.
    (apollos for not knowing how to embolden in red)

    £11.42 so far!
    Last edited by Esthermate; 06-01-2018 at 11:04 PM. Reason: Forgot running spend
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 7th Jan 18, 1:43 AM
    • 787 Posts
    • 5,137 Thanks
    Urgh, not going well here. We did a specialist market shop yesterday, which is where we buy the things we can't buy in our own town - laksa paste and proper spices and stuff like that. So that added up, as well as treaty seafood because it's Mr E's birthday. Add that to the Costco visit, and I'm one week into the month and already $475/950 down PLUS we still need to go to the supermarket for basics.

    Logically all the remaining shops should be cheap: we have bulk coffee, lots of bread flour, lots of meat, all the expensive things like that. But who knows in actuality.
    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
    • Itisme
    • By Itisme 7th Jan 18, 3:50 AM
    • 119 Posts
    • 717 Thanks
    Yesterday spent £14.11 at Tesco.
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