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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 13
    • pipkin71
    • By pipkin71 7th Jan 18, 8:08 AM
    • 19,360 Posts
    • 87,163 Thanks
    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
    Originally posted by PipneyJane
    My girls like dauphinoise potatoes, Pip, so I will give your method a try next time I get some cream on the shopping list. Sounds lovely
    There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you - Beatrix Potter
    • pipkin71
    • By pipkin71 7th Jan 18, 8:14 AM
    • 19,360 Posts
    • 87,163 Thanks
    We discovered Bluebird Tea Co. yesterday so have signed up for their monthly tea club @ £9.95 per month. Youngest enjoys her tea more than I do, as I prefer coffee but she is on a mission to reduce the amount I drink Will deduct the subscription from the grocery budget as tea would be included if we bought it from the shop
    There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you - Beatrix Potter
    • Aereon
    • By Aereon 7th Jan 18, 8:33 AM
    • 4 Posts
    • 56 Thanks
    First ever post on this forum! This year I want to be way more aware of my spending habits so I can begin expanding my nest egg at a faster rate, and I have been lurking for a while Please may I be put down for £125 for January as it's a long month and I'm aiming for £25 a week for one person.

    So far this month I've done my first January shop and after a very decisive hour in my local S4nsburs and have spent £24.60 next time I think I'll split my shop between them and 4ldi as it works out a lot more cost effective, just a shame about the distance!
    • Faete
    • By Faete 7th Jan 18, 8:49 AM
    • 171 Posts
    • 2,760 Thanks
    I'd like to join with a £300 budget this month.

    I did a shop yesterday £17.17 at Aldi and £15.17 at Asda - these were quite small as I still have a well stocked freezer from Christmas!

    Fae xx
    “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination." Oscar Wilde
    January Grocery Challenge - £189.44/£300.00
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 7th Jan 18, 10:20 AM
    • 49 Posts
    • 668 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    Good morning everyone
    a couple of people have mentioned Jack Monroe in their posts.
    Can someone tell me who he is and how he is associated with GC?
    Thank you
    • Esthermate
    • By Esthermate 7th Jan 18, 10:33 AM
    • 9 Posts
    • 96 Thanks
    Jack wrote a book, 'A Girl called Jack', about living on £10 a week.
    • Faete
    • By Faete 7th Jan 18, 11:11 AM
    • 171 Posts
    • 2,760 Thanks
    Jack Monroe's site:-
    They have some fantastic, easy to cook, inexpensive recipes.

    Fae xx
    “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination." Oscar Wilde
    January Grocery Challenge - £189.44/£300.00
    • 2018saver
    • By 2018saver 7th Jan 18, 11:40 AM
    • 50 Posts
    • 428 Thanks
    £41.24 spent on the big weekly shop this morning. Hoping to make it through as much of the week as possible before going back!
    • lil_me
    • By lil_me 7th Jan 18, 11:47 AM
    • 13,090 Posts
    • 115,139 Thanks
    Brought back stuff from caravan, did eat out yesterday but out of necessity as we were out the full day and used festive money so going to leave it off my target .... cheating ? Maybe. Away Thursday night to Saturday work paying so won!!!8217;t be including that either
    I have found loads of dishwasher tablets I don!!!8217;t need to buy any this month at all
    Hoping for an under £10 day if not a NSD but I!!!8217;m tasked with making the work meals for the week, not sure what we!!!8217;ve got in or I!!!8217;ll need. Sorting under stairs and kitchen storage today might try to do an inventory but unsure on what time I have
    One day I might be more organised...........:confused:
    GC May : £400
    Slinkies target 2018 - another 70lb off (half way to what the NHS says) so far 25lb
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 7th Jan 18, 11:48 AM
    • 1,947 Posts
    • 16,543 Thanks
    I spent £21.49 in Sainsbury’s this morning. I have enough food in the house from shopping in December (spent way too much) to last until at least Sunday. We are making our own curry and skipping the take away this Saturday. Used up the soup for our lunches today too even though I didn’t really feel like eating it, I want to reduce the waste.

    Making roast dinner tonight, going to use all of the potatoes or they’ll get thrown out, any good ideas what I can do with half of them to make and freeze for another meal.
    Originally posted by Anniee88
    Mash, hash brown or bubble and squeak?

    I've spent £0.40p at work on Saturday on two packets of YS egg fried rice to go with curry. Also spent £8.47 in Morrisons incl six YS ping meals and a YS roast type dish. (These are for my 19 year old, who is run ragged with a baby and not looking after herself. So this will ensure she eats at least something). I also managed to get YS lemons, wonky avocados (which I only ever see online), naan (which they always sell out of), and Quorn sandwich meat for DD2 for school on Monday (which is what I actually went in for).

    Although my allocated spend of £62 a week is definitely over this week, as long as the rough end monthly total comes to what it should do, then I am happy with that
    I have Sainsburys being delivered on Wednesday, but it is mostly toiletries which I am not including, just food! So, I should manage to break even.Once and if I ever manage to get the food spend to an absolute minimum then I can gradually concentrate on toiletries. I don't think i'll ever crack pet food though
    GC 2017 (£4,000/£3434.09) Jan £264.28, Feb £179.18, Mar £290.38, APR £182.39, MAY £210.24 JUN £102.73/£240 (£270 p.m/£3,250 p.a)

    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 7th Jan 18, 12:04 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 668 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    thank you very much to Faete and Esthermate for info. I will explore
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 7th Jan 18, 12:45 PM
    • 1,235 Posts
    • 14,782 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    Hi everyone. No spends yet. Been living out of stores. I have run low/out of some bits, but have put off buying them, as I'm struggling with not buying plastic in January - how bl**dy hard is that, I didn't realize. Ran out of plant milk, so was going to make oat milk, but not enough oats, so will have to buy them (loose) - not in plastic, if I'm to do this challenge, also realised that non dairy spread, laundry/washing up liquid, my beloved free from salad cream, and the list goes on a mile, are all packaged in 'plastic'. I'm doing a stocktake and going to an 'unpackaged' store near me Tuesday, with my muslin bags, that my sister in law is currently running up for me up on her sewing machine (oh lordy). My mum thinks I have finally lost the plot. I have toilet rolls left, probably 18, from when I bought a ton months back (thankfully) as I am so stubborn determined when I decide to do something, I would probably end up cutting up old teeshirts into squares (oh the shame if someone used the loo). Not sure why I put myself through this, buy hey - it's only a month. Oh yeah, so when I have finally run out of everything and lost the will to live, I can't even drown my sorrows, as i'm doing 'Dry January'. Having worked at Crisis over the Xmas, it does make me realize that avoiding a bit of plastic (no matter how hard), is hardly the end of the world. Oh, and to top it all, I have actually failed anyway. I was sat all smug in a coffee shop with my china (or whatever it is) cup of coffee, eating a bag of 'Vegan' cheese & onion crisps. Doh, forgot crisp bags are plastic. Oh well. I do usually include trips to the coffee shop in GC budget, but will come out of social budget, as I'm going to have very little social life this month. Have a lovely w/e everyone.
    June Grocery Challenge - Food £50.53/80, Alcohol £18.48/£20
    Bulk Fund Left/Food £50.91 Bulk Fund/Alcohol
    Save 12k in 2018 #80 = £2,000/£5,000
    Yoga 30 Day Challenge 0/30
    Lose 12lbs - 8/12 - Goal 9st
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 7th Jan 18, 12:50 PM
    • 2,635 Posts
    • 38,564 Thanks
    Broke my duck today - just under £80 on a food delivery

    We got back from a short break last night and I CBA to go shopping today...

    Mince, chicken, pork, sausages, fish, pies, burgers etc should last most of the month Just Fresh bits to buy after this week.
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!
    • Grannymolly
    • By Grannymolly 7th Jan 18, 1:15 PM
    • 42 Posts
    • 500 Thanks
    £25 spend today.
    Was close to home bargains so popped in and stocked up on some things like mayflower curry powder and stuff I can only get from there, and then went to Mr A for a top up. Picked up a few good YS for the freezer so that’s a plus.
    Hoping for no more spends this week except maybe milk

    Takes my total to 76.31/250
    Family of 4 and a cat, trying to reduce outgoings GC JAN £225.94/£250 GC FEB £93.20/£250
    • kayester
    • By kayester 7th Jan 18, 1:47 PM
    • 1,800 Posts
    • 9,338 Thanks
    £68.92 spend today for weekly shop. Should be able to batch cook some items and just school dinners to pay for rest of week
    216/2018 (make ££ in 2018)

    Grocery challenge
    Jan 227/400
    swagbucks target 2018 1452/27375
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 7th Jan 18, 2:08 PM
    • 2,974 Posts
    • 30,694 Thanks
    Total stands at £95.61/£240 so slightly ahead of what I should have spent.

    I have a dinner allowance from work to use this week as I am away 1 night but will be taking soup in a flask from home and will buy groceries with the allowance.

    DH and I are doing Just Water for Water Aid this month so haven't bought any booze but have bought some bottled water. I also bought 4 pints of milk but as we are not drinking tea or coffee I didn't really need to! Will freeze this for Feb.

    Meal Plan for Next Week:

    Su - L/O pie for DH and DS/Sausages for me, chips, veg and gravy
    Mo- I'm away so HM soup for DH
    Tu- Pasta bake and salad
    We - Omelette, wedges and beans
    Th - Pork steaks, dauphonise and veg
    Fr - Chicken and Chorizo Spanish Rice
    Sa - Enchilladas, wedges and salad
    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, £47,401.24 @ 21.06.18
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 7th Jan 18, 2:43 PM
    • 2,663 Posts
    • 33,306 Thanks
    £3 spent at the market today, on 2 x pineapples (£1), a head of broccoli (£1) and 6 x Romano peppers, also £1. The pineapples will do an upside-down cake for pudding tonight and fruit salad for weekday nights, along with odds & sods from the fruitbowl, which was "topped up" on Friday. Also popped down to the allotment to assess any wind damage - we were lucky, nothing worse than a few cornstalks blown around - & harvested some leeks, carrots & kale.

    I'm cooking a big hunk of topside tonight (plus a squash & roasted chickpeas for the veggies) which will do a "leftovers stroganoff" at some point during the week as well as sandwiches for those who work away from home, a small chicken tomorrow which will contribute towards a curry midweek & a massive "bone-broth" soup, and we had sausages last night which will make a sausage & bean casserole to eat with baked potatoes (bought by the 25Kg sack, currently £8 for Desirees, and kept out in the shed) on Thursday. The "girls" are laying well for the time of year, so omelette is an option too, and will use up leftover veg. Then we're into the next week menu-wise; I plan my menus according to what is best value (not always the same as cheapest) at the Friday market when everything is fresh, and aim to coast through to the Wednesday market in our county town for top-ups for us whilst I do my elderly mother's shopping.

    It's been our first year of allotmenteering on a new site in our little town, so whilst we've been wildly impressed by what we've managed to grow & preserve so far, very little planning went into it as the site wasn't opened until mid-June and we only found out we'd got one the week before. This year we'll work out what we use through the winter, and aim to plant those things in between the summer crops like peas, beans, sweetcorn and squashes. I'm also going to try growing some Japanese salad veg in (used) juice cartons on our south-facing windowsills; I already have the seeds, and the empty cartons, and if it works it all helps to cut the costs of feeding 5 adults as well as hopefully adding in extra nutrients.

    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...
    • zafiro1984
    • By zafiro1984 7th Jan 18, 3:05 PM
    • 1,312 Posts
    • 10,373 Thanks
    Can I join in again this month £250 please.

    Still quite a lot left from Christmas and New Year. I've managed to freeze it but I'm low on perishables, mainly vegetables.

    The aim this year is to record absolutely everything I spend, try to seriously declutter and lose more weight.
    May Grocery challenge 117.37/150 only got 32.63 left
    • Lauralozzle
    • By Lauralozzle 7th Jan 18, 3:28 PM
    • 560 Posts
    • 4,955 Thanks
    Oh dear, most of my budget has disappeared already. Needed a good shop though as W.E had nothing in the fridge and I’d Pretty much reduced the freezer stocks to nothing.

    Big shop at Ald! Today - spent £50.78 but fridge is full. £10 of that was on a bay tree and little rosemary tree. W.E get through a lot of the stuff and I decided buying that would work out much cheaper in the long run although it was quite a hefty expense.

    Spent £16.82 in Home Bargain!ns on mainly household stuff (oven cleaner, carpet cleaner, toothpaste, mouthwash and the like.)

    £11.38 in A3da - on not very much. DH impulse buys.

    Fridge is looking very full now though, which is good.

    Budget now at £189.15/£275

    Next shops have to be small. Or, the entertainment budget will have to go - hopefully, the next trips will be small!

    Menu plan for the week

    Sunday - sausage, mashed potatoes, veg, Yorkshire pudding and gravy.
    Monday - chicken fajitas
    Tuesday - spaghetti bolognese
    Wednesday - chicken curry
    Thursday - pie, mash and veg with gravy
    Friday - spaghetti carbonara
    Saturday - birthday meal (eating out)
    Credit Card 1: £0.00 (0%) | Credit Card 2: £1,951.50 (0%) | Credit Card 3: £764.20 (0%) Car Finance: £7,491 (7.9% APR) | Mortgage: £110,794 (2.79% APR) | Emergency Fund: £69.68/£1000 | Honeymoon Fund: £1,042
    • BrassicWoman
    • By BrassicWoman 7th Jan 18, 4:09 PM
    • 1,635 Posts
    • 6,768 Thanks
    £2.05 in M&S; YS stir fry, loads of wholemeal pitta bread for the freezer, and non YS tomatoes for next weeks rolls.
    Jan 18 grocery challenge £105.13/ £150
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