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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 15
    • starting_again_in_the_sun
    • By starting_again_in_the_sun 8th Jan 18, 10:32 PM
    • 117 Posts
    • 628 Thanks
    Spent 9.76 euros today, bought 6 cans tinned tomatoes, 2 dozen eggs, ham, courgettes, cherry tomatoes, orange juice and cereal for DD.
    Leaving 116.23 left to spend.
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 8th Jan 18, 11:58 PM
    • 1,233 Posts
    • 14,761 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    First spends of the month £1.38. I'm shopping 2moz, at the no packaging store, organic, locally grown & blessed by angels. Me thinks this is going to cost an arm n a leg. My sister in law has very kindly made me some cotton bags, so I'm all set. Want some peanuts to make peanut butter to try Jack Monroe recipe, otherwise will buy ready made, if can find any without plastic lids, plus coffee, if they sell it n some plant milk - doubt they will have that, otherwise oats to make some oat milk, gawd I hate black coffee. Also, need some salad, which I will buy from my regular stall. I've done a loose meal plan, for the rest of the week, based on what is already in or batch cooked. I will throw in some salad with most of it.

    Sweet Potato, Chickpea & Spinach Thai Curry
    Homemade Veggie Burger & Spicy Wedges
    Meat Free Bangers & Swede & Carrot Mash with Onions & Gravy
    Spicy Veggie Mince With Cauliflower Rice
    Burritos With Avocado & Salad
    Black Bean & Peanut Stew
    June Grocery Challenge - Food £27.75/80, Alcohol £7.48/£20
    Bulk Fund Left/Food £66.76 Bulk Fund/Alcohol
    Save 12k in 2018 #80 = £2,000/£5,000
    Yoga 30 Day Challenge 0/30
    Lose 12lbs - 8/12 - Goal 9st
    • mrs-moneypenny
    • By mrs-moneypenny 9th Jan 18, 8:09 AM
    • 15,474 Posts
    • 197,735 Thanks
    Morning all
    Back to work today, so meal planning and batch cooking again. Made a veggie lasagne last night for tea and will have what's left tonight. Jacket pots for lunchtime.

    Nsd yesterday, but need to put weekend spends in sig.

    Hope all are well
    SPC~11 No100 : : X4 O/t fund so far £2,300

    In a world that has decided that it's going to lose its mind, be more kind my friend, try to Be More Kind
    • TooClumsy
    • By TooClumsy 9th Jan 18, 10:27 AM
    • 113 Posts
    • 330 Thanks
    Hello all, although its late, please can I join in? My grocery spends are a bit out of control. Just for some background, have moved into our first home together and finances are absolutely wonky with paying off loans, buying everything as we had nothing and trying not to go crazy in all the supermarkets. For some reason, my budget is £290.72 (don't know why its so specific) for the whole of January (1st - 31st). We are two adults, who are carnivorous potato couches, attempting to eat more vegetarian meals throughout the week.
    GC Challenge 2018:
    Jan £309.44/£290.72
    Feb £204.81/£290
    March £153.60/£300
    • emiai
    • By emiai 9th Jan 18, 10:29 AM
    • 1,226 Posts
    • 25,159 Thanks
    I've been following this thread for inspiration. I participated in something similar a few years ago - and stuck to it for the entire year. I kept all the receipts - made spreadsheets, and each week anything left from the budget went into a glass jar - and then into a savings account.

    This year I have one less mouth to feed as our eldest is at University and budgeting for herself.

    Were attempting to cut out fast food, we slipped back into old ways and was having it once a week.
    I'm back to being strict about no spend days, and currently eating out all the left over Christmas bits - I want to empty everything before restocking, which should keep the costs down a little bit for January at least.

    I am also having to snap out of visiting the charity shop, as I always seem to go in there and buy something that - that I wouldn't have necessarily bought if I had not have gone in there. Saying that I love my rolling pin and new glass dishes that we use all the time now (They were my last bargains before Christmas)

    I will keep reading and good luck all, this is my favourite thread on MSE right now!
    GC 2018 NSDs = 76/137 and counting
    Oldstyle moneysaving addict
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 9th Jan 18, 11:00 AM
    • 310 Posts
    • 4,098 Thanks
    Save Dosh - I'm really impressed with how well you're doing cutting out plastic. It's so hard as it's everywhere and there really aren't many places you can buy stuff that isn't packaged in plastic. It's inspired me to see where I can cut back though. I'm going to try and find alternatives for some of the things I get that come in plastic.

    BTW - I've made Jack's black bean and peanut stew (with kidney beans as I didn't have black beans) and the sauce came out quite claggy so I just thinned it down with a bit of water.
    • Grannymolly
    • By Grannymolly 9th Jan 18, 11:39 AM
    • 42 Posts
    • 500 Thanks

    Today nsd too.

    Just done next weeks shop in Mr A online but I won’t add to the budget until it’s paid for (next Tuesday) managed to get a £1 delivery slot so that saves me petrol too

    Made some cheese twists this morning with some pastry I had spare and they’ll make lovely little snacks for us and the kids and can’t go wrong for 8p each!

    Making paella for dinner with the last of the chicken from Sunday roast and the carcass stock.

    Starting his month afresh makes me realise how lazy I’ve been with food in previous months and it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive to eat well!

    Have a good day everyone
    Family of 4 and a cat, trying to reduce outgoings GC JAN £225.94/£250 GC FEB £93.20/£250
    • squirrelgirl
    • By squirrelgirl 9th Jan 18, 12:05 PM
    • 193 Posts
    • 1,169 Thanks
    £93.52/£300 to date - a lot more than i intended but I've had visitors over the weekend and also had a few toiletries/household goods to get.....I spent £21.95 on stuff for visitors; £48.26 on Household & Toiletries and £23.31 on food. I'm hoping to do better next week!!
    15 Month Challenge: House - £2161/£15000; Mortgage - £300/£19000 ; Jan Spends: Food £93.52/£300; Petrol £0/£300; Persie £0/ £300
    MFW No. 167 £300/ £15000
    • IrisViolet
    • By IrisViolet 9th Jan 18, 12:36 PM
    • 99 Posts
    • 1,849 Thanks
    Just checking in to report after another shop I in so far at 149.02/400
    We have four kids so I think is pretty good going.
    I don't anticipate spending more than £5 before weekend (we need arborio rice and possibly bread)
    17 days to go. For the first time I actually think I can do this!
    • Wysiwyg49
    • By Wysiwyg49 9th Jan 18, 12:48 PM
    • 186 Posts
    • 1,689 Thanks
    Wow, can't believe I have only spent £47.83 on groceries for this week. Went to A1di and Tesc instead of Sainsbobs with a list. I had overspent a bit last week so still had quite a lot in I suppose.

    Last night we had roast cauliflower and red peppers, with couscous. DS had a few sausages which were already in the freezer with his. Next time might add kidney beans to the couscous too.

    Tonight will be butterbean stew with pork steaks and tomorrow veggie or beef burgers. I'm hoping to make bread buns as I have loads of bread flour, but my bread always turns out like rock!! Think I need to leave it to prove all day or something. Tips welcome...
    GC Mar £239.57/£360 : Feb £352.71/£320
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 9th Jan 18, 1:58 PM
    • 2,621 Posts
    • 38,413 Thanks
    Trying to push my next shop through till next Wednesday, so that will be 10 days between.

    2 NSD!!!8217;s this week so far
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 9th Jan 18, 2:35 PM
    • 532 Posts
    • 6,577 Thanks
    Purchased some fruit in the local market and a few items from various shops (toiletries & cleaning is included in my grocery budget)
    £6.85 to add to my total..
    Happy with my progress so far, still looking at how to use up foods already in the cupboard and meal plan to save waste!
    Living life happily! Debt Free date: 2018!!!
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June GC £236.20/£300
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 9th Jan 18, 3:00 PM
    • 310 Posts
    • 4,098 Thanks
    I picked up the few bits I needed to last me until the weekend for £7.47 today so still on track to keep it all under control until the end of the month. The only item I didn't really need was an aubergine but I keep seeing aubergine recipes I want to try out so I thought I'd work one into the meal plan for the week somehow.

    • YorksLass
    • By YorksLass 9th Jan 18, 5:36 PM
    • 374 Posts
    • 6,507 Thanks
    For this week's soup I'm trying curried carrot & chickpea; no recipe - just adding what I think will work.
    Originally posted by YorksLass
    Soup made this morning - it's just the job for a cold winter's day, easy peasy and cheap as well.

    I used half a large chopped onion, 3 large diced carrots, 400g tin of chickpeas, 1.5pt chicken stock (from a stock cube), assorted spices/herbs (curry powder, cumin, chilli powder, dried coriander, S & P) and a generous splodge of tomato puree. Blitzed up, these quantities made enough for 4 portions; half for this lunchtime and the other half will do for another day. It's a keeper.

    The planned ham, pepper & chorizo pasta bake for tonight made double quantities so half has gone in the freezer as a hm ready-meal for the CBA days. No wonder the freezer drawers never seem to empty!
    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)

    • MrsPear
    • By MrsPear 9th Jan 18, 5:48 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 485 Thanks
    Hello again everyone

    What online shop is AS?

    So quick update on spends so far
    30/12 js online £67.87
    01/01 £2.45 - Mr t express - fresh bread, peppers and cucumber
    05/01 £75.20 Js online
    06/01 Waitrose £9.10 - so not intended. Went in to collect jl order with eldest and intending to buy fresh bread only. But he spied melon, sausages and stuff on deli counter. Tbf he has eaten it all.
    Yesterday £7.67 co op - being lazy as out late than usual because of hospital appointment for eldest.

    Updated signature.

    Need to do meal plan for next week - no sausages!

    Last / this week meal plan was
    Cottage pie and broccoli, pizza and salad, sausage casserole, roast chicken,pasta with tomoto sauce, sausage and mash (tonight) chicken curry tomorrow.
    Gc challenge £363.53/ 500
    Y Feb 317.28 / 350
    • SilverBird
    • By SilverBird 9th Jan 18, 6:15 PM
    • 248 Posts
    • 2,078 Thanks
    Spent £10.85 in L1dl this afternoon - apples, oranges, red onions, carrots, parmesan, milk, eggs, dried yeast and corned beef. Hopefully we won't need to shop again until next week.
    #Life isn't about waiting for the storms to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain #We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us #If you focus on what you have left behind, you will never see what lies ahead - Gusteau/Ratatouille
    GC: May £124.89/£180 (£713.23/£2,160)
    • MrsPear
    • By MrsPear 9th Jan 18, 6:20 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 485 Thanks
    Right boys have helped - with lots of laughter - and for the week coming up we are eating

    Fish and chips with peas - all in freezer
    Chilli and rice - only need a little mince - I use hairy dieters book
    Sweet and sour / Chinese please - need to look online as no idea
    Roast - beef or pork - look at offers
    Left overs - the creative day usually !!!55357;!!!56889;
    Pasta and delia!!!8217;s cheese sauce
    Eggs and bacon.

    Now need to write list - check on lunch and breakfast stuff plus toiletries / cleaning stuff / pantry. I know I need flour.

    Hope for £70 spend
    Gc challenge £363.53/ 500
    Y Feb 317.28 / 350
    • ancientmum
    • By ancientmum 9th Jan 18, 6:20 PM
    • 140 Posts
    • 1,179 Thanks
    Evening all,
    Well the boy has gone back to uni, and I worked out that I have the makings of about two weeks main meals in the freezer and cupboards. I bought cat food and cat litter in December as I had a £10 off £50 voucher.
    So aiming to buy only fruit and necessities for the next fortnight, and lots of NSDs.
    If life is a journey, I want comfy shoes

    2018: Trying to keep to annual budgets £1080 for groceries, £480 for cat needs
    Update: £417.35/1080 £173.04/480
    • claireyfairy82
    • By claireyfairy82 9th Jan 18, 6:47 PM
    • 110 Posts
    • 1,380 Thanks

    Went for a top up shop tonight, I've not been well all week but I suppose everyone else needs to eat!

    Even managed to avoid paying, don't know how that happened lol.

    £91.51 spent bringing my total to £127.56 so far. I'm happy with that as I had to buy pasta, tinned tomatoes, passata and tinned beans and pulses as well as other staples.
    JAN - £208.56/£250 NSD-8
    FEB - £121.51/£200 NSD- 1
    Penny a day challenge #001: £200.79/£667.95
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 9th Jan 18, 7:11 PM
    • 1,233 Posts
    • 14,761 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    Save Dosh - I'm really impressed with how well you're doing cutting out plastic. It's so hard as it's everywhere and there really aren't many places you can buy stuff that isn't packaged in plastic. It's inspired me to see where I can cut back though. I'm going to try and find alternatives for some of the things I get that come in plastic.

    BTW - I've made Jack's black bean and peanut stew (with kidney beans as I didn't have black beans) and the sauce came out quite claggy so I just thinned it down with a bit of water.
    Originally posted by Ginmonster
    Thank you, I got quite choked when I read that. It's not that easy and I'm only doing January totally plastic free (I accidentally had a bag of crisps), but I am learning how to massively reduce for February, like morrisons unwashed potatoes, they come in a paper bag and are really cheap (32p kg), with a bit of netting on the front, I can live with that. If everyone just brought their own bags shopping, or got it delivered, bag free, it would make so much difference.

    Ended up only buying jumbo oats in the unpackaged store. My friend got a little over excited with the lever on the container, so I ended up with a huge bag. They had no peanuts unfortunately and I have a ton of rice, pulses etc. They were twice the price of value oats, but so much nicer. Have made some oat milk and have added frozen fruits to the pulp, for overnight oats, so really pleased with that. Also £3 at the veg stall on avocados, mushrooms and tomatoes. Found the most amazing store also, which is almost unchanged in over 100 years, where the guy roasts the coffee in the window of his shop, on some ancient contraption, said the shop has been in his family since 1800's, so I'm gonna go there when mine has run out and he said he will do me a special blend, so that's nice. Anyway £4.79 spent. Have updated sig.
    June Grocery Challenge - Food £27.75/80, Alcohol £7.48/£20
    Bulk Fund Left/Food £66.76 Bulk Fund/Alcohol
    Save 12k in 2018 #80 = £2,000/£5,000
    Yoga 30 Day Challenge 0/30
    Lose 12lbs - 8/12 - Goal 9st
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