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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 17
    • 2018saver
    • By 2018saver 11th Jan 18, 11:59 AM
    • 50 Posts
    • 428 Thanks
    £18.30 spent in T/co today stocking up on a few things we needed that were on offer
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 11th Jan 18, 12:52 PM
    • 2,661 Posts
    • 33,293 Thanks
    Eeek! Where does it all go? £46.10 spent in L!dls on much-needed supplies; tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, butter beans, butter (arrgh! Nearly twice the price it was a couple of months ago) baking chocolate (the girls are baking to raise funds towards OH's London Marathon commitments) washing stuff... it's going to be a tight thing.

    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...
    • Grannymolly
    • By Grannymolly 11th Jan 18, 1:26 PM
    • 42 Posts
    • 500 Thanks
    NSD, can’t really afford to spend anymore!

    Homemade leek and potato soup with some chicken scraps made for a lovely lunch and we’ve got Jacket poattoes for dinner! Luckily an easy peasy day because I’m so so exhausted today!

    Changed my Mr A delivery to Saturday because I need a few things to use up the meat we have in the freezer for dinners. That takes me to about half the budget and should last me until the 19th.... i hope!
    Family of 4 and a cat, trying to reduce outgoings GC JAN £225.94/£250 GC FEB £93.20/£250
    • ceb1995
    • By ceb1995 11th Jan 18, 2:48 PM
    • 246 Posts
    • 553 Thanks
    Went to pick up some cleaning bits today and checked out the reduced sections and my cashback receipt apps whilst I was there so spent £8.03 (after cashback), although it would have been near £13 full price so quite pleased. That makes £47.61/ £190 so far.
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 11th Jan 18, 3:10 PM
    • 199 Posts
    • 2,206 Thanks
    Howdy y'all. I've had a couple of spends the past few days.

    €7 fruit at the market
    €9.58 at Lidl for mozzarella, pork chops and few other things
    €3.98 at Delhaize for soup and bits

    Totals So Far:
    €130.83 / €250.00
    3 NSD

    I finally decided on my main meal for the Saturday dinner party. The ingredients should cost me about €40 not including wine. Let's see if I can trim that down a bit. I'll have OH pay for wine.
    JUN 18 GC: 132.23/€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
    • trifle-wist
    • By trifle-wist 11th Jan 18, 4:55 PM
    • 15 Posts
    • 192 Thanks
    Three spends yesterday:
    - £1.00 on loose carrots at the market
    - £8.69 at Aldi on toiletries, chocolate, mozzarella, and one lemon
    - £5.48 at Sainsburys on potatoes, organic butter, and parsley This one annoyed me as I needed new potatoes, but I refuse to buy them in plastic packaging and Sains was the only place I could find any. They were a whopping £2.50/kg!

    That brings me to a total of £49.65 / £120 so far. I still need things for this week and the beginning of next, which I'll buy tonight. It's going to be tight!
    • Faete
    • By Faete 11th Jan 18, 6:10 PM
    • 171 Posts
    • 2,760 Thanks
    Did a few "top up" shops during the week totaling £20.52. Scarey how the odd bits and pieces add up over the week. Rather than cart everything to work, (I have a 60 - 90 minute crowded commute) I tend to buy fruit, milk etc. at the Sainsbury's Local next to the office. I think I may have to rethink this as it seems a bit out of proportion to my main shop.

    Fae xx
    “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination." Oscar Wilde
    January Grocery Challenge - £189.44/£300.00
    • cw18
    • By cw18 11th Jan 18, 7:13 PM
    • 7,964 Posts
    • 85,324 Thanks
    So far this month my budget's been hit for

    Stock up (at discounted prices) of
    Pr!nces tuna chunks in brine : 160g tins x 24 = £15.68
    N@polina red pesto : 190g jars x 12 = £7.36
    Napolina wholewheat fusilli : 24 x 500g bag = £10.24
    Pr!nces beef paste : 75g jars x 48 = £10.44

    Total for stock up = £43.72

    2nd Jan - trip to A1di. 2 bananas, bag of stir fry veg, and punnet of grapes. Total £3.01
    2nd Jan - trip to Icel@nd. Bag of chicken nuggets (work day lunches). Total £3.00
    6th Jan - visit to a discount food store near an office I was sent to help out at. 24 frozen (to be home baked) cinnamon swirls, 15 frozen (to be home baked) large bakewell tarts, 2 jars of sauce for cooking with chicken (each jar does 4 portions), box of instant mash, 5 tubs of cinnamon sugar, and a bag of coconut flour. Total £7.99
    6th Jan
    - Her0n freezer centre. 2 twin packs of toffee cheesecakes and a pack of ham, all at 75% off. Total 75p
    7th Jan - A1di. Packet of quick cook risotto. Total 79p
    9th Jan - P0undland. Large pack of crips. Total 50p
    9th Jan - Tesc0. Large tub of extra thick cream, two large pieces of salmon (cut into 7 fillets) plus 4 hake portions. The fish was all in rtc - cost me £8.59, original ticket prices were £21.48. Also a rtc dessert - still a bit pricey as it was a 'finest', but I won't be buying it again as it wasn't anything special! Total £11.74
    9th Jan - A1di. Punnet of mushrooms, punnet of cherry tomatoes, and a banana. Total £1.77
    10th Jan - Her0n freezer centre. Reduced to clear butty for work lunch today, and a pack of breaded fish for tea last night. Total £1.75
    10 Jan - A1di. Pack of 2 panini rolls (to put the breaded fish into). Total 49p

    So that's £75.51 of my £130 budget gone already
    Guess I really could be making some weird combination meals when I'm off work the week after next

    On the plus side I have enough pasta to last me most of the year (I eat a lot of pasta!), pesto to make quick pasta meals for a good few months, and enough fish for a few weeks (I'm trying to have fish at least twice a week, one to be an oily one such as salmon), and nugget lunches for most of the rest of the months working days. I use tinned tuna with mayo either on jacket spuds (q&e evening meal) or as a sandwich filler, and also use tuna for a q&e pasta meal - so I can get through a lot of that too.
    Last edited by cw18; 16-01-2018 at 5:55 PM.
    Groceries : May £11.97 / £120 Apr £137.78 / £100 Mar £99.55 / £100.Feb £85.02 / £80.Jan £112.15 / £130. Annual £446.47 / £1200

    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 11th Jan 18, 8:25 PM
    • 5,343 Posts
    • 55,181 Thanks
    Evening all

    Order delivered from Mr T today = £32.39.

    Mainly stock cupboard items and some fruit

    Hope you all have a great Friday
    Bulk buy.......APR=233.76
    OS WL= -2/8 ......CC =00......Savings = £13,140
    • Mrs Cheshire
    • By Mrs Cheshire 11th Jan 18, 8:49 PM
    • 826 Posts
    • 8,544 Thanks
    Mrs Cheshire
    Been to get my weekly shop today, annoyingly I ended up queuing in a1di 3 times over the day, got the main food shop and in the car park remembered I needed washing powder, then got home a realised I needed toilet rolls, so luckily was passing the shops later so had to stop by to get them.
    Also went to B%M and Tosco to get bits I couldn't get at aldi.
    Overall I spent £69.90, currently up to £194.75/£400, still got 20 days remaining although I've shopped until Thursday next week, should only need bread before then. Keeping everything crossed I can keep into budget.
    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£?/£400 May£378.34/£400 Jun £274.19/£400
    • bustiblondilocks
    • By bustiblondilocks 11th Jan 18, 10:09 PM
    • 24 Posts
    • 238 Thanks
    Spent £4.05 on lightbulb Monday. So Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today all no spend days!!! I'm happy. Still loads food in house. I'm going to drag this out as long as I can. I'm quite enjoying it so far...hope it lasts!
    Year to date spend on non bills: £171.69
    Year to date debt:£12500

    Practically perfect people never permit sentiment to muddle their thinking!
    Mary Poppins
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 12th Jan 18, 6:14 AM
    • 199 Posts
    • 2,206 Thanks
    Colour me envious at all the insanely cheap prices you folks in the UK have available to you. I!!!8217;m constantly shaking my head in amazement at you being able to get stuff for 8p or whatever.
    JUN 18 GC: 132.23/€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
    • Grannymolly
    • By Grannymolly 12th Jan 18, 7:17 AM
    • 42 Posts
    • 500 Thanks
    Colour me envious at all the insanely cheap prices you folks in the UK have available to you. I’m constantly shaking my head in amazement at you being able to get stuff for 8p or whatever.
    Originally posted by JingsMyBucket
    I don’t think I’ve EVER got anything for 8p.... I just can’t do it with kids going to bed for 7pm. But I do still get the odd 75% off meat or decent veg deal at around 5pm.
    It’s still doable on a budget if you can’t get yellow stickers though. They just make it far easier!

    DS has a party tonight close to Mr T’s this evening so I shall pop in to check for any YS and pick up a couple of offers they have on lunchbox items that are cheaper than Mr A at the moment. Will add spends tonight.
    Family of 4 and a cat, trying to reduce outgoings GC JAN £225.94/£250 GC FEB £93.20/£250
    • klbooth
    • By klbooth 12th Jan 18, 8:13 AM
    • 207 Posts
    • 769 Thanks
    Hi! So having a massive kick up the bum in the last week to get my finances under control. Have set myself some saving and debt clearing goals and have gone through 12mths of bank statements and credit card statements in an effort to work out where the heck our money goes every month.

    This is a biggie, the vague food and household items section seems massive and I feel is possibly where I need to start to get some wins. So I estimate we spent on average £500 per month last year for 2 adults/2 teenagers, 1 dog, 2 cats and 2 guinea pigs..... eeeek!

    I have read the first page and while I am hoping to get that down to sub £300 by the end of the year I am starting with a hopefully realistic goal of £450 for this calendar month (bearing in mind we had a costco trip at the start of January before the lightbulb went off...... )

    Currently sitting at £324.22/£450. Wish me luck!!
    1P Challenge #13 £265.41/£667.95;£2 Club #30 £50;50p Club #8 £22;20p Club #100 £26;SPC #39 £?;VSPC #15 £492.30;1 Debt Vs 100 Days #1 £3964/£3964 (100%); PAYDOBX 2018 #118 £8912/£10014 (89%);GC Jan £483.58/£450; Feb £390.32/£430; Mar £260.41/£410; Apr £396.17/£410; May £368.57/£400; Jun 305.57/390
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 12th Jan 18, 10:23 AM
    • 2,622 Posts
    • 38,420 Thanks
    Broke my aim of not shopping for 10 days due to hungry teen

    Spent £7 at Aldi on bread, milk, veg and b.beans, also bought a little bottle of cider to make a pork casserole tomorrow night.
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!
    • Viking_mfw
    • By Viking_mfw 12th Jan 18, 12:48 PM
    • 120 Posts
    • 524 Thanks
    I have to say not buying meat this month (arbitrary decision imposed by me on OH) has really brought the shopping bill down. Standing at 32/75 for this week and though I will need to buy milk and eggs before Monday, I can't see me spending £43 on them!
    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 12th Jan 18, 2:17 PM
    • 1,422 Posts
    • 10,568 Thanks
    Loving everyone's updates and meal plans.. keep them coming!
    I've managed to spend slightly over my budget as of last night - about £5 over at the moment. I need to buy sanitary stuff later though that I forgot yesterday. I get paid two weeks today but from my shop last night my fridge is FULL. I bought more than my list because there was tons of good salad YS - I mean 4p bags - I bought 6 I think, because I figured I wouldn't be able to get through more before it went manky. I'm on Slimming World too, so any cheap veg is fair game! Will see how far I get with my now very well stocked fridge and cupboard supplies plus freezer meals, and I'll try and put off buying more unless I have to. I would usually at this point have 1 more shop left in the month, next Thursday, so it really will be a case of wait and see where I am by then. Hey ho.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Old Style, Greenfingered, Energy & Going Out Deals boards which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly and I can move and merge threads there. Please remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to (it's not part of my role to deal with this) Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
    GC: Nov £0/£165 | Oct £220/£220 | Sep £244.34/£250 | Aug £190.38/£200 | Jul £194.08/£150 | Jun £179.03/£150 | May £158.54/£150 | Apr £316.94/£200 | Mar £170.47/£120 | Feb £199.45/£160
    Vegan 27-8-13
    • XSpender
    • By XSpender 12th Jan 18, 4:13 PM
    • 2,970 Posts
    • 30,662 Thanks
    Weekly shop done in Asda today. £49.15 spent. I am saving a fortune not buying crisps and snacks and booze this month.

    £10.65 left in case I need a fruit top up during next week.

    Total stands at £169.46/£240
    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
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 12th Jan 18, 4:18 PM
    • 311 Posts
    • 4,102 Thanks
    The 5 year old ate the last banana in the house this morning so I had to buy more today or risk mutiny tomorrow morning. £1.98 spent.

    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 12th Jan 18, 4:35 PM
    • 2,661 Posts
    • 33,293 Thanks
    £40 spent at the market this morning; not doing too well here! And apparently the market butcher isn't doing Fridays or Saturdays any more, which may throw me into the hands of the supermarkets as I tend to work on Sundays. But - there's still stuff in the freezer.

    Just over £100 for the rest of the month, for 5 adults. I shouldn't need anything for the pets or livestock, or any flour, butter, sugar, eggs, cereals, tea, coffee, washing or cleaning supplies, so it's really only fresh stuff I'll need to buy; the nightmare would be if anyone suddenly came to stay. Which OH's family do sometimes do, with just a couple of days' warning and multiple serious food allergies to cater for...

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

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
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