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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 18
    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 12th Jan 18, 4:37 PM
    • 5,343 Posts
    • 55,181 Thanks
    Afternoon all

    DH went out to meet someone today and said he would pick up milk from Al*i on the way back. Unfortunately he decided to use a local Clop near his rendezvous and spent £4.83 on milk, raspberries and tomatoes Oh well - done now.

    Hope you all having a great Friday
    Bulk buy.......APR=233.76
    OS WL= -2/8 ......CC =00......Savings = £13,140
    • Grannymolly
    • By Grannymolly 12th Jan 18, 5:28 PM
    • 42 Posts
    • 500 Thanks
    Spent £10.60in Mr T.... got what was on my list and some YS pinapple and strawberries for the kids fruit and at 50 and 64p respectively make a nice change from boring banana and apples the budget usually allow!

    Mr A shop arrives tomorrow and Iíve meal planned for 2 weeks.... just a top up the week after next so budget should be safe!

    Meal plan this week looks like (yes Iím weird running Sunday to

    Sunday; Roast chicken, homemade yorkeshires, roasties, spring greeens, carrots and hmgravy.
    Monday; leftover chicken chow mein with mayflower curry sauce and some
    RTC frozen spring rolls
    Tuesday; chicken fajitas
    Wed; spaghetti and meatballs
    Thurs; Jacket potatoes with tuna mayo and sweetcorn and salad
    Friday; hot dogs in buns (real sausages)
    Saturday; homemade pizzas with YS
    Sunday; Roast Gammon and trimmings.

    Hm soup, lentil and bacon and chicken and noodle.
    Family of 4 and a cat, trying to reduce outgoings GC JAN £225.94/£250 GC FEB £93.20/£250
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 12th Jan 18, 5:53 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 668 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    hi everyone
    just spent another £43.61. Total now £111.21.
    Hopefully F&V will last until next week and have also bought gammon joint, chicken, sausages etc. So will make up menu for the next week.
    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 12th Jan 18, 6:53 PM
    • 746 Posts
    • 5,272 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.
    Originally posted by TooClumsy
    Hello and welcome!

    Hopefully, youíll find that first month in your new home is an aberration and things will be easier money-wise from now on. I well remember our first month in our flat, where we had absolutely no food/supplies when we moved in. We haemorrhaged money everywhere. I didnít know where it went then and I still donít know. That month was the trigger for our original budget and the reason we keep our grocery kitty in cash, in a separate purse. It made a huge difference.

    May I suggest that you read the Lots More Sneaky Ways to Save the Pennies thread and the orginal Sneaky Ways thread. Theyíre very helpful for inspiring ways to save money.

    - Pip
    "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
    • bustiblondilocks
    • By bustiblondilocks 12th Jan 18, 7:22 PM
    • 24 Posts
    • 238 Thanks
    Another no spend day
    (Bought petrol but that's included in the bills account as need it for work )
    Total 7/12
    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
    • ceb1995
    • By ceb1995 12th Jan 18, 7:22 PM
    • 246 Posts
    • 553 Thanks
    Spent £2 on pies as I forgot to defrost something for dinner so that's now £49.61/ £190, so going to look through the freezer and cupboards so see what we need to add to make meals for the next week.
    • short_bird
    • By short_bird 12th Jan 18, 7:39 PM
    • 1,889 Posts
    • 26,642 Thanks
    Invested £1 in milk at the store by work on Monday, lasted till Thursday.
    £6 at Icel@nd on Tuesday for cleaning products and faster food as I was freezing when I got home.
    £2 at £land on Wednesday, baked beans and cereal
    £4.65, late breakfast of posh coffee and toast after the doctors, then needed chocolate and milk... well, OK I didn't need chocolate...
    £88.27 left. Need a fresh veg top up and a batch cooking session.
    Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas.
    • LalalaLindy
    • By LalalaLindy 12th Jan 18, 8:30 PM
    • 64 Posts
    • 583 Thanks
    Evening all.

    Yet another unanticipated spend yesterday on water filters - part of our attempt to cut down on plastic bottles. Iíve also realised that I have been thinking we are closer to our month end than we really are because OH payday is on 18th - but I am doing this calendar monthly so running until 31st. Drat!

    On the plus side, Iíve finally got a NSD in today at last! My problem is that I run several elderly relatives on errands and shopping trips but they wonít all go on the same day or to the same shops (awkward squad) so Iím in and out of shops all the time instead of sitting at home saving my pennies. Iíll just have to try harder to resist temptation.

    Hope everyone has a good weekend.
    JAN GC: £409.00/£390 + 10 NSD ** FEB GC: £388.40/£390 + 10 NSD
    MAR GC: £428.96/£390 + 9 NSD ** APR GC: £137.38/£390 + 5 NSD

    LBM 23/09/13 - DFD 08/10/17
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 12th Jan 18, 9:43 PM
    • 2,663 Posts
    • 33,296 Thanks
    LalalaLindy, I know exactly where you are coming from! I do my mother's shopping on a Wednesday, partly at the market in our county town where she lives, and I can't help sometimes picking up a bargain or two...

    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...
    • Happy Kitties
    • By Happy Kitties 13th Jan 18, 9:39 AM
    • 526 Posts
    • 4,105 Thanks
    Happy Kitties
    many thanks to Coxy and Zippy for the new thread.

    I'm just catching up on reading the thread. Even though I have not posted I have set £170for the month for me, 6 cats and a DD at uni who is costing me more away than at home!! I buy items for food stash bags to keep her topped up. Even though she is in catered accommodation DD needs a min of 3000 calories a day otherwise she starts to lose weight, not including the extra calories for her sports training so I'm always making up snack bags for when I see her for uni. Have made the most of the post Christmas reduced snacks, so off she went back to uni yesterday with a big bag full of food and toilet rolls, hence I will stick to my normal £170.

    Despite increasing my December budget I still overspent but the freezer is stuffed full and I got a slow cooker for Christmas that I have been making full use of.

    Will be continuing to follow even if I don't post but would really like to come in under budget, would be a good start to the New Year
    2017 birthday savings shopping frugally = 481.15:money. 2018 birthday savings so far=359.51
    • Grannymolly
    • By Grannymolly 13th Jan 18, 9:50 AM
    • 42 Posts
    • 500 Thanks
    Online Mr A shop arrived. Good subs this time so got 2 Avocados for the price of 1 because they didnít have any loose... and a pack of leeks instead of a loose one again assuming no loose ones. So that makes me happy !!!128514;

    £36.95 to add to the budget and hopeful for a no spend week now! As Iím just over half way through budget and half way through the month....

    Have a lovely Saturday everyone!
    Family of 4 and a cat, trying to reduce outgoings GC JAN £225.94/£250 GC FEB £93.20/£250
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 13th Jan 18, 10:45 AM
    • 201 Posts
    • 2,217 Thanks
    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!
    Originally posted by elsiepac
    See! I told y'all you get great YS deals over there in the U.K. The ones near me tend to be 30% off not 75% or 90% off like they are in the U.K.

    Speaking of which I just picked up two YS deals for some good Irish prime rib/porterhouse steaks. They've just gone into the freezer and I'm glad to have them. I've been stalking that particular Delhaize and checking the dates on the good steaks for a while now. They tend to mark down foods one day before expiry.

    Here are my spends the past couple of days. I've been running around town in meetings and OH has been sick so I haven't had time to update.

    Ä15.99 at Lidl - aubergines and other stuff to make Saturday dinner
    Ä10.99 - soup and fruit for OH
    Ä17.99 at Delhaize - steaks, sausages and some chocolate for sick OH.

    Totals So Far:
    Ä175.80 / Ä250.00
    3 NSD

    So, after I bought 8 huge aubergines and a metric tonne of mozzarella to host Saturday night's dinner party, I had to cancel because OH is super sick. I'm going to try getting poking him toward his doctor on Monday to have a look at his chest. But now, I have a bunch of aubergines and mozzarella in my fridge. I'm going to make lasagna for my team members next week so that should use up some of them. I think I'll also buy some foil containers and make smaller lasagna for us as well to stick in our freezer.

    Because the party is postponed to next week Friday, I think I'll just toss the brandy cream I have in the fridge from Christmas. It's unopened but technically expired on January 10th. I was willing to push it until last night to make ice cream, but I don't want to push it another whole week. Or am I being too safe with this?

    Also at this rate, I think I may do a soup party for next week's dinner party instead of something with big mains. Maybe a black bean soup, vegetable soup and a beef soup with lots of salad, baguettes, butter and something for dessert. Auch! I should go meal plan for next week...
    JUN 18 GC: Ä223.92/Ä300.00 // 8/10 NSD
    MAY 18 GC: Ä333.04 /Ä400.00 // 16/10 NSD
    APR 18 GC: Ä406.12/Ä400.00 // 16/10 NSD
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 13th Jan 18, 11:15 AM
    • 533 Posts
    • 6,579 Thanks
    Been a flat out week at work, that said, I've managed to make four meals from a roast chicken and been inventive with meals and lunches.
    Needed milk & took the opportunity to grab a couple things not available from L*dls..
    £63.45 spent happily only £27.80 counts towards the grocery budget!

    Wishing all a happy, productive weekend!
    Living life happily! Debt Free date: 06/2018!!!
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June GC £236.20/£300
    • Coxy11
    • By Coxy11 13th Jan 18, 11:46 AM
    • 2,173 Posts
    • 26,349 Thanks
    Hi all,
    Budgets all updated to here
    Welcome to all the newbies and the returners (waves to cw18, good to 'see' you back!)
    Good luck everyone,
    Cross-stitch WIP #1: Collecting Shells by Nancy Cole
    Cross-stitch WIP #2: Pretty Little London by Satsuma Street
    Crochet WIP: Apres-ski blanket by Black Sheep Wools
    • ceb1995
    • By ceb1995 13th Jan 18, 1:17 PM
    • 246 Posts
    • 553 Thanks
    Did the weekly shop today, loads of ys meat in the freezer so spent £19.88, total is now £69.49/£190.
    • Tink_04
    • By Tink_04 13th Jan 18, 2:16 PM
    • 939 Posts
    • 4,858 Thanks
    This month was super tight anyway after spending waaayyy too much last month so we have lived out of the freezer and cupboards best we can and have had £80 for 4 of us

    I have £11 left until 19th so are on the home stretch now! One more week to go.

    Sunday - dinner made form lo gammon I froze
    Monday - spag Bol (with mince from the freezer)
    Tuesday - turkey curry from the freezer
    Wednesday -
    Thursday - lasangna
    Friday -

    Will add Wednesday and Friday when I sort out where the kids are going to be but Iím sure we can get by.


    Sandwhich stuff
    Chicken breasts

    Hopefully we can get all that!
    1p savings challenge 2018
    £2 savings challenge
    • Puddleglum
    • By Puddleglum 13th Jan 18, 2:25 PM
    • 550 Posts
    • 4,550 Thanks
    Reporting in on my first week of the challenge. £28 spent of my £35 budget. Just tomorrow to go but that £7 should be safe as I have enough food 'till Monday even if meals may get a little strange.

    A South African house mate asked me if my fried spam and cheese "sandwiches" were a traditional British dish the other day and I had to admit that they probably weren't!
    "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).
    • Rachiedabbler70
    • By Rachiedabbler70 13th Jan 18, 4:49 PM
    • 224 Posts
    • 2,022 Thanks
    Hi All

    Just reporting spend to date of £153.55/ £220 after doing my shopping for the next 7 days and including £10 for an evening out with my sisters tonight. This means I will have about £65 to last the final 11 days of the month. I think it is doable but I'll need to be careful.

    I never hold a big stock of food, but will look to use everything up. May increase my potato consumption - such a versatile veggie and get creative with tinned tomatoes, lentils, brown rice and herbs which are all in the cupboard

    Had porridge and a banana for dinner last night and must admit it was all I needed, so may also do that again for a couple of evening meals this week.

    Good luck everyone - it's a long month!!
    Blitz that mortgage
    Jun 2016 £152,000
    Jun 2017 £142,575 (6.2% paid)
    Jun 2018 £128,557 (15.42% paid)
    GC Jun 18 £120/£240
    MFW 2018 #169 £6,793.26/£12,000 (56.61%)
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 13th Jan 18, 5:14 PM
    • 2,663 Posts
    • 33,296 Thanks
    A much-needed NSD for me today! It's not the first this month but I never remember to record them. I nearly cracked and went to the supermarket for some naans, but DD1 got strict with me so we're making them in the breadmaker instead.

    It won't be another tomorrow, though, as I'll have to hurtle to the market to see the butcher; my meal plan had included one of his £10 deals, that will do us 3 omnivores 3 main meals plus lots of lunchtime soup. I will also try to find out why he's dropped the other two days, and whether he'll be re-instating them; fingers crossed, but he's close to retirement so I don't hold out much hope. I shall have to rethink my entire food-buying strategy if not...

    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 13th Jan 18, 5:54 PM
    • 42 Posts
    • 500 Thanks
    This month was super tight anyway after spending waaayyy too much last month so we have lived out of the freezer and cupboards best we can and have had £80 for 4 of us

    I have £11 left until 19th so are on the home stretch now! One more week to go.

    Sunday - dinner made form lo gammon I froze
    Monday - spag Bol (with mince from the freezer)
    Tuesday - turkey curry from the freezer
    Wednesday -
    Thursday - lasangna
    Friday -

    Will add Wednesday and Friday when I sort out where the kids are going to be but Iím sure we can get by.


    Sandwhich stuff
    Chicken breasts

    Hopefully we can get all that!
    Originally posted by Tink_04
    Good luck!
    Iím sure you can do it with some careful planning and very cheap dinners!
    We stick to Jacket spuds and cheap pasta dishes when Iíve had an unexpected expense...
    Family of 4 and a cat, trying to reduce outgoings GC JAN £225.94/£250 GC FEB £93.20/£250
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