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    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    • 9,340Posts
    • 17,879Thanks
    February 2018 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    February 2018 Grocery Challenge 13th Oct 14 at 12:54 PM
    Hi everyone,

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

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your January budget, then keep on posting in the Januarychallenge.

    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; 18-01-2018 at 7:51 PM.
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Page 10
    • Mrs Cheshire
    • By Mrs Cheshire 4th Feb 18, 9:28 PM
    • 812 Posts
    • 8,377 Thanks
    Mrs Cheshire
    Ooo I lurve sultanas - especially when they've had time in something to 'plump' up

    You can add to soo many things from scones, yoghurt, rice puddings, cooked apples and raw banana with whatever, etc

    Plus they are gorgeous in main dishes such as curries, tagines and chillies etc

    The list is endless if you like sultanas
    Originally posted by lynnejk
    What do you usually use to plump them up?

    I spent £15.51 in morries today, went in as we were passing to get a large 12.4kg bag of unwashed potatoes. I prefer them as they come in a big brown bag rather than plastic. They are also pretty cheap £4.94. Bit frustrated though, as I picked up a pack of limited edition mull*r lights that said £2 on the shelf edge, but been charged £3.87. The stores not nearby otherwise I'd take them back and query it. I've been wanting to try them for ages so will be a treat for me.
    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 £211.17/£400
    • lynnejk
    • By lynnejk 4th Feb 18, 10:37 PM
    • 5,343 Posts
    • 55,180 Thanks
    What do you usually use to plump them up?
    Originally posted by Mrs Cheshire
    If you put sultanas in anything that you're cooking from apples to rice pud or savoury dishes they will 'plump' up in the liquid anyway.

    If you want to use them without cooking then any liquid, depending on your taste and use. For desserts you could use brandy or another liquor or you can use fruit juice.

    If you put them in yoghurt they will plump in about an hour
    Bulk buy.......APR=233.76
    OS WL= -2/8 ......CC =00......Savings = £13,140
    • mrs-moneypenny
    • By mrs-moneypenny 5th Feb 18, 7:37 AM
    • 15,460 Posts
    • 197,557 Thanks
    declaring £390 for January and going for £400 in February
    grocery challenge April budget £400 spent £108
    SPC~11 No100 : : X4 O/t fund so far £1400
    read your books challenge-currently on After you
    cherish all living things
    17in 2018challenge 3/18
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 5th Feb 18, 8:30 AM
    • 850 Posts
    • 4,842 Thanks
    Mrs Cheshire, What do you usually use to plump them up?
    Some fruit recipes I have seen use a mug/cup of lukewarm black tea.
    OCT£200£106NOV£200CRUISE,DEC£200XMAS.JAN £200=£107FEB£200=£40,MARCH£175=£50
    APRIL£200-£5=£195-£22=£173,-£6=£167,-£28=£139,-£21=£118,-£10= £108
    • ancientmum
    • By ancientmum 5th Feb 18, 8:52 AM
    • 134 Posts
    • 1,115 Thanks
    Happy Monday all.

    Spend over the weekend spread over Sinsb and Tosca, £11.03. This includes baking foil and scourers. Cat food was £18.75. I got some shopping for Mother at Tosca to bring spend to over £60 to get money off voucher for petrol. I do a 300 mile round trip to visit her every week, so every penny saved is important.

    I have got two sausages out of the freezer this morning and will make a sausage pasta bake with tinned and fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers and cheese for dinner tonight. One portion today and three in the freezer.
    If life is a journey, I want comfy shoes

    2018: Trying to keep to annual budgets £1040 for groceries, £480 for cat needs
    Update: £277.46/1040 £114.84/480
    • mummyjane
    • By mummyjane 5th Feb 18, 9:19 AM
    • 358 Posts
    • 3,240 Thanks
    Mrs Cheshire, try phoning the helpline/store and explain that you are unable to come back to the store, they might send you vouchers that you can use next time you're able to pop in x
    Groceries Challenge 2018
    Jan £202.95/£400, 8 NSDs
    • Grannymolly
    • By Grannymolly 5th Feb 18, 9:51 AM
    • 42 Posts
    • 500 Thanks
    £64.50 on a Waitr0se delivery got £20 off and there were a fair few deals on that were good for us! Now stocked up for close to two weeks
    Family of 4 and a cat, trying to reduce outgoings GC JAN £225.94/£250 GC FEB £93.20/£250
    • VfM4meplse
    • By VfM4meplse 5th Feb 18, 10:02 AM
    • 25,435 Posts
    • 54,107 Thanks
    2 NSDs so far, and just £2.29/£40 on food.

    79p of which was supposed to be on some 30% off bread at Lidl making it 55p, which I don!!!8217;t particularly need right now, but the discount wasn!!!8217;t applied at the till. The one time I don!!!8217;t check my receipt is the one time it slips through!!

    "No man is worth, crawling on the earth"- adapted from Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio

    Hope is not a strategy ...A child is for life, not just 18 years....Don't get me started on the NHS, because you won't win...If in doubt, don't pull out... I love chaz-ing!
    • AprilR
    • By AprilR 5th Feb 18, 11:23 AM
    • 21 Posts
    • 117 Thanks
    Me and my partner don!!!8217;t normally get days off together, so Saturday night we did a big shop together once I finished work. We went to Aldi and Tesco. We then went to Sainsburys yesterday whilst we were shopping for a curtain pole and ended up getting a few more bits.

    So all in all we!!!8217;ve spent £80.64/£150 so far this month. This is including things we!!!8217;ve stocked up on, such as stock cubes, gravy, squash, sauces for chicken wraps etc. We also bought some Chinese food from Tesco as a treat (and a lot cheaper than an actual take away) I!!!8217;d never had fortune cookies before so my partner picked a box up.

    Bought a few meat items but still need to do a big meat shop for our freezer (this will happen towards the end of the month). We have chicken and sausages to last until then. We also bought a piece of steak to try to cook in the slow cooker this week.
    • Mrs Cheshire
    • By Mrs Cheshire 5th Feb 18, 2:40 PM
    • 812 Posts
    • 8,377 Thanks
    Mrs Cheshire
    I've been to Mr T's today to use some vouchers I had, after promotions it should have cost £20.02 but I had a £2 off £20 spend and a couple of other money off vouchers as well as staff discount. It ended up costing £14.02, plus I got a couple of money off coupons in with the till receipt.
    I used the handheld scanners for the 1st time, really useful when you're on a budget or only wanting to spend a certain amount as you can see if adding up and it also takes the promotions off for you so you can see when you're close to the minimum spend.
    Will definitely use them again.
    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 £211.17/£400
    • Merlin's Beard
    • By Merlin's Beard 5th Feb 18, 4:48 PM
    • 144 Posts
    • 1,325 Thanks
    Merlin's Beard
    Popped out to get bread, some YS lunch meat if available, and porridge sachets...

    Spent £12.41.

    One day I'll learn not to go shopping hungry

    £30.85/£100, so in the grand scheme of things, if I make it to the tenth (and excepting milk, I should have enough to last until the 15th...) I've spent a third of the budget on a third of the month.
    • Itisme
    • By Itisme 5th Feb 18, 6:37 PM
    • 100 Posts
    • 594 Thanks
    Yesterday spent £5.25 at Tesco and £13.35 at Sainsbury's.
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 5th Feb 18, 7:46 PM
    • 305 Posts
    • 4,035 Thanks
    I popped in to the supermarket to pick up a couple of bits including some cider for a bean cassoulet recipe I want to try from Jack Monroe's site ( I don't like to drink the stuff but it is nice in cooking so I'll have to find some foodie uses for the rest of it as I'll only need one can of the 4). I've only just noticed looking at the receipt now that the cashier mustn't have scanned it properly as I've not been charged for it. So £8.20 spent.

    11.39 /100
    • debtfreeforlife
    • By debtfreeforlife 5th Feb 18, 9:36 PM
    • 148 Posts
    • 886 Thanks
    Announcing £62.30 for me today - includes the weekly fruit and veg box (to arrive Thurs) which I've just ordered. And a few bottles of milk bought today as well, means I shouldn't have any more than minimal spends for the next week.
    GC Feb 18: £204.97/£200 | Mar 18: £207.93/£200 | Apr 18 £83.71/£200.00
    • tighteningthebelt
    • By tighteningthebelt 5th Feb 18, 10:42 PM
    • 79 Posts
    • 1,029 Thanks
    On some posts it's displaying !!!8217; in the middle of words instead of the apostrophe... Does anyone know what's going on? Has only been the last day or so...
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 6th Feb 18, 6:12 AM
    • 166 Posts
    • 1,851 Thanks
    On some posts it's displaying !!!8217; in the middle of words instead of the apostrophe... Does anyone know what's going on? Has only been the last day or so...
    Originally posted by tighteningthebelt
    I started noticing it last week on several of my own posts. My theory is that whenever you use the Quick Reply function, the special characters like apostrophes, currency, or even smileys get misinterpreted when posting. When I used the Advanced Reply function, everything was fine.

    It didn’t use to be like this so something has broken in the code base. To many of the more experienced users, where can we report this? Please and thanks.
    APR 18 GC: €218.47/€400.00 // 8/10 NSD
    MAR 18 GC: €193.98/€400.00 // 17/10 NSD // £162.19/£150 UK stock up
    FEB 18 GC: €250.44/€450 and 15/10 NSD
    JAN 18 GC: €377.92/€550.00 // 8 NSD
    Dec 17 GC: €406.50/€350.00 // 11 NSD // £198.57/£200 UK stock up
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 6th Feb 18, 8:34 AM
    • 850 Posts
    • 4,842 Thanks
    I was wondering about the numbers too, think it`s where people insert a smilie.
    OCT£200£106NOV£200CRUISE,DEC£200XMAS.JAN £200=£107FEB£200=£40,MARCH£175=£50
    APRIL£200-£5=£195-£22=£173,-£6=£167,-£28=£139,-£21=£118,-£10= £108
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 6th Feb 18, 8:36 AM
    • 850 Posts
    • 4,842 Thanks
    testing not smilies then
    OCT£200£106NOV£200CRUISE,DEC£200XMAS.JAN £200=£107FEB£200=£40,MARCH£175=£50
    APRIL£200-£5=£195-£22=£173,-£6=£167,-£28=£139,-£21=£118,-£10= £108
    • TooClumsy
    • By TooClumsy 6th Feb 18, 8:42 AM
    • 113 Posts
    • 330 Thanks
    5th NSD today, but will need some veg tomorrow. Freezer stock diminishing nicely ready for defrosting, hoping that will be next week. Having a staring match with 4 tins of sardines in tomato sauce, which I don't like, but will eat, in the end!!
    Originally posted by tighteningthebelt

    This made me laugh out loud in my empty office, curious to know who won the staring match!
    GC Challenge 2018:
    Jan £309.44/£290.72
    Feb £204.81/£290
    March £153.60/£300
    • TooClumsy
    • By TooClumsy 6th Feb 18, 8:48 AM
    • 113 Posts
    • 330 Thanks
    I've been to Mr T's today to use some vouchers I had, after promotions it should have cost £20.02 but I had a £2 off £20 spend and a couple of other money off vouchers as well as staff discount. It ended up costing £14.02, plus I got a couple of money off coupons in with the till receipt.
    I used the handheld scanners for the 1st time, really useful when you're on a budget or only wanting to spend a certain amount as you can see if adding up and it also takes the promotions off for you so you can see when you're close to the minimum spend.
    Will definitely use them again.
    Originally posted by Mrs Cheshire
    I find the scan and shop things to be a lifesaver, I always try and use them whenever I go shopping. I wish Aldi had these as the tills are just so busy!
    GC Challenge 2018:
    Jan £309.44/£290.72
    Feb £204.81/£290
    March £153.60/£300
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