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    • zippychick
    • By zippychick 13th Oct 14, 12:54 PM
    • 9,343Posts
    • 17,881Thanks
    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.
    A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men
    Norn Iron club member #380

Page 12
    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 7th Feb 18, 1:08 PM
    • 746 Posts
    • 5,272 Thanks
    Curious to see what people do for their lunches- do you have a separate budget for this, which you offset with lunches from home where possible?

    My budget only covers the food cooked at home, some months I end up taking a lot of leftovers/lunches from home and other months there are leaving lunches/reunion lunches/holiday lunches, which come out of my lunch budget.. I only recently put all 'food' categories under a food budget and was shocked when I combined home groceries, lunches, eating out. It's a flipping scary number :s
    Originally posted by TooClumsy

    We take our lunches to work virtually every single day. On the odd occasion that we buy lunch instead, it comes out of our own allowances not the grocery budget.

    Having said that, on a Sunday when we're at the role-playing-games club, we usually buy wraps, hummus, salad and sliced meat - so that I can make up wraps while we play - and that is usually paid for out of the grocery purse. This happens partially because we're usually buying yoghurt for the week and partially because the leftovers will be used on subsequent days. (NB: If we happen to have wraps in the fridge or sliced meat in the freezer, I'll use those first.)

    - 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
    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 7th Feb 18, 1:16 PM
    • 746 Posts
    • 5,272 Thanks
    4 - nil to the sardines at the minute, but I'm hoping to come out victorious in extra time. Glad you liked it!
    Originally posted by tighteningthebelt

    How about currying them/throwing them into a curry? Sardines and/or pilchards in tomato sauce take Madras spices well. Like you, I am not a huge fan but I do make a great pilchard Madras, padded out with carrots and mushrooms. It's cheap if you make it from scratch (there's probably a recipe somewhere on my blog).

    If you don't mind the fishy taste - which I do mind - and have some mashed potato left over, you can also try Mexican Pilchard Pudding: combine 1lb cold mashed potato with 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of mixed herbs, a mushed up 400g can of pilchards in tomato sauce (try using 2 cans of sardines in tomato sauce instead) and a beaten egg. Bake at 180C for about 50 minutes. Serve with peas.


    - 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
    • TooClumsy
    • By TooClumsy 7th Feb 18, 5:04 PM
    • 113 Posts
    • 330 Thanks
    I have a spreadsheet with separate sections for different types, for instance in this grocery challenge I have included meat delivery, graze boxes, wine delivery, grocery shopping, fruit and veg boxes and pet stuff. I add up the total of these for the challenge but they are separate on my spreadsheet so I can drill down into the detail further when I want to!

    On top of that I have restaurants & cafes, takeaways and partner lunches sections which for the moment are not included in the challenge. This is because takeaways are a rare treat at home, cafes & restaurants are for treats out with the kids or special occasions and my partner has the occasional lunch out which I can't control in any way so would prefer not to restrict him!

    I actually have everything we spend with a monthly budget attached but I am not very strict on keeping it under them which is where this challenge comes in!

    I always remember someone at school saying that "Job" stands for "Just Over Broke" which always seems true as no matter how much you earn, your spending just goes up with it!!
    Originally posted by Tales17
    So very true, I found a budget from 4 years ago and shocked at the income figures there and how we still survived on that, the higher the income, the higher the expenditure! We always thought we wouldn't be frivolous with it, but I think we fall into the trap of not having to justify why we need to buy it anymore. We need to become better money guardians!

    Currently we have:

    grocery budget £290
    Bulk Buy £40
    Alcohol £10 (this is just built up, we have a separate xmas fund)
    lunch budget me £80
    lunch budget hubbie £80
    Groceries for grandad £20 (we all take it in turns so its all very ad hoc)
    Eating Out £125

    So thats a total of £645 a month! (If we stick to the budget of course)

    GC Challenge 2018:
    Jan £309.44/£290.72
    Feb £204.81/£290
    March £153.60/£300
    • MrsPear
    • By MrsPear 7th Feb 18, 6:26 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 485 Thanks
    Mrs Cheshire Hi how about boiled from loaf? I use this one although I add a teaspoon of mix spice and I make it in the saucepan to save washing up. It looks a tad awful in the beginning but comes together nicely.

    Update my signature

    Monday - co op had eldest’s favourite juice on special 2 for 3.5 - so £3.50
    Today Aldi - £35.79

    Was going to be it until Monday but the boys have requested very nicely for chocolate chip loaf and as they have had good parent evenings I will up pick chocolate chips tomorrow.
    Gc challenge £363.53/ 500
    Y Feb 317.28 / 350
    • MrsPear
    • By MrsPear 7th Feb 18, 6:42 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 485 Thanks
    *tooclumsy* I include food out if I pay as that comes from household budget. The youngest eats for free - universal free school meals in England not sure where else - and eldest pay for school lunch from separate part of household budget. I eat whatever I find in the cupboards. H sometimes comes home for lunch other times he grabs a sandwich out of ‘his’ money. We never intended to be so old fashioned but I had the eldest very early - and the youngest - and well life changed in ways we could not imagine and I stayed at home.
    Gc challenge £363.53/ 500
    Y Feb 317.28 / 350
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 7th Feb 18, 7:26 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 668 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    Good evening everyone,
    well after one week I have spent £33.

    I have been reading how others divide spending into various budgets. At the moment I include all food for home and eating out, toiletries and cleaning materials from my budget.

    However I might in the future divide eating out money to try and identify just how much I am spending, Of the £33 I have already spent I would say at least half has been spent in tearooms.
    I am very guilty of saying "I'll get this" when out with friends. Don't ever want to be in a position where I wouldn't treat a friend but perhaps I need to start to monitor exactly what I am spending.
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 7th Feb 18, 7:41 PM
    • 2,663 Posts
    • 33,296 Thanks
    £30 spent on meat at the market this morning; I was expecting to spend £20, but they had a special offer on, 3 decent-sized ducks for £10. As all three omnivores love duck, it was stock-the-freezer time & they will reappear on my menu plans here & there over the next few weeks. I didn't buy any fruit or veg, as we haven't run out of anything vital, and the stuff we didn't already have didn't look top-notch, so we'll manage without until Friday, when I will also stock up on cheese and fish.

    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...
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 7th Feb 18, 7:44 PM
    • 533 Posts
    • 6,579 Thanks
    Blimey, just realised that I've done 4 NSD in a row (Grocery wise..)
    Really pleased with this.
    Made a banana loaf for DS2 to take in for his class tomorrow (as it's the last day before holibobs.) Also made a choc crispy cake (as DS1 made a sad face over no banana cake for him! )
    Used up frozen ys fish cakes and made a tomato pasta for tea, works out at around £3.50 for 3 of us. I'm happy with that.
    Not sure what tea will be tomorrow, boys will sort themselves.
    Have chicken to use up, so will make a curry on Friday.
    Will need to purchase milk and bread tomorrow & perhaps some veggies..
    Living life happily! Debt Free date: 06/2018!!!
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June GC £236.20/£300
    • Mrs Cheshire
    • By Mrs Cheshire 7th Feb 18, 8:51 PM
    • 826 Posts
    • 8,546 Thanks
    Mrs Cheshire
    Mrs Cheshire Hi how about boiled from loaf? I use this one although I add a teaspoon of mix spice and I make it in the saucepan to save washing up. It looks a tad awful in the beginning but comes together nicely.

    Update my signature

    Monday - co op had eldest’s favourite juice on special 2 for 3.5 - so £3.50
    Today Aldi - £35.79

    Was going to be it until Monday but the boys have requested very nicely for chocolate chip loaf and as they have had good parent evenings I will up pick chocolate chips tomorrow.
    Originally posted by MrsPear
    Thank you for the recipe, looks good. Will try it over the weekend :-)
    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
    • tighteningthebelt
    • By tighteningthebelt 8th Feb 18, 7:58 AM
    • 79 Posts
    • 1,030 Thanks
    Thanks to all the Sardine Professionals out there, I'll let you know how I go on with the recipes.
    • Grannymolly
    • By Grannymolly 8th Feb 18, 8:00 AM
    • 42 Posts
    • 500 Thanks
    £28.70 on a toiletries, cleaning and loo roll bulk shop!
    Will last into March but I will just include it in this months budget

    I still have an absolute ton of dinner stuff, a huge 1.3kg gammon which I may try to slice some up after slow cooking on Sunday for ham sandwiches for the week...
    plenty of fruit and veg and some chicken breasts left too.
    My cupboards also seem pretty full so I think last month I ended up overbuying but luckily stayed under budget.

    Split pea and ham soup again today for lunch and not decided on dinner as DS has a school disco around dinner time, so I may just give him £1 for a slice of pizza and a hot dog!

    Hope everyone!!!8217;s week has been good so far!
    Last edited by Grannymolly; 08-02-2018 at 8:06 AM.
    Family of 4 and a cat, trying to reduce outgoings GC JAN £225.94/£250 GC FEB £93.20/£250
    • tighteningthebelt
    • By tighteningthebelt 8th Feb 18, 8:17 AM
    • 79 Posts
    • 1,030 Thanks
    Highland fling
    This whole coffee shop / tea room thing is really part of the culture where I live. It seems you can't meet up with someone any other way.
    Almost all the cafes have terrible acoustics as well, which annoys me as it's avoidable.
    I can actually have all my meals in a day for the same price as that cuppa.
    I've been trying different things to get out of going, because it's expensive, but of course I still want to see people.
    Last week I tried 'why don't you come to mine for some soup instead', if you make soup and have bread everyones happy, and you get loads of leftover soup and it costs about the same as coffee, or less. It's working so far.
    But I'm new to coffee shop dodging, so open to suggestions.
    It's nearly Lent so that's my excuse sorted for the next six weeks!!!
    • Islandmaid
    • By Islandmaid 8th Feb 18, 8:25 AM
    • 2,626 Posts
    • 38,458 Thanks
    Spent £67 at Aldi yesterday, that included food for our 4 cats, bathroom replenishments i.e toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner etc
    Note to self - STOP SPENDING MONEY !!
    • NeverendingDMP
    • By NeverendingDMP 8th Feb 18, 11:04 AM
    • 73 Posts
    • 408 Thanks
    214/390 spent already. 176 remaining till 25th Feb. If I get some cheap teas planned I might not be far off.
    35,213 Jan 2018, 32308 remaining.
    Mortgage 77230 Jan 2018
    76345 remaining.
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 8th Feb 18, 11:48 AM
    • 3,533 Posts
    • 11,236 Thanks
    Picked up 4 blocks of tofu, two plain and two smoked as they are on offer and rarely are. Also picked up nori, sushi rice, tamari as well as two packs of coffee as also all on offer.
    Hoping not to spend too much in the next few days.

    Me - £33.10/£54. £20.90 left.
    OH - £15.11/£81. £65.89 left.
    Total - £48.21/£135. £86.79 left.
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • purpleybat
    • By purpleybat 8th Feb 18, 3:12 PM
    • 346 Posts
    • 2,945 Thanks
    bought a couple of loaves of bread today costing £2.10, grumble grumble, but the coop is the only shop on my way home from the docs.
    my neck problem is having a flare up so am dealing with a very painful arm and needed more painkillers.
    dinner plans have gone completely out the window cos I can't cook at the mo, but luckily still have a supply of UFOs and chicken I breaded and froze to keep me going.
    hopefully i'll be back at work next week, am sooooooo bored doing nothing, I can't knit or sew cos I can't feel half of my hand. I thought i'd do a jigsaw but leaning forward made the pain worse.
    I bought sevilles to marmalade and have them staring at me, am hoping with extra painkillers tomorrow i'll be able to make it, I don't want them to go off.
    gc 2017 £1841.27.
    2018 jan £124.69/£130 feb £157.97/£150 mar £221.33/£200 apr £223.04/£250
    • tighteningthebelt
    • By tighteningthebelt 8th Feb 18, 5:33 PM
    • 79 Posts
    • 1,030 Thanks
    Sounds like expensive bread is the least of your problems. I have nerve probs in my arm and hand, occasionally painful, always very weak. It does slow me down a great deal.
    Hope you get better and back to your normal stuff soon.
    Where did you get the sevilles? I was thinking of marmalade with all the citrus on aldi super six at the moment.
    • ceb1995
    • By ceb1995 8th Feb 18, 5:54 PM
    • 246 Posts
    • 553 Thanks
    Spent 2.15 today on some ys bits for snacks and breakfasts so now on £44.06/£180
    • Tales17
    • By Tales17 8th Feb 18, 7:40 PM
    • 227 Posts
    • 2,292 Thanks
    Doing my weekly update and quite pleased with myself for February so far as I have been using vouchers which I often ignore or forget about! :

    - £3.89 Graze Box

    - £61.05 Tesco Shop (Did Click & Collect with a £5 off voucher they sent me and made sure to top it up with toilet roll to get above the £60 to get the 10p petrol voucher!)

    - £45.10 Sainsburys (Got some Valentine's Gifts and friends new baby gifts as well which are included in a separate budget so taken off here - this meant I could reach just over £60 here and use my £9 off shop voucher too!)

    - £3 Home Bargain Shop - they have 2 bags of Skips for £1.50 and I am addicted to these so like to buy them at the best price!

    - £10.05 Home Bargain Shop - topping up on a few items that were cheaper here than the other shops

    So brings my total so far to £123.09!

    I only have 8 things on my shopping list for tomorrow - just a quick top up shop at Tesco (so I can use my fuel voucher too!) as we are off on holiday on Saturday! It is self catering so there will be grocery spend but hoping to use another £9 off £60 shop for the week and will be bringing some stuff with us so I will top up with clothes or something like that if we fall below the £60 on food shopping!

    Have a great week all, I will probably still be online but won't check in again until we are back! x
    Grocery Challenge 2018 YTD-£3023.06/£7200(42%)
    Grocery Challenge June - £127.79/£600(21%)
    £12k in 2018 #117: Monthly Saving Accounts £4500, Cashback & Competition Sites £256.17, Shopping Saving £826.57, Selling £204.13, Interest & Dividends £100.80, Surveys £25, Tesco Vouchers £140, Save 1p a Day #24 £273.12
    Total Saved - £6325.79/£12000(53%)
    • Tales17
    • By Tales17 8th Feb 18, 8:12 PM
    • 227 Posts
    • 2,292 Thanks
    Ooh just noticed I bought a spatula for £4 which should go in my household items budget so shopping is down to £119.09!
    Grocery Challenge 2018 YTD-£3023.06/£7200(42%)
    Grocery Challenge June - £127.79/£600(21%)
    £12k in 2018 #117: Monthly Saving Accounts £4500, Cashback & Competition Sites £256.17, Shopping Saving £826.57, Selling £204.13, Interest & Dividends £100.80, Surveys £25, Tesco Vouchers £140, Save 1p a Day #24 £273.12
    Total Saved - £6325.79/£12000(53%)
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