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    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 8th Mar 16, 11:39 AM
    • 1,422Posts
    • 10,568Thanks
    • #1
    • 8th Mar 16, 11:39 AM
    8th Mar 16 at 11:39 AM
    Hi everyone,

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

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your February budget, then keep on posting in the February 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 elsiepac; 23-02-2018 at 11:10 PM.
    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
Page 8
    • lemonverbena
    • By lemonverbena 4th Mar 18, 11:25 PM
    • 38 Posts
    • 229 Thanks
    Yesterday I spent £1.98 on random food stuff at the market, £11.05 on food at Co-op, and £15.70 on food, £1.26 on toiletries, and £8.00 on household cleaning stuff at Waitrose.
    So my running total for the month is £39.29 on food, £8.00 on household cleaning, and £5.76 on toiletries = £53.05
    Today was a NSD, and I'm hoping not to spend any more on groceries until Thursday, and to have two other NSDs before then - and this should be the most expensive week this month.
    • debtfreeforlife
    • By debtfreeforlife 5th Mar 18, 6:40 AM
    • 152 Posts
    • 916 Thanks
    Must start remembering to input receipts into my clearcheckbook straight away, I keep going by what is in the bank account (forgetting that contactless payments don't appear straight away. Announcing total spends of £83.38.
    GC Feb 18: £204.97/£200 | Mar 18: £207.93/£200 | Apr 18 £165.53/£200.00
    • Itisme
    • By Itisme 5th Mar 18, 10:11 AM
    • 119 Posts
    • 717 Thanks
    Recently another £11.17 at Tesco, so now it's £179.10.
    • Need2bthrifty
    • By Need2bthrifty 5th Mar 18, 12:37 PM
    • 1,057 Posts
    • 9,117 Thanks
    Finally got out for my first shop of the month, but I have to say being snowed in for 5 days has been a bit of a lightbulb moment for me. Okay I could have walked to the end of the street to get a bus to the nearest shop only to find the shelves empty of the fresh things I wanted.

    I began to think that grocery shopping for me has become more of a hobby than a necessity, even today while I had my list of all the essentials that I needed for this weeks meal plan and replace supplies, I found myself looking at things thinking “ooh that might be useful/handy/a nice change” – finally got a grip and ended up at the checkout with only the items on my list….phew

    Anyway todays total = £26.74 mostly dairy, fresh & frozen f & V, frozen fish & prawns and a couple of store cupboard items.
    Keep Moving = 282.50mls/1000mls @ week 15

    GC - Apr - £55.82/£80.00, Mar - £59.87/£60.00
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 5th Mar 18, 1:30 PM
    • 907 Posts
    • 5,225 Thanks
    £14.66 in Morries, wanted peanut butter and golden syrup, 1 reduced cake, 1 choc spread, 2 peanut butter 2 marmalade later, plus some fish, potatoes and another store cupboard coffee.
    APRIL£200=£35 May£200=£61,
    • TooClumsy
    • By TooClumsy 5th Mar 18, 2:45 PM
    • 113 Posts
    • 330 Thanks
    Please can I join in for £300 this month please?
    GC Challenge 2018:
    Jan £309.44/£290.72
    Feb £204.81/£290
    March £153.60/£300
    • LalalaLindy
    • By LalalaLindy 5th Mar 18, 2:58 PM
    • 64 Posts
    • 583 Thanks
    I’ve managed to spend £97.49 this month already and only have 2 NSD in 5 days. Just shows how excited I get at the beginning of the month when there is money available. Must try to curb my enthusiasm! (To be fair we did have an element of ‘quick, fill the freezer up in case it snows again’)

    Main meals are planned and bought up till 17th (almost payday!) and my spend does include £9 on reusable silicone food coverings to replace the cling film that OH keeps using, even though we have loads of plastic storage boxes he could use instead. Difficult trying to cut down on single use plastic when not everyone is on board. Grr!

    So relieved the snow is almost gone now. Hope everyone else is able to get out and about.
    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
    • MrsPear
    • By MrsPear 5th Mar 18, 4:25 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 485 Thanks
    Hello again

    Well the snow has gone here in London but it has been replaced by very low water pressure and lack of trains! Just what I wanted on a Monday morning a cold dribble shower - although I boiled some to do my hair. Shouldn’t complain as some have no water due to mains burst. At least it wasn’t chilly today with no heating. Pressure back to now in time for dinner.

    Anyway back to spends

    01/03 £8.09 Co Op
    03/03 £52.87 - Aldi H coming back from birthday / funeral so bought his favourites
    05/03 £1.54 Co Op
    £15.09 M and S - at the hospital with eldest and I let him choose what he wanted for lunch. Plus got myself a sandwich and a tea.

    Need to update signature but it is 105.24 plus I need to get wash powder this week. I need to meal plan!!!!
    Gc challenge £363.53/ 500
    Y Feb 317.28 / 350
    • PennyGrabber
    • By PennyGrabber 5th Mar 18, 7:37 PM
    • 1,267 Posts
    • 22,414 Thanks
    Another nsd today, taking me to 4/5 nsds. And, as a bonus, oh is getting take away for us all, for dd's birthday. Saves me money, as I don't have to provide dinner tonight, so we'll have it tomorrow. Woop woop!!

    PG x
    Grocery challenge for family of three - me, dd(12) and ds(11), feeding dp 2 or 3 x a week too. Only food, not toiletries. Jan £87.97/£100 Feb £0/£100
    Frugal 2018 needed! Saving and NOT spending
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 5th Mar 18, 8:50 PM
    • 2,661 Posts
    • 33,293 Thanks
    NSD here too, but tomorrow I shall have to do the monthly non-perishables stock-up, which always looks scary when I add it onto the running total. But we're almost out of washing conditioner (very hard water here) and I can't use white vinegar instead, because we're almost out of that, too!

    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...
    • archwaysaver
    • By archwaysaver 5th Mar 18, 8:51 PM
    • 35 Posts
    • 312 Thanks
    In: nothing
    Out: portion of pasta with tomato sauce (work lunch), parsnip pancakes (dinner)
    Bring lunch to work March: 5/13
    NSD March: 6/18

    Goal by Sept 2019: £20,100
    So far: £3,749.89
    (tuition £1,920/4,100, cushion £456/1,000, dream £1,300.44/15,000)
    • supersaver1000
    • By supersaver1000 5th Mar 18, 9:07 PM
    • 2,096 Posts
    • 13,151 Thanks
    I'm not giving up, but it is going to be a struggle this month. I'm determined to keep trying though. Today I resisted the urge to buy lunch at work and had my leftovers reheated - much nicer and great satisfaction not spending. Had a few spends on the way home tonight, including the kitty food from the vets. Still no chicken breast in MrL but picked up a couple of marinated ones and they were really nice. MrA order coming tomorrow but with a few missing items: mushrooms, sweet potatoes, parsnips and swedes. I would hate to have to go to MrS but needs must.

    After totting everything up, I should have about £120 left (of £304 ) left for the month. Its around £40 pw, so will be tight, but I can do it
    All CC debt (59% saved) - 100% by Xmas 2018 : Flylady : Grocery club member : Old Style Weightloss lurker
    It's not getting what you want, it's wanting what you've got

    June Grocery Budget £374.86/£200 - Completely Debt-free by Xmas 2018 April 2019
    • Mrs Cheshire
    • By Mrs Cheshire 5th Mar 18, 9:09 PM
    • 826 Posts
    • 8,543 Thanks
    Mrs Cheshire
    Popped by a morries yesterday to see if they had any decent ys bargains. Nothing at all there but I did pick up one of their bags of unwashed potatoes and even better they were cheaper this time £3 for 12.5kg. Should last at least 1 month.
    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
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 5th Mar 18, 9:46 PM
    • 532 Posts
    • 6,578 Thanks
    Popped into Mr M's for a few items on my mums list.. They still had bare shelves in most of the fresh produce and the small delivery of milk was long gone!
    Luckily wasn't a prob for us as I always keep bread n milk in the freezer.
    Escaped with most of ma's list and a few bits from mine that Ive not ordered from Ocaaados..
    £27 spend.. Off to add to sig
    Living life happily! Debt Free date: 2018!!!
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June GC £236.20/£300
    • selloptape
    • By selloptape 5th Mar 18, 10:07 PM
    • 457 Posts
    • 1,889 Thanks
    Went to FF for one milk. Got totally suckered in by the spend £25 get £2.50 off voucher. Now I am the proud owner of an enormous hoard of cereal, cheese, washing up liquid and tuna. Oh and two bottles of milk.

    Hoping to avoid shops for a couple of days
    GC May £235.52/£290 GC April £240.65/£300March £322.53/£350
    £2 Savers Club #59 £58
    MFW 2018 #49 £600/£3,000
    MFiT T4 #21 - reduce mortgage by £20k over 3 years
    • indigowarrior
    • By indigowarrior 5th Mar 18, 11:23 PM
    • 586 Posts
    • 4,250 Thanks
    Waves! Hello
    I know its the 5th but I am really interesting in joining is it to late?
    I have a set budget of £120 a month. There is just me. So far this month I have spent £3.20!
    #545- SPC/ Frugal Living Challenge June No spend challenges: 9/10 House fund £76.13/£2000
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 6th Mar 18, 6:24 AM
    • 1,945 Posts
    • 16,525 Thanks
    *waves* Hello Indigo Warrior sure everyone will be fine with you joining now,it's still relatively early.

    I have spent £10.79 on the 2nd at Morrisons. Went in mainly for their 50p loaf but had to get bagels and an unsliced as bread stocks were low. I also went in yesterday, but need to find the total.
    Got charged full price for Ocado delivery pass too, as it had automatically renewed. I have now cancelled and will just book in whenever is cheapest. My current month runs out end of March,so I am okay for anytime delivery until then though.

    Off to add to sig. Hope every one has a good day.
    GC 2017 (£4,000/£3434.09) Jan £264.28, Feb £179.18, Mar £290.38, APR £182.39, MAY £210.24 JUN £64.06/£240 (£270 p.m/£3,250 p.a)

    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
    • Ginmonster
    • By Ginmonster 6th Mar 18, 3:12 PM
    • 311 Posts
    • 4,101 Thanks
    First spend of the month £6.61 on bananas, apples, peppers, much reduced low sodium salt and some cheap chocolate for adding to a peanut butter frozen yoghurt recipe I'm going to try (i have an excess of natural yoghurt to use up at the moment).

    While I was out I picked up mother's Day cards for mum and mum in law so I'm feeling very organised today.

    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 6th Mar 18, 5:02 PM
    • 2,661 Posts
    • 33,293 Thanks
    And a swift romp around L!dls and Makro has left me £90.60 down, so we have just over £250 for the rest of the month. Which looks fairly do-able... but many a slip twixt cup & lip, as they say! And - I forgot the halloumi... oh dear!

    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...
    • Wysiwyg49
    • By Wysiwyg49 6th Mar 18, 5:21 PM
    • 186 Posts
    • 1,689 Thanks
    I'm on £140.66 so far. Most of that was on Sunday in a big shop with lots of basics having run out.

    Not feeling very creative at the moment, so succumbed to an enchilada kit yesterday. I'm sure it could be made at home for a fraction of the almost £3 it costs for basically tomato puree, corn tortillas and seasoning! Has anyone tried?
    GC Mar £239.57/£360 : Feb £352.71/£320
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