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    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 8th Mar 16, 11:39 AM
    • 1,547Posts
    • 11,271Thanks
    • #1
    • 8th Mar 16, 11:39 AM
    8th Mar 16 at 11:39 AM
    Hi everyone,

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

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your March budget, then keep on posting in the March 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; 18-03-2018 at 1:36 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 18 £0/£tbc
    Vegan 27-8-13
Page 8
    • YorksLass
    • By YorksLass 8th Apr 18, 5:26 PM
    • 459 Posts
    • 7,600 Thanks
    OK, Week 1 of this month has been a bit spendy - £51.93 on a Sainsbobs home delivery and £6.99 in the market. The Sainsbobs shop should have been £77.78 but a fair few of the items were on promotion, I had a MOC coupon and a customer service voucher to use, plus a freebie (a packet of fajita mix) so savings of £25.90. I thought very carefully about what I was buying in order to get the best value and am now well stocked up again. The wriggle room I had in the freezer has gone - I swear I could hear it groaning!

    £81.08 left in the budget for the next 3 weeks and this should be perfectly doable as we'll only need fresh stuff like milk, F&V.

    Yesterday the postie brought me more Sainsbobs vouchers to use over the next 6 weeks and I'm pleased these are much more usable (each one is £3 off a £20 spend) but I'll only be using them if I really need anything.

    We also bought a large bag of frozen mussels in the market but I have a bulk fund for these so no impact on the grocery cash although the bulk fund is now down to nil.

    Meal plan done for the week ahead, with some baking planned in for mid-week. This is really working for me as I feel so much more organised on a day to day basis, I save money and any LOs don't go to waste.

    On to Week 2 .......
    Be kind to others and to yourself too. Life has its ups and downs, use the ups to overcome the downs!
    Dec £26.32/110 and 5/28 NSDs (Jan-Nov £170.14 under budget)

    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 8th Apr 18, 6:15 PM
    • 3,700 Posts
    • 12,260 Thanks
    £95.82 left.
    Originally posted by Doom_and_Gloom
    Spent £5.69 since last post.
    Sweet and sour vegetables and slim noodles for dinner today for me.
    OH will likely be having stew as he has some in the fridge.

    £90.13 left.
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 8th Apr 18, 6:44 PM
    • 329 Posts
    • 3,487 Thanks
    I've spent about €62.09 over the past few days and have had 2 NSDs including today. I've bought a new set of butter, fruit, and other things we usually need.

    Totals so far:
    €102.92 / €400.00
    3 / 10 NSD

    Time to do some meal planning for the week and dig through the freezer for supplies. The visiting friends will be here until Tuesday midday. Maybe we'll have dinner tomorrow evening but as long as I'm not spending more on groceries, that's fine with me.
    DEC 18 GC: €138.33/€350.00 // 7/12 NSD
    NOV 18 GC: €436.44/€300.00 // 13/12 NSD
    OCT 18 GC: €293.20/€300.00 // 13/12 NSD
    • xironsongx
    • By xironsongx 8th Apr 18, 7:41 PM
    • 141 Posts
    • 380 Thanks
    £20 spent today = £30 left for this week
    Engaged 01-09-17 Wedding £519.78 (BA) £80.22 (Sp) / £5,600 £5,000 left to save
    • NewShadow
    • By NewShadow 8th Apr 18, 9:52 PM
    • 3,368 Posts
    • 14,524 Thanks
    Originally posted by NewShadow
    Had an Iceland delivery (Fish, Chicken, Veg, Spugs) for £36.88 bringing me to £80.67

    I know I set my goal at £125 and we're only at the second Sunday but I really can't see that I'm going to need much more so I'm feeling very optimistic... you'd think I'd know better by my age
    That sounds like a classic case of premature extrapolation.

    House deposit: 26% = £26,000 + £800pm * 9 months = £33,000

    Goal: Keep the bigger picture in mind...
    • Maisie M
    • By Maisie M 9th Apr 18, 8:47 AM
    • 1,475 Posts
    • 13,988 Thanks
    Maisie M
    Two weeks down and already spent £173.95 however this included the Easter weekend and then this weekend during which we had two off my eldest Ds's friends staying over and as per normal teenage boys wow they can eat!!!! So a lot of extras bought for both weekends which I wouldn't normally have.

    I still have £101.44 left in the budget but I have done a menu plan for this week and next so apart from some milk, bread and ham for packed lunches when the kids go back gto school we should be okay.

    • frugalish
    • By frugalish 9th Apr 18, 4:20 PM
    • 22 Posts
    • 266 Thanks
    Walked to dentist appointment in town, so popped into Mr S for some things we've realised we're short of - salt, yeast for the bm, evening primrose oil capsules to stop me becoming murderous every month...

    Checked the reduced sections and got a few things, totalling £18.78

    So my overall spend this month so far is £76.91 / £250 = £173.09

    Hope everyone's having a good day
    "What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?" - George Eliot

    Grocery Challenge April 18 £183.42 / £250 = £66.58
    Frugal Living Challenge 2018
    • Itisme
    • By Itisme 9th Apr 18, 6:35 PM
    • 129 Posts
    • 774 Thanks
    £20 from Tesco.

    Updated total: £82.73/£250.
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 9th Apr 18, 8:12 PM
    • 2,854 Posts
    • 35,529 Thanks
    NSD for me today, and it should be one tomorrow too; that said, we have to make bucketloads of cake etc. in the next few days (for OH's marathon fundraising) so some supplies may need to be updated, though I'm crossing my fingers that there is enough in stock already...

    GC Dec 18 - £214.45/£550
    Bulk-buy purse '18 £239.56/£250, pet & livestock food '18 £403.63/£300

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 10th Apr 18, 10:56 AM
    • 2,044 Posts
    • 17,526 Thanks
    Scone query and spend update
    End of the week and £2.80 in credit, rejoice!
    We ran out of things for dessert mid-week, so I made some scones. They looked great (glazed with yoghurt), but I had overdone the baking powder and they were not nice at all.
    Everyone was disappointed, but there was no time to make more.
    I was wondering what scones made with yeast might taste like, and saw there were recipes out there.
    Still no time, so I've thrown a yeast 'scone' mix in the bread maker to see what happens.
    Originally posted by kkffoo
    Do you just knead it in the breadmaker or do it from scratch? I made some banana ones recently that tasted lovely; but it starts to hurt rubbing the fat in to make breadcrumbs.

    Nipped into work on Saturday to pick up some bananas that were reduced that id asked them to put aside. Never have to buy full price ones lately, as bananas are always dated Tuesday so i get them to save me some. May have to succumb to normal supermarket next week though if i run out, as not back in work til the 22nd. That's it then no more holidays ( unless i can do overtime prior to booking a day off or swop a shift); as they are used up til next year . In total at work spent, £3.81- garlic bread style pizza was on offer at £2.50 for 2 as opposed to £1.50 each , plus staff discount off, and a few easter bags (at 50p each) and a bag of sweets for DD2.

    Off to update sig. Off to iron and tackle the grimy kitchen, as have had no time between work, college and visitors ( mainly DD1 & GDD)
    Last edited by K9sandFelines; 10-04-2018 at 11:09 AM. Reason: To add title and spends
    GC 2017 (£3,434.09/£4,000) Jan £264.28, Feb £179.18, Mar £290.38, Apr £182.39, May £210.24 Jun £122.33, Jul £149.45, Aug £199.22, Sep £211.46, OCT £227.94, Nov £200.33, Dec £36.15 (£2,237.75/£3,250 p.a)
    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
    • Need2bthrifty
    • By Need2bthrifty 10th Apr 18, 2:09 PM
    • 1,115 Posts
    • 9,405 Thanks
    Second shop of the month for me yesterday and I did go a bit mad in the F&V department’s I had decided to do a bit of a “Cleanse” after all the comfort eating and winter stodge that’s been consumed so I got the juicer and smoothie maker out of the cupboard.

    I got some store staples as well as treating myself to a nice Pukk@ tea.

    Hopefully I shouldn’t need to shop again for maybe 10 days, fingers crossed.

    Yesterdays totals = £27.25 (Fresh - £19.75, Stores - £7.50) taking my overall total to £55.82.
    • frugalish
    • By frugalish 10th Apr 18, 6:23 PM
    • 22 Posts
    • 266 Thanks
    Bit of a disappointing day for me, spend wise. It was planned to be an NSD, but I made myself a cuppa at work and the milk was off, which left a vile taste in my mouth. So rather than drinking water to flush it out, I bought a coffee and a cake on the way home ...

    £4.70 lighter!!

    Totals: £81.61 / £250 = £168.39
    "What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?" - George Eliot

    Grocery Challenge April 18 £183.42 / £250 = £66.58
    Frugal Living Challenge 2018
    • cw18
    • By cw18 10th Apr 18, 6:57 PM
    • 7,981 Posts
    • 85,464 Thanks
    £3 spend today, which has taken me over my budget. But I'm really impressed that this is my first spend since Monday of last week, and I've been eating fine from stock - sweet treats is going to be my big downfall later in the month as it appears I don't have a stockpile of those

    Today should have been my day off work, but I opted to do a shift at a different office (need the money for a potential big bill in July to get my car though the MOT), which put me almost next door to a discounted food store I've had some great deals from before - and I couldn't resist popping in.

    Picked up 5 boxes of stir fry stock-pots (2 pots per box) for £1, which is cheaper than the stir fry sauce sachets I can get locally to home. Also two jars of marinade/sauce for £1 (one a flavour I've had before and love, the other being one I've not seen before). And I gave in to some sweet treats, so two 6 packs of bakewell tarts for another £1.

    That's a very restrained spend for me in there, and there were plenty of other lines I'd not seen before that tempted me. Unfortunately it sounds like I could be back there later this week, so I need to try and resist again. (And before anyone suggests it, I never go to work without my purse as I'm confident that doing so will ensure my car breaks down!)
    Groceries : May £11.97 / £120 Apr £137.78 / £100 Mar £99.55 / £100.Feb £85.02 / £80.Jan £112.15 / £130. Annual £446.47 / £1200

    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 10th Apr 18, 7:18 PM
    • 587 Posts
    • 7,208 Thanks
    £6.25 spend in the local shop today, Loo rolls and 2 different lots of ice cream as I cannot seem to manage much else at the mo, Drs given me antibiotics today as my lungs are squeaky..
    I've tried so hard to fend off this bug, hoping it now does one as I'd like to feel a wee bit better please!
    Living life happily! Debt Free date: 06/2018!!!
    Jan-Nov 83 DecGC £99.21/£300
    • caronc
    • By caronc 10th Apr 18, 7:22 PM
    • 4,823 Posts
    • 29,253 Thanks
    £42 for me to do which is more than usual but I stocked up on my favourite washing powder which was on SO. Total so far for April is £117/£200

    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 11th Apr 18, 5:13 PM
    • 2,854 Posts
    • 35,529 Thanks
    OK, plot lost again! It'll take me days to round up all the receipts... Last night we did some baking for OH's fundraising bake sale tomorrow; I made flapjacks & savoury flapjacks, which went just fine, but both girls, normally pretty expert bakers, had baking disasters - flat sponges, layers which refused to remain separate, etc. So today they've been scurrying round our county town buying replacement supplies anywhere they can find them whilst I did my mother's shopping, (plus £4-worth of irresistible bargains for us) and most of the receipts have been lost! Once the baking has been successfully concluded, I'll see if I can get any sense out of both or either of them.

    The £4 was £2 for a box of mushrooms, and £2 for 4 punnets of strawberries and 2 of blueberries. Would have been daft not to.

    It's interesting that this "disaster" should happen. My aunt was a professional cook, and on the rare occasions she had something go wrong, she'd sigh and say, "See? It's the atmospherics, you know..." and it was always on those horrible grey, dank days with incessant heavy rain & the wind veering all over the place - exactly like yesterday was down here. We used to laugh, but maybe there was something in it; my girls are often asked to bake & decorate cakes for other family member's posh birthday celebrations and usually get "oohs" and "aahs!" and not a crumb left. So it was really unusual, to be fair to them! Perhaps I should put it under the Entertainments budget...?

    GC Dec 18 - £214.45/£550
    Bulk-buy purse '18 £239.56/£250, pet & livestock food '18 £403.63/£300

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 11th Apr 18, 9:24 PM
    • 587 Posts
    • 7,208 Thanks
    NSD here for me
    Used up lots of odds bits, made a quick decision tea of (most of) yesterday's chicken leftovers in gravy with Yorkshires, steamed new potatoes and veg.. Boys wolfed it away, banana loaf for pud with a dollop of ice cream. Yum..
    Living life happily! Debt Free date: 06/2018!!!
    Jan-Nov 83 DecGC £99.21/£300
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 11th Apr 18, 10:09 PM
    • 2,854 Posts
    • 35,529 Thanks
    It would appear that they spent £13.85 - could have been much worse, but I'm goggling gently at £3 for 12 muffin "wrappers" - so I've added £17.85 to my total & will just try to keep it within the general grocery budget. You'll all no doubt be delighted to hear that the lemon curd glitter cake, fairy cakes, Malteser truffle muffins & chocolate fudge brownies have all been completed without incident, but my second batch of herby pizza rolls got burnt when my step-sister rang up for a natter - no "atmospherics" needed!

    Omelette for tea; didn't cost us a penny, thanks to the "girls" (i.e. the feathered ones) all laying like crazy just now. Cheese, spring onions & other "fillings" were already in the fridge, and some of today's box of mushrooms went in too. Most of the rest will be in the dehydrator tomorrow...
    Last edited by thriftwizard; 11-04-2018 at 10:16 PM.

    GC Dec 18 - £214.45/£550
    Bulk-buy purse '18 £239.56/£250, pet & livestock food '18 £403.63/£300

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 11th Apr 18, 10:47 PM
    • 1,280 Posts
    • 15,264 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    A £2 spend on the new Iceland vegan burgers 'No Bull' - that's what they are called, launched Monday, which are getting really good reviews, so had to get them. They bleed #donchaknow. I already have a ton of burgers, as I made a load of lentil ones, but hey. It's turning out to be a very low total for me this month (so far), been eating breakfast and lunch at work and using up stores mostly in the evening. I need salad stuff and want some ginger n lemons, but that is it really. So far I'm at £13.99. I do predict busting the alcohol budget though - I'm wanting to make some cocktails I had at a bar. We shall see.
    December Grocery Challenge - £38.86/£80
    Bulk Fund - Food £41.47
    Save 12k in 2018 #80 = £4,620
    • mrs-moneypenny
    • By mrs-moneypenny 12th Apr 18, 8:12 AM
    • 15,476 Posts
    • 197,785 Thanks
    Ive just declared for march and come in with my usual monthly spend
    I'm a bit late coming in but have kept a note of spends so far
    April will be £400 please
    SPC~11 No100 : : X4 O/t fund so far £2,300

    In a world that has decided that it's going to lose its mind, be more kind my friend, try to Be More Kind
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