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    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 21st Apr 18, 9:59 AM
    • 1,591Posts
    • 11,807Thanks
    May 2018 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 21st Apr 18, 9:59 AM
    May 2018 Grocery Challenge 21st Apr 18 at 9:59 AM
    Hi everyone,

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

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your April budget, then keep on posting in the April 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. Mr M 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 bread maker - 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. Obviously 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 health wise.

    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 guidelines 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 everyone's totals, see post #3 on this thread

    I hope everyone has a great month!


    This Forum tip was included in's weekly email!
    Last edited by MSE Andrea; 01-05-2018 at 10:51 AM.
    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.
    SPC No 074
    GC: Jan 19 0/tbc
    Vegan 27-8-13
Page 10
    • GunShotResidue
    • By GunShotResidue 16th May 18, 2:23 PM
    • 62 Posts
    • 250 Thanks
    Yay for the car passing pamsdish! Our failed on 5(!) things this year, but luckily DH managed to fix them all for about 50. I hate MOT time!

    Spent 1.10 at the corner shop yesterday on some yellow sticker offers and a treat for me and the youngest. Got some carrots for 10p that have been made into a carrot cake traybake and frozen in portions for DHs lunch box. Did a main shop today for 25.04 which should be enough until net Wednesday, then I have 29.95 left for the last shop of the month. Should be able to double up on a few meals this week and freeze the extra for the week after to make it easier to stick to budget next Wednesday when it'll be 9 days before the next shop
    • Mrs Cheshire
    • By Mrs Cheshire 16th May 18, 8:58 PM
    • 861 Posts
    • 9,053 Thanks
    Mrs Cheshire
    Haven't had much free time to catch up on the chat this month but I've been adding my spends to my spreadsheet as usual. I'm currently at 260.49/400, got loads of meat in the freezer and most of the bulk items that I'll need for the rest of the month.
    SPC #148 2014-25 2015-5.50 My stars from Sue-UU

    Grocery Challenge 2019
    Jan 396.91/400, Feb /400
    • supersaver1000
    • By supersaver1000 16th May 18, 11:11 PM
    • 2,131 Posts
    • 13,305 Thanks
    Quick shop at Adli's on way home. 8.05 but it wasn't for veg - no veg in my basket tonight - just four lovely burgers, cheese to melt on top and some nice soft buns. Then in slipped my trolley were some Tunnock's teacakes, wafers and some yoghurt rice cakes - just jumped right in and couldn't stop them Few fries from the freezer and it was comfort food tonight

    To date: 306.63/300

    Completely Debt-free by April 2019 Jan 2019
    older but fitter : Flylady wannabe : Millionaire wannabe
    It's not getting what you want, it's wanting what you've got
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 17th May 18, 1:25 PM
    • 724 Posts
    • 9,184 Thanks
    15.84 in MnS today.. Must haves and treats!
    Will total up..
    "There's a little witch in all of us"
    2018 GC 93 2019 GC 1 Feb GC 221.97/300
    : DEBT FREE 06/2018
    • Puddleglum
    • By Puddleglum 17th May 18, 4:18 PM
    • 577 Posts
    • 4,668 Thanks
    My spend for this week came to 43.85 which is slightly over budget but I have been under for the earlier part of the month. There were some exceptional items in the basket like toothpaste for oh so sensitive teeth and they probably added 6 to the total. Funnily enough just buying the toothpaste seems to have done the trick, I don't think that I will actually have to use it!
    "A thousand candles can be lit from a single candle without shortening the life of that candle."

    Pay off debts and save 2018. Time to turn my life around (candle moment).
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 17th May 18, 7:55 PM
    • 2,074 Posts
    • 17,992 Thanks
    Killed some time today before college so spent 4.46 on food in Quality Save
    Then I got home earlier than usual on a Thursday, so dived in with my Dad to go to Aldi, so I could stock up on tins and a few other cupboard staples.That came to 27.02.

    31.48 total for today.

    This brings my full total to just over 100.

    We should have plenty to last until most of the rest of the month.
    GC 2017 3,434.09 GC 2018 2,250.95 GC 2019 Jan 268.24/200 Feb 55.67/200
    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
    • supersaver1000
    • By supersaver1000 17th May 18, 8:02 PM
    • 2,131 Posts
    • 13,305 Thanks
    Chocolate purchase today 2.20

    To date: 308.83/300
    Last edited by supersaver1000; 17-05-2018 at 8:03 PM. Reason: totals

    Completely Debt-free by April 2019 Jan 2019
    older but fitter : Flylady wannabe : Millionaire wannabe
    It's not getting what you want, it's wanting what you've got
    • turtlemonkey
    • By turtlemonkey 18th May 18, 12:22 PM
    • 17 Posts
    • 196 Thanks
    Stopped by Lidl yesterday and spent 11.12 on food and some snacks. (Also got a nice new top and a solar light for the window sill, but those come out of separate budgets.)

    Total spend on groceries so far in May: 65.67. Left in budget: 44.33. NSDs: 10
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 18th May 18, 12:42 PM
    • 2,074 Posts
    • 17,992 Thanks
    2.00 spent on Starburst. I went into B and M for throat lozenges (but i don't include these), and bought these aswell.
    GC 2017 3,434.09 GC 2018 2,250.95 GC 2019 Jan 268.24/200 Feb 55.67/200
    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 18th May 18, 4:55 PM
    • 3,747 Posts
    • 12,663 Thanks
    Spent 19.42 since last post.

    30.72 left.
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • YorksLass
    • By YorksLass 18th May 18, 6:42 PM
    • 500 Posts
    • 8,165 Thanks
    I've just realised I didn't post last week (RL and all that), so here's an update.

    Week 2: Small spend at Co-op (milk), Friday market trip and stock-up shop at Sainsburys. Total spend: 32.57 and 5 NSDs.

    Week 3: Co-op shop (milk, beef spread, box of dried peas and YS bag of baby potatoes). The Fultons frozen foods stall in Leeds market closed a while back and this is where we normally buy our packs of Chinese curry sauce (2 for 1 and very authentic ). As we've exhausted our stash of them, DH caught the bus to Harrogate and bought some there, so that was 4 out of the (separate) bulk fund.

    While he was doing this, I was at the dentist and paid 50+ for NHS check-up and private scale and polish . After this, a much more pleasant drop-in at 5 CSs for a mooch. Bought 5 children's books for 1 (Xmas pressies) and 3 travel size toiletries for 1.50 that I'll be using when we go on holiday later in the year. Shampoo, shower gel and body lotion, all l'Occitaine in verbena & ginger fragrance.

    Today - trip to market (new potatoes, lunch tongue, turkey slices and 2 pork pies). Weekly shop at Sainsburys but not too bad. 1.05 saved on promotional items, an enormous YS cod fillet that will do two of us for a mid-week meal (now in freezer), extra bonus points on two items, used a 3 MOC and bill came to 20.29.

    Total for Week 3 = 37.48 and 5NSDs.

    There's 44.70 left in the budget and - apart from milk - I won't need any shopping at all for Week 4. There's plenty of fresh stuff in the fridge, the freezer is rammed to the point that I can't shoe-horn anything else into it and the store cupboards are looking very healthy. And it's rubber chicken week too!

    It looks as if I'll be making 4 weeks dosh stretch over 5 weeks so I'm feeling pretty pleased with how it's all going.
    Be kind to others and to yourself too. Life has its ups and downs, use the ups to overcome the downs!
    Feb 152 - 20 bulk fund - 58.65 = 73.35 in budget and 9/28 NSD
    2019 to date: 9.27 under budget (2018: 172.45 under budget)

    • supersaver1000
    • By supersaver1000 18th May 18, 7:40 PM
    • 2,131 Posts
    • 13,305 Thanks
    8.18 spent at the aldi today on frozen chips, pizza and a huge steak pie. Comfort food again. Well it is Friday

    Still going up over the 300 budget but it has been a spendy month for special occasions. And its nice to actually put a figure to it, rather than forgetting the counting cos we gone over.

    Roll on payday, although this weather is beautiful so I don't want it to pass too soon.

    To date: 317.01/300

    Completely Debt-free by April 2019 Jan 2019
    older but fitter : Flylady wannabe : Millionaire wannabe
    It's not getting what you want, it's wanting what you've got
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 18th May 18, 10:11 PM
    • 2,923 Posts
    • 36,465 Thanks
    39 spent at the market this morning; 73 left! That's actually quite do-able under normal circumstances, but we've just heard that my mother, aged 92, can pick up the keys to her new abode next Friday. So "normal circumstances" will not prevail... there will be trips down west to measure up for curtains - she probably has plenty, but they'll need adjusting - and work out what adaptations need to be made before we can move her in. Plus we are just getting into my busiest time of year business-wise... the next couple of months are going to be manic!

    GC Feb 19 - 288.40/380 "Entertainments" 53/50
    Bulk-buy purse '19 250, pet & livestock food '19 58/400

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 19th May 18, 4:13 AM
    • 1,295 Posts
    • 15,487 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    Spent 6.71, bringing May total to 29.64.

    I've had a few freebies/extras from work:-

    4 x Tilda Garlic & Ginger Rice (it's yuk)
    4 x Thai Sweet Chilli Crisps (very large bags)
    5 various bottles of Paul Mitchell Shampoo/Detangler - I'm told it's really expensive

    I have a painter arriving at 9am - errrmmm - think I might need to crash. And it would appear on closer inspection, I don't have enough paint - whoops. Have a lovely w/e everyone - have updated sig.
    Feb GC - 44.74/80 - Alcohol 0/20
    Bulk Funds - Food 8.61
    - Alcohol 7.50
    Save 12k in 2019 500/5,000 - #155
    • Tales17
    • By Tales17 19th May 18, 8:03 AM
    • 249 Posts
    • 2,469 Thanks
    A few spends to add this week:

    - 3.89 Graze Box

    - 4.70 small Tesco top up

    - 3 Tesco top up - kids found treats they desperately wanted!

    - 76.98 Tesco click and collect shop

    Gives a total of 279.26 so far.

    Will be a bigger spend coming on credit card through shortly as it is my daughters birthday party today and so had to buy all the party food yesterday!

    At least the weather is good, probably mad having eight 7 year old running round the house though!! Wish me luck!
    Grocery Challenge 2019 YTD-820.46/7200(11%)
    Grocery Challenge Feb - 93.10/600(16%)
    12k in 2019 #: Monthly Saving Accounts 500, Cashback & Competition Sites 2.59, Shopping Saving 152.09,Selling 121.26, Interest & Dividends 43.93, Surveys 0, 365 Day Penny Challenge # 103.44
    Total Saved - 923.31/12000(8%)
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 19th May 18, 11:28 AM
    • 1,154 Posts
    • 7,233 Thanks
    25.06 Tesco for 10 choc and 45 chicken thighs, 1 per day for dog, 2.97 Home Bargains coffee sachet, 11 in Wilkos but only 4 counted dog treats.
    2018 2285/2149 2019 2000=1823
    FEB 1823-8=1815-6=1809-16=1793-8=1785-7=1778-18=1760-18=1742
    • supersaver1000
    • By supersaver1000 19th May 18, 6:47 PM
    • 2,131 Posts
    • 13,305 Thanks
    Top up shop at Moggisons today. It came to 30.44, another 10 and I would have got 4000 points (worth 4), but I just couldn't think of anything we needed. I guess I could have topped up on minced beef or something, but I am so close to the month end. Its a real conflict between spending a bit more to get the points, which I know makes sense, against trying to keep my monthly overspend down. I'm glad I kept the spend down as I've got 11.83 in one account and 11.94 in another account and I'm hoping that will see me through to pay day.

    Forgot that I also bought firelighters in pound world. They are the eco friendly ones they do - 69p for 1 or 1 for 2. Might go back and stock up soon ready for the winter - they are really nice and no petrol smell.

    To date: 348.45/300
    Last edited by supersaver1000; 19-05-2018 at 6:49 PM. Reason: Forgot the fire lighters

    Completely Debt-free by April 2019 Jan 2019
    older but fitter : Flylady wannabe : Millionaire wannabe
    It's not getting what you want, it's wanting what you've got
    • Merlin's Beard
    • By Merlin's Beard 19th May 18, 7:42 PM
    • 251 Posts
    • 2,129 Thanks
    Merlin's Beard
    Annual food market wasn't the best way to be frugal... I'm at 130.16/100.... however, I'm at 493.66/500 as the year stands, and I've got a freezer full of meat, a fridge full of interestingly flavoured cheeses, and cider, gins and apple juice, it's all local and I had a glorious day in the sunshine tasting everything.

    So I'll see how close to that 6.34 I can keep the rest of the month to! Hopefully June will be a month to use some of what I've bought and to rebuild my rollover fund a bit.
    • Suffolk lass
    • By Suffolk lass 20th May 18, 9:31 AM
    • 2,446 Posts
    • 24,448 Thanks
    Suffolk lass

    Forgot that I also bought firelighters in pound world. They are the eco friendly ones they do - 69p for 1 or 1 for 2. Might go back and stock up soon ready for the winter - they are really nice and no petrol smell.
    Originally posted by supersaver1000
    My alternative to shop-bought firelighters is a combination of newspaper and twigs interspersed with dried out citrus fruit peel. The oil in the peel flares and too gets things going and it is much more pleasant. Light the newspaper, the orange peel flares and the twigs catch - then load on the proper fuel, be it logs or whatever.

    Once the peel is dried it lasts indefinitely - we use an old Roses Tin to store it!

    I dry it on the range or in the oven when it is cooling, just on a tray
    MFiT T4 #2 90.89% after Q11 against target of 60k balance - Mortgage Free Wannabes 2019 #37 2,588.84 after Jan
    Save 12k in 2019 - #68 target is 7k 1,238.39 after Jan
    OS Grocery Challenge 2019 target is 3k 187.96 or 6.27% so far
    My DFD is here
    • pipkin71
    • By pipkin71 20th May 18, 10:45 AM
    • 19,360 Posts
    • 87,170 Thanks
    Did a Waitrose shop today, which came to 124.47 so 86.60/300 left in the grocery budget for May, which will give us one more shop before the month is out. (I haven't counted the shop my mum did for us but if I don't need anything else, it will average out to near enough the 300 for the month.)
    There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you - Beatrix Potter
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