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    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 21st Apr 18, 9:59 AM
    • 1,592Posts
    • 11,820Thanks
    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 6
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 6th May 18, 6:04 PM
    • 359 Posts
    • 3,999 Thanks
    Thanks Thriftwizard that's really good to know. I seem to forgot if I don't post almost straight away.

    Jingsmybucket - can I ask how much saffron you got for that price. I've just bought a small 0.4g jar from Sainsbugs for £2.10. Making Paella tonight too

    So another £16.20 spent, on paella ingredients. Seems like a lot I know but it makes a lot and is a lovely meal.

    Current Totals: £104.94/300
    Originally posted by supersaver1000
    @supersaver1000 I finally looked at the weight of the saffron I bought. In the glass bottle, there are five small red cylinders that each contain 15g of powdered saffron. So, 75g for €4.14. On the store’s price label it said something like €380/kg. I nearly choked, but said screw it as I probably won’t buy more for another couple years.
    FEB 19 GC: $403.75/$450.00 // 9/10 NSD
    JAN 19 GC: €104.88/€350.00 // 7/12 NSD
    Save 12K in 2019 - $132.86/$12,000 #123 (1.1% )
    • turtlemonkey
    • By turtlemonkey 6th May 18, 7:17 PM
    • 17 Posts
    • 196 Thanks
    I have no spends to share, quite the opposite - I have to share the fact that I haven't spent any money on groceries at all this week, which I think must be a first for me! I had 4 NSDs in a row, then spent 20p on a plate at a car boot sale yesterday (it matches a mug I have), and today I went out with a friend for our belated birthday meal (we both have birthdays in April). That money comes out of a separate budget though, and it only came to £15 including tips anyway (£18.20 if you include parking), so I'm very pleased with that! I still have enough food in my cupboards for next week, so I'm hoping I won't have to spend any money on groceries until the third week of May, provided I can keep my chocolate cravings in check. I'm ok for dog food and household products as well, so with a bit of luck, nothing will tempt me into the shops next week. Fingers crossed! :-D
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 6th May 18, 8:24 PM
    • 359 Posts
    • 3,999 Thanks
    Just a small spend to report today and a technical NSD yesterday. We went to go collect the package yesterday from Delhaize and it wasn’t there because it hadn’t even shipped yet. I didn’t think to check until we were actually in the store. We decided to shop anyway: 2x tubs of blueberries (2 for 1), OH’s smoothies, expensive ice cream, and a bunch of random stuff. OH decided to pay for it because even in his words, “This is almost all my frivolous/luxury nonsense.” So yeah, NSD yesterday.

    Today at the halal store we spent €1.30 on cilantro (30¢) and 3 packets of ramen for OH (€1.00). I scoped out the meat counter to see if they have ground lamb. They only have whole pieces so I'll buy a chunk later this month and finally use the meat grinder my OH bought me two Christmases ago. I have a craving to make keema curry based on caronc’s posts about her lamb curry on another thread.

    €69.18 / €400.00
    2 / 10 NSD
    Last edited by JingsMyBucket; 07-05-2018 at 4:23 PM.
    FEB 19 GC: $403.75/$450.00 // 9/10 NSD
    JAN 19 GC: €104.88/€350.00 // 7/12 NSD
    Save 12K in 2019 - $132.86/$12,000 #123 (1.1% )
    • notasquirrel
    • By notasquirrel 6th May 18, 8:39 PM
    • 2 Posts
    • 28 Thanks
    Hi, I realize we're already a way in to the month but would it be ok if I joined now? I'm new to MSE but really need to spend less money than I am, I live within my means but I really need to build up some savings. I'll count my month as the next 4 weeks (i.e. 7th May-3rd June) and budget £40. It feels harsh but it's only me and I have plenty of pasta and freezer food, plus I don't eat meat so it should be manageable. If I can stop wasting money on meal deals that is
    • pipkin71
    • By pipkin71 7th May 18, 11:50 AM
    • 19,360 Posts
    • 87,170 Thanks
    Welcome, notasquirrel and good luck
    There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you - Beatrix Potter
    • selloptape
    • By selloptape 7th May 18, 3:25 PM
    • 564 Posts
    • 2,767 Thanks
    selloptape mind sharing your first two recipes please. I'm vegan and they sound perfect for a change. I've tofu out at the moment too.( I prefer it frozen, then defrosted). Thanks
    Originally posted by K9sandFelines
    Sorry for the late reply, just been away for a few days and catching up now

    Cajun rice - I made this version but it could easily be adapted to be vegan

    Sesame tofu - so simple and really tasty - mix 1 tbsp sesame oil and 3 tbsp soy sauce. Cut tofu into large slices, soak in mixture and then grill. Tastes amazing the next day too

    GC Jan £209.67/£278.61
    Save 12k in 2019 #8 £682.65/£1,5000
    MFiT T5 #22 Save £20k over 3 years
    Walk 1500 miles in 2019 - 192.58/1500
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 7th May 18, 4:42 PM
    • 3,750 Posts
    • 12,709 Thanks
    Spent £8.13 today.

    £1.24 of that was for 5kg of Desiree potatoes . Bargain.

    Although not part of the grocery budget as alcohol, OH bought me vegan Bailey's. I've been wanting to try it for ages so am very happy OH found it.

    £103.11 left.

    Gah forgot my A&C delivery of £16.21, including delivery charge.
    Gluten free bread, 4 packs smoked tofu and 2 pouches sauerkraut.

    £86.90 left.
    Last edited by Doom_and_Gloom; 07-05-2018 at 5:54 PM.
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • ancientmum
    • By ancientmum 7th May 18, 7:30 PM
    • 164 Posts
    • 1,492 Thanks
    CRANKY40 and Pipney Jane, I am doing the C25K as well. I try to run in the morning before breakfast but after a cup of tea. One day I went in the evening before dinner, but seemed to feel hungrier then. I am only on the second week so early days. Good luck.
    If life is a journey, I want comfy shoes
    Grocery Challenge 2019 £152.23/2000, including pet stuff, toiletries and take-aways
    Make 2019 in 2019 no. 110 £73.10/2019
    • RedFraggle
    • By RedFraggle 7th May 18, 8:21 PM
    • 792 Posts
    • 2,222 Thanks
    Not a great start!
    RatRations (hamster and rat food) £42.77 (will last months)
    Sainsbob £33.09
    Mr T £78.27
    Total £154.13

    I think I'm doomed this month!
    Officially in a clique of idiots
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 7th May 18, 8:30 PM
    • 2,076 Posts
    • 18,021 Thanks
    £4.33 today in Morrisons on bread, reduced pick and mix rolls, quorn sausages, spices and lime juice, and 25p on reduced eggs at work. There was also a spend in work yesterday. My colleague didn't give me the receipt; and the transaction isn't showing yet, so cannot add it on. It'll maybe show up tomorrow, with it being BH today.

    Hope everyone has enjoyed the nice weather this weekend. I missed the majority of it as i was in work and tomorrow in college.

    GC 2017 £3,434.09 GC 2018 £2,250.95 GC 2019 Jan £268.24/£200 Feb £114.91/200
    ~ Still learning the art of frugality ~
    • pipkin71
    • By pipkin71 8th May 18, 9:17 AM
    • 19,360 Posts
    • 87,170 Thanks
    DD went to Aldi for a few bits, which came to £14.01, so £211.07/£300 left in the grocery budget for May [/QUOTE]
    There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you - Beatrix Potter
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 8th May 18, 5:41 PM
    • 2,926 Posts
    • 36,528 Thanks
    RedFraggle, you are not alone! I'm not doing very well at all this month, nearly half our budget is blown already! £17.87 spent today on things like ice cream & salad as we didn't have any in & I haven't got around to sowing any salad leaves.

    That said, stocks of storecupboard staples are reasonably high; if I behave myself, we might just make it still.

    GC Feb 19 - £363.40/£380 "Entertainments" £53/£50
    Bulk-buy purse '19 £250, pet & livestock food '19 £58/£400

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
    • notasquirrel
    • By notasquirrel 8th May 18, 8:11 PM
    • 2 Posts
    • 28 Thanks
    So I'm off to an excellent start.
    2 days in and I've already spent 1/3 of my budget. It's becoming clear to me how bad my spending has got.
    £12.06 in Sainsbury's
    £1.39 in Iceland
    Technically there's nothing more I'll need until late next week so I should be fine so long as I stop buying things because 'they're on offer and I will use some point'. I've done it perfectly well before, I just need to get back in to the right mindset.
    I haven't bought anything ridiculous but I have bought things I'm highly unlikely to use in the next week.
    £26.55/£40 remaining.
    • caronc
    • By caronc 8th May 18, 8:18 PM
    • 5,097 Posts
    • 31,391 Thanks
    Top up shop today of £12 as I forgot some essentials (milk & loo roll) and was running short on salady stuff. Not so great total so far for May is £50/£120.
    GC: Jan £105/£120, Feb £76/£120
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 8th May 18, 8:53 PM
    • 731 Posts
    • 9,324 Thanks
    Was really pleased with the NSDs I've had.
    Have decided to keep eating out and take outs in a separate budget.

    Spent £8.57 in the last 2 days.. Will add to total in a mo..
    "There's a little witch in all of us"
    2018 GC 93 2019 GC 1 Feb GC £221.97/£300
    : DEBT FREE 06/2018
    • supersaver1000
    • By supersaver1000 8th May 18, 9:37 PM
    • 2,133 Posts
    • 13,317 Thanks
    Another small spend at Aldi today, Aberdeen Angus burgers and fries for tea

    Current Totals: £173.76/300

    Which sounds really bad but have spent lots on items other than food so is very good.

    Jingsmybucket that's an amazing price - I need to look into how to become a saffron farmer, but probably just need to get some powder for my recipes as it seems to be a lot cheaper than the strands

    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
    • NeverendingDMP
    • By NeverendingDMP 8th May 18, 9:47 PM
    • 253 Posts
    • 972 Thanks
    Milk and some fresh bits has brought me to 290 out of 390 spent. 16 possible spend days till pay day and most of food in the house for teas etc. I'm doing better than in previous attempts. Ha ha
    35,213 - Jan 2018, 30943 remaining.
    Mortgage 77230- Jan 2018
    74381 remaining.
    Emergency fund 156
    Make 2019- 67.44/2019
    1% challenge. Back to 1%....
    • selloptape
    • By selloptape 8th May 18, 10:19 PM
    • 564 Posts
    • 2,767 Thanks
    Spends at W1lcoo and L1dl today on cleaning supplies and this eves dinner.

    I'm a little over where I want to be but think I can pull this back, have meal planned for the next few days and should be left overs for lunch each day which is where I seem to go wrong atm.

    Tues - baked sweet potato, tuna salad
    Wed - halloumi and pepper fajitas
    Thu - miso noodles with egg
    Fri - citrus tofu with quinoa and greens
    Sat - unsure - might do a roast chicken and then can live off left overs for next few days
    GC Jan £209.67/£278.61
    Save 12k in 2019 #8 £682.65/£1,5000
    MFiT T5 #22 Save £20k over 3 years
    Walk 1500 miles in 2019 - 192.58/1500
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 9th May 18, 9:33 AM
    • 1,159 Posts
    • 7,302 Thanks
    Still no spends after losing my purse and stopping all my cards, I have cash but don`t want/need anything, so hanging on to that in case of an emergency.
    2018 £2285/£2149 2019 £2000=£1823
    FEB £1823-£8=£1815-£6=£1809-£16=£1793-£8=£1785-£7=£1778-£18=£1760-£18=£1742-£40=£1702-£8=£1694
    • turtlemonkey
    • By turtlemonkey 9th May 18, 10:32 AM
    • 17 Posts
    • 196 Thanks
    My chocolate cravings got the better of me yesterday, so I stopped by Lidl and spent £14.69, mostly on snacks. Still, I should get 8 lunches and 3 dinners out of the other stuff I bought, so it wasn't a totally wasteful shop.

    Total spend on groceries so far in May: £14.69. Left in budget: £95.31
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