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    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 21st Apr 18, 9:59 AM
    • 1,592Posts
    • 11,819Thanks
    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 7
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 9th May 18, 5:43 PM
    • 2,076 Posts
    • 18,017 Thanks
    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

    Originally posted by selloptape
    No problem, thank you. I hope you enjoyed your time away. I will soak the tofu shortly for a later date and make the cajun rice at some point

    Found the spend i mislaid that was £1.83 at work - two garlic bread for pizzas, two bags of YS brown sugar and two punnets of YS mushrooms. Had another spend yesterday 39p at work on reduced f & v and today, DD2 has got sugar on the way home (59p?). Later there is an impending Morrisons shop of mainly wonky f & v and some other bits.

    So that should all total : £2.81 and an impending £33.05 (min. spend of £40 i know, but i don't include toiletries or cat food; purely food. £35.86 to add
    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 ~
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 9th May 18, 7:29 PM
    • 2,924 Posts
    • 36,506 Thanks
    Another £30 gone from our budget today, on meat & veg at the county town market and a couple of small items from our local supermarket. Meals are planned for a week, and I shouldn't need too much on Friday, just fruit, fish & cheese.

    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...
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 9th May 18, 8:59 PM
    • 3,749 Posts
    • 12,697 Thanks
    Spent £18.05 since last post (Monday )
    Thankfully although this seems high for just 9 days in, we have a habit of spending more near the beginning of the month and balancing it out later. We should be fine.

    £68.85 left.
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • supersaver1000
    • By supersaver1000 9th May 18, 9:08 PM
    • 2,132 Posts
    • 13,310 Thanks
    Asda delivery arrived today with lots of goodies and a very respectable £46.60 total

    Spent a couple of quid at the local tesco on crisps and a 9 pack of kitkats.

    Will be a minor miracle to make under £80 last two more weeks, but its just the two of us for one week and I have another £40 in my personal account, so we might just make it. Its certainly going to be a challenge.

    Current Totals: £222.36/300

    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
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 10th May 18, 8:15 AM
    • 1,158 Posts
    • 7,274 Thanks
    2 out of 3 new cards arrived yesterday, very well done Nationwide and Capital 1, reported lost Saturday a.m. and a Bank Holiday.
    2018 £2285/£2149 2019 £2000=£1823
    FEB £1823-£8=£1815-£6=£1809-£16=£1793-£8=£1785-£7=£1778-£18=£1760-£18=£1742-£40=£1702
    • zafiro1984
    • By zafiro1984 10th May 18, 9:46 AM
    • 1,411 Posts
    • 10,988 Thanks
    Spent 7.85 at M&S last Monday. Almost forgot to record it as I paid cash and didn't keep the receipt. Usually I spend using my card as it shows through the bank and so I can keep track of it.

    Someone on here mentioned posting every day. I think I'll have to do the same every time I spend. However, I should be OK for a few days if I manage to keep away from the shops. One thing that has helped this month is that my car has been in at the garage having a gear cable replaced so we're down to one car at the moment which makes it more awkward to get out. (unless I get desperate and use the tractor )
    November 2018 42.83/100
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 10th May 18, 11:54 AM
    • 359 Posts
    • 3,979 Thanks
    Hello all. On Monday I collected the package of deodorants and laundry freshener from the supermarket. While there I spent €24.90 on the following: more 2 for 1 cooked cocktail shrimp that I'll use for lunches; more 2 for 1 tubs of blueberries; Lebanese bread; an avocado, 2x carrots, an apple, more lamb's lettuce, etc; a couple lamb chops for my dinner that night.

    I also had 2 NSDs on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    €94.08 / €400.00
    4 / 10 NSD

    Just a note to say that I'm quite proud of myself for taking my lunch yesterday when I went out for work meetings and client on site meetings. I originally thought to take a 4pm snack wrap with me and to just buy lunch at a cafe where my first meeting would be (ending around 11:00am). Yesterday morning at the last minute I said, "No, I'll make a wrap for lunch as well."

    Well, I'm so glad I did because the cost for the salad I was going to buy after my meeting actually costs €15.80! By taking the lunch wrap I literally saved myself approximately €14 which is the exact cost of a 10-ride metro pass in my city. Couching it that way, it really brought home the price of eating out to me once again. I used to rationalize a lot of my abstention from spending this way about 10 years ago but it's slipped a lot in the past few years. I haven't started a debt free diary yet, but I probably will later this summer. In the meantime I've started slowly reframing money for myself and how I can return to spending it meaningfully again.

    * mutters * 10 whole metro rides could've gone down my throat with nothing left to show for it except for later in the toilet...
    Last edited by JingsMyBucket; 10-05-2018 at 11:58 AM.
    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% )
    • Tales17
    • By Tales17 10th May 18, 3:00 PM
    • 249 Posts
    • 2,470 Thanks
    First update for May!

    - £3.89 Graze Box

    - £110.07 Tesco Shop - I usually do click and collect but didn't have time to sort it last week so went into the shop! Spent more than usual but I did stick to my list in general, topped up on a lot of things that were on offer and will last a few months (like toiletries and cleaning stuff), also includes a spend £10 on a freezing spray to try and get rid of my son's verrucas! Been trying with the gel for months but he hates it and screams like crazy when I try and get near his feet! So I went for something that will hopefully only need the one treatment to get rid of it!!

    - £3.16 Top Up shop for bread and ham for kids sandwiches at beginning on the week!

    - £73.57 Meat Delivery, it was a bit more than this but used up the small credit in my paypal account first and then this part went on my credit card so I am only counting this part!

    So total spend to date is: £190.69!
    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%)
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 10th May 18, 6:37 PM
    • 1,297 Posts
    • 15,506 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    Hi, hope everyone is well. Went to the market and got 2 huge cauliflowers & a large bowl of tomatoes for £1, then went B&M (first time ever), wowsers, seriously cheap, got a ton of stuff, including tinned mixed beans @ 29p, garlic puree 39p, 3 jars of Pataks Balti sauce @ 10p each, dated 5/2019, priced in Waitrose @ £1.89 each (go figure), 12 x flapjacks @ 19p each, some stuff from bulk fund, toilet rolls and Lavazza coffee. Freebies from work - 2 cartons of plant milk, some rolled pastry and a 1kg bag of pine nut kernels, priced @ £36 - I don't have a clue what to do with them, a colleague said pesto, any suggestions greatly received - will have a Google. I still have loads left in the freezer and am eating out of stores, but space is appearing at long last. Going to try and meal plan - probably will have to be the w/e now. Anywho, came to the grand total of £7.98, so my May total is now £9.66. Have updated sig.
    Last edited by Save Dosh; 10-05-2018 at 6:46 PM.
    Feb GC - £74.18/£80 - Alcohol 20/£20
    Bulk Funds - Food
    -£0.39 - Alcohol £-3.60
    Save 12k in 2019 £500/£5,000 - #155
    • JingsMyBucket
    • By JingsMyBucket 10th May 18, 7:21 PM
    • 359 Posts
    • 3,979 Thanks
    Today has been a NSD, so I'm up to 5 now. I need to meal plan what I'm taking to the office tomorrow so I don't end up spending money on lunch at the cafe downstairs. (A different cafe this time!)

    5 / 10 NSD
    €94.08 / €400.00
    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% )
    • Suffolk lass
    • By Suffolk lass 11th May 18, 4:48 AM
    • 2,459 Posts
    • 24,524 Thanks
    Suffolk lass
    Pine nut kernels
    ... and a 1kg bag of pine nut kernels, priced @ £36 - I don't have a clue what to do with them, a colleague said pesto, any suggestions greatly received - will have a Google.
    Originally posted by Save Dosh
    Yes, pesto is one thing.

    I add PNK to my jar of ready-mixed nuts and seeds that I have for breakfasts - a handful each of ready-mix nuts and seeds, frozen berries, raw (organic, jumbo) oats and a dollop of thick, full-fat greek yogurt. Mixed and eaten when I get to work this keeps me going until about two!

    I also substitute PNK for some of the dried mixed fruit when I make tea-bread (also called pound cake or Kim's cake) - just 1lb of fruit and nuts, soaked in hot black tea, mixed with two mugs of flour, half a mug of sugar and 1 egg, then into a paper case in a 1lb loaf tin for an hour on 180c - great for lunch-boxes (sure it is in the recipes already, back 6-8 years). I add pumpkin seeds and broken cashews to my nut-mix.

    PNK also go great in flapjacks and Twinks' Hobnobs... and in curries and chilli...
    MFiT T4 #2 100% after Q12 against target of £60k balance - MFIT T5 target to clear it completely (£59,998) - 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
    • Merlin's Beard
    • By Merlin's Beard 11th May 18, 10:05 AM
    • 252 Posts
    • 2,140 Thanks
    Merlin's Beard
    £4.17 on a shopping trip that was meant to be for "just milk", and I'm up to £67.29/£100.
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 11th May 18, 10:43 AM
    • 1,158 Posts
    • 7,274 Thanks
    First spend of May, Aldi £20.46, loads of veg, 1lb butter, odds and sods, and some dessert treats for a lunch invited to tomorrow.
    2018 £2285/£2149 2019 £2000=£1823
    FEB £1823-£8=£1815-£6=£1809-£16=£1793-£8=£1785-£7=£1778-£18=£1760-£18=£1742-£40=£1702
    • pipkin71
    • By pipkin71 11th May 18, 2:21 PM
    • 19,360 Posts
    • 87,170 Thanks
    Mum did an M&S shop for me, which came to £81.40. Undecided whether to add this to my grocery budget or not, as I never paid for it.
    There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you - Beatrix Potter
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 11th May 18, 5:18 PM
    • 1,297 Posts
    • 15,506 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    Thanks Suffolk lass, some nice suggestons. I would never have thought about the chilli/curries. I guess I could substitute the yoghurt and use in overnight oats, smoothies. You have got me thinking now.
    Feb GC - £74.18/£80 - Alcohol 20/£20
    Bulk Funds - Food
    -£0.39 - Alcohol £-3.60
    Save 12k in 2019 £500/£5,000 - #155
    • zafiro1984
    • By zafiro1984 11th May 18, 7:35 PM
    • 1,411 Posts
    • 10,988 Thanks
    Because I received a voucher from Mr T today with an £8 off a £40 shop I was just about to do an online shop when I thought 'do I really need anything?' The answer is no, I have enough to last well over the weekend.

    The voucher doesn't run out until the 20th, so I'm going to go on and try to see how far I can stretch its value and maybe don't do an online shop (to save the delivery charge) but go in store with a strict shopping list - sticking to the list will be a challenge on its own
    November 2018 42.83/100
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 11th May 18, 9:50 PM
    • 2,924 Posts
    • 36,506 Thanks
    £50 spent at this morning's market; more than I'd hoped, but who could resist fresh Poole Bay crab? Delicious crab with lemon mayo sandwiches for lunch, on fresh sourdough with a handful of rocket & vine tomatoes... because I'm worth it!

    Well, I suppose, as extravagant treats go, it's pretty moderate, and two other people also had some, and there's a little left for tomorrow, but if I go over budget this month, it'll all be the crab's fault! Can you tell I'm feeling a little bit guilty...?

    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...
    • Puddleglum
    • By Puddleglum 11th May 18, 11:15 PM
    • 577 Posts
    • 4,668 Thanks
    Checking in with a spend of £29.40 this week. Next week may be more expensive even budget bustingly expensive as I need to kit myself out with some herbs and spices to make food more exciting.
    "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).
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 11th May 18, 11:21 PM
    • 727 Posts
    • 9,265 Thanks
    Few small spends over last couple of days, will drag out receipts and tally up..
    Fridge is bare
    Working tomorrow am.. Shopping pm.. Need to get lots of fresh veg n a little fruit too
    "There's a little witch in all of us"
    2018 GC 93 2019 GC 1 Feb GC £221.97/£300
    : DEBT FREE 06/2018
    • Highland Fling
    • By Highland Fling 12th May 18, 9:25 AM
    • 105 Posts
    • 1,270 Thanks
    Highland Fling
    Good morning everyone
    have had a couple of trips to the shops this week for bread, milk, fruit etc. Spent another £21+. Total so far about £70+.
    Have plenty of food in freezer but just have to be more disciplined in using it up before I buy fresh. Need to complete another meal plan and stick to it.
    Really beautiful morning here so spirits are up. Time to get busy in the kitchen I think.
    Hope you all have a lovely weekend.
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