Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 25th Jun 18, 8:54 AM
    • 1,591Posts
    • 11,807Thanks
    July 2018 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 25th Jun 18, 8:54 AM
    July 2018 Grocery Challenge 25th Jun 18 at 8:54 AM
    Hi everyone,

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

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your June budget, then keep on posting in the June 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!
    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
    • stoopy
    • By stoopy 7th Jul 18, 11:46 AM
    • 54 Posts
    • 428 Thanks
    Been for weekly shop yesterday and tried to get enough for a full week which is unusual for me. Two meals this week are out of the freezer, so a bit disappointed I spent so much, but we had friends over last night so spent about 20 on alcohol/nibbles (10 of that on vodka so that will last the rest of the year at least!!), also spent 9 on chicken breasts which will do two meals this week and then freeze the rest for other weeks.

    Spent 104.51 taking my total to 175.45, and still 3 Fridays left in July!!!

    Need to check the bank accounts to see if the DH has been cheekily going to shops too!
    Grocery Challenge Jul 380.75 Aug 637 Sep 539.82 Oct 53.43 / 475
    EF 3-6 challenge #104 739.25/10000
    MFW2018 #183 0/2000
    • stoopy
    • By stoopy 7th Jul 18, 12:08 PM
    • 54 Posts
    • 428 Thanks
    MY DH spent 4.36 (no evidence in the house of what he bought lol!) so brings our total to 179.81.

    So next 3 Friday shops need to all be under 100 to keep on target.
    Grocery Challenge Jul 380.75 Aug 637 Sep 539.82 Oct 53.43 / 475
    EF 3-6 challenge #104 739.25/10000
    MFW2018 #183 0/2000
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 7th Jul 18, 12:45 PM
    • 724 Posts
    • 9,184 Thanks
    Totalled up.. 130 so far only a week in
    Some of it is bulk buys form the cash n carry so should last the month!
    Weather is wonderful, so many struggling tho, nagging at my Ma & boys to keep hydrated!
    Have a great weekend
    "There's a little witch in all of us"
    2018 GC 93 2019 GC 1 Feb GC 221.97/300
    : DEBT FREE 06/2018
    • K9sandFelines
    • By K9sandFelines 7th Jul 18, 8:13 PM
    • 2,074 Posts
    • 17,992 Thanks
    Today's spends were:

    1.05 at Morrisons garlic bread to go with tea, plus spring onions and cucumber.
    0.39 in B and M
    3.80 in work mostly YS stuff

    Total = 5.24
    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 ~
    • Tales17
    • By Tales17 7th Jul 18, 8:47 PM
    • 249 Posts
    • 2,469 Thanks
    Late to the party this month! Can you put me down for 600 again please, I am just finishing off June so will update shortly!
    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%)
    • Tales17
    • By Tales17 7th Jul 18, 9:06 PM
    • 249 Posts
    • 2,469 Thanks
    So total for June came in as 585.95 so under budget thankfully and still 2% under for year to date which allows some spare in the budget for Christmas!

    Will update for 2 weeks in July, hopefully on Thursday if I can get back into my routine!
    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%)
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 8th Jul 18, 11:03 AM
    • 724 Posts
    • 9,184 Thanks
    A small 3.20 spend on a loaf, onions & a ys chicken! (huge bargain & now in slow cooker)
    Have added to total
    "There's a little witch in all of us"
    2018 GC 93 2019 GC 1 Feb GC 221.97/300
    : DEBT FREE 06/2018
    • YorksLass
    • By YorksLass 8th Jul 18, 3:58 PM
    • 500 Posts
    • 8,165 Thanks
    First spend of July 4.97 it finished up in Morrisons, I had picked up 2 bunches of reduced flowers 2.40 reduced to 15p each, I ALWAYS check my receipt before leaving shop, nobody behind me and knew I had spent just over 5, he requested over 9, looked at my receipt when he gave it me charged 2.25 for each bunch, he took me to customer services who refunded me 4.50 so free flowers.
    Originally posted by pamsdish
    It's all too easy in life's "busy-ness" to miss these things so well done - enjoy the free flowers.

    This thread has prompted me to make a spreadsheet detailing ALL of my outgoings. I've had a fairly good idea on what I spend, but seeing it broken down like this will hopefully make it more obvious where I can afford to shave a few pounds off into savings.
    Originally posted by K80 Black
    I'm sure it will - you might be surprised to see your "fairly good idea" is anything but! Keep us updated on how it goes.

    DH did the Friday market shop and spent 8.90, so total spend for Week 1 comes to 43.10 with 5 NSDs. Meal plan done for the coming week and nothing on the shopping list so far.
    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)

    • selloptape
    • By selloptape 8th Jul 18, 5:06 PM
    • 562 Posts
    • 2,748 Thanks
    A week in and a third of the months budget gone

    I think a lot of money's going on ice cream in the hot weather

    Also far too hot to do my usual trick of cooking roast chicken at the weekend and using the overs during the week. Have tried to throw some new summery recipes into this weeks meal plan -

    Sun - pasta salad and salmon
    Mon - wraps with chicken salad
    Tue - potato salad, peas, veggie sausage
    Wed - microwave jackets, tuna, salad
    Thu - eating out
    Fri - halloumi and pepper wraps
    GC Jan 303.98/278.61
    Save 12k in 2019 #8 682.65/1,5000
    MFiT T5 #22 Save 20k over 3 years
    Walk 1500 miles in 2019 - 131.84/1500
    • Sewinglady
    • By Sewinglady 8th Jul 18, 5:24 PM
    • 14 Posts
    • 95 Thanks
    Just popping in to report a small (2) spend on fruit n veg yesterday followed by a NSD today. I have planned the forthcoming week's menu's and believe that I can avoid the supermarket - "shopping" from the freezer instead and just picking up a couple of items to make the meals.
    Grocery Challenge - July
    116.87/ 250
    • CRANKY40
    • By CRANKY40 8th Jul 18, 5:34 PM
    • 3,141 Posts
    • 34,667 Thanks
    Another NSD today. I haven't been over the front doorstep. The HT aged 13 likes Pizza Hut. I'm not so keen (on pizza or the price of us eating there) so this weekend I recreated the pizza hut experience for him in our kitchen. I cooked a pizza (Asda), made a box of pasta salad like the have on the salad bar, cooked some chicken goujons and bought him a 41p bag of plain tortilla chips also from Asda. He doesn't seem to mind cold pizza reheated in the microwave and he's had the same thing for his evening meal two nights running and lunch today. Pizza, pasta salad, chicken and tortilla chips Way cheaper than eating out and he gets to enjoy the experience more than once.

    He asked for a roast dinner today so he must have missed vegetables. He ate it as well - I had my chicken with salad. The garden has given me another handful of raspberries and two pods of peas.
    Weight loss 2019 4.5 lbs
    February '19 GC 76.61/200 + 20 savings
    January '19 GC 157.20/200.00 + 40 savings
    Freezer restock 30 Celebration fund 30
    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 8th Jul 18, 6:29 PM
    • 929 Posts
    • 7,028 Thanks
    I am so far behind!
    I am so far behind. I worked 11 days straight over last weekend, and I'm only just catching up. I haven't read one MSE email in that time, so apologies if I've missed something momentous. I'll post my wrap up of June on the June thread shortly.

    Please put me down for the usual 120 for July, please, starting 1st of the month and running until the 31st.

    We're planning our big shop for tomorrow, so I'll write up any spends we've had then.

    Beyond working like a mad woman for the last two weeks, the only thing to note in my life is that I've discovered our regular butcher shop has closed - they were taken over a few years ago by someone who had 3 or 4 shops. It's a pity. When I first started shopping there, the owner was the father of a girl who'd been my office junior back when I lived on the wrong side of London. Helen always talked about her dad's shops and helping out in them, so when I moved to within a 10 mile radius I was happy to give them my custom. (Also, their meat was excellent.)

    Has anyone noticed that a new series of "Eat Well for Less" is starting on Thursday? Although I call it "Schadenfreude television", I always come away with one or two ideas for meals after watching an episode.

    - Pip
    "Be the type of woman that when you get out of bed in the morning, the devil says 'Oh crap. She's up.' "

    C.R.A.P R.O.L.L.Z. #47 Official Brain Harvesting Body Counter
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 8th Jul 18, 6:41 PM
    • 3,747 Posts
    • 12,663 Thanks
    So 16.35 then 31.77 since last post for July.

    84.45 left.
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • Snorky6
    • By Snorky6 8th Jul 18, 10:22 PM
    • 4 Posts
    • 63 Thanks
    2nd weekly shop done. Did menu plan again trying to base around what I had left. Total spend 49.38 if i could keep it this low every week I would be happy.

    180.23 left
    July GC Total 119.77/300
    180.23 left
    • Merlin's Beard
    • By Merlin's Beard 8th Jul 18, 11:17 PM
    • 251 Posts
    • 2,129 Thanks
    Merlin's Beard
    33.18/100, most of which seems to have been spent on bog roll and washing up liquid and the like!
    • Moguline
    • By Moguline 9th Jul 18, 8:47 AM
    • 344 Posts
    • 996 Thanks
    After a weekly shop with lots of stocking up on staples and household items, I'm now at 140/200 - 60 left.
    Should be ok though as won't need anymore household items this month, and the plants in the yard are starting to yield some veg now.
    LBM: Christmas 2017 Current debt, as of 01/02/2018: 21,519 Total reduction so far: -4,919 DFD of my dreams: 31/12/2020
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 9th Jul 18, 12:30 PM
    • 1,154 Posts
    • 7,233 Thanks
    Decided to hire Rug Doctor and give my carpets a going over, went to local Filco, don`t use it much always seems a shambles, they had plants reduced buy one get 2 free, bought 3 geraniums 1.99, inside a lot of garden stuff reduced so bought 3 fertilizer items 3, enquired re carpet cleaner, need id and deposit, fair enough expected something like that, paid for plants while they sorting machine out, after returning from putting goods in car, still looking for the key to unlock the security chain, 15 mins later no key anywhere, recommended go to Morries or local hardware shop, drove to hardware, arrive 9.22 am, not open, browsed local co-op which yielded 5 bars of fair trade choc 1 each, still no hardware open, returned home, tried ringing a few times no answer, all my good intentions gone to waste and 10 spent.
    2018 2285/2149 2019 2000=1823
    FEB 1823-8=1815-6=1809-16=1793-8=1785-7=1778-18=1760-18=1742
    • Hopeless Case
    • By Hopeless Case 9th Jul 18, 4:35 PM
    • 942 Posts
    • 5,806 Thanks
    Hopeless Case
    Quite a big spend today and over half of my budget gone already, which doesn't feel great, although I am well stocked in basics. I bought a huge pack of dog food which will last well into next month.

    And I'm just going to have to be super careful!
    Feb GC 54.80/200
    NSD target: Jan 15/20
    Bring Your Lunch to Work Target Jan 13/18
    1 a day: Jan 22.7/35
    Tesco CC Aug 18 10,151.56 9753.37 0% 30mnths, First Direct CC Aug 18 4321.80 3627.85 0% til Feb 20
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 9th Jul 18, 5:53 PM
    • 3,747 Posts
    • 12,663 Thanks
    So 6.46 since yesterday for July.

    1kg grapes, 1kg carrots and OH got himself a joint of beef.

    78.00 left.
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 9th Jul 18, 6:59 PM
    • 1,295 Posts
    • 15,487 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    I only have a small chest freezer, so batch cooking or stocking up on fresh meat bargains etc is difficult. To top it all off, I'm a vegetarian and my partner is a meat eater, so I tend to find myself cooking properly for him and bunging in a quorn fillet or similar for myself about once a week, which works out quite expensive!

    I'd love to hear any easy meals that can be made meaty or vegetarian. I tend to do stir fry (I cook his meat separate) and fajitas (meat for him, beans for me) a lot, as they're easy to do both ways. He also quite likes veggie tortellini/raviolis, though I sometimes fry off some pancetta to top his off.
    Originally posted by K80 Black

    I'm vegan and if people come here to eat, that's what I cook. It's against my values to buy meat for any reason and people honestly wouldn't expect it. If I went to a meat eaters house, I would not expect them to eat veggies, just because of me. For hardcore meat eaters, you can get some unbelievable meat replacements, especially for putting in tacos/fajitas and if you didn't say, people honestly would not know the difference. Check out the range Vivera sell in supermarkets, you can make some amazing stir frys/curries with that, or Iceland No Bull Burgers, I can't eat them as they taste too meaty, you can make some beautiful curries, sweet potato, spinach & chickpea is a favourite of mine, or green thai, pizza - you can even get meat free pepperoni. I buy veggie mince, cook it up like you would do regular meat n make spag bol, lasagne (with vegan cheese), mexican wraps, jacket potatoes - with mince/coleslaw or beans with cheese. You can buy veggie meatballs and do that with tagliatelle or mash, however you like really. I sometimes do bangers n mash - vegan style. You could of course add meat to the above, but as a 'vegetarian', and not wanting to cook different meals, why would you and you have the perfect opportunity to introduce someone to the wonders of 'meat free' and save a few more animals, which is what it is all about.

    Oh yes, 11.40 on spends. I will update 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
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

26Posts Today

3,561Users online

Martin's Twitter