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    • elsiepac
    • By elsiepac 28th Jul 18, 10:09 PM
    • 1,656Posts
    • 12,267Thanks
    April 2019 Grocery Challenge
    • #1
    • 28th Jul 18, 10:09 PM
    April 2019 Grocery Challenge 28th Jul 18 at 10:09 PM
    Hi everyone,

    Welcome to the fourth Grocery Challenge of 2019 !!!!

    If your new month starts early feel free to join this thread, or if you're still working on your March budget, then keep on posting in the March Challenge.

    As always this challenge is to reduce your own grocery budget to levels that you will be pleased with, not forgetting that we always recommend that you stay inside your own comfort levels and take things gently one step at a time. Remember that this is not a's designed to take you and your grocery spending to a level you are happy with.

    If you are new to the challenge I have quoted the advice from Galtizz below which will help you get started.

    Please post into this thread for help and advice and support at any time. Good luck to everyone taking part!

    I have said this before, but for all the newbies to the challenge;

    For the first month I took a guess at the budget but I really had no idea how much I was spending.

    I found the best thing is to have a guess the first month but SAVE ALL OF YOUR RECEIPTS (and yes, that does include the ones from the local shop when you run out of milk), then at the end of the month add them all up and have a look if you were on budget, if not, it doesn't matter because your budget was a guess. For the next month you can use the total of your receipts and take a bit off to get a realistic budget, just shave off as much as you think you can, it could be £1 a week or £20 a week.

    If you are currently spending £200 a month don't suddenly drop it to £100 - you'll never do it but if you cut £20 a month off for a few months you'll get there eventually without feeling you're missing out on anything.

    You might think you've done everything you can in the first month but someone always comes up with a new idea and, if you try it you often find you save a bit more (unless you are SarahSaver who is an expert at this and could only save more if she turned her back garden into a paddy field and lived on rice ) In the first month I thought, I'm planning meals, I couldn't possibly save any more, but then I started double cooking and freezing, and making soup instead of buying it in tins.

    I've been doing this since Feb but only saved ALL of my receipts last month, it has given me a much better idea of where it is all going. Budget for next month is £80 for 2 of us, I'll start on 30/4. I could probably save more, by eating different foods but I can afford to live on £80, I have saved a lot of money since Feb. and I don't waste food or money any more. So I'm happy with my budget.
    By request, here is Spiggles wonderful helpful post

    We all have different budgets that suit our households. The most important thing to remember is that you set yours according to your needs and finances. It can take time to get to where you want to be too so don't knock yourself out if you go over in the first few months. We are here to support each other and it is not a competition.

    I thought it might help to outline where we've come from and the top tips I've learned.

    When we started in March 2010 we had spent in excess of £600 in the previous month. This had to stop, (there's only me and him and our two beautiful black cats) something which thankfully my OH completely agreed with so I have been lucky that he has been on board from the start. He gave me his debit card voluntarily and I still keep hold of it until he needs to get something for the home. At the same time we set up a system of pocket money (pm) at £15 each per week which doesn't count towards the GC and which we can each spend as we wish with no comebacks or complaints. OH predominantly uses his pm on his beer and I ferret mine away mostly.

    The next step was to set up my own spreadsheet which is absolutely simple onto which I put all spends so that I have a continuous running total for the month and for the year. We initially set our budget at £280 per month and brought it down to £240 where it resides for most of the year it is occasionally increased to allow for extras e.g. Christmas to £260.

    The important 'tools' we found greatly helped and continue to do so now are:

    Stocktake cupboards, fridge, freezer - make lists and ensure that the older products get used up first. You'll be amazed at what you find squirrelled away and it will help with your shopping list as you'll realise that you don't actually need so much.

    Before you go shopping check staples - running out of milk, bread, butter, etc often leads to going into a shop for one thing and coming out £20 lighter. Always check these and if they'll run out tomorrow buy them the same time as getting other things.

    Always make a shopping list and stick to it - the supermarkets (sm) try every which way to get us to spend so having a list and strong resolve is the only way to beat them.

    Keep every receipt - and then note it down on your spreadsheet/spend diary so that you always know where you are.

    When tempted, ask yourself do you NEED it or just WANT it - now this advice goes with two things. Firstly, the things you see in store when shopping that APPEAR to be bargains - if you hadn't planned spending the money then its not a bargain. Secondly, the sm send us loads of vouchers for £X off a spend of £XX - if you had no NEED to spend £XX then have you SAVED anything???

    Use my supermarket to compare prices (limited to four of the biggies) - The site may be used to actually do an online shop at whichever of the big four offers the best value or, if you have the time and sm availability, to make up lists for visiting each of the stores so that you can purchase all you need at different stores thus getting the best possible value. (I'd add, do a 'shop' virtually on this site and take the list you create on it with you, whichever one you shop at, it will help keep target prices in your head and allow you to spot bargains. 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!

    Last edited by elsiepac; 15-03-2019 at 11:57 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: Apr 19 £59.94/£200
    Vegan 27-8-13
Page 7
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 12th Apr 19, 12:49 PM
    • 1,213 Posts
    • 7,641 Thanks
    £3.69 on nothing urgent, fancied some chips and picked up other bits.
    Had a sort out in loft and decided to get rid of the surfeit of suitcases, 8 altogether, 3 very large, 3 medium 1 small, from the 3 sets you buy, and 1 hard shell, advertised all on freecycle, couple of queries, 1 taker for the hard shell, neighbour took 2, 1 large 1 medium, for her M.I. who is going on a cruise. decided to advertise on facebook £5 each ALL GONE except the very small.
    Last edited by pamsdish; 13-04-2019 at 7:06 AM.
    2018 £2285/£2149
    2019 £2000=£1445-£13=£1432-£31=£1401-£32=£1369-£4=£1365=£18=£1347
    • Doom_and_Gloom
    • By Doom_and_Gloom 12th Apr 19, 3:48 PM
    • 3,776 Posts
    • 12,896 Thanks
    We have spent £12.40 since last post.
    £1.57 spent yesterday to buy my apples and OH got tortilla chips.
    £10.83 today on 1kg red grapes, vegan grated cheese, vegan white chocolate buttons, houmous, 4 pears, 605g courgettes, 210g easy peelers, 485g carrots, 290g white onions and 310g red onions and duck spring rolls.

    Vegan pizza (bfree base from freezer) for my dinner tonight.
    For dinner OH is having duck spring rolls and other junk.

    £93.62 left.
    29 year old vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy
    • dollypeeps
    • By dollypeeps 12th Apr 19, 5:06 PM
    • 178 Posts
    • 640 Thanks
    So....very excited ....did the SM shop ..

    Lidl's £47.31
    Aldis £13.51
    Tesco£ 3.21

    Total £64.09 voucher for £5.00 at Lidl's to take off

    Spent £59.09/£60

    Yay go me!!!!! I bought 2 Sirloin steaks for £5.29 with the voucher so they cost me .29p really ))

    I stuck to my list and bought only 2 extra items, which I forgotten about.

    Bananas weren't included in my original price estimate as they are weigh items and 3 items had a price all in all I'm well pleased ....

    It goes to show that it takes you lot to keep a really close on eye on things but it's worth it to stay on budget.....
    I'll continue to track any spends each day and then update in the week.....

    Learning all the time ....
    mortgage now £2260 as of Apr 2019
    and no other debts

    56B]items decluttered
    • Save Dosh
    • By Save Dosh 12th Apr 19, 5:56 PM
    • 1,314 Posts
    • 15,693 Thanks
    Save Dosh
    So....very excited ....did the SM shop ..It goes to show that it takes you lot to keep a really close on eye on things but it's worth it to stay on budget.....
    I'll continue to track any spends each day and then update in the week.....Learning all the time ....
    Originally posted by dollypeeps
    Well done - yes really helps.

    Hope everyone is keeping well. I have an online delivery making its way to me which came to £25.88. I have updated my sig and will adjust if needs be. Welcome to any newbies. Have a lovely w/e everyone.
    April GC - Food £37.40/£80 - Alcohol £14.50/£20
    Bulk Funds - Food £0
    - Alcohol £0
    Save 12k in 2019 £1,300/£5,000 - #155
    • BrassicWoman
    • By BrassicWoman 13th Apr 19, 5:43 AM
    • 2,068 Posts
    • 8,001 Thanks
    £30 and some vouchers since ast entry - that includes a few work breakasts and lunches til the end of the month. Vegan croissants, and Red Red lunches (think fancy vegan organic pot noodle) which are not cheap but were on offer.
    April 19 grocery challenge £174.75/ £200
    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 13th Apr 19, 10:57 AM
    • 1,053 Posts
    • 8,091 Thanks

    Did a list yesterday for week2 SM. However did it differently this time....did a general list as I looked through cupboards and my running list from the week ( always jot down if I run out/ need something on next shop). Then, as I shop at Lidl,Aldi and tesco ( we much prefer certain items in each store) I made separate lists .....the bulk of my shopping is done at lidl. I then went through old receipts of each shop noting what I buy usually and whether it should be added so I don't get any 'surprises' as I walk around. I listed the prices of each item at each store and nots it on my list so I have a comparison and hopefully I can at least come in on budget !!!!
    Originally posted by dollypeeps
    Well done! Your new methodology is similar to mine: write down what we’ve used, as we use it, then go through the freezer and larder to see what’s missing. Finally, I’ll do a rough meal plan to determine if there’s anything out of the ordinary that should be purchased. It may have seemed like hard work at the time, but it leaves you much better prepared. Did you find that you always bought additional XX even thought there are 10 jars in the cupboard and you never use them? (I’m a sucker for fancy pickles, often sold from a stall in the atrium at work and rarely used in our house.)

    FWIW, I run an imprest system in our larder, rotating tins and jars as we go, but always buying enough of something to replenish what’s used and ensuring that we have a certain amount in stock after each shop, for example I’ll buy enough to ensure we have five cartons of “emergency milk” (longlife skimmed milk) in stock. We do one main supermarket shop a month, split between MrT’s and Lidl, with fortnightly top-ups of veg from a local farm shop.

    I have one spend to declare: £3.69 spent in Lidl yesterday by my husband. He went to get 6 packets of their penne pasta (at 29p/500g, it’s the cheapest), and found their ChocoFudge Brownie ice cream irresistible. That spend brings our total for the month to £74.53/£120, leaving $45.47 for the remainder of the month.

    - 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
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 13th Apr 19, 11:30 AM
    • 2,964 Posts
    • 37,104 Thanks
    Eeek - £66.50 spent at the market this morning, which leaves us with just under £100 to last the next two weeks/weekends. And we have DS3 home for most of that, plus DS1 & his partner for the second weekend, and DS2 and his partner are never far away at weekends anyway! On a brighter note, I think I forgot to set the "entertainments" budget back to zero at the end of March, so I'll correct that, which will pay for Easter; we also have my mother & brother coming for the main Easter lunch so I'm going to need a big joint to roast.

    And today's £66.50 included a fair amount of stuff to stick in the freezer for another day, so there is half a possibility that I'll still manage to stick to the budget. Assuming my operation goes ahead, some of last month's under-spend will be left in cash for the troops to spend if necessary, which should keep them going and relieve them of the necessity to account for every penny - though that wouldn't do them any harm!

    I shall be back on the "low residue" diet for a week or so after the op. but I think I can do that now without adding to our expenses by buying ready-made food. One of the things that makes me realise just how very lucky I've been is that we've been able to weather all this financially without too much strain; in many households, one partner not being able to work for months would really muck things up. Not to mention those who live in countries where there's no NHS... I've done my fair share of moaning over the last few months, but in reality, I'm one of the very lucky ones.

    GC Apr 19 - £388.30/£420 "Entertainments" £40/£50
    Bulk-buy purse '19 £42/£250, pet & livestock food '19 £69/£400

    Money's just a substitute for time & talent...
    • Vanlady
    • By Vanlady 14th Apr 19, 8:23 AM
    • 31 Posts
    • 370 Thanks
    Morning everyone

    Thank you pipney re the advice about chapatti flour and bread making - I baked a loaf blending some in with strong flour to start with; turned out great! So that should keep down costs too when the chapatti flour was on offer at £3.

    Thriftwizard-I loved hearing all about you feeding the local wildlife, especially the heron

    So far this month:
    NSD 7
    £111.30/£300 on groceries
    Mainly all spent on food as few toiletries and cleaning stuff needed. We have always used bar soap in the bath/shower but once handwash has been used up in kitchen and downstairs loo, I have replaced with bar soap. It's a massive saving plus helps reduce plastic (but why oh why do a lot of companies feel it is necessary to pack each individual bar of soap in a plastic film !!).
    We have also been using bar shampoos and conditioner which are fabulous and last for ages, so although a bit pricey to buy, definately work out cheaper than a bottle.
    So far I'm quite pleased with the spending so far. We have a few meals out planned during April but this money comes out of other funds.
    Will need to do a small shop tomorrow as my list ( like others on here, I also make it a 'running ' list and add to it when things are used up) is getting quite long now.
    On the menu tonight is a good old slow cooker chicken casserole with potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire puddings. And probably a pudding of some sort seen as the oven will be on as I like to fill it. The rest of the week will be a mix of meat free and vegan meals.
    Have a lovely weekend everyone.
    • flubberyzing
    • By flubberyzing 14th Apr 19, 11:45 AM
    • 1,205 Posts
    • 8,189 Thanks
    A £13.93 in Tesco. My first of the month, as I was using up old stuff up to the 5th, and then went off to Italy, where all food was paid for in advance. Got home yesterday afternoon. So hopefully I'll come in well under budget for the month, and I'll use the excess to re-stock the cupboards a bit.
    Because it's fun to have money!
    £47.10/£70 April GC
    £57.83/£70 March GC
    £66.44/£70 February GC
    £64.62/£70 January GG

    • tiredwithtwins
    • By tiredwithtwins 14th Apr 19, 12:16 PM
    • 460 Posts
    • 1,530 Thanks
    I fell off the challenge last month due to stress and life and the usual cr#p life keeps throwing at me!
    im sticking within my £120 a month budget for now .. done really well this month as well within my budget and only really need things like milk and bread and bits ..
    good luck to all those struggling to budget in this ever-increasing stressful world!
    dec gc epic fail!/150 ..jan 140/160 ..feb gc 90/150
    mar 100/120 apr 85/120
    wading through the treacle of life!
    • MadamMim2013
    • By MadamMim2013 14th Apr 19, 2:21 PM
    • 775 Posts
    • 9,876 Thanks
    A very spendy £74.39 today, it has been a while since I did a big shop and there was lots missing that needed to be replaced. I am however running the tin cupboard down as much as & will work out what we really do use and what’s just there for the sake of it.
    WIll go sort my total out as have been slacking
    "There's a little witch in all of us"
    2018 GC 93 2019 GC 3 April GC £206.80/£300
    : DEBT FREE 06/2018
    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 15th Apr 19, 4:58 PM
    • 1,053 Posts
    • 8,091 Thanks
    Afternoon All

    Firstly, Thriftwizard, fingers crossed that the operation goes well, without any complications and on the date you’ve been given by your surgeon.

    Second, everyone-else, how’re you doing so far in April? We’re virtually half way through the month. Me? After 2 shops yesterday (Lidl £3.57 and MrT’s £14.49) plus receiving £4 in £2 coins as change (£2 coins go to the Running Away Fund), we’ve spent £96.59/£120, which leaves us with £23.41 for the remainder of the month.

    The thing is that we shouldn’t need to spend much more on general groceries for April, possibly £8 on fresh veg and eggs from the Farm Shop, and £4 on mushrooms and peppers from one of the supermarket, maybe an extra £2 if I buy Angry Buns for Sunday (they’re hot and they’re crossed. ), but everything else is taken care of. I’ve just made a third batch of Coconut Rough, so DH and I can take some to work, some to friends and have a tub each on Sunday. Hmmm... Even if I need to make a fourth batch, the worst I’ll need to spend is £0.60 on Lidl’s cheapest chocolate. (I have some dark chocolate drops in stock, so could use those.)

    - 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
    • BrassicWoman
    • By BrassicWoman 15th Apr 19, 6:32 PM
    • 2,068 Posts
    • 8,001 Thanks
    £19.14 on fruit and veg.. just enough left for 2 £20-with-£3-off shops.

    I love vouchers Am well stocked, so think that should be enough!
    April 19 grocery challenge £174.75/ £200
    • goingforanewlife
    • By goingforanewlife 16th Apr 19, 10:53 AM
    • 28 Posts
    • 312 Thanks
    I know it is the middle of the month but decided to try and get my grocery expenditure under control from today so I have worked out I have £50.00 left available until 26th April when I next get paid. This should last as we have a full freezer and plenty of food languishing in the cupboards.
    • pamsdish
    • By pamsdish 16th Apr 19, 10:59 AM
    • 1,213 Posts
    • 7,641 Thanks
    PipneyJane I am sure you gave the recipe for your coconut rough, can`t find it anyway,will be sure to save to copy me that, pretty please could we have it again
    2018 £2285/£2149
    2019 £2000=£1445-£13=£1432-£31=£1401-£32=£1369-£4=£1365=£18=£1347
    • Puddleglum
    • By Puddleglum 16th Apr 19, 8:26 PM
    • 631 Posts
    • 4,904 Thanks
    Just over half way through the month and I am just over half way through the budget.
    I was soooo tempted to buy coffee today but managed to resist. I got veg for the rest of the week, sausages and some gluten free soy sauce for £8.54. There was also a cheap snack in my basket as this forced belt tightening has lead me to run out of holes in my belt!
    "A thousand candles can be lit from a single candle without shortening the life of that candle."

    April 2019 - pick myself up, dust myself down and give myself a stern talking to.
    Grocery spend £69.13/£80
    • Lauralozzle
    • By Lauralozzle 16th Apr 19, 8:26 PM
    • 604 Posts
    • 5,319 Thanks
    Went shopping on Sunday but forgot to update.

    Home Bargains - £4.50 (toothpaste, deodorant, washing up sponges, scouring pads)

    Aldi - £38.61

    Morrison's - £42.79 (shampoo/conditioner, cereal, crisps - I do not know how we spent to much! I begrudgingly have a fairly expensive shampoo/conditioner as otherwise my scalp gets sore)

    Total is now £106.14/£300
    Grocery Budget: £106.14/£300.00 | NSD: 7/15 |
    Car Finance: £5,056 (7.9% APR) | Mortgage: £108,292.83 (2.79% APR) |
    • dollypeeps
    • By dollypeeps 17th Apr 19, 8:25 AM
    • 178 Posts
    • 640 Thanks
    well epic fail here last night.... £18.40 at the chippy!!!! Twas nice tho......

    It’s not part of my food budget but I thought I’d post it anyway to shame myself and to instil that planning is a MUST..... dh and da did a workout last night and Dd and I went to our usual keep class!!!
    I know laughable isn’t it and then a chippy supper.... it’s just sheer laziness and bad planning......

    Before I would have gone ‘oh well’ but being part of this has made me think £18.40 for laziness ...’ what could I have got with that!!!???’

    I always used to be organised especially when ds and Dd has activities after school and I had to prepare food for different times etc but that seems to have gone out of the window....

    Must do better

    TTFN 👋
    mortgage now £2260 as of Apr 2019
    and no other debts

    56B]items decluttered
    • flubberyzing
    • By flubberyzing 17th Apr 19, 10:32 AM
    • 1,205 Posts
    • 8,189 Thanks
    Popped into Waitrose only intending to post a letter (it's my nearest postbox), and saw my favourite coffee on an end-of-shelf display on a half-price offer.
    I can't remember the last time I saw it that heavily discounted anywhere, so I got 2 containers. They're both dated Feb '21, so no danger of not getting through them in time! £4.50 for both.

    Then went over to Lidl for a "proper" shop, but then realised when I got home that I'd forgotten milk! Not the end of the world, as I'm heading out to a friends house later, and had already planned to stop off at Boots on the way to hers, and there's an M&S Food very nearby.
    £13.55 in Lidl, and probably another 50p for a single pint of milk later on.
    Because it's fun to have money!
    £47.10/£70 April GC
    £57.83/£70 March GC
    £66.44/£70 February GC
    £64.62/£70 January GG

    • PipneyJane
    • By PipneyJane 17th Apr 19, 12:03 PM
    • 1,053 Posts
    • 8,091 Thanks
    PipneyJane I am sure you gave the recipe for your coconut rough, can`t find it anyway,will be sure to save to copy me that, pretty please could we have it again
    Originally posted by pamsdish
    Here you go, Pamsdish. Coconut Rough Recipe.

    Elsiepac has added it to the recipe index at the start of the thread.

    - 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
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