Grocery challenge update: How low can you go?

grocery challengeRegular readers will be aware that we have been on a £35 per week grocery challenge. For the whole of August we have been saving money at Shoestring Cottage by keeping our food bill as low as possible.

If you need to make some quick savings – if you have an unexpected bill, for example –  try reducing your food budget. A grocery challenge is a great place to start.

How low did we go?

grocery challengeDid we stick to our reduced budget? Yes, pretty much. We have been under some weeks and over on others but so far we have spent just £150 on food for the three of us. This works out at around £37.60 a week. We still have a week to go as August is almost a five week month. We have plenty of food in the house so should be able to keep to about £25 for this week’s shop. How did we achieve this?

Meal planning

Every week I check the cupboards, fridge and freezer to see what we already have. I then make a meal plan for the week ahead. If there is something that needs using up I incorporate that into my plan.

I check to see what is available on the veggie patch and include that too.

I work full time so I don’t have time for fussy food. Dishes that are fast, tasty, cheap and nutritious are required. We are fortunate at this time of year to have a lot of fresh produce from the garden, which helps a lot as it is more or less free food!

Did we live on pasta?

grocery challengeOf course we didn’t! We ate dishes like roast chicken and ratatouille, cheesy vegetable hash, sausages and mash, spinach frittata and courgette and tomato eggy bake. We took leftovers for work lunches or home made soup. Breakfast was usually porridge and fruit. When I am stuck for inspiration, I search through my frugal recipes.

Were there any exceptions?

The challenge excluded household items like toilet roll and cleaning supplies. We also had a burger out when we went to festival and a family party that was from a separate budget. Our challenge didn’t preclude the odd bit of spending on fun.

This grocery challenge has been an interesting experience and a great discipline. I am pretty frugal most of the time anyway, but will loosen my purse strings a bit when we hit the end of the month.

Has anyone else tried a grocery challenge? How do you save money on food?

10 thoughts on “Grocery challenge update: How low can you go?

  1. I’ve well and truly blown mine! 🙁
    I’ve still got 3 shops to go and it’s looking like I’m not even going to make my normal pre-challenge budget either! 😮

    My shops have included household items like shower gels, toothpaste, loo-rolls etc, but I think I just underestimated how much having another 2 adult males home full time would cost me – not least in beer and ice-cream! 😀

  2. I usually set a monthly budget of £200 for 2 adults which includes toiletries also however I’very been well and truly blowing it the last couple of months by £50-£100. Not good at all. I usually monthly buy and then weekly fresh top up.

    I have been doing an Internet shop the last couple of months because my health hasn’t been great and I don’t fancy dragging my trolley everywhere however, I can clearly see that I’m not getting as much bang for my buck as when I used to have Aldi as my main shop.

    DH is on holiday in Sept with his son so I am halving the bill and going back to Aldi weekly shopping. I’m hoping this will help bring the food bill down. I’very also upped the intake on munchies, albeit rice cakes and crisps but that has to stop. I’m going to make a concerted effort next month.

    I don’t grow my own veg and so admire what you do in your garden as it keeps you all fulfilled and it is fresh. I can’t eat a lot of fruit and veg because it doesn’t agree with me but I also can see that I’ve let slip what small amount I could.

    I’very bought The Savvy Shoppers Cookbook which has recipes for items you can buy in Aldi or Lidl. I can vouch for the chicken and chorizo tray bake and the peanut butter seed balls …… you can get similar at £1.50 each in the hel th shops but the recipe here probably costs that I total for 10. My brother eats them by the masses.

    You are so disciplined and this is something I need to get back to doing.

    • I like the sound of that book! Will
      Have a look for that. Totally agree with you – Aldi is so much cheaper

  3. I will be doing one starting today since we have some unexpected and expensive car repairs to pay for. I also had to bow out of my upcoming job due to those car issues, so money is tight!

  4. Hi Jane
    I’ve recently discovered your blog and am finding it really inspiring. Thank you. Here are some of the things I’ve done:
    I’ve enjoyed making several of your recipes and dusted off the slow cooker! I’m growing some veg but have decided next year to grow more.
    We have cleaned up an old unused freezer that we’d bunged in the garage (intending to have it collected but never got round to it!). Now DH has brought it back indoors, we cleaned it up and I’m busy filling it with homemade meals and leftover creations ready for the busy autumn months when I’ll be back to working and school restarts. No longer will we be needing junk food or takeaways after a tiring day!
    I’ve made lots of savings on my food shop and have found the yellow sticker section! I’m also collecting the Morrison’s Christmas stamps each month this year in an effort to budget better!
    Thanks again!

  5. Bringing my food bill down is something I’m working hard on atm. Food is my biggest money sink and something I need to sort out. I’ve started making a spreadsheet to record what food is in my house so I can meal plan. I got into the habit of buying the same stuff week in week out whether I knew I needed it or not so have a tonne of cupboard food needing used up! I’m hoping through meal planning I can just write a list for the few bits I’m missing each week to save as much money as possible till my stockpile is used up.

    • That’s exactly what I do. See what isin the cupboard and plan meals around the contents. You will save a lot to start with if you have a stockpile.

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