So what’s the Grocery Challenge all about?

I’ve been taking part in the MSE forums’ Grocery Challenge for over six months now, and it’s made such a difference to how much money we spend and what we eat.  If you need to reduce your spending, I can’t recommend taking part in this challenge enough – the threads are full of useful tips and everyone else who takes part is lovely.

How much?

Everyone challenges themselves to an amount that makes sense for them – my budget for March 2013 is £185 and I’m not sure if I’ll reduce this further at the moment.  It’s already a massive drop from the £300+ we used to spend each month.

What counts?

Again, everyone decides for themselves, but for Mr Chilli and I, we count all spending on food, toiletries, cleaning products/household stuff and food and litter for Kitty Chilli.  We don’t count: alcohol or takeaways/dinners out, or even the odd sandwich when we’re out shopping – these come out of our own, personal accounts rather than the joint account.

What are the rules?

To many people, £185 probably sounds like a lot for two people and a cat, but I do have some rules that stop me being able to go super cheap.  Since we’re not doing this out of necessity or extreme poverty, but to channel extra savings towards our wedding fund, I’m not willing to sacrifice health or my ethical stand on certain foods.  So, in general, I:

  • allow for two pieces of fruit each work day for myself (but usually get apples and bananas as they’re cheapest);
  • plan for three portions of vegetables most days, at the very least (e.g. a vegetable soup for lunch, carrots and cabbage with my main meal);
  • buy almost all fruit and veg fresh, with the exception of frozen peas and sweetcorn and tinned tomatoes (I just don’t like most frozen veg);
  • only eat free range pork, eggs and poultry, which in practical terms means I don’t get to eat pork much as it’s difficult to get free range.  The cost here is offset by the fact that I only eat meat in two dinners a week (and generally only for lunch if it’s leftovers), and while Mr Chilli will eat a bit more meat, he’s happy with normal sausages and bacon rather than free range.
  • don’t eat much processed food, even if it’s reduced or really cheap.  You’ll see that I do buy crisps, coke etc – these are for Mr Chilli, who has a more relaxed attitude to healthy eating than I do.

What does this have to do with Chilli, Sage and Lemon?

I’m going to continue posting in the Grocery Challenge thread, of course, but I also really want to use this blog to keep myself accountable.  With that in mind, I’ll be including my spends in my daily posts and plan to do a monthly ’round up’ post, where I talk about how well I did.   Another reason for tracking it here is that I think seeing what I buy and what I actually do with it might be a useful resource for anyone who’s a beginner to saving money on their groceries; for the same reason, I’ll keep you up to date with what we eat and what we wasted, probably in weekly mini round-ups on Sundays.

Since it’s mid-month now, I’ll do a mini round up below, to catch you up to my progress so far.

March Spending to Date – £73.56

Today’s Spending – New Total £75.15

Morrison's Cola - 62p (this is for Mr Chilli)
Tomatoes x3 - 97p (needed for tonight's dinner)

Tonight’s Dinner

Chicken and Pinto Bean Chimichangas (fried burritos)


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