Category Archives: Six Month Update

Hard Facts…and figures

Six Month Update on my Reduce the Spending Challenge


All my household accounting is done in the Microsoft Money program which I have had installed on my computer since 2002 and it serves me very well.  Before that I was a pen and paper girl and my loft is home to about 9 large accounting books that hold the years from our marriage in 1976 to 2001.  Our life during these years in terms of our financial status with all its ups and downs are documented in these pages.

With Microsoft Money the big advantage is being able to customise a report so that I can see exactly how much I have spent in every category.  Looking at my Housekeeping – Food section for the first 8 months of this year it is no surprise to see that my grocery bill for each month during the Jan to June period is lower than the last 2 months of July and August when I appear to have lost the plot a little.  I know this will be because life had become a bit hectic around here with holidays and outings…oh and a bit of a do on my birthday which exceeded the budget by a mile.  However, despite everything, my efforts in keeping a closer watch on the food bill and what I buy have really paid off.

The figures below include all groceries, fruit and vegetables and cleaning products also soap powder, toilet rolls, tissue, kitchen roll, foil and freezer bags etc.  I have a separate category for toiletries (such as face creams, shampoo etc) and supplements and they are not included in these figures.

  • Jan  £294.92
  • Feb  £208.01
  • Mar  £242.05
  • April £232.94
  • May  £292.33
  • June  £175.14
  • Total £1445.39

A total of £1445.39  divided by 26 weeks = £55.59 per week which is £5.59 over my £50 a week budget or £145 over budget for the half year, but remember this is for mainly organic food which I do not want to give up so I have to be extra careful in what I buy to keep the prices down.  I am sure if I bought the basics of everything I would be well under budget.

Just as a guide the figures for the same period last year are £2252.73 for the first 6 months or a weekly spend of £86.64.  So I am already saving £31 a week.  Even though this is good I feel I must now take stock of where I am and look at how I can do even better in the next 6 months.

I will continue to buy as many of my purchases that I can when on offer and use all the coupons I can get my hands on and as you know one or two of these have come from empty trolleys and my mum bless her posts the Sainsbury’s ones down to me.  Some kind person left a £5 Boots voucher on my desk today – so the word is certainly getting around!

I have been and will continue to cook from fresh and use less processed foods and ready meals as I want to be healthier as well as wealthier!

I rarely buy cakes or biscuits now so when we went on holiday in July I made a Farmhouse Fruit Cake (see recipe section) to use up the eggs and this lasted us for the whole fortnight and was so much nicer than bought.  It is one of those all in one recipes which you can mix up in your Kenwood, however, I use my food processor and to avoid the fruit becoming ‘liquidised’ by the blade I fold it into the cake mixture at the end.


So what are my plans for the remaining 4 months of the year?

My aim is to reduce the weekly shop to £45 which would be another £1170 in total.  To do this I shall have to be even more careful with my choices and look for more bargains and offers.

I know I need to work on my menu planning – I do enjoy doing it but find it hard to set aside the time to do it and so I keep a small recipe book with me of our favourite recipes so I can plan meals whilst having my Hot Choc treat in Sainsbury’s cafe.  However, I often forget what we have in the cupboards at home.  So plan number 1 is…

  • Do an audit of everything in my cupboards and freezer
  • Plan for two to four weeks meals around the contents adding in items to purchase where necessary.  For instance if I have a box of lasagne sheets and some tins of tomatoes I might need to buy a red pepper and courgette to make a lasagne meal.  If I have a load of flour I will add dried fruit and make another fruit cake.
  • I challenge myself to use up and empty my cupboards over the next few weeks and only buy what we absolutely need unless there is a good offer on an item we use.

In addition to this I would like to try more of the recipes in my folders and get rid of those that we decide I wouldn’t make again.  It would be useful to mark some of them that are fast and easy to prepare as well as ones that will freeze well.  So plan number 2 is…

  • Look out for new easy to make nutritious recipes specifically for the nights when we are late making tea and can hardly be bothered.
  • Identify more meals for the freezer and make at least 1 meal to freeze each week.

As we are vegetarian I have to be creative with a number of foods that give us our protein.

  • Eggs
  • Cheeses
  • Soy / Tofu
  • Pulses and beans
  • Grains – Quinoa, Bulgar Wheat
  • Nuts

One food group for each day with the seventh being Pasta.

I have come to the conclusion that cooking from scratch every night on my working days is just too much so making one meal cover two nights is a good solution.  If I make a curry or a Nutloaf this lasts 2 days so I get a night off from cooking.

When I did my recent Detox Healthy Eating Weekend I tried and tested a whole host of new recipes and discovered that we like Quinoa and Bulgar Wheat both useful as a stuffing for peppers or tomatoes.

All I need to do now is get my pen and paper and go and look in my cupboards.