The Angelicscalliwags Challenge: July Sum up


Welcome to the July sum up of the angelicscalliwags challenge.  The challenge is on to pay off our mortgage by the end of 2017

For the rest of the posts in this series see here

How did we do this month?

We have currently paid back 14.7% of our mortgage since January of this year.  Only 85.3% left.  Every month that goes by we are paying less interest and more off the debt.  Watching it going down feels good!

What have we been doing this month?

Budget, budget, budget

Bearing in mind we have a fairly good budget in place at the moment, we decided to only concentrate on the money we have for grocery shopping.  Over the past two years goods have gone up considerably, sometimes by 50% or more.  This has meant that my grocery bill (which includes cleaners, loo roll, and pet food etc. as well as food for 7) has increased from £100 to £150 per week.  I’ve asked friends and apart from one, who manages to keep theirs to below £50 per week, the amount we spend seems to be fairly representative, especially given we have a huge menagerie of pets to feed and home and we have the largest family amongst those I quizzed.  We probably spend about £40 of the £150 on non food and pet supplies, so average about £15 per week per person.  Would anyone be willing to share what they are able to get it down to?  I’d love to have some home schooler input (the majority of people I asked were two wage families).

I do know that this area is a weakness for me, simply due to disorganisation.  I never write a list, I shop at Waitrose which is one of the more expensive shops to shop in and I hate shopping which leads to some very hurried shopping trips (think 30 minutes for a family of 7).  That said there are many things I do well.  I always buy fresh food and cook from scratch.  I rarely, if ever, buy packet ready meals.  I always buy Waitrose Essential brand for everything.  I make everything I can myself, from bread to yogurt.  We don’t ever eat puddings and we don’t drink anything apart from water (although we occasionally have a diet coke for a treat, but it is never in my shopping trolley).  Problem is we eat an enormous amount of vegetables and fruit, and I like to buy my meat from the butchers and my fish from the Waitrose.  Oh and then there’s mine and Gary’s snacking habit….

So I thought I’d start simply and write a menu plan.  I have been known to do this before, only it takes me more hours than one week holds for me to actually complete one.  Sigh. This whole shopping thing is just not up my street.  Maybe when we’ve paid off the mortgage I could hire someone to menu plan, do my shopping, maybe even clean my house……well, a girl can dream, right?

What have the children been doing this week?

T11 is, as always, on the case.  (one gets the feeling if I asked him to menu plan and do our weekly shop he would effortlessly bring it to under £100 again!).  He has been ferrying away his raspberries into the freezer for future jam making sessions.  He has a large Ziploc bag full of them already.  Last year so many were wasted that this year I’m grateful for a motivated and consistent son who has it all sorted!

I didn’t realise three chickens would produce this many eggs.  I mean I knew it would be three a day but I think I thought we would easily eat that many.  We don’t and this is good because it means we have extra to give away.  So we have had the pleasure of packaging up some eggs prettily with coloured shredded tissue paper and a ribbon and giving them to family and friends nearby.  Such a blessing to be able to do this!

The garden centre is our new favourite place to hang out as a family and we try to go each week.  Even the younger ones love it and ask to buy something to go in their little kitchen garden.  So cute.  Speaking of which, the littles are currently growing carrots, cabbages, beans and radishes in their Little House kitchen garden.

Frugal tip

Cutting our own hair.  This is something we have done for years and really think nothing of it anymore.  Occasionally the girls and I might go to a hairdressers as a birthday gift from Granny, but in the main it’s Daddy and his scissors and razor thing.  I’ve not got a good track record with said razor thing.  It seems to have a life of it’s own in my hands.  It is now pretty much off limits to me on account of the near disasters my poor husband has had to contend with.

I’ve also started putting the shampoo and conditioner into a spray bottle and diluting with water.  I did this less for frugality and more to help my girls to spread the shampoo and conditioner more evenly throughout their hair.  Whatever the case it’s been a great idea all round and a bottle of shampoo is lasting considerably longer now (as in about double the time).

What am I reading?

I am currently working my way through this website.  Many would consider this lady to be very financially savvy and extremely frugal and she is.  It’s a little intimidating to be honest.  I oscillate between being completely in awe of her to  thinking she is slightly nutty!  However, she is doing it so she can stay at home with her children, so hats off to her.  In the main she has some fantastic ideas which are very doable.  Gary doesn’t like me spending too much time on her blog on account of the reusable loo paper.  He is aghast at the very idea of it.  I, of course, in true Claire-Gary dynamics, tease him intermittently threatening him with the  reusable cloth.  Having made the rather easy (for me) transition to reusable wipes (Gary hates them and now simply avoids changing nappies with all his might), reusable loo cloth seems the obvious next step….No?  You’re probably right.  I’m not too keen either!

Washable botty cloths aside, her website site really is a trove of treasure for the frugally minded, and the excessively frugally minded will be in thrifty heaven.

What will we be doing next month?

I am going to write me a menu plan, followed swiftly by a shopping list and then I’m going shopping and sticking to it.

You see, in black and white, that looks like something a five year old could achieve.  I need much prayer.  I’m fairly certain I will be posting the same goals next month.  In fact I could save myself a whole heap of work and simply copy and paste this post into next month’s slot.

So not really very, very hopeful of success.

I’m posting this now because I’m going to have a computer free weekend with my family.  I hope you all have a wonderful couple of days.


  1. We usually spend £600 per month on groceries for 7-8 plus two kittens. This is slightly lower when Oldest Son is at uni and slightly higher when he is home except this last month when we have been way over budget. There were a variety of reasons for this but the main one was going on holiday and shopping, several times, with the family rather than on line. I definitely spend more when shopping in the shop than using the on line store and it is easier to take food out of a virtual basket.
    £150 per week doesn’t sound bad. It doesn’t seem long ago when I could get all the groceries for £85/week. Prices have definitely gone up.

  2. I’m just off to bed, but was wondering which delivery service you used. Over the years we’ve tried them all but, bar Ocado, haven’t been too impressed by the fruit and veg that were given to us. Ocado don’t do the larger sizes of many things, so that didn’t work out. I’ve always thought online shopping to be a far more satisfactory experience than going to the shops but in this case I don’t seem to be able to make it work for us. I wonder if the delivery services have improved any (it’s been a few years since I tried)

    1. Currently, we use Tescos as it does seem to be about £20/week cheaper than Sainsburys for us. Sainsburys is probably slightly better. Overall, the service seems to have improved over the years. The only issue that we tend to have with fruit and veg is that the value apples vary in quality and type. I can’t see, on line, whether we are going to get Russets and Coxes or whether the dreaded Golden delicious will appear.

      1. For me it is the fruit and veg issue with delivery as well, although from your experiences it sounds better than it used to be. Maybe I ought to give it another go. Thank you so much for sharing Sarah.

  3. My grocery bill is higher than yours, Claire. I set aside $1200/month (cash) for groceries, paper products, toiletries, etc., for 6+ people. (The + is for feeding another person about half the time.) It does not include dog food. (The last time I looked one pound sterling was $1.6CDN, for your reference.) I have a lot of difficulty making it stretch. It is the 26th today and I have $20 left. I think our groceries must be more costly than yours. I just bought a 4-litre jug of milk and it was $5.05. But, I have someone who needs soy milk, due to lactose intolerance, and a 2-litre carton was $4.69. Another child is allergic to soy also, so she drinks Oat Dream, which is nearly $4/litre. I have to confess to buying convenience occasionally. I just bought burritos for supper. I cannot make a menu plan, to save my life. It takes me “hours” and I cannot seem to follow it. I do make a grocery list and follow it.

    Enjoy your week-end with your family.
    Myra, from Winnipeg where my Gary and I are celebrating 44 years of marriage today.

    1. Yes, is seems your groceries are more expensive than ours (your milk is about £1 more!) I think you do a marvellous job under very difficult circumstances, Myra and you ought to be very proud!!

  4. I suppose groceries might be cheaper here than where you live, but it probably is compared to the cost of living here as well. Good job making as much as you can from scratch! I would like to do that too but with a full time job I give in to convenience items quite a bit during the week.

  5. Entertaining as ever – thanks Claire! Reusable loo paper … interesting!!

    I started menu-planning using an app (Mealboard) a few years ago. I love not having to think about meals once I’ve planned and ordered online from Tesco.

    We use the Tesco service where you pay a fixed delivery charge and can have as many deliveries (over £40) as you like. They also price-match at the moment so most weeks I get a voucher code for anything from pennies to £10 if my basket would have been cheaper elsewhere. Many weeks they also send a £5 off your next shop voucher. Then again I’m not a foodie. I have a very frugal foodie friend who really treasures her Waitrose habit.

    I do find that not going to the shops really stops me picking up extras. If I forget to order ice cream (or am feeling good when I do the order), we just don’t have it that week. (Or we have to really want it enough to spend 15 minutes churning our own!)

    I hope you’ve had a lovely unplugged weekend.

    1. There is something about Waitrose. I really do hate shopping and Waitrose is the most pleasant experience. I think I need to give online shopping a try again. I have heard good things about Tesco’s recently.

  6. What a wonderful goal!! I hope you can accomplish that. Even though it is just Keilee and I we spend a lot on groceries. It makes me mad that it costs more to eat healthy than to eat junk! Keilee has cut my hair for a couple of years and hers is so long it needs cutting rarely. I hope you are enjoying your computer free weekend! 🙂

    1. Yes, you are so right. As parents you want to do the best by your children, but the rubbish food is much less expensive. Each month is getting harder to buy the same variety as prices keep creeping up. We now just get basic fruit, apples and bananas where as we used to be able to buy all sorts.
      That said, I am very thankful for food on the table and a roof over our heads!

  7. I am so impressed with how much you already do – make your bread, yogurt, jams, and fresh eggs! I think you need a post where you pat yourself on the back at everything you accomplish 🙂 Good luck with the menu planning!

    1. It’s weird, there are so many things I enjoy doing and do well, but the basic stuff eludes me some how. I don’t seem to be able to master menu planning and shopping to that plan at all! Ah well, maybe one day it will suddenly click!

  8. I hope you enjoy your computer free weekend! I’m going to have a computer free week in November, and I’m kinda looking forward to it. I accidentally had an internet free one last week, and that was a challenge, since it wasn’t planned for.

  9. I am afraid I am very much in the same boat as Myra, whereby my little man has allergies and food restrictions and imported supplements which take up a GREAT portion of my grocery bill. I budget around R4000 a month for groceries / cleaning stuff / supplements for myself and little man. It will be interesting to see how this will change once my husband returns from the Middle East. I may have to go visit your frugal lady’s blog…. BUT there is NO way I am using re-usable Loo paper / wipes. Not going to happen. A girl’s got to draw the line somewhere. Although I recall when I was still on Facebook, an aquaintance used to wax lyrically about those re-usable bum wipes… not going to happen. Never.

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