Step Away From the Supermarket

It is hot, hot, hot here. We have been having late night races in the pool, but Posy kept winning because she was wearing flippers. Not fair koala bear!
I have come to a decision, which is to not spend any money on groceries this week. This morning I looked in the cupboard and the fridge, and thought that I wouldn't need much at the shops this week, just one or two things. But I often think that, and pop out to do the grocery shopping, and you know how it is, even with a list, one or two things turns into quite a few things, and the food at the back of the cupboard stays there, the dried beans remain unsoaked because it is so much easier to buy a can or two while I am out, and then the chips are on sale, and the icecream.. well, I am sure you all understand.
So this week, line drawn in the sand. I will make do with what I have. I announced this to the girls today - no going to the shops until next Monday. That is actually more than a week, because the last time I popped into a shop was for milk and juice on Friday morning. So really, I am just skipping Monday grocery day. But no incidental shopping either. Except for milk. Just milk. Nothing else.
It's OK, we have lots of food. We won't even get slightly thinner. But I want life to be a bit simpler, to see what I can do without while still enjoying life. To think about the concept of 'enough' and 'making do' in the middle of a life that doesn't really require much of either.
What we don't have this week, is any potatoes at all. We have hardly any greens, except enough broccoli for a meal, and a large bunch of kale (hooray) and half a lettuce. There is a bit of green in the garden, fast sizzling in the heat, and half a cucumber from a friend's garden. We probably won't get scurvy because we have a lot of carrots, a capsicum, and almost two dozen oranges. There is no cream or sour cream, and only a dozen eggs (usually we go through two dozen in a week).
My first action was to locate a scrap piece of paper at the dining room table, and the nearest writing implement (a blue crayon, of course), and to write a menu, including snacks and school lunches, because this is the first week of school (why not add an extra level of difficulty). Actually, in the last week of school last year I hid all the left over 'school snack treats' (muesli bars, boxes of crackers, small bags of 'junk food Friday' chips) in my wardrobe, so that is taken care of. Nevertheless, this evening after dinner we whipped up cheese and vegemite scrolls for school lunches, a muesli bar slice, and a pan of brownies that used up the last of the choc chips, so we are officially a chocolate-free house now... (well, actually, I do know where a packet of chocolate biscuits is hidden... for emergencies. I only buy ones I don't like so I won't be tempted to eat them. So far an appropriate emergency hasn't presented itself in the three or four weeks since I bought them, but you never know..). So now we only have four eggs to see us through the week - we used four in a salad for dinner, and four in the baking..
For dinner I made a rice-based salad using the brown rice I bought to try, oh, about six months ago now. I only have enough of our favourite basmati for two meals, and they are already planned out for later in the week, so brown it was. And the girls loved it, what do you know? Well, except for Posy, but then she doesn't like anything. She appears to live on air.
So that is this week's project. It might even save $160 (I work on a budget of about $40 per person, per week. There are only four of us this week, as The Man is away). It might not be that much saved, because I will have to stock up next week, but I tell you, nothing will be wasted here, and I won't be indulging in my usual 'extra ingredient' supermarket dash.
Would anyone like to join in the fun? Have any of you tried this before? Please let me know in the comments:)


Good for you - nothing like a bit of a challenge methinks! I don't think you'll starve or get scurvy, but it will be fun along the way. I tried that for a week, but then spent soooo much money on a double up shopping trip that it hardly seemed worth it. Sorry, not meaning to put you off, I'm sure you'll be fine, but it may be a bit of a challenge with school back and all. I'd like to join in, and will just see how I go. Have just spent megabucks and filled the freezer though, I'm probably not playing fair. cheers Wendy
Tanya Murray said…
Such a good idea Jo, that is exactly how it happens when you just nip to the shops for a couple of things and before you know it there is another $100 gone and those beans do stay dry! I do have to get dog food but aside from that I'm in. Oh wait...I have a baby shower to cater for this Saturday...but aside from that I'm in!
Anonymous said…
When we lived in Riverside we were 4 houses away from a supermarket and so "nipping" was de rigeur but now we are 50km away from Launceston and the local shops are prohibitively expensive, a quick "nip" is to be discouraged at all costs. We shop fortnightly and if we run out, too bad. I guess it really makes you both inventive and learn how to plan/organise your pantry quick smart. Kudos on trying this on the week you are sending the girls back to school but I see you as a girl who can rock a challenge so can't wait to see if you all survive the week intact, and fully satiated. Sometimes necessity really IS the mother of invention so there might be some wonderful meals that eventuate from Chez Blue :)
Anonymous said…
With my new job, I walk to work, and no longer drive by the grocery store on my way home. It's amazing what a difference it makes! I am much more willing to make do.
Jo said…
Wendy, I hear you on the 'double up' shop next week, but that is part of the experiment. So glad you will be joining in!
Tanya, can't let the dog or your guests starve! But I happen to know your pantry is full of domestic goddess-type preserved goodness, if anyone could survive the zombie apocalypse it would be you!
Fran, so maybe I just have to move out of town? I'm so impressed you do this challenge every other week. I guess your new giant vegie garden must help with that:)
An exacting life, yes, proximity an issue, and driving to the shops insidious. Unfortunately (or fortunately, whichever way you look at it), I live within five minutes' walk of two corner shops, and ten minutes to the supermarket, and I am a shameless exploiter of child labour, sending them out to the shops on the slightest pretext. Of course, I also often have to bribe them with food related treats to do so, so more expense, and junk for the kids.. bad, bad, bad!
Judy said…
I'm in! Think how much less shopping time and more cooking time it means :)I just need to check I have eggs first....

I have just spent the last hour making a spreadsheet for the price of nuts! It sounds insane, but they are expensive and it seems to make sense to buy them once a month in bulk as they keep so well. The trouble is everywhere sells them in different sized bags, so it is impossible to compare prices. And after all that work I have discovered that even if I buy 5kg of pecan nuts wholesale they still aren't as cheap as my local supermarket for a 200g pack. How does that make any sense?
Jo said…
Judy, that's completely nuts! We are lucky in that supermarkets are obliged to tell us the price per 100g on their price label, and bulk bins of course have the price per kg or 100g anyway, so easy to compare. I generally buy Tasmanian hazelnuts or walnuts in the shell, because they last so much longer and taste so much sweeter. I also buy a few organic almonds from the wholefood shop. I imagine you would get a lot of nuts from Europe? Our supermarket homebrand jam comes from Poland of all places, which makes me suspicious of what kind of conditions those workers have, if it is cheaper to import it than make it in Oz.. (mind you, we do have cripplingly high labour wages here).
So glad you are going to join in. We can all whine together, I mean be very encouraging to each other as we run out of things..
Linda said…
I haven't done a challenge like this for a week but have done some"mini challenges" in the past when I have been running down food stocks prior to holidays or closing up our UK house ready for our few months stint in NZ( and then the reverse!) . It leads to some interesting combinations of food and inventive cooking. Good fun. I'm sure you will enjoy it! Perhaps you will share some of your inventions with us in a future post?
Jo said…
Linda, I was just thinking it would be a bit like those 'end of holidays' times, when everyone is urged to eat everything in sight, however strange the combinations, the difference being that there are no delicious tit bits to eat up here, just same old, same old. i will definitely share the good, the bad and the strange with you :)
Evi said…
Hello Jo, I've just popped in from a comment you left on Tanya's Better Living post! Nice to read another Tassie blog! I had to laugh at your thoughts about the recent weather down here. Not being a born Tasmanian means that for me 30 degrees is just getting to the nice stage! I love it and would gladly have 4 months of 25 to 30 and sunny every day. BUt alas all too soon it will be less than that!
I'll be having a pootle around your little world when I have slightly more time…..I'm sneaking this in, in between lunch cleanup!!! Naughty me!
Jo said…
Hi Evi, lovely to say hello to a fellow Tasmanian. I just wrestled the laptop away from a child so I could read with my post-lunch cup of tea, so I'm right with you. Loving your blog as well:)
Anonymous said…
I so only visit the stupidmarket once a fortnight. Very, very rare to break that. Every fortnight I draw up a two week's menu plan. Then I check the pantry for what is needed. The stupidmarket and the butcher are only visited once a fortnight and the green grocer once a week.

I roughly work out which meals will be cooked which week and buy the fruit and veg accordingly.

So no popping in and then filling a basket for this anti-shopper! I hate wasting my life in stupidmarkets which is why the change to fortnightly shopping worked so well for me.

Sometimes I have skipped the weekly green grocery visit to force the family to eat the fruit and veg that they have overlooked. They would rather fresh lots of their favourites.

Menu-planning, fortnightly shopping, and the occasional skipping of the in-between fruit and veg has meant we are able to pay heaps more off our mortgage and have much less food waste.

Good luck with the kale!!!

Jo said…
You are such an organised shopper, good for you. I TRY to be organised, therein lies the difference of course! Well done on the extra mortgage repayments and solving food waste. That is one reason I am having a go at this. I Shall Use Everything!
Heather said…
The only time I do this is when we have a big party to celebrate a birthday and my whole week's grocery budget goes towards that. Then we have to live off of the party's leftovers and whatever is in the pantry for the rest of the week. Lately, though, I've been coming home from the grocery store and having a hard time finding room in my refrigerator and pantry for everything I've bought. How can we have so much food, I wonder. Especially when my kids are always complaining about the lack of things to eat (more like lack of stuff they WANT to eat!). Last week I told the kids to not even complain about the food situation in the house, because we have an embarrassing amount of food stuffed in our kitchen. I think I'll put off going to the grocery store until we put a dent into what we've got. Thanks for the idea.
hi jo. yes, i do similar sorts of things failry regularly - you woudl have read my leftovers week posts. it's a good feeling to clean out the fridge and freezer or eat some of the pantry supplies down (ie, before buying yet another variety of pasta - really, how many does one need?!). sometimes the meals can be a bit spartan or meagre, but the promise of starting afresh is a good thing!
i may have to do it again soon.
Jen's Busy Days said…
Jo, we have an Australian website called Simple Savings who have published a book called The $21 Challenge. It works just like you are planning, a way to reduce the amount you have in the freezer or pantry while spending as little as possible. I have a recipe in it. ♡

Good luck with uour challenge. I am sure it will go well.

Best wishes
Jen in NSW
Anonymous said…
I need to do this challenge, depserately. Where I quail at the thought is that my kids won't eat anything strange and hence "yucky" that I serve up. Beans involve hiding. nd I mean serious hiding in small quantities. A half a tin equivalent of cooked beans is detectble when blended to silky puree and mixed into bolognaise. Still, with a freezer full of our roosters, a kitchen window full of onions and garlic, spuds in the garden and a recipe for 40 clove chicken...
Brown rice is awesome too. We only have brown rice int he house now. it takes longer to cook but it is healthier. And if you put it in the saucepan with some water and a dash of vinegar the night before to soak (drain and refill the water to cook it) you are making it a heap healther and also reducing cooking time. :)
Jo said…
Heather, I normally just go over the grocery budget, so this is a whole new level of discipline for me. Hope you are going well eating down those stores.
e, I adore leftovers. For some reason, reheating last night's dinner always makes it tastes better. Probably because I didn't have to cook!
Jen, yes, I have seen the $21 challenge. It was probably in the back of my mind when I was thinking about this. But so far I have only spent $9.50 on 4l of milk, so I fell like I'm ahead. And wow, you have a recipe in the book, well done you!
Jessie, i hear you on the picky children thing. Our first child wouldn't eat any food that touched a different food. I stupidly made him separate meals. By the last child I just don't care and serve up the family meal, of which she has to have at least one mouthful of each different food on her plate. Last night she ate all her chicken and rice, and two pieces each of broccoli and beans! She also hates onion, and will surgically remove every piece of it from her dinner, arranging it artistically around the edge of her plate. I now just shrug philosophically, and note that she isn't actually fading away, and that she'll grow out of it eventually..
Thanks for the brown rice tip, will give it a go.

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