by Tammy Taylor
It started out innocently enough, I casually mentioned I’d like to try a grocery no-spend challenge for the entire month of February. RancherMan, only half-listening, agreed. (it’s so much easier when everyone commits!) In our challenge rulebook we’ve made some exceptions – Valentines Day for instance when our gift of love to each other each year is to prepare a fancy-schmancy meal for each other. But other than that grocery-buying exception we’re trying for no bread purchases, no milk, no fresh fruit, even seasonings are off the table (OMGosh, see how clever I phrased that?? Oh yeah folks, I’ll be here all week – be sure to tip your waitresses!)
Anyway, RancherMan’s all gung-ho right now but we’ll see how enthusiastic he remains toward the end of the month when we’re out of some of the things we’re really spoiled to like butter, milk, peanut butter, etc. Here’s how our challenge went for week 1:
Welp, here we go y’all. Like I said I’m starting out pretty rigidly with no spending on any food items with the exception of Valentine’s Day but as the challenge goes along I may tweak some things. It may very well be a little overly zealous to think we can get by without fresh milk, fruit or veggies for a whole month and my point with this challenge is to CHALLENGE us, perhaps to make us a bit uncomfortable but not to make us both miserable for an extended amount of time. We’ll see how it goes.
Our freezer(s) are pretty well stocked and our pantry is overflowing. We haven’t stocked up in advance of this challenge because to me that would totally defeat the purpose. So on day one I brought out our last loaf of homemade sandwich bread from the freezer and some cooked ham. I sliced some of the ham for RancherMan’s sandwiches for his lunches this week & froze most of the sliced ham for later, the ends of the ham were chopped & set aside for supper’s main dish of ham/potato casserole so I can start using up those fresh potatoes.
But I myself prefer endless soup for my lunches, this week I think I’ll make the soup Italian flavored. I’ll focus on using up the fresh items early in the month and then we’ll move toward using canned and frozen foods so this soup is using up the leftover pasta sauce from the fridge and some cut up some potatoes, a small handful of dehydrated cabbage, a handful of cooked pasta and a couple of cans of veggies. I’ll add to it each day for a while but I’ll waste nothing, even the juice from those cans of veggies will be set back to cook noodles or dehydrated veggies for the soup later in the week. I’ll probably also add some sort of meat to the pot but it will depend on what we have that’s needing to be used.
I’ve also been trying to stockpile homemade bread in our freezer so I’m not tied to a specific rigid bread-baking schedule. Since I’m strongly focused on eliminating wasted food I’ve even turned a critical eye to the homemade bread I’ve been making this week. As I sliced up all that bread I captured the crumbs & will use them in my cooking this week (or next) while continuing my no-spend grocery challenge.
I was careful this week to use all leftovers, often made into new meals. For instance the potato/ham dish leftovers were added to scrambled eggs, topped with homemade salsa verde and rolled into tortillas for a whole new flavor burst from the original recipe. Any leftover veggie sides were added to my endless soup. Bread crumbs were used to top casseroles or to make potato cakes. Week one went without a hitch and our freezer & pantry are showing the benefit of a little breathing room. We still have fresh potatoes to use up before we focus harder on the canned/frozen/dehydrated goods. Let’s see how week 2 goes…
If you want to follow along to see how we did each week, you can see: