No Grocery Shopping For A Month

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pantry.jpgDuring our move, we were shocked by the vast amount of food we had stored away in our cabinets. In addition to staples like flour, sugar, and coffee, we have canned food galore, dried pasta, jarred sauces, rice, stuff like Rice-a-Roni; it was like we were stocking up for Armageddon! In addition, we always have a freezer full of ground beef, chicken breasts, Trader Joe’s pizzas, and various home-cooked food from the in-laws. Which is why I still haven’t tried out Dream Dinners. To the right is an actual picture of our cupboard.

So, other than milk and juice, we decided not to grocery shop for an entire month. Here’s our planned menu so far, along with main ingredients:

Meatloaf: Ground beef, ketchup, bread crumbs
Mashed potatoes

Split Pea and Ham Soup: Easter ham bone, peas, onions, carrots

Trader Joe’s Margherita Pizza (hey, it’s Friday)

Minestrone soup (from a can)
Linguine with white clam sauce: Pasta, clams, white wine, garlic
Oatmeal cookies: Oatmeal, flour, butter, sugar

Fried Rice: Spam(!), eggs, rice, soy sauce
Corn and Ham Chowder

Chicken Parmesan: chicken, breadcrumbs, eggs, canned tomato sauce

Tuna Fish Sandwiches: canned tuna, mayo, capers, lemons

Did I mention that we have over 15 cans of corn?!

Right now the recipes are pretty standard, but I’m sure by the end of the month we’ll be eating Pickle and Breadcrumb Soup or something. Still, I think it will really help us out by planning ahead so we can avoid saying “I’m hungry and I can’t think of anything to make, so let’s just go eat out”. If I have to cheat a little, it’ll be for supplementary ingredients to complete a meal, like fresh vegetables.

Some random items that need recipes:

Canned beets
Cranberry sauce
Imitation crabmeat
Six different half-used jars of jelly

This is very similar to Jose Ane’s successful Pantry Challenge last month, except that we do have a can of Spam in our pantry. Spam rocks! It just has to be eaten in moderation. =)

And yes, it would have been smarter to do this before we moved. But whaddya gonna do?

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  1. says

    We’re preparing for and assault on our freezer and pantry as we get ready to move at the end of next month. You’re right… It’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate.

  2. a zillion half used jams and jellys:

    1. mixed fruit glaze for ham or pork.
    2. thumbprint cookies – jam goes in the thumbprint.

  3. Benjamin Konshak says

    Ok, you’ve gone way too far, maybe add a little freshness to your goods. $30 of vegetables would go a long way to make your menu snazzier. I go to the farmer’s market but go later before closing, often my regular vendors add on freebies since the day’s end is near.

    Reminds me of living in Alaska in the Aleutian islands! You’re in Portland for goodness sake, a foodie city. Budget isn’t worth trailer park cooking — except spam does rock, here we get it wrapped in nori (seaweed) on a perfect rectangle of sushi rice —perfect breakfast, at 7-11 no less….

  4. Great idea about the cookies!

    Spam musubis, I know them well 😉

  5. travel gnome says

    Cranberry Mustard chicken:

    Season 2 chicken breasts w/ salt, pepper, thyme. Sear a couple minutes on each side. Remove from pan, and put in the following concoction…

    1/2 cup orange juice
    1/2 cup chicken broth
    1/2 cup cranberry sauce
    2 tablespoons mustard (i tend to add more mustard than this, but I’m a mustard fiend)

    Cook that for maybe 5 minutes, then put the breasts back in the pan and cook until done (maybe 4 minutes on each side), basting with the sauce as you go.

    I always serve this with rice, as there’s a lot of extra sauce, which goes great on the rice. I’ve found a can of cranberry sauce contains 2-3 recipes worth of sauce, depending on how cranberryie I’m feeling.

  6. Ditto on the thumbprint cookies and glaze for ham/pork. For some reason beef isn’t quite as good glazed. Chicken does ok, but it’s traditionally put on hams. Depends on the flavor too. I wouldn’t use grape jelly or berry flavors. Use orange or apricot if you have them.

    Spam. The food of peoples overrun by the US Military. I love it ‘down-home’ style, on white toast with maple syrup and a fried egg.

  7. Jose Anes says

    Referenced your post in our site.

    Original Pantry Challenge Entry
    March’s results of the Pantry Challenge

  8. I’m not a huge fan of jelly, but we use it to make tasty french toast sandwiches — we spread cream cheese on one slice, jelly on the other, put them together and then dip and fry.

    The other way we use jelly is to take refrigerated crescent roll dough and spread each triangle with peanut butter and jelly and then roll them up and bake them. Very tasty.

  9. I heard about this lady on the radio who did not purchase a single discretionary item for her family for an entire new clothes, new toys, no eating out, no trips ..she ended up paying off $8000 of her credit card debt , saved up an extra $1000 and now has a book out on the same topic!

  10. I’m a little concerned about the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in your planned menus for this month. Rather than considering it “cheating” or “extravagant” to buy them, maybe you should look at them as necessities on the same level as milk and bread. Like my dad says, they’re cheaper than angioplasty.

  11. I shared your overstuffed pain when we moved last year. Over the years I’ve done the same, but for a different reason — companies quit making the stuff I like so I bought tons of it pre-emptively! (Details here)

    I’m still working on my food hoarding habit, but it’s hard when canned goods go on sale for 40 cents a pop!

  12. biomedstudent says

    Being in college is hell when it comes to stocking up food. The roommates and myself worked out a plan: each week we’d go to the Super Walmart Store in town; we’d each (out of 6) will put up $50 bucks each; and whatever we eat of someone else…we must replace. Now this seems cool and everything…but after a month or so…half the roommates decided this was very expensive and bought meal plans and spent the rest of their money where it would gain most value – in alcohol.

    So our fridge is no longer stocked. It hasn’t seen a stocked day in ages. It may never regain its glory. Instead, it will fade away in shame and half empty bottles of you know what.

    On the bright side, I’ve seen so much alcohol during my first year of college that I hardly binge drink anymore. Most of my old drinking buddies believe I’m headed towards undeniable sobriety – or – I’m just getting really old (hitting 21 in a few weeks, ahh meh, still pretty young).

  13. I like to make seafood stuffing with imitation crab meat!

  14. Crepes and Pilaf! Best way to get rid of everything! Check out the wild oats website.

  15. Throw out the jelly, that just sounds gross! If I had to stare at the stuff for a couple of weeks, it would make me depressed. I’d just do the few meals you’ve planned and toss the rest out. You’re worth it 🙂

  16. For the imitation crab meat, make wraps:

    1 avocado (cubed)
    Wasabi (to taste)
    tortilla shells
    cooked rice (enough for each wrap)
    1/2 cucumber peeled and cubed
    soy sauce (to taste)

    Take tortilla shell. Lay a bed of rice. Add the avocado, cucumber and crab meat. Top with Wasabi and Soy Sauce to taste. Roll tortilla shell. Eat.

  17. Foodie Universe says

    For the canned beets, you could make a salad with arugula, goat cheese, and candied walnuts. I realize that will probably involve going to the store though, so maybe you should save the beets for next month.

    You could also take whatever of this stuff you still haven’t eaten by the end of the month to a food pantry. Or keep some of it as desperation food in case of a natural disaster.

  18. I have been going through the same process for 2 weeks, but what I noticed right away is that you need fruits and veggies! I buy almost all mine fresh and once I went through all my frozen veggies all I had left was canned tomatoes and corn (6 cans??!!).
    I’ve modified my plan a bit by picking up some things for salads and fruits for snacks, and a bottle of Shiraz as reward for being half way there.

  19. It’ll be interesting to see how well you do on your personal challege. I stopped buying groceries after I finished graduate school and right before I relocated. On moving day, I ended up with only pancake syrup, hot sauce, and a pack of Ramen!

  20. The cranberry sauce could be added to a quick bread recipe, here’s one such recipe, but I’m sure you can adapt any qucik bread recipe:

    Cranberry Sauce Bread

    It’s going to be hard, though, to do any baking if you’ve restricted yourself not to do any new food buying, most baking recipes are going to call for eggs.

  21. LAMoneyGuy says

    I would use the imitation crab as a salad topper. Make an Asian dressing with soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar.

  22. Stockghyll says

    An eco and money saver along this line – CNN money just announced that laundry is no better washed with hot water than cold in a washing machine but cold uses about 20% of the energy of hot.

  23. Hubby assures me I’m weird, but I love canned beets right out of the can. 🙂

  24. I am a loyal believer and eater of spam fried rice. Throw some corn in there and some sesame oil if you got it, it’ll work wonders!

  25. For leftover cranberry sauce, I use this recipe from Alton Brown:

    2 cups Cranberry Sauce
    4 ounces ginger ale
    1 cup sugar
    Combine all the ingredients into a small, non-reactive saucepan.
    Bring to a simmer and reduce by two-thirds or until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of a loose jam. Remember to keep the heat low to prevent the jam from burning.

    You can then take some of the jam (or any jam) an mix it into a soft stick of butter, roll it up in some waxed paper and stick it in the freezer to harden into a log. If you want a recipe, look for one that uses strawberry jam and butter and replace with your cranberry jam. Tastes delicious with breads!

  26. I can totally relate to your pantry!! I’m contemplating a move out of state within the next year or so. Recently I looked in my pantry and thought, “I don’t want to move all this stuff!” My pantry looks like yours — an entire small closet stuffed with dry goods. And I live alone!!

    My excuses: I’m prepared for a major Chicago snowstorm (yeah, right! I live across the street from a grocery store!) And it was all on sale!

    What was I thinking!? I’ve been buying food like they are going to stop making it!

    Of course, the freezer is stuffed, too.

    I decided about 2 weeks ago that I’m going to use up everything that I already own. (Everything: food, clothes, DVDs, etc.) The hardest part for me has been not buying meat that is “on sale”. But reality is, NOT spending the money is cheaper than “stocking up.”

    I have been buying fresh veggies and “go withs.” For example, I bought taco shells this week to go with the taco seasoning and ground beef I already own.

    Thanks for a great blog, your posts are a real inspiration.

  27. Oh yeah…kolachy cookies. Google ’em, they are excellent for using up half jars of jam or jelly. Or….to be totally retro, do you have a jar of peanutbutter? That would be my first choice!!

    And seafood salad: imitation crab meat with diced celery and/or green onion (if you’ve got it) and ranch dressing. Serve on lettuce if you’ve got it. It’s also good in an alfredo sauce, over pasta.

    Beets are surprisingly good chilled, on top of a little lettuce with that weird orange-colored french dressing. I know, it sounds awful, but it tastes okay.

  28. Well its nice that some people can do this knowing they still have money in there pocket if they choose to want to go to the store …but for many like myself this is an every month occurance. I am a mother of 3 on foodstamps and we dont get enough monthly to make it through the month so i find myself doing this EVERY month digging and scrapping the cabinets to get myself and my children by till the first of the next month. SO before ya think it is a new fad to do this or you think your cool for being able to do it think about the ones HAVING to do it. Try pancake batter over hot dogs ………it gets old

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