So for 34 days/almost 5 weeks/the month of March, I didn’t buy groceries. I had $20 per week to buy dairy products & produce. It was a great experience for our family & I learned a few lessons. This is what I learned…
- Dairy & especially produce are expensive! I thought that $20 a week was going to get me a lot. It didn’t. It covered some very basic fruits & vegetables – nothing fancy at all.
- There was a lot of waste in my pantry. I love to try new recipes & products – this is great, but has the negative side effect of there being half used packets of quinoa, brown rice couscous & bulgur wheat in my cupboard. I was able to use some stuff up during this challenge & am just more aware of what I have on hand. I’m tired of things sitting in the pantry & going past their use by dates.
- A meat/freezer inventory is vital. We have our fridge freezer as well as a chest freezer in the garage. I take advantage of buy one get one free deals on meat as well as buying in bulk. I divide up big packages of meat into usable ones for our family & write it all down. I keep the list on my fridge & use it to plan meals & cross things off when they are used. There is no way I could have completed this challenge without my freezer inventory.
- Menu planning is hugely important. Whether you plan weekly, bi-weekly or monthly having a plan is so helpful for peace of mind, money-saving & family harmony. There are lots of online helps or you can just do it on your own. I am also committed to trying at least one new recipe a week & I was able to do that during this challenge through menu planning.
- The only thing that had me worried during this challenge was snacks for my boys. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel in the last week. Kids need lots of snacks!
- Along with menu planning & inventories it is important to use things up before buying more. I am not ruled by what I have in my cupboards, but sometimes I will choose to put something on the menu that I might not otherwise pick, just to use up what I already have.
- I found out that somethings are great to buy in bulk – they get used up quickly, while other things aren’t worth buying in bulk – they sit around unused. Kid snacks, meat, juice & cheese are some things that get used up quickly around our house. Yogurt, raisins, chips & some cereals aren’t great in bulk & get wasted. Every household will be different.
- I love my freezers! We use them not only for meat, but they are great for Gogurts, juice, bread & frozen vegetables. Again, I couldn’t have done this challenge without my freezer!
- Restocking after a month of not buying groceries is expensive – overall though I definitely saved money with this challenge.
- I like variety in my fruits & vegetables! I was very thankful to buy some slightly more exotic fruits and veg after this challenge was over.
It might not be possible for everyone to do this for an entire month, but I think it’s a great opportunity to decrease waste & save money for anyone who tries it & it was a fun challenge.
For details of this challenge, click here.