The cost of groceries is a huge burden on any family’s budget. For us, it takes a significant portion of our weekly money and can quite often be unpredictably high or low depending on what supplies we need or end up buying for that particular week. One week we may spend $150 on groceries, other weeks we can spend close to $300.
This unpredictability really annoys me.
To help even this out, I have devised a challenge. The challenge will be to buy nothing new from the grocery store for 1 week out of every month.
The challenges name?
The 7 Day No New Food Challenge
It’s like ‘buy nothing new week’ but for groceries. The goal is to simply eat what I already have stocked up in the cupboards and hopefully avoid going to the grocery store for that particular week (or at best, at least shave my grocery bill down a bit).
Doing this will give my budget a slight rest and hopefully help me get a little more disposable cash free for saving.
The challenge itself is as follows:
- Buy nothing new from the grocery stores for a 7 day period
- Eat only what you already have in the cupboards, freezer and fridge
- Try and minimise your waste and find creative ways to make meals from odds and ends.
- Save the amount of money you would normally spend on groceries. Use it to boost savings or pay off debt.
How to get started with the no new food challenge
Firstly you need to take stock of what you have in your fridge, pantry and other assorted cupboards.
You want to avoid doing a grocery shop for a full 7 days (if possible) so the more you understand what you have, the better prepared you will be to not spend money.
The benefits of the no new food challenge
There are three key benefits that are calling out to me here.
The sense of fulfilment I will receive for not wasting as much food
It feels like I have 100 left over pasta packets, all with a few shells or spirals in each. The grocery challenge will allow me to consolidate all of these into a ‘pasta allsorts’ night.
I feel like I am forever wasting food. Pasta packets, rice packets, tuna tins that are probably older than I am – there is heaps in the cupboard and unless I make an effort to clean it out and use it – the next time I will see it will be when I move house in 5 years time.
The money I will save by avoiding a grocery shop once a month
If on average I spend around $200 per grocery shop, if I miss every 3rd weeks shop on-going – I should save around $3,400 a year on groceries. On top of that, I will probably save even more as I reduce my food wastage which actually costs us more than we realise.
That’s enough for a nice holiday away each year. In fact, that could take the whole family to Thailand.
The order it will bring to my pantry/sense of well-being/desire to be more minimalist
I’m really big into being organised. I feel that by cleaning out my pantry, I will regain a sense of order in my kitchen that hasn’t been felt for years.
I am also starting to become a little more minimalist these days and have a strong desire to de-clutter my life as I previously spoke about. The sense of owning less and managing your money by buying less is really inspiring me these days.
So what sorts of things are likely to be in most peoples cupboard for the no new food challenge?
- Tuna tins that are older than me
- Tinned spaghetti (x10)
- Baked beans (the magical fruit)
- Tinned tomatoes
- Leftover rice packets (brown, white, some that were white and have no turned brown!)
- Pasta packets with only a few pieces in each
- Jatz and crackers
- More corn than Kevin Costner in ‘Field of dreams’
- Stagg mexican chilli (who bought this!!???)
Remember you can also take from your freezer and fridge as well. The aim here is to buy nothing new, use only what you already have and save money.
The game plan to ensure the challenge works
I am going to start with the more obvious meals. Spaghetti on toast, salads with corn, Stagg chilli with leftover rice (5 varieties of rice from multiple packets) and what not.
Basically I will eat the meals that are easiest to imagine first. After that, I will see what tins I can use to conjure up a recipe. Recipes such as pasta bakes, casseroles and vegetarian bolognese can easily use the majority of those ingredients and actually come out quite nice.
Try and eat up the frozen dinners and meals that no one in the family wants. We had a few Lean Cuisines and casseroles that weren’t too popular in a previous life but on the 7 day challenge we decided to eat up.
My experience with the 7 day no new food challenge
I personally underwent this challenge in the lead up to Christmas. Not by choice, but out of necessity. It was our bubs first Christmas and we went a little overboard with the presents (for both him and our relatives) and over consumed leaving a full 7 days between our next pay cheque.
We methodically went through our cupboards and really culled down the stock piles. It felt so amazing to eat so much good food that was otherwise just going to sit there for another year. We ate all kinds of canned veggies we never knew we had and used up a heap of pasta and rice. We used up frozen meals and cleared the fridge out nearly completely.
The 7 day no new food challenge left our cupboards neat and taught us what we buy that we don’t actually use. It also taught us that we need to find a way to minimise our waste. There were many expired cans and packets of rice that had weevils.
From now on, we will only open a packet of pasta once the old one is finished. Same goes for rice. We also decided that canned Tuna needs to be taken to work for lunches as otherwise it stays hidden 9-5 Monday to Friday. We learn’t how to make dinners to feed the right number of mouths, making leftovers a thing of the past.
We saved money, around $300 in fact and actually went on to not spend at the grocery store for another 3 days afterwards. I highly recommend this challenge.
Can you last 7 days without buying any new food?
I now hand the challenge over to you. Can you go 7 days without visiting the supermarket and living only off the food you already have in your cupboard?
Give it a try and comment below about how you went or any questions you may have.