It has been one week since I challenged my husband and myself to spend February (at least) purposefully eating the food we have stored up in our pantry and cabinets. During this week, I focused on cooking and eating what was perishable first — so we ate the almost sprouting russet potatoes at several meals, as well as more salad than we normally eat. I bought salad mix for my lunches at Costco, and there is a lot of salad in those clamshells. We also ate leftover risotto and soup from the freezer — they weren’t in danger of perishing soon, but I want to clear out all of the stored food.
I also threw away some more packages from the pantry and refrigerator that were far beyond their expiration dates. The packages were bought, and then forgotten — wasted money and additional waste in the landfill, not to mention the wasted energy of production and shipping of food that is thrown away.
Today’s challenge was going grocery shopping without buying anything we didn’t absolutely need. I started at Sam’s because I needed gas, and a big bag of candy for my classroom. Going into Sam’s knowing I was only there for 5 items was more difficult than I imagined. It was hard to navigate the aisles without stopping for every “good” buy. One thing I love about shopping at Sam’s is the produce. There were bags of apples and trays of berries that looked so tempting — besides they are super healthy foods. But in the end, I resisted temptation. I only bought one item not on my list — a package of socks because I had forgotten the sock drive at school until I saw them. I left Sam’s having spent $45 — only $8 was for actual food for the week (salad mix and bananas for my lunches).
Then my husband and I went together to the local grocery store. All we needed was salt and butter, and we treated it as a challenge to actually only buy those items. As we walked the aisles, I thought about getting coffee and my husband commented that he was out of brownie mix. I also looked at the dairy case for a minute to see if a non-dairy yogurt I had seen advertised was available. But we resisted those temptations. We ended up getting 3 cans of dog food because I had forgotten to put that on the list, but it was a legitimate need for the week.
The best part — I didn’t have multiple bags of groceries to put away after shopping and we spent less than $20 on the food for the week.
I have been wondering why it is that I over buy food like I do. I think I have an unreasonable fear of running out of something important. I pass 5 grocery stores just on my way home from work every day, so I don’t even have to go out of my way to pick up something when I need it. Or perhaps it is because I hate shopping and I somehow think that by stocking up, I somehow won’t have to run to the store every Saturday — but it isn’t true. I will always have to shop.
I have heard that there are people who actually let their refrigerators and pantries go almost bare. It is hard for me to believe. I’d love to hear how other people manage their food shopping — do you overbuy or just buy enough for the immediate future?