Skip grocery shopping for a week


Over at eGullet I read about an idea I rather like – skipping grocery shopping for a week. Instead of shopping for new food, spend a week eating down the food in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Like most Americans I have plenty of food in my house, so why not eat what I already have?

Save money. How much do you spend on food each week? A $100? Why not leave the $100 in your pocket and eat what you already have? Here’s what you might find: dried fruit, rice, quinoa, beans, all kinds of food in the freezer, canned things, noodles, flour to bake things, oatmeal, produce, eggs, and whatever else is lurking in your fridge. 

All that you already have is fair game. Be creative. Eat unusual things or things you forgot you had. It’s free! Steve Shaw over at eGullet suggests doing this 4 times a year for a total savings of 8-10% of your grocery costs. Make the no shopping week a game and get your kids involved – let them find tasty things in your pantry and plan a small celebration for the final day.

Sound impossible? Design the rules of the game so that the goal is obtainable but not impossible. In the end the goal is to eat what you already have, save money, and reduce food waste. And a nice side effect will be some space in your freezer, fridge and pantry.

According to Jonathan Bloom: “Depending on which study you believe, we squander between a quarter to a half of all the food we produce. Even by the conservative estimate, that adds up to more than 100 billion pounds per year.”


Eating from the pantry challenge


  1. I’ve been doing this once a month, ever since I accidentally did it one week when I was too busy at work.

    Sometimes we need to go out just for some milk and bananas and maybe lettuce, but otherwise we use what we’ve already got and it’s fine…

  2. Great Idea! I did this a few weeks ago when I was over budget for groceries and was delighted by the results. I used things I never would have otherwise! Good for my wallet, good to clean out the fridge! We call this the “use what we have” strategy and it makes a difference.

    I’ll try to get inspired to do it intentionally once a month. See how much I can save then!

  3. Since I shop every two weeks, it would be difficult to skip an extra week. Not impossible though! I’ve had to do it before and I’m sure I could again. We’d be eating lots of rice and beans with not much else but the water to cook ’em in. What a fun challenge that would be though :)

  4. This is something I need to do more! I was doing that this past week, having soup from the pantry for lunch rather than going to the local deli while I was feeling tight on funds from paying the tax man and general over-spending. I have a bunch of things I bought for specific recipes which I then never made (and now I don’t remember what the recipes were). I need to figure out an easy system for marking the items I buy with their intended purpose!

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