Why I decided to skip grocery shopping for weeks…

Years ago, when finances were not so good, I got a large, unexpected bill.

It happens. We have the regular bills–mortgage, car, dog food, etc… Then, there’s the second category of bills–the ones we’re trying to eliminate by homesteading.

For me–the wood pile’s replacing my heating, the food I grow replaces going out to eat, the scrap lumber replaces something I would have bought, but got to fix or build instead.

But then there’s that third category of bills–ones I call “the stupid ones.” “Stupid” doesn’t mean unnecessary. It means I forgot about it and it showed up at my door. These were things like my overpriced certification bill when I taught or the bill for someone to inspect my propane and oil tanks, annual vehicle tax or a home repair I couldn’t do myself. These bills come when you feel like you’re getting ahead–the more you feel confident the bigger the stupid surprise bill.

I got a big one, and finances were tight. I said, “I’ll pay it by skipping grocery shopping for a few weeks.” Instead of shopping, I’d go downstairs to the industrial shelves full of jars and containers. There were beans, two years worth of canning, spices, emergency supplies, foraged food filling the freezer… I was ready for the zombie apocalypse.

But a lot of the stuff was collecting dust, about to go to waste. Doing a “pantry raid,” a no-shop month (or longer) would save the money I needed, but would save the food stock from going to waste.

Challenge on!

Let the pantry raid begin!

Pantry Raid: How you can eat for free by skipping grocery shopping…

Americans waste an incredible amount of food. We don’t eat our leftovers, and we overshop, letting things go bad. Each and every trip to the store for “just one thing,” turns into a giant bill.

Pantry raids are fun–they’re game show style challenges that take care of that problem while saving a ton of money.

If you’ve got an aspiring or real homestead, I bet you could skip grocery shopping for a good, long time and still have food to spare.

Scheduling a solid pantry raid two to three times a year, is a great idea–it’ll mix up your meal prep and save food from the trash. Use the money you save to get ahead.

Have you ever cracked open a five-pound bag of flour only to find little worms inside? The mouse got into spices I bought in bulk, then forgot to put in jars.

I work too hard for that.

What did I find on my pantry raid?

Fresh foods

The fridge was full of things that needed to be eaten before they ended up in the compost–tons of veggies, some sauces, eggs, dairy, and a few leftover meals ready to go. There was also a million eggs. Maybe two million.

Dried goods

There were several types of beans, peas, legumes, and dal in bags and mason jars in the kitchen cupboard and in dry storage. I had six kinds of rice, several pastas, noodles, and rice paper wraps.  These could feed a small nation.

Baking goods

I had nine types of flour–chickpea, all-purpose, bread, corn, rice, tapioca, hazelnut, coconut, and almond flour. I had a French bakery of supplies–baking soda, salt, sugars and sweeteners. There were several oils, butter, two shelves of spices and blends, and a few flavoring extracts…

Frozen & Preserved Foods

Jams, jellies, soups, stews, tomatoes, the beets that tasted like dirt that I didn’t want to eat but couldn’t toss. Dehydrated “soup” veggies. Meat in the freezer, bulk-bought cheese, foraged berries, herbs…the freezer and year-before-last canning shelves were gold mines.

Recon mission complete.

Now what?

I made two lists. List one: “Eat me now.” These were things in the fridge, expiring shelf items, or canning stuff that was getting old.

List two: “Lifetime supply of…” Those were the pantry items that I’d overstocked–the things I’d stockpiled so well I needed to eat them a lot.

Then, I crafted recipe ideas.

  • salads
  • slaws
  • soups
  • smoothies
  • kombucha
  • pancakes/waffles/muffins
  • bean dishes
  • curries
  • pasta dishes
  • chopped salads
  • buddha bowls
  • sushi
  • roasted roots
  • risottos
  • frittatas and egg dishes
  • oatmeal with fruits
  • Pancakes, waffles, and crepés
  • desserts

As I ran out of fridge ingredients, I switched over to the freezer, cabinets, storage shelves, and spice shelf. After two weeks, I was still going strong.

Eventually, I did the milk run at the store, picked up a few things for the boy.  Then back to the pantry, I went.

I paid the bill, cleaned out the shelves, and had a lot of fun.

But the biggest thing for me, on the Poser Homestead isn’t eating rice and beans for a month–it’s eating healthy and living well. Put good stuff into the pantry, and when I do my pantry raid, I know something good will always come out.