Saying no to the weekly food shop - reducing food waste | Cottage Retreatist

Saying no to the weekly food shop

Saying no to the weekly food shop - reducing food waste | Cottage RetreatistI have stopped buying food! I have been slipping lately in terms of my food spends – watching too much end up in the rubbish bag after bad meal planning, spending too much on impulse purchases from the local shop and having hoards of produce in my cupboards and freezers that wasn’t being eaten.

So I said no! No more food shopping until we have eaten everything in the cupboards and reduced our stockpiles!

It has been quite an adventure! We have survived for 10 days now without buying anything more than some basic groceries to supplement our cupboard supplies!

We have had some crazy taste combinations – soup, salmon with pesto and mashed potato anyone? 🙂

It has definitely helped me to go through my cupboards with a fine tooth-comb and to take stock of what we have. It has also saved us an immense amount of money, just buying top-ups has reduced our food bill by close to 90%! But of course it’s not sustainable as our cupboards are looking considerably bare.

So – what I have I learnt from my little experiment?

  1. I have a very boring diet! Much of our food is the same – lots of rice, lots of pasta, lots of beef mince! I know why it looks like this – it comes from years of cooking cheaply and in bulk to save money and fuel. For the sake of my health diversification is needed!
  2. I need to mealplan more not less to ensure minimal food waste – I can see a very real correlation between the amount of food I waste and the times I don’t mealplan. I need to be consistent in my meal planning and set up a system that works. I am thinking Friday nights – mealplan – weekends shop and batch cook (if necessary!).
  3. I have so much food!!! It is amazing how much food can accumulate in the backs of cupboards! I have so many dried beans of all varieties it will take me months to eat them all! So I am going to make sure I buy food carefully (meal planning should help this) and not stockpile food cause I think I should but actually food that I will use and not waste!
  4. I need to think differently when I shop so I will be looking round for more inspiration for different ingredients (hello Pinterest!!) and visit new places – more markets and food stalls – a trip to Borough Market maybe?

So – this has been a very useful experiment for me, for the sake of my wallet to know where my focus needs to be in terms of food shopping and nutrition.

First step now the cupboards are bare is to see if I can do a sensible re-stock – based around a well thought-out mealplan!

Would you consider the empty cupboards challenge?

Natalya x

Disease Called Debt

This post is part of BrokeGirlRich and Disease called Debt’s financially savvy Saturdays #113 – follow on twitter using #FinSavSat! 🙂

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11 thoughts on “Saying no to the weekly food shop

  1. enancejividen says:

    We’ve been doing something similar. One of the best thing I’ve done to help eat down my stockpile was to start a written inventory of my pantry and freezer. That way, I can look really quick at what I have and try to come up with a meal idea that uses only what I have.


  2. RAnn says:

    I got weevils in my pantry recently which prompted a massive clean-out. Most of the food was unhit, but I pitched a lot of things because they were WAY out of date or I realized that I was NEVER going to use it (in that case “pitched” meant food bank). I like a well-stocked pantry but I’ve made it a point in the last few weeks not to re-fill it and to use up what is there.


  3. vmorgan456 says:

    That’s a great idea -less waste in your pantry makes it worthwhile! We do a no spend January where we spend very little on food and just clear it all out. Really helps us and the pantry!
    Vickie’s Kitchen and Garden


  4. tgroom57 says:

    I’ve been doing something similar- but it was a close thing this week, we had 3 sets of leftovers to finish up (and no freezer). What works for me is doing a quick stock take and a very sketchy list of meals. Our Tesco has had great hands of bananas 22p these last 3 weeks- I’ve been using them instead of butter on my morning bagel 🙂 Of course, I never set out to buy bananas, but they were cheap and delicious.


  5. broketwentysomething says:

    I try to do this every couple of months or so! I’ve got a pretty solid stash of frozen vegetables from my summer/fall CSA to get through, so if I can can come up with some clever protein options, I’ll be doing this soon! 🙂


  6. Disease Called Debt (@debtfreeoneday) says:

    I had to smile when I read that about your diet consisting of a lot of rice, pasta and beef mince. This is me too! Even now, without debt! I’ve been so used to cooking bolognese and chilli in bulk because it’s cheap as chips and I still do it. I love that you’ve taken up this challenge and I’d like to do it too. Thanks for the inspiration! x


  7. Mel says:

    I’ve only actually tried to clean out my cabinets once and it was the weirdest week of meals I’ve ever eaten. I didn’t mind too much, but there were a few times where I thought “why on earth did I ever buy this?”


  8. rebeccaisafish says:

    Im trying to do this starting on Thursday (that’s when I get paid so when I consider a new week has started) and it’s a bit scary! It means I have to be a lot more organised than I would like haha


  9. Clarissa says:

    This is a really cool experiment that you did! I’ve heard of people also trying to reduce their food wastage through the “first in first out” system. Which basically means you try and keep a track record of what you first buy and try to use that up first to minimise food waste! My most recent blog post ( is all about some helpful tips households can easily do to reduce food waste, would love for you to check it out and let me know if it helps you x


  10. Claudia @ Two Cup House says:

    Before moving to our small house, we tried this experiment. We didn’t want to move all of our food, so we took everything out of the cabinets, did an inventory and planned meals around what was available. I echo much of what everyone else suggested about taking stock before shopping–it continues to help us be mindful of our budget, too!


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