Use It Up Challenge

Use It Up Challenge: I’m Not Going Grocery Shopping Next Week


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I pride myself on my meal planning and grocery shopping efficiency. I used to laugh at the emptiness of the cupboards and the refrigerator as the end of the week, but we always had food for every meal. It was purposeful, it was concise, and it worked.

Somewhere along the way, we got off track a little bit.

I think it started when I decided to start buying a few extra items to give us a extra meal choices each week. Add to that the fact that we’ve been eating out a little more frequently over the last few months and the result has been a slow but steady increase in our food stockpile.

I think our home has hit critical mass. I found it difficult to find room to put last week’s groceries. The freezer in our side-by-side is full, so are the cupboards, and the chest freezer has gotten to the point where I can’t see all the contents because I have to stack food on top of each other. I stated aloud that we could probably go at least a week without buying groceries at all.

The idea has been stewing in my brain all week, and I’ve determined that It’s time to do something about it. Next week the Kernin family is going to live (almost) entirely off of what we already have at home. Before we do meal planning for next week, my wife and I are going to take inventory of what we already have, and then plan the week’s meals using those supplies. The only exception is that we will be allowed to purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, and dairy. Everything else MUST come from what we already have.

Going through this exercise will have several benefits;

  • Prevent waste : as products make their way to the back of the cupboards and the bottom of the freezer, they also make their way out of my short term memory. There probably are already things in there that are expired and need to be tossed. This exercise will help us use up products that we may otherwise have thrown away.
  • Adding New Foods To The Rotation : We will likely have to get creative, using the supplies we have to create new recipes that we haven’t made before. Maybe we’ll find something new that we want to have regulalry.
  • Saving Money: By having a minimal grocery expense for the week, we get to put that money in our pocket instead.

I’m excited about doing this, because I can’t wait until the cupboards and freezers are near empty again.  I’ve done this sort of thing before on my own with our cereal stockpile and was successful in cleaning a single cupboard, hopefully this will work as well.  When the experiment is over, hopefully we can get back to being more purposeful and concise with our food spending.  Tune in next week for an update on how we’re doing, and what gems we found in our cupboards and freezer!

What do your cupboards and freezer look like? Could you go a week without buying any groceries?

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About the author

Brock Kernin


  • It’s not a bad idea. For us there are staples that we need regularly that make it so we can’t go more than a week, but to limit the milk, lunchmeat, cheese and maybe a couple of other things might not be a bad idea. Our freezer isn’t too bad but our downstairs pantry area is very heavily stocked, so we could probably draw down quite a bit if we focused on using up ingredients from there.

  • Using things we already have is one area I fail in, although in my defense our diets have changed since purchasing some of the stuff. I should follow your example and draw down on some of the stuff. We’re moving next year and I don’t want a freezer full of stuff to throw out or move.

  • We’re in the same boat. Our income increased and we had spare money for the first time in 16 years. We eat out too much and have a pantry that is overflowing. We never even had a pantry in the old house.

    To this end I have vowed to return some frugality to our shopping and to begin flipping through our stockpile. We begin tonight by going through some leftovers.

    I have some chicken tenders begging for a roux.

  • @MoneyBeagle – The tipping point for me was when I noticed *everything* was full – cupboards, lazy susan, freezer, chest freezer, fridge. Ugh, so much food! Not only did we make it one week with only buying some perishables….but we’re now working on a schedule to consciously reduce our food stores.

  • @Daniel – Good for you for having some spare income…..AND for realizing you should bring down your food stores. Those chicken tenders were asking for it….and got what they deserved! LOL.

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