In March 2020, I realized that my pantry and freezer were busting at the seams, so I challenged myself to go a month without grocery shopping. Well, my pantry and freezer are busting at the seams again. Which means trying to go another 30 days without grocery shopping.
Week 1 (Day 1-7)
When I do a no grocery shopping challenge, I start by eliminating most of the perishable produce in my refrigerator and counter. So, to start the month, I used tomatoes and cucumbers in what I like to call Blended Family Salad. It’s a salad that my parents (mom and stepdad) made for themselves nearly every night for dinner when they were trying to feed 4 pre-teen children on not very much money. After us kids ate, they would forage their garden for a couple tomatoes and a cucumber, chop them up with a thinly sliced onion, and add either Italian for ranch dressing.
I also used up the cucumber in my Low-Carb California roll sushi boats.
I also started looking into Indian food from an Asian cookbook from the 1970s. One of the things I made this week from that cookbook is Aloo (potato) takari, which is mildly spiced potatoes cooked in yogurt until they are tender. The second was spiced steamed cauliflower with sweet caramelized onions. My roommate Jennsen asked me to make them in the future, especially the potatoes.
I’m also a big fan of using leftover vegetables or proteins on a salad for lunch. For example, I took leftover steak and added it to a salad with a balsamic and ranch dressing.
Not pictured this week: A Chinese beef stew called K’Ou Tse Nigh Lan (beef in fruit sauce). It is made with lemon, orange juice, red wine, and soy sauce. One morning for breakfast I even scrambled an egg to put with the last of the stew meat. I also made a Mediterranean pasta salad for a tailgate lunch. The pasta salad was made with orzo and had capers, pickled asparagus, preserved lemon, and diced salami with a balsamic vinaigrette. I also had a couple of everything bagels for breakfast throughout the week.
Full disclosure I Doordashed McCallisters one evening, eating a French dip and a broccoli and cheddar soup. It managed to be both dinner and lunch the next day. Jennsen also Doordashed one evening and got me a 54th st. reuben sandwich with coleslaw.
Week 2 (Days 8-14)
I prepped a couple of dishes the night before the 8th, or start of week 2. One of those was Guy Fiedi’s Al Pastor. I mainly just use this recipe for the marinade. You can find the recipe here on the food network. I have also used the marinade with chicken before too. It will cook even quicker if you use chicken instead of a pork shoulder. Then I used some of the leftovers in an al pastor grilled cheese. Both the tacos and the grilled cheese (with chipotle cheddar) were delicious.
The second thing I prepped ahead of this week was sweet and sour chicken. When I was ready to eat it, I just boiled some lo-mein noodles. The noodles took like 3 minutes, so it is a quick and easy dinner.
I also ate a lot of toast this week. I like to make one sweet piece of toast (with butter and honey or jelly) and one savory toast with an egg on top. Some of the things I will put on the savory toast are pesto (pictured below), baba ganoush, hummus, or cheese. You can also switch up the egg and do hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, or fried eggs like I normally do.
For some reason a low-carb/keto-friendly lunch sounded good one day. So I put hummus in bell peppers, sprinkled it with some cheese crumbles, and then had some salami and pickles on the side. It was really delicious and satisfying.
This week I also made a sweet treat: date and almond wontons with a tahini and lemon glaze.
Full disclosure (again): I ate out a couple times this week too. Once to try the Burger King chicken sandwich. And again when Jennsen brought home Mexican food from the local place. I had enchiladas that were fire (both in the spicy way and the slang delicious way). I also did a tiny bit of grocery shopping for quesadilla needs. Jennsen’s 14 year old cousin that spent the night this weekend decided she wanted quesadillas. And she’s not spoiled at all. 😉
Not pictured: beef jerky and Cheese Its from the pantry that I snacked on (and sometimes ate as meals) this week. And a couple turkey sandwiches and/or grilled cheeses.
Week 3 (Days 15-21)
This week started out as an Aldi food week with some honey greek yogurt with muesli (both from Aldi). I also love Aldi pirogies, so they’re almost always in the freezer for a quick dinner. The last time I was at Aldi, they had marinated pork shoulders on sale. I think they were less than a dollar per pound! So, I picked up a carnitas marinated pork shoulder. I dug that out of the freezer and made it this week too.
The carnitas marinated pork shoulder was the base for quite a few meals this week. We had tortillas, cheese, chips, and salsas in the house from our quesadilla cheat grocery shopping last week. So, this week we used the carnitas in tortillas for carnitas burritos and quesadillas, placed them on tortilla chips with cheese and salsas for nachos, and even made chilaquiles with the salsa, chips and pork. The chilaquiles was probably my favorite preparation with the carnitas.
I also used the quesadilla stuff (like tortillas and cheese) to make some breakfast burritos for both breakfast and dinner this week. Scrambled eggs, salsa, cheese and tortillas. A very simple breakfast (and breakfast for dinner).
Admittedly, I ate out quite a few times this week too. I had a lot of fun things going on that had me away from home. Friday night my sister, roommate, and I went to Pride Night at the Royals’ game. So, naturally we needed to have some ballpark food. It was buck night hot dogs after all!
My grandma also came up to the see my house Saturday afternoon (she hadn’t since we moved mid-covid) and brought up Chinese carryout for lunch. Saturday evening my roommate and I went car camping (that’s a story for another time) at the Lake of the Ozarks so that we could see one of my favorite zydeco bands, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band.
Then, Sunday was Father’s Day. My dad wanted to eat at a local Mexican restaurant for lunch, and then my stepdad wanted to grill chicken thighs for dinner. And dads get to eat what they want on Father’s Day.
Week 4 (Days 22-28)
Along with eating leftovers from last week (like the carryout Chinese food), we started this week off with a simple dinner of Costco cheese ravioli from the freezer and a sweet red pepper pesto from the pantry. Easy peasy. Dinner with 2 ingredients and under 10 minutes! Yes please!
A local taco place, Taco Republic, has a veggie taco with golden beets on it. Since I had golden beets in my refrigerator that I needed to use before they went bad, I made my own version of their taco!
I also used the golden beets to make my golden beet risotto. The golden beet risotto was a great side along perfectly medium-rare steaks, and then again with grilled pork chops.
It ended up raining most of this week. So, I made another hearty and comforting dish: a baked penne gigante. It is a cross between baked manicotti and lasagna.
The last 2 days!
For snacks these last couple of days, I made homemade cheese crackers. They are so easy! All you need is extra thinly sliced cheese. Slice them into fourths and then bake them at 250 degrees for 30-35 minutes. I then let them sit on the lined baking sheet for a 5 more minutes for them to cool and get crispy. They’re like thin cheese its, but keto friendly and flourless.
I like to keep some quick and easy dumplings in the freezer for an easy lunch or dinner. The few containers of them that I have in my freezer came in my Imperfect Foods box. They are tofu and vegan dumplings. All they need is your favorite dipping sauce. This week, I added a spicy pepper relish with soy sauce and honey to make a simple dipping sauce for the tofu dumplings.