With the start of the year I wanted to challenge myself to be a little more resourceful
Starting right before the new year I had an idea of something I wanted to try. I had spent the past few months building up a little food stockpile, and not entirely on purpose. It wasn’t until my mom commented that I had so much food and wasn’t eating it all that I had the idea to try to do something about it!
So I got the crazy idea to try and live off of my little stockpile for thirty days. I wanted to see if I could really do it. Could I last a month without new groceries? What would I miss most? How creative could I get, or would I just eat the same thing every day? I had so many questions I hoped that would be answered as I got into the challenge.
To further motivate myself and share my challenge I posted pictures of my meals every day to my Facebook and Instagram stories. This was definitely a nice part of the challenge. I really liked getting to share my journey with my followers. It not only held me accountable, but it also helped engage others with my challenge!
To be honest, I had some fear in doing this challenge. I was afraid I’d lose motivation. I was worried I would not have the creativity to come up with meals using what I had. In doing this challenge I learned so much about how to utilize what I had. I realized how creative I can really be! Using staples like rice and beans or lentils, so much is possible!
That is definitely something I took away from this. Having staples like rice, beans, lentils, and pastas on hand is so helpful when trying to save money by eating from what is in the pantry already. They’re inexpensive and so versatile! Whether I’m making taco wraps, lentil bolognese, or a casserole, the options are endless.
I like beans and lentils too, because they are so low cost. I can buy a one or two pound bag at my local grocery store for maybe a dollar or a dollar-fifty. It makes for very low cost meals, because one pound of beans stretches. While dried beans do take a little bit of time to prepare, lentils are like rice in that you only have to boil them for fifteen to twenty minutes. Even with those I like to prep in advance so I can avoid cooking every meal.
I may cook some rice for a taco for dinner and then pair it with some curry beans for lunch the next day. Or I may make a lot of lentil bolognese in advance and then make pasta every few nights.
Food prep became an essential part of this challenge. I found myself preparing enough for two or three meals at a time to save time down the road. I’m a student and classes and homework keep me busy! If I can take one day that I don’t have class to crank out some beans, pasta, or soup, I will.
Now I know this was easier for me to achieve, because I was only feeding me, but the time needed to food prep wouldn’t be much different if I scaled up the quantity. It may take a few extra minutes to chop more vegetables for my root vegetable cheeze sauce, or fifteen extra minutes to run my steamer with a second batch of vegetables, but I also like food prep, because it can be scaled up.
Now casseroles. I absolutely love casseroles. I have loved making them for over a year now and they are so delicious and easy to make. I own a cookbook with over 300 recipes in it and before I owned that book I was always borrowing casserole books from my local library. I just enjoy making them.
During this challenge I made a Spicy Veggie Casserole. It was so good and lasted me a while. Casseroles hold a place in my heart from the pre-Covid days when every week I’d have missionaries from my church over for dinner and I’d make a casserole for them. My casseroles were always hits!
If I could change one thing about this challenge I probably would’ve made another casserole. I really love them and I only have to cook once for a week’s worth of dinners.
Another lesson I learned is just how far a container of oats can go. I started of the challenge with three-quarters of a regular sized container of quick oats. Those oats lasted me all the way past the halfway mark of this challenge. I ate those oats for almost three weeks! I ate them in different variations too. I ate them with cocoa powder, peanut butter powder, cinnamon, raisins, non-dairy heavy cream, pureed squash, and apples! I never grew bored of my oats.
While that may be partially just me loving oats, I do recommend you keep a container of oats on hand, Whether you turn them into oatmeal, oatmeal cookies, or oat muffins, they’re always good to have on hand. I bought a one and a half pound container and it lasted me almost the entire challenge.
As I’ve learned (and I hope you’re learning too) grains and legumes are good to have on hand at all times. But what about produce?
While I did avoid buying produce during this challenge I did not go without! I bought a produce box from a local farm right before I started this challenge so I had that at my disposal. I also am lucky enough to have a stockpile of canned produce as well. This meant I could have pickles, relish, and pickled beets throughout this challenge. I also had some root crops sitting in my fridge and pantry. This meant I could make carrot and butternut squash soup, and add carrots and beets to my salads.
If you have the ability to can at any point during the growing season I recommend it! You don’t even necessarily have to can things that you grow. You can can produce you buy from your local farmer’s market or local farm. Both would still be fresh, local, produce that would store well and taste good in the fall and winter.
This allows you to not go without your fruits and veggies during the off-season, while still avoiding commercially canned fruits and veggies. There’s nothing wrong with eating commercially canned vegetables, however I know personally that home canned, fresh, local, produce tastes so much better.
Lastly, I just wanted to thank any and all of you who have both read this blog post and watched any of my stories on Instagram or Facebook during this challenge! I so appreciated all of the love I got on my stories and posts. I hope to do another challenge starting in February, but I’ll just have to see how things pan out. I was thinking maybe a grocery budget or a half produce plate challenge, but let me know either down below, or on Facebook or Instagram! I love hearing y’all’s feedback.
Thank you for taking the time to check out my blog! Whether you stay a day, a week, a month, or a year, I appreciate you. -Kate