Here’s what happened when I didn’t meal plan and went grocery shopping without a grocery list. Because I didn’t plan accordingly, I was forced to do a Shelf Cooking challenge for two weeks, accidentally!
I absolutely ADORE meal planning and teaching and helping others do it also.
If you didn’t know, I’m pretty serious about meal planning. When you meal plan, you not only save money on groceries and avoid those, “What do I make for dinner?” nights, but you also waste less food.
But last week… I made a huge mistake. 😫
Here’s what happened.
As my bi-weekly grocery shopping trip was approaching, I knew I needed to sit down and spend the time to make my meal plan and grocery list. I kept telling myself to do it; but I didn’t.
I had a super busy week filled with two wedding design consultations for my event decorating biz, and of course, holding down the fort at the homestead.
So needless to say… I didn’t make the meal plan.
Now everyone GASP!!
Cherelle, aka, Fancy Farmgirl who’s the cheapest and most frugal person you know, chose to not make a meal plan! Say whaaaaat??
Saturday came and that was THEE day to hit up Costco for my bi-weekly grocery shopping trip. I literally went straight from my design consultation with a new client, to Costco, so my mind was on wedding details and not groceries.
When I arrived at Costco, I had no recollection nor could I remember what groceries we were out of and what we needed. I knew I made a big mistake.
I had two hundred dollars in cash, and had to buy groceries for two weeks… without a meal plan! Yikes.
This is totally doable, however, WITH a meal plan… but without one???
Well, I had no choice but to just randomly buy items I thought we needed or could use. I ended up grabbing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I put some ground beef, chicken thighs, butter, bacon, tortillas, almond milk, fresh fruit, and a few other things that quickly added up to my $200 cash budget.
On the plus side, I did stay IN budget and my total came to $202.02, so that was a good thing.
…when I came home with the groceries, put them away in the fridge, freezer and pantry, I quickly realized, ” What in the world am I going to make for two weeks”.
And that’s where the accidental Shelf Cooking Challenge hit me in the face!
Now from the offset, I want to say that Shelf Cooking, is an absolutely, amazing way to stretch your dollar and keeping your grocery budget low! And I typically do shelf cooking naturally when I make my meal plans. So, hands down, I totally love shelf cooking… when I have an actual plan!
However, this time was different because I was FORCED to completely rely on everything I had at home to make meals for two weeks.
But I was ready and up for the challenge!
Shelf cooking- What is it?
You inventory your kitchen and build meals revolving around ingredients you have at home, in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Once you have your meals planned, you then make a grocery list for the few items you are out of that you need to complete the meals you have planned.
And there you have it… Shelf Cooking!
Not only is this super beneficial to less food waste, but it also helps keep your food budget low because you’re not always buying tons of new stuff every grocery shopping trip or binge shopping!
>> Been there; guilty as charged! <<
So after a little creativity, brainstorming and google-ing, I came up with these frugal meal ideas for the two weeks of Shelf cooking.
Meal Ideas For Shelf Cooking
Shelf Cooking Breakfast
- Eggs (we have chickens, so this is a duh!)
- Homemade Hashbrowns (using leftover baked potatoes)
- Bacon (bought it at Costco)
- Overnight Oats (using bulk oatmeal we had at home + almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup)
- Regular Oatmeal (kids make it themselves in the mornings)
- No-Bake Oatmeal Energy Bites (using bulk oatmeal we had and bulk raw honey we had)
- Fruit (bought in bulk at Costco)
- Homemade Pancakes or Waffles (Maple Syrup from Costco)
Shelf Cooking Lunches
- Leftover Dinners
- Tortilla Wraps (nut butter and jelly)
- Tortilla Wraps (lunch meat bought at Costco)
- Instant Pot Bean dip + Tortilla Chips (beans I have in bulk in my pantry and tortilla chips from Costco)
- Veggies and Fruit (Costco)
Shelf Cooking Snacks/Desserts
- Fruit Leathers (a splurge I made at Costco for the kiddos)
- Fruit and Veggies (Costco. My kids always complain that whenever they ask for a snack I say, “grab a fruit”)
- Tortilla Chips (Costco)
- Amazing Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies (I had all the ingredients but was out of chocolate chips, so I used M&M’s the kids got for Christmas)
- Homemade Queso Dip + Chips
Shelf Cooking Dinners
- Nachos (tortilla chips from Costco, ground beef, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and lettuce. Quick and easy weeknight dinner when I don’t feel like cooking.)
- Beef Stroganoff with Rice Noodles (using all ingredients I had and bought the ground beef at Costco in bulk.)
- Meat Patties in Gravy served with Instant Pot white rice (had everything since I bought the ground beef. I have the huge 50lb bag of rice from Costco that usually lasts me about a year.)
- Fried Rice (using leftover white rice from the Meat Patties and gravy night. Added in organic frozen veggies from the freezer and used 2 chicken thighs diced small to stretch. This fried rice served us 2 dinners and 2 and 1/2 days of lunches.)
- Homemade chicken nuggets (using rice flour I have on hand and slicing chicken thighs thin and small to stretch the meal.)
- Baked Potatoes (using potatoes, cheese, bacon, butter and sour cream I have on hand.)
- A soup (of some sort, using whatevers here!)
- Bacon-Wrapped Chicken (like my bacon-wrapped shrimp recipe, only using chicken.)
- Salads (with toppings)
Those are just a few ideas I have and have already made during this accidental Shelf Cooking challenge. It’s been going well so far and we’re already almost a week down!
I will be sure to get back to my meal planning and grocery list making next week before the next grocery shopping rotation. 😂