I Can See How We Might Starve. DAYS 14-16 of the 30-Day No Grocery Shopping Challenge

DAYS 14-16 of the 30-Day No Grocery Shopping Challenge have flown by!

I’ve been working in the garden for the past few days, trying to get it cleaned out from being overtaken by weeds this summer.

I was excited to discover among the weeds that the turnips, radishes, beets, and carrots had self-sown and are coming back up from the spring planting! We were able to harvest some carrots and radishes yesterday to enjoy sliced and fresh.

We lost power for a while Friday night. I was making plans in my head on how I would cook breakfast in the morning without electricity. Fortunately, by the time I woke up Saturday morning the power had been restored. But it was comforting to know that had it not been we still would have been able to cook over our rocket stove without any trouble.

I feel like I haven’t delved much at all into our emergency food storage! Even though we’ve definitely been using quite a bit of Thrive foods, we’ve mostly been working through the food in the pantry and freezer still. Who knew there was so much food in there!

I kinda look forward to cracking open more cans of freeze dried stuff that we’ve never used before… like spinach and squash… to see what we think. Thrive Life has a cookbook that I’d like to try more recipes from.

By the way, I’m glad to report that my nausea and headaches have gone away since I’ve stopped drinking the instant milk. I use Thrive instant milk on a regular basis in my baking, but I don’t ever put it in my coffee. I think going forward I’ll save the instant milk for cooking only.

I’m really missing convenience foods. It takes a lot of time to prepare so many meals from scratch. And then there are all the dishes to wash. There is so much work to be done in the garden, but I feel like I have to spend an unbalanced amount of time in the kitchen making sure we’re all fed first. I’m constantly in awe of how our pioneer ancestors did it.

We’ve been helping to take care of a neighbor’s mini farm for the past couple days so I was able to get some fresh eggs to cook with. The powdered eggs have been working great for breakfasts, but nothing beats fresh!

I think what I’ve realized most over the past few days has been how much time and effort goes into cooking meals from scratch-scratch. Emergency cooking is even more time consuming than regular “from scratch” cooking because if you want milk you have to make it first, if you want cheese you have to rehydrate it first, if you want flour you have to grind it first. All of the most basic ingredients have to be prepared before you can even begin putting a recipe together.

It takes a lot of time and energy to prep meals. I can see how it would be easy to become malnourished in a long term emergency situation, even if you have food. You really have to make sure meals are prepared before you get hungry again or you risk losing the motivation and willpower to continue cooking well-balanced meals. Especially if you’re exerting a lot of energy in other ways that you may not be used to, such as trying to garden on a large scale.


Hereโ€™s the breakdown of Days 14-16 challenge meals:

Scrambled Freeze Dried Eggs
Turkey bacon (from the freezer)
Toast and jelly
Fried fresh eggs

Vegetable soup
Chicken salad (leftover chicken) on buns
Radishes, carrots
Salmon on crackers

Thrive Brownies
Thrive banana slices
Bagels with honey

Chicken, mashed potatoes, canned corn
Chicken, grits, green beans
Random leftovers from the week


We’re halfway through the month! Two more weeks of the challenge to go. It’s gonna get more interesting from here, I’m sure. What tips have you gleaned from this experiment so far?

13 thoughts on “I Can See How We Might Starve. DAYS 14-16 of the 30-Day No Grocery Shopping Challenge”

  1. I’ve gone 7 weeks, but it wasn’t by choice. I have a lady that takes me shopping, and she was too busy. Though I once did 3 months eating only every second day, lost 20 pounds the first month only, and I found the day after the fast days, I was full with less food, good to know in an emergency. (My brother stole my $100,000 plus inheritance after he found out my mother had terminal cancer,) All I have is my Disability now. So I starting putting away extra food while my mother was still alive, so I would have something. My aunt use to say buy extra oatmeal or pasta at the start of the month, in case you run of food money by the end.

    I ran out of fresh cream, after 4 weeks, only because I decided to buy 2 instead of the usual 1, but I store International Delight, which I’ve tested (if still sealed) 3 years past the best before date, plus a few months opened, I also have evaporated milk, coffee mate, and powdered milk, so I can have coffee and tea. You run out of fresh fruit and vegetables, but there is the freezer and dried fruit, canned and fruit cups, plus apples like Gala are good for a long time in the fridge, even if ‘wrinkled’ the flesh inside is still solid compared to other apples. I cook mashed bananas with melted margarine about 2 Tbsp brown sugar per banana, a splash of vanilla, and maybe nutmeg, I then freeze in 2oz portion cups, and then drop it into my oatmeal before heating up, tastes great, and if I see bananas marked at 50% off, I know I can put them to great use, beside banana bread. I also have a sweet tooth, so I had stored the Halloween treat size chocolates in a small jar from the Dollar store, each jar holds 31 treats, something like oh’Henry can store past the best before date, especially if stored in glass, I’m still testing some 2 years past the best before date.

    Yesterday I had a mint Aero bar in a foil sealed package, that was stored in the basement, 2 years plus 2 months past the best before date, no bloom, excellent taste. I do shelf life testing for my conditions, so that I know how long I could leave something before having to rotate, plus if it stores longer than I thought, I can store more, but only if I find it on sale. I also decided to make my own bread, since normally I’ll only buy if 50% off, I make a Fergasa bread (cheese, green onion, garlic)and a cottage cheese Dill bread (freeze discount cottage cheese in portions, and it breaks up perfectly for bread making, only). Only problem with the bread is it tastes so good, I’d always end up eating 4 or 5 slices the first day, but at around 2,000 calories a loaf, for one person, I figured I could store enough flour for a year, but when I found out it stored longer I figured I could store more. A pasta sauce jar, I could fit, 3 and 1/2 cups of flour, enough to make a one loaf of bread, or a gallon juice jug will hold enough to make 5. I also discovered that the flour in the juice jug, made it’s own vacuum seal, over time. I also found out that if you store something like Goldfish crackers in a glass pasta jar, they are still good one year past the best before date, but 2 years, if you vacuum seal in a canning jar, so I do the pasta jar and put a rotation date one year out.
    Local Dollar store has sesame halva (cheap) plus almost a 2 year best before date, so this is basically sesame seed fudge, and one small container, basically 1,800+ calories, since it’s stored in a plastic container with a lid, I’m anxious to see if I can store it longer. Things like the dry Rocket candy, actually has about a 3 year best before date, and can store longer. I’m heavy into comfort foods here. Honey garlic sauce, I’ve tested 2 years past, (good on rice, pasta and stove top stuffing, which I just tested at 4 years past the best before date, stored in a plastic 1/2 gallon cornstarch container, glued the box label to the front with double stick tape, and it holds 2 foil pouches, and looks neat on the shelf (just find someone who goes through a lot of cornstarch)you can do the same with pop tarts, sugar. Evaporated milk at around 4 years past best before date, but it was stored in the basement. Butter will stay a year in the fridge, plus more in the basement freezer, plus cheese in it’s original vacuum sealed plastic will last at least a year from purchase, which is a couple months past the best before date, so I bought only when on sale, and ration myself to one block per month. Bacon I only buy on sale, and I’ve tested it 3 months past purchase stored in the freezer, plus a zip lock bag. Individual yogurts with foil lids, I’ve tested 10 months past the best before date, so I know if they are on 50% off they are still good for months. Sour cream will last months, even opened, if you store upside down, and always use a clean spoon.

  2. I’m a single senior, living in the South. I’ve had to start all over with my preps because I couldn’t carry mine cross country when I moved here. Glad to see the comment about lost electricity!! If it were a SHTF situation, imagine the time an energy just to grind wheat for flour!! Wheat stores better and longer than flour, but this old lady is thinking of adding a supply of already ground flour. I’ve recently started adding canned meats of all kinds to the preps, but think I need to can meats from my own freezer because, really, how long would the freezer meats last me if the grid were zapped!? Alternate ways to can without electricity or gas are on my list too. I’m deciding between two rocket stoves because small small tree limbs are available locally and that is what a rocket stove uses best. Thanks for doing your no shopping challenge! It has already spurred me to up my own game! Have you any idea why the powdered mild affects you differently from the fresh?? When my son was a baby, it was the opposite. He was allergic to fresh but could drink powdered. Please keep us informed on the challenge and THANKS!!

    • Nice to hear from you, Charlene. I’m so glad to hear that you have been thinking about these things and preparing for a while now. I’m not sure why the instant milk made me feel poorly. It wasn’t something I expected to discover, but I’m glad I did so I can make other plans with my food storage.

  3. I live in a rural area and actively look for excess foods that I can preserve for use later. I barter with neighbors trading fresh eggs for fruit and vegetables and my employer supplies me with fresh fish year around. I can, freeze and dry foods as well as stock up when my local market has case sales. I have joined you this month in the no grocery shopping challenge but had to buy dairy by day 14 since I couldn’t barter for milk and butter. I am proud of what I’ve learned in this challenge and what I need to stock up on for this coming winter.

  4. You asked readers about what they are learning as they follow along (or try the challenge themselves).
    1. It takes more time to put a meal on the table with children in the house. We had children visitors this weekend and one meal was 1 1/2 hrs. late getting to the table! Must allow more time with children in the house.

    2. No TVP, soy for me. Makes my hormones crazy and I feel lousy. What would it do to young girls in the household?

    3. Perhaps I should make myself a written grocery list of what would be nice to have on hand in the future instead of relying on a distracted brain. I would go blank at the grocery store.

    4. Your occasional meatless meals made me brainstorm ideas for how to bring in meat without needing refrigeration. Would need to be convenient.

    Thought about Spam, vienna sausages cut in half then fried for a sandwich, tuna sandwich, Hormel ham sandwich, canned chicken dumped into a box of rice a roni, or canned chicken dumped into a noodle package of pasta roni, canned meats dumped into Bear Creek soups, rices, or noodle pouches (Aldi’s canned chicken runs about $1.69/can and keeps much longer than the expiration date).

    Thought about home canned bacon, home canned chicken to add into home made soups or dumplings, home canned sausage for biscuits and sausage gravy, home canned beef chunks for roast and noodles, home canned ham (in 1/2 pint jelly jars) to add into a pot of beans.
    Talked to a lady this weekend whose family cans fish! People can venison and rabbit. So special to just grab a jar of hamburger to make goulash, or to top a homemade pizza, or taco filling, or spaghetti sauce, etc. Readers could catch the meat on sale and can it up. You’re eating the meat you bought on sale at $3.00/lb., when regular price today is $5.00/lb. Keeps for years.

    4. Thinking about home canned butter and home canned real cheddar cheese. Cream cheese can be canned. People rave about this and there are YouTube videos on this.

    5. Put a whole chicken in the crock pot. Was 15 min. prep time in the quiet of the morning, yet made for a fast dinner later in the day when the house was busy. I should do things like this more often to save time now.

    6. Thinking about during a trial run challenge, keep shopping the current sales in order to not fall 60 days behind (30 days of grocery usage from pantry plus 30 days of no grocery shopping = 60 days behind.) N. Korea threatening to turn the lights out in the U.S.

    7. Like Kendra, I need to weed the garden (oh joy!) Get ‘er done!

    8. So glad you posted Kendra. I was checking in and wondering how it was going. Your posts are a bright spot in my day

  5. I really admire your willingness to “push threw” it is going to get worse before it gets better(i’m sure you know that!) but i have been their as well,and while i did not enjoy it the experience taught me to be more creative,more careful with my initial spending(which is why i was in that predicament to begin with)and to be a lot less wasteful in general.You and your family GOT THIS~

  6. I live in a city and make all my meals from scratch. It is before 9am and I have started dinner. I am blessed to not be working now but am trying to make it with just my husband working. I don’t find it real hard anymore. At first it was because it is the time management I would say. I know make bread (6 loafs) ever other week. I have been planning a month menu for a few years. I am vegan ( because of health reasons) but my husband is a meat eater. I guess I cook more veggies than most for our meals and we do have a few nights meat free( my husband is okay with that. To those of you struggling on your day off, cook several meals and freeze them. When I had the kids still home and working, that was how I was able to do it. I have been doing great with this challenge. I don’t have a freeze dryer( wish I did they just cost to much) and my garden is still producing. Making stuffed Mexican peppers and a batch of green peppers stuffed also for dinner. It will be a few meals. I will freeze a few, my husband will have them for his lunch for two days and we will have another meal of them this week. I am grateful that I am able to join in on these challenges. We all learn different things on any challenge. God bless

  7. This has been so eye-opening for us, Kendra!! We don’t have any freeze-dried foods, but I definitely need to re-think our stockpile and get a more comprehensive plan put together. A friend of my preps “not to just survive, but to thrive”. She always makes sure they have not just the basics but some fun stuff too. I’m thinking I need to stock up on things like flour and chocolate chips as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I’m learning a lot from your experience with the Thrive foods. I don’t have any of that type of freeze dried food in my pantry/storage and it has been interesting to hear what you’ve had to say as you’ve tried different things.

  9. I think you make a good point about the time it takes to cook from scratch. Life has been particularly busy for me this summer and even worse this fall, and I recently saw how much we are spending on eating out /convenience foods which we can’t afford, so I’m trying to force myself to get back to home cooking every single day. It’s so hard to come in to start a from scratch meal when you are exhausted from working all day and hungry and it’s already an hour later than normal dinner time. I’m glad I’ve made then effort when it its done but hard to do it. I can only imagine if it were a real emergency. of course I remind myself that the pioneers largely had the exact same meals every single day. Our choices are nice here but can lead to decision fatigue and spending more time than necessary on what is essentially fuel for our bodies.

    • I had forgotten how limited the actual pioneer dinner was. I remember Laura saying the Ingalls were so glad to see the garden begin to come up, because they were getting tired of fried salt pork for every meal. Never thought of it being ONLY fried salt pork!


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