Making Meals Fun. DAY 6 of the 30-Day No Grocery Shopping Challenge

It’s DAY 6 of the 30-Day No Grocery Shopping Challenge and I’m beginning to put more effort into making our meals more fun for the kids.

As I was rummaging through the random bags of things in the freezer last night, I discovered a small ziploc bag of whole bananas that I’d peeled and frozen months ago. Perfect.

I allowed them to thaw overnight in the fridge and used them this morning to make banana bread for breakfast.


While I was baking I couldn’t help but reflect on how much cooking I’ve been doing. I’m so glad we still have electricity! At the beginning of this challenge my husband joked that we should cut off all our power and hand pump all our water to make it a real challenge. Honestly, I don’t think I’d have time to do anything but food prep if I was hand pumping water and cooking over fire. It would definitely take some much more intense planning.

Baking bread also made me reflect on the importance of having a leavening agent in the pantry. If I ran out of yeast, baking soda, and baking powder, I wouldn’t be able to bake much. I’ve attempted sourdough in the past without success.

I think learning how to capture live yeast and make sourdough bread is a skill I should give more thought to. I have the book Wild Fermentation but I’ve yet to attempt any of the recipes. I’m glad that I have the resource in hard copy in case I can’t get online to look up how to make sourdough breads, but I know (as with all new skills) there will be problems that I’ll run into which aren’t addressed in the book. It would be ideal to master it now while I have the ability to research additional troubleshooting tips.

For snack we popped popcorn on the stove. One thing I’ve learned about making popcorn in a pot is that it’s best to do it in small batches. Otherwise you end up with too many unpopped kernels in the bottom of the bowl (which are hard to re-pop without burning… I keep trying.)

I had some cheese powder that I’d purchased from a bulk restaurant supply store years ago, which I sprinkled over the popcorn generously. I think we all agreed that butter would have been better. I actually had a stomach ache shortly afterward.

In other exciting news… I’ve inadvertently discovered an easy way to get my kids to eat their food.

Put it in a tray.

For some reason serving food in a tray makes it infinitely more appealing than serving it on a plate.

I actually bought this pack of lunch trays with lids about a month ago to pre-pack my kids’ lunches to help make the flow of our school days easier. The very first day I served lunch in them… a regular ol’ lunch we’ve had a thousand times… the kids were like, “THIS IS THE BEST LUNCH EVER!!”

It was the funniest thing!

So now, no matter what I serve, if it’s in a lunch tray, with a lid on it to make it officially “special”, the kids open it with excitement and are eager to dig in.

I try not to let the kids see what they’re having for lunch until they sit down and remove the lid.

I haven’t been using them for every lunch because they do take more time to wash vs a regular plate, but I’m thinking that in an emergency situation it would be beneficial to do anything you can to make the food you serve more fun for the kids. For my kids, these simple trays are it.

This may work on husbands as well.

I realized today that I’m getting dangerously low on ketchup. It made me think about how dull our meals would be without the condiments we’re used to. There’s no way the kids would have eaten fish sticks without ketchup to dip them in.

Storing these luxuries hasn’t been a top priority for me, but I may rethink that strategy and keep at least 6 months of the condiments we use the most in our pantry rotation.

Here’s the breakdown of Day 6’s challenge meals:

Banana bread
Hot green tea w/honey

Raisins, banana chips, yogurt bites

Fish sticks, peas, leftover spanish rice

Cornbread- cornmeal, flour, sugar, powdered eggs, oil, baking powder, salt
Vegetable soup- last week I wiped out our local dollar store’s inventory of boxes of organic soups, so we had some tonight.


Have you been able to follow the challenge? Are there things you already wish you had? Do you have children, and how do you think they’d do long term? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

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4 thoughts on “Making Meals Fun. DAY 6 of the 30-Day No Grocery Shopping Challenge”

  1. I’m so enjoying going on this 30 day adventure with you! I feel like I’m a relative who drops by for a few minutes each day to visit and then leaves saying “See you tomorrow” and blowing a kiss to the kids. You all are such a sweet family!

    You are doing so so so many things right, it’s a delight to see. You will never be sorry that you keep a deep pantry. No one can take your gardening and canning skills away from you, and you will use these skills for many years to come as they are a lifestyle for now and the future. Who could learn these skills during times of stress? Much better to learn now, and you are letting us learn right along with you.

    By sharing what works and what does not, the reader learns from your mistakes. This transparency makes you more vulnerable to criticism, but your ego can handle it since you seem to walk in humility and sweetness. You take the criticism because there is the greater gain of helping anyone who reads your blog. There may come a time when you withdraw from sharing, so readers would do well to use this window of opportunity wisely to learn from you.

    I’d like to offer a suggestion for you to think about implementing. During this 30 Day Challenge, I would like to see you continue grocery shopping the shelf stable sales and sock them away (perhaps in one of the kids closets) and forget they are there during the challenge so that you are not 60 days behind in groceries when this challenge is over. With Irma and Jose still out there, much could happen (especially to grocery prices in the areas of juice and canned foods for example).

    You are very good at diversification, meaning you get your food from many different sources, so that if one avenue dries up, you still have other streams of supply.

    I’ve been thinking about your lunch trays and this makes me smile. Your children are a blessing and you make mealtime fun. I loved the trays, such a simple thing to make meals so much more special. As an adult, this would be like getting out the best expensive china for a peanut butter sandwich during hard times, only you are using “kid china”! Why should anyone be unnecessarily miserable now or in the future? You are a fun mom, whether playing a game, teaching a skill, or serving a meal. You keep your home joyful… so keep up the creative ideas and keep delighting your family.

    Your husband is the head of the home…but YOU my dear are the HEART.
    God bless you now and always!

    • fluffy,
      Thank you for sharing such kind words. You’re always so encouraging. I love how you equated the lunch trays to kid china. πŸ™‚ That made me smile. To be honest, I am kinda worried about completely wiping out my stores during this challenge. You are right about the hurricane, we’re actually directly in its path. I may have to hit the store to stock up on stuff that we’re already out of and I know would need, and just save it in case a true emergency arises. You have a point there! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. It’s always a blessing to read!

  2. I think your 30 day challenge is a great idea. I bet I would learn so much from that exercise. I do have a few criticisms though- I hope you will take them in the spirit of learning and kindness I’m making them in – they’re meant to be constructive.
    1. Why so much powdered/dehydrated stuff? Where is a focus on what you have, and continue to produce right there? Canned fruits and veggies, jams, start a mushroom cultivation area, grab a couple of chickens, with enough space you could even easily have a dairy goat. If that does t appeal to you, I have wondered if you’ve read the book ‘animal vegetable miracle’ a family eats only what they produce or what they can get from a very local farmer. There are also seasonal recipes. If you’re stocking up on powdered commercially processed foods, what will you do when that supply chain is gone?
    2. I think kids are smarter and more capable than we give them credit for. In an emergency, kids will be aware of that. I personally do t think you have to worry about maki g kids Willing to eat. They will eat what is available because they will understand it’s not a game.

    3. Books. Real books. I read frivolous stuff on my iPad, but if I LOVE a book, or if it has a reference value- like my veterinary books for care of different animals, gardening books and home repair books- all are in hard cover. If the lights go out, I’ll need it.

    4. You’re doing an awesome job and I love your posts. You’re doing a lot I wish we were doing, but we have a 5 year plan, so we’re on our way.

    • Hi Christie,
      Great questions. πŸ™‚ Let me address them…
      1) We normally do have a large garden which I can from, and chickens for meat and eggs, and we’ve had dairy goats in the past… however for the past year and a half I’ve been a full time caregiver to my grandfather with Alzheimer’s, so I haven’t had much extra time to garden and preserve the harvest. I had canned a ton before this, but we’ve eaten through almost everything in the canning pantry. I do have a lot of green beans, jellies, and relish left, but pretty much everything else has been eaten up. I have one jar of pie filling left that I’ll be using this month during the challenge. So, I’m left with the freeze dried foods we’ve stocked up on over the years. I don’t like to put all of my eggs in one basket, so to speak, so along with having a garden and canning we’ve also been purchasing long term food storage just in case our garden didn’t do so well and we weren’t able to can. That’s why we have freeze dried foods. For diversification. And actually, it was a good thing considering our current situation. πŸ™‚

      By the way, I’ve planted tons of fruit trees, berry bushes, and grape vines on our property with the hopes of one day being able to produce a good portion of the fruit we consume. So far we have 3 apple trees, 2 pears, 1 plum, 2 peaches, a dozen or more elderberry bushes, 14 blueberry bushes, strawberries, 5 grapevines, a medlar tree, 2 mulberry trees, 5 fig trees, 1 Montmorency cherry tree, three Nanking cherry bushes, 2 beach plums, wild pawpaws, blackberries, raspberries, aronia berries, honeyberries, huckleberries, wonderberries, and two citrus trees whose names escape me, lol. Not all of them are producing yet, but we do get a good variety of fruit each season.

      2) No matter how smart our children are, they will experience what is called “food fatigue”. Adults will as well. No matter how hungry you are, if something doesn’t taste good to you there will be a point where you will just stop eating it. That’s why I feel it’s so important to store a variety of foods.

      3) I totally agree about books. Oh, and yes, I have Animal, Vegetable, Miracle on my bookshelf… great book! πŸ™‚ If you’re interested, here’s a post I wrote about books I’d recommend people have in hard copy:

      Thanks so much for the great discussion! I appreciated hearing your thoughts.


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