Grocery No-Spend Challenge: Week 1

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

What is a grocery no-spend challenge? It’s where you eat only the food you already have in your home. No buying cans of shelf stable foods, or even fresh foods like milk and bread.

I’d embarked upon a grocery no-spend challenge for a whole month. Come see how week 1 went. 

Can we go a month without buying any food at all? I've embarked upon a grocery no-spend challenge for a month. Come see how week 1 went. #TexasHomesteader

What Exceptions For A 30-Day Grocery No Spend Challenge

It started out innocently enough, I casually mentioned I’d like to try a grocery no-spend challenge for the entire month of February. RancherMan, only half-listening, agreed. (it’s so much easier when everyone commits!)

In our challenge rulebook before beginning this challenge we’ve allowed for one exception: Valentines Day.

That’s because our gift of love to each other each year is to prepare a fancy-schmancy meal for each other. I didn’t want to eliminate that just special day because of our challenge.

Links to all four weeks of our challenge are at the end of this post.

What Food Purchases Are Eliminated In A No-Spend Challenge?

Other than our Valentine’s Day grocery-buying exception we’re trying for buying no food at all. That includes:

Fresh Fruit or Vegetables

Milk or Dairy


Coffee, Tea, etc.

Dining Out


Even seasonings are off the table. (OMGosh, see how cleverly I phrased that?? Oh yeah folks, I’ll  be here all week – be sure to tip your waitresses!)

RancherMan’s all gung-ho right now. But we’ll see how enthusiastic he remains toward  the end of the month when we’re out of some of the things we’re really spoiled to. Things like butter, milk, peanut butter, etc. Here’s how our challenge went for the very first week:

How Rigid Are The 30-Day Grocery Challenge Rules?

I’m starting out pretty rigidly with no spending on any food items at all with the exception of Valentine’s Day. But as the challenge goes along I may tweak some things.

It may very well be a little overly zealous to think we can get by without fresh milk, fruit or veggies for a whole month.

And my intention with this challenge is to CHALLENGE us, perhaps to  make us a bit uncomfortable. But not to make us both miserable for an extended amount of  time. We’ll see how it goes.

Although our freezer(s) are pretty full and our pantry is overflowing we didn’t stock up on extra food in advance of this challenge. To me that would totally defeat the purpose.

What To Use First In A No-Spend Food Challenge?

This grocery challenge will focus on food needing to be used first. I’ll use the most perishable foods first. So when deciding what food to use for our meals, I’ll go in this order:

Leftovers in the refrigerator made into different meals

Fresh produce used before it begins to spoil

Fresh dairy used fresh or made into Homemade Yogurt

Frozen & canned food last

I make homemade yogurt and sprinkle fresh or frozen blueberries on top for a delicious healthy breakfast. #TexasHomesteader

30-Day Grocery No-Spend Challenge Begins

Whelp, here we go y’all. On day one I brought out the last loaf of homemade sandwich bread from the freezer and some cooked ham. I sliced some of the ham for RancherMan’s sandwiches for his lunches this week.

The ends of the ham were chopped & set aside for tonight’s entree of ham/potato casserole. (I need to start using up those fresh potatoes while they’re fresh.) Then I froze most of the sliced ham for later. 

I also made some endless soup for lunches. This week I think I’ll make the soup Italian flavored. I’ll focus on using up the fresh items early in the month, then we’ll move toward using canned and frozen foods.

Endless soup is a hot & hearty meal that I used for our 30-day no grocery-spend challenge. #TexasHomesteader

So this first soup is made using up the leftover pasta sauce from the fridge and some cut up potatoes, a small handful of dehydrated cabbage, a handful of cooked pasta and a couple of cans of vegetables.

Make Sure No Food Is Wasted

I’ll add to my soup each day for a while but I’ll waste nothing. Even the juice from those cans of veggies will be set back to cook noodles or dehydrated veggies for the soup later in the week.

I drain the juice from canned vegetables and use it as free vegetable broth. #TexasHomesteader

I’ll probably also add some sort of meat to the soup pot at some time as well. But it will depend on what we have that’s needing to be used.

I’ve also been trying to batch-cook several loaves of homemade bread at one time for our freezer. That way I’m not tied to a specific rigid bread-baking schedule as we go through this challenge.

Loaves of homemade bread are batch-baked and frozen to use at a later time in our 30-day grocery no-spend challenge.. #TexasHomesteader

Since I’m strongly focused on eliminating wasted food I’ve even turned a critical eye to the homemade bread I’ve been making this week. As I sliced up all that bread I captured the crumbs.

More than likely I’ll use the breadcrumbs in my cooking later this week (or next) while continuing my no-spend grocery challenge.

Can we go a month without buying any food at all? I've embarked upon a grocery no-spend challenge for a month. Come see how week 1 went. #TexasHomesteader

Creative Use Of Leftover Food

I was careful this week to use all leftovers, often made into brand new meals.

For instance the potato/ham dish leftovers were added to scrambled eggs. I topped it with homemade salsa verde and rolled it into tortillas for a whole new flavor profile from the original recipe.

Any leftover veggie sides were added to my endless soup pot. Even the bread crumbs were used to top casseroles or as breading when I made potato cakes using leftover mashed potatoes.

Home-cooked meal of meatloaf, green beans and fried potato cake. #TexasHomesteader

I’m keenly focused on eliminating any food waste, no matter how small. It’s certainly opened my eyes into food that was previously just wasted. And that realization is a good thing, my friends.

Week 1 Of Our Grocery No-Spend Challenge

Week one went without a hitch and our freezer & pantry are showing the benefit of a little breathing room. 

We still have a few fresh potatoes to use up before we focus harder on the canned/frozen/dehydrated goods. Let’s see how week 2 goes…

Want To See The Rest Of My Monthly Challenge?

2nd Week: Grocery No-Spend Challenge

3rd Week: Grocery No-Spend Challenge:

4th Week: Grocery No-Spend Challenge


C’mon by & sit a spell!  Come hang out at our Facebook Page. It’s like sitting in a front porch rocker with a glass of cold iced tea.  There are lots of good folks sharing! 

And you can also follow along on  Pinterest, on  Twitter, or on Instagram.

32 thoughts on “Grocery No-Spend Challenge: Week 1

  1. Lisa @ Fun Money Mom

    I love this idea and want to try it for myself now! I’d love to see if I could make it for a whole month! Thanks so much for sharing this at Share The Wealth Sunday!

  2. Michelle James

    This is such a great idea and I love a good challenge! I am curious to see how next week goes. You are very creative with your meals. Thanks for inspiring me & linking up at #HomeMattersParty

  3. Angela @ Setting My Intention

    I just did a no spend challenge for one week last week in order to stay on budget for the month. It was definitely a challenge. We ended up going to the store for eggs and flour because we couldn’t manage without those! It’s really made us appreciate the bounty of a new month when I went shopping this week.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      LOL Angela – I remember that first grocery shopping trip after the no-spend challenge… Bliss! Fresh veggies, milk, butter – how wonderful. Like you I learned to really appreciate the bounty. ~TxH~

  4. Shelle @ PreparednessMama

    This is a wonderful idea and one I would like to get my family to try too. We do have a lot of food storage. I think I will see how you do first, though, before i suggest it! Thanks for stopping by Front Porch Friday – we’re going to feature your post this week.

  5. Lorelai @ Life With Lorelai

    What an awesome idea to capture your bread crumbs! Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty – We hope to see you again next week.
    Life With Lorelai

  6. Gentle Joy

    We are quite frugal and tend to use what we have and not waste… we have done without… BUT I have never done the month challenge like this… it is a bit of a nightmarish thought actually! BUT we do have several growing boys in the family… who eat.. a LOT… and girls… and lots of people, so we do through a lot of food… I challenge myself, but will probably not do what you are doing. I am impressed; however, w/ what you are doing! Great job. 🙂

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified to give this a go too but we’re only doing it to the degree it doesn’t become absolute drudgery. If that happens we’ll cut the challenge short, we want to challenge not make ourselves miserable. Plus I think the more people in your household the harder it is to get everyone to commit, luckily it’s just the two of us here & my RancherMan is pretty flexible. Although it’s certainly been a challenge (pardon the pun) so far we’re doing OK, I think we may just get through it! ~TxH~

  7. Jayne

    Sounds fantastic – wishing you all the best that you all survive! There is a great Australian book about a family that did a similar thing; well worth a read if you can get hold of it. I love the story where the mother embarrasses her son when her skirt falls off on the way to school as she lost so much weight!

  8. farmgal

    hi, I found your link on the grocery no spend challenge on the simple Saturday, I just wanted to enjoy reading it.. I am on a no buy feb myself, and just finished my second week and will be heading into my 4th year of march challenge.. which is a eating off the farm and pantry only.

    I will sign up and see how yours goes.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Awesome FarmGal, so glad you’re here. The post on week 2 just went live so you might check it out when you get the chance. As you know, the weeks get harder & harder as the challenge goes on!

  9. Nicole Hallford

    What an awesome idea! I’ve done weeks like this, but never an entire month!

  10. Gail Akeman

    I have never had potato cakes. Right now I don’t think we could no spend here. I don’t stock up enough on meat things for supper.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Every family taylors the challenge around what they need to accomplish, Gail. Some allow a very small amount weekly for milk/bread/meat and some only do the challenge for one week (or two). We’ll see if we can hold to this rigid a schedule for a whole month but I’m not against adjusting our challenge to suit us better. I may allow a small amount weekly for whatever we’re out of – milk/flour/fruit, etc. Watch next week for how week 2 goes. ~TxH~

  11. Jenny @ Unremarkable Files

    Stopping by from Wonderful Wednesday and this post caught my eye. I’ll bet this a real eye-opener in terms of how much STUFF you actually have in your kitchen on those nights when you think “there’s nothing to make for dinner!”

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Oh yes ma’am Jenny it’s been very eye opening, and it hasn’t been without it’s hitches either. I think as the month progresses those difficulties will increase, so it’s a good thing I got RancherMan to buy into the concept beforehand. He actually sacrifices more than I since he’s a grazer by nature. I’m working hard to make it easier for him. ~TxH~

  12. Suzie@homemaker-mom

    This is so cool and I so wish I could do this challenge myself but we live in a tiny apartment with no space for a freezer or food storage so I have to shop often. Good job so far in your journey! I am visiting today via the homemaking party!

  13. Alison at NOVA Frugal Family

    We have been trying for a few months to clear out the pantry and the freezer because we are going to be moving in April and I need to defrost and move the freezer before we move. I just used up the last whole chicken and the rest of the chicken and ground beef is going to be used up this week. I think that we are going to have it mostly cleared out except chicken broth and bread crumbs. We have been so busy though that we have been resorting to $5 take out pizza at least once a week. I figure that this might offset a little of the grocery savings but I only spent $70 last month and nothing yet this month. I wish I could do as well as you but we do still need some essentials including milk. I do use coconut shelf stable milk for baking and have dry milk just in case but my son won’t drink it so we have to buy the real stuff. Good luck on the adventure and I can’t wait to hear more about it!!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      That’s awesome Alison, good for you. Ya know, the grocery challenge is different for each family. Like you, I wanted to challenge us without making us miserable – we may relax some of the rigid rules as the month goes along. So far we’re sticking to it ok and there hasn’t been much sacrifice, we’ll see how it goes as the challenge progresses. Good luck on your move! ~TxH~

  14. Teresa

    My daughter already does this and I am the one who fails. I like my freezer full and my pantry, so I need this. She will plan a week out at a time by what she has on hand. Ido a lot of my own on making things, yesterday I baked bread, buns and rolls. I am not a good planner formeals ahead. Any suggestions? Thank you

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I envy those that do meal plans and have everything so organized, I’m not a planner either Teresa. BUT although I’m glad I’m doing this no-spend grocery challenge this month, what typically works well for me is cook-once, eat-twice cooking. I’ll cook up a whole oven-full of meatloaf for instance, eat some for our main dish that night and then section the rest off in meal-sized packages and freeze. After I’ve done that many times, I’ve got a variety of main dishes in the freezer. When I know it’s gonna be a busy day tomorrow, I’ll look in the freezer the night before and pull our our main dish and put it in the fridge to thaw overnight. Supper is ready the next day in minutes – heat the main dish, add a couple of veggie sides and shazam! Supper is served.

  15. ColleenB.

    I must say; at least you picked a short month being there are only 28 days in February…………on the 9th day and 19 more days left to go.
    We don’t use much milk here but I do keep powdered milk on hand just in case I need to mix up a bit for a recipe or something. I have also froze fresh milk before just so that it wouldn’t spoil before it got used up.
    Goodness, I sure hope you don’t run out of toilet paper.
    Best of luck to you in the upcoming days.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      LOL Colleen!! Toilet paper isn’t a grocery product so even if we ran out it would be an allowable purchase. (snicker) The fact that February is a short month is why we decided to attempt this in February (many people try it in January when they’re recovering from Christmas debt and food overload.) Many people also attempt it for shorter durations like a week or two, or give themselves allowances for certain things in their weekly grocery budget, everyone’s challenge is suited to their own attempt. We may very well relax our rigid rules and allow purchases of very limited fresh foods, because I want to challenge us, not make us miserable for a full month. We’ll see how it goes as the month rolls along. ~TxH~

      1. Leah

        We are lactose intolerant here and had been eating a dairy free yogurt from the health food store. Recently they changed the quality and it’s not very good. Not to mention that it is very expensive. I decided to try a different option: Mix 3/4 c of full fat coconut milk, 1/4 c cold water, 2 Tbls honey, 1Tbls vanilla, 5 Tbls chia seed. Blend all in blender 15 seconds or till well mixed. Refrigerate 10 minutes. Serve with fresh blueberries or diced canned peaches. You could even add a capsule of probiotic if desired. This might be an option when out of fresh milk for homemade yogurt, as the coconut milk is canned. It’s really good! My hubby eats it as well. Have a good day

  16. Terri Presser

    I think this is a great idea, but no fresh fruit may be a challenge. I have been thinking about this a lot lately too. Normally we only spend 1/3 of what our friends spend at the store. We have our own meat – beef and pork. We would have rabbit too but they keep dying 🙁 . We milk cows so at the moment we are getting 20 litres (I think a litre equals 1 gallon or almost) a morning, which feeds us and the pigs and chickens. My husband just got (for free – yay) a old separator and going to use bits of it to fix our old one so we can have our own cream for ice cream and for butter. I make feta and cheddar cheese, we have our own eggs and our vegetables are going well. We don’t have a lot of fruit trees but we do preserve apples from road side trees. Our aquaponics system eventually should supply our salad ingredients except mushrooms and I was looking at growing them myself. My husband did work for some wheat and I have a grinder so I use that in my baking but I still buy some white flour and raw sugar. What bread recipe do you use and what do you have that you supply yourself. I find this rather exciting to live of what we have and not be spending money. Thanks and blessings

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Color me impressed Terri, y’all are doing great for providing for yourselves. I fall somewhere in the middle I think. We’ve always spent less than our friends for groceries, being very mindful of eliminated any wasted food, gardening, canning, dehydrating, cooking from scratch, batch cooking and learning to make for myself those things I used to buy like yogurt, bread, spice mixes & many toiletry products. This grocery challenge is to keep me mindful of the food blessings in my freezer/pantry and also to use up what we have before obtaining more. RancherMan is a able hunter and usually keeps our freezer filled with wild pork, our preferred protein.

      1. Terri Presser

        Hey I think we impress each other. Do you have a post on your solar oven??? That sounds very interesting, maybe you could do one if you don’t. Wild pork sounds good too. The only wild animals that we can shoot and eat here are rabbits and hares and maybe the odd deer if you are in the right place at the right time and kangaroo if you have a license. I enjoy the thought of providing for ourselves off the land. I agree with your motivation of no grocery shopping, it is good to give the cupboards and freezers a clean out before restocking. There is always food wasted when it is right in the bottom of our “deep” freezer. Thanks again for sharing your posts with me at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings.

        1. Terri Presser

          Hey thanks for sharing this at Good Morning Mondays, hope the challenge is still going well and that you are finding interesting things to make and eat. Blessings

          1. Texas Homesteader Post author

            Just completed week 2 Terri, moving on to week 3. Shoot. Me. Now. LOL ~TxH~

          2. Terri Presser

            I laughed at that, keep up the faith. Blessings

  17. Texas Homesteader Post author

    I’m seeing some surprising difficulties Judith. I wasn’t expecting the frustrating burnout I experienced one day. Thankfully RancherMan is very flexible and doesn’t mind having leftovers or even fend-for-yourself night. But he likes to nibble/graze throughout the day, so because of my experience I’ll be thinking of better ways to offer him “grazing foods” without shackling myself into the kitchen for hours & hours. Hummm…. ~TxH~

  18. Judith C

    I’ve noticed that Kroger’s organic milk will have an expiration date of almost a month out, so if you were to time it just right you could get 4 half gallons to last a month. That would work for us as we don’t use that much milk in a weeks time other than a quart for yogurt once a week. I try to go a week with out extra trips to the store, but a month!? I don’t think I could do it. It would take a lot of planning. I’m excited to see your progress.


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