Friday, January 21, 2011

Food for thought Fridays - Avoiding the supermarket

Our new house has a supermarket just five minutes walk away. This spells big problems for our budget because we keep dashing to it every couple of days to get the things we've run out of, and end up spending way too much on groceries.

I got a shock reading through our bank statement this week, so banned myself from going to the supermarket for as long as possible.

Well, I feel somewhat ridiculous writing this post, since I only managed to avoid going for about five days. However, I did have to get creative in that time, and wanted to share some of the fun I had with it.

Creative solutions when avoiding the supermarket
  • We ran out of garlic and ginger, so I substituted in the powdered form of both where needed. I had never thought to do this before, but I didn't notice a difference in taste and it actually made dinner easier to prepare.
  • I wanted to make cannelloni as there's heaps of spinach growing in my garden and I had half a packet of cannelloni tubes to use up. However, I didn't have ricotta so substituted with some cottage cheese and cream cheese I had in the fridge. 
  • My cannelloni dish also required either chopped tomatoes or pasta sauce. I had neither. What I did have was tomato paste, four cherry tomatoes, one large tomato, a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, as well as zucchinis, basil and oregano growing in my garden. I chopped these up and boiled them together in a small saucepan of water to make my own pasta sauce. It was delicious.
  • We quickly ran out of vegetables and my garden hasn't started producing much yet, so I took L for a walk down to the church garden where we weeded a bit in exchange for a beetroot and some green beans. I roasted the beetroot with an onion and three small purple carrots from my garden to make a small side dish for Paul and I.
  • I ran out of cleaning spray, but since I make my own it was no big deal to refill this.

Now, the reason my supermarket avoidance came to an end is because we had friends come over for dinner unexpectedly last night. Paul gave me the call asking if that was OK after I had already prepared our small cannelloni dish and beetroot side for dinner. To make sure we had enough for four extra guests, he headed to the supermarket and bought a hot chicken, a prepared salad and some dinner rolls.

However, if it wasn't for this unexpected event, I think I could have lasted a few more days, and got increasingly creative as I went.

I'm keen to see if I can last a whole week now.


  1. I need to learn to stop going to the supermarket too.. i think I go daily, dont even weekly shop anymore!
    Fortunately I am moving back to NZ next week and we'll be living with my parents who have MASSIVE vege gardens! and they live 35km from the nearest supermarket.
    I just wanted to say I have been really inspired by your blog and even went and borrowed In Defense of Food, what an awesome book - I want to buy my own copy. Since before Christmas I have been following a real food diet and I feel so much better. Your blog, all the links you suggest, they're all awesome. Thank you!

  2. Thanks Leonie. That's so encouraging to hear. What sort of changes have you made with your real food diet? I love hearing that kind of thing.

  3. Hi Emma, interesting blog. We were in a forced no supermarket situation for about a week recently when our town was isolated from Brisbane during the floods. The supermarket quickly ran out of milk, bread and all fresh veges. Its amazing how you can manage if you have to! We were lucky to have half a freezer of meat from having a steer butchered and plenty of veges in the garden, as well as excess veges from last year that I'd frozen. We had heaps of bread mix for the bread maker and our neighbour milks goats, so we had a milk supply if we needed it. I think we could have lasted for a couple of months on all the canned food in the pantry. You can't always eat exactly what you want, but there's enough to feed you something! I think we need to learn to eat what's in season and in abundance, rather than buying exactly what the recipe needs (as you did with your sauce). I hope your garden starts producing more soon and you will definitely spend less at the supermarket!

  4. Hi Liz, wow, that must be such a great feeling to know you could survive on what you have there. I bet it's lots of hard work, but so rewarding.

  5. Ha ha! I've shopped two weekly ever since having kids and often stretch it out to more than that when busy, or been to vege king or bin inn, or feeling like saving money. Contrast with my mum in law who lives 3 minute walk from supermarket but goes at least once a day in her car! Stephanie


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