$50 Grocery Challenge

Michelle publishes some great stories on her Keep Calm Get Organised blog. I was particularly interested in her $50 grocery challenge which she introduces with some alarming statistics on just how much food is wasted by Australian households each year, and the impact this has on the environment. I thought I would give the challenge a try. Now let me tell you I’m a minimalist and an under-buyer – definitely not one of those people whose fridge contains not one inch of space and with a pantry to match. So I did wonder if this challenge might be a little ambitious for me, given Michelle’s requirement that we make use of what we already have.  She further suggests that a couple or small family limit themselves to only $30, but because I bought organic fruit and veggies that week I felt this justified giving myself the higher grocery allowance even though we are just a couple!

My inventory revealed a freezer containing lamb shanks, pumpkin pie filling, and a recipe of pate brisee pastry. Items already in the pantry selected to build meals around included canned chick peas, coconut milk, rice and quinoa mix, dried fruit, and nuts. The garden yielded pumpkin, heaps of sweet potato, and eggs from our chickens. Michelle suggested making your own bread, and I agree with her that it really is very easy – it just requires a little forward planning. I spent $31.50 on fruit and veggies at the markets; and just $18.60 at IGA.

So what did we eat that week?

IMG_0574Zucchini slice

Lamb shanks with prunes & apricots

Grilled salmon & vegetables

Thai fish curry

Quinoa, rice & sweet potato salad


Curried egg dip

Freshly baked bread

And for treats and guests – Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin & Prune cake, and Date cake. When I bake cakes I usually cut them in half and put half in the freezer. Mr Simply Will has something of a sweet tooth, and this stops them disappearing so quickly!

The $50 grocery challenge was a great exercise in being more thoughtful about the food we eat, minimising waste, meal planning, creating a grocery list and sticking to it, and using what is already available.

What are your thoughts about Michelle’s $50 challenge? Would you or have you tried it?



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  • Marie carman says:

    Hi Jo, congratulations many times over, I love it! I feel like opening a bottle of champers! It all looks great and it is lovely to see the girls so happy, healthy and relaxed in their photo. I think it is so important to see that it is possible not to buy a lot of processed and over packaged items that appear to be actual food! The important thing is to look at it with the eyes of someone who wants to nourish their body …is there food inside… and or to think outside the box into which the companies want us to very neatly fit. The other thing I often think of is buying directly from companies rather than the supermarket. It is always to do with toilet paper that I think this because if we are smart it is one of the only things we have to buy from say, IGA. I want to suggest that our local fruit and veg shop puts an Australian toilet paper in! Gotta go Jo, love to you and Graeme and I am really thrilled for you!

    • Jo says:

      Thanks Marie for your good wishes and lovely comments. I love that photo of the girls – all they need is a swimming pool and they’d be doing water ballet!
      What a great idea to look at buying directly from companies, enabling better support for Australian industry and farmers as well. It is currently quite a challenge to find in a supermarket peanuts grown in Kingaroy or macadamias grown in northern NSW. Why should it be so hard??
      Next time I visit and we pick up fruit and veges at ‘The Pocket’ I’ll look for toilet paper and see if you have achieved your goal!
      Lots of love,
      PS: Do have that glass of champers!

  • Sue says:

    All looks fabulous. I will have to get my act together and try these wonderful recipes. Thank you Jo.

  • Hilary says:

    Hi Jo,

    For a hoarder who worries about running out of allergy friendly food, this is a timely reminder to rotate everything in the pantry and freezer. It’s also a good reminder that the freezer is a back up for fresh food rather than the other way around!


    • Jo says:

      Hi Hilary,
      So true! It’s good to have a clean out. I for one will never be that person who loses hundreds of dollars of food in the freezer during a power outage! The down side is that I won’t survive long in the event of a disaster either….
      PS Didn’t pick you for a hoarder….!

  • Miss Chardy says:

    Oh god I do love a challenge and if I lived in town I would definitely give this a go. I am definitely a culprit when it comes to wastage I am sorry to say. A disgrace really, you would not be impressed. Well done with the blog, looks great.

    • Jo says:

      Thanks for your lovely comments on my blog Dani! Perhaps you’d be interested to try to challenge anyway some time. Will look out for a post about it!

  • Johanna says:

    What a great challenge. I can be guilty of buying ‘what if’ items for my fridge, which might not get eaten before their due date. So a $50 challenge would really set me thinking about organising and planning our food for the week.

  • Dianne Williams says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the posts on the shopping challenge. My guidelines are few and simple: 1. Never go shopping for food unless on a full tummy. 2. Look in the mirror -‘a buffo’ – before leaving; (this ensures you give the chocolate, ice cream and chips aisle a very wide berth; no pun intended).
    Seriously though, the whole store is such a temptation, isn’t it, and managers are wily and cunning enough to occasionally move items to another location, so that as you are searching, you throw things into the trolley as a consolation prize for having to wander up and down plaintively calling out for the chickpeas.

    • Jo says:

      So true Di, and one of my many other complaints about certain supermarkets is the absence or limited range of products made by Australian-owned companies – a ploy to force you to buy their generic brand. I’ll have a rant about this in another post some time. One positive I’ve noticed is that if the chickpeas don’t reply and you need assistance, in most supermarkets the staff walk you to the item rather than just saying ‘aisle 3’. Doing meal planning is another good strategy for streamlining shopping, though I admit to not always being consistent with this…

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