Living

Could you live without buying groceries for a week?

I spend about as much on food each month as I do in rent (give or take a few dinners out and impromptu pizza deliveries.) The hefty food bill isn’t just the result of an appetite gone wild, but may also reflect pricier times.

Woman buying groceries

Masterfile

Once upon a time, I put clothes I couldn’t afford to buy on my Visa. Now I put food I can’t afford on my credit card. I spend nearly as much money on food each month as I do in rent (give or take a few dinners out and impromptu pizza deliveries). The hefty food bill is the result of a few factors. For one, I love to eat and I have a food blog addiction that fuels my desire to eat more and to try new dishes. In my experience, when you add a new recipe or two to your weekly grocery shop you can confidently add anywhere from $75 to $100 to your regular tab. 

But we’re also experiencing pricier times. Rising costs in agricultural production have made their way into our grocery stores and inflation hovers around 2.5 percent when it comes to food. I may be buying the same amount each week, but it’s costing more.

In response to our Food Network TV and recipe-heavy culture, Globe and Mail writer Courtney Shea attempted to give up grocery shopping (and her gastronomic preferences for eating something fabulous at every meal) for a week. She didn’t starve herself — she just ate the food she already had in her pantry.  

Wrote Shea: 

“I began my anti-waste week by taking stock of what I did have on hand. After disposing of certain unusable items like frozen hot dog buns that look like ice sculptures, I made a mental list of the most useful and plentiful items: I have a lot of pasta…I also have an obscene amount of bacon and strangely lots of chickpeas. I Google ‘pasta + chickpeas + bacon’ and find a recipe for pasta salad that looks so delicious I decide to try it out at a dinner party.” 

While Shea’s experiment produced mixed results, the significance of the exercise did leave an impression. She said, “…this is obviously not the kind of diet one could adopt for any extended period of time, but I plan on making a diligent effort to use the things I have in my cupboard.”

I don’t know if I’m going to be tucking into any canned chickpeas in the near future, but I do think I’ll be pumping the brakes on my ‘must-try’ recipe addiction. I hope.