Adventures in Menu Planning: No Spend Week

One of the things I’ve picked up this year is to have a week every month when I don’t grocery shop, usually the week before the I’m paid.

It’s a good habit to keep me acquainted with everything that’s in the fridge, freezer and cupboards and avoid waste. It also keeps me more creative and flexible in my cooking.

These were the contents of the fridge on Friday afternoon. Usually I would do a scan of the fridge, freezer and cupboards before I went shopping. It’s the second week of the Oddbox and I think it’s working out pretty well (although I’m eating a lot more apples than usual!)


The produce was a bag of salad leaves, a bag of spinach, some cabbage, two oranges, two and a half lemons, two limes, two very geriatric pears, five frozen by the fridge carrots, 6 nectarines and 10 apples.

The fridge has lots of jars of things, there’s pickle, cornichions, plum and raspberry puree, rhubarb compote, green tomato chutney, cocktail cherries, fat, leftover butter parmesan sauce (made for globe artichokes), blackberry jam, kefir grains, two jars of yoghurt whey, pesto, yoghurt, eggs, cheese and two bottles of Purdeys*), not pictured is the milk, ketchup, mustards, anchovies, coffee, lemon juice and tomato puree in the door!

I also had onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, flour, beans, pasta and so on (at this point I can hear my mother saying I have too much food in the cupboards – she’s not wrong but all of it is stuff I use so I regret nothing), as I run out of things, I chalk them up on the board in the kitchen, so that’s what I didn’t have or was running low on. I’m not going to inflict the contents of the freezer on you, it’s in dire need of defrosting. But a quick rundown, shows that I have about 6 pots of pesto, frozen veg (broccoli, peas, sweetcorn and spinach), Sunday breakfast packs (I buy bacon, chipolatas and black pudding and break them down into one person portions) for other meat there were 6 sausages, a pork shoulder, a pack of beef, a pork chop and two chicken legs (all Dorset meats) and some damsons that are going to be turned into gin. There was also two portions of soup, two portions of Hot Stew and two person size pasta bake which is what happens when I make too much, they go into the freezer as a sort of homemade ready meal!

Aside from the usual wine chillers, ice, and ice packs for my head, the freezer also contains random ingredient stuff – a bag of chicken bones and veg scraps for stock, a bag of parmesan rinds for soup, a bag of stale bread that will make bread pudding at some point and some frozen blocks of herbs). It’s where food languishes waiting for me to eat it!

On Friday night, I used the butter parmesan sauce and the milk to make a white sauce for macaroni cheese which I ate with the salad leaves (yes all of them, a bag of salad leaves is one portion)

Saturday morning I made soda bread to have with the bacon, sausage, black pudding (from the freezer) and poached eggs that Ma and I had for breakfast. We didn’t have lunch but dinner was sausages, baked potatoes and peas (hurrah for a very old fashioned 70’s tea!)

On Sunday, I had toast and jam for breakfast, a sausage sandwich for lunch and potatoes for dinner. (It was not my day for good or healthy eating).

I made a version of Smitten Kitchen’s Breakfast Apricot Crisp with the nectarines and that with yoghurt was breakfast for Monday to Friday.

I also used some of my courgettes to make a courgette cake. I used this recipe but subbed mixed fruit for the raisins and walnuts

Lunch on Monday and Tuesday was soup from the freezer and Monday night dinner was also a freezer meal, pasta vegetable bake with roasted frozen broccoli.

Tuesday night was Hot Stew (also from the freezer) with rice and peas.

On Wednesday, I made hummus and ate that with toast, carrots and cornichion for lunch.

Wednesday night dinner was risotto-ish. I had leftover rice from Tuesday with half a bag of the spinach, the cabbage, onions and pesto. It tasted great but the joy of eating alone is that sometimes, if it doesn’t look great, I don’t get negative feedback from other diners….

Today, I will eat the crisp and yoghurt for breakfast, hummus for lunch and baked sweet potatoes with black bean and sweetcorn taco filling Foodie with Family, which I use a lot. I’ll use salsa I made in the summer too so a win for using up preserves.

On Friday, breakfast and lunch will be the same. I have a friend coming over for dinner, which will be caramelised onion and spinach pizza and I promised her rhubarb crumble!

The fridge is much emptier than it was last Friday and there are things I need to buy tomorrow, milk for yoghurt, mozzarrella, the list of things on the board, more eggs, some veg for Saturday and Sunday because my new Oddbox doesn’t arrive until late Sunday night and I’ll have used all of it except the apples.

Maybe for next week, I’ll show you how I used the apples and the leftover taco filling!

About nicdempsey

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