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Every week Mrs. Debt To Dough and I do our normal grocery shopping and get what we need for the week. About two weeks ago she was out of town and I went ahead and decided to not buy any groceries for the following week.
I took it upon myself to use last week as a challenge to myself: Can I spend $0 on food for the next 7 days?
Simply put: Yes I did! Honestly, it was fairly easy. Now before you say, “well duh, it’s only 7 days you could’ve fasted during that time”. That’s fair, but I learned of a few things about this challenge. I believe you can also do it as well with the right mindset.
You Become More Resourceful
Does this sound familiar: You get kind of hungry and you check out the refrigerator and see nothing worth eating. You go about your business for about 20 minutes, then you go back to the fridge and see if anything is worth eating again?
Even though we all know food magically won’t appear, we do this over and over again (I know I’m not alone here).
When you set your goal to not spend money a penny on food for the next 7 days, you start to realize that the food that you once neglected can actually be used. That lunch meat will sound more appealing outside of being a late-night snack!
Your “Someday I’ll Eat” Frozen Meals Will Be Consumed
I wish I took a photo of my freezer last week. It used to be full. As the week progressed, I realized, “wait, I can eat the same thing more than 3 times a week”.
- My frozen TV dinners that were in my freezer for at least 6 months were finally consumed.
- I had a lot of frozen chicken wings…and I mean a lot!
- I noticed that I purchased a lot of frozen chicken and never bothered to eat it until now
Living The Rice, Potatoe, Pasta & The Ramen Life
I think we often forget that the common staples of food are in our cupboard and only use them for a quick meal or as a last resort. Well, when you are on that $0 budget life, they start to become the go-to meal.
I’m not saying these meals have to be made plain, but cooking some rice along with some chicken & seasoning makes a pretty solid meal.
What’s most important to realize is that we tend to forget about our food staples.
Thank You Free Food
I do most of my work at a coworking facility that provides free snacks and coffee with the occasional ‘team lunch’. You damn well better believe I took full advantage of those perks. I’m all about saving money and you can’t beat free! Seriously, you should take advantage of your job’s perks if you can.
I’m completely capable of eating a bag of chips as a replacement for lunch.
Your Weekly Food Budget Might DECREASE
You’ll soon realize that you aren’t eating everything you buy weekly. You can start adjusting your food budget to fit around that. There is no need to be dramatic and cut your food budget in half. But as long as you are cognizant about how much food you actually consume vs how much you buy, you’ll have a completely different mindset.
Try The Challenge Once A Month
Unless you are on a very strict budget on groceries, it’s easy to buy more than we need. That extra bag of potato chips might be your go-to-meal on a busy day that actually replaced another meal you had planned to eat.
We are human, we want to make sure we buy what we need to survive and we tend to buy more than we need. By grocery shopping for 3 weeks and passing on the 4th, you start optimizing how you eat and utilize all the food you previously bought.
Heck, you can call your $0 food budget “Kitchen Cleanse Week” or something. It might not be a monthly thing you do, but it might be worth trying monthly.
I won’t ever forget the times where I barely made enough to actually eat and had no extra income. I think as we continue to work our way towards financial freedom, we start to get more relaxed about how we spend our money. That’s not to say we aren’t capable of being strict, but over time it’s easy to occasionally lose grasp of our spending habits.
I think taking the $0 food budget challenge is a good exercise to reevaluate how we spend too much on food at times.
My food budget was $80/month when I had my first real job, it’s more than double now. It happens, don’t feel like you have to stick to a number forever.
At the same time, it’s always good to flex your frugal muscles every so often.
Are you ready for the challenge?