Shelf-Eating Challenge

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It’s officially summer over here! My kids’ last day of school was last week, and my own work slows way down over the summer. As a result, summer is a great time for us to tackle new projects or to take up a new challenge. That’s exactly what I plan to do for the month ahead (starting this week!). My goal is to challenge ourselves to spend as little as possible on groceries and instead do the bulk of our eating from the pantry and freezer.

I’ve seen other bloggers refer to this as Shelf-Eating (see Jordan Page who does Shelf-tember ever September), and I’m taking a note from Hope’s book, as she’s written multiple times about No Spend Months (including not spending on groceries).

Shelf-Eating Rules

While Shelf-Eating can be done lots of different ways, here are the rules I’ve made for myself in my own challenge. Feel free to modify for your family’s needs and join in! My goal is to stick to spending no more than $50/week for things like fresh produce, milk/eggs, and any necessities. Aside from that, I’ll be trying to limit spending and, instead, get creative with meals coming from foods we already have in our fridge, freezer, and pantry.

For budget context, this month I’ve spent waaaaaaay more than $50/week on food. In fact, I’ve spent closer to $250+/week on food for our family! That’s crept way up, as I typically try to keep grocery spending closer to $150/week. Given how out-of-hand our grocery spending has gotten, $50/week feels like a good, do-able challenge. Depending on your family’s size and dining habits, you may be able to get away with only spending $25/week on fresh produce, or maybe you need to go up to $75/week if you have lots of teens or folks with big appetites. The point is to figure out what works for YOU so that it will feel like a challenge, but still one that’s reasonable and within reach.

Meal Planning Help

In the past when I’ve done similar challenges, I’ve always enjoyed the creative challenge of coming up with meal ideas based on the ingredients I have on-hand. That said, sometimes the meals have been a little…out there. This time things are a little different. Welcome to the scene, ChatGPT! Just-for-fun, I plan to use OpenAI to help me with my meal planning. I have already given ChatGPT a list of foods we have on hand and asked it to help me make a list of dinner ideas. It’s fun to get some new ideas of things I may not have thought of otherwise.

Will I use all of ChatGPT’s ideas and suggestions? Decidedly not. But it makes a great place to start!

Have you used AI to help make meal plans? Are there other ways you’ve used AI to help you in daily life/chores/etc? Will you join me for this shelf-eating challenge?

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