Week 1 eating from the store cupboards: meals and tips

My food cupboard at the start

I started June determined to eat up the contents of my cupboards, fridge and freezer, and so began the (drum roll please): STORE CUPBOARD CHALLENGE!


I went through my packed kitchen,  did a stock check, made a list of potential meals and did a supermarket shop focused on fresh food (all here). I’ve put a list of the meals we actually ate at the end of this post.

And so?

Normally I try to be economical with feeding the family, but usually I’m lucky enough that I don’t have to keep track of the cost of every meal, and can just buy more when things run out.

Here’s what I’ve learnt from trying to stretch the food we already have:

1. Forced into more varied meals!

The store cupboard challenge has definitely helped me make the most of leftovers and become more creative with the ingredients available, rather than eating the same lunch most days.

2. Need to switch from focusing on fresh food

No wonder the food in the cupboards, fridge and freezer builds up, as I focus on eating fresh stuff before it goes off!

So far, we haven’t eaten as much of the original top up shopping as I expected. I bought food for just over £50 for our family of four (although it cost me £6 less with the Morrisons voucher), and we only actually ate a third of it, £16.50.

A tenner’s worth of food went completely untouched. It will definitely get used, it’s more that with better meal planning I could have delayed those purchases.

I’d love to know the cost of the food eaten that was already in the house, to put the shopping in context, but working it out and digging through elderly receipts is taking longer than I’d hoped!

3. Must. Stop. Shopping.

It was harder than I expected to go cold turkey and stop shopping for food. On Day 4 I slipped off the wagon and bought a couple of reduced items in the Co-op (absolute bargain 2.5kg leg of pork with crackling at £6.38, and a 40p coconut just for fun), then realised if I wanted to stop shopping, then surprise, surprise, I had to stop going into shops.


Bargainous leg of pork that broke my resolve…
…and comedy coconut for the kids

4. Be careful to avoid food waste

After buying more fresh food in a single order than normal, I was worriedabout food waste. In practice I’ve had to throw a few things away, but they all pre-dated the shopping (lonely mouldy crumpet, end of a jar of raspberry jam that had fermented, remains of a packet of fresh coriander, couple of unused egg yolks, bit of chicken stock). Not ideal but I reckon the wasted food cost less than a pound. Will wait and see how that continues.

5. Make the most of vouchers

I still have a long list of meals to work our way through, and we’re finally starting to make more of a dent on the cupboards, but I do need some top up fruit, veg and milk.

However, with impeccable timing the Co-op have sent some dividend vouchers and money-off coupons, so I’m intending to use those to continue the store cupboard challenge.


Co-op dividend vouchers, based on last year’s shopping
Co-op money off vouchers in the same booklet

 Week 1 spending summary

Cash spent on food: £52.24

Vouchers spent on food: £6

The meals themselves

After the first week, here are the meals we actually ate, with links to any blog posts with further details.

Snacks are listed at the end.


Breakfast: Porridge made with milk and water, with a chopped banana

Lunch: Burnt aubergine with peppers, red onion, feta and a slice of bread

Children’s Dinner: Salmon and potato fishcakes with boiled carrot sticks. Mango, strawberry and banana smoothies.

Dinner: Salmon and potato fishcakes with mango chutney, white rice and crunchy salad


Breakfast: Porridge with raisins

Lunch: Feta, beetroot, little gem, celery and fried courgette salad with rice

Children’s Dinner: Cheese on toast, pluscarrot and celery sticks, mango and yogurt tubes

Dinner: Mumma Jack’s Best Ever Chilli with brown rice and steamed savoy cabbage


Breakfast: Porridge with banana

Lunch: Dolcelatte, balsamic pear and walnut salad, with leftover brown rice

My husband’s packed lunch: Leftover Mumma Jack’s Best Ever Chilli with brown rice

Children’s Dinner: Hot dogs (frankfurters in wholemeal finger rolls) with ketchup and mini corn on the cob

Dinner: One pan cod, new potatoes and chorizo, with cherry tomatoes and green beans


Breakfast: Porridge with banana

Lunch: Brown finger rolls with sardines in tomato sauce, soft cheese, cucumber and tomato

Dinner: All invited out for a barbecue!


Breakfast: Porridge with banana

Lunch: Brown sandwich thin with sardine and soft cheese, cucumber and tomato and sliced lettuce, carrot and pear

Children’s Dinner: Cheesy macaroni with bacon and peas plus mango and flapjack

Dinner: Eggs shakshua with jacket potato andsalad


Breakfast: Basics Weetabix with banana

Lunch: Egg fried rice with wilted pak choi and mixed veg for me (party and Pizza Express vouchers for the rest of the family)

Dinner: Pepperoni pizza and mozzarella and olive baguette pizzas with salad and celery sticks


Breakfast: Pancakes with grapes, nectarine and banana circles

Lunch: Chicken fajitas with peppers, red onion and natural yogurt. Yogurt tubes for the kids, lime jelly for all!

Children’s Dinner: Smoked salmon and soft cheese sandwiches, vanilla ice cream

Dinner with Jan and John: Bacon and cheddar quiche with boiled salad potatoes and salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumber and iceberg lettuce. Roasted peaches with vanilla ice cream


Fruit, with the addition of value range natural yogurt in my case

Crumpets or bread with jam

Home-made flapjack and raisin cookies

Home-made ice lollies made from orange juice and fruit-flavoured squash

Treat for the children after swimming lessons:
drink from multi-pack of Fruit Shoots or Aldi equivalent, packet of crisps from a multipack and a hot cross bun each

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  1. 12th June 2015 / 3:13 pm

    My Co-op Divi was just £7 – but every little helps. AND I only got 2 x £3 vouchers too.
    I don't spend much in our local Co-op – too expensive for most things though I do like the local meat

    • 12th June 2015 / 3:46 pm

      Hope the divi and vouchers come in handy!
      I fear my Co-op dividend will be a lot less next year, as I've been switching to Morrisons with occasional trips to the Aldi in Sudbury. I'd love to support the Co-op more, as I really admire their fairer approach and preference for local food suppliers, but it is distinctly more expensive. Last summer we shopped at the Co-op a lot but recently I've stuck to top up food and the yellow-stickered sections.

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