10 Ways I Limited Grocery Shopping to Once Every 3 weeks

shopping cart in supermarket aisle with product shelves interior defocused blur background

Like many people, my husband and I are still uncomfortable about venturing out very much during the Coronavirus pandemic. As a result, here are 10 ways I limited grocery shopping to once about every 3 weeks using the following strategies and sample recipes. There are just the two of us and we have one average sized refrigerator/freezer. Larger families without additional refrigerator/freezer space may need to shop more often. While you may prefer to shop more, it is comforting to know it is possible to go less often or spend less time between major shopping sessions. 

Buying “mix-and-match” groceries from my “Basic Kitchen Foods for COVID-19 Times” assured I had a sufficient supply of foods that maintain their safety and quality longer than others. These 10 tips helped me fine tune how I used them for tasty meals throughout the 3 weeks … 

1: Include These Alternatives to Fresh, Fluid Milk

Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding made with nonfat instant dry milk

This first tip was the most helpful in limiting my grocery shopping to once every 3 weeks. Fresh, fluid milk can be a limiting food…see options under the “Dairy” section in my list of “Basic Kitchen Foods for COVID-19 Times” for alternatives. For me, instant nonfat dry milk is a helpful alternative. Chill reconstituted dry milk if you plan to drink it; a glass of cold milk tasted OK if I added chocolate flavoring. I noticed little, if any, flavor difference in cooking. Some foods prepared with reconstituted dry milk included: potato soup, spinach quiche (with either fresh or thawed spinach leaves), oatmeal (made with milk instead of water), and Old Fashioned Bread Pudding. For a quick dessert, use it in “instant” pudding. The other milk alternatives I listed also should work well in these types of recipes.

2: Benefit from the Versatility of Eggs

Hard-boiled egg prepared in an Instant Pot

I bought two to three cartons of eggs at a time. See my note about how long eggs maintain high quality in the “Protein” section of “Basic Kitchen Foods for COVID-19 Times. Eggs are so versatile and an inexpensive source of protein. I scramble eggs, boil them for egg salad sandwiches, make deviled eggs and use them with milk in quiches, soup, and bread pudding.

You can refrigerate hard-boiled eggs in their shell for up to one week. Keep them covered. I like to store them in a separate food storage container. The American Egg Board gives these stove-top directions for hard boiled eggs. Instant Pot™ provides this recipe for The Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs.

A quick comfort-food favorite for my husband and me is an Egg Salad Sandwich Kicked Up with a Dab of Mustard.

3: Add Foods Beyond Bread for Sandwiches

That extra loaf or two of bread can take up a lot of freezer room. We began buying whole grain chips and crackers as an additional base for sandwich spreads. A friend wraps her sandwich in lettuce leaves.

4: Buy Fresh, Canned and Frozen Forms of Fruits and Vegetables

Many fresh fruits and vegetables maintain their quality for only a week. Back them up with frozen and canned forms. My husband likes fresh blueberries and raspberries. We also purchased the frozen version for the next week or so. While we might enjoy bananas the first week, we saved the canned peaches and apricots for the next weeks.

Fresh potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots and cabbage kept well. Frozen peas and corn helped round out our vegetables.

5: Give “Leftovers” an Image Makeover

Foods tossed are foods lost. Wasting less food helped me limit my grocery shopping. However, there may seem like too small a portion of a “leftover” to save. And your fridge fills with containers of “this and that” until eventually tossed. When this happens to me, I now say we’re having a “tapas” meal. The “leftovers” get eaten and my food goes farther. 

6: Facilitate Food Storage by Including Some Non-Meat Protein Sources

Nachos made with beans, salsa and cheese

Except for canned tuna, salmon and chicken, I limited meat protein to our evening meals. For lunch, I served mainly foods made with canned dry beans, nut butters and eggs. These protein sources store well and don’t require valuable freezer space.

Make a super quick nachos meal with chips, beans, salsa and cheese. Zap in the microwave and you’re done! These nachos are a mainstay for our lunch meals. Consider including other on-hand ingredients, such as chopped peppers, olives, etc. 

For a fast, easy baked bean dish, heat beans with a little barbecue sauce. Here’s a quick 3-ingredient barbecue sauce recipe — regular ketchup can be substituted for the no-salt added ketchup.

7: Make a Casserole from What’s on Hand

Select from these categories of foods and combine into a casserole.

8: Put Potatoes on the Menu

Orange, sweet potatoes and pork casserole

Potatoes and sweet potatoes keep well and are versatile additions to meals. Mash, bake or roast them for variety. Serve other foods over them. Here are  a few of the recipes I’ve tried that also use ingredients from my list of “Basic Kitchen Foods for COVID-19 Times”

9: Treat Yourself to Takeout Food

Help support local restaurants. Take a break from cooking and treat yourself to a drive-up food delivery service or food delivered to your door. My husband and I have a Friday “Date Night” that includes food delivered by a favorite restaurant.

10: Search the Internet for Recipes to Use Up Ingredients

One online resource several people suggest as a starting place to research recipes using ingredients on hand is allrecipes.com. Here is now it works:

  1. Enter “keywords” for type of recipe and up to 4 ingredients to “include” and 4 ingredients to “exclude.” Or just enter the ingredients and see what type of recipes it brings up. Hit “GO.”  
  2. Several results marked by white hearts are brought up. Sort by “Best Match,” “Newest” and “Popular.”
  3. If you don’t like the recipes that it brings up, you can “edit search” and change the “keywords.”
  4. After choosing a recipe, scroll down to read the reviews. The reviews come from people who have made the recipe and offer helpful comments.
  5. See this in action on my video of using the allrecipes.com search feature for a meatloaf recipe. 

Related Links

10 Tips for Successful Online Grocery Shopping
Food Safety Link
→10 Tips for Successful Online Grocery Shopping
→ Basic Kitchen Foods for Covid-19 Times

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©2020 Alice Henneman