The Great Low-Spend Grocery Challenge — my take on the No-Grocery Challenge

Edit March 2021: This is bullshit. It doesn’t work when you’ve just moved into someplace new or have lots of food allergies. For me, it felt like I was back to restricting myself to eat certain foods. Also: I severely underestimated the amount of food 1) people eat and 2) I myself need to eat.

I love the idea of a no-grocery challenge, but it’s difficult to really adhere to it when you can’t use cheese past the expiry date or veggies when they start to mold because — plot twist — you’re allergic to them at that point.

Mold allergies extend beyond the household molds, which can make anyone sick, and into your foods. Slicing the mold off your cheese block may be fine for you, but I can’t do it without risking too much. Cheese is already a mold; I’m already eating an allergen because I’m not personally willing to give it up, but if it’s started molding, I’m not into taking that risk.

SO THIS IS THE ALLERGY-FRIENDLY (ish) VERSION OF THE No-Grocery Challenge, and full-on CAPS means I’m supes enthusiastic, not yelling. Everything, especially little things, excites me; it should grow on you. Maybe.

How this is gonna go, probably (hopefully)

Aside from staples and replenishing produce or, well, staples, I won’t be buying anything grocery-wise. Except perhaps some snacks and ready-made meals for grazing and super low-spoon days.

I’ll check in once a week to share what I made for the week, but also post to Instagram about it so you can totes follow me there @ijanelively.

But there is no real structure I’ll follow, I don’t think, so it will be messy and weird and unconventional and sloppy, but it’s that a lot like what life is like? So it works.

Freezer full of frozen fruit, veggies and vegan meats; it's an organized mess
Those things in the ice cube tray = trash I dread taking to the other side of the complex lot 😑

I’m creating the thing I want to see when people go about this, which — yeah, total transparency and shit. But aren’t you curious? Wouldn’t you like to see how someone who’s allergic to nearly everything eats, how she does her meals, how she could possibly manage to stick with most of the same ingredients for a long duration?

re: low-spend

My cousin (Charlise, remember her name & relation) picks up food from the school every Monday, and I take my pick of what is there that her kids are not going to eat.

Sometimes I get coupons for free food so of course I’mma get those, ‘kay?

And then on the [currently rare] occasion I get to work with a food brand, obviously I shall.

Those don’t really count against the low-spend grocery ish. Nor will buying materials (ingredients) for my cottage food biz (in the works).

Otherwise, the following are my staples:

  • puff pastry
  • pie crust
  • eggs
  • cheese
  • pasta
  • beans
  • rice
  • tomato sauce
  • vegan milk
  • fruits & veggies
  • meat, or meatless meat ish
  • herbs, oils, that shit that needs not really be named ’til it comes up, yeah?

I know these are basic groceries, but alas…allergies, remember? And there’s that nasty malnutrition shit I have to bat off. But for the most part, I am pretty set.

Current stock

  • 1 box instant lasagna
  • 1 box taco shells
  • 1 box instant pesto mac
  • 1/2 box pancake mix
  • 1 carton broth
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 thing of breadcrumbs
  • potatoes
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 bag mixed veggies, frozen
  • 2 packages veggie burgers, frozen
  • 1 bag mixed berries, frozen
  • 2 smoothie packs (frozen)
  • green beans, frozen
  • 1 pineapple, probz old (I’ve not checked)
  • 5 english muffins
  • lots of diff cheeses (Parmesan, Colby Jack, mozzarella)
  • eggs
  • rice milk
  • 2 jars SunButter
  • 1 lemon
  • cereal
  • crackers
  • chips
  • instant oatmeal
  • lots of seeds (flax, chia, sunflower)
  • chickpeas
  • instant rice
  • noodles (spaghetti, rotini)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pkg bacon bits
  • 1 can refried beans
  • marshmallows (creme & minis)
  • celery
  • carrots
  • 1 jar alfredo sauce
  • 12 Hawaiian sweet rolls
  • 1 loaf honey sweet bread
  • 8 hamburger buns
  • strawberry applesauce
  • chocolate
  • blackberry jelly
  • strawberry banana yogurt
  • 1 cucumber
  • lunch meat
  • beefless ground


  • I want to grow in my cooking and build kitchen confidence.
  • My current grocery budget is about $200/mo. because I’m buying less instant meals and want to eat well. I don’t have a microwave, so I actually have to cook. I want to decrease it by a minimum of $50, snacks included.
  • Less food waste equates to more money and less trash, so I want to reinvent my leftovers by converting them to brag-worthy nextovers.
  • Ideally, my current groceries will last me a whole month so I can focus that $200 (or most of it) elsewhere. Moving into my own place, or just moving in general, rocked me financially and this broke adult be struggling — but I don’t wanna have to give up my Netflix, K?

Selfie of me in glasses, a small smile, short hair, red plaid flannel


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