I’ve found the blogosphere network of "green" sites to be full of "challenges" - mostly admirable attempts to live lighter on the earth. I first heard about the Eat Local challenge, in which people pledge to eat only local foods for the month of September. I missed that one, but then subscribed to Laura’s Dark Days Eat Local challenge. It was a lot of fun, mostly because the way Laura did it built a supportive little community of bloggers all trying to creatively use local ingredients in the dead of winter. In March, I also tried out Melinda’s Technology challenge (see related post).
For the month of April, Crunchy Chicken has challenged her readers to buy nothing (except food, medicine & absolute essentials) for a whole month. Accompanying that is Chili’s challenge to declutter. BurbanMom then issued the Giving challenge, offering up another use for all the money people save by doing Crunchy’s buy nothing challenge. For various reasons, I decided not to participate in any of these, although they certainly got me thinking.
This past week, I had a related challenge of my own. I normally have a very consistent routine. Every Monday, Munchkin and I go first to a large grocery store followed by (depending on whatever we need that week) the meat market, natural foods store, or corner market that sells local foods. The last stop is a drive through market where we buy local milk in returnable bottles. (When the farmers’ market is going, I also shop there, but on a different day.) I’ve thought many times of skipping the grocery store since it’s the farthest away and I could stock up for several weeks at a time, but almost every week we meet firemen doing their shopping. Between the firemen and two clerks Munchkin has befriended, I think it’s one of his favorite outings! So I only get what we need for the week unless there’s a good sale.
Last Sunday, Munchkin woke up with a high fever, nasty cough, and remained in a little lump staying wherever we put him. Monday I took him to the doctor, who diagnosed pneumonia! Munchkin responded really well to the medication, but obviously I kept him home all week. Fortunately, when I realized on Sunday he was sick, I left him home with Scott while I ran to a nearby market to buy a couple things I knew we needed and also fruit popsicles for Munchkin.
Anyway, I decided to try to make it through the rest of the week without doing my grocery shopping. I did have to pick up milk one day, but other than that, I just used what we had. In the process I discovered that in the past few months I’ve really changed the way I cook. I now stock more bulk ingredients and less packaged, processed or canned goods. So this week, out of the pantry, fridge and freezer, I cooked a London Broil dinner that made Scott ask what was the special occasion, a pot of one of my all-time favorite soups (tuna-cheddar-chowder), quesadillas, we had a waffle dinner, and we got take-out for my birthday. Also, for my birthday, I finally tried Laura’s Triple Berry Upside-Down cake. (Yummy, but I’ll use less sugar next time.) I baked blueberry muffins that finally enticed Munchkin to start eating again and whenever we ran out of bread, I baked more. We used up all the lunchmeat, so Scott made egg salad.
Our cupboards, fridge and freezer are less cluttered than they were a week ago. It’s nice, actually. We’re out of a lot of things, but it felt really good to be able to not only survive, but really thrive on an unplanned week of no shopping. I can’t imagine doing that a year ago, which shows me how far I’ve come in a pretty short time. That seems to be the theme of the week in other blogs I follow. Check out Green Bean’s success story if you want to read another.