25 days… and out.



Yesterday at about 4pm when I ducked into a supermarket to buy extra white chocolate for a batch of Choccy Choc Chocs destined for the Gerringong Markets this weekend, I decided to abandon the challenge

To be honest, Vanessa was out of the game after a week. But after a week we were just getting going, so we stuck with it. I had kind of hoped we might go 30 days, but as I headed for the checkout with a stack of white chocolate in my arms, I stopped in my tracks and thought: who for? The kids have been spectacular throughout, we're at the end of the school holidays and they have had no bought treats or anything, and so I picked up a bag of chips for them. Then I back tracked and picked up a bottle of dishwasher detergent and weetbix and a small bag of disposable nappies (Ivy's daycare centre won't use cloth and we were nearly at the end of our supply) and coffee. Yes, we do grow it here. And we're out of it. A bad crop this last summer. That's it. I didn't even buy dinner. But that little shop ended this particular challenge. 

We made it through Easter. Through various visitors. And we've made it through the school holidays. Adam took the kids out for an icecream today. Hooray.

And you know what? 

I didn't even go shopping today. 

Because this whole challenge has completely changed the way I think about groceries. 




You totally do not have to shop every week.

And my BIGGEST tip: 

Do not go to the supermarket.

Because you quite possibly don't need to. 

Can you make do with what you have? Can you barter something you have/ you've made/ grown with someone? Can you stay out of the crazy marketing machine that is the flourescent lit supermarket aisle? 

Obviously we need to shop. As much as I love self-sustainability, I'm not in a position to grow, thresh and grind my own wheat for flour. Or grow rice. 

Adam prepared the first of a series of big garden beds today (thank you piglets for doing the digging!) and the potatoes and garlic go in tomorrow. We are aiming to grow as many of our own vegies as possible and will be planting fruit trees with the same aim for a few years time. Can you grow your own food? We did this whole challenge with hardly any garden, and traded and bartered with friends who grew stuff. Worked beautifully. Would this work for you? 

We can't imagine going back to shop-bought milk. We love our twice-weekly trip to the dairy. But if you need to buy milk at the supermarket, can you possibly buy a fortnight's worth at a time? 

We need to think like pioneers. Or bushies. Shop once a month for staples. Flour, sugar, yeast, rice, oats: these are the things I could not have gotten by without. Preserve food: we expect fresh fresh fresh but of course if you're really thinking seasonally and locally we might not always have fresh, but we could organise ourselves to always have fruit, dried or in jars. We have to think creatively, because if someone brings you a fish, we value the life the fish gave best if we make the best use of it. You make stock, right? You'd never toss a picked over chicken carcass in the bin before roasting off the bones and making stock which then makes your pumpkin soup the next night?




So yes, we're out of the challenge because I wanted to buy these three excellent children of mine potato chips. And so I did. And they deserved an icecream at the end of the school holidays. 

But if I thought frugally and economically before, that was nothing compared to my new outlook!

Thanks for following along here. I hope you're not disappointed we didn't make the 30 day mark.

How 'bout we do something together? A month-from-scratch? And I mean everything. Could you do it? Would you?!



42 Comments on “25 days… and out.

April 20, 2012 at 10:59 pm

well done. That was inspirational. Achieving a monthly staples shop and non supermarket shopping for the fresh stuff is my new goal. Now having milk delivered weekly. Going to have to plant me a coffee tree though because that..I just cant do without! 🙂

Melanie @ M&M
April 20, 2012 at 11:11 pm

You are amazing! I have really played along with you in an ever so minor way. Digging through the freezer to see what was in there. Making polenta and grits, instead of pasta, just for the change. Remembering all the stuff I can make (and it’s not even difficult!) without opening a jar or a can. Thanks so much for taking us on this ride! Did I mention that you are amazing!?!

April 20, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Well done you, and all! No, of course I wouldn’t do it, you nutter, but I do so love reading about your adventures. Wish I could have helped you get through this Armageddon, but maybe the next one, eh?
Love you!

April 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Way to go! I have really enjoyed following along you on your journey. I don’t think I could have lasted that long.

April 20, 2012 at 11:26 pm

How awesome are you!!! Well done!!

You should totally be proud as punch 😀

April 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm

So very impressive. You probably lasted longer than I would have. I will say that I go to the grocery store every two weeks because I hate going. Now the farmer’s market is another story 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

Aussie Mum
April 20, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Oh well done – there is no way I would have managed anywhere near 25 days but I have really enjoyed reading about your efforts. I bet those ice creams tasted all the better for a few weeks without!

Ngo Family Farm
April 21, 2012 at 1:00 am

Ditto what everyone said above! Well done! I would most certainly be up for a completely-from-scratch month 🙂 Change often starts in the mind and heart, as your challenge so beautifully illustrates.

April 21, 2012 at 1:15 am

Well done. We were in the game with you due to necessity, until my hubby cracked and went grocery shopping. We made about 3 weeks too. Isn’t is wonderful to have one’s eyes opened though. I think the biggest lesson for me was the benefit of stockpiling a bit. Also, treats really are treats when we do have them now.
I have loved following your progress. Thank you for sharing.

Penny Hannah
April 21, 2012 at 5:21 am

You’ve all been quite inspirational and I give you 10 out of 10. Even better that your outlook has changed. You’ll be millionaires before you know it!

April 21, 2012 at 6:05 am

Well done Fi and family, I was so impressed and inspired by your progress with this challenge! It’s definitely made me think twice about needing to do a shop every week and inspired me to do a few more things from scratch….and get my veggie seedlings started for the summer! xx

April 21, 2012 at 6:11 am

Congratulations, what a stellar effort! You are so right, the supermarket is not a nice place, and I nearly always leave with more than I intend to, even with a list. We’ve moved house recently, a bit more country, and buying mostly from local farmers and producers and markets. Nice.

April 21, 2012 at 6:36 am

Awesome effort.
I feel guilty for taking the last of your coffee now. Loved it though.
Those geese still have your name on them.

April 21, 2012 at 7:41 am

25 days is an awesome effort. I’ve enjoyed reading about it.

April 21, 2012 at 9:35 am

I think 25 days is amazing. I don’t imagine we’d make anything close. We’ve been working on eating what’s in our house rather than running to the supermarket every day (I just hope armegedon doesn’t hit soon while we have run down all our stockpiles, such as they were), but we’re no where near at your level. Yet.

April 21, 2012 at 9:43 am

Disappointed? I think you did brilliantly, and so deserve a reward!

I would love to be at the point of being like Ma & Pa Ingalls in The Little House on the Praire, just buying cornmeal, flour, bit of unrefined sugar etc. and everything else is grown, or raised, or hunted, or bartered for. However, currently I live in the real world, and it involves supermarkets, and processed food, and even treats.

I think it is great you have options nearby, like for dairy, because that would be our downfall very quickly! What was it that made your friend come unstuck after a week, if she doesn’t mind you saying?

April 21, 2012 at 11:22 am

Totally impressed!!

April 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm

You are amazing. Truly. As some of the other commenters have said, you’ve inspired me to dig around (and hence clean out!) my pantry. And to realise that, hey, I don’t actually need to go to the shops today. Thank you for that. I didn’t think you’d last too long on this challenge but you sure did. Well done. x

April 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Brilliant is all I can say. Total inspiration. I live about 1 1/2 hours form you down south, which is a shame cause I’d love to do some bartering. It’s such a wonderful way to share your surplus. I’m loving your blog and your recipes and have really enjoyed reading about your challenge. You and your lovely family must be so chuffed and not to mention those extra pennies you now have in the bank.
Blessings Gail

April 21, 2012 at 4:22 pm

25 days is fantastic. Just think what you could do with a vegetable garden!

I’d be up for a ‘from scratch’ month (does that mean I have to grow my coffee or can I get away with grinding whole beans?! A month on lemon balm tea would be a struggle…) but not sure if I could persuade DH.

Anyway, well done you!

Inner Pickle
April 21, 2012 at 5:55 pm

me either! We, however, have NINETY planted and still didn’t have a crop… we are planting another 300 this November and you know where we are….

April 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Not, but thanks 🙂

April 21, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Holding you to that my dear!!

April 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I’d settle with solvent xx

April 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Your roosters and salad extended our progress!! Am into those geese though. Fences, stat. xx

April 21, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Thanks Dixiebelle 🙂 She doesn’t bake!! If you’re a gluten-eater, you kinda have to, right? xx

April 21, 2012 at 6:06 pm

If you even suspect you can do it, you’re in! We’re going to have to think about the coffee (for ALL of us!). And thanks, Hazel xx

lily boot
April 21, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I think you did marvellously! Every night that I checked in I was in awe at what you were achieving. And you’re so right – once you start avoiding the supermarket you really do find that you need it less and less. I would swoon over dairy fresh milk – I have to “make do” with super scrummy organic milk from our green grocer. But one day. btw, I bought a cup of tea at uni the other day and watched the girl pour in my requested generous slurp of milk – Pura – 16% permeate. Just that morning I’d read that permeate looks like greeny-yellow slime. Just one mouthful of tea was enough – even though it didn’t REALLY taste any different to the many other cups I’ve bought at uni, all of a sudden, all I could think of was greeny yellow slime – ugh! Oh – and inspired by you I’ve got my sourdough baby brewing on the windowsill – all that talk of freshly baked sourdough was too much 🙂

April 21, 2012 at 7:44 pm

You did really well. I couldn’t do it. It’s been fascinating to see what you bartered and received from friends. Thank you,


international business school
April 21, 2012 at 7:48 pm

I read your post its really very nice. Thank you for this post. In this post all kids pictures are very cute and nice.

Linda Cockburn
April 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Double thumbs up! You’re the new kind of pioneer Inner Pickle.
I have this short list of staples that if you needed to you could get away with being the only things you buy from the supermarket, oil, flour, sugar, salt (unless you wanted to evaporate sea salt yourself), dried beans, chick peas, and rice. From home it’s chook meat and eggs, a goat for milk, cheese, the rest in veggies and home grown fruit.

Not sure how long it would take for the novelty to wear off and for us all to gasp at the thought of all those emporiums of tastebud titilating treasures. But I’d like to think we could survive.

April 21, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Well done on making it to 25 days!!!!

I shop at the supermarket once a month for 8 people, we don’t eat wheat and have cut out sugar. I buy fruit and veg once or twice a week. We have a pig in the freezer from the neighbour and often get milk there too. We have chooks and a vege garden- I would like to do more and you have challenged me to think about ways I can do this.

April 21, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Hi I have gone a month without visiting the supermarket. But I dont buy everything at the supermarket. We rely on Farmers Direct for milk, bread and a fruit and veggie box once a week, and many other things i make from scratch. Like some of your deliciuos slices! and muffins and always dinner is from scratch. I buy most of our meat at the butcher at the market, and fish too. So really the supermarket…..I can leave it for quite a while. Would like to do more so though and reading your blog has inspired me!

April 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm

So well done!! I’m incredibly impressed with your ingenuity and perseverence! And you’re right in the fact that we could shop for staples less often and just keep stocked up and only seek out the fresh things we need.

I think it’s good to find ways that work for your situation. There are ways around some of the more urban natured difficulties. Keep an extra in the cupboard, have some UHT on hand. Swap babysitting with someone who grows stuff if you don’t/can’t. I wish I had time to grow stuff but for the next 2.5 years I need to be out of that game in.

I need to get to Costco so I can stock up!!!!!

April 22, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Ness here…I was the one that piked out after a week…ashamed to say…even the week was easy cause I started a few days after Fi and I stockpiled automatically just thinking about it (not knowing she was going to GAME ON me so quickly) but I will do it, that was just my one “not now” pass (she got one too) it was just a really stressful time for me. So one day, in the next year, Fi will call me with GAME ON and living in the city, we’ll see how I go. xx

April 22, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Fi, you really are an inspiration! You’re amazing. 25 days is about 18 days more than Cranston said would be a fair challenge xxxxx

April 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm

So impressed by your creativity and ingenuity during this challenge. Between yourself and Rhonda at Down to Earth, I have been rethinking so many of our purchases and how we can lower our grocery bill. You are both such wonderful inspirations for me. I’m up for the challenge of making everything from scratch for a month, as this is something I have been focusing on recently. (Might have to try talking my husband into homemade bread though. He prefers his sliced multi-grain for breakfast toast.)

April 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Not disappointed one bit. I am very impressed that you managed to hold out for so long. This challenge has been such an inspiration for me and has definitely made me more mindful of the way we shop 🙂
Thanks for sharing your journey with us 🙂

April 24, 2012 at 3:42 am

I mirror everyone else’s comments. You are a true inspiration! My hat’s off to you, you brave brave soul. 🙂 I love the idea of making a list of acceptable items to purchase from the grocery store (bulk food items like flour, sugar, nuts, beans, rice, etc.) and either making, bartering, or buying from local farmers for everything else. It will be difficult to give up apples (they just don’t grow well around here), but I know of a very full and ripe Mulberry tree aroudn the corner that I may be visiting soon.

April 24, 2012 at 9:50 am

Congratulations on lasting as long as you did, I really enjoyed reading about it. It is amazing the amount of times you can look in the cupboard and think there is nothing to eat, when really, there are plenty of options there if you just use a little bit of ingenuity. Well done!

printed pencils
April 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Thanks for sharing your travel feeling with us. I like your all image so much. Also family plays vital role in every person’s life. You have done great work.

April 28, 2012 at 9:04 am

I think it is marvellous that you both were willing to do it at all! It is something that runs through my head at times, but we’ve never actually physically attempted to rely on our stockpile/ garden/ wits.


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