I planned to do a zero waste and no spend year for 2020. I was moving into my own place near Lake Merritt in Oakland and ready start the year fresh with goals I had been taking baby steps on and was now ready to fully submerge myself into.
Like all well laid plans and new years resolutions that year there was a bit of a disruption to most people’s plans when the pandemic hit and we went into quarantine. I tried to stick to my goals but the first few months was such mental gymnastics that I decided to focus on less lofty goals and just focus on my mental and physical health until I could concentrate on how much waste I was producing with a clear head.
Despite the fact that the media was reporting a few weeks of quarantine, I knew immediately in my gut that it would go much longer than that. While I still knew very little about the nature of the issue at hand, it was just that gut instinct that told me I needed to focus on my mental health and emotional wellness and prepare to be in quarantine until the end of the year.
Of course we ended up with more than my instinct could’ve bargained on by the end of 2020, and here we are about to enter the last quarter of the year of 2021 and I’m just attempting to consider some of these former goals. I’ve been steadily chipping away but I’m ready to go all in again.
In order to organize myself, I wanted to put some focus on the area where I notoriously break my budget. I am still nuancing the numbers between groceries and take out to create a budget that is realistic but still frugal enough that I can put that “extra” money towards savings and investments.
Before you judge me for being too harsh on myself I’d like to point out that this is exactly how I finally became consumer debt free in August 2020. I find frugality challenges to be fun and healthy and I don’t deprive myself. I always make sure to budget for fun and flexibility. A budget isn’t a punishment and.in fact, it gives you way more financial freedom than life without a budget which only results in endless debt. Debt is the real prison. Let that ish go. Becoming debt free is liberating AF and 100% worth the sacrifice, speaking from experience.
In addition to controlling finances, I also want to have zero food waste in my kitchen. Currently I compost and am pretty good at doing “pantry challenges” when things are getting close to expiration, but I still have let some food rot by not being mindful and intentional of all of my purchases.
The other perk to using this staple grocery list as my guide is that I have found that I was getting burnt out on trying new recipes all of the time, and instead have been leaning into creating mouth watering versions of my favorite recipes. For example, I started making overnight oats last year and fell in love with this easy, quick, and healthy recipe. I tweaked and perfected it for a year and a half and now it is so incredibly easy and delicious, and works great for breakfast and for snacks. I want all of my main recipes to be that yummy that I would desire it for any meal any time.
SO for the categories – the ones that are a general category, like “fruit”, can be rotated as long as I have 1 in inventory at any given time, like “strawberries”. If it is shown as a specific food, like avocado, then it means I must have avocado at all times and can not be subbed for any other food in it’s category. Yea, I have a few obsessions, avo being one of them! A slash means “or” at time of purchase, but if I already have one and I am still within my budget for the month, then I can purchase the other on my weekly shopping. For example, Stubbs BBQ lasts me a while since I only make BBQ Tofu occasionally, so that doesn’t prevent me from gettings Salsa on my next shopping trip.
Surprise! Turns out I can not pick only 5 vegetables and have double that on my rotation. What are rules for other than to be broken! The good news is these never go to waste. I am obsessed with all 10 of these foods. Plus I am just not going to skimp on the most important food group. Fiber, micronutrients, macronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals – all inclusive, what’s not to love? I’ll take this category in abundance thank you very much!
While most of these are year round staples for me, there are a few wild cards on there that are seasonal so I’ve focused on preparing for the upcoming fall and winter season for those types of warming seasonal foods. Perhaps I’ll update this going into next spring and summer where something like watermelon tends to be a staple for me in the summer season as opposed to root veggies and pumpkin everything.
What do you think? Are there any items on this list that you think are gross, excessive, or downright must haves for your list? What are your die hard staples that you can’t live without?