Why My “Pantry Shop” Week Went Wrong

pantry shop meal plan

Welp. I’m not even sure why I’m using virtual space to say something so readily apparent, but… I didn’t post a weekly meal prep with my grocery spend last week. You know this. You can see my blog. But for once it wasn’t because I’ve let go of my goals – at least, not fully. It’s because last week, I didn’t really buy groceries. I made the decision to try out a “pantry shop” meal plan for the week. And how did it go? 

Um. Medium.

What Is a Pantry Shop Meal Plan?

Fantastic question! It’s nothing revolutionary, nothing of my creation – you can google it and lots of very well thought out resources come up, like this post from Meal Plan Addict. A Pantry Shop meal plan is about looking through what you already have and optimizing your meal plan to use it up.

Yeah, it’s a little bit of what I’ve been doing every week when I plan out my meals. It’s a fantastic way to make sure you are getting the most out of your grocery budget, especially right now when the cost of everything is truly mind boggling. But last week, I made the decision to only use things I already had.

Only Things You Already Had?

Ouch. I feel called out. Okay, yes, I did pick up some eggs and some green onions to supplement the week. Pretty harmless, but still a little bit of a shop.

This Sounds Great. Why Did It Go Medium?

Honestly, everything that didn’t go great was specifically related to me, my personality, and my tendencies. 

I made the mistake of not planning. I knew I had tons of meals in the freezer that I wanted to work my way through – if y’all have been reading this month, you know I’ve been throwing the stuff I wasn’t going to finish into the freezer for way too long. So I would take a container or two out of the freezer each night for the next day. Maybe the pumpkin mac and cheese from Week 1, maybe some chicken curry and rice that the guy sent me home with, maybe some soup from December. This part was not the problem.

The problem was the few nights where I thought “I’m going to cook something fresh”. I had some veggies leftover from the Buffet Prep week. It seemed reasonable. But I didn’t actually make any decisions ahead of time about what I was going to make for those cooking nights and that just does not work for me. I either ate ramen (y’all, I had ramen twice) or I had meals that were ultimately unsatisfying and I ended up snacking afterwards. 

I’m leaving this week a little bit bloated, a little bit anxious, but with a lesson learned at least. I have to meal plan for my week ahead. I can’t be healthy, physically or mentally, if I don’t put this work in ahead of time. I can leave room for flexibility – nights where I might go out or I might pull a single meal out of my freezer stash – but I can’t be flexible all week. And I can’t rely on a freezer stash for a full week, it has to be a one-off supplement.

Oof, That Makes Sense. At Least You Saved Money?

You’d think that, wouldn’t you?

It turns out no. And this is something else I need to interrogate about my thought patterns. 

Turns out, if I don’t spend money on groceries, I think I can transfer that money to a different part of my budget. Which is accurate. But then, using that justification, I truly go wild. I’m spending all over the place thinking “this is okay, I didn’t buy groceries”!

It all comes back to the word of the year  – I need to be more intentional. So, while I’m not necessarily proud of the past week, I do feel like I’ve learned a ton. And every day is a new day to make different decisions, so let’s get on it!

Put a reminder in your calendar for a new meal plan post next Wednesday. I need to do it for my mental health and I so appreciate y’all letting me use you, my loyal readers, to hold myself accountable.

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