minimalizing the leftovers

i once read about a lifestyle choice that i found most intriguing – if i could remember the source, i’d post the link.

the gentleman had a most unique (at least, as an american) approach to purchasing groceries.  he would purchase exactly one week’s worth of groceries.  and he wouldn’t visit the grocery store again until he had eaten everything that he purchased.  that’s it.  there was no waste, everything stayed fresh, and he also had room in the cupboard.

i have often found that lifestyle intriguing and would love to experiment with it sometime.  unfortunately, if i remember the story correctly, he was not married.  i haven’t given it enough thought yet to decide how this applies to a family of four with two small children – having a two-year old plan out a week’s worth of meals doesn’t sound very practical.

i was thinking of this story today because we have been thrilled to have company stay with us the past five days.  every meal was cooked for seven and we refused to serve our company leftovers.  because of that, our fridge is busting at the seams with leftovers and food purchased for the weekend that was never touched.  we literally have leftovers on the menu for our next four meals.  and because of the food in our kitchen today, we will refuse to visit a grocery store for the next week.

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Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. Liz says

    Today I went to the store to pick up the ingredients for a soup I was making. had I read your “left -overs” blog before I left, I would have approached you guys to see if you had anything in your fridge that I could have used. :-)

    Anyway.. while at the store, I was tempted to purchase a totally useless item because there was a sign that said ” save $3 “. (like the clearance rack you mention in one of your blogs). I seriously picked it up and was about to put it in my cart, then said “do I need this? It’s an air freshener that looks like a candle flickering. I have a closet full of candles”. So I put it down and walked away. Had I never had the minimalist discussion with you I’m convinced I would have bought it.

  2. Sunshine says

    We are a family of four who live roughly along the lines of buying small quantities of fresh stuff and eating them before buying anything new. Also of eating left overs and oddities for some meals – my children actually love “a pot luck meal” – some of them are a little odd but nutritionally balanced nonetheless. As we are a family and we sometimes can’t make it to the shops we do have some reserves in the freezer and tins in a store cupboard in the utility room.

  3. says

    My husband and I having been buying food that way for at least a year. We weren’t doing to be minimalist, but because we have a strict budget of $35 a week for food. This month we decided to buy food for the entire month and spend $150 all at once (saving a little for milk later in the month). We discovered that:

    1. we have lots more food and food choices than we did before
    2. the food seems to last longer… we have no idea why
    3. we have more leftovers get thrown out
    4. we aren’t scrounging for food at the end of the week

    We haven’t decided if this is a good or bad change. We are going to try to spend less next month and see if we still have enough and don’t throw out as much. I’ve gotta say, if you live week by week, your fridge and cabinets are practically bare. Not good if company comes over, but you can always take them out. It also helps you buy only exactly what you need for each meal -saving you money.

  4. Catz says

    I do this. I just plan large evening meals, like spag bol, pizza, curry, chicken dinner etc. I know exactly what I want on a week by week basis, and only get those ingredients (if we need them!). We hardly spend money on food shopping any more. It does get frustrating – especially ehen you have snack-cravings and there’s nothing to fill you with sugar!!

  5. di says

    We usually cook a large meal twice a week and eat leftovers for a few days. We also enjoy breakfast for supper, such as pancakes, eggs and toast, french toast, etc.

  6. di says

    We usually eat whole grains, veges and legumes. We may cook everything separately or as a soup. We use leftovers to make soup or hash.

    We don’t use spices or herbs. We flavor dishes with onions or cabbage.

    There’s plenty of variety.

  7. says

    To simplify (and try some new recipes), I ordered a weekly meal plan from It comes with a grocery list, so you only buy what you need for the week and save money because you won’t make impulse purchases or buy extra of anything. (At least, that’s the theory…)

    I’m waiting until I finish my perishables and food from my last grocery trip before I go out and get the groceries for the meal plan, but I’m really excited to try it out! By planning my meals ahead of time, I should save time and money and not waste any produce. I hate throwing out produce that’s gone bad because I couldn’t use it in time! Here’s to less waste and less grocery trips!

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