Day 1: working with what you already have

Okay, so I’m kind of cheating on day 1 because we already had a few things in the house to get us through brekkie and lunch. However, I think one of the most important steps in staying on budget and creating less waste is assessing what you already have.

We don’t have much, but here is a stock of what we do have to us in the pantry:

  • One jar gluten-free oats
  • tea & coffee
  • one can coconut milk
  • popcorn kernels
  • half-loaf regular sandwich bread (Charlie’s)
  • cacao powder
  • 1/2 bag tiger nut flour
  • cornstarch
  • gf veg gravy mix
  • gf veg stock cubes
  • a bit of maple syrup
  • seasoning (cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, paprika, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla extract, S & P)
  • 1/2 bag ground chia seed mix
  • 1/2 bottle olive oil
  • 1 bottle balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bottle Gluten-free tamari
  • marmite (Charlie’s)
  • 1/2 small bag basmati rice
  • 1/2 bulb garlic
  • 1/2 jar peanut butter
  • we both have our own protein powders


  • one unopened container tofu
  • one litre almond milk
  • left-over veggie curry from last night’s dinner
  • handful of greens
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • broccoli
  • a few clementines
  • one banana
  • ketchup
  • tomato paste
  • dairy-free butter

When you actually write it all down, it seems like a lot more than you thought.

Breakfast: we had porridge (like we do every day) with smashed banana, cinnamon, ground chia seeds, and almond milk. £0  (All ingredients we already had on hand).

Snacks: I snack on the clementines, Charlie has a protein shake £0 

Lunch:  We had the leftover curry with a bit of rice, £0 (also already on hand).

Dinner: I had a pretty strong craving for one of my favourite winter meals, chilli. It’s so easy to make, you can throw in whatever you like, it’s warming, filling, lasts for days, and easy to make gluten-free and vegan.

This is the only meal I had to shop for today.  I went prepared with a list and all my bags to make sure I wouldn’t have to take any single-use bags.


My shopping list:

  • 1 tin black beans
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 tin sweet corn
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin plum tomatoes
  • avocado
  • red onions
  • red pepper
  • 1 lime
  • 1 red chilli 
  • 1 plantain
  • red cabbage



I spent a total of £7,48. All but the last three items were found plastic-free at my local Morissons. I had to go to a small neighbourhood grocer, who sells most of their fruit and veg unpackaged for the last three. It was a slightly more expensive meal, mainly because I didn’t have any of the ingredients I needed. However, even after Charlie and I both had seconds, there were enough leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch and then some. I also didn’t use the entire red cabbage or all the red onions for this meal alone, so it is still low-cost.

I could’ve bought fewer ingredients and made it cheaper, but I think for this challenge to be sustainable, I need to still be creating meals that I find yummy and interesting. If I make two-ingredient meals three times a day, after a week I’m going to be so bored and resent the whole thing. It’s all about a balance.

After dinner, I popped into our local co-op to grab two cartons of almond milk (they’re on sale) and two bananas for the morning. £2.31

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