Shop Once, Eat 270 Times

trying to live sustainably during our time in kenya

Tending our small garden plot in Kenya.

When I tell people I used to live 8 hours from a grocery store and shopped every 8-12 weeks, they usually reflect on how they could NEVER do that. “I wouldn’t know how to plan or what to buy,” they exclaim. I didn’t either, at first. In the beginning, I planned out my menus and bought groceries according to whatever specific recipes I planned to cook.  We did buy things like tea, sugar, flour, margarine, shortening, and a few vegetables in town. And we had chickens, cows, and goats.

Our mama goat with twin kids.

Our mama goat with twin kids.

But I did buy all of our meat and canned goods, pasta, beans, rice, condiments, grains, etc. on these infrequent shopping trips. Enough to to fill 3 to 5 foot lockers and 2 ice chests.

Living in a remote location in rural Africa, there was a lot of cooking going on. Three months = 90 days x 3 meals/day = 270 meals to plan and cook. We had no restaurants to run to for back up; no convenience foods on which to rely. Needless to say, every meal was from home and from scratch. Consequently, I learned how to cook everything from scratch, and how to save time and money doing it. I learned to make my own “convenience” foods by canning, freezing, and doing as much advance prep work as possible. It is my desire to empower others to cook fresh food, from scratch. You can do it!

When you know that there is no other place to get food other than what you have in your own kitchen right now, you begin to make planning a priority. Proper planning doesn’t sound very exciting, but neither is panicking at the last minute when everyone says they’re hungry (and the cook is tired). Having a few key items on hand became an important part of my routine.

In another post I’ll share my standard grocery shopping list that I developed. It will show you all the things I kept in my pantry. Even though I am now in the land-of-plenty USA, I still stick pretty closely to this basic list. I just don’t need to buy as many of each item now that I grocery shop more frequently than 6 times a year!

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