Financial focus month week 1: Shelf Cooking

It’s the New Year. It’s a little bit chilly. It’s a little bit hungover, and the festivity has been replaced with the dread of the work week starting again tomorrow.

But it’s not all bad. Actually, quite the opposite. January is a great month to forget about the mistakes and financial failures of the past year and to start afresh. Throughout the month of January I am going to walk you through the key tools and tactics I use across the year to straighten out, maintain and keep my financial life from falling apart.

Over the next 4 weeks I will walk you through:

  • Your money audit
  • No spend week
  • Planning to win at retirement
  • Budgeting for the whole year

This week we are starting easy – with shelf cooking. If you have never heard the term before, it’s simply cooking with stuff you already have in your house instead of going out shopping. One of my favourite YouTubers and bloggers, Jordan Page from does a whole month of shelf-cooking and she got this term into the Urban Dictionary, no jokes! For me a whole month is a bit extreme, so let’s go with just one week and see if it is achievable. Baby steps, you know.

I am getting ready to get inventive with food and on completing stock audit I have:

  • A ton of canned and frozen vegetables including corn, a variety of beans and pulses and chopped tomatoes
  • Plenty of canned tuna (I hoard it apparently) and half a can of Anchovies in oil
  • 7 eggs
  • A good amount of frozen pork and prawns, as well as some frozen breakfast sausage
  • Rice, pasta, cuscus and quinoa
  • Flour (and yeast, let’s bake bread!)
  • Nuts
  • A mountain of cheeses
  • A variety of slightly limp, Christmas appropriate fresh vegetables
  • Sauces including sweet chilli, mayo, ketchup, soy sauce and few others
  • 3 lemons
  • Half a jar of olives

Surely we can survive on this for A WEEK.

I am, shockingly, not giving myself a budget to get more fresh fruit, milk etc. this is because I have some fruit AND I don’t take milk. If I did, I’d shamelessly have cereal at work instead of at home – my office provides milk, fruit and hot beverages, including Starbucks coffee. Spoilt me, I don’t drink coffee.

Blessed with a more than decent stash of food I am going to throw the following meals together, some of which might be a little funky, others missing a less-important ingredient or two. And I am going to repeat meals. Use this list as an inspiration:

Meal/Day 2nd Jan 3rd Jan 4th Jan 5th Jan 6th Jan 7th Jan 8th Jan
Breakfast Devilled eggs (x2) Roasted veg hash Last night’s stir-fry Devilled eggs (x2) Quinoa salad and breakfast sausage Crepe Suzette Crepe Suzette
Lunch Whatever holiday leftovers need eating first* Tuna mayo and sweetcorn sandwich Pasta puttanesca Pork chops with mustard sauce and quinoa salad Tuna mayo and sweetcorn sandwich Cheesy pasta with (from frozen) veg Tuna and beans salad
Dinner Pasta puttanesca (without capers, none in the house) Veg and rice stir-fry Pork chops with mustard sauce and quinoa salad Tuna and beans salad Cheesy pasta with (from frozen) veg Fried prawns and canned beans salad Fried prawns and canned beans salad
Snack A handful of nuts Carrot sticks An apple (at work) Cheese and bread Nothing Nothing A banana (at work)

*not kidding, we cooked too much food.

The internet is full of beautiful recipes, so I liked some (not sponsored, not affiliated). They are all super simple and even for a person who cannot cook, throwing few ingredients together like in the above should not pose much of a challenge.

Importantly, I am not doing any fine dining while in a shelf cooking week, but I am not eating scraps either. For me it’s more about eating up what’s in the house and making space for fresh supplies in the pantry. BUT I decline to eat bland food, so spices and herbs are used generously even in very simple, throw-together dishes. Just doing that saves around £30 in my budget – seemingly little, but that’s £30 which I get to keep. And after the indulgence of holiday season, many people are in a situation where every single penny counts.

Next week I will be auditing how much money there actually is in my various accounts at the start of this year. I will walk you through how I audit my accounts, review my net worth and project for the year ahead.

Watch out for a bonus post tomorrow here and on YouTube – my 2019 budget!

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