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Results from our April Shopping Ban

Grocery Shopping Ban Results by Very Veganish

Very Veganish Home PantryIn April, I imposed on my household a shopping ban, for many reasons. I want to let you know how it went, but first let’s do a quick review of what I hoped to get out of it and what the rules were.

What I hoped to get out of this shopping ban:

  • Tone my self-control muscle, which should make it stronger for the future
  • Greater contentment and appreciation for everything we have
  • Save $400+
  • Use up some of the food we have stored up
  • Healthier meals – Less eating out means I know what’s going into our meals

Here were the rules…

I will not buy:

  • Groceries, except fresh produce, bread and milk
  • Food at restaurants if I can eat at home or bring food with me
  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Toys (The boys are arguing that these are necessities. I beg to differ.)
  • Household items
  • Stuff we don’t absolutely need

I may buy:

  • Fresh produce (veggies, fruit, herbs)
  • Fresh bread
  • Almond milk
  • Soy creamer for my tea (Very important, guys. I need my tea.)
  • Food at restaurants if I need to eat and haven’t brought food with me
  • Necessities (toilet paper, gasoline, etc.)

How did it go?

Overall, it went really, really well. When I went to the grocery store, I went with intention. The intention to spend as little as possible and only on the things we really needed that were on my list. I thought it was going to be hard (considering my terrible track record) but it was easier than I thought it would be. Plus, my boys did a great job of keeping me honest.

“Uh, do we really need that?”

“That’s not produce.”

“Aren’t you on a shopping ban?!?”

Haha, it was a helpful deterrent. I did veer off course a bit when I went to the store to buy cucumber, avocado and herbs to make sushi and banh mi and realized we were out of soy sauce. But, soy sauce is kinda a staple, right? Right. And, we were out of tofu, too. So, we got soy sauce and tofu, in addition to our produce that day. But, I said no to the spicy noodles and ramune, a Japanese soda the boys love.

The results

Overall, I spent much less on groceries than I do in a typical month. We easily saved the $400 I was shooting for by limiting grocery spending and eating out. I spent $224.12 in groceries during the month of April. For a family of four, that’s $1.87 per person, per day for groceries. That’s a pretty good number to me. What do you think?

When the month was over, I could tell a difference in my tolerance for spending. Within the first week, we needed to get something at Target. Oy. Target – my arch nemesis. I swear it’s physically impossible to leave that store without spending over $100 bucks. And, of course, there were all kinds of things we needed (or “needed”) and we ended up spending way too much. I felt sick to my stomach walking back out to the van.

Clearly, one month isn’t going to cure this tendency.

But, on the bright side, when I go to the grocery store now, it is much easier to only buy what we need. I remind myself that my home is not a storage facility. When I run out of something, I can easily replenish it. I don’t need to buy extras “just in case”. Except for toilet paper, because you don’t want to run out of toilet paper.

Because of the Target experience, we decided to get an Amazon Prime membership in May for the express purpose of me not having to step food inside Target. I know my weaknesses.

You can buy almost anything online. This way, I can order things we need that I would normally buy at Target online and get it shipped, for free. Then, I don’t have to step inside Target and be tempted with all the pretty things. For some reason, I have more buying self-control online than I do in person.

What I got out of the shopping ban:

  • Saved over $400, by limiting grocery spending and eating out
  • Toned my self-control muscle, so now it is easier for me to say no
  • Greater contentment and appreciation for what we have
  • We used up quite a bit of the food we had stored up, but there was still a lot, so we have more work to do
  • We ate healthier meals, because I was cooking most of our food at home

What did you eat all month?

Trying to use up the food we had on hand led to me crafting some creative, but delicious meals throughout the month. I even have a few new favorites! Here are a few of them.

Homemade Vegan Sushi Very Veganish
Homemade Vegan Sushi with Cucumber, Avocado and Carrot
Jamaican Peas and Rice Very Veganish
This is one of my new favorites! Jamaican Peas and Rice with lots of thyme. Recipe coming soon! Next thyme, I will add a scotch bonnet pepper for flavor. My Jamaican friend promises me it won’t get too hot. We’ll see…
Lemon Herb Pasta with Snow Peas Very Veganish
Lemon Herb Pasta with Snow Peas – this is light and fresh and delicious cold, warm or hot.
Oatmeal with sliced bananas and hot tea Very Veganish
Oatmeal with sliced bananas and hot tea was a staple breakfast
Jasmine Rice with Sauteed Ong Choy Very Veganish
Jasmine Rice with Sauteed Ong Choy. This is the first time I’ve made ong choy at home and I loved it.
Vegan Banh Mi Very Veganish
Vegan Banh Mi with Garlic Soy Marinated Tofu
Whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce Very Veganish
Whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce. I had been hesitant to make this brand of pasta, because I hadn’t tried it before but it was delicious and wasn’t gritty like some whole wheat pastas can be.


There were also plenty of homemade beans, roasted potatoes and vegan mac n cheese with my simple FauxVeeta cheese sauce.

All in all, it was a good exercise in self-control, restraint and gratitude, all qualities I plan to continue working on. Not to mention, the practical $ savings and using up some of our pantry items.

Does this sound like something you would like to do? Do you think you would benefit from it? Let me know below in the comments!

Abi Cowell
Abi Cowell is a pasta-slinging food and travel blogger with a cup of tea in one hand and her phone in the other. She believes that making even small changes in what you eat can improve your health and quality of life. Her family of four travel for fun and purpose, homeschooling on the road and love sharing their fun adventures and tips for family travel with you.


  1. Oh I see! Creamer is necessity but toys aren’t?? Your experience is very impressive. It is all about self-control. Many times I’ve thought ‘nothing in the house for dinner!’ But at the same time I’m not feeling like the grocery store. So I open my pantry or freezer and find I so do have the makings of a dinner. Just didn’t bother to look or use my imagination. Nice reminder. Thanks!

    1. Without question, creamer is an absolute necessity. Creamer and pasta. If we had run out of pasta, I would have made an exception for that too, but we are well stocked. 😀

      Yes, I do the same thing! I get into ruts where I make the same things over and over and if we don’t have the ingredients for those meals, then there’s “nothing in the house for dinner”. I find great satisfaction in making a delicious meal out of what we have on hand. I feel like it would be a great skill if I was ever stranded somewhere. 😀

  2. Some of my best recipes are born from necessity. One Friday night, it was a Ben Johnson day – as my mother used to call it -,there was “nothing” to make dinner. Howver, in the pantry were two large tins of albacore tuna. My husband’s favourite curried tuna was created that night. This dish has become one of our favourite dishes. It is so quick and easy to make also.

    1. Yes! Exactly. Some of my best recipes have been born from just putting together what we have on hand, as well. I hope we create a few more favorites as we continue this experiment/practice.

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