Banish Kitchen Waste: How to Rotate Pantry Items & A Peek at My Bulk Shopping Trip

I haven’t posted a weekly grocery update in a while because I’ve been relying heavily on my pantry. To maintain a well stocked kitchen (that saves you a lot of money) you have to rotate items and minimize waste wherever you can.

My last regular weekly shopping trip was on December 18th! After that I wrote a post about going on a Post Holiday Detox Adventure, which is basically where I try to compensate for holiday eating and spending by buying almost nothing and using up my pantry and freezer items starting with the oldest things. This not only saves a lot of money in the short term it also forces me to get creative and use what I have.

My go-to clean out the pantry meals are: 

Soups & Stews
Rice + Anything

Soup, casseroles, and rice based meals are perfect for clearing out your kitchen because you can use tiny or odd amounts of lots of different things.

Since I have a pretty diverse pantry I’m able to make meals for a long time (over a month this time) without any real shopping. After four weeks my pantry was pretty bare. My freezer stock was diminished by about 50%, and I eventually began to run out of basic dry goods like flour and salt.

So, today we went bulk shopping to restock! 

A small sampling of what we purchased: flour, white sugar, brown sugar, coffee, salt, frozen shrimp, canned clams, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, tomato sauce, evaporated milk, sweet corn, diced tomatoes, maple syrup, crackers, cashews, sliced almonds, mozzarella, gouda, jarlsberg, steak, leg of lamb, BUTTER, white vinegar (great for cleaning), and a bunch of other stuff.

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I know that purchasing food in this quantity seems silly to some people, but you know what’s not silly? Saving literally thousands of dollars a year!

My basic pantry rotation plan is so easy anyone can follow it: 

  1. Bulk shop and fill the pantry.
  2. For the first month after bulk shopping maintain an ultra low weekly grocery budget. I shoot for under $15 a week.
  3. The second month after bulk shopping I convert to a high-low system where one week I spend a little more and the following week I spend a little less. I never spend more than $50 a week for 2 adults in NYC and many weeks I spend as little as $20. This system allows for maximum flexibility and some luxury!
  4. I continue the high-low week system for about 2 more months (so 3 months total).
  5. Usually, about 4 months after my last bulk trip I feel like I’m running low on things, but what’s really happening is that I’m running out of our favorite things, so that’s when I start my pantry/freezer purge. During my purge month I avoid buying pretty much anything except fresh produce and eggs.  I used to plan 4 annual Costco trips but I find I’m stretching the time between bulk trips farther and farther each year.

That brings you to today! I completed my one month pantry and freezer purge, and today I went to Costco for a giant bulk trip. Keep in mind that we have a two person family and a tiny apartment. People with larger or smaller pantries or families will have a very different timeline, however, I still think my general pattern will work.

Check out my Weekly Grocery Update if you want! I’ll be posting next Thursday to show you my pantry rotation plan in action.







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