No Shopping January... make do and mend year 2018

At the top of the new year, I mentioned working/journalling with this free workbook, A Make Do and Mend Year Sustainable Planner--for setting monthly goals for sustainable living--from My Make Do and Mend Life. Each month offers a topic of focus for living in more sustainable ways. 

The topic for January is Making Do: use it up, wear it out, make it do... or do without

With make do and mend in mind, for January our big focus is NO SHOPPING. Food and absolute essentials only. And even then, really asking, what is a necessity?

Apart from TJ very much needing new winter shoes, and Luna needing a new sack of her dry food...only food has been bought. And I'm "shopping" our freezer and pantry cupboard, using what we have stored already as much as possible.

Pantry and Stockpile... Around Christmas/New Year we refreshed our pantry and food stockpile for winter. For our stockpile, usually I try to aim for having at least-- 

* 4 x cans of chopped tomatoes
* 4 x cans of beans
* 4 x cans of tomato beans (to make my own baked beans)
* 4 x cans of vegetables
* 4 x cans of tuna, or other fish
* Jam --we love jam, so homemade or quality ready-made jam is always around
* Stock concentrate --a couple of bottles of liquid stock concentrate around for making    soup, stews, etc., if there isn't homemade stock in the freezer.
* Pasta --sometimes we get to buy this in bulk bags, and nice to have two types on hand    for variation
* Rice --we buy in a bulk bag
* Flours & yeast --always on hand to bake bread
* Eggs --we love eggs, and always have some in the fridge.

Why we stockpile... 
* If one of us is sick --we have easy food to prepare...
* If we need to economize --we shop the pantry cupboard first...
* If the weather is bad, on a weekend say,  --we have food...

We have a small stockpile which we shop for, maintain, and rotate on a regular basis. While it's not a big stockpile, it works for us and situations we encounter, and the space we have for storage. I try to be sure we have a week's worth of food in canned or dry form, supplementing with what we have frozen. It's food we like to eat, can easily use to create simple, healthy meals, and that will often yield some leftovers. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of stockpiling, I can recommend this article, Building a Basic Stockpile from Little House Living

I cook from scratch every week. Eating out or getting a take-away is expensive here in Norway, so that is something we save mostly for special occasions, or while out & about, if necessary. Preparing meals at home is healthier, most of the time it is more tasty and interesting, as well as saves money. Very often I make food in bulk to freeze--soups, stews, sauces, casseroles. We shop weekly for fresh food. I create a weekly menu, and we plan and shop from that menu... trying not to deviate from the list. I only plan a week's worth of meals at a time. Sometimes around holidays I may plan for two weeks. A lot depends on schedules, appointments, activities, church, etc. I like to leave room for flexibility, if needed, because life happens!

We restocked on candles for winter too, as we used a good many during Christmas. The extra glow is so cheery these days... (Candles help me survive winter --but is that a necessity? ;

Along with "shopping" our pantry and kitchen, I'm "shopping" my craft stash. No craft purchases this month, or for a while. And, actually, with my little cupboard full of yarn, I don't need much or anything new. (The yarn in the middle drawer are skeins for completing my Ocean Ripple crochet blanket--which has been on the hook for a long while, and I'm still working on it...*sigh*...)

While aiming to spend less this month, that includes extras or entertainments. We have a nice collection of board games we like to play. Winter is especially nice for a cozy evening at home, drinking hot chocolate, and playing games! And that doesn't cost much! ;) 

We use the library a LOT all the time, but even more when going through a period of economy. Books, music, films we borrow frequently--and for free. Being book lovers, we have reading at home. Over the years we've whittled down our collection of books to very favorites... and it's nice to revisit old favorites. These are some of our books, and we have some in other parts of the house too. 

This coming weekend we have a day trip to Oslo to meet friends, so fun day in the big city! Hopefully the cost of the fun day won't cancel out all the good we're trying to do this month... But... so far so good for January...

* NO SHOPPING --food and absolute essentials only ...what is essential?  --completely     skipped the January sales, avoiding shopping centers, etc.

* Continue weekly meal planning with focus on shopping what's in the freezer,        pantry cupboard and stockpile

* No yarn or other craft purchases --use stash, take inventory of stash, mend clothes, etc.

* If it's broken, fix it --or, do we even need it?

* Free entertainments and treats at home --use library, games at home, walks, look   for free events, etc. 

Are you going through a period of economy at the moment, like so many often do/need to during January? Do you have any tips or ideas to share? Do you have a special project or focus for this month, or for the year? 

UPDATE: January 31, 2018  Well, the no shopping went OK for most the month for us. At the end of the month, I did take advantage of the last of the January sales and bought a pair of ski trousers and super-woolen underwear for winter walks and being outdoors. It has been a really cold winter, and I've been bothered by the cold when out & about, and needed something extra to keep warm. Also, while visiting with friends in Oslo, while at the Norsk Folkemuseum I purchased a special needle made of bone to learn old technique of nÃ¥lebinding, a way of creating a fabric with yarn that predates both crochet and knitting. And this sweet set of sewing needles. My Mom had a set exactly like this a long time ago! I went all wobbly with nostalgia and just had to have the needle set. :/ So very practical, useful things...but did break the shopping rule. We will have to revive the No Shopping another month, maybe most months we need this challenge! 


  1. Three cheers, Tracy! You have done well so far! I'm not quite as stringent here -- it wasn't really a concerted effort but it's after Christmas and taxes are due in February so I'm trying to be reasonable. The only post-Christmas sale shopping I did was for gifts for those where we celebrate after the holidays and apart from a few Valentine supplies I needed (and two smaller bins for ornament storage) I've stayed clear of Michael's too. We've been eating in and more or less working down the pantry. I agree, healthier, less expensive and often better food, though going out is fun. We're headed to Canada later this week, though, and that will include entertainment, probably dining out and maybe a bit of shopping. And I'm OK with that -- it's special.

    Keep at it -- you're going great guns! (Oh, by the way, word on the street is that our President wants people from Norway to emigrate and come to the U.S. You'll be welcome anytime by me!)

  2. Your January of trimming back a little sounds VERY good, Jeanie! It's not easy skipping the January sales, especially for the craft stores. ;) We love to eat out and experience differrent cuisines, etc., but it's just too expensive to do here on any regular basis--at least for our budget anyway. I miss a good, cheap diner sometimes! Oh, yes, the visit from our Prime Minister Erna Solberg with 45 last week went really well... and it's very good to know we're welcome there by many! ;)

  3. I like that you do a review to see what worked and what you'd do differently. And it was very interesting to see how you implement your goals for January. After every major purge, the mindset of not buying things is very prevalent, pretty much year 'round. Roomie has taught me to think in terms of storage -- yes, we can afford X, but where would we keep it? Our place isn't tiny, but we don't want to cram every available space.

    1. Hi, Anne! It will be fun each month with this project to see what has worked, or what hasn't and make notes. Like you, we question our purchases, and question where they might be stored. We live in an old house with very few closets, so storage has to be creative sometimes!

  4. lol! took me back.
    made me recall my little New England Gram. she taught me that saying when I was only three years old. I recited it like the nursery rhymes she also taught me.
    " use it up. wear it out. make it do ... or do without! " I didn't even understand it then I'm sure.
    but it has held me in good stead all the years of my life.
    and another... if you buy quality it will last longer and will pay for itself in the end!
    this is a very inspiring post. :) XO♥

    1. It is a bit like a nursery rhyme, isn' it?! Easy to remember! And it all holds up very well today. In our highly consumeristic use-and-throw-away society, we need to get back to basics like make do and mend. :)

  5. Way to go Tracy! I have been continuing on my course of downsizing/getting rid, this month and so far so good. It is making a huge difference in my mood/mind. I have done very little in the way of grocery shopping, only getting in fresh items, and making use of what is in our storecupboard and freezer. I am really aiming for a much simpler life all round. Love all that you share. You are a treasure. Love you to bits. Love, hugs and blessings to you, TJ, and Luna! xoxo PS - love the sweet glimpse of your home.

    1. VERY well done on your January goals too, Marie! I'm all for downsizing and simplicity. We often need less than we think. ;) ((HUGS))

  6. Good for you! I use to be better with this then I am these days, but definitely trying to be better this month. I think you have a better grasp of it and can be very proud of yourselves.

    1. Oh, I don't know, Marilyn... as with most things, there's always room for improvement! Something I wish we could save more on, is food. It just feels like it costs so much to eat. :/

  7. Way to go girl! I really love that you are doing the no shopping January. That is such a good idea. I do think we have about a month of food on hand without having to shop, but we have never tried it.
    I love the saying-use it up, wear it out, make it do... or do without. I know that I could do better in this area. We are a wasteful people at times and shame on us. I need to really go through my stuff and actually give away a lot of things to those that can use them.
    I liked your pantry list; it's a good one. I really need to re-organize ours and make sure I don't have expired products.
    We do cook from scratch but we don't cook like we used to. We eat very simple.
    We do have a huge library of books. We both loved to read. We read a lot until we did our 2 year mission and then we read but not novels and other books as much. I will have to take a photo or two of our bookcases to show you sometime.
    We have our daughter and her family living with us for a while so that limits our time on somethings.
    In our church we are advised to have 72 hour kits of food and clothes incase we had to leave in an emergency. We were in a ice storm and a fire storm in Washington and that was a valuable thing to have. Also, we are encouraged to have a year supply of food; so we do have long term storage.
    We try to have about 3 months of food on hand but right now we probably only have aobut a month.
    Sending you warm thoughts and hugs for the rest of your week! Love you dear sister in Christ.

    1. WOW... a month's worth of food stocked! That is amazing, LeAnn. I know how Mormon's have a great focus on preparedness--I really admire that! Your stockpile is a true treasure...especially given storm and fire experiences you had. That must have been hard! How do you store a year's worth of food, though? Of course it's in dry forms, but wow... I wonder where/how we could do such storage. I should look into that more. Thank you for sharing so much! ((HUGS))

  8. Of course, traveling makes it harder to cook for ourselves. Now that we are home, I can concentrate on restocking the larder. My goal is 2-3 weeks of food. I also keep plenty of water for emergencies being from, you know, disaster prone SoCal. Also, I dehydrate fruit and keep that in rotation. We do love our dried apples!

    1. Where you live Willow, you definitely need supplies on hand--just in case! :/ mmm...dried apples... Dehydrating food is something I want to try more... I'd to get a food dehydrator!

  9. Great post, Tracy. I’ve just unpicked yarn and started a new knitting project, which I’m excited about, especially as the garment in question was never worn. I’m always meal planning and trying to shop to a budget, though I have to admit that Storm Chips sneaked into the basket at the supermarket - purely in the interest of research... I also have a basket of mending requiring my attention, when I can put my knitting down. Marie x


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