Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Eat From the Pantry Challenge--Shopping Freeze!


Note that this is NOT a picture of my pantry....a girl can dream, right? ;)

Yesterday on the facebook page I mentioned that I was doing some freezer and pantry inventory and planning on doing a challenge.  This challenge basically is a commitment to using the products I already have at home, on hand from my freezer or pantry, and doing little to no shopping.  Several of you showed some interest in joining up with me as we take on this challenge so I thought I’d get us started!

To start, let’s talk basics.  If you’re a relatively serious couponer like me, then you probably have a pretty good stockpile of essentials--several boxes of cereal, canned vegetables, spaghetti sauce, etc.   The very first thing you need to do to get ready for the challenge is to take inventory of all of your freezer and pantry items….I know, I know—not fun!  But, you’ll feel so much better once you have it all organized and know what you have!

Now, I don’t have a big, roomy, beautiful pantry like the one at the top of this post.  Rather, I just have 3 kitchen cabinets that I use as the pantry.  Because my storage area is so small, it’s very important that I keep it organized and clean (which is not always the case).  Even though it was mostly organized, some of the items still tend to get buried at the back of the cabinets, so I had to take everything out!  I started by writing all of my pantry items down on a sheet of paper making sure to write down the amount I had of that item as well….For example, I had 15 jars of spaghetti sauce and 31 boxes of cereal! Woah!

Here are some pictures of my organized pantry (cabinets)...and yes, ALL my food is stored here.  I don't keep cereal boxes under my kid's beds!  HaHa!





Next, I took on the freezers.  We have the side-by-side freezer on our refrigerator inside the house, and then we also have a small chest freezer out in the garage.  I went through both of them writing down the items and quantities as well.  I found so much meat that I had pretty much totally forgotten about!

Once I had my inventory list, I sat down at the computer and broke it into categories:

·        Breakfast
·        Lunch
·        Snacks
·        Dinner
·        Drinks
·        Meats

Then, from my categories I planned my menu.   I was able to come up with 34 separate supper meals!  Which, if it was broken down, it would be even more meals than that because some of the meals on the menu I have enough items to repeat them several times!

Now, I’m not trying to pretend that this is not time consuming, because it is.  It took me probably about 4 hours to do all of the above!  But, now I have a menu with over a month’s worth (maybe two month’s worth) of food that will come directly from our stockpile!  That means almost NO shopping--which also means saving money!

As I’ve talked about on the blog before, we use the cash method of budgeting for each week.  I keep $75 cash to pay for anything that I do while I’m out and about (other than gas).  That means grocery shopping, stops for drinks, post office, etc.  Once I’ve used up that money then I can’t shop anymore until the next week.

My husband and I will be celebrating our anniversary at the end of this month, so I’m hoping to save most of my weekly cash budget (for the whole month) for spending money on our trip!  We ended up having some unforeseen expenses this month with plumbing issues and some other stuff.  And because we refuse to use credit cards, we need to save up a little to be able to feel okay about spending something a little extra on the trip. 

Now, I know we’ll still have to stop and get fresh items such as milk, cheese, fruits & veggies, and bread, but with most of our ingredients already being in the house our expenses should be much lower for the month!

So, here’s my plan.  I plan to post any shopping trip that I have to make to pick up groceries and keep a record of my spending for you all to keep up with….much like I did on my last shopping freeze.  I can also post a few of my pantry recipes if there is any interest.  Let me know if you’d like to read more on my menu plans, and if you’d like to join me in the challenge please comment below with what your individual game plan is!





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