“Eating From the Pantry and Freezer” Month

Pantry with home canned food
Do you ever feel like it's time for a "spring clean" for your pantry and freezer? A couple of times a year, I just start to feel that there's a whole lot of stuff in there and that I'm not maximizing what I already have.

I think I need to clean things out a bit, use up stuff that's gotten buried in the back of the pantry or bottom of the freezer, and save a bit of grocery money in the process. The money that I save will go towards stocking up on a bunch of bulk items that we could really use from Azure Standard (the food coop I like to purchase from), as well as give me the extra money that I need to up my ownership in our raw milk cow share (so that we can get more milk each week- a necessity for our growing kids and my pregnant self!).

During the month of April, I will only be buying:

  • Fresh fruits and veggies (but I will be working hard to use some of what I still have stored away, as far as canning, freezing, winter squash, etc. from last summer and fall)
  • Raw milk from our cow share
  • Cheese (first we'll use the 1 lb we have in the fridge, and then we'll try to keep it very minimal)
  • Eggs (because eggs help to work in a lot of dishes, are just a great protein and nutrient source, and will help me stretch my other stuff further)

Other than that, I've already been digging around, have written a detailed inventory of what I have, and have made a list of meals and snacks to go with that inventory. From that list, I created a meal plan for an entire month (even though I usually only do a week or two at a time). As for shopping, all I plan to do is visit my produce market twice, get a few flats of eggs from my local farmer, and I'll still pick up my weekly raw milk supply. That's it!

Just as soon as I have a moment, I will get my first week's worth of menu planning up, and I will post each new week, along with an update of how it's going and how I feel that we've been eating with such minimal shopping. I wasn't really intending to blog this, but I was inspired as Crystal blogged her recent efforts at eating from their pantry, and thought it might be fun to share what I was doing!

Do you ever do weeks or months like this, where you try to avoid grocery shopping? Does anybody feel like joining in with me for April? Would it be worth it to put up a Mr. Linky or shall I just let you follow along and comment as we go (let me know if you want a Mr. Linky, because if I don't get many responses, I won't do it)?

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. In February I tried to spend as little as possible on groceries and use as much as I could from our pantry and freezer. But there are only two of us, so we still have a lot more that I want to use up before summer comes again. I’m trying again in April to use up what we can from our existing stores. I haven’t done much planning so far, though, since we’ve had TONS of craziness this week, but I’m hoping to get going on it soon.

  2. I finally got back to Menu planning this weekend. I sat down and made a big list of meals, and then transferred those to a calendar, but considered specifically what we already had in the pantry, freezer, etc. It felt great to be on top of this area again…and clearing out our freezer/canned goods! I spend all that time in the summer canning and then forget to use it because of where I have to store it! Out of sight, out of mind.

    On the topic of raw milk…I am going to a new place, (just went this morning actually), but I’ve noticed that the cream has not risen to the top since putting it in the fridge this morning. It’s been about 6 months since I’ve tried the raw milk, (it is out of the way in my errand running loop, so I’ve been avoiding it), and I forget how long it takes for the cream to rise. It also tastes different than my last supplier (better actually). Is it really raw milk?

    Also as a side note…I have been successfully soaking grains! Oats, rice, quinoa, and barley so far (the whole grains). We LOVE barley. I haven’t tried soaking flour yet, but that is on my menu plan for this weekend to try with swedish pancakes…I hope my recipe alteration works or I am going to have a sad husband and daughter Saturday morning;o). I’ll have to read up on your recipes and soaking techniques for flours.

  3. I am glad to see that I am not the only one gearing up to do a “spring cleaning” of the pantry and freezer in April. The money I will be saving will be going to pay off some more debt or in getting me a few more pairs of jeans(only have one pair!).

    I don’t have much in my freezer with meats but I am going to work at stretching what I have and using what I have in my pantry for the next month. It is on my agenda tomorrow to work up an inventory and menu for the rest of the month of April.

    Thanks to you and Crystal for the inspiration.

  4. Great idea! Blessings!

  5. I drink the raw milk while I’m pregnant, too! In fact, it’s the only milk that my lactose-intolerant celiac self can digest. :)

    Blessings,
    Michele

  6. Beth, I’ll post a detailed post about my “stash” and my menu plan later today! :)

    Jen, the way I get my Azure is by having it sent to a US drop point and then picking it up. I am also blessed to have my MIL live in the Seattle area, so I plan my orders around visits to and from her, which makes it easy. But when I need to pick it up, I use a drop point near the border. They will ship to Canada, but of course, the shipping is more pricey.

    Sarah, great question about raw milk’s safety (and the “nutrition nerd” in me loves to ask questions like that, too :). Here is an excellent article on the merits and safety of raw milk:
    http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2009/02/raw-milk-discussing-its-merits-and-safety.html
    And also an older post of my own, with some good links in it:
    http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2008/01/is-raw-milk-rea.html

    Alexis, I think that raw milk would be an excellent option for you during your pregnancy (congrats!), provided you can find a good, clean source of it. Check out the links above to find some guidelines for what to look for. Also, look at the site:
    http://www.realmilk.com/
    Here you can try to locate a source of raw milk near where you live. This is how I found the cow share where I purchase my milk. As for cost, mine is very expensive (about $17.50 CAN per gallon). However, if you are American, it is available in many places for much less than that. I know that in WA (for example) you can buy it at some health food stores for about $10 a gallon, or as little as $7-$9 per gallon straight from the farmer.

    Taylor, I only wish that pic was my own! It’s from stock xchng. :) I did my own canning this summer (applesauce, tomatoes, peaches, jam, pickles) but it didn’t look quite that beautiful. One day, I hope!

    Nola, I couldn’t handle squash much this pregnancy either. I’m finally starting to feel ready to eat it, and I have about 8 big spaghetti squash from my garden still sitting there! LOL!

    Raven, I also find that my 5 dozen eggs last without going bad, until we finish them (usually about a month, sometimes a little less). I also freeze organic store-bought milk for yogurt and kefir, and think it works just fine. My milk from the cow share comes weekly (that’s just how it works, so I have no choice but to pick it up each week), so that’s why I’ll still need to go out to get that.

  7. We decided to skip a whole pay period of grocery shopping this month so that I could use that money for buying some allergen-free food in bulk (grains, etc). What a challenge! We won’t even be going to the store for fresh produce.

    Instead, we’ll eat frozen veggies from the recesses of the freezer. We’ll eat some of those gallons of dried fruit I’ve made in the last few months. We’ll stretch that last dozen eggs into only the necessary baking recipes. I’ll make everything from scratch, and we’ll eat a LOT of beans and rice. ;)

    This is probably a good exercise for all of us to do once in a while: leave aside your favorite meals in order to clean up the remnants of what you already have. Prevents waste….

  8. I do this, sort of, every month. We grocery shop once a month and maintain a stockpile we eat out of and rotate. Ideally I’d like to have 6 months-1 year but at the moment it’s probably more like 3 months. So each month I buy the stuff we need for that month and also some for the stockpile.

    I freeze milk, btw, and I find my 5 doz. eggs last all month without going bad. :)

  9. I actually am planning to do this… we just talked about having April as our month to see how low we can make the grocery bill (while still eating well) by using stuff up around the house. Then we are putting the savings (no matter how small) into more debt reducation (student loans). So I would LOVE to join you in this!!!!

    I’ll see how it goes and maybe do more months like this. Mainly this means my freezer for me. I did go through the freezer though and discovered a few things that shocked me: one was we hardly have any more blueberries, but we have TONS of strawberries. We also have almost no beans left. I keep meaning to do an inventory list as I put stuff in with a list of when I can use it like my MIL does (counting out what you have and rationing it over the winter on a list). This year it was all I could do to put it in the freezer! I need to use up a lot of squash, pumpkin, and peppers…couldn’t eat them while pregnant for some reason.

  10. I love the picture of the pantry with all the canned goods. Is that yours or someone elses? It reminds me of my Grandma’s house, because she loved to can. Brings back good memories.

    We too need to eat out of our pantry a bit and get rid of some of the older stuff I stocked up on before it expires. It is no deal if you pay for it and then throw it away!

  11. There are only two of us—-and I only go major shopping once a month. So we’ve gotten in the habit of clearing out everything, pantry, freezer,and fridge during the last week of the month. That gives me an opportunity to wipe down the shelves and doors and start fresh at the beginning of the month!

  12. Hi Stephanie! I do the pantry/freezer meal thing every 3 or 4 months, and I’ve actually came up with some really good recipes this way! We’ve made “lasagna soup” from mini lasagna noodles, a can of crushed tomatoes, chopped zucchini and onion, garlic, water and a little ground beef or kidney beans. This is a family favorite, and they actually look forward to pantry meal month! Also, I am curious about the raw milk. How do you obtain it, and how about the cost? I’m trying to decide if this would be a good option for me, as I want to increase my nutrition. I too am pregnant with my third child, and my second son is only 3 months old! I want to make sure I have optimum nutrition since this is probably going to put some strain on my body! Anyways, if you could get the info to me I will appreciate it. Thank you…Alexis

  13. It’s fun to eat from what’s lurking in the recesses of the pantry, fridge or freezer. Once every other month or so, we try to refrain from doing any grocery shopping and work hard to clean out our pantry. Sometimes we come up with some pretty yummy concoctions. It’s a lot of fun and a real money saver. Sometimes we go for a couple weeks without buying any groceries! Have fun with your venture!

  14. re: the “raw milk for pregnant self” thing…what do you think about the “don’t eat raw milk while you are pregnant” recommendation doctors make? i am just curious to know because i haven’t known anyone else to eat it when pregnant, so i am curious to know what you think about it/have read about it, etc. i am actually a vegan, so i don’t drink milk anyway :) but the nutrition nerd in me wants to know.

  15. Sounds like we’re thinking alike! :) I’m doing pantry/freezer meals this week/month, too, with fresh veggies & eggs arriving from Spud on Wed. I’m hoping to do a big Azure stock-up order at the end of April, so trying to prepare our budget for that. I just posted my meal plan for the week: http://frugalgranola.blogspot.com/2009/03/menu-plan-monday_29.html

    Blessings,
    Michele :)

  16. I’m curious about Azure Standard. Like you, I am in Canada, and I’m wondering if you are getting your deliveries in the U.S.? I can’t see from their website if they deliver to Canada?
    This is a great idea, looking forward to seeing how you do!

  17. We are going to do this exact thing starting next week! I don’t have a huge stockpile, so I am guessing that we will get at least 2 weeks of “Eating from the Pantry”.

    I am going to use this week to take an inventory of the food we have and plan meals/snacks accordingly.

    I am also going to use the time that I would normally spend clipping coupons and searching out great deals and make a price book of the items we always buy from the store. I only shop at 3 stores so this shouldn’t be to difficult. I have been meaning to do this and just haven’t seemed to find the time.

    I am excited to see how you guys do!!

    What kind of things do you have stockpiled in your freezer or pantry?