It's time to begin the Eating From the Pantry and Freezer Challenge. I'm excited to get going and I hope you are, too!
I promised to share my own plan and goals with you, so here's what I'm planning to do:
My financial goal is to save $300 (our regular monthly budget is $450). I plan to do this by saving $150 out of my May budget, and $150 out of June.
It's important to decide how much you will allow yourself to spend. Don't just say, "I'll spend as little as possible". That's a recipe for spending too much.
Instead, determine how little you think you can get by on, make a plan for how you might use that money ($20 milk, $10 eggs, etc.), then pull the cash out of the bank and keep it in your wallet. This makes it FAR more likely that you will actually stick to your savings goals.
Additionally, it's best to also take out (in cash) the amount that you intend to save. If you've already got it set aside, and you can see the tangible savings, you'll be less tempted to spend it.
Financial goals? Check. Now to make it happen.
I've already completed my freezer and pantry inventories. Here are some of the foods that I'll be working with:
- I have a fair bit of beef sitting around (including roasts and short ribs, which tend to get left to the end)
- 4 whole chickens that I bought last September from my mom
- One bag of frozen fish and some canned fish
- Tons of berries (especially blueberries and raspberries)
- A lot of frozen sprouted tortillas
- A pantry FULL of baking goods and various kinds of grains
- I recently stocked up hugely on organic dried fruits
- We're going to start reaping small amounts of food from the garden this month (radishes, peas, rhubarb, some beets, and more to come after that).
- I discovered bags of frozen spinach, as well as pumpkin puree in my freezer (who knew?)
- Two large bulk bags of brown rice pasta
- The remnants of last summer's canning- tomatoes, pickles, peaches, applesauce, jam.
Some resources for your freezer/pantry inventories and meal plans:
- Watch these (older) videos of me in action, taking inventory of my freezer and then of my pantry.
- Download my ebook, Plan It, Don't Panic, which includes printable pages for taking inventories (as well as pages for your actual meal planning process, plus lots of other helpful meal planning information throughout the book). My books are all on sale tis month- see below!
- If you're a ListPlanIt user, I know that Jennifer also has some wonderful inventory and meal planning printable lists (in fact, she created the lists in my ebook).
- I've been enjoying Plan to Eat for my meal planning lately. It's a fantastic online planning software and it makes storing my recipes and planning my meals way too easy.
- Looking for some free printable options? Crystal at Money Saving Mom has a large selection of free printables for kitchen planning purposes. Mandi from Life...Your Way also has a huge selection of printables (over 200) and I have no doubt that she would have something useful in there for this challenge.
During this month-long challenge, all of my ebooks are on sale. Use the coupon code CHALLENGE25 to take 25% off any single ebook, OR use code BUNDLE50 to buy all 3 of my ebooks at 50% off!
There were some excellent questions in the comments when I announced this challenge, so allow me to address a few of those as we get going:
Q. Can we link to this on our blogs?
A. Yes, absolutely. Please feel free to use the graphic for the challenge as well.
Q. Can we purchase fresh foods during the challenge?
A. By all means. I will allowing myself $75 for every two weeks ($150 total). This money will be for dairy (raw milk, cheese, butter, etc.), eggs, and fresh produce.
Challenges like this are amazing for using up what we already have, but I'm not willing to stop serving my family these fresh, wholesome foods for a month. I use the foods in my freezer and pantry as the basis for my meals, and then the fresh foods will help to fill in the gaps and make sure that we're eating well throughout the entire month.
Q. I’m totally in but can we go to the store and just not spend as much? I don’t have tons in my freezer and pantry to last a whole month of no food shopping? Can I cut my food bill in half or more, and still do the challenge?
A. Sure! This challenge is flexible, to suit your own needs. If you just want to focus on cutting down your costs, or saving a small percentage of your budget (maybe 20-50% instead of something more intense like 75-100%), by all means, go for it and consider yourself part of the challenge.
Q. I feel like I stock up when things go on a good sale, and what if I deplete my stock, and then nothing’s on sale?
A. I do think about that myself sometimes, but I also know that I tend to get to a place where we have so much that I just don’t feel justified in spending any more money. If you’re amazingly organized, keep up with your stockpile, always eat through the foods that you buy, rotate through what’s in your pantry/freezer, etc. then I suppose you might deplete your stock and then have to spend more on non-sale items.
For most of us, I think that things tend to get a little bit buried, or we buy so much that some of it gets towards the end of its shelf/freezer life, and that’s primarily why I do this. I still get the benefit of being a careful shopper, but I also make sure that I don’t overbuy or stockpile to a degree that things are going to waste.
Also, I feel like I just have to trust that things will be on sale again, and that our money will stretch as it needs to, and that God will provide for our needs in the right time and the right way. He always does. :)
Your tasks for the rest of this week:
- Make your financial goals and set aside both your spending and saving cash
- Complete your pantry and freezer inventory (if you haven't already)
- Write up a menu plan for this coming week
- Make a list and purchase any fresh foods that you might need (but make sure that you have a firm dollar amount in mind, first)