Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pantry Challenge

Ah, it's not that things have been quiet around here at all. I just had an issue with my computer, and it had to be sent back to the manufacturer to be addressed. It felt like it was gone for a really long time, and I am so thankful to have it back. It has, however, been nice to fill the time I would have been online with new tasks, and I've learned that it's probably best if I turn the computer off a lot more often.

One thing I've been itching to share is how I'm participating in an Eat from the Pantry challenge this month. After really learning how to shop deals and coupons over the last year as well as my big cooking project in December, I was already planning to assess what was in our pantry and freezers and use up some of our stores for this month. That meant I didn't have to think twice when FishMama and Money Saving Mom announced they were hosting a Pantry challenge instead of a freezer cooking day for January.

Everybody is pretty much making up their own rules for this challenge, but the goal is to dig into our stores to clean out some of the old and make way for the new. For me, it is difficult to pass up a good deal. That means that even though I had a ton of meals in the freezer and we ended up eating away from home quite a bit because of travel and other events, I still did quite a bit of shopping. I've been feeling an overwhelming need to simplify in this new year, and that includes streamlining my shopping and getting my pantry and freezers under control.

These are the goals I made for myself:
- inventory pantry and freezers and base meals around what we already have
- purchase only what we need to round out our menus and other necessities
- spend less than $200 for the month

This is where you get a glimpse of my laid back, not to be pinned down personality. I did go through our freezers and get an idea of what was in there, but I didn't make a detailed list. I also didn't make out a menu for the month, and I haven't made it into the pantry yet. I do plan to get that reorganized by the end of the month, but it hasn't happened yet--mostly because I know it will be a big project. That thing is a huge mess, but I do have a good idea what is in there. I haven't kept a detailed record of what has been spent, either. I have our cash set aside, and I can gauge how much we've spent without getting down to pennies.

At this point, we have spent about $85 for the month, and a good part of that wasn't necessities. I broke the rules already! I have to admit that I splurged on items for a new chicken pizza recipe since I thought the other one was bland, and I was trying to avoid ordering out. I caved and bought some things to stock up like chicken that was on sale, cream cheese, and diced tomatoes, but in my defense, they were really good deals and we were down to one can of tomatoes and one package of cream cheese.

The bulk of our spending has been on the basics like milk, eggs, fruit, and vegetables. I do think we are well stocked on those for a while now, though. I have to admit I am starting to worry about the cost of restocking some of the things that are getting low when in reality, I think we could actually go through February with this challenge and be fine.

I'll definitely have more to share throughout the rest of the month about what we're eating, what we're buying, and how it's going in general.

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