Toward the beginning of January, I joined a pantry challenge hosted by an amazing blogger who encouraged everyone to clean out their pantries and see how far you could stretch those grocery dollars for the month.
After my 14yo looked into our (crowded) pantry and declared, “There’s nothing to eat in here,” I decided drastic measures were necessary. Or at least, some measures.
I arbitrarily challenged myself to plan meals around the items we already have on-hand and to spend less than $200 on groceries for the entire month. “Groceries” to include personal items, toiletries, cleaning supplies, pet food and supplies…
I am very pleased to announce that I met my goal! Woo-hoo! With just a teeny-tiny setback when I forgot to take my cash to the store with me last week… (This was also the first month we started cash envelope spending.) But hey, technically I still spent under $200. The cash left in the envelope will be rolled into next month’s grocery budget, which I will be diving into in just a few short days…
(What? Can’t you tell a difference?)
Obviously, the pantry is still not empty. I actually made better progress in the freezer, percentage-wise: our meat supply is dwindling and the frozen veggies are almost gone…
The Hubs being gone, of course, also helps with the food bill. And I hope to continue this saving trend (much to my teenager’s chagrin) throughout the time he’s gone.
(Then when he gets back we can PAR-TAY!) (Just kidding.) (Sort of.)
My goal is to continue to plan meals around what we already have on-hand, and to restrict new items to the bare minimum of what we need each week and only stock up when I can match coupons with sale items or otherwise get a rock-bottom deal, a money-saving shopping method that I could certainly improve upon.
I do try to get a special something or two that my teenager can look forward to putting in his sack lunches… But even then, I’ve often “splurged” for something I have a coupon for.
This isn’t just about the dollars saved, however! I love the old adage, “Waste not, want not.” In our throwaway society, we have lost so many skills of how to make things stretch and get the optimum use out of our schtuff. I love the idea of finding a use for everything — not just the things in your pantry! and making do with what you have.
But I digress.
I originally wished estimated $1749.76 would go toward debt this month. That ain’t gonna happen. But leave no doubt about it, spending at least half of what we normally spend on groceries this month got us that much closer. Stay tuned for an update on the final figure.
To read how others did on their pantry challenge (and to find some interesting recipes) visit Money Saving Mom.