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But, What if I Can’t Refill My Pantry?

Posted By Jessica Fisher On December 31, 2009 @ 9:49 pm In Pantry Challenge | 23 Comments

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As we tackle the lofty goal of cooking and eating from the pantry [5], a concern has arisen. Don’t worry, I share it, too.

What if I can’t refill my pantry at the end of the month and still stay under budget?

What if? What if you have to pay full pop for some items come February because you’ve used up all your reserves and haven’t been constantly buying. What if you miss some great deals this month or just this week because you’re using up what you have? It could happen, couldn’t it? What if?

Well, here are a few things to consider:

  • The Six Week Cycle - Manufacturers and grocery stores offer items on sale every 6 weeks or so. Chances are if chicken breast is on sale this week, it will be on sale again sometime in the next 6 weeks. It’s not a once-a-year opportunity. Good deals can be had almost all the time. Sure, some deals are better than others. But, usually, if you keep your eye on the sales, you will find some good sale prices sooner or later.
  • Stock Rotation - A good grocery store practices this all the time. When they restock the shelves, they move the current stock to the front and place new items in the back. This is called “rotating the stock” and ensures that food is bought and used before it goes bad. You should be doing this in your own kitchen. Use up things that have been there awhile. A good deal is no good deal if it rots before you can use it. And while canned goods don’t necessarily “rot,” they do lose texture and quality over time. So make sure you’re using up what you have. 
  • Creativity – Sometimes it’s really good to get your creative juices flowing and see how far you can stretch things. You’d be amazed at how easy it is to make a huge pot of soup from very few ingredients [6]. Necessity is the mother of invention. Sometimes we find our best solutions when we’re pushed beyond our comfort zones. Cooking from what you have may help you discover some menus your family will adore. (And that is always a fine thing [7].)
  • Enough is as Good as a Feast – There are a number of lessons to be learned from Ma Ingalls [8], but this is probably my favorite that I’ve carried around with me in this “More, More, More! Society.” It’s all too easy to hoard things that we never use. Why am I yearly able to give away a truckload of household goods to The Salvation Army? Because we have too much stuff. And often, that applies to my kitchen well. Many of us hoard things away based on fears. Not only can it be unhealthy, but it also prevents us to rest in contentment. Having enough really is as good as the excess to which we’ve become accustomed.

Do It Your Way
The most important thing to remember is that you get to set your own goals this month. Maybe you’ll still allow yourself to pick up the good deals, but you’re going to focus on what you already have? Maybe you want to be Mother Hubbard (with a bare cupboard) on January 31 and are happy to start fresh come February 1st. Maybe you’ll limit yourself to buying a few items that you know you will want in the coming months. You get to choose!

And, while I have some of the same fear that I will “miss a good deal,” I know from experience that good deals are plentiful. I confess, this week’s grocery trip caused me a little fear and trepidation. Extra lean beef and chicken tenders were on sale for $1.88/a pound! Normally, I would have bought five packages of each. But, I knew you were watching!

Since I knew I was having company [9], I allowed myself to buy one package of each for our joint family meals. I stayed under budget, and still got “the thrill” of a great deal. Obviously, I’m still going to grocery shop in January and I’m definitely going to give preference to those items that are “practically free,” but I’m going to focus on what we have and try to reduce my grocery spending in January [5].

Are ya with me?


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[5] cooking and eating from the pantry: http://www.lifeasmom.com/2009/12/eat-from-pantry-challenge-join-us.html

[6] make a huge pot of soup from very few ingredients: http://www.lifeasmom.com/2008/12/home-ec-101-soup-from-leftovers.html

[7] a fine thing: http://amysfinerthings.com/category/finer-things-friday

[8] Ma Ingalls: http://astore.amazon.com/lifeasmom-20/detail/0064400026

[9] having company: http://www.moneysavingmom.com/money_saving_mom/2009/12/celebrating-a-major-financial-milestone.html

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