For the last couple months, my friend Crystal and I have been “cooking up a storm” at the beginning of each month and storing what we’ve made in the freezer to use throughout the coming weeks. This “once-a-month” cooking venture has saved us loads of time and money. It has been fantastic to go to the deep-freeze every couple days and pull out the makings of the next few days’ meals.
This past month I went a tad overboard and have a lot left in my freezer as well as the fridge and cupboard. Crystal also reports quite a bit left in her stores. That coupled with the fact that Crystal will be spending New Year’s with me has prompted us to do something new for January. The first month of the year is a great time to take inventory, make goals, and move forward. We’re simply taking this concept into the kitchen. Join us as we spend the month of January cutting back and using up what we have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry.
I’ll be posting any spontaneous culinary creations (read: recipes I make up on the fly) over at Good (& Cheap) Eats and giving a daily update as to what we’re actually eating. This should prove quite interesting, or quite boring, depending on your perspective. But, I’ll also be sharing general tips and suggestions to make your pantry challenge a success as well as posting my grocery geek adventures here at LifeasMOM. I hope you’ll not only follow along, but also be inspired to see where you can cut a few corners in January to give yourself a little more freedom in February.
If you’re not already, you may want to subscribe to GCE in a reader or via email. And follow along at the Eat From the Pantry Challenge Facebook page. You can also follow us on twitter (@crystalpaine and @fishmama) as well as use the hashtag #pantry)
Out with the Old, In with the New!
If you have your doubts, that’s okay. I did, too. Last year when I watched Crystal do this, I thought you couldn’t spend any money. I can’t do that! Not with the Hobbits that live at my house.
Here are some guidelines to help you think about this challenge and how you can grow in kitchen management this month:
- Reduce grocery spending. We’re talking about reducing grocery spending this month, not eliminating it. Set a goal that is lower than your regular food budget and shoot for not exceeding it.
- Take stock. Take an afternoon and empty your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator. Ditch what’s gone bad and make a list of what’s left. Knowing what you have will make you less likely to buy more.
- Use what you have. Check your pantry before you meal plan or head off to the store. Develop meals based on what you have rather than buying new.
- Use up what’s in the deep freeze and be able to defrost it at the end of the month. (We live in California, so yes, it will thaw.) I want to jump back into February’s Once-A-Month-Cooking knowing that we’ve wasted as little as possible.
- Spend $400 or less on groceries this month. My usual budget is $600+. I have four growing boys who. eat. a. ton. so I know I can’t scale back too much. We can go through 5 gallons of milk a week! Also, we’re instituting some new healthier eating goals this year that I need to accomodate as well.
- Focus on being creative with what we have. Enough is as good as a feast. I can get a little carried away while shopping. So, this will be good discipline.
What’s your plan to make the most of YOUR grocery budget next month? Share it with us! And don’t forget to link up your Pantry Challenge post over at Money Saving Mom.