Frugal Friday: Pantry Challenge!

TGIF! Welcome to the first of a series I’m calling Frugal Friday! More installments to come- but this first one involves making an active effort to cut our grocery budget next month and preparing for it now…

It seems that everyone has been bit by the cleaning and decluttering bug with the start of the New Year and I am no exception. Our kitchen needed a major re-organization and I started with the pantry. I’m sure it won’t surprise you to find that I found quite a few things in there I had forgotten we even had! (and some embarrassing duplicates- like three bottles of sesame oil…) For reference, here’s the “during” and “after” pictures from my pantry refresh (because I forgot the “before picture…):

  

SO… with this in mind, we are going to try and make our grocery budget stretch next month by using our pantry and freezer as much as possible and buying as little as possible. We will still buy fresh fruit, and staples for the kids like milk and eggs, but for veggies we are going to try to stick to our garden (I’m leaving the lettuce bed in until mid to end of February because it is doing so well! and we have some kale growing too. This makes me a little nervous to be honest. I like having extra food around in case there’s a week where we get to our grocery shopping later than usual because someone is sick or we have an exceptionally busy weekend. And I also like to “save” some of my favorite foods past when any reasonable person should… hence why we still have pumpkin pancake and waffle mix (looking forward to a breakfast for dinner of mini pumpkin waffles!). Plus, with kids… I just like to be really over prepared. Yet, while that feeling accounts for some of our very full pantry, another piece of it is just that we buy stuff and then don’t really feel like eating it and change our meal plan. So this is the month that pays for those changes and that pickiness. I am going to give myself a little bit of wiggle room on my half marathon week, but other than that… pantry time.

A few things to note-
*We buy several things in bulk- thanks Costco! The bottom shelf is almost entirely bags of flour and other baking items. I bake a LOT. I bake bread almost once a week so we buy flour in bulk and store it in ziplock bags. We also go through a TON of canned tomatoes each month because we make our own salsa and we buy graham crackers in bulk because we have two tiny humans that have them as their favorite snack (this is basically their “treat” each day unless we got a good deal on fruit snacks, and even at one each a day they GO FAST.) We also buy rice in bulk (it’s in that bottom drawer that isn’t open in the after picture).

*Soup is in our future- part of the reason we are doing this challenge during February is because with all the veggie stock and canned soup we have, this would be kind of miserable to do once the weather gets warmer. And with living in Phoenix, that can start as early as March.

*Time to try those pinned recipes- some of the stuff in our pantry was bought for very specific recipes that timing prevented us from making, so I’m actually kind of excited to finally try a few of those!

*Timing doesn’t EXACTLY align with the new month- That’s why I’m posting this while we are still in January. We’re trying this from the end of January through the end of February, but the last week of February we plan to buy stuff in bulk again to make a big batch of freezer meals for before I go into rehearsals (more on that- both the freezer meals and the rehearsals- in future posts!) so another reason we are doing this challenge is to make room in our freezer for those meals and to be sure our pantry is as easily accessible as possible when the busy season hits again.

 

Have you ever tried a “pantry challenge”? Did you notice a change in you grocery budget? Did it change any shopping habits after that month was over? I’d love to hear about it!

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