Our pantry and our freezer are a little more bare. Our bellies are full. We survived the Eat from the Pantry Challenge!
I’m going to confess. I stockpiled a little bit in the last week of the challenge. I know I said I wasn’t going to, but we had back-to-back snowstorms and that makes me nervous. So, perhaps I was a little like a squirrel just before winter, but I wanted to be prepared.
I spent some time on Pinterest and dove into some of my old cookbooks for some inspiration when the fatigue set in. One reader suggested I come up with 30 meals my family enjoys and to write them on an index card. Then I can rotate them into our menu plan each week. I think that would help me a lot.
As for my goals on the Eat from the Pantry Challenge, here’s how I fared:
- I will make a menu plan each week with a heavy emphasis on using things I already have in my pantry and freezer. Success! This was one area that I really rocked! I was pretty good at using up some things we had lurking in the back corners, and I still have a few more items to use up from the freezer. I’m looking forward to stretching my creativity with some raspberries and zucchhini from last summer.
- I will not spend more than $100 this month on eating out. Fail! While I was over our budget by about $90 (ACK!), we ate out much less than the previous month. While I didn’t achieve this goal, I did make significant progress in reaching for my cookbooks instead of my takeout menus.
- I will allow myself to buy milk, eggs and fresh produce as needed. I was happy that I allowed this loophole in the challenge, as it really helped me round out those pantry meals and feel like we were still treating ourselves a little.
- I’m allowing myself a $50 stock-up allowance. I went over on this during the last week of the challenge (snowstorms make me a bit panicky). Once again, baby steps.
What I learned
A good stockpile is a huge asset to any frugal household. We were fortunate to start the challenge with a decent variety of food and household items. As we neared the end of the month, the challenge got tougher. I’ve learned that I need to create a list of must-have pantry items for our family and plan my shopping trips accordingly.
The best way to avoid overspending is to stay out of the stores. By making less trips to the store, I was able to resist deal hunting and unnecessary splurges. I made lists, shopped with coupons, and tried my hardest to stick to them.
My willpower is getting stronger. As I work to get our budget back on track with steps like this challenge, I am getting better to saying “No” to little wasters of money. I’m getting better at saying “No” to eating out. I’m resolving to cook from home more and I’m making sure we’re finishing up those leftovers. I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone by making things from scratch.
My ultimate goal in this challenge was to break myself of some bad spending habits. I was so obsessed with deals that I was losing track of the bounty I already had at home and it was hurting our bottom line. In this regard, I believe my Eat from the Pantry Challenge was a great success. I was much more mindful of my grocery shopping habits and we saved $400 this month because of it.
How did the Eat from the Pantry Challenge go for your family?