Friday, April 13, 2012

Life & Style: Pantry + Freezer Challenge, Part 2

For all of April, we're doing a Pantry + Freezer challenge! Join us as we cook up dishes using ingredients on hand. We'll be sharing our experiences with our challenge throughout the month in a special Life & Style series. You can view part 1 here. Check back every Friday for new posts, and check out what our menu plan is each week in our What's for Eats This Week posts on Sundays.

This week, we did better with not eating out unless it was planned. We ate out one time unplanned. This is progress, but we hope to do better next week!

There are many, many reasons one could declare a pantry + freezer challenge. One reason, which we talked about last week, was that we just had too many items in our freezer and pantry - muffins, cupcakes, breakfast items. They need to get eaten sometime!

Another reason could be to save money. I don't care how many times you hear that it's cheaper to get take out than to make your own - it's just not! Since eating out often means you're not getting very good nutrition, you can cook a simple dinner at home of pasta. While it's not very nutritious, you wouldn't get a lot of nutrition from a dinner eaten out, so it's all the same - just less cost. You could boil pasta, boil jarred sauce and eat bread. It would cost about 30 cents per serving. There is no restaurant I know of that serves dinner for 30 cents a person!

In a pantry + freezer month, you're mostly just eating items you have on hand, which means you can spend less at the grocery store. If you're on a financial plan, you could do a pantry + freezer period (be it a month, a week, whatever) to throw some extra money toward your goals - pay down debt, save for a car in cash, get an 8-month emergency fund in place, etc.

This month, Jason's turning 30. We don't celebrate many special occasions, and the ways we celebrate are definitely different than most other peoples'. I am so grateful Jason was born, that God gave him life, that he is here and with me. And what better way to celebrate than to spend the day together, playing games and taking a nap? To us, that's a pretty incredible way to celebrate. One goal of our pantry + freezer month is to have enough money in our grocery budget to eat lunch out on Jason's birthday. Since we also don't eat out often, this will be doubly special.

All year long, I've been saving money that I receive unexpectedly or money I've sacrificed from other areas in our budget (such as entertainment) to save for big-ticket items we've had our eyes on. If you have been wanting a big-ticket item that will bless you, make your life easier, etc., a pantry + freezer period may be a good way to get some extra cash in your special savings envelope.

We went to Walmart last week after a particularly raucous game of badminton and we were both starving. We spent so much money, my eyes bulged out of my head. We were just going to pick up fun food for a family movie night. We went grocery shopping the next day for our regular weekly produce trip, and somehow, through God's grace alone, we stayed on budget, even with the money we had spent at Walmart (let's just say our snack area is well stocked now!).

This week, our grocery list is rather small, so I'm rather sure we'll have loads of money stashed away in our grocery budget. It'll be nice to have a little bit of a build up to compensate for weeks later on, in May or June, when we go over slightly. We rarely do, though - especially now that I've improved my skills at menu planning and creating grocery lists!

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