Eat From the Pantry {Or} No spend Month

Eat from the pantry

We made a plan for May to try to avoid spending money on food, partly to help save money, but also to clear out our freezer.

I’m writing this end of April, but will post this is July since I don’t really want to be announcing to the world that we’ll be away from our home for a month.

We have a trip planned for June. We’ll be away for four weeks. We’ve had a few power outages in March and April so we decided to empty our freezer before we took our US trip to visit my family. We don’t want any surprises of rotten meat when we get home.

Since we knew we’d be away, and needed to empty our freezer, I’ve made a plan to do so by making a list of meals that we can eat for the month of May- all from food in our freezer and pantry.

Considerations:

We already use a cash budget system for our weekly/ normal purchases. Every fortnight we withdraw a set amount and divide it into envelopes and sections. It really helps keep us to keep our spending goals.

We’ll need to buy some fresh stuff. Fruits, Veggies, eggs, cheese and probably some pantry items.

My Birthday. It’s early May, so we may spend something for then, we’ll see.

Mother’s Day. I made cards for the ladies in our lives, but will need to spend on postage for mailing some, and will probably buy a few chocolates. I’m making our gifts.

(Follow-up, we didn’t really do that much for my birthday or Mother’s day out of our budget. Steven did get me flowers early in the month…)

What we ARE spending money on this month:

Like I said above, we’ll buy some fresh food, and I could buy some thing for our pantry and that be fine to sit in the cupboard for a while when we’re gone. I’ll try to only buy things on sale or fresh.

We may buy things for our contribution to church potluck meals.

We’ll still buy fuel.

We’ll still spend money on our house bills/power, rent, insurance etc.

I’ll still go to my once a week social stitching group and pay the $3.

We’ll still consider buying a long-life or shelf-stable pantry item if there is a good special.

Goals:

My goal for this “no spend month” is to use up our food and not have to leave any with my in-laws when we turn off our fridge. We also would like to save money by not buying cold items.

We have a set food budget, and we do really well to keep within that amount, but I’d love to save some of it for future use rather than use it up every fortnight like what’s been happening recently.

Save the money to go towards our trip to the US.

We plan on allocating the normal food budget for June to be exchanged into US cash and be ready to spend on our trip. We’ll also have our allocated gift, eating out money and a few other categories in US currency to use as well.

To use up the “old” meat in the freezer, we’re working to keep our food fresh and not having a lot of un-identified food objects in our freezer.

Reflection:

(Update for how we did now that it’s July…)

My small freezer holds a lot more food than I thought.

Wow. My menu, which I’ll post in a follow-up post, didn’t stay as planned. We did manage to eat up almost all the food. There was one packet of frozen chicken breast, one packet of about 500g (1 lb) mince (ground meat), some chicken broth and some frozen mashed pumpkin and some bread we didn’t finish. I should add here, that I buy bread from a health food store that gets it  fresh from a gluten-free baker. It’s rather expensive, so I wasn’t about to throw out my rice bread. 

We left our condiments and the last of our frozen food with my in-laws. A few days before we got home, my mum-in-love turned our fridge back on, and returned the food to our fridge.

We did have a good amount of food money left in our food envelope at the end of May, and it has been helpful for covering some of our travel food expenses and for using to restock our fridge now that we’re home. We also did well to keep under or within budget for almost our entire trip. There were a few things that shifted, like our clothing money got overspent, but we didn’t spend that much of fuel so a lot of things balanced out when we did our tally up at the end.

How we did it

I made a list of the frozen foods we had on hand.

With that list, I planned out a list of possible meals (see a future post on the menu).

With the list of meals I created a menu (watch for an upcoming post with our menu.)

As the month went on, the menu shifted and changed, but it did help a lot to keep track of all the food we had and help to gauge what was left to use up.

The last week, I avoided buying any fresh stuff and worked to use up everything fresh and cold/frozen.

Church meals, each week our church serves a meal at the end of the service. People are expected to bring something to share. We were able to use up some things just by bringing our food to share.

Invite people over. This was a big help. A few days before we left on our trip, we invited Steven’s family over and they were more than happy to help us eat up bits and pieces. I made a lamb chop, rissoles and roasted and steamed veggies meal. It helped use up all our fresh veggies and most of the last of the meat.

Did we meet our goal?

Sort of. We almost emptied the freezer.

But, for our overall goal to save money and use up most of our cold/frozen food? It was a success.

Something we hadn’t planned on was we spent some time away about a week and a half before we left. That was four days of not eating from our pantry. It did throw us off a bit on the goal to eat up everything.

Why should you consider it?

I came home to a sparkling-clean-almost-empty-fridge. That’s a nice feeling. A very nice feeling.  (We went to the grocery store when returned home and picked up a few items we knew we would use, and this week I have been to the store more than usual, but it was for sale items or needed items and our fridge is slowly filling up again.

We did save money.

We cleared out old food that needed to be used up.

It was satisfying.

It “scratched” my organising itch that I get.

It helped to bless others- we invited family over for a meal so we could share, but also get help in using up our food and sharing with others at church.

I don’t know if we’ll do this again to this extent, but we may be trying to move in the near future, so I don’t plan to re-fill our fridge and freezer too much.

Thanks for reading,

Beth:)


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