…half our pantry stores (the other half are in another cupboard)…
Last week I wrote about our No Spend January. Part of my plan to make it through the month without spending more than we have to is a little thing I found via Simplify, Live, Love when I went looking for more information about No Spend January, it’s called the Pantry Challenge.
It’s simple really (like all good things) you just have to use what you have in your pantry. It’s not an end to grocery shopping, it’s just making use of what you already have.
I’m still trying to settle into the new kitchen and so our pantry is all over the place. I’m going to use this challenge to try and steam line what we have in the pantry and make sure that we’re maximizing the space we have.
I’m also going to have to move out of my comfort (and by comfort I mean lazy) zone and start making meals instead of just randomly throwing stuff together on the plate. I really enjoyed our Meat Free Monday challenge from last year and I’m going to reinstate a meat free day per week. This should help me move through the mountain of beans, lentils and pulses I have. (Going to have to make sure I also keep the fluids up or we could be rather “blocked” for the month with all that fiber!)
The first task I had (and was avoiding) was to work out exactly what was in our pantry and our freezer. By taking an inventory it will help me to better plan out my meals and see what I really need to get when I do the grocery shop. (You can read a great post here by Jessica Ann of Good Cheap Eats – the lady who started this little pantry challenge!)
Inventorying the freezer was a simple task. (Just a little chilly on the old hands…) But the pantry – oh em gee! I actually had to tackle this is stages. (And I pretended that I was a Doomsday Prepper while doing it!)
…making a list and checking it twice…
Once all the information was gathered I set it up in a spreadsheet, although you can get printable sheets to make this job a little easier. (I found a Pantry Inventory Printable: here) With the pantry inventoried I then had the task of sitting down and planning out our meals and putting in our online shopping order.
I love the feeling of knowing exactly what’s in our pantry, fridge and freezer. I also love knowing that the meals for the next week are planned out so I don’t have to spend half my day thinking about what I can make.
I did notice that a lot of the things that we have on hand are for winter cooking (I do love my slow cooker!) and do not match our current season. It’s not that big a deal, but it has meant that we haven’t been eating meals in tune with our current climate (we love a summer BBQ) which hasn’t been exactly enjoyable.
This year we’re going to start our vegetable and herb gardens. This will be something that we’ll be able to use to help supplement our groceries and hopeful help us to eat better and save some money. We’re also going to be starting a compost as well which I’m really looking forward to getting underway so I don’t feel like we’re wasting so much food.
I’m really enjoying this challenge and I’m keen to see how much I refine it and improve on it over the year.
(For those of you that are observant – yes, I keep all over our “leaky” condiments and bottles on oven baking trays. I’ve found that this saves having leak rings and salt and pepper crumbs on your shelves and makes it easier to clean up. I also keep our toaster on a bake tray for the same reason. Genius, I know!)