Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pantry Challenge

Since husband and I returned home from our honeymoon, we have been doing a pantry challenge. For those who don't know what that is, it's essentially a challenge to use up items in your pantry. Our movitations were to:
  1. clean out the pantry
  2. save money on groceries
  3. create some new meals
  4. eat less packaged foods and more fresh food 
Everyone can tweak the challenge to their own parameters, so when we began, we said we could:

- buy any amount of fresh food (most people do this with the pantry challenge, as otherwise your diet is not going to be healthy!). We included: fruit, veggies, cheese, yogurt and milk.
- buy cereal (we both love cereal, so this was a must)
- if we finish something, we can replenish it (i.e. I ate all the canned tuna, so we bought more).

I wish I had taken pictures of our pantry before, but we've seen an incredibly difference. Before the challenge, we probably had more than half a dozen boxes of pasta. Now we're down to three. We had so many cans it was hard to find what we needed. Now we're working away at using those up and it's down to a reasonable amount. Our freezer was packed full of frozen dinners and meat and fruit (for baking). Now we have almost nothing in there! Only one frozen dinner, some fruit and a few meat items. It's so easy to find things. We still have lots to use up though.

The one issue I've found during this time has been that our eating out went up for a bit. I don't cook. Never have and probably never will. I can do the basics, but I hate it and it's not natural for me to think of that. I use the microwave and that's about it. So what typically happened was I would get home and there was nothing available for me to eat (if we were out of leftovers or if husband didn't make something). My go to has always been frozen food, so without those available, I would buy dinner out. After a few too many runs to Subway for dinner, we decided I could have a couple "emergency" frozen meals for those times when husband wasn't around to cook. I've been good though and I've only use one since we decided that about a month ago.

Most importantly, we have significantly lowered our grocery bills. We went from doing a major shop that cost us $250-$300 bi-weekly to now spending about $100 or so bi-weekly. Just today, husband went to the store and he spent $193, which was the biggest shop we have made since before the wedding. While I was shocked to see the receipt for this trip, I quickly reminded myself that it is dramatically lower than we used to spend. The reason it was so high is because we were completely out of cheese (he bought three kinds - mozza, cheddar and parm - almost $30), almost out of meat (he bought ground beef and chicken - about $25), and needed to replenish everything else (fruit, veggies, milk, bread, etc.). One of the big costs to the bill was also the cat food and litter (about $40).

I think I'm going to sit down and total our grocery bills for pre-challenge and during the challenge and see how we did. I'm pretty sure we do more frequent, but smaller runs now versus fewer, but bigger shops pre-challenge. It'll be interesting to see how much we have actually saved. I'll update as we go along and try to get some photos too!

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