Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Are You Up for a Challenge?

Some of my fellow mom bloggers (Money Saving Mom and Life As Mom) have issued a challenge for the New Year.

The Eat from the Pantry Challenge encourages us to use up what we have before hitting the store. What I like most about it is that Crystal and Jessica haven't laid out hard and fast rules. It's up to each person to decide how to make this challenge work best for them.

Are you in?

I am!

Now there's no way we can go a whole month without going to the grocery store. The number one reason for that? MILK. Gallons and gallons of it. And bananas.

Milk and bananas are to the boys what oxygen is to the rest of us. Critical fuel. The disappearance of the last banana can cause a disturbance of epic proportions around here.

But, I have lots of things in my cupboards and freezer, so this will be a great way to clean things out.

My plan is to make as many meals as I can from what I have on hand, and to go to the store only for essentials (read: milk and bananas), some fresh produce so we can have well-rounded meals, and the occasional ingredient to complete a dish.

I'm hoping to save at least $200 on groceries this month.

Why $200? Because that's what we are trying to put away every month for college funds: $50 per child. Doesn't seem like much, does it? But at 6 percent interest, in 18 years that $50 per month will become $20,000. And that's a pretty good start on the average four-year $60,000 tab. (Reader's Digest, Dec. 2009)

So anything extra we save by doing this challenge we will put toward the kids' college funds. That is in addition to our planned goal of $200 a month.

Step one is to take stock of what I have. Well, actually step one is to carefully open the pantry and hope nothing falls out:

It hasn't always looked this bad. I blame babyproofing. I have fewer and fewer things on the bottom shelves so the boys can't get into them when I let them roam the kitchen. That shelf third from the bottom is in reach now, so I have to take all those things out and put them up on the counter every time I turn the boys loose.

Another reason to use things up! Less work for me.
Like most challenges, this one will start out pretty easy, but by the end of the month it will definitely be harder. I'll keep you updated on our progress and share some recipes along the way, too.
If you want to join the fun, you can go here to link up your blog and see what others are doing. So far almost 700 people have joined the challenge either via their blogs or through comments and as Facebook fans.
How about you?


Jen said...

Oh the milk consumption in our house is something fierce. I have often thought about getting a cow for the back yard but I don't really want to shovel more manure.

Joyce G. said...

I have been doing this for years and love the challenge of the "hunt"!! Before school one day, I grabbed a container from the freezer to thaw for the day. Upon arrival home, it was nothing close to what I thought it was, but as I recall it was called "supper" and we emptied one more container which is my daily goal. Just today, I emptied a pint jar that was a homemade soup mix, a Christmas hostess gift. As close as I can remember, we had housed it for about 3 years. Wasn't bad and there is one more meals worth leftover!! Thank heaven Jack is like Mikie and will eat anything!

Christy AKA Trippin' Mama said...

I'm laughing at "it was called 'supper.'" Too funny.

I was just telling my sister that I probably need to be creative and try some new things at the start of the month so we don't wind up with a bunch of weird and untested things at the end of the month!

Betsy said...

I try this challenge about every other month. But I usually don't make it very far because I find myself eating out at least once a week with friends. However, my secret weapon for getting creative with what I have is You can type in the ingredients you want to use (the more the better, it narrows down the options) and viola they show you different recipes that include those items. Good luck! I'll be watching for some interesting dishes.

Christy AKA Trippin' Mama said...

You try this every other month, Betsy? I'm impressed! One of the things I liked about the challenge was that they left it open to interpretation. One of the organizers says they eat out every week and they are going to continue that. So, technically, you can participate and still eat out!

Can't wait to share some new recipes.


Emily & Ed said...

Christy - if your looking for ideas as not to end up with too weird of combinations, I've actually found some pretty good recipes at Betty It actually has a "what's on hand" or "what's in my pantry" to type in the ingredients you have on hand and spits out recipes - ...this isn't much of a challenge at my house anymore as lack of pantry space has kept me in check with not having that random can of artichoke hearts or condensed milk. Our grocery bill is significantly lower now that I pay attention to things we actually eat and I buy only what recipes call for, not just b/c it's on sale.

Christy AKA Trippin' Mama said...

Emily & Ed - Check out You can put in ingredients there, too. I think their tool is even better than and they pull in the recipes from, too. Bonus!


Robbie said...

I'm going to have to check out that supercook site - hadn't heard of that one. I spend waaayyy too much time thumbing through cookbooks trying to find a recipe that "matches!"

I've been doing that challenge this month, too...we're past overdue for cleaning out the freezer!