Monday, January 13, 2014

2014 Pantry Challenge

Ummm... I am little behind on this  but better late than never, right?

According to The National Resources Defense Council the average American wastes 25 % of the food and beverages they purchase! Why--because we over buy, don't understand the use buy/ best before/ expiration dates, are busy, are tired, are lazy, are complacent or bored with our choices. Well those are MY reasons anyway!

Good Cheap Eats  has been doing the Pantry/ Freezer challenge since 2009. I meant to do it last year and even though I didn't begin on Jan 1 there is no reason for me to take up the challenge!

The purpose of the pantry/ freezer challenge is to:
1. Save money
2.  Avoid waste
3.  Shop better in the future
4. Spend less time in the store
And I am going to add an extra goal...
5. Change our food selections to more healthier options

Granted circumstances will be a little more difficult since I still have no kitchen. But  if people around the world can manage to feed their families by using nothing more than hanging kettle over a fire, then surely I can manage with a toaster oven, microwave, electric skillet, crock pot, propane grill and 1 electric hot plate!

Take stock and Organize
First thing was to take stock of what I have and organize the pantry, fridge and freezers. Not an easy feat because a lot of my foodstuff are packed in totes. But since the kitchen renovation is hold pending financial and medical related reasons, I unpacked what I could into the  pantry cupboards form the old kitchen. I am ashamed to say I had to get rid of a tote bag full of foods which were expired. Since the majority was dry or canned goods--and the items were only at most a week or 2 out of date--these items went to the critter spot by the woods. Items seriously out of date were thrown in the trash.

Up next was the process of cleaning out the freezers. Especially the chest freezer...oh wow was it bad! You would not believe the waste!  I threw away at least 25 lbs of food. Due to expiration, freezer burn or no idea what it was. UGH!! I am so angry with myself. Literally throwing money away because we were too tired to dig through the freezer or too lazy to plan.

Prepare Menu's
I made some menu's. We are approaching this in a weekly basis. I will continue to go to the grocery store and we will allow options to dine out--just not as frequently! We already had some circumstances which required to tweak the 1st week. I think to be successful, there has to be some flexibility. I think with planning I woill have a more clear picture of our preferences. It will also allow me to begin putting thought into making healthier choices.

As far as cost savings goes My goal for January is to save 25% (since I am starting in on a partial month) and 40% for February  of my average grocery spending. I realize this may take me more than 2  months to really see and feel the effects of sticking with the challenge.  I am really going to focus on purchasing only what we need based on our preferences, the meal plans and using coupons and sales to control the spending. I need to limit impulse buys or buying in bulk if it doesn't make sense for our habits.

Change is good!
I would like to say this is a resolution but I hope it to be habit that changes permanently. So wish me luck!!

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