As part of our 'no spend (controlled spend) February' (see what we did last year)we are also trying to 'eat from the pantry' - or use up all the things I have bought in the past. There's a good bit in there for our family of 3 so I think we can do it, with the exception of perishables. Even canned goods have a 'best by' date so they don't last forever. It also gives me a chance to really see what I have in the pantry.
To get this started I went through the pantry and cabinets to see what kinds of goodies I had accumulated and made a list. I went through the freezer as well - frozen doesn't mean forever, either. Looking at my list I did a meal plan for the month of February. We have a hockey tournament one weekend so that means I won't be cooking much so I have budgeted for any eating out we might do.
I have also made a list of anything I think I might need to get me through the month - we are out of garlic pepper, for example, so I will buy that tomorrow on my one (hopefully) shopping trip.
From my pantry I have come up with some pretty tasty dinners (the italicized items are in the pantry/freezer):
- Chicken alfredo (alfredo mix, fettuccine, chicken, garlic bread*)
- Corn chowder w/chicken (corn, chicken)
- Veggie soup (chicken broth, green beans, canned tomatoes, tomato paste)
- Lasagna (noodles, spaghetti sauce,ground beef, ricotta, garlic bread*)
- Chicken stir fry (chicken, rice, pineapple, stir fry sauce)
- Ham steak sandwiches (ham steak, bread)
- Pot roast (roast, onion soup mix, banana peppers)
- Clam chowder (clam chowder, garlic bread*)
That's a pretty good start I think. There will be leftovers from lasagna and the soups, too which I will take advantage of on hockey nights.
*Garlic bread: I buy french bread on sale from the bakery and freeze it. My last loaf was 98 cents and lasted for about 4 meals. :) I use fresh garlic and butter to make it garlic bread.
All of my meals also include either salad or fresh veggie or both, and sometimes a fruit. I will shop for these types of items and I buy what is in season/on sale so I never know from week to week what I will serve.
Regarding lunch and breakfast: I generally do not menu plan for those meals because my husband eats lunch out M-F (business lunches) so I don't pack him lunch. I do pack his breakfast (Ezekiel toast w/ agave & peanut butter and 10 almonds-everyday) and a snack (usually a 100 calorie pack - it pains me to do that but...) I pack LM's lunch everyday - she eats the same thing everyday (like father, like daughter)-turkey sandwich w/lettuce, carrots, fruit & and sweet (granola bar, pudding, etc). Breakfast is usually cereal and fruit or eggs & toast. I make a sandwich for lunch for me with whatever I have.
I know many people do eat from the pantry challenges and I really love doing it myself. I find that I am more creative and spend less $$. Much of what gets accumulated in the pantry are things on sale (really good sales) that I think I'll use but don't get around to. Plus I love the time I save having to NOT go shopping.
Have you ever done a pantry challenge? How did it work?
I'll have more info on my no spend February later this week. It will be our 4th year. Think my husband is finally getting used to it!
Linking up to Frugal Friday @ Life as Mom.