New Year’s RESET: The Pantry Challenge

At the beginning of the New Year resolutions are made to create a better year than the previous year, to quit old habits, develop new habits, and make improvements.  There is also the burden of paying down the credit card debt, rebuilding a savings account, or a checking account used for Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, or any number of holidays during the winter.  According to Investopedia, 55% of Americans were expected to spend between $500 and at least $1,000, 32% expected to spend at least $100 to $499 on Christmas. Sometimes the recovery from such spending can be quite daunting. Another aspect that must be handled is all the food left in the refrigerator or pantry, not to mention all the food stores you’ve accumulated throughout the year, languishing in disuse.

Since we’re dirt poor and can’t afford to be extravagant during the holiday season, I will try to recoup the $499 through a Pantry Challenge.  The concept is quite easy and it also helps with decluttering the kitchen and removing any products which may be close to expiring or have expired and I didn’t notice. The challenge forces me to look at the items in my refrigerator, cabinets, and pantry. I then have to come up with creative ways to use the food.  The Pantry Challenge is a sort of spring cleaning, but with food. An added bonus of the challenge is that it allows me to reset for the year.

The Pantry Challenge is where I use all of the food and beverage product in my freezer, refrigerator, cabinets, and pantry before purchasing new food.  This can be really fun, especially after the first week when the food starts to dwindle down, because now you can get really inventive and create or discover new recipes which can be used later.  The downside is that you can also create a recipe which can be stored in your memory as something to never try again, except in an end of the world scenario because it is so horrible and why would you subject yourself to that form of torture again.

There are exceptions to the no purchasing of more food rule.  There are items which will need to be purchased because they are a necessity.  Vegetables, milk, and other such items would be examples of necessities. We need variety in eating to stay healthy so, don’t live the last week of the challenge on macaroni noodles and hot sauce, it isn’t healthy and will make the last week quite difficult.  I have children and this requires me to have milk and other foods so they remain healthy and strong. What I do in those instances is wait until I run out of alternatives to what they eat then purchase the food. Each household is different and the necessities will be different depending on each household’s particular needs.   I recommend not being completely rigid in the challenge. Keep the challenge fun and creative, make it a family event or have days when friends will come over and participate in trying something new. The goal is to force ourselves to evaluate the quality of food we have, the amount of food which we waste, and to explore new recipes and ideas on how to create wholesome meals for ourselves, our families, and our friends, with the added of bonus of saving money.   

When the challenge ends I will post how much I spent for the month and areas where I felt I could have improved, lessons learned, and some of the new recipes I created. So have fun as you dive into the adventure and let’s all see what we can do.

Disclaimer: If anyone has a medical condition, children in the home, elderly, or any other condition which would make this challenge harmful to your health or those within the household then do not participate. For all others do the best you can but stay healthy.  Participate as best you can with your household needs and never risk your health for the challenge.

Reference: https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1112/average-cost-of-an-american-christmas.aspx

Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Well_stocked_pantry_(13267809744).jpg

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