For this month’s episode on What’s New In My Kitchen I’m sharing how we shopped our pantry/freezer for a month, how it forced me to learn how to meal plan and inevitably save money! If you’re a hard core meal planner then this likely isn’t the post for you, but if you’re looking for some tips on how to reduce food waste and save money, then keep reading!
Did you see last months post on What’s New In My Kitchen? I shared all about sourdough! Check it out HERE!
I decided to try shopping our pantry/freezer when we got back from a short vacation in Vancouver, the second week of February and do it for a month (until the end of the first week in March). My rules were very simple.
What not to buy:
- Any dried goods
- Restaurants/Take Out
- Cleaning supplies
What was okay to buy:
Basically, if it was fresh, it was okay, except meat. Now I will say, we did purchase a side of pork at the beginning of February and also a mixed meat package from a local butcher in January, so our freezer was stocked with meat. We would have had a harder time without those recent purchases, but I did have other meat in the freezer and lots of already prepared meals in the freezer.
My goal of doing this was simple. Save money and use up stuff that had been lingering in the freezer and cupboards for a long time. Now in doing this, I had to become creative with meals and that required a bit of planning, something I do a terrible job at in the kitchen, but I was determined to make this month of shopping the pantry work! I was inspired by other meal plans and decided to make one up for myself to see if it would help. Sure enough, I have really enjoyed the process and it further helped to save money, waste less food and use up what we already had.
The biggest change for me was to STOP asking, “what would we like to have for supper,” and START asking “what needs to be eaten,” or “what do we already have.” This was a game changer for me. It seems so simple, but it was really just about breaking the habit. It really helped adding the section “things to use,” on my meal plan template.
Meal Planning For The Win
I’m one of those people who struggles every day on what to make for supper. People have suggested to me before to try meal planning, but I just kept thinking, how could meal planning possibly work for me if I can’t even plan one night? I just didn’t think it was something for me. Plus, if I couldn’t decide what to eat one day, how was I supposed to decide what to eat for 7 days all at the same time! Let me tell you, MEAL PLANNING ACTUALLY WORKS!
If you sit down once a week, have a look in your pantry and cupboards, decide what needs to be used up, think about what meals you can make out of that, write it down, make a list of groceries you don’t have, shop your grocery list, then for the next SIX DAYS, you don’t have to think about what’s for supper! You know how much of a relief that is? To take the thought out of one extra thing a day! I don’t know about you, but my memory is terrible, there’s just too many things in a day to remember, so why not take one more thing off your list and brain!
I’ve you’ve never tried meal planning then I strongly encourage you to just give it a try! Try one week and see, you might be pleasantly surprised. I sure was! You can even get a copy of my FREE MEAL PLAN, just enter your email below so I can send it to you!
Did I Save Money?
You’re probably wondering, was it worth it? I used up lots of pre-made freezer meals, things that might not have been our first choice for a meal, but that we needed to eat up before it spoiled, so that’s a win. I learnt how to meal plan which can also save a lot of money in the future to shop more efficiently and continue to have less waste, another win. In 30 days, cooking for 2 adults and 1 child, I spent $342 CAD, which I think is a big win! I’m not going to lie…we don’t have a grocery budget and I can’t tell you exactly how much we spend on groceries every month, I’m just not a budget person either… but so far in March (excluding the first week because that was part of our shop the pantry month), we have spent over $500, which includes eating out. We don’t eat out often, but it adds up so quick!
I only cheated once too! haha I was by myself one afternoon and snuck fast food for lunch and we had a family lunch at a restaurant near the end of our 30 days (okay maybe that is twice :P), otherwise I’m really proud of how we did. It was also A LOT harder when my husband was home. We didn’t totally see eye to eye at the beginning, but I have to give him credit, he was on board by the end and it has made us a lot more conscious about what we purchase when it comes to groceries.
So YES, I think it was worth it!
Let me know if you give it a try! Meal planning and/or shopping your pantry/freezer!!
This post is NOT sponsored. The opinions are of Sew Bright Creations’.