Save money with a 'pantry challenge'
Step 1: Look in your cupboards, fridge and freezer. Step 2: Get creative
- Far fewer out-of-pocket food expenses -- I've had to buy only milk, eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
- A major clear-out of cupboards, fridge and freezer -- important, because in two weeks I'm moving to Alaska.
Sunk-cost cooking means a smaller grocery bill. Using up older ingredients prevents food waste. Once your freezer is emptied you can defrost it, so it runs more efficiently.
You even get to be more imaginative. How else are you going to turn out an entrée with a bunch of possibly unrelated ingredients?
'Renewed sense of creativity'
Not that a pantry challenge means eating badly. Jessica, of the Good (Cheap) Eats blog, says the experience produced "a renewed sense of creativity in the kitchen."
"I ended up throwing together some yummy meals that we revisited even once the challenge was over," she says. (Post continues below video.)
In my case, the meals haven't been particularly creative; fancy cooking isn't a priority for me. But I've used up a lot of odds and ends, finished last year's wild blackberries, and completely emptied the chest freezer, which I plan to take north with me. I've even gotten almost to the bottom of a 10-pound bag of dry beans.
I've spent very little money on food lately. The savings will be applied to the cost of my move. What you do with your own pantry challenge savings is up to you. Put it in the bank, snowball a debt, bulk up your holiday shopping fund or spend it all on your favorite hobby.
First, though, take a few minutes to feel smug. You saved money, avoided waste and maybe even created a new recipe or two. Bonus: You no longer to have to look at that can of smoked oysters.
More from MSN Money:
I stock up on items when they are on sale. Canned goods, veggies, soups etc will keep for a long time and some months I will go through times of "living off the shelves" especially during the winter when I'm trying to stay above water with the cost of fuel to heat my home.
Just a comment though. Did anyone else notice the people in the main article about the hungriest states in the nation? Few of those people looked like they've missed many meals.
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
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Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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