Pantry Challenge 3

Another week of the pantry challenge.   Has it been getting easier or more difficult for you as the month has gone on?

Pantry Challenge 2016 Report
Pantry Challenge 2016 Report

As the pantry challenge continues, there are menus to cover,  shopping trips to make, and for us, it’s been really fun sticking with our plan.

Well, at least, now, after last week’s $9 meltdown, we are on the same team.  This week’s shopping trip was much, much better.

I had a package of frozen noodles (that taste like the homemade kind) and needed to use them.  We had chicken and chicken stock already in the pantry, plus onions and spices on hand.  So we bought fresh carrots & celery for the meal…

And it was deeeelicious.  It fed us for a couple of dinners and lunches.  I seriously love soups this time of year! I’m learning that soups are a great way to use up what is left in the produce container and make it scrumptious!

We also had an avocado, with which we used to make tater stacks.

One of my favorite bloggers Jessica at Good Cheap Eats,  calls them hashbrown stacks, but at our house, it’s a tater stacks, for weekend breakfasts.  Have you tried them?  Holy yum.  We use just regular tater tots (which, with a no name brand is like $1 for a big, big bag) and while they are cooking in the oven, we chop up onions, peppers, cook sausage or ham, and pull it all together in an 3-egg scramble.

Assemble that puppy like a tostada:  tater tots, then the egg scramble, top with fresh avocado, splash of lime and maybe a little salsa.

Seriously, give that a try.

We have enough vegetables that I could make another pot of soups for another week.  I love that I’m looking at the grocery list differently and using the food that we have first.  Making better choices in the kitchen means more money for our family.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Making better choices in the kitchen means more money for our family.” quote=”Making better choices in the kitchen means more money for our family.”]

Here’s our latest receipt for the month.

Receipt 4, Pantry Challenge
Receipt 4, Pantry Challenge

Only $14.37 spent for a week’s worth of healthy eating?  Oh yes.  I’ll take it.

It’s been fun to see the creativity fly as my husband, daughter & I are sharing our dinner ideas!

Here’s where it gets so cool to see what is happening with the financial side of life, too.  We have our bank transfers set up that when each paycheck comes in, an automatic transfer is set up to move the money for groceries to the proper account.  (More coming on this later….)

The transfer had already been made so as we were discussing our options for the rest of the month, we took $300 and put it back into our main account to use for other items coming up.


Can you believe that?  Just by paying more attention, we gave ourselves an additional $300 to use for something else!  Think with me right now…what would you spend an $300 this month?

Is it a bill that’s been haunting you?

Is it a power start to your Christmas fund?

Would you give it to a family in need?

Are you the family in need and could use it to buy school clothes, a few new pairs of socks, and catch up on the shampoo & conditioner?

This is how you get serious about money.  Think about what you would do with the money you are saving.  And once you are very, very specific, so specific that you see it in your mind, then you have the vision to stay to your goal.  Meals can get a bit more creative.

Meals get more creative.  And simple.  (Ironically, as it gets more simple it usually becomes more healthy.  Who knew?)

Because you have the drive.  You the vision.  You are the one maximizing the ingredients.

My sis, Jac, sent me a link this week of a talk I must see.  My favorite quote was the old adage of:

Fix it up, wear it out.  Make it due, or do without.

Society tells us to buy now.  Society wants us to get some new clothes, or kitchen tools, or a new car…all. the. time.  It’s a buy, buy, buy world.

Fix it up
Fix it up,

I’m not buying it.  Neither are you.

We want to be smarter about what we choose to have in life.  We don’t want “stuff” everywhere.  It makes the house messier.  It gets in the way.

We want the freedom to breathe.  We choose to do more with less.

Which is what a pantry challenge is all about.

Here’s the running total on our monthly goal to spend $150 or less this month on groceries.

Pantry Challenge, Balance 4
Pantry Challenge, Balance 4

We have a $45. balance for the rest of the month?  Yes!  We still have half of a ham in the freezer, plus some other proteins on which to build meals.

So much that we have decided to make this an extended pantry challenge.  So what does that mean?  This summer, we’ll be moving to a new location.  We don’t want to have a fully stocked pantry, and a fully stocked freezer to move, especially since we are downsizing.   From now until then, we will make grocery purchases based only on what we need, what is fresh and what we will eat in the next couple of weeks.

Is that how we are supposed to be how we should grocery shop? I have more to learn in this department.

Tell me, how has your pantry challenge gone?  What are you learning?




Big money goals? Don’t worry, you will get there.

This weekend getting to Podcast Movement was one crazy journey.  After checking in my bags at our airport, the clerk gave me a series of commands on how to get to the gate.  It wasn’t just down the hall, it involved waaay too many steps.  He looked at my confused face, slowed down and said, “Don’t worry.  Just keep at it. You’ll get there.”

Big Money Goals? Keep at it. You'll get there.
Big Money Goals? Keep at it. You’ll get there.

That quick act of kindness was so unexpected and genuine, that it made me stop and think about it.  Even now, several days later.

Kind of like you.

And me.

We are on a journey to figure out the money and make it work smoothly for how it can be used for my life. I am talking about finance, thinking about money management strategies, reading about it… a lot.

But sometimes, we don’t need another tactic to try, a coupon strategy to employ, or an app that will help solve the problem of daily budgeting, we  just need  a little encouragement.

You, and I, work relentlessly on our goals, where we are headed and what’s in front of us- that we may forget to stop and look how far we’ve come.

My dear friend, Steve Stewart, at Money Plan SOS (excellent podcast, by the way…definitely worth your time) posts every month how close he is to having his debt paid off.  He has inspired me with the number each month.

Kind of like this…


Sometimes, a hand on your shoulder telling you, “Hey buddy, I see you working hard.  Keep at it. You got this,” is the best thing that could happen.

Like that ultra cool gate clerk said to me at the airport, today I’m telling you.

To you, the Mom wondering how to make dinner on this week’s budget and still make sure the final bills go through this week,

Don’t worry.  You are working hard at this.  Keep at it, girl. You’ll get there.

To that kid just out of college, getting set up for the future career but wondering, “How on earth am I gonna get through that mountain of student loan debt just to create this better life?”

Don’t worry.  Make your plan, stick with it, buddy. Then stick with it.  Even on the tough days.   You’ll get there.

To the guy who has been paying off student loans while trying to keep the family afloat and so, so sick and tired of seeing the balances slowly diminish along the way…

Have peace, my friend.  Keep at it, man. You are doing good things.  You’ll get there.

To the one who is still working hard on all those tiny details to get all the finances in order, streamline your system so you can give yourself a break…

I get it. I was there.  Keep on.  You’ll get there.

And to you, the one, just looking at all that debt, wondering if it’s even worth a try to take a stab at it….and yet, so scared what you might find…

Don’t worry.  Just start.  Keep at it.  Sure, it will be hard at first, but it gets easier.  Much easier.  You’ll get there.

And if you just want to get some insight and non-judgmental perspective from someone who was exactly where you are, let’s talk.  Here’s my email: