How to do Your First Pantry Challenge

I know.  It was just Christmas.  But, this pantry challenge is coming and I want you to have this in the back of your mind as you go through the holiday season.

One of the big things about living an Enriched Life, is being able to feed my family healthy, delicious meals and keep costs low.

Soooooo…. It’s nearly Pantry challenge time, baby!  Round 3, we are just getting bettah & bettah!

Pantry Challenge 3
Pantry Challenge 3

January is right there.  Can you believe it?

As we’ve been on our financial journey, I’ve learned that a great way to make money work for us is how we do with the groceries.

Because you decide.

Because you can make a little protein go for 3 healthy meals.  All different meals.  All delicious meals.

But, ahem, the holiday season we’ve been a little more…frivolous, no, fancy, no, lazy, that’s not it either… we’ve just been more spendy on the groceries.

Spendy.  It’s a word.  Okay, not really, but you know that feeling.

We have been wasting food.  It makes me angry at myself.  And ashamed.

GoodCheapEats, one of my favorite blogs for healthy, budget-friendly meals walked me through a pantry challenge years ago.

Oh?  A pantry challenge?  Sounds a little weird at first.  I attempted my first pantry challenge two years ago and it was a real win for our family!  Last year was when more people got really excited about saving money on the groceries, paying off big bills, and really making some great financial strides.

Know what else?  A pantry challenge is seriously…FUN.  It’s like food Tetris.  Seriously.

You know you’ve got to make it work through the 31 days and spend as little as possible but still make sure your family is eating healthy, delicious meals.  I love the challenge part of it all!

A pantry challenge is:

  • a chance to clean out your kitchen,  make sure you eat the food you’ve already purchased to avoid waste
  • time to take inventory of what your family eats regularly to ensure they are getting healthy meals
  • one month (or the time frame that’s best for your family) to minimize the food budget and give your debt payments a nice boost
  • a chance to look at the small appliances in the house and eliminate them (giving you some prime counter space)
  • a pause to reflect on grocery shopping habits
  • a creative break to try new food combinations as you “shop your pantry”

A great way to clean out the kitchen, avoid waste, take inventory, and shop smarter AND can also help the family save some money?

Sounds like a perfect January project.  There’s something so refreshing about starting the year this way!

And, like seasons of the year, you’ll come to expect a good pantry challenge in your life.

Last year, my friend Amy,  sent me a message saying, “I think it’s time for a pantry challenge.”

My husband mentioned during December, “You know, hon, we should do another pantry challenge to start the year off…”

Uh, yes please.  I love it when the people around you are working together, setting goals and building each other up like a power team.  It’s so amazing!

Let’s make those dollars s-t-r-e-t-c-h.  So, those few days after Christmas, is the perfect time to look through your pantry and plan for a healthy January pantry challenge.

My Pantry Challenge Goal

Our usual monthly grocery budget is $300 per month.

My personal goal: Spend half of that and make sure that we eat well.

Half?!  Like $150 for the entire month?

We did it once.  I’m hoping we stay well below the 150 mark for the month.

How to Get Ready for your First Pantry Challenge

I know.  It feels weird thinking that you are going to feed your family healthy meals on half your normal budget.

But, you can do this.  And you won’t starve.  And you’ll be amazed at all the yummy things you can come up with to feed your family.  They will be amazed.

You’re nervous about this, I know.  I’ve got ya covered, girl.

I’ve created your Pantry Challenge Guide and I’ll send you my own insights.  Like, how to prepare for a month; food combos that have worked for us; and my best kept secrets.

Fill out the form and I’ll send you the Guide to help you through the month.  Print it out, keep it by your recipes, or in your phone.  We’ll be going through this together!

Get Your Pantry Challenge Guide

Pantry challenge 3

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Money, Time & Energy. Your limited resources.

My interview with Tiffany Han

Please meet Tiffany Han, host of Raise Your Hand Say Yes, and my former coach.  She shares her powerful money story with us today.  We talk in depth about how to focus on changing your behavior, how to move forward and what our real limited resources are.

She is one amazing human!

Tiffany Han on Think Enriched
Tiffany Han on Think Enriched

Today we discuss:

  • Her money story.  How she ignored it until she had communion with money.
  • To welcome money & abundance in her life, she set 2015 as the year to fall in love with money.
  • She had a once a month “Money Love Day.”
  • Tiffany made it a positive experience going through the books.
  • How to make the budget match your real life. What is on paper needs to find the system that works for you.
  • Finding someone else’s system is a great place to start.  Build on that and make it work for you.
  • Tiffany’s parable of the planners.
  • The power of baby steps to make progress.  The “needs vs. wants” dilemma.
  • [clickToTweet tweet=”It’s uncomfortable? So what. Move on. @thetiffanyhan @itsamyrobles” quote=”It’s uncomfortable? So what. Move on. “]
  • The awareness of the lack of habit makes you uncomfortable.  The shame, emotion & guilt can hold you back.
  • Self-talk affects eeeeverything.
  • [clickToTweet tweet=”Self-talk affects eeeeeverything. @thetiffanyhan @itsamyrobles” quote=”Self-talk affects eeeeeverything.”]
  • Creativity brings blessings, but you don’t have to believe that voice in your head.  You choose what you listen to and how to move forward.
  • Say to yourself, “I wonder what would happen if…”
  • Just get curious.
  • How do you know when you are ready to work with a coach:  Recognize what you need will help you find the right person.
  • Be willing to ask for help & be vulnerable.
  • It’s okay to be uncomfortable, it means you’re making progress.
  • Decide how you want to spend your money and get really deliberate.
  • Money, Time & Energy: these are the available resources.
  • Start today.  Do something NOW.  Anything you can do now will make your life better down the road.
  • “A year ago you’ll wish you started today.”
  • It’s not scary.  It’s just numbers.
  • You get to decide who has the power.
  • It’s uncomfortable?  So what.  Move on.
  • Whatever it is, do that.  Those things that make you feel empowered will transcend into other areas of your life.

You know about the Think Enriched Crew, but are you in yet?

Subscribe in iTunes.  Or Stitcher Radio.

Rate & Review the show.

Have a question.  Send me an email:  amy@thinkenriched.com.

Pantry Challenge, January 2016

Pantry challenge, baby.  Better get yo’ dancin’ shoes!

It’s January.  Again.  Can you believe it?

Pantry Challenge 2016
Pantry Challenge 2016
thinkenriched.com

As we’ve been on our financial journey, I’ve learned that a great way to make money work for us is how we do with the groceries.

GoodCheapEats, one of my favorite blogs for healthy, budget-friendly meals walked me through a pantry challenge .

Oh?  A pantry challenge?  Sounds a little weird at first.  I attempted my first pantry challenge last year and it was a real win for our family!

Know what else?  A pantry challenge is seriously…FUN.  It’s like food Tetris where you know you’ve got to make it work through the 31 days and spend as little as possible but still make sure your family is eating healthy, delicious meals.  I love the challenge part of it all!

A pantry challenge is made to help you:

  • clean out your kitchen and make sure you eat the food you’ve already purchased to avoid waste
  • take inventory of what your family eats regularly to ensure they are getting healthy meals
  • shop smarter.  If your kids don’t eat that “one meal” you love- you don’t have to make it every week.

So, it’s a great way to clean out the kitchen, avoid waste, take inventory, and shop smarter AND can also help the family save some money?

Sounds like a perfect January project.  There’s something so refreshing about starting the year this way!

My friend Amy, sent me a text while posting this saying, “I think it’s time for a pantry challenge.” Even my husband mentioned during December, “You know, hon, we should do another pantry challenge to start the year off…”

Uh, yes please.  I love it when the people around you are working together, setting goals and building each other up like a power team.  It’s so amazing!

Care to join me? I thought so.  Let’s make those dollars s-t-r-e-t-c-h and use every drop of their value this month.

There are a couple steps in the process:

1.  Prepare for the Pantry Challenge.

After the major power outages in November, I’ve taken inventory of our pantry & freezer.

To start though, you’ll need to through the pantry, the freezer, and all the food storage cupboards. I’m talking all of it.

Throughout the month, I’ll be reporting what we have, evaluating how to use the food, and make an overall plan. (This will include a major clean out of the pantry.  I love a clean house!)

And yes, I’ll show you what’s going on here. Even if it isn’t my best work.  We are all here to learn

2. Make a menu.

Next, I plan to make a menu on how to use all the foods and not have leftovers day after day.

After a couple of years of learning to cook for just the three of us, this is becoming easier…but I’m still no success story.

I have never been successful at making a menu and sticking to it.  But we’ve made some progress this year.  This is one of those goals that will happen little by little.

I’d like to start making bread at home again.  I loved doing that before but somehow, just got too busy.  And by making it at home, I mean make the dough in the breadmaker then putting it in a pan to rise.  That’s my kind of homemade.

What about the crock-pot?  I know there are people who have love stories written to the power of that little guy.  I don’t quite get it.  But this another area I hope to have some success.  And possibly a steamy romance story about how it’s saved me from dinner drama.

3.  Shop for only the essentials.

During January, we plan to shop only to replenish the fruits and veggies, milk and cheese and use up everything from our home.

We have half a turkey breast roast, half a ham, some salmon, ground turkey and ground beef in the freezer to get us through the month. I plan to try more veggie recipes.  The idea of just trying this is a great game in my mind!

I’ll be reporting our shopping trips, what was purchased, what I thought we needed and really don’t or vice-versa. Our usual monthly grocery budget is $300 per month.  I am hoping to spend only half of that and make sure that we eat well.

Half?!?!?  Like $150 for the entire month???  Yup.

Think we can do it?  Me too!

Tell me now, how do you plan to save money in January?

5 Ways Finances Keep You from Being Boring

5 Ways Finances Keep you from Being BORING
5 Ways Finances Keep you from Being BORING
ThinkEnriched.com

When you tell people you are a personal finance blogger, they think  you’re just writing all day are about numbers.

Numbers are math.  Numbers, in high school, were… like… suuuuper boring.

Ugh.  So la– lame.  (Uh, That’s French for lame.)

If all we were talking about here is was the math, the numbers, percentages and compounded interest, it would get… like, waaay boring.

Seriously.  Snoozefest. Riding the ZZZZZ train.  Totally Drab.  Boring.

Know what’s not boring?

  • Your incredible life. 
  • The people you love.   
  • The opportunities that you are taking.  
  • The places you want to find that no one has ever heard of yet.  
  • The travel you want to do and taste the most surprising, flavorful, exotic foods.
  • The gifts you want to bestow on those most precious to you.  
  • The dream you want so badly but haven’t even DARED to share out loud. 

Those?  Seriously.  So.  Not. Boring.

When we talk about money, especially if we are doing it right, it’s not really about the numbers.

And it’s seriously.  So. Exciting.

Starting out with finances, it can be a bunch of math and getting your numbers running smoothly.

But this isn’t about math.  Money + the math (finances) + YOU = Creating the life you’ve always wanted.  {See what I did there?  BOOM.  You just brought back the high school algebra.  Look at you, getting all mathematized today!}

[Tweet “”Money + the math (finances) + YOU = Creating the life you’ve always wanted.” via @itsamyrobles”]

Here are 5 Ways Finances Keep you from Being Boring.

1. You drive your own MoneyBus.

Your MoneyBus, or budget, will be different that mine.  That’s what’s so great about this.  So you’ve got student loans to pay but still want to be able to have that killer Star Wars party in a couple months?  I get it.  I understand the force.  Make it happen, young Padawan.

You get to decide.

It’s your budget.  It’s your money.  You create the restrictions and freedom you have today.  You learn to weigh the decisions to make it worth your while.  So you want to learn how to play the guitar?  Superb.  Just get it on your MoneyBus.

Consider the weight of the decision of having something you want right now vs. having something you will really need down the road.  But it’s your MoneyBus.

2. Starting to drive your MoneyBus is like learning to drive a stick shift. Then it gets really FUN.

The first time you ever drove a stick shift you didn’t quite get it, did ya?  I about killed me and my Uncle trying to learn to drive his cool tan ’81 Datsun in a local church parking lot.  He was terrified and to so not to panic, he just kept laughing.  That only made me more determined to figure it out.  I couldn’t make the timing of pressing on the gas while releasing the clutch a smooth transition.  I kept jerking us both forward and back.  And he kept laughing.  I still don’t know why he stayed in the car.

That’s a devoted uncle.

Did I finally figure it out that summer evening?

Nope.  Not even close.   I probably gave us a small dose of whiplash, too.

A few more times practicing and I finally figured it out.  Then I drove a stick shift Honda Civic for YEARS.  And every time someone would tell me they don’t know how to drive a stick shift, I’d tell them about that night in the church parking lot with my Uncle.  Seriously, not boring.

That’s how it is when you are first starting to figure out a budget.  The numbers don’t quite work.

Don’t expect it to run smoothly that first time.  It will feel like you’re jerking forward and have to quickly stop to remember another unexpected payment.

But after a couple of tries it starts running smoothly.  You will be in a position where the budget just runs.  For YEARS.  And you’ll look back on those first couple of budgets and laugh.  And possibly remember the neck pain with nostalgia.

3. Fixing your finances gives you power.

You know that guy?  Everybody knows that one guy that doesn’t want to go do anything, he would very much prefer staying home, ordering pizza and playing video games.

Every so often the random tournament would make a fun-filled evening.

But every weekend of your life?  Uh, not so much.  I’ve wondered about that guy.  It’s either a video game addiction or a complete lack of creativity and power.   And possibly, both.

When you get the finances in order you can see not only how you spend your money- but your time.

Time + Money = Control in your life.  Clearly, you can’t control everything- but your control has increased dramatically.  That gives you power.

Power in your life, control over all the decisions you overlooked, is the antithesis of boring.

Here’s the best part:  you don’t have to prioritize your payments, then prioritize your time.  They work hand in hand.  If something is important to you, there will be a way to fit it in your schedule and your checkbook. It just works together.

4. You still get to dream.

Have you met someone who never went to…anywhere?  It’s kind of a drag.

Getting together with friends I love to hear all about their travels.  What did they see?  What did they learn?  Was Paris that romantic…really?

When you don’t have your finances in order you are just stuck.  Trying to decide how you are going to scrimp by the next couple of months so you have money for Christmas gifts is not dreaming- it’s just survival mode.  When you look around and see so many people just stuck in survival mode you know, finances are not in order in the neighborhood.

When you get the money in order, you get to dream.  Like the big dreams.  That trip to Machu Picchu?  Oh yes, it’s going to happen!  That family cruise where everyone is together and looking out for one another?  That’s happening.  The adventurous campout under the stars where you laugh until you have streams of tears running down your cheeks?  Happening.

Because you the finances in order.  You

5. You get to give.  Really give.

I can’t wait for this.  I want to be able to bless the lives of others with those things that they really, desperately need.

Giving feels good.  This week my 4-year old daughter took a little present to her teacher to for Teacher Appreciation Day.  She was so excited!  She spent way too long picking out the perfect nail polish color for her. And her teacher was delighted in the orange and sparkly, gliter-ry purple.  Perfect.  Seeing my little girl squeal and jump for joy while helping teacher open that gift just blew me away.

I couldn’t figure out why this had turned into such a big deal.  Then it hit me!  My daughter has begun to understand what it means to give.  She wants to give.  She was relishing the thrill of anticipation, the rush of giving it to teacher, the feeling and emotion that drives giving.

It was nail polish.

Imagine that rush when you are able to help someone who truly needs something. Like when Oprah gave everybody in the room a car!  Or when you watch Extreme Home Makeover and you see people completely focused on giving and sharing the goods.

No need to Bungee Jump, man. Giving is a total rush.

Don’t think of finances as math and numbers you have to push through.  Think of it as making the life you have always dreamed of having.  A life that’s not boring.  A life that has passion, zest, energy and full of emotion, inspiration and fire!

Because that’s exactly what you’re doing.