January 2, 2009

I must backpeddle...please to forgive

Well, first of all - I quasi fibbed about my 30-Days of Nuttin' venture. It needs to be paycheck to paycheck - a regular pay period. Our pay period is the 15th to the 15th - so we'll start then. To be honest, after only 24 hours, I was already sweatin the loss and craving me some Potle...(read "Chipotle" or "my obsessive addiction to Mexican food") Needless to say, when I discovered my error and that we really needed to do the program on the pay period - I sighed a guilty sigh that can only come from waaaaay too many meals out and frequent trips to Target.

Meanwhile, with our economy really starting to take a nosedive for a while, money playing hide and go seek, and frugality showing up as everyones new best friend it is safe to say: luck is not being much of a lady, tonight. So with all that we are facing as a nation and the challenges most of us are facing financially - it was an easy jump for me to decide to try some projects out with the New Year.

So as promised - here's the 4-1-1 on the plan:

First of all - let me explain 30 Days of Nuttin Honey. If you're anything like us, then you will relate to eating out too much, shopping too much (even at Walmart) and overall just spending when you don't really need to. This challenge forces you to forgo all that extra spending and only spend money on absolute necessity items, such as milk, diapers, gas, etc. It motivates you to see just how much money you would actually have left over at the end of a month if you're spending was reduced dramatically. In addition, and let's face it - the reason I really need to do this - I need to see just how much we waste every month without even realizing it. I'm scared. Shakin' in my financial boots, to be honest. But, I think it's another 2009 starter "reality check" that's long overdue.

Much like the purging of too much stuff we did this past week - it might be time to look at purging poor spending habits and take a hard look at just how bad the habits have permeated our lifestyle. It's not extravagent living, I assure you. It's here and there and the dollar bins at Target and the this and that and the quick trip into Carter's for Quint. It's all the little stuff that just adds up and up and up. Before we know it, hundreds of dollars have mysteriously turned into picture frames, sodas, candles, jeans, and on too many occassions - dinner and lunch out.

I must give credit again to Mary at Owlhaven for the great idea. She did this with her family and with only a mere 10 children (yes ten, cough sputter hats off), how hard could it be? I thought if she can do it on a razor sharp budget and make it thirty days with ten kids then surely AB and CB could do it with one little man. Right?!? I mean, we could, couldn't we?!? Cough again. You can read about her challenge HERE. Make sure you scour through and read all the post from that month so that you can appreciate all she did to stay up on her challenge. And you can get to know her and her amazing family HERE.

So, in addition to that challenge I have tagged on a little sumpin' I call the "Empty Pantry". This will only work if you spend lots of time and money grocery shopping and not actually eating or using what you buy. If you're throwing out more than you eat because of overdue expiration dates, etc. - then this is the tag-on challenge for you. Or maybe you'd prefer to do just this one instead. Maybe you're a saver and not a spender, so this will be more applicable.

The idea behind "Empty Pantry" is to literally avoid shopping for more than just the basics at the grocery store for a month. Your goal is to quite literally challenge yourself to empty the fridge, freezer and pantry by being creative and using everything you have. If you don't keep a lot at home in the pantry (and some do not, though my thighs cannot relate to those types of people) then again, probably not for you. But for those of us who'd consider a fun date night a trip to Sam's Club - and you know who you are - then we can really have fun with this. I for one, am tired of throwing out food because we couldn't be bothered to make it and instead opted to spend 7 times as much to let someone else make our food.

So this is a temporary, at least, lifestyle challenge - combined. You're avoiding spending for 30 days of your life to see what's left over and in that process, you're getting creative and using up all those frozen chicken breasts, rice packets, and canned veggies.

The good news is that I created two things to help with the project. First, I took an inventory of everything we had. I mean, everything - food and drink wise. So I created a spreadsheet to help me organize that. Second, using my inventory sheet, I created a meal planner to help me set up meals for our family on a weekly basis. As items were used to create a meal, I removed them from the inventory. This way, I always knew what was left to create the next meal plan. I then hung the meal plan for that week on the fridge and we always knew what to expect on any given day. It took the stress out of trying to figure it out at the last minute ("I don't know, what do you want? I don't know, what do you want") Ugh. It also helped to avoid the frustration of not having anything thawed in time and then leading us to just "eat out" to avoid the delay and hassle.

If I knew we had plans on a certain night, I just listed that instead of a meal. We are flexible as well - if we want to switch a couple nights up because our tastebuds aren't cooperating - we go for it. Whatever works to empty the pantry. We realized quickly after the inventory was done that we could literally eat for weeks with very little shopping. Aside from milk, eggs, and some fresh veggies - we would be self-sufficient living off our pantry for a while.

If you would like me send you the templates I have for the meal planner and the Inventory - keeping in mind you can change them to whatever works for you and that they are simple spreadsheets - I'll be happy to send them to you. E-mail me at cbemptypantry@yahoo.com and I'll send them out on Monday.

So, that's the drippings of the project and like I said - we're starting the 15th. I'll try to blog as often as I can during that 30 days to let you all know how we're doing, what's working and what's not, and what creative menus we come up with to get us through. I'll also take pics of the pantry before and after - should be interesting!

Who's with me? Anyone? Crickets chirping...

Well, if you decide to do it be sure to let me know so I can link to your blog for those curious to follow your 30-Days and/or Empty Pantry project. Not saying it will be easy - at all. I'm sweating just thinking about giving up my Potle. I'm also not saying that we won't fall off the wagon once or twice - but it's all about making your best effort and seeing how much you can accomplish with it. What can it hurt? (sob...Chipotle...)


Catherine said...

Lots of good ideas here Christie!

Young Creations said...

I am in. I need this so bad. You can link my blog and I will start on the 15th as well.
Thanks for the good ideas.

Single PAP said...

i love this idea! i didn't know you had written it cause you have 2 new posts above it.. i bet others would follow suit if they could read about it still. that said, i am not prepared to start on the 15th... i am still trying to work on your purge idea! you are way to swift with all the amazing changes in your house! :)

Rebecca and Andrew said...

Wow, you are amazing! I'd like to say I'll start on the first (our next payday) but we'll be in ET bringing home R&R. And then, I'm sure after we get home, I'll have forgotten all about the challenge and be so knee deep in baby love that it'll take me awhile to get back on track! BUT, I'd love to do this soon. I'm gonna send you an email so I can (hopefully) be reminded by your spreadsheets and menu's!
Again, Wow, girl! I don't know where you live, but I think you and I would be great friends! =)