Remember when Anton and I went on our January 2009 30-Days of Nothing and Empty Pantry kick??? Anyone? Crickets chirping?? Very challenging but highly productive in many ways – not only did we save money, but we got a firsthand TRUE look at how much we spend, how often, and how our impulses and schedule affect our choices.
Well, with the economy in the tank and no end in sight - we’ve been feeling the motivation build up to have another go at it.
So we’ve chosen SEPTEMBER as the month. Yes, that’s about ten days away. Who’s with us? Anyone? Crickets chirping??
Think of it this way – it’s before the holidays, it won’t affect your festivities, and back-to-school is a great time to get focused and hammer out your Fall schedule. What a great time to clean the pantry, save some cash for the upcoming season, and get your family back around the dining room table. Eh? Anyone? Crickets….nevermind.
If you’re interested – a couple things will be happening. I’ll be opening up Comments (gasp!) for the month of September. That gives you the chance to let us and other readers know that you’re participating as well as ask questions, etc. If you leave questions in the comments, I will answer each of them in the following post.
Let’s get the basic premise down for a refresher and I’ll steel this content (with some revisions) from my previous 30-Day Challenge:
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 Wal-Mart/Target - maybe especially so?) 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 – many of us need a reality check for how and why and where we spend our hard earned cash and how it affects our families in real dollars.
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 solid month to look at just how bad the habits have permeated our lifestyle. It's not extravagant 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 Starbucks here and there (or everyday, if that’s your thing). 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 occasions - 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 two little ones. 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 posts 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 challenge yourself to quite literally 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 hips 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 taste buds 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 HERE.
So, that's the gist. Wanna try?
We’re starting Thursday the 1st of September – and I’ll be blogging our way through the challenge – with daily menus, pictures of our food creations, and I’m QUITE SURE – blathering on and on about how much I miss Chipotle. Though I will tell you right now – it is highly unlikely we will not eat out at all during the month. It’s just our life. Sad but true. More so, the goal is that we will drastically decrease the occurrence rate of eating out, save wherever we can – including groceries, coupon when possible, and be more aware of how to cut corners. Should be nothing if not interesting! Julia vs. Julia move ova’!
Don’t be afraid! I’ve survived it, and so can you. You will be AMAZED how much you can spend on frivolity. And you will stand shocked at what you have left at the end of the month. Shocked, I tell you.
It's all about making your best effort and seeing how much you can accomplish with it. What can it hurt? (sob...Chipotle...)
I’d like to feature other bloggers who give it a go – so please do LEAVE A COMMENT (yes, I’m actually encouraging it) if you’re up for the challenge and want to partner alongside us. Even if you don't have a blog - chime in and let us know you're on the ride with us! The more the merrier…
Ten days and counting to get ready…
On your mark, get set, go make a meal plan and check your pantry!
*More to come about how to prepare for the month without breaking the rules/being counter-productive to the challenge*