I saved our family from spending $680.04 on groceries in the past 30 days.
Well, we did it. We made it for 30 days, making the dinners we ate at home all from what we had in our freezer and pantry, save for produce, bread and dairy that we needed to buy about once a week.
I really should have taken “before” pictures of my two freezers and the pantry. Then you would have fully understand why I embarked on our frugal dinner challenge–to use up what we had been stockpiling on sale because we didn’t have anymore room left to stock our freezer or pantry–and would have fully appreciated these “after” pictures:
As you can see I’ve still got some staples left in my pantry (left)–primarily things I can use to make desserts (cake mix and what not)–as well as soy sauce, vinegar and cooking spray. There are also a few cans of soup but really not much else.
The freezer in our main refrigerator (right) is also relatively bare, though I still have two boxes of Boca burgers in there for my non-hamburger-eating daughter, and some Healthy Choice/Lean Cuisine entrees that we’d stocked up on months ago when they were on sale for about a buck a box. (I find them to be quick, convenient lunches to have around.)
Probably the biggest change is in our extra freezer (left), which we keep near the back door. When I started the Frugal Dinner Challenge, I couldn’t even see the lightbulb in the freezer. Now that freezer is mostly empty except for some ice blocks that you put in a cooler (no nutritional value), random popsicle/icey pops in flavors no one likes (I should really throw them away), and a few more of those Healthy Choice/Lean Cuisines that we’d stocked up on months ago. All of the frozen vegetables have been eaten.
What made the most difference in this freezer was getting the free turkey I’d earned back in November out of there and into the oven. I cooked it on Monday and we had a modified Thanksgiving dinner Monday night–turkey, mashed potatoes, and corn.
With only four people to feed, I’ve got a lot of turkey leftover and now I need to figure out what to do with the rest of it. Of course, I’ll freeze some and maybe make turkey salad but then I’m a bit stumped of how to use up the leftovers before they should be tossed in the trash.
Here is the best part of about Frugal Dinner Challenge: I crunched the numbers and figured out that by using up what we already owned in making dinner–plus eating breakfast at home every morning, and packing lunches for my daughters and my husband every weekday–I saved our family from spending $680.04 on groceries in the past 30 days.
My plan is to take a slightly different approach to grocery shopping going forward. My hope is to spend one month stocking up–and spending money on groceries–and then one month using up what we’d stocked up on and not actively spending money on groceries. I’m hoping that in doing this, I can truly reduce our grocery bills for the long haul.
Tomorrow, I’ll try to post some of the things we ended up making for dinner, so you can get a sense of how we stretched what we already had in the freezer and pantry into a month’s worth of dinners.
If you’ve attempted your own Frugal Dinner Challenge, how did things turn out for you and your family?