Doing a PantryChallenge / Freezer Challenge Pt. 1 - The Reasons Why we go again. 
I can't commit. Eek!

Have you ever done a pantry challenge (a.k.a. a freezer challenge)? It's where you commit to using only the foods you have on-hand for the month with the exception of a modest weekly stipend for fresh produce, milk and other perishables.

We did one 2 years ago and then another one a year and a half ago. They helped us in 3 major ways.

1) We saved a ridiculous amount of money. 
For example, our monthly grocery budget is $500 and we spent under $80. Yep. For real. I chose to allot myself $20 per week and I didn't use it all. How much fun could you have with an extra $420? How nice would it feel to pay off some debt?

2) We got out of our usual dinner rut. 
We started eating some new, creative (read: weird) dishes and it really shook things up. It was refreshing to get out of our normal routine and the kids were always so excited to see what adventurous dish was next. Now, some of them might be staples in your home, but they were new to us and we started adding them into our rotation. Who knew that salmon patties made from canned salmon would be such a hit? Not this girl. :)

3) Most importantly to me, we became more content with what we had. 
This was priceless to me. Our kids blew me away with their excitement about what was for supper that night, even when it was something they had never had before (and sometimes never wanted to have again!). We stopped feeling entitled to eating what we wanted and we became content with eating what we had. It. Was. Awesome. Food became fuel instead of a reward that always deserved fanfare. We're not entitled to that anyway and MY love of food had let us slip into that bratty mindset.

OK, bonus benefit #4: It bonded us as a family. 
At the risk of sounding cheesy and "first world problem-y", we felt a sense of pride about sticking to something that was tough. A month is a long time. Cravings don't disappear overnight. Laziness on my part certainly didn't disappear overnight either. I wanted to grab something quick after a long day. We wanted to run through a drive-thru when we were short on time and nowhere near home. I wanted my kitchen to magically clean itself after cooking 93 meals! *twitch, twitch*

But we made it! We were in it together and that blessed us with a neat sense of unity. 

We actually did our 2nd challenge due to the prompting of my son. He thought it was "fun to act all survival-y".  Again with the first world problems, right? I know. But I think if we're all honest with ourselves, this would stretch most people out of their comfort zones. $80 a month for a family of 4 hearty eaters is not normal. 

To be fair, we do have more than one freezer and a very well-stocked pantry. If you don't, then this could be a beneficial challenge to do for a couple of weeks until everything is gone. I was surprised at how much stuff had gotten lost in our very own home. Half-eaten boxes of French fried onions, a frozen batch of chili from 4 years was a nice excuse to get more organized as well. Hey, I guess that's benefit #5!

I might have just talked myself into it. We could all use some extra wiggle room in our budget (especially after Christmas spending, amiright?). 

Part 2 of this Pantry Challenge / Freezer Challenge series will be about how to prepare for it. As with most things in life, your experience can be dramatically improved with a little foresight and planning. 

Are you crazy enough to join me? Could you use a few hundred extra $ this month? Have you ever tried this before? Please share your questions and tips/tricks with us!

Happy Saving, friends!


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