The Trials of a Busy Mom

Eat from the pantry challenge week 3

This week wasn’t as much fun, in the way of grocery shopping. Since I blew my budget at Costco last Saturday, I didn’t even have any budget to work with this week. I made it to Friday before I had to break down and go to the store. I just made a quick run to Kohlers for bread, milk and produce. They had some of their bakery bread on sale for 50 cents per loaf, though, so I grabbed four loaves. I made it out of there only spending $22.

I did cave and go to Walgreens this week, since I had some pictures I needed to print for invitations for Jenna’s upcoming birthday party. I had register rewards to use (free money!) and they had such a screaming deal on Pepsi, I bought a few cases of that. I don’t really count that as my grocery budget, since it’s not really groceries, but maybe I’m cheating. Who knows?

I have reached my budget of $100. I’m not done with the month, yet, so I’m pretty sure I will go OVER my goal. But it’s been a good experience. A learning experience.

As this challenge winds down, let me share a few things I’ve learned.

1- Even if it’s a great deal, it’s not necessary to buy every item. I tend to overbuy when something is one sale, and then I end up with four cases of granola bars in the basement that may or may not get eaten before they go stale. Do we eat granola bars? Yes. Does that mean I need to buy 100 of them right now? No.

2- The thing we couldn’t live without was milk. While we tried to ration and only drink 2-3 gallons of milk for the week, I don’t want to deprive my kids of the calcium rich goodness of milk. I mixed up some powdered milk, but that doesn’t really taste like fresh milk, so they don’t like it. They do, however, like the morning moo’s strawberry milk. I had a #10 can in the pantry, and the kids really liked that. That was our only can, however. I’m going to have to get some more of that stuff, so that if we DO need to drink powdered milk, it will be something they’ll actually drink.

3-We waste a lot of food around here. Even this month, as I’ve been trying to stretch our food budget and use what we have, I’ve thrown out leftovers and food that’s gone bad. I guess I’m in the habit of making HUGE batches of food, and sometimes it’s too much for our family to eat. I mean, if I’m going to make cookies, or muffins, or a casserole, I might as well make a double, or a triple batch, right? I mean, if I have to get out all the stuff, it’s better to only get it out once and save me some work, right? I think I need to put 1/2 of that big batch of whatever in the freezer right away, instead of serving the whole “pot of soup” to my family for dinner. After they eat it once, they aren’t too keen on eating leftovers in the same week, and then it sits in the fridge and sometimes it gets used, and sometimes it doesn’t. The same goes with buying from Costco. While it may be a great deal to buy 6 heads of romaine lettuce for $3, will we use all of that, or do I end up throwing it out? So, I guess I need to recognize what we have in the fridge, and not overbuy, or overcook.

4- Ham and cheese are very necessary. Kids start to freak out if they can’t have their ham and cheese sandwiches. Seriously.

5-I need to set up a better rotation system with my food storage. I just let the kids go down and pick out cereal if they think we don’t have any “good” cereal in the pantry, but I need to have them “take from the left side” or something like that. I went down today to organize our cereals, and take stock of what we have left. I have 37 boxes of cereal in my food storage (and 10 more in my pantry). And half of them had “best use by” dates of 2009 or earlier. This tells me that we are NOT doing a very good job of rotating the cereal. But I did organize them, and after school today I’ll take the kids down and we can have a little lesson. Take from the left. I also feel like I might need to join a 12 step program for overshoppers. Hello, my name is Paige, and I buy too much cereal. Hi, Paige.

6-I would like to continue this challenge for another month. Seriously. We have a lot more stuff in the freezer and the pantry that need to be used up, and while it might kill me to not use the coupons I’ve been collecting, I think it’s a good experiment. I will continue to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy and some bread, but the staples and meat should come from what we have. Yes, I’m going to have to make an exception for an upcoming birthday party and valentine’s day, but I think I can do it. Yes, we might be eating mystery meat, and yes, I may go completely crazy and fall totally off the wagon, but I’m willing to give it a try.


  1. Janice Johnson

    I have two shelved empty in the freezer and it is so liberating! I’ve learned some similar lessons (like making way too much food) and I discovered a ton of frozen fruit in my freezer I need to make breakfast smoothies with this week.

  2. jen

    I really wish I’d been in a place to complete this challenge with you. Unfortunately, newborn babies take their tolls in many ways. We did sort through our storage tonight for FHE, and we found potato pearls older than Tucker (1992), exploding #10 cans of peaches from 1999, and raided, empty 72-hour kits.
    Time for a re-eval.
    Maybe I’ll take up that challenge after the wedding . . .

  3. amy

    You go girl! If you’re dying to let your coupons go to waste this month, just send ’em my way! I might give you a gallon or two of milk as an exchange. . . 🙂

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