Freezer Medley and Pantry Picnics: A Mom tries to Save Money

I don't know how your household runs, but in my home, I do the monthly bills while my hubby takes care of medical accounts and investments.   Knowing that this year we ™d have two kids in college, I ™ve been very cautious with our expenditures.   Still, I told my hubby Brian, that for awhile we were going to be eating beans and rice.   Furthermore, we were going to scale back our dining out experiences until I was comfortable with the checkbook again – I guess he didn't believe me.

That first Monday without kids, he headed off to work, and I got busy with my daily routine.   Around three o ™clock I started thinking about what I was going to prepare for dinner.   I walked into my pantry and stared at the shelves.

kitchen food pantry

This is embarrassing to admit, but I have shelves and shelves of foods that must have sounded good on some long ago shopping trip.   Maybe the purchases were ingredients for a recipe I never made. Why in the world did I buy organic low fat vegetable barley soup?   What possessed me to purchase gluten free fusilli pasta?   Did I really need 13 cans of tomato paste?   My head was spinning, so I decided to check out the fridge instead.

Call us extravagant if you wish, but we have 4 refrigerators that all serve distinct purposes.   There's the wine cooler where we keep our reds and whites at the proper temperature, ready for a party.   There's the kitchen fridge, a side by side, that we live from daily.   There's the party fridge up in the media room, always stocked with a variety of soda and water for kids hanging out at our home.   (Guess I can unplug that one now.)   Finally, there's a second side by side in the laundry room. Here we keep lots of frozen items, and extra drinks.   Again, after checking the two side by sides, I tried to remember why I had purchased frozen butternut squash ravioli?   And just how old were those frozen burritos?   It was then and there, that I fashioned my money-saving strategy.

I decided that until I could empty my pantry and freezers, I was not going grocery shopping.   I wondered how long two people could eat from the food we had on hand.   We are currently at 10 days and counting.   One caveat to this plan is that I can buy fresh milk and juice.   I can also purchase fruit, veggies, or meat, but only enough to add to a meal I am preparing for the day with pantry/freezer ingredients.

My hubby came home from work that day and innocently asked, What's for dinner?      With a knowing smile I replied, I told you, beans and rice!    That day in my pantry I had found red beans, rice and Cajun seasoning.   In the back freezer, I had uncovered smoked sausage.   Honestly, the meal was delicious!   We paired it with steamed veggies (kitchen freezer) and finished it with a peach cobbler (pantry).

Brian loves a challenge, as long as he still gets to eat well, so he joined the in the game as we planned the next couple of feasts.   I have to tell you, we ™ve had some really creative, yummy meals.   Bacon wrapped barbeque shrimp with brown rice, chicken and hash brown cheesy casserole, duck and gruyere paninis, really it's been fun.   My grocery bill for the past 10 days has been exactly $28.17.

Now the task is getting a bit tougher.   Many of the foods that mix well have been eaten and I ™m left with the freaky stuff.   But I will persevere!   Tonight I ™m trying to figure out what I can do with anchovies.   For some reason I have 3 cans of them… any suggestions?

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