Monday, January 4, 2016

Pantry Challenge #1 ... 2016

Happy New Year! 

It’s a brand new year and I’ve spent the last few days getting organized and ready for it.  I’ve got my goals set for 2016 and am ready to start baby stepping my way through them.

My personalized homemade planner is finished and ready for use. 
This year, like a lot of other people, we’re having to tighten our financial belts due to huge increases in the cost of our monthly health insurance premiums.   That ‘financial tightening’ will be reflected in my weekly pantry challenges … in what we do and don’t do!

So let’s see what I’ve done and what I haven’t done since my last pantry challenge in 2015 …

My to-do list from last time:

I didn’t have one!

In addition:

Our son and daughter-in-law spent Christmas with us and when out shopping one day came across hams on sale for $.77/lb.  They purchased one and gifted it to us.  We added it to the freezer part of our pantry!  Our son and daughter-in-law are learning how to bargain shop and we were the lucky recipients of this bargain!

 Our daughter-in-law also came across a really good sale on Whitman chocolates that were in beautiful tins.  She gifted us with one of the tins and after the candy was eaten from it (Yes, I did help with the emptying of the container … it was so good!) I took a good look at that tin and knew instantly what I would use it for.  Since it has a hinged lid, it would be perfect to house and carry around the small cross stitch projects I enjoy doing and that is exactly what I did with it.  I toyed with the idea of painting the tin, but decided that it was just too pretty as it was to change so I am using and enjoying it as it is!

After the holidays were over and our kids and grandchildren had gone home, we found ourselves with more bread than we would use so … I am making bread crumbs … I’m letting the bread, which has been torn into smaller pieces, air dry.  Yes, I have a dehydrator, but letting them air dry saves on our power bill.

We were gifted a corned ham for Christmas by a dear friend and after enjoying it for a couple of meals and leftovers, I froze enough of it to have for 2 more meals.

Our Sam’s Club find this week were these boxes of sugar cookie mix … on clearance for $1.91 per box.  We added them to our pantry for use when we have little ones visiting or when we need to take food to someone else. 

In our area, this time of the year, hog jowl goes on sale.  You can get it sliced, or unsliced (unsliced is cheaper).  We love hog jowl so our goal every year is to purchase a year’s supply when it goes on sale and freeze it.   Last year we found it unsliced, for $1.19 a pound … a much better price than bacon in our area which is currently running in the $3 - $4 per pound range.  And for those of you wondering what hog jowl is, it is nothing more than thickly sliced bacon that comes from the jowl of the hog.  This year the best price we could find was $1.29/lb unsliced.  Since we have a meat slicer we purchased several packages and my husband sliced it himself using our meat slicer.  We added 25 meal size packages to our freezer plus 6 packages of scraps and chunks which were too small for slicing that we’ll use for seasoning purposes.   In addition, we left out enough for 2 meals which we enjoyed this week.

I saved the grease from the hog jowl we cooked, strained it up and refrigerated it for future seasoning use.

I saved ribbons and gift bags from gifts at Christmas.  The ones I saved are in excellent condition and there’s no reason not to reuse them.

I continue to work on earning Swagbucks that will be redeemed for Amazon gift cards, done a couple of Pinecone surveys and am working on earning points through Bing that I’ll also redeem for Amazon gift cards.  It all adds up over time and will be used to help keep our pantry stocked.

I was in the mood for something light and simple to read this week so I read The Photograph by Beverly Lewis (affiliate link).  This is book #1 in my attempt to read at least 25 books this year.

I am taking part in The Vicky Challenge.

I have also started a ledger recording all of our monies spent and expenditures. We should be able to discover areas we can further save in by doing this.

Here are some things I didn’t do:

I didn’t do any after Christmas sale shopping. 

Here’s my pantry to-do list for the upcoming week/month:

I have a canning/preserving marathon planned for January so I’m going to get started on that.   I have the following that needs to get done in January:

Can pinto beans

Can white beans

Can kidney beans

Make bread crumbs.  We don’t use a lot of bread crumbs since we are low-carb eaters, but I’m not about to let these stale pieces of bread, etc go to waste!  The bread crumbs will last us a very long time at the rate we will use them!

Make turmeric capsules

Make vitamin c capsules

Make a batch of laundry powder (The last time I made it was in November 2013 … the last batch lasted over 2 years!!!)

Now it’s your turn, what have you done to build up your pantry or live frugally?

She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27

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