Saturday, January 3, 2015

Pantry Challenge #1 ... 2015

Happy 2015!!!!

Are you ready for a challenging year?  Ready or not, it looks like we’re going to be facing one with the recent financial changes that have occurred in our expenses and income. 

The situation looks like this … with the increase in the cost of our health insurance and the decrease in our income we are able to pay our bills but have nothing left for groceries.  Our grocery money will have to come from selling things, any extra money we can earn, gifts, etc.  Our well-stocked pantry is going to be put to good use while we pray and seek answers to our situation.  I cannot tell you how thankful I am that we have it. 

Let’s get 2015 started!

My to-do list from last time:  
The last time I actually had a to-do list I was in the midst of canning up a 25 lb bag of pinto beans.  I also had purchased two #10 cans of tomato sauce that I planned to re-can in pint jars.  So how did I do …
I did not get any more of the beans canned.
I re-canned 7 pints and 2 quarts of tomato sauce plus had a little over a cup left to freeze.

In addition:
(Note:  The monies used to purchase items mentioned below were gift cards or given to us for Christmas … yes, we used our Christmas money to buy food. We prayed before we went shopping and as we were shopping each time we went … God is faithful and we feel like our prayers were answered!)

We couldn’t find a ham at a price that we could afford this year for Christmas, so we went to the freezer part of our pantry and pulled out one we purchased last year on sale for a little over $7.  (Regular price was $32 and some change!)  It was delicious!

We purchased 4 lbs of sausage while at Sam’s Club which has the best price for Jimmy Dean sausage in our area.  I divided the 4 lbs into half pound increments and froze them.  I added 16 half pound serving size packages to the freezer part of my pantry.

We found Russet potatoes on sale for $1.48/10 lbs.  This is a really good sale so we purchased 10 bags and I started canning them.  Thus far I’ve added 53 quarts of potatoes to our pantry.   (We were back in the same store the next day and these same potatoes were $3.98/bag.  Same potato, same size bag … very different price!)

We found Libby’s pure pumpkin, 29 oz cans, on clearance for 3 cans for $1.91 (One 29 oz can is close to $3 each in our area.)  We purchased 24 cans and added them to our pantry.  I have been looking for just such a deal as this and was thrilled when we found it.  The ‘best by date’ on each can is sometime in 2017 … they’ll be used long before then!

I purchased cough drops on sale for $.49/bag (25 pieces per bag).  The regular price was $1.69/bag.  I added 4 bags of cough drops to the medicinal part of our pantry. 

I’ve had a large casserole dish filled with cayenne pepper drying naturally on a window seal for several weeks.  It was completely dried when I checked it last week so I vacuum sealed it in 2 quart jars.

I strained up another batch of cider fire. 

We purchased 25 lbs hog jowl for our New Year’s Day meal and to freeze for later use for $1.49/lb unsliced (it was $1.99/lb sliced).  Last year we were able to purchase it for $1.19/lb sliced.  We brought it home and my husband sliced it using the meat slicer we were given last year similar to this one.  In addition to having it for a meal, I was able to freeze 26 additional packages plus 4 packages of bits and pieces for seasonings for future meals. 

We found ground beef on sale for $2.03/lb and purchased 20 lbs.  We brought it home, divided it into 1 pound increments, vacuum sealed them and added them to the freezer part of our pantry.

In other news:
I pulled out our oversized 2015  calendar that I got at The Dollar Tree for $1 back in the fall and added birthdays, anniversaries, other special days and appointments already scheduled.  This calendar stays on our refrigerator door throughout the year (I put magnet strips on the back of it.) … it is our command center and the thing that reminds us where we need to be when!

I completed a Pinecone survey.  I’ll cash in the points at a later date.

I continue to work on earning swagbucks that I’ll turn into Amazon gift cards.

I started making a ‘sewing’ to-do list for 2015.  There are so many things I want to stitch up and I’m hoping that having a go-to list will help keep me on track.

I used up another Yankee candle this holiday season so I washed and cleaned up the jar.  I plan to fill it with q-tips for use in our other bathroom.

I stitched up these raggy baby burp cloths using flannel from my pantry of fabrics purchased on sale in the past following these instructions. They were super easy to make and stitched up really quickly.  I made 4 … one that I will wrap up with pretty ribbon/wrappings and send to my brand new granddaughter for Valentine’s Day (My other two grandchildren will also be receiving something made with grandmommie’s hands for Valentine’s Day.)  The other three burp cloths will be added to my gift trunk awaiting an occasion to gift them.  I need to stitch up some for a little boy too!

We went out and did a little ‘the day after Christmas’ shopping and found some things for half price – to 75% off that we will give as gifts next year.  I’ll be noting what we purchased, who we purchased it for and what we paid for it in my Christmas notebook.  The gifts will then go in my gift trunk.

I cut out 12 inch squares from the white muslin that I used to make a pattern for the santa suit I recently stitched up for my husband.  I am scalloping the edges using my sewing machine and then embroidering an initial on each.  These are a practice run, when I feel comfortable with the process I will do the same thing using linen from the dress I wore to my oldest daughter’s wedding.  The linen handkerchief, when completed, will be gifted to my oldest daughters’ daughter as a keepsake to be used on her wedding day.

One of my spiritual goals for 2015 is to write out the book of James.   I pulled out one of my $.50 composition notebooks that I purchased on sale during the ‘back to school’ sales in August, made a title page, entered the date I started it and got started.    

I finished writing out the book of Proverbs and started a ‘read through the Bible in a year’ program.

I downloaded some free fonts from and used them to make the title page for the book of James I’m writing out, mentioned above, and for the lettering on the handkerchief’s I’m embroidering.

I ordered Ruth Soukup’s new book Living Well, Spending Less:  12 Secrets of the Good Life and am anxiously awaiting it’s arrival.   I have several books that I want to read before the weather starts warming up and gardening and yard work beckons!

My routine of walking for 3o minutes  5 – 6 days each week has been interrupted by being sick.  I had great success with my ‘getting healthier’ goal last year and I’m anxious to get back to it and continue on in 2015.  Want to see what my 2015 goals are ... go check them out here.

We started collecting change for our 2015 Christmas fund.  There’s probably not going to be much to add to it until our financial situation is resolved, but we’ve started it … who knows, we may be pleasantly surprised!

I made my oldest granddaughter a diaper bag and blanket for her baby doll for Christmas.  Her mommie sent me a picture of her with the diaper bag on her shoulder and the blanket in it.  My daughter said she wouldn’t put it down; it made me feel so good! 

Here is a question I received  
Question: Can you share your recipe for cider fire?
Answer:  Here is the one I use …

Here’s my pantry to-d0 list for next week:
Can collards from our garden
Continue canning pinto beans
Continue canning potatoes
Freeze shredded cheese we purchased in bulk

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


This post has been featured at Waste Not, Want Not!!!!


  1. I am sorry you are faced with this new challenge. Being on a budget is one thing, but having no money for groceries is terrible. I hope things turn around for you soon.

    1. Thank you Gloria, we're going to be okay ... it will be a challenge, but it is by far not the worst thing that we have had to deal with. It is pushing us to think outside the box and sometimes that can be a good thing!

  2. I just love these update. I wish I could find stores around here like yours though. We have Publix, Winn Dixie Trader Joe's and then some other higher end stores. Oh and an aldi. I have never been in the Aldi though. Need to check that out. I can't imagine getting the meat deals you get though. Would love it. And the potatoes!!! I would buy a canner if I could find the deals you do. I need to follow you around for about a month, lolol. Thanks so much for your inspiration. :)
    Do you ever go to the ethnic food stores? I have heard the asian and mexican markets are good. Frankly the thought of riding around all day is daunting though.

    1. Bobbi, we don't have any ethnic food stores in our area, if we did I would definitely check them out as I've heard some good deals can be found there. We are always looking for the deals ... we've been at it so long that it is second nature.

  3. Hey Patsi, I'm sorry to hear about your financial upset but God is Faithful! He will bring you through. My insurance also went up this year by a significant amount so we too will really have to be careful with our money.I am going to be much more diligent with my couponing and wasting less. I really need to work on finding meats for my freezer. I'll be stopping in Ingle's every day to look for their reduced for quick sale meat. I have a side by side refrig/freezer so I don't have a lot of room. One of my goals this year is to find a really cheap freezer. I think I have enough veggies to last us until gardening time this year so all I really need is meat. I hope you have a great week.

    1. Saundra, we preserve enough fruit and vegetables every year from our garden that we don't usually have to buy much but it is a different story with meats. Meats are our biggest expense! Good luck on finding the freezer!

  4. Hi Patsi, I have recently begun looking at my sewing supplies stash and wishing to be able to be more prepared in that area. Have you or would you share your strategy for stocking and what you stock in your fabric pantry?

    Thanks for your post - very inspirational!

    1. Trudy, I stock my fabric pantry the same way I stock my food pantry ... by shopping sales, clearances and using coupons. If I have any money, whether I need the fabric or not, if I can get it cheap by taking advantage of sales, clearances or coupons I buy it. I keep it in tubs until I need it then I shop from what I have on hand.

  5. I have really enjoyed your blog and I'm sorry to hear about your financial difficulties. Have you considered putting a make a donation button on your blog? I've personally gotten alot of good ideas and encouragement from your blog and I think others feel the same. I read many blogs and several of them either have a donation button or are amazon partners so that if you mention something on your blog and someone clicks the link to buy it, you would receive a small portion of the sales.

    Finally, have you ever heard of the program? It is similar to swagbucks but it is a mobile program only. It might be another source of income for you. Thanks again for your blog.

    This week, I went to BigLots and stocked up on Bear Creek soup and rice mix. They have the packages at about half the price of Walmart and had a bigger selection. My husband got a $15 gift card for Christmas from his work and we used it to stock up on cornmeal and pasta. The cornmeal is in the freezer for a few days and then will be sealed in a glass jar and added to my pantry.

    1. Hi Maria, Thank you for your suggestions. We're doing a lot of praying and exploring several options. Way to use that gift card!

    2. Hi Patsy, I have been 'stalking' your blog for at least a year but, never commented before. I agree with Maria, some of us are not only praying but would love to help. A donation button would be a small thing considering all the help you and your blog do for others. I am slowing going back to my homemaking blog so maybe soon you will see the results at our home from your blog. Other than milk, we simply do not need to buy food this month and, maybe not even next. My husband is retired, disabled military so his health insurance is free and I am on monthly premium, so I am so sorry about your insurance cost going up. We would love to help, seriously.

      If nothing else, I have far more fabric than I will EVER use in this lifetime...was going to take it to the thrift store. If you or any other reader would like some, email me, I'll send pics and you can decide. I will pay for the shipping. For some odd reason I have a boatload of pink I would love to give away. Some of it is vintage shabby chic and my 'buddy' Ralph Lauren. Due to my weird and irritating peri-menopausal hormones, quilting is out far a long simply wears me out.
      blessings, jill

    3. Jill, you and others are so sweet to offer assistance but due to the condition of our pantry we are going to be fine for long enough for us to find a source to replace the deficit. My fabric pantry is full at the moment and until I can get some more sewing done I don't have room for any more ... one of the things about living in a small house is that you only have so much room to work with. I'm sure the fabric is beautiful! I love vintage shabby chic and Ralph Lauren designs! Maybe another reader will see your comment and contact you ... it's such a nice offer to make! Thank you!

  6. Hi Patsy. I will be praying that your needs are provided! I thought the cost of insurance was supposed to go down? Ours has went up twice! Your handkerchiefs are going to be lovely! I added 5 big containers of bone broth to the freezer and found some wrapping paper for 25 cents to put up for next year. More people are going to have a need this year so I hope the garden does well as I am planning on canning a lot extra this year! Meat is still pricey in my area so I have cut back on the amount I use which is hard since my hubby is a meat and potatoes guy. If a good sale comes around I will stock up again. I still have gift cards I am saving in case. I found 30 cents on the ground and put it in my jar to save. I save cans and my hubby took them in for me and I got 11 dollars from those and used it to buy 2 gallons of milk and some bread. I always have a bag with me in case I come across cans anywhere, so many people just toss them. I have been drying my laundry on the drying rack instead of the dryer and making sure to turn off everything to keep the electric down. I am working on decluttering and have a small amount ready to go to Goodwill soon. I am a homebody in winter so I save a lot on gas since I only go out when I have to! I stay home and tend the woodburner! We have plenty of wood and got it all for free which has saved us tremendously over the years! I wanted to tell you too that if you call companies and tell them how you like their product a lot of times they will send you coupons and a lot of times it is for a free product! It's a way to help stock the pantry a wee bit. Samples too. I got 4 seed catalogs and I am planning the garden already! I hope all will be well and I look forward to your next post!


    1. Vicky, my husband is a meat and potatoes man too and meat is our biggest expense. Most everything else we can grow in our garden. We watch meat sales closely. Love all your tips! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hello! I really enjoy your blog. I don't think I have ever left a comment before, but I would like to tell you that I feel for you, I understand the challenges you are facing now. We are actually going through a use-it-up season in our household right now also. In the winter our income goes down- it's something we have faced for many years and we have learned to roll with it, sometimes it is more difficult than others but we have found that the Lord always provides for us. I know He is going to do the same for you. Please know that there are prayers going out for your and your family. Thank you for sharing all that you do on your blog!
    -Dawn from Blessed Beyond Measure: A Frugal and Happy Home

  8. Your blog is such an inspiration. Thank you.

  9. Hi Patsy, I have just found your blog thanks to Annabel from The Bluebirds are Nesting. Your strength and positive attitude is inspiring as are your actions in having such a well-stocked pantry.I love the book of James. When I was younger I used to be able to recite the book of James in its entirety, I could also list all the books of the bible. Now I am older I am happy if I can remember where I put my reading glasses, or the reason why I just walked into one room from another! :-)

    1. Sherri, I had to laugh when I read 'now I am older I am happy if I can remember where I put my reading glasses, or the reason why I just walked into one room from another.' I can relate! Memorizing a whole book of the Bible is a great accomplished whatever the age. Welcome to A Working Pantry!

  10. Wow! So sorry to hear about your financial challenges! Praying this turns around soon for you.
    On the flip side, I love all the canning you're doing! I haven't had the opportunity to do much this winter, and I can't wait for spring and summer, and the hop of canning!

    Thanks for sharing with the Waste Not, Want Not, link party!

  11. I'm sorry to hear about the challenges you're facing, but appreciate you sharing your tips and proactive attitude! I'm featuring your post this week on the Waste Not Want Not Wednesday party this week :)

  12. I am so sorry to hear about the financial problems. God is awsome and I know He will help you through, and provide ways for you to not only feed your family, but keep the pantry full too. God bless you and your family.. Will add you to my prayer list.


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