Saturday, January 23, 2016

Pantry Challenge #4 ... 2016

Here’s what I got done this week in spite of the ice, snow and cold temperatures we had ….

My to-do list from last time:

I’m continuing to work on this month’s marathon /preserving session

Can pinto beans ... Didn't get done!

Can white beans …  It’s seems I’m having ‘space’ issues in my pantry so I decided to vacuum seal these in quart jars until we empty some space out of our pantry by eating from it.  I added 3 quarts to my pantry.

Thaw frozen turkeys and can ... Didn't get done!

Make and can broth from carcasses of turkeys after canning meat ... Didn't get done!

In addition:

I washed and sterilized used snack baggies, quart ziplock baggies and gallon ziplock baggies using hot soapy water with a few drops of bleach added.  After they had drip dried I added them to a container set aside for their storage until ready for re-use.

I saved the cap from a Parmesan cheese container, washed it up and put it on a pint jar.  I’ll use it for my rug cleaner, I'll be able to sprinkle it onto the rugs straight from the jar.

I checked the onions in the onion bin and noticed one was starting to go bad.  I removed it from the bin, peeled it and put it in the refrigerator for use later in the week.  A couple of days later I checked them again and noticed that three more were trying to go bad.  I removed them from the bin, peeled them, chopped them with my handy dandy chopper (affiliate link), filled 9 snack baggies with a half of cup each, put the baggies in quart freezer bags and added them to my pantry. 

The only groceries we purchased this week were eggs, milk and soda.  We are doing well sticking to our lowered grocery budget for 2016.

I added some more soap slivers to my on-going liquid soap jar.

I strained up grease from cooking hog jowl and added it to an on-going jar in the refrigerator.

I continue to work on earning Swagbucks (affiliate link) that will be redeemed for Amazon gift cards, am doing Pinecone surveys whenever I can and am working on earning points through Bing (affiliate link) which I’ll also redeem for Amazon gift cards.  It all adds up over time and will be used to help keep our pantry stocked.

My son introduced me to Ibotta (affiliate link)  and I signed up for it. Between the $10 sign-up bonus and the money I earned from my purchases, I earned $11.25.  I’ll take it!   (My son also got a $5 bonus when I signed up and made my first qualifying grocery purchase.)

Book #4 in my attempt to read at least 25 books this year is More Hours in My Day by Emilie Barnes and Sheri Torelli (affliate link).   This book is chalked full of time-management and organizational tips.

To see other books I’ve read thus far in 2016 go HERE.  

I saved $204.07 this week in The Vicky Challenge!  Here’s how it breaks down:

Made a payment over the phone:  saved the price of a stamp … $.49

Was given a brand new, ‘hand-me-down,’ never worn blouse: added to my wardrobe without spending any money … saved $10

Filled up with gas when in an area where gasoline was cheaper:  saved $5

Used the rest of my Michael's gift card and a couple of 40% off coupons:  saved: $12

Made 3 sets of Christmas gift tags using items I had on hand … saved $15

Made an emergency sewing kit … saved $15

Purchased used books as opposed to new:  saved $61.95 ... they were all paid for with gift cards.

Downloaded two free books from Amazon for my kindle: saved$27.99

Gratefully received a package in the mail of 12 Scotch Freezer Tapes (affiliate link) from a friend in Tennessee, she had gotten a really good deal … I mean a really good deal on them … and shared with me: Savings to me … $4.72 x 12 = $56.64  (Thank you again Mrs. P)   

Thus far this year my Vicky Challenge savings/earnings have been $567, add this week’s amount to that and I've saved $771.07.  I'm really enjoying seeing how much I save/earn from home.

Here’s something I didn’t do:

I didn't go anywhere or spend any money several days this week!

Here’s what I got done for the Christmas Challengethat I’m participating in:  

These items are now in my gift trunk awaiting gift giving season.

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

Vacuum seal dry pinto beans into jars

Thaw frozen turkeys and can 

Make and can broth from carcasses of turkeys after canning meat

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

You can also follow A Working Pantry on Pinterest and on Facebook!


  1. You did well! I had never thought about using the lid off the Parm. cheese on a canning lid. Thank you!

  2. Dear Patsy,
    I am glad you are safe and warm. It has been everywhere I look, the big snowstorm.
    I really love your tags and how you packaged them! The packaging really makes them look very professional. Very good idea! I also love the sewing kit! That is a grea gift.
    Your Vicky Challenge totals are excellent. It is so good to see what our efforts produce. Its a real eye opener for me so far! Its kind of fun and makes savings that might be possible seem worthwhile when you see those totals adding up!
    Have a good new week! I hope everyone is ok and well prepared. This is the kind of time when the well prepared are so glad of their efforts and the not well prepared are wondering why they didn't do it. Also these times make us realise what we need to add for next time.
    There has been a movement where minimalism and not keeping groceries in your house is considered cool and a whole heap of rubbish about only having in your home items that you love and adore. Well I don't love and adore my tools, first aid kit, winter coat, fire starters and boxes of dried foods etc but in a winter storm THEN I would love and adore them! Movements like this could kill people, they will have no stored food as you can "go to the shops everyday so your home isn't cluttered" Just makes me mad. Thank goodness for blogs like yours to help people be prepared. With love

    1. Annabel, I've lived too long and seen what life can throw at you to buy into the minimalism movement. I don't like a cluttered house but I can organize my pantry in such a way that it is not cluttered. I love your take on 'having nothing in your home items that you don't love and adore' and agree completely. The grocery stores emptied out rather quickly with people trying to get prepared for this storm. Tis so sad ... what would happen if you were one of the ones that didn't get to the grocery store before the shelves were emptied? I am loving the Vicky Challenge, it is so motivating and makes me more diligent in looking for ways to save. It's a win win challenge!

  3. We got several inches of snow here in Ky. While I was safe & warm in the house I took time to inventory my freezers & pantry. I'd been wanting to do that for a while. I made my own pretty laminated inventory sheets with scrapbook paper & graph paper that I had on hand. With our wonderful stockpile, we could be snowed in for a while without having to worry about food supplies. That is such a comfort. Like you, I've been wanting to can up some dried beans to have them as convenience foods. I'm down to 2 jars of pinto beans, however, I've haven't had the time or the heart to get out the pressure canner. Hopefully soon, after I get all our tax stuff together and that's off my mind. (I have to do our personal, farm & business, so it takes me a bit to get it together). You always inspire me with everything you accomplish on a strict budget.

    1. Vicky, I too and beginning to work on gathering our tax info. Unfortunately, we have to have ours done professionally which costs lots of money. How is your foot healing up? Would love to see a picture of your laminated inventory sheets, is it possible for you to send me a picture?

    2. LOL Patsi! Wrong Vicky the one above is a different Vicky. But thank you my foot is starting to heal. I will always end my comments to you with Blessings so you know it's me!

    3. LOL, Oh My ... my secret's out ... I'm not perfect!!!!! Glad to hear that your foot is healing well. Now, if I can just remember how you end your comments so I don't get you mixed up again ...

  4. Haha, yes there are to many Vickys to keep straight. I do have to get our taxes done professionally as well. But have to get all the info together for him. It is expensive, but in our case, there is no way I'd ever think of doing it myself. It's worth every penny. Sorry I confused you with the name. Take care & have a wonderful, productive week.

    1. Vicky, I would never think of doing ours myself either, too many things with being self-employed!

  5. This has been an eye-opening week for me! So many pantry building and living frugal strategies are second nature to me and without your blog and a couple others, I might not even take notice and be grateful for them!

    This week, I was able to send two freezer meals over to my son and his family during a stressful time for them. I didn't need to leave the house to get any of the ingredients for them! I made an apple cake from wrinkled apples that I needed to use with a cream cheese (from my freezer) frosting with sprinkled walnuts on top. It served 20 people! Again- all my ingredients came from my pantry! I vacuum sealed a recycled Prego spaghetti sauce jar that I put some of my recently dehydrated parsley in. Such a bright green color!!

    I added a gallon of homemade chicken noodle soup to my freezer for an easy "heat and eat" meal for our family or to take to a family in need. Either way, it is ensures that it won't get lost in the back of the fridge until it turns blue and fuzzy!

    I was given a dozen eggs from my friend's chickens! These are the extra large size and are so good! I bought a little microwave omelet maker for $3. It gives me another quick and easy breakfast option and is quick and easy to clean.

    There were also cake mixes on clearance so I bought 5 to add to my pantry- carrot cake and double fudge chocolate cake. Yum!

    In the Vicky challenge, I saved a lot this week by:
    Making 9 Rev wraps at home with pantry ingredients- $13.50
    Made homemade Ranch dressing- $1.
    Bought cheaper gas while running errands- $2.65
    Sold some small appliances- $20
    Bought some clearanced things I needed at Target- $12
    Bought 7.5 dozen Sam's club eggs (99 cents/dozen)- $4.84
    Given a dozen eggs- $2.59
    Paid both property taxes online- $.98
    Paid new cell phone bill- $149/ month less!!!
    Bought a birthday card instead of gift- $24
    Cake mix close out- $7.12
    Made 3 dozen funeral sandwiches- $144
    Made funeral cake for 20 people- $28
    Bought dog food with coupon- $2.20
    Was given 2 gallons of chicken noodle soup- $24
    Was given 12 sandwiches- $18
    Donated two - 8 serving dinners- $30
    Received a loan payback from son- $250.47
    Quilted baby quilt for a friend- $30
    2 of us watched free Amazon movie- $22
    Downloaded free quilt pattern- $7.50
    Paid 2 medical bills online- $.98
    Gas in van while running errands- $3.36
    Thrift store purchases- 5 shirts, 2 business casual pants, 1 jeans, a dressy coat and a Michael Kors down jacket for hubby- paid $57.92 but found the identical Michael Kors jacket for $395!!!! It looks like brand new! Saving from thrift store- $673!
    This week Vicky savings- $1479.02!!!!!

    1. Gardenpat, what a week of savings! Congratulations!

    2. You know, Patsy, that you and Annabel deserve a lot of the credit for all your encouragement and inspiration!!! Thanks so much!!!

    3. Annabel is a wonderful inspiration to me too ... thank you for your sweet words of encouragement!

  6. Thank you for sharing the "Christmas Challenge" your participating in, Patsy! It has motivated me to think ahead to what I might want to make for next Christmas. I'm going to start getting myself organized right away.

    1. Rhonda A, I love working on things all year long and I especially like not having the holiday rush come December!

  7. Patsi,
    Something has been making my beagles bark the last few nights so we set a live trap and you'll never guess what was in it?! A DARN CHICKEN!! LOL More to the chicken saga I guess? Anyway this week I got 2 hams that were marked down to a really good price, I used coupons and store rewards and got quite a few freebies, I got a nice lot of free sample in the mail, I picked up a couple of coke points while babysitting, and I was given a small box of steaks for checking on a neighbor that was sick so sometimes it pays to be nosy! LOL Oh and a was given a Sunday paper for the coupons so I can add that in my savings. I will have my totals on The Blue Birds Are Nesting, you are doing awesome with your totals Patsi! At the end of the month I will add in fuel oil savings because with burning wood we haven't used the furnace. I include it because we used to spend $400-$600 a month in the winter on fuel oil. Have a great week!

    1. Vicky, how are you going to figure what you save by burning wood instead of the furnace? We've used our wood stove several days but not every day all month long so I'm not sure how to figure it. You and your chicken saga ... is your neighbor wanting another plate of fried chicken???? ROTFL!!!!

    2. LOL Patsi!
      I think faster than I can type sometimes and I got the steaks for helping with a stray dog. Big brain fart. LOL he can make his own darn chicken he never returned my plate! And my rule is if you don't return my dish or jar, no refills! The one neighbor just lets his free range and I think this one was trying to join up with mine. To figure savings first is your heat gas or electric? Have you had a month where you used the furnace all month and about how much did that cost? So let's say if your winter gas or electric is $300 higher when you use the furnace for a whole month then it would be about $10 a day. Or you could compare months and add the savings. So say Jan. your bill is $300, but Feb. you burn more wood and your bill goes down to $150 you could add $150 to your savings for Feb. I have a fuel oil tank that has to be filled and it costs between $400-$600 depending on the price at the time of fill. We haven't had to fill it for awhile because we almost always burn wood. So I base my savings on $400 for a month. If we use the furnace for a day or two I will deduct $10 a day from my monthly total for every day it gets used. If we don't use it all I add $400 at the end of the month because we did not have to have the fuel oil tank filled. Pay close attention to your bill and watch those numbers they will tell you. You may notice that running the furnace for a few days raised your electric by $25 or you gas bill that is really what will give you those numbers. I hope this makes sense?

    3. Thank you Vicky, this does help. We eat with electric when we're not using our wood stove and being in the climate we're in, the wood stove is not needed unless it is going to get cold (our winters are usually mild). So, I did some research on what it costs to heat a home our size using electric heat in our area and then divided that number by 30. It came out to $13 per day so on those days when I heat our home using the wood stove instead of electric heat I add $13 to our savings challenge.

    4. That's the way to do it! Some would think $13 isn't a lot, but it all adds up. That will be $13 still in your pocket. By tracking things we can see where our money is and is not going to. And see areas that maybe we need to improve on.

    5. Vicky, doing this challenge has made me much more aware of where our money is going and helping us make better financial decisions. This challenge is truly becoming a blessing to me.

    6. Patsi,
      I am so glad to hear that! Truly it makes my heart happy! Just remember never pass up free chicken! LOL Free=$$$

  8. Love the gift tags Patsy. They look so good. Here's what I got up to last week -
    We've had a very exciting week in the Gower house. On Monday Jessica got a first round offer for University. She'll be doing Primary Teaching and is planning to defer this year so she can earn lots of money to pay for the Uni fees. On Wednesday Megan turned 16 and passed her learner's permit to start driving. She's already had her first lesson with Darren. On Thursday Jessica bought her first car. How exciting !!! Here's what else we got up to -

    * Made a batch of mango flavoured yoghurt using a packet. I'd forgotten I had one in the pantry. Megan enjoyed it on a few hot days during the week.

    * Picked lettuce, tomatoes and beans to go with our meals.

    * Jessica purchased her first car this week. She was able to pay for it outright because she's been working since she was 14 1/2. A lady at her work gave her a Navman she no longer needed. This is such a blessing as Jessica had it on her list of items to buy for her car.

    * Gratefully received lots of scrap card and ribbon at the Cheapskates card making day last Saturday. This is a huge blessing and will save me lots of money.

    * Gratefully received a bottle of lavender oil from a friend. I'm hoping to use it in my soaps in the future

    * Saved the shower warm up water to keep my fruit trees hydrated during the heat.

    * Made lots of cards at the card making day using really cheap materials. The next day I made another eight cards. I'm trying to get a stockpile of cards ready for when we need them throughout the year. I'll be encouraging my girls to make their own stockpile. Megan has already made one card.

    * Filled up my car with petrol purchased at $1.08. I didn't have a discount docket as I'm not doing much food shopping at the moment. This was a great price.

    * Used lots of bread bags as bin liners in the bathrooms.

    * Made lavender room air freshener for one of the toilets

    * Picked a handful or two of raspberries this week. The fruit seems to come in waves and the fruit in this batch are big and juicy. I can't wait to have enough for raspberry jam.

    * Kept the cooling off as much as possible and used electric fans instead. There are so photos on my blog of a few items

    1. Wendy, you've had a good week in more ways than one!!!


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