Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cheap Eats: I Challenge You to a New-Year Pantry Purge


I've been leaving a few important things out of each of my thrift hauls; veggies! I hunt nearly exclusively at flea markets, and since it's a weekly trip, I scoop up fresh veggies for the week while I hunt down vintage. It's cheaper than chain grocery stores for the same quality. Scooping up a small amount weekly means I can devour the vegetables before they go bad, which always happened when I bought veggies monthly at the grocery store.

I always bring home a big bag brimming with veggies for $6.00 to $8.00: 


My Pantry Purge Challenge: In early October I realized my pantry and freezer had plenty of food I'd neglected to eat. I kept buying duplicates of bags of pasta and lentils or cans of tuna and they'd piled up. Not to a Hoarder's level- but enough to feed just me for a while! I was already successfully Buying Nothing New, so why not try a Buy No Food Challenge, too?  

Here's what I did (well, what I'm still doing. I'm STILL working through my pantry and freezer bounty!)....

1. I shopped for fresh veggies at the flea and farmers markets: You still need fresh produce!

2. I shopped the grocery store for necessary supplies only: Like toilet paper, my kitty's supplies, and my favorite chewing gum. Gum's a necessary item, I tell you!

3. Prepared grub using staples from my fridge and pantry: I've been making vegetable stews from all the frozen veggies I'd neglected in the freezer, lentil soup, pasta, and a little over two months later I still have cans of tuna, a big bag of brown rice, and a big bag of white rice and more to feast on!

I'm still pretty busy so I make simple snacks and dinners. I'm mostly vegetarian.

I'd love to get back into growing as much of my own food as possible, but I don't mind supplementing my diet with inexpensive flea market produce and chomping through what I already have in my house in the meantime. I'm saving a ton of money this way, too. I set my January Grocery budget at $80.00 but I'll probably only spend $60.00.

So if you're like me with a freezer and pantry full of grub that needs eating, I challenge you to a pantry purge. Work through the overflow the fun way; eat it! And you'll have a fresh new pantry to stuff with food for the New Year.


Where do you buy your vegetables? Any tips for cheap eats to share? I'll be writing more about cheap eats and price comparing healthy eats this year. Hint: If you value organic produce more than anything, Whole Foods sells it for about $1.00 to $2.00 more on average.
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18 comments:

  1. Oh, I do need to do a purge too. But with 4 people in my house I don't think I will be getting down to $60 per month :)
    Cute white kitty! I just got a white cat myself, he has one blue eye and one green eye and such a sweetie!

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  2. Christine: Aw, my best friend had a kitty like that once. She was a Turkish Angora. Nope, you definitely won't get down to $60 per month with four people in the house, but chomping on the staples on-hand will help you save.

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  3. You read my mind this month. Definitely need to use what we've got sitting on the shelves. Which means we'll have to get creative with coconut milk and sardines.

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  4. Diana: Me too, actually ;) I have lots of random oddities in that pantry...

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  5. having just lived through a teen boy visit for a month our pantry is not empty but definitely low, we do have plenty of food but since winter lasts 3 more months I'm not ready to purge yet--we could go a week without power and where would I be? so I ADMIRE you and your purge...but I'll have to keep a full pantry this time of year

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  6. Laura: Definitely makes sense not to purge yours considering!

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  7. I'm all about the farmer's market. In the off season, I get my produce at the flea market while I'm searching for vintage, but it's not usually as local.

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  8. I need to do this, minus the purging part-- my dorm fridge is empty! but I have a horrendous Domino's pizza habit. I'm going to try to stock up on fresher, healthier snacks

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  9. little big: I'd love to buy from farmer's markets. We don't have the best selection of them here. Sometimes the produce is too costly, other times it's not local despite the "Farmer's Market" claim.

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  10. Harper: If I was in a dorm I'd easily succumb to that habit. Good for you, stocking up on healthy and thrifty eats.

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  11. what a great idea. i never think of our flea market as a place to buy veggies, i'll have to check that out. we do have a local farmer's market each week that has great produce but it's usually quite a bit more expensive. i usually shop at one of two small local produce places for my fresh stuff. they carry organic as well as "regular" veggies. in the summer i buy berries from local, organic growers and i have an apple grower where i get organic apples and cider from almost year round. this is one area in my budget where i find costs going up because i'm trying to be more intentional about buying local, organic if possible or farmer direct - which sometimes means spending a little more.

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  12. Thrift Shopper for Peace: Yum, organic apples and cider sounds really good about now...

    With this month's low budget challenge I'm just looking for the cheapest solutions, but next month I'll branch out and try to the find the balance of cheapest and most organic/local veggie suppliers.

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  13. Great minds think alike... I made it my New Years Resolution to "Eat myself out of House & Home" for the past two years, I have had moderate success but still my pantry & freezer are full. So for 2012 I began blogging about it as a way to stay on the bandwagon and be held accountable by others.

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  14. frugalspinster: I love how you list it all- talk about dedication! Likewise, I love how blogging about these things makes us accountable.

    I'm actually going to complete my goals for the week because I listed them online and don't want to fail. If I hadn't, I'd let my cold be an excuse to stay in bed all day ;)

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  15. i really need to do this. i have so much stuff in my pantry, including a whole shelf a tea that i never drink!

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  16. Do you mind sharing what you spend on groceries in a typical month (at your normal level of thriftiness)?

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  17. Rae: I'm working through my tea, too. Right now, actually. Mmm...chamomile..

    Liz: I'm not sure since I haven't kept close track in a long while. I guesstimate between $80 and $130ish? A bit high for one thrifty person, you can see why I'm trying to consciously watch and reduce my spending now.

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  18. Wow, I don't think that's high at all! But then again groceries are pretty spendy here in Chicago... Good for you and good luck with your new crazy low goal! And thank you for answering my question.

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I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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