Inside: October is a great time for a pantry and freezer challenge. Join along as I clean out my pantry and freezer, save money, and get creative!
Is it weird to have a favorite day of the year that isn’t your birthday, Christmas, or your wedding anniversary? Because today, October 1st, is one of my FAVORITE days of the year. Here’s why: there are roughly 90 days left until the New Year, which makes me excited and hopeful for the future.
But there’s also plenty of time to double down on any goals that you let fall by the wayside.
Friends – let’s not give ourselves the option to give up on our dreams and wait until January 1st to start sprinting towards a new set of goals. Let’s remind ourselves that today, October 1st, means there’s plenty of time to crush whatever we set out to do this year. Who’s with me?
My October Pantry and Freezer Challenge
October is also a fun month for me for another reason – a little tradition that I started soon after I graduated. Every October, I try really hard to use up everything I’ve stocked away in my fridge, pantry, and freezer. When I partake in my October Freezer Challenge, I basically have three goals:
Clear out space to take advantage of all the great grocery deals that pop up for the holidays in November and December. With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, grocery stores start holding crazy awesome sales in November. By cleaning out the pantry and freezer in October, I now have a ton of empty space to stock up on the deals!
Save money. Since I’m shopping my freezer and pantry for food instead of the grocery store, I’m able to get my shopping expenditure down to practically nothing. Which basically means I’m able to put those funds towards holiday shopping, savings, or (most likely) my next trip!
Force myself to work that creativity muscle. There’s something so fun about “challenges” – by committing to something like this, you often cook things that you wouldn’t normally, and it totally changes your perspective. For example, one year I eyed a can of tomato soup and, since I didn’t have bread and cheese on hand to make a grilled cheese (which is honestly the only way I eat tomato soup), I came up with something else. I dumped the tomato soup in my pot, added some ground sausage and frozen spinach from my freezer, a can of creamy white cannellini beans and small pasta from the pantry, and stirred it all up. It reminded me of a pasta e fagioli soup and it was delicious. I would never have used those random ingredients, in that random way, had I not forced myself to think creatively.
October Pantry and Freezer Challenge Rules
I’ll be honest. I’m not always a “rules” person. Basically my goal is to use up as much food in my pantry and freezer as possible. But whenever I mention this challenge to my friends, they always want to know the “rules”.
Since this pantry and freezer challenge has always just been a personal challenge, I haven’t really given a ton of thought to “official rules”. Here is an outline of what I do, but please note that depending on your family size and food needs, you can adjust the amounts in either direction.
Rule #1: Shop my freezer and pantry first. Pull frozen proteins out and allow them to thaw. I like to mix in some vegetarian meals in the early part of the month so I don’t run through my entire stash of meat and seafood halfway through the month.
Rule #2: Allow myself a small amount of cash (in my case it’s $25 each week for my family of 3) to buy fresh fruit, veggies, and cheese (or dairy) as needed. If I stick to seasonal fruit and vegetables, $25 is plenty to allow me to include fresh salads, crisp veggies, and some fruit daily, along with all the frozen fruit and veggies I have socked away. If you’re living alone, or have a large family, please adjust accordingly.
That’s it. No other rules. I know some people go hard core and turn it into a “no spend” month, but I choose to include fresh produce. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, friends. You do you.
If this sounds like a fun challenge, leave a comment below and let me know you’re following along! I’ll be sharing the recipes I come up with all month long.