Did the "Extreme Couponing Bug" bite you about a year ago? A friend of mine (who shall go nameless, C!) got me interested in watching the TLC show "Extreme Couponing" about a year ago. I then became interested in couponing and saving money on our grocery bill. Maybe I'm just a lemming, but I think it's more due to our move 2 years ago to the wealthiest county in the country (which translates into "very expensive cost of living" county). Since my husband is active duty military, our income remained the same even though our expenses sky-rocketed.
Enter couponing. I've saved my family quite a bit with couponing. I've been able to donate A LOT of food and personal care items to my church. And I was able to grow a mini-stock pile of food. I (thankfully) never qualified for "extreme" couponer, but I did make a good run at "serious" couponer for a while there.
Now though, I've decided that couponing to save my family money is GOOD. Couponing to end up with a bunch more stuff in my house is NOT GOOD. Even if that stuff is food. Even if that stuff was free or close to free. We just don't need more stuff! It feels wasteful. I'd already been thinking about greatly reducing the food in our pantry and in our basement (where I store most of my food) when I stumbled on The Year of Less blog and their "Eat Your Pantry" challenge.
The challenge is to eat from your pantry for the month of September. There are no limitations on what you can buy and you're not required to eat everything in your pantry (their example is you don't have to eat the bottle of almond extract). The purpose is simply to focus on using food that you already have in your pantry. I'm all in on this one.
But, I'm adding one more stipulation to my personal challenge. At the end of September, I'm going to look over the remaining food carefully. If it's not something that we'll be using before the end of the year, I'll donate it to a local food bank and homeless shelter (with the bottle of almond extract types of items getting a reprieve).
My goal is to make sure that everything in my pantry will be used in the next 3-4 months. First, 3-4 months worth of "stockpile" is plenty for my family (I'm not judging anyone who feels more comfortable with a larger stockpile, I'm just determining what is good for my family). Second (and probably more importantly), we may have another military move coming up this spring. We don't know yet, but I don't want to be caught facing a move with 6 glass bottles of ________ (fill in the blank with soy sauce, jelly, pickles, etc.) that I'll have to unload in a panic before a move. I'd much rather take a deliberate look now at what we can use and what we can donate.
Are you with me on this challenge? To keep me honest I'm going to show you a before picture of the two pantry shelves that I have located in the basement. This is what they look like on September 10, 2012. I pledge to post another picture on October 10th to see how well we've done in a month.
How embarrassing! Come back and see my basement shelves in a month.