Awesome October – Eat Down the Pantry

October and April are special months. They are the months I try to spend less money. This idea started several years ago when I realized that these are the two months in Tennessee when it is easiest to turn of the central heat/air in my home. I usually turn it off and refuse to turn it back on until the month is over.

In April, you might get a bit hot near the end of the month. If you are one of my children, I’ll tell you to go lie under a ceiling fan turned on high.

In October, you may be a bit chilly near the end of the month, in which case I will warn you if you are coming over for a visit, “Bring a sweatshirt! My house is cold.” Actually, that is a fair warning if you are coming to my house any time it is cold outside. 🙂

Anyway, because our HVAC is electric, this abstinence from central heat/air in April and October mean that there is a bit of surplus in our budget those months. Which is lovely. So rarely is there a *surplus*, right?

I like to “buy ahead” and buy non-perishable and freeze-able food when it is on sale. I also have a large pantry/freezer and don’t like to have to run to the store if I get a hankering for a certain meal. The downside to my large pantry and second freezer–combined with my buying ahead–is that if I don’t go through them a couple of times a year, then food starts going past its “best by” date.

In an effort to increase the surplus in the budget in April and October, I use those months to Eat Down the Pantry. I go through it and take out the items that are near expiration (or even slightly past, because that’s how I roll) and put those either on one shelf or in a box. I try to eat ALL of these foods in April or October. I can use other items from the pantry, but I try to make sure all of the culled items are consumed.

I also buy ONLY perishable items at the grocery, and I try to keep those to a minimum. For meats, we Eat Down the Freezer in April and October. I will buy basic produce, milk, butter, and cheap meats in April and October, but I try not to give in to the desire to buy non-essentials.

It can make for some interesting combinations, but with a little planning it can be fun. This is when you *finally* make that cookie-in-a-jar mix you got for Christmas, use up that specialty hot chocolate someone gave you, thaw that soup you froze thinking you’d eat it in a couple of weeks, or eat that pouch of Spanish Rice that you can’t figure out who bought and why it’s there.

In preparation for Awesome October, I went through my pantry a few weeks ago. There really wasn’t much. Our eating habits have changed (for the better), so I don’t buy many canned soups or pouch-meals . . . which means that the pantry is in better shape.

I’m still determined to buy only produce, milk, butter, and a few meats to round-out our meals this month.

Want to join me? Try it. It’s fun.

Tonight we are having leftover chili and cheese on top of baked potatoes.

***Editing to Add: I have chickens, so I don’t buy eggs at the store. Most of you will have to add eggs to your purchase list for the month.***

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