Friday, June 25, 2010

It's the 2nd Annual Penny Pinching Pantry Raid!!!

I am BEYOND excited to announce the 2nd Annual Penny Pinching Pantry Raid!

"What's that?" you ask. Well, you might remember more than a passing mention of it last year here on my other blog. Or, you might have heard of my girl, Susan, from She's Becoming Doughmesstic.

It was actually an idea she had for a food blogger challenge last summer. Her goal: A shiny new digital camera. Her plan: Spend less than $100 on food for the entire month of July and use the savings for the camera.

Susan got a gaggle of other food bloggers to join her in the challenge, including me. Y'all know how I am a sucker for a good food challenge to mix it up a little in my kitchen. It WAS truly a challenge, but it was so much fun, too. So much fun, in fact, I emailed Susan a couple weeks ago and asked if she was doing it again.

I am definitely feeling the pinch these days after having just celebrated three close family members' birthdays, taken a long weekend trip, and started a lenghty and expensive home improvement project. My wallet could use a break.

So, here's the deal. The rules are:
  • Set any dollar-amount limit for yourself or your family to spend on food for the month (or for 4  weeks). This includes grocery shopping AND eating out. Anything in your freezer or pantry, or growing in your backyard (i.e. already at your home) at the beginning of the month is fair game. Hence, the name.
  • Don't change your ususal habits to do the challenge. As in, don't start mooching meals just to come in under $100. But, hey, if you already do that ... by all means, don't stop. You could just modify your dollar amount. Take it down to $50 or whatever. It is supposed to be a challenge, after all.
That being said, you can make some exceptions, as long as you keep in the spirit of the challenge. The other participants (hopefully there are others...) and myself are not going to come flog you for breaking the rules above. For example, Jeremy says he's in as long as beer doesn't count toward the $100. And, I know that we are having a family cookout for his birthday on July 17th. So, for me, I'm going to set a limit for beer for the month in addition to the $100, and set aside some money for food for the cookout, outside of the $100. In addition to spending less than $100 on food, we're going to try to spend $25 on beer and $25 on food for the cookout. Trust me, even with those two caveats, it's still going to be a challenge.

The best thing that came out of the challenge for me last year was not the savings. No, I blew the budget, but still came in less than I would have had I not done the challenge. It was forcing me to go through my pantry and freezer and throw out what was outdated, old or just plain gross. I was one of those people who threw something in the deep freezer in the garage and sometimes forgot about it. For months and years... Yikes.

At the beginning of the month, you need to inventory what you have on hand. It takes the fun out of the challenge if you stockpile food all next week in anticipation of the challenge. Just carry on with your grocery shopping cycle as normal for the next few days, and the day before you start the challenge, make a list of what you have. Also, the inventory helps you to know what you have on hand that you can use when planning meals. You might not even realize you have 3 cans of cream of chicken soup and some egg noodles in the depths of your pantry that you could use with that bag of frozen broccoli from last month to throw together a quick meal in a pinch.

So, who's in? Tweet it. Facebook it. Blog about it. Get the word out. Comment below, email me or hit me up on facebook if you're in. Don't forget to let us know what limit you're working with, any special exceptions, and just for fun, what you're going to do with the money you save. Susan designed the graphic at the top of the post for participants to use last year on their blogs. It's there to use again this year, if you so desire. Susan and I are co-hosting the challenge, so we'll compile a list of everyone participating and links to their blogs (if he or she has one) so we can encourage each other/commiserate/swap ideas and recipes.

Good luck!

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