We Cheated … But Survived

roots vegetarian and organic grocery store (1) by steve loyaThe holidays were hard ya’ll. We did our very best to not go to the grocery store, but we just didn’t have the ingredients to pull together a meal for more than just the two (and a half) of us. So, we made our list and made a trip to the grocery store … throwing our “necessity list” out the window and buying what we needed. Had our month not included Christmas, we would have been golden. But … well … it did. So we cheated.

All in all, it was a good food month for us. We had no idea we could make so many delicious meals just with what we had already. We didn’t add much to our Nature’s Garden deliveries – simply used what came in the standard box (with a few substitutions here and there). It’s hard to narrow down our favorite discoveries from the month – but here are what we think are our top three.

When you don’t buy unnecessary items, you spend less money!
Our grocery bills had been crazy. We love food. No, we love good food. A year or so ago we agreed that spending more money on groceries was acceptable – because we value the quality more than the price. But we weren’t always using up everything we bought. And we definitely weren’t being creative or wise about what we bought and when we bought it. This month, we cut our grocery spending in half. And that’s WITH a major holiday! Now, we know we had a lot stored in our freezer, but we’re fairly confident we can keep our grocery spending at about the same level. That’s a pretty huge discovery!

Planning meals (three a day plus snacks) really helps you be creative about what you have at your fingertips.
This may seem like common sense, but it was a big realization for me. It took time (and concentration) to check out what we had to use and figure out how we could use it. We had to research recipes, alter those that called for ingredients we didn’t have, and being willing to try very new things. Breakfast and lunch were definitely the hardest meals to plan … but once we got the hang of it, we were alright.

We don’t need meat every night.
This may have been my biggest success of the month. We didn’t really put two and two together until this month … but our biggest grocery costs were meat! We buy meat when it’s on sale (which is part of the reason our freezer was so full in the first place) – but it still gets expensive. By using meat more sparingly, we eat healthier and save money.

We don’t really like going out to eat.
We have said this before – but this month we reiterated it. Every time we went out, we regretted it. The food wasn’t as good as we remembered it being. We left feeling lethargic and sometimes grumpy. We always said we could do better at home. Cheaper and healthier too. We agreed that we’d much rather cook and eat at home than eat mediocre food.

I’d say it was a success. We’ve already implemented our discoveries for this month and are excited about trying new recipes and expanding our palate. We’ve already got a list of things to try with all the veggies taking up space in our fridge from our last CSA box! Not to mention there’s still stuff in our freezer. This month is about continuing the effort to clean it out … so that we can defrost it and get it ready for the next go round.

Here’s to a lower grocery bill and healthier food in 2013!

You are reading Clean Out the Freezer Month. Read more from this series of articles.

Crystal Rowe

wife to D, mama to A & E, sister, daughter, niece, aunt, follower of Christ, writer, book lover, beloved child of God

  • How interesting! You know, we really need to do this at home. I’m inspired… Over Christmas break, our extended Lee family spent a week in Arizona. We rented a house and ate every meal “in” because we had a lot of little kids. On the last night, we looked in the refrigerator and someone determined that we didn’t need to go to the store again … that we had enough right there. I was a bit reluctant. I didn’t think we’d have enough for a full meal. But it was a total fishes-and-loaves things. We had an abundance of food, and it was delicious. If we hadn’t used it up, it would have been thrown out the next morning before we headed to the airport.

    • It has been so fun to look at what is in our fridge and make a brand new meal from leftovers. Mexican fried rice has become one of our new favorites … because we always have eggs, rice, black beans, and salsa in our fridge or freezer! Go for it … you can do it … and let me know how it goes!!