Saving and Giving has moved to! I hope that you'll all join me over at Saving & Giving's new home. I'm planning some fun giveaways to kick things off. I'm still working on the site, and I'd love to hear your input. Let me know which features you want me to keep. You can email me at If you're currently an email subscriber, you shouldn't see any change in your daily email newsletter. I switched the feed over so that you should continue to receive your daily updates.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eat From the Pantry Challenge: Count Me In!

When I read Jessica's post about the Eat From the Pantry Challenge, I figured it couldn't hurt to try it. I know for a fact that there are things hiding in my cupboards and freezer. My personal challenge will begin with taking stock of what we actually have.

I started with our canned goods storage area. First of all, we have ZERO closets in this house and VERY limited kitchen cupboard space. When we moved in, my mom found this great wire shelving unit on clearance at Lowe's. We thought we'd make our own pantry space out of space that wasn't being used by anything else. The wire shelving unit ended up on the wall at the top of the steps to the basement. It's not a high-traffic area on most days, and it's worked out pretty well. I really should have taken a BEFORE picture for you. There were even clothes (mine... clean...) hanging from the shelves! EEEKS! It had become a catch-all for more than canned goods.
I cleaned it out first and was surprised by a few things that I found (and things I didn't find). Here's the AFTER picture.

Just a side note for those of you observant enough to see the insulin syringes. They're for our diabetic cat. We have to keep them up high so Emma doesn't decide to try to "help" by giving kitty his medicine. Most days we like him enough to spare him that ordeal.

I was surprised that I had so few canned veggies on this shelf. Time to stock up on those. I was also surprised to find a can of pumpkin (after borrowing one from my mom this past weekend because the stores were sold out!). I also realized that I have backup sugar but not flour. I do have storage space in the basement too, but I haven't checked there yet to see what else I'm hiding from myself!

I must now move on to tackle the freezer and a couple of food cupboards. I do have BEFORE pictures for these ones, because I haven't even started on them yet! Let's start with my freezer. (I seriously can't believe I'm showing you my freezer! This is reality, folks!!)

And the door....

Now let's head to the right of the fridge to my only decent-sized cupboard for food. This is where we keep the things we grab most often. The rest is in the basement. I'm wondering how we grab much of anything from this cupboard. You seriously should take your camera and go take pictures of your open cupboards. You don't realize how stuffed and disorganized they are until you post them for the world to see!

I see that I have some dried cranberries on the top shelf. Those were a great steal at Kroger a while back, but I have no clue what to do with them! Any suggestions? (Brandy, you'll be pleased to know that I do have a small box of powdered milk on the middle shelf. It's just hard to see!)

Next we move to the tiny cupboard above my stove. I keep my spices and cereal here for lack of a better place for them.

I keep reminding myself of the abundance of cupboard space that we'll have once we move. For now, I'll just haul things up the basement steps as needed. I don't have pictures of that area yet. It's actually fairly organized, so I didn't consider tackling it for this part of the project.

My next steps are:
  • Empty the freezer. Toss what's beyond its usable life. Inventory what's left. Maybe put all of our frozen veggies in some type of container so that they don't spill over onto the rest of the contents of the freezer.
  • Empty the big cupboard. Toss what's beyond its usable life. Inventory what's left. Move to the basement the things we don't use that often or items with multiples.
  • Empty the small cupboard. Toss what's beyond its usable life. (I'm pretty sure that there are old spices lurking there!) Only keep things I know I'll use. Move a few more boxes of cereal upstairs from the basement.
  • Inventory what's in the basement cupboard.

Once I have my inventory done, I will be able to more effectively plan meals for the next few weeks. We have some good stuff hiding in our kitchen and basement! Now I need to use it!

Are you up for the challenge? You can stop back here or head over to see what Crystal and Jessica are up to. I'm especially looking forward to Jessica's creative meal plans as she uses up the odds-and-ends from her pantry to feed her crowd.


Julie said...

Dried cranberries are great in salad! I toss them with Romaine, apples, swiss cheese, and a hoomemade dressing with red wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, poppyseeds,etc. I think if you go to the Taste of Home website and search for a salad with a name like "Festive Salad", you will find an original recipe.

Karla said...

Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies! I use cranberries in place of the raisins. The recipe can be found on the Quaker oatmeal container.

Leslie said...

Dried cranberries are great in a stuffing/dressing for a chicken or turkey! (or pork tenderloin)