Yes, I know its still November. And yes, I know most people are still focused on Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m my own kind of different. Thanksgiving has been planned and purchased at the beginning of the month and my Christmas shopping is already done. I’ve always disliked the holiday crowds. All the pushing, dirty looks, and the sheer volume of people is overwhelming. Its hard enough to maneuver a shopping cart through my local Walmart when there isn’t anyone else shopping. Add in the chaos of holiday shoppers and its enough to make me want to run into people’s ankles. Yep, I’m that kind of person.
Let’s face it… November and December are big spending months for food. There is Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, holiday baking, holiday parties, New Years Eve, and more. Most people don’t even bat an eye at the extra cost.
The December Pantry Challenge is a way to help keep the cost of your grocery bill down s much as possible. The idea behind it is that you plan your meals for the month with what you have in the pantry and freezer. Be creative! Some people go to the extreme at the end of the month and its like an episode of Chopped. “Hmmmm. I have kidney beans, canned pineapple, and tilapia. What can I make with these?”
While I don’t go to those extremes, I did shop my kitchen first as I was making my meal list. We have an overabundance of cereal, frozen waffles, and oatmeal so those will be breakfast. Lunch is usually leftovers, PB&J (we have tons of jelly because I canned it this summer), or grilled cheese. So, all that’s really left to plan is our regular dinners, our Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas dinner, and goodies for New Years Eve.
Here’s what we have planned:
- Chicken patty sandwiches and french fries
- Grilled cheese and soup
- Minestrone soup and warm bread
- Breakfast for dinner: eggs, toast, sausage
- Oven roasted smoked sausage and potatoes
- Crockpot beer brats and pasta salad
- Chicken cheddar sausage and a noodle mix
- Crockpot sausage and peppers with pasta
- Seasoned tilapia with a rice mix
- Roast chicken and scalloped potatoes
- Chicken noodle soup (made with roast chicken leftovers) and bread
- Burgers and french fries
- Honey BBQ chicken and mac and cheese
- Crockpot brown sugar balsamic glazed pork roast and mashed potatoes
- Pork with Dijon sauce and egg noodles
- Beef porcupines and egg noodles
- Crockpot beef and broccoli with rice
- Baked beef and bean burritos
- Hawaiian sandwiches (with leftover Christmas ham) and chips
- Baked sweet and sour chicken with rice
- Spaghetti with meat sauce and warm bread
- Pork chops with stuffing and apples
- Baked ziti and warm bread
- Christmas Eve: Pizza (plus extra pizzas to go into the freezer)
- Christmas breakfast: reindeer pancakes, hot chocolate, cinnamon roll candy cane twists
- Christmas Dinner: Spiral ham with pineapple, green bean casserole, funeral potatoes, rolls, green salad, chocolate peppermint poke cake
That’s 27 dinners planned for the month of December based off of what I have in my kitchen. Any guesses as to how many items I need to buy to be able to make all these dinners?? 23. All I need to get is french fries, balsamic vinegar, dry white cooking wine, tortillas, peppermint baking chips, chocolate pudding mix, maraschino cherries, marshmallows, American cheese, mozzarella cheese, sour cream, ricotta cheese, cheddar cheese, potatoes, onions, peppers, celery, carrots, lettuce, tomato, corn chips, cream cheese, and half and half. In addition to these items I have another 6 things I need to get for snacks on Christmas eve, Christmas, and New Years Eve. So overall, that’s 29 things on my list for the ENTIRE month!! I’ll be getting a few of these items today because they are on sale at Aldi and I want to be sure I get them at a cheaper price. My hope is that I’ll be able to stay under $200 for the entire month.
By shopping my kitchen first, I’ll be able to keep my grocery spending down and my credit card statement won’t be scary when it comes in January.