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Pantry Audit

As I mentioned last week, our income has dropped while D’s business is in its infancy.  One of things I’m doing to stretch our pennies further is to ‘shop our pantry’.  Basically this means you try and use up what you’ve already got in your pantry, because most first-world families have probably got at least a couple of weeks worth of meals hiding at the back of the cupboard.

We meal plan, so I am generally pretty good at using up our groceries but there are things I had bought for parties that I didn’t end up using, plus carby food items purchased prior to starting Trim Healthy Mama that are still lurking at the back of the pantry.  I am a visual person, so I decided doing an audit of exactly what food we had around the house would be helpful.

And in case you were dying to know, this is it:

pantry audit 1 totsintawhero

pantry audit 2 totsintawhero

It’s not the entire list as I didn’t think you ‘d want a long list of sauces, or baking essences etc.  And keep in mind, this was done at the end of the week before I went grocery shopping so there aren’t a lot of canned goods.

Seeing all of this in black and white helped me tremendously when making my meal plan for the week.  Seriously, that’s what we have lying around the house.  It seems like such a lot!  And yet how many times have I looked in my cupboards and thought ‘there’s nothing to eat’.

I immediately decided to roast the chicken and some kumara (sweet potato, sorry I forgot to put that on the list), which we had with peas and carrots.  One of those manky lemons got shoved up the chicken’s bum for subtle flavour.  The following day I used leftover chicken, kumara and peas to make a curry.  A can of diced tomatoes went in that too.  With the curry I served brown rice and cucumber raita, which used up one of the cukes and the unsweetened yoghurt, plus a little mint from our garden.

chicken curry tots in tawhero

I used up the coconut flour and some of the frozen strawberries by making some THM muffins.  Sausage and I made pikelets for lunch one day, and I also made her day by serving up the raspberry jelly after dinner.  I probably bought it for a party, but it’s been sitting around for ages.  I reflected the other day that I so rarely surprise my kids with treats like that, it was probably high-time that I did.  I used up the stewed apple (from our garden) and the oats by making a huge crumble for an extended family dinner, and they had it with the rest of the ice-cream which was purchased months ago when Sausage had a really sore throat and wouldn’t eat.  I’m sugar-free so I didn’t partake but it was gobbled up quickly.

THM strawberry muffin

THM strawberry muffin

I plan to use up the rest of the almond flour by making these paleo bagel dogs that other THMer’s are raving about.  For the next few weeks I won’t need to buy any veg as broccoli, leeks, spinach, celery and lettuce are now ready for harvesting in our garden.

The tins of beetroot are leftovers from one of our summer BBQ’s (it’s a New Zealand thing…).  I used them to make this beetroot hummus (it’s delicious), and will have a go later in the week at making these fudgy paleo beetroot brownies.

The sausage hotpot (a meal from a friend) and a pie are on the menu for D (who is already quite trim and healthy) and the kids while I cobble together a THM meal, and I’ll also be eating a lot of chicken, brown rice and soup this week.

I did go grocery shopping for ingredients to add to some of the meals, and for non-food essentials.  Shopping my pantry meant I spent 60% less than I usually do.  I’ve made a reasonable dent in my pantry, and have probably got enough to work with for at least another two weeks (seriously self, what was with all the couscous?).

The audit certainly made me think more creatively about my meals and I’ve tried out some pretty great recipes.  Win.

What’s hiding in your cupboards?

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Dollar Diet: My Not-So-Secret Weapon

In the past we’ve tried several ways to stay on budget, including a cash envelope system.  The idea being you allocate a certain number of $ for things that aren’t on an automatic payment, like groceries, entertainment or clothing.  And when the money is gone, that’s it for the week.  The theory is you are much less likely to spend cold, hard cash than zap a card through a machine.

While I know it works for many people, the cash envelopes were a dud for us.  I’m in charge of grocery shopping and 9 times out of 10 I would leave the blasted envelope at home and then have to reconcile it when I got back.  Or we’d forget to fill the darn things.  We’re New Zealanders, we hardly ever carry cash these days, having been some of the earliest users of EFTPOS in the world.  It just wasn’t going to work for D and I.

D, being a techie, reckoned he could invent an app that could create an envelope-like budget for us and keep it updated in real time. Meaning that when ever either of us spent money we could code it to a particular budget line, and see how much money is in a particular ‘pot’.   We would instantly know if were were about to go over our allotted budget,  All on our smart phones.  I have no doubt he could have whipped up an app in double-quick time, but being sensible, he soon discovered that such an app already existed.  Thanks interweb!

The app we use is Goodbudget.  D sat down and created envelopes for all our categories of expenditure, and we worked out how much money we need to ‘fill’ the envelopes with each week.

D demonstrating the Goodbudget app (you'll notice things like clothing and date night are currently at zero for the spending fast)

D demonstrating the Goodbudget app (you’ll notice things like clothing and date night are currently at zero for the spending fast, and that our car budget is waaay in arrears as we recently purchased a new car and haven’t sold our old one yet)

People, let me tell you that if you are struggling to stay on budget, or if one of you is regularly overspending and you’re not sure why, this app works.  I would ALWAYS overspend on groceries and simply didn’t realise that a couple of extra trips to the supermarket to pick up things I’d forgotten or run out of would blow our budget for that week.  These days I make-do or change the recipe if we have spent our grocery budget for the week.  The ease and immediacy of pulling out my phone and being able to see how much money I have (or don’t have) stops me from being all spendy-spendy and turns me into a mindful spender at the swipe of my phone.

We can easily tell if there is money available to shuffle around.  If we have overspent in one category, but another one is in surplus we can reallocate some of that surplus money.  If you find that you are regularly overspending in one category you know that either it’s time to increase that budget line, or take a good hard look at your expenditure for weak spots so you can cut back.

Goodbudget helps you to instantly see what you are spending our money on.  Sometimes we think we know, but a quick glance at an envelope might shock you to discover that you spent $5672 on gifts last year or $494 on takeaway coffee.  It takes a few weeks to get in the habit of coding every.little.thing into Goodbudget (it’s a very easy process), but now it is second-nature to me to pull out my phone after making a purchase.  The habit of coding everything (including utilities and other regular bills) also helps you realise that you’ve forgotten to add a line for it in your budget, which may account for times when you’ve had less money than you’ve thought.

The app does cost money ($45 a year) but I think it’s worth the expense when I look at the money I’m saving because the app is helping me to change my behaviour.

For me, the only downside to Goodbudget is I can’t use it on a ‘dumb phone’.  I’d like to get rid of my smartphone (I hate them, they are so addictive and such time-wasters), but I’m keeping mine so I can use Goodbudget :-).

I am in no way affiliated with Goodbudget, I am merely a very happy customer.  All opinions expressed are my own.