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Summertime Pantry Challenge: Fridge picture, new mattress, and bedrooms re-arranged!

Today (July 31) is supposed to be the last day of the Summertime Pantry Challenge, but I'm not nearly ready to be finished yet! (I'm moving at a turtle's pace compared to Jessica and the others!) I don't have my freezers organized yet, so I'll share pictures in a few days when I do.

Here's what my fridge looks like right now:

We made beans and rice (a really yummy pantry meal in my opinion!) for today, and this week for dinners we'll be grilling chicken and fish from the freezer, mostly served with rice, salad greens, and vegetables.

See my lovely fresh parsley on the top shelf?! A friend started some herbs from seed this year and shared some with me. My pot of parsley is doing great and I just clipped all the biggest stems. I'm planning to make some Tabbouleh this week.

No, I don't have most of the vegetables for Tabbouleh... so I'm debating asking Joshua to pick up 1 tomato and 1 cucumber when he goes to the store today for bananas. (Joshua takes 2 bananas in his lunch every day so a weekly banana trip on Sunday evenings is routine for us.) :)

See, that's my trouble... I have fresh parsley to use and I am craving my Tabbouleh with ALL the "right" ingredients. Substitute canned tomatoes or leave out the cucumber? That just doesn't seem right! This is why I kinda stink at doing a "real" pantry challenge. :P :)

I also got a little side-tracked this week when my pantry challenge included getting a new mattress and re-arranging the kids bedrooms! With reducing my grocery shopping this month, we spent some of the savings on a new twin-size mattress for Ruth (3).

Read more for before-and-after bedroom photos...

Summertime Pantry Challenge: Clean fridge and cupboards, grocery photos, and what I'm spending our savings on

Okay, I'm overdue for a Pantry Challenge update! Yes, that would be me... chugging along and taking twice as long as I'm supposed to! :P What can I say? Lately I've felt like anything I would write about here is either worthless or boring. I tend to second-guess myself and decide that no one would even care what our menu was or if my fridge got cleaned or if I had self-control at Costco last week...

But, moving along, my fridge did indeed get cleaned. My goals last time were to clear off the kitchen counters, clean out the fridge, and then go to Costco for a few things like eggs, milk, cheese, toilet paper, and lettuce. I spent about $150 at Costco, which was my goal for this month. (Yay!) We did have to make one other trip to Costco to get a few things for dinners we hosted at our house -- burgers, buns, and dessert (strawberries, pound cake, and cream).

Read more...

Summertime Pantry Challenge: Messy pantry photos and my budget goals

Thanks to Jessica at Good Cheap Eats, I get to join in with her pantry challenge this month! And boy, do I need this goal-setting incentive. I've got some stuff in the freezer that needs to be used soon, and my pantry (dry storage, fridge, and freezer) could use a good cleaning!

And our food budget. I've gotten a little off-track and could definitely stand to go a month buying just mostly necessities and stashing the extras into savings. We do well on a small(er) budget, but groceries is the one variable that I have some control over and could cut. (Other areas? Not so much.)

Cathy asked:

I would love for you to post more about your general budget.  I always enjoy reading how others budget their household...plus, I tend to learn things from this.

The last time I wrote about our budget was near the beginning of this year (2011). I'm happy to have met quite a few of those goals! Going to Costco every 2 weeks (where we buy most of our groceries) has definitely helped our household grocery budget. Moshe has been in cloth diapers, Ruth has been potty trained for 4+ months now, and a family member generously helped fund my trip to Ohio to see my family!

Of course, as life always seems to, for nearly every goal met, a curve ball was tossed our way as well. ;) Our medical expenses (even with insurance) have been greatly increased this year. Thankfully, we have a savings cushion! God has always provided and continues to do so. With so many unemployed in this country right now, we are blessed with a steady income and health insurance! :)

I don't say that lightly. I feel very blessed! I do get tired of going over our budget trying to find things to cut though.

I could sum up our budget by just saying "We try to spend as little as possible." I know that doesn't really help anyone!

In more detail: We use cloth-everything (except toilet paper), we have 1 vehicle and stay home a lot, we don't go out to eat, we don't have cell phones, we don't have Cable, we do most things at-home -- like haircuts.

What DO we spend money on? Food! We love to eat well. ;) So this month I will be focusing on eating well while spending less -- much less -- than normal. ;) I WILL be spending some money though. Milk, fresh fruit, vegetables, and toilet paper are all things I'll need to buy.

I'll also share my grocery shopping trips for this month, to help keep me accountable. ;) Here is what we've bought so far this month:

Bananas, strawberries (on sale), and corn on the cob (on sale).

Now, I also took pictures of my pantry, fridge, and freezer. I didn't organize anything first. Hopefully by the end of the month things will look a little cleared-out and tidier and we'll have saved a few hundred dollars as well! :)

Read more for pantry pics: