We are now heading into the final weeks of this year-long challenge. What a huge blessing regarding all of the encouragement we have seen from others throughout the year on the progress made.
This week, we want to encourage everyone to spend some serious time in the kitchen. This is the week to do a “Kitchen Overhaul.”
Why? Because food is the #1 expense for every household – whether in debt or not. Now don’t get us wrong, many may have a number of bills much higher than food, but this 52-Week Take Back Your Finances challenge is designed to help you decrease these bills because you have control over them. However, everyone has to eat and nearly everyone can have a dramatic budget change by making some key changes in the area of food. That’s what we want you to spend your time on this week.
What is a kitchen overhaul?
Well, it basically covers 3 key areas:
- Clean out and organization
- Inventory and Lists
- Replacing store-bought with homemade version as much as possible
That’s what we are going to do. This is probably going to be the task during this challenge with the most work required up to this point. But this is a key essential point and a very necessary task. We promise that no other week will be as much work as this.
Give yourself a couple of hours for a few days to complete this one.
Step #1 – Clean Out and Organization
The first way to save big is by knowing what you have on hand, what you need to use and what needs to be thrown out. So we want you to start your kitchen overhaul by clearing out the food shelves and the fridge. Take this time to also wipe the shelves down and do a bit of cleaning too!
While in the process of cleaning out, we encourage you to organize. Look on Pinterest, look at the organization tab in our DIY gallery, search Google for ideas, ask friends on FB, etc. for ideas to organize foods in pantries, cupboards and storage areas. You don’t have to spend a penny as there are numerous ideas out there.
BUT…while you are rearranging and organizing, make two lists.
The first list is the foods you eat regularly (not everything, just your “normal” food necessities) that you will be using to keep track of prices at a few different stores so that you know when to buy something at the lowest or “rock bottom” prices. We have a free printable that you can use to write your food necessities down for now and then read how to utilize the rest of the printable for future savings.
The second is a list of foods you need to use in the next month or sooner! These foods are going to be then used FIRST on your No-Food Waste Menu Planner over the next month. This tool is saving people thousands every year. You will want to utilize the oldest foods first and then incorporate this entire list into your menus over the next month. Everything you need to create a No-Food Waste Menu Planner from your list is in our Menu Planning Page.
Now on with organization. Let me give you and idea of how we organize. Let me start by saying I’m not a cutesy organizer. I just get the job done. Some day I would like to go on and make special labels, shelves, boxes, etc. but I generally do not have time for this type of process. So my organization is on the most basic level. You can see how I have done it and break it all down here:
Step #2 – Now it’s time to take inventory.
This is so utterly important for a well run kitchen and food budget. We have created free printables for you to utilize and in fact have shared just this part of the kitchen overhaul in a previous challenge. So you can download the printables and read how to use them in this article here. There’s no need to repeat the information here, but this is step #2, so be sure to read the details and follow through!
Step #3 – Learn to replace many store-bought foods with homemade versions.
I LOVE This one! It is so fun! If you can take the third block of time this week to make these replacements, you will save so much money and ultimately, so much time! Most of these are going to be things like your spice blends, dressings, soups, gravies, breakfast blends including our very popular Bulk Muffin Mix to make any type of muffins.
You can find a number of these in our Recipe Gallery and in our post on Replacing the Grocery Store with Homemade Versions article. And, not only will you be able to replace many of the foods to save money and time – our family finds a homemade version to taste so much better!
Taking charge of your kitchen means a better budget return. It just takes time. But once you do this, you will feel so much better and your budget will make some big improvements!
Need to catch up? Come join us on this challenge from the very beginning by clicking on the 52-Week Take Back Your Finances Challenge and sign up to start receiving your automated challenge from the very beginning!
One final thing…we also have a Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in the challenges too for more ideas! Head to the Be Intentional with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!
Disclaimer: We are not licensed financial planners. We are only a couple that have been just a hair-breadth away from bankruptcy and found our way out of debt with a goal to now help others. Please make sure to consider any advice given on our site and in this challenge as tips we have used ourselves; they may not work for everyone. If you have questions please make sure to contact a licensed professional.
I just reorganized our pantry this weekend and pulled out all the food that’s expiring soon to make sure we eat it. I really do hate wasting food and money. I also get a ton of satisfaction organizing things. I’m not fancy either – I used masking tape to mark what’s in a few bins so I don’t end up buying more of something I already have because I didn’t see it (which I just did the other day with brown sugar – luckily it has a long shelf life so I should be ok).