52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat From the Pantry {Week 50}

Eat From the Pantry Challenge

Every week for 52 weeks, I’m sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

One very simple way to save money is to skip shopping for a week or two and use what you already have on hand. We call this Eating From the Pantry at our house and it’s something we try to do at least once a quarter.

Here’s how it works for us:

Make It a Game

Instead of approaching eating from the pantry as a difficult thing, we make it a game on occasion to see how long we can survive without going to the store. When you view it as a fun challenge, it makes it exciting and interesting. And it can help bolster your spirits when you find yourself eating some rather interesting meals. :)

Set a Goal

Set a goal not only for how long you’re going to try to go without stepping foot into a store, but also set a goal for what you’re going to do with the money saved. Maybe you’ll put it toward paying off some debt, or use it to pay cash for an item you’ve been saving for, or even put it toward your Vacation Savings fund.

You could also consider donating the money to charity — which can give a lot of extra purpose to this challenge!

Inventory Your Supplies

Look through your cupboard, refrigerator, and freezer to see what you already have on hand. Dig really deep and make sure you’re pulling out all the possibilities.

Once you’ve inventoried what you have on hand, use the ingredient search feature on AllRecipes.com to get some recipe ideas for using up what you have in your pantry. I love that you can type in what you have on hand and what you don’t have on hand and it will generate a list of recipe ideas for you!

Go For It!

Once you’ve set a goal and inventoried your supplies, it’s time to dive right in and start using up what you have on hand and staying away from the grocery store.

And remember: even if you end up breaking down and going to the store before you your goal date, you’ve still saved money and used up a lot of what you already had on hand. Also, you probably learned some valuable lessons in the process — or at least were challenged and stretched in your creativity a little. :)

Eatin From the Pantry Challenge

My Friend Kelly wrote a guest post on her family’s one-month experiment with Eating from the Pantry and the lessons they learned back in 2010. Here’s part of the post:

At the end of November, I embarked on my own challenge to clean out my pantry and freezer. I am proof it can be done even if you’re not a master baker or planner. If this pantry month seems too difficult let’s start with a new perspective.

This is not a challenge, it’s an adventure! Adventures are fun and exciting, full of surprises and exploration. Here’s just a taste of what you might learn on this adventure:

Re-discover Creativity

Remember the days when an empty plastic container and cardboard from the paper towels could entertain you for hours? Or times in college when you made pasta in the coffee pot and grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron?

It’s time to get creative again! Whether it’s breakfast for dinner to finish up some pancake mix, using stale bread for croutons, or finding substitutes, cooking is about enjoying the process and breaking out of the mundane.

Creativity comes when you have seventeen cans of tuna and need a new recipe. Creativity is testing new sauces on pasta and trying new recipes, ingredients, and styles of cooking.

Discover Thankfulness

As we settle into our routines, grocery shopping can become a tedious chore. Take this month to focus not on what you don’t have in the pantry but what you do. Instead of focusing on the deals you might miss, enjoy the ones you found already! It’s simple to grab chili on sale and celebrate a great deal but it’s a little harder to make chili and cornbread or chili on a baked potato three times a week to use it up.

Look at all the opportunities we have to buy food and utilize discounts, coupons, and rewards. It’s easy to take that for granted. When was the last time your family gave thanks for having a local grocery store, fresh produce, and the funds to pick up a treat or two?

Discover Usefulness

Once you embark on the Eat From the Pantry “Adventure”, try a little trick I call ‘spelunking.’ Simply dig through your stock and find something you can use in place of going to the store. Crunchy salad toppers can be used in soup. Top macaroni and cheese with the last tablespoons of bread crumbs. Turn mushy apples into applesauce and juice into popsicles.

Try Amy Dacyczyn’s Universal Casserole Recipe. Or, if you get stuck without an “essential” ingredient this site on substitutions is one of the easiest to reference.

I know my great grandmothers would be ashamed to see the amount of food I let spoil each week. They didn’t waste; the mantra was to ”use it up!” In that spirit during my Pantry Month I rescued a ham from the work potluck that was to be thrown away. Ham omelets, sandwiches, added to beans and soup helped stretch many meals. If you’re thinking your stock can’t possibly last 31 days give it a shot and find out how long it WILL last. The worst that can happen is you’ll find your answer.

Read the full post here.

Have you ever tried an eating from the pantry challenge? If so, how long have you gone without going to the store?

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YouNeedaBudget.com: Free for college students!

YouNeedaBudget.com: Free for College Students

Need some budgeting help? If you’re a college student, you can sign up for YouNeedaBudget.com for FREE right now. Here’s what they said in their blog post:

More kids are graduating from college absolutely weighed down by student debt. I don’t know what portion of their debt is avoidable, but I’m confident that if those students were following YNAB’s Four Rules, they would graduate with less debt.

Starting today, if you’re a college student (even only part-time), we’ll let you use YNAB for free while you’re in school.

How to Obtain Your Free Copy of YNAB

  1. Write to us at support@youneedabudget.com and include proof of registration at your college.

  2. We’ll send you a special license key, good until the end of the calendar year.

  3. At the end of the year, just shoot us another email if you’re still cranking away on your schoolwork, and we’ll send you a new license key that’s good for the entire next year.

Find out more details here.

Many of my readers have highly recommended this program! If you’ve used this program, I’d love to have you share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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We Paid Cash: A Vacation for Our Family of 7!

We paid cash!

A testimony from Colleen

A little over a year ago, we decided to pay cash for our vacation. I was especially excited since it was going to be the first time I had taken my mom on vacation… without her spending a dime.

I began setting aside whatever leftover money we had in our checking account. Thinking that I was already close to our goal, I asked my husband to guesstimate how much we would need to cover the cost for our family of 7. His total was $2800 — without doing anything fun!

Unfortunately, I hadn’t even come close to saving enough and it was May!

Then, I got creative…


After endlessly searching for somewhere to stay, I was discouraged. Everything was just too expensive! However, my husband was pastoring a church at the time, and I remembered that many places offer a clergy discount.

I looked again and found a whole house in PA! It was a B&B at $580 for 5 days! Check the memberships you currently have: belonging to organizations like USAA, AAA, and Knights of Columbus can have an add bonus in travel savings!


Eating out was normally one of our biggest vacation expenses. To help with these costs, I cashed in some rewards I’d earned and got gift cards for restaurants in the area.

We also tried to max out the value of each card by eating a big, later lunch getting the same items we would at dinner for half the cost… AND, several weeks before the trip, I signed up for restaurant loyalty programs that gave coupons for free items which extended our savings.


To save on fuel, we mapped out our route and got gas cards to stations on the way. It didn’t cover all our fuel costs, but it certainly helped!


I ordered a guide for my family members to choose things they were interested in, and then found deals for them. Then, at rest stations, we gathered free guides with coupons for other discounted activities.

I also did some internet research for free or discounted events in the area. I discovered that it was National Ice Cream Day (free ice cream), Dress like a Cow Day at Chick-fil-A (free meals), and 7/11 Slurpee Day that week!

Just like our B&B, meals, and fuel, I looked for ways to extend my buying power. I used Daily Deal sites to buy deals that included Food and Entertainment. We also weren’t afraid to ask for discounts.

We discovered that on taping days, certain seats are discounted at Sight & Sound. We were able to take in a circus, visit a petting zoo, see a Broadway-quality show, watch trains — big and small — plus so much more!

Our grand total was $1600 dollars for a fun-filled, 5-day vacation for our family of 7!

It took some planning and a little ingenuity, but we definitely made a memorable, family vacation on the cheap!

Colleen  is a homeschooling mother of 5, former pastor’s wife, and avid couponer. She enjoys reading, writing, and baking gluten-free goodies.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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At-Home Job Opportunity: Part-Time Advertising Manager

Keeper of the Home

Keeper of the Home is looking to hire a Part-Time Advertising Manager to help manage their advertising needs. This job is a work-from-home position that allows for flexible hours.

Here are more details on this position:

  • This job would consist of: Responding to advertiser requests, maintaining the Keeper of the Home media kit, helping to set the direction of their private advertising program, switching ads from month to month, maintaining advertiser records and monthly calendar, running weekly giveaways and the Christmas Gift Guide, helping manage and promote affiliate programs and products, coordinating with the Social Media Manager for sponsor shout outs, and seeking out new advertisers.
  • This work-from-home position has flexible hours, but requires email to be checked at least once per weekday (Monday—Friday).
  • This is a contractor position, not an employee position. You would claim your own taxes and expenses.
  • This position requires someone able to work independently, as well as someone with a desire to learn who has a self-starter attitude.
  • Previous blogging experience is nice, but not necessary.
  • Position is available immediately. Training will be provided.
  • Pay is a combination of hourly wage plus commission based on ad revenue.

To apply for this position, please fill out the Keeper of the Home Job Application Form.

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How a $0.25 Lesson Can Have a Lifelong Impact

How a Quarter Lesson Can Have a Lifelong Impact

We were at the Nature Center gift shop last week and my children had brought their own money with them to buy something from the gift shop. Each child looked at all the options and weighed them carefully. Finally, they decided upon their purchases.

One of the girls had picked out some colorful rocks and a honey stick. I had gently reminded her that she probably didn’t have enough money for all of it after tax was added on.

But she held onto hope and handed her items to the cashier. The cashier rang the items up and the total was $0.15 over the amount my daughter had with her.

I inwardly debated what I should do as a parent. The honey stick was just $0.25 and part of me really wanted to just buy it for her. But at the same time, I knew that it’s these little lessons that can often have a big impact on our children.

So instead, I watched as she put the honey stick back on the shelf and just bought the rocks. Putting the honey stick back on the shelf didn’t seem to bother her one bit… she was thrilled with her colorful rocks.

And I realized that often, it’s these small, seemingly unimportant occurrences that shape our children’s view of money. I want my children to grow up understanding the value of money and hard work. I want them to learn how to stick with their budgets and not be tempted to spend more than they have.

While we love to bless and surprise our children with special treats or gifts on occasion, we also want to give them many opportunities where they don’t get everything they want. Because that’s life! All of us probably have many things we’d love to have or that would be nice to have that just aren’t in the budget right now.

By giving our children opportunities to learn and practice money management at the $0.25 and $3 levels, we hope we are saving them from making the $250 and $3,000 mistakes someday!

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Stretching the Grocery Budget with Eggs

stretching the budget with eggs

Guest post from Tanya of  Springs Homestead

Eggs are not just for breakfast, they make great snacks and delicious dinners. Although the price of a carton of eggs has increased some; they are still cheap and healthy. Plus, they are loaded with protein and vitamins B12, A, D, and E.

If you’re looking for a simple way to stretch your grocery budget… here are some ways eggs can help you do just that!

Eggs for Breakfast

Eggs can be served in numerous ways for breakfast. There is the basic scrambled, fried, and poached. Or, if you would like to get really creative try a frittata, omelet, or soufflé.

Eggs really are a great way to start the day and there are numerous breakfast egg recipes.

Snack Time

I like to keep hard-boiled eggs in our fridge for anyone looking for a snack. They can be packed into lunch boxes for school, work, or for us on-the-go homeschool moms. Eating a hard-boiled egg after a rigorous workout can also give you that much needed protein boost.

Snack time, with eggs, can be simple, nutritious, and kind to the wallet.

Dinner with Eggs

During the spring and summer, my hens lay many eggs. In order for my family not to grow tired of eggs, I have amassed quite a collection of egg recipes. I never knew there were so many ways to serve them. Even if you are buying your eggs, these are very economical dinners.

Here is a recipe that we particularly enjoy.

What are your favorite ways to serve eggs?

Tanya married a farm boy named James and together they are restoring his family farm after 20 years of neglect. When Tanya is not homeschooling their three children or working on the farm, you can find her concocting something in the kitchen or writing on her blog  Seven Springs Homestead.

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