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The Pantry Challenge PDF Print E-mail

The 4th of July is over and the next major BBQ holiday is more than six weeks away.  Now is a perfect time for a Pantry Challenge!
By taking on the Pantry Challenge, you see how long you can eat using only the food you already have on hand - with the exception of purchasing fresh products like milk, eggs and produce. 
The Pantry Challenge was started as a way to encourage you to rotate through everything in your pantry and freezer within a three month period. The food in your kitchen should be consumed. Often, we get into the mode that a well stocked pantry needs to be static. If you see something sitting there for three months, either eat it or donate it to a shelter and don’t buy it again.

In addition to saving money, an added benefit of the Pantry Challenge is that it forces you to get creative. You’ll look at canned soup and dried pasta a little differently as you figure out how to make a meal from what you have on hand. Over the years I’ve received feedback from readers who have come up with new family favorites based on the need to get imaginative durng the challenge.

The longest any Savvy Life reader has gone without having to buy groceries (outside of milk, eggs and fresh produce) was three months!
Let me know how your Pantry Challenge goes. Drop me an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Note: This challenge does not include the food in your emergency kit. You should always have enough non-perishable food and water set aside to sustain you and your family for 3 – 7 days. Keep your emergency food and water supply in a waterproof bin along with your other emergency items.


How Often Should You Dine Out? PDF Print E-mail
By Melissa Tosetti
Our grandparents rarely, if ever, dined out. Our parents may have gone out to eat once or twice a month. Now, it's easy to eat just about every meal outside the home.  Unfortunately, the cost of those meals quickly add up and because of the frequency, dining out is no longer a treat.

One of the fastest ways to save A LOT of money is to cook more at home, but, that doesn't mean you can never go out to eat again.

Just how often can you give yourself permission to dine out? It really depends on your particular financial situation. With that in mind, if you have been able to create the habit of spending less than you make and are systematically paying off your debt, a rule of thumb might be to dine out just 1 - 2 times per week. That could entail going out to lunch on Wednesdays and a nice dinner out with friends on Saturday night.

Deciding in advance your "Money Rules" when it comes to dining out will ensure you spend within your means and that when you do go out, you can do so without guilt to spoil the experience.
Worthy Kitchen Investments PDF Print E-mail
By Melissa Tosetti 
As you know, cooking at home increases your quality of life and saves you a lot of money.  The right tools can make all the difference in the world when it comes to food preparation. 
If you aren’t happy with your kitchen tools, consider replacing them over time.  Research and decide what you want, then wait for the items to go on sale. 

Invest in a quality set of knives, pots, pans and bakeware, and you'll have those tools for years to come - as long as you take care of them.  Just remember to only purchase what you'll actually use. 

You can also replace your plates, glasses and silverware if you aren't happy with them but, I would consider replacing your cookware first if that is on your list. 
Are Coupons Savvy? PDF Print E-mail
By Melissa Tosetti
One of the questions I get asked a lot is - Is it worth clipping coupons? 
I'm happy to use coupons when they apply to something I purchase regularly, or if I want to try a new product. However, the majority of food coupons are for processed foods. Because we don't eat a lot of processed foods I rarely use them.
I do like to take advantage of coupons for cleaning products as well as personal hygiene and beauty items. They help me save quite a bit of money, especially if I can time them with a good sale. 
The savvy way to use coupons is to only use them for products you’re going to purchase anyway. Don't be tempted purchase a box of neon-green breakfast cereal because you have a $1 off coupon for them - unless you really like neon-green breakfast cereal.
Weeknight Meal Ideas PDF Print E-mail

By Melissa Tosetti

The dreaded question in most households is, "What's for dinner?".

Although my husband Paul and I both love to cook, it's so easy for us to fall into a rut, cooking the same things again and again - especially on weeknights when time is limited. 

While searching the Internet for dinner ideas, I found this section on Delish.com dedicated to easy weeknight meals: 100+ Recipes for Weeknight Meals.

The layout of the page is easy to read with categories such as:

  • 30 Minutes Or Less
  • Slow Cooker Solutions
  • Healthy Options
  • No Cook Meals
  • Quick Dinner Ideas for the Kids

I've already decided on the first recipe I'm going to try: Spaghetti with Walnuts, Gorgonzola and Sun Dried Tomatoes.  I'll just have to remember to leave the walnuts out of Paul's serving. 

Photo Credit: Tina Rupp 
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