This $20/$20 Challenge is a great one with an awesome story. While Ashley typically tries to feed her family a whole foods diet, a family emergency rocked her world and her pantry. Goes to show that a stocked pantry, whole foods or otherwise, can really make a difference in times of crisis! Here’s her story:
Mavis, my name is Ashley. My husband and I are wannabe homesteaders, raising and homeschooling our 5 kiddos in Western New York. I’ve read your blog for the last few years, and am so appreciative for all the hard work you put into sharing tips, information, and great deals with us! Now onto our pantry…
The previous owner of our house was a Kodak engineer, and built these nifty pull-out pantry shelves, which I love! I hope to paint them to give them an updated look someday. You wouldn’t guess it from looking at my pantry right now (more on that later), but we do eat mostly whole foods. I cook a lot from scratch both for budget and health reasons.
See those shelves lined with fun snacks and cereals? My 5th child was born at the beginning of March. It was a very difficult birth, involving an ambulance ride and emergency c-section- Thank God baby and I were both okay, but it was scary! We had friends from our homeschool and church communities coming everyday for 3-4 weeks bringing us meals and goodies for the kids so that I could focus on recovering instead of cooking. I had big intentions of making freezer meals before the baby came, but wasn’t able to get to it before he made his arrival. While those foods may not be what I typically buy, I can’t tell you how thankful I was for the help during those first few weeks of recovery! I honestly believe that it helped me get back on my feet much faster.
I get produce for canning both from the garden and from buying produce on sale. I also dehydrate and freeze foods for my family. I keep a 10X17ft veggie garden, along with 2 4X8 ft raised beds, some potted herbs, and 6 berry bushes on our half acre of suburbia. Each year I expand the garden a bit more while trying to leave room for the kids and dog to play. 😉 We have 2 apple trees on our property as well. They don’t produce very well due to years of neglect, but occasionally I get enough for a few batches of applesauce!
I usually meal plan and shop 1 month at a time. I plan breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinners. My grocery budget is about $400/month for the 7 of us, sometimes more and sometimes less. I don’t coupon much, but I do try to take advantage of sales, eating in season and shopping in bulk. I shop at Sam’s Club, Wegman’s, and Aldi. Every few months we drive 45 minutes to an Amish bulk foods store to load up on 50lbs bags of oatmeal and other dried goods which I store in buckets that I’ve picked up from various catering companies and bakeries. I was given a grain mill for Christmas, so I can’t wait to buy some wheat berries and grind our own flour! While I don’t consider myself a hardcore “prepper”, I do like to have 3+ months of food on hand in case of emergencies.
Each Spring we split a cow and a pig from a local farmer with a couple of families. Depending on the size of the animal, 1/4 cow and 1/2 a pig lasts us 9-10 months. We eat meatless at least 2 days/week to help our meat last longer. I also buy several turkeys and hams when they go on sale during the holiday seasons. When we order our cow, I let the farmer know that I’d like the organ meats and soup bones. We usually feed the organ meats to our dog as a special treat. I also like to render the suet down to tallow, which can be used for cooking, soap making, and candle making as well (though I’ve only used it for cooking so far). I try to use as much of the animal as we can.
When I’m able to find extra pockets of time, I blog over at GrowPrayBuild about anything from gardening to frugal living!
Are you getting your pantries camera ready? You can participate in the $20/$20 Challenge by simply sending in pictures of your pantry. Find out more about the $20/$20 Challenge: Show Your Pantry – Fill a Pantry!
This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.