How to eat without spending money

This is for the Mom or Dad with a pantry full of food and who wants to save money right now. Do you have a pantry full of food? Did you know you may have hundred’s of dollars worth of food in your fridge, freezer, and pantry? How much money could you save in a month if you didn’t shop and used up every single thing in your house?

Let’s find out. Want to join me?

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Erin from the Sunny Side Up blog graciously let me use one of her beautiful pictures of her pantry since I don’t have a pantry. Isn’t it gorgeous? She is so organized! I love her blog.

First take a complete inventory of your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Write it all down! It doesn’t matter what your pantry or food situation looks like. Write it down!


Don’t be afraid to get creative with ingredients that you have on hand. You bought it, now it’s time to use it! Think of the ingredients on your shelves as $5, $10, and $20 bills. Would you throw away those bills in your trash? No! So don’t let those bills be your food.

It might not always be the meal you are craving, but using up the food you have can save you a ton of money! Don’t let your ego get in the way of your bank account. You can eat a few strange meals to get to where you want to be financially.

What do you do when you use up all the food that you have?


Shop with intention from here on out. Menu plan first out of your fridge, freezer, and pantry from here on out. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store for the ingredients that you do need. That is where the good stuff is! :) Try to waste little to nothing.


We have been doing this for over a year now. Doing this keeps our grocery bill under $400 a month for our family of five. When I open up my fridge I see an organized space of very little waste. And this makes me happy!


My family and I eat so much healthier and I feel good about our choices. We have more energy, and we are so much happier.

So will you accept my challenge? Will you deplete your pantry, save hundreds of dollars, and shop with intention?

Follow me HERE on facebook and update me on your progress! I would love to hear from you!


  1. This is such a great post! We do this all the time. I don’t keep a huge stock pile, because we eat mostly fresh whole foods, but I will sometimes load of on things that go on sale. So, when the shelves start getting full of random things, I plan my meals around those. I think it’s exciting to see what I can come up with, with such random ingredients!
    I also love when I can make something for “free”. Baking bread or muffins, or granola bars from pantry staples, or using up little bits of leftovers, I count those as free :)

  2. This is wonderful! My pantry/fridge look bare because we “shop with intention” as you said… My freezer on the other hand. You know how people say it’s a black hole?? Ha! We DO use the food in there though – I just need to start using up the things we don’t normally use! Have a great weekend!


  3. Inventory your kitchen- good idea!

  4. Erica-We Three Crabs says:

    Stopping by from the F it Friday hop. What a great post. Thanks for the reminder to be intentional.

  5. Carrie @ My Favorite Finds says:

    Erin, this is so awesome. I totally agree…and wish I would shop my pantry and freezer more often. Thanks for sharing at Pinworthy Projects.

  6. I love this post! Our freezers are brimming over! I’m pinning this!

  7. Michelle Muckala says:

    I love doing this as well. It looks like we have no food, but truly we could make 1-2 meals out of what we currently have. I hate wasting food! Love the analogy of food=dollar bills, that’s a great visual!

  8. Marsha Cooper says:

    Thanks for linking up with my Frugal Friday linky!
    We sure would not starve here if we bought nothing else (except milk) for the next month!
    As you know, I am a coupon/sale shopper and we are overflowing. I also do not have a pantry. I do have lots of kitchen cabinets, but are overflowed into a cabinet by the stove, to the microwave table and to the counter top. The deep freeze is packed to the brim and so is the freezer in the fridge.
    hhmmmm…..I bet hubby would think I was super crazy. Then again, he thinks I am crazy trying to eat only on what I can get with coupons.
    He has started buying fresh fruit each week to keep in the middle of the table. I am going to look for a rack like what you show in your photo rather than the large bowl we are using now.

  9. This is so true! We only go grocery shopping every other week and just by virtue of spending less time overall in the grocery store, we spend less money. Week one is all fresh, week two is a mixture of fresh and frozen. If i do need to re-stock produce and milk during week two, i run into the store on my lunch hour and use a basket. This helps to force me into getting only what we truly need and not spend a lot of time in the store (it can be a pretty good workout too!).

  10. Katy @ Purposely Frugal says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! Last night I wrote down everything in my cupboards, fridge and freezer, then made a menu plan!

  11. Great idea! Thank you for sharing in this week’s Rustic Restorations Weekend! I would appreciate a link back to my blog when you have the time.

  12. I am trying to do this at the moment, it is amazing how much food the cupboards hide :)


  13. Judy Haughton-James says:

    Awesome post with good advice Amy. Food is very expensive in my country. Take care and have a good day.

  14. Katherines Corner says:

    great post my friend. Sorry I’m late getting here…thank you for adding your wonderful blog to the Thursday Favorite Things hop. xo

  15. Chandra@The Plaid and Paisley Kitchen says:

    These are great ideas! I think we go through that problem! I found you on Mix It Up Monday’s!

  16. This is definitely something I need to become better at. Thanks for the tips!

  17. Thank you for this great reminder. You have encouraged me to “eat from the pantry” once again.

  18. I am planning tonight’s supper based on all the random leftovers in my fridge! I definitely need to have ‘clean out the freezer/pantry’ meal planning days now and then. Good post :)

  19. I love that bag! :-) Thanks for sharing @ Submarine Sunday!


  20. Erin@Managing the Manor says:

    Found you from Miss Mustard Seed… Love this! I do try and shop the perimeters of the store, and most of my cart is veggies, dairy, and meat. We do meal plan every week and try to stick with it, taking leftovers for lunch and have a “leftover” night or 2 on the meal plan. It really helps eliminate waste!

  21. My family of 3 purposefully “stocked” the freezer for $400 and now we are eating our way through it…going on 2 months with no other/random grocery store visits (just purchasing milk)!

    Intentional shopping is a great way to save money and spend wisely. Super post!

  22. Chelsea @ Someday I'll Learn says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. I’d love to have you come link this up to our Teach Me Tuesday Linky – it’s brand new and in need of creative contributions!

  23. A Little R & R says:

    I just did an inventory (a few days ago) – so this post came at the perfect time!! I can’t wait to start major savings. Blessings from Croatia. Rosilind from A Little R & R.

  24. Jackie Karlic (The Non-Martha Momma) says:

    I followed you over from New Nostalgia link-up. I love this! I really do need to do this because my small family of 3 spends way too much money on groceries, we throw too much away and our pantry is so full that I can’t see what’s in the back. I am going to take this post as inspiration to get motivated, starting with my disaster pantry.


  25. Yeah, Large Utility Tote from thirty one!!!

  26. Melanie {Reasons To Skip The Housework} says:

    Such a smart blog post! Found you over at I Heart Naptime! I’d love for you to come link this up at my Tuesday Time Out!
    Melanie Reasons To Skip The Housework

  27. Popped over from Tweak It Tuesday. Love this post. We are going to be trying to do this for the rest of February and March. We leave on a vacation at the end of March so it would be nice to have most items eaten or used and start fresh in April.

  28. This is a great post…very informative and useful.
    Thanks for the tips…
    We never throw any leftovers away…a spoonful of carrots, peas, noodles…all combined to make a wonderful soup. My mother called it ICE BOX STEW…she used all leftovers at the end of the week, made a mouthwatering stew and fried cornbread….and we thought we’d died and gone to heaven. :))
    Over from Cozy Little House…
    I am your new follower…:)

  29. oops, can’t find a Google Friends place to sign up…

  30. I do the same thing, but my grocery bill is not $400. I really need to start couponing, but I know if I have the time. I love your pantry. That is one thing I need to do, organize it! Thanks for sharing. I’m stopping by from the blog hop. Hope to see you at True Aim!

  31. Stacey Blevins says:

    Hi, I linked up after you on Time-Warp Wife. I love this idea and desperately need to do it!

  32. this is a great idea, how often do we have what seems like a pantry full of food but nothing to eat lol! I’m going to give this a try

  33. Alison at NOVA Frugal Family says:

    I have worked really hard for months to eat out of our pantry and freezer and I have kept the grocery bills super low. We are starting to run out of things and having to go back and get a few things from the store but this month so far I have only spent $111.99 and this was a high month filled with shopping :) I already put together the menu plan for March and filled in most of the dates already with what we already have on hand. I hope that more people try it because they will be amazed what they can make :)

  34. Katie @saverchic says:

    Love it! I’ve been trying to stick to the recipes we know we like, but we still have a lot of random things in our pantry that I would love to get rid of. This might be a good challenge for our family in March!

  35. Diann @ The Thrifty Groove says:

    Very good post Erin. We were on the same wavelength. I wrote a post this past week on keeping a pantry stocked ( We are a smaller family that you but, we spend $300.00 and under for a month of groceries. I cook from my pantry 90% of the time. When we want to go out to eat for a treat, Troy and I search out our Mystery shopping companies to see if there are any restaurant shops to do. Thank you for sharing this informative post with us at TTF.

  36. Twinkle in the Eye says:

    I’m blown away by that organised pantry. That is unreal!

  37. Christina @ Juggling Real Food and Real Life says:

    Great post! Since I started meal planning, I feel so much more organized. I try to intentionally shop to stay on budget and be more organized. Helps me avoid running to the store all the time. I still need to do some pantry clean-up because I keep planning and shopping without double-checking what I have. Always room for improvement. I’ll work on my inventory this weekend. Do you mind if I share your post on my Facebook page?

  38. Carrie @ My Favorite Finds says:

    Erin, thanks so much! This was one of my features today from last week’s Pinworthy Projects party. So inspiring and a great reminder :)

  39. Theresa @DearCreatives says:

    Thanks for sharing @ Inspiration Spotlight on DearCreatives These are some great tips! Hope to see you again this week! Theresa

  40. Chrissy Jordan says:

    I do this every month. I take inventory of my deep freezer and pantry as well as my fridge and I make a monthly meal plan. That way I’m ONLY shopping for things that I am using for meals and snacks. I do stock up on meats and outer aisle goodies if its something I can freeze and it’s a good price.

    Planning out a month in advance also makes me aware of using up all of those extra carrots, or eggs. For example, if I’m making pot roast I know I will have left overs for lunches, and then I use the left over veggies for something else, like chicken pot pies.

    We’ve gotten our grocery bill down to $75 or less a week for all 5, but take into consideration that one of those eats form me and the other two are toddlers. :) We haven’t sacrificed what we want to eat by any means! We actually eat better foods now than when we spent $150 a week!

    I love that your challenging people to do this! So many just aren’t aware of what they are throwing in the trash and how much it actually costs to shop without a plan!

  41. Tonia@thegunnysack says:

    What a great idea! That pantry is amazing! Thanks for sharing at The Gunny Sack!

  42. Great post!! You are very organized and I LOVE your tote!! Would you consider sharing this and any other projects that you might have over at my Pinterest Power party?


  43. This is interesting and fun! I’m visiting today from Thursday’s Favorite Things.

  44. Amy @ The Stitchin' Mommy says:

    Hi Erin! This is such a great idea and I plan to start getting into the habit of shopping with intent. We are trying to buy a house and need to start saving some cash =)

    I’ve featured your post on Get Crafty Fridays! I hope you stop by and check it out.


  45. Barb @ A Life in Balance says:

    Great idea! I need to inventory my pantry and freezer. The freezers are getting low though I’m sure there’s some older food in there.

    I was actually thinking of telling dh to skip the produce stand this week. We still have a lot of produce and milk, I could pick up more milk next week when we need it. Do you do weekly updates on your FB page? I’d be happy to coordinate posting about my progress on my Frugal Local Kitchen page with yours.

    Thanks for sharing this at Motivation Monday – you definitely hit a button!

  46. Great ideas! Thanks so much for sharing this on The Creative HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you tomorrow on the next Creative HomeAcre hop!

  47. OMGoodness…that pantry IS really organized. I never thought about incorporating a basket-like holder in there – gotta tell my Mom…she’ll love it.

    I HATE wasting food. Your fridge looks great. I wish I could stick to a plan so that I could purchase only what I need. I find myself not eating my fresh fruits and veggies fast enough…

    I’m stopping by to say ‘hi’ from Katherine’s Favorite Things Thursday – better late than never.

  48. I agree. This is something we could and should be doing. I admit I am guilty of not planning ahead and then that is when we end up eating out or I buy more of something that we already have. I can’t tell you how many things I have thrown out because they have passed their expiration date. Shame on me. You have inspired me to try and do better. Thanks for linking up.

  49. Ashley @ Simply Designing says:

    Thanks so much for linking up at my link party last Friday!

    You have some great ideas here!! Thanks for sharing!

    I wanted to let you know that I am going to feature you tomorrow on my blog!

    I’d love for you to stop by and grab a button off my sidebar if you’d like!

    Thanks so much!

    Have a lovely week!

  50. Great post Erin!
    Hope you have a fabulous week and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  51. This is a great post. I use to do this when I was younger with young kids at home. Once I was out in the workforce, I got out of the habit. I was never as organised as you are but I think I will start being organised and save some money at the same time.

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