Q & A
Pam, that is a great question. I have several reasons for doing a challenge.
#1. I like to keep my stock orderly, but eventually during a quarter (which is about the average time frame between pantry/freezer challenges for me), I find myself pressed for time, forgetful or just plain slacking and I don't rotate, add or remove items from my inventory list, etc. When the pantry and freezer are burgeoning with goods it's hard to see what we have. This brief season of slowing down allows me to get my bearings, discover where we have failed to restock, what we need to use, etc. For instance, just this week I discovered that I have no instant potatoes on hand. While digging for milk in the back freezer, I found two Cornish Game Hens...That was meant to be a holiday meal which I'd forgotten and those items didn't make it to the inventory list. So you see this time of a challenge benefits me in keeping the rotation of goods.
#2. If I'm taking a time out from our regular spending, I can take better advantage of sales or set money aside to stock up in other areas. The purpose of the March challenge is to save money to put towards a bulk purchase of beef from the meat market. We've found this beef to be superior to any at the stores where we shop and the prices are comparable to non-sales prices on most items. Since the store is some distance from home we don't go there often. We found it difficult to manage once a month as we'd originally planned, but the cost of a two or three month supply is a bit higher than we can manage on our usual budget. So you see the savings the challenge will allow me to make a bulk purchase that I might not otherwise be able to make. I hope to make this purchase at the end of this month, just prior to that expected price hike.
#3. It's a good way of testing my supplies. What I mean by that is that in doing a pantry freezer challenge I can see how well my stock holds up if I'm not actively adding to it. That will give me a clearer idea of about how long my supplies will last. I've said before that my pantry and freezer stock are an emergency fund. My goal is to have at least six months and up to a year's worth of food. The last time we did a pantry/freezer challenge, I realized that I really needed to push harder to build up my stock. That gave me the impetus to fill that small freezer, something I'd put off doing.
#4. That small freezer is my final reason for this particular challenge. There are several items in that freezer that I've hoarded for far too long. Odds and ends I've kept with good intention. It's time to empty it out and make space for edible foods. And since I hate to waste, I go ahead and use any of those items that are still viable for use (like the buried Cornish Hens which I purchased in early December) and get rid of those that have been kept for far far too long.
So long answer to a short and nicely put question.
Kathy and Angela wanted the recipe for the Moussaka which I posted. I never once thought to mention that I've never ever found the cottage cheese with chives in the stores here. I've always mixed my own using freeze dried chives in small curd cottage cheese.
Pam also wrote asking if I'd ever made cake mix cookies...Years and years ago. I wish you'd been around in December when Mama called asking me if I remembered how to make them! lol I haven't got any cake mixes in the house at present but I recall that the cookies we made were quite good and they are certainly an economical choice.
There was quite a bit of discussion on the coupon front. I've noticed more and more magazines are inserting coupons, as they did in the early days of coupons. I've also noticed the amounts of the coupons are changing, as is dating. Many have a longer time frame for usage which is a real bonus to those of us who are trying to combine sales/coupons.
The only negative comment on the coupons was from a retail clerk and she brought up some very good points about why she disliked dealing with them. Lack of organization: pulling coupons at the register instead of having them ready to hand off to the clerk was her pet peeve, followed by those who tried to pass off expired coupons, bypass limits that are specifically stated on the coupon (limit 2 per customer and you want 4), and being rude to the clerk when she is merely following store policy were also on her list of pet peeves. So ladies, when you use your coupons be nice and heed these concerns.