My friend Meredith is attempting to go the month of January without making a discretionary purchase. Yikes! That’s a resolution that, had I made it, would have been broken 11 hours into the New Year. I try to shop as much of the January sales as I can, taking advantage of the rock-bottom prices for Christmas gifts the next time around. (Last year, I scored some gorgeous hand painted ceramic platters for $3 that were originally $26. They made beautiful gifts for some very special friends.)
One way I do get spending under control, though, is through my grocery budget. Granted, we are a family of five (four of whom are hungry boys), but I have a tendency to let the grocery bill get out of control as the year progresses and I get tired of keeping my coupons organized. So every January, I go through the pantry and the freezer and make a list of what I’ve got, and then I take an hour or so, spin the wheel, and see what I can match to create meals for the month. It’s a good way to use what I have and it forces me to be inventive (what can I do with water chestnuts and coconut milk?)
Since January 1, freezer roulette has yielded ingredients for our New Year’s day lunch (frozen collards, creamed corn, black eyed peas), two lasagnas, two whole chickens – one that I roasted for dinner and the other that I cooked for a tortilla casserole. In the process, I somehow wound up with 16 quarts of broth (that I now need to either freeze and/or turn into soup).
I’ll keep searching for how to use the chestnuts….