For most people, myself included, December brings about a few feelings:
“OHMYGOSH Christmas is coming so soon and I haven’t done all of my shopping/decorating/baking!”
“Oh no! How are we going to afford this?”
“2016 is almost here, and it’s going to be my year. I just need to purge the junk from my house, my diet, and my finances. No biggie!”
I’ll admit to all three thoughts (plus a few more) running through my head this time of year, and it’s hard not to let all of the tasks that HAVE to be done overwhelm you – and me!
The holidays have a way of bringing out the best and worst in all of us. Think about it: money stress, family gathering stress, busy schedule stress, and of course the time change was only a few weeks ago, so your body clock may not have have adjusted yet, adding even more stress to your already-taxed brain.
So this year, rather than stressing out about hosting multiple family gatherings, perfecting my Christmas ham, judging the decorations in my house by the standards of HGTV, or maxing my budget out buying Christmas presents, I decided to go backwards, save money, simplify, and create a clean slate for the new year.
I’m going to do something crazy.
Enter The “Empty The Freezer Challenge”
What is it?
The Empty The Freezer Challenge is my way of encouraging you to not only slow down this season, but save money and get creative!
I would guess that most of you are like us: you have tons of food in your freezer which may or may not be edible, that you’ve either forgotten or aren’t super motivated to eat. They may require some creative meal preparation or presentation, but they’re still good to eat!
Starting December 1st, I’ll by on a mission to use up everything in my freezer – that is still safe to eat. I don’t want to buy anything from the grocery store except for milk. We get eggs from friends who have chickens, so don’t think we’re avoiding using eggs – we’re not.
We may or may not get through all of the food in our THREE freezers, but we’re going to try!
Then, on December 25th when we have family over I’ll finally be able to cook with new food from the grocery store!
What Will The Challenge Accomplish?
The Empty The Freezer Challenge have several purposes:
- It will encourage you to spend very little/no money on groceries during most of the month of December – a no-spend month of sorts, but without calling it that.
- It will get tons of food our of your freezer!
- And it will give you a blank slate for the new year – at least as far as your fridge/freezer are concerned
- As a bonus, your family will probably complain a lot less in 2016 when you make a creative or inexpensive meal!
Your goals for completing the Empty The Freezer Challenge may be different, but this should give you some motivation to at least consider it!
Will You Be Blogging Through The Challenge?
Of course – and with pictures!
I’m a blogger at heart, and I believe the primary function of a blog should be to help and inspire. Retired by 40! was started because we were struggling with debt, and I believed (and still do!) that if we were struggling with something, others were too.
The same applies to the Empty The Freezer Challenge: if we’re struggling with leaving food in the bottom of our freezer, others probably are too.
And blogging every day through the Empty The Freezer Challenge is a great way to motivate us all!
How Can I Get In On This?
If you’re ready to roll, there are a couple of things you can do to get yourself – and your family – ready for the Empty The Freezer Challenge:
- Talk to your family about the challenge: Most families don’t do well with surprises, mine included. When I came up with this crazy idea for the month of December (on Black Friday as we were standing in an insanely long line, incidentally), rather than keeping it to myself, I talked to the hubs about it. He didn’t jump on board immediately, but the next day told me he thought it was a good idea and that he was on board.
- If you have time, take a freezer inventory: To make the process a bit easier, I pulled everything out of all 3 of my freezers, wrote it all down by category in expo marker on the top of the freezer (so that it would wipe off easily) and then organized it inside of the freezer by category. (i.e. proteins, breads, vegetables, etc) It may be helpful to also write the freezer inventory on a piece of paper that you can take into the house, if your freezers are in the garage, like mine are.
- Buy a few “cream of” soups: “Cream of” soups make a great base for casseroles…you know, the ones you throw everything you don’t know what to do with in…..so if you don’t have a few of each lurking in your pantry, consider making a quick trip to the grocery store and spending $5-$10 on some cream of soups.
- Inventory your pantry: It will also be helpful if you can inventory your dry goods before starting, giving you more options for the creative meals to come!
Are You In?
The Empty The Freezer Challenge starts December 1st, and runs through the 23rd, so you can have a normal Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner! I’ll be blogging every day through the challenge, or if you want to have each day’s post delivered to your inbox, you can sign up using the form below!
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Jim Wang says
Every so often we go through this process too – I love it. Our freezer has a lot of stuff in it and going through a purge (of use) can be very liberating. It also makes it so that you don’t end up with something in there for five years!
I do this every year at different times and it just helps me tap into cooking creatively, remember what I actually have in my kitchen, and save money. You will rock this!
[email protected] says
Excellent idea! I won’t be participating though as I’m travelling so much this month and won’t be home hardly at all.