Try this trio: Home-cooked meals, organization, saving money

By Kiley Owen, PA-C

Are you interested in starting a tradition that involves wholesome home-cooked meals, getting your kitchen better-organized and saving money? If so, you might be interested in this.

A Little Background

woman cooking colorful meal in a skilletLast month I had the opportunity to attend and present at a women’s conference in my hometown. Several sessions were offered, with topics ranging from health to cooking to gardening to photography. It was a great opportunity to spend time with a fun group of women, learn from each other and recharge.

While attending a session on meal planning, I talked with an acquaintance who explained her "Frugal February" tradition, which her family does each year. Basically, during the month of February they focus on using up what they already have on hand, buying minimal groceries throughout the month. She's big into gardening, so this gives her a chance to make room for food that she will later grow, freeze, and even can (now that's impressive). 

A Brilliant Idea

I thought this was a brilliant idea. I should mention that I'm nowhere near her level when it comes to gardening, freezing, and canning. (To be honest, I've never canned anything in my life.) But I do love my freezer. As I’ve mentioned before, I like to make cooking worth my while, by preparing large quantities of food and freezing some, for easy home-cooked meals down the road.

The problem, I’ll admit, is I sometimes forget about the foods I put in there.

They get buried and forgotten. Months, sometimes years go by, without me using them. By the time I realize it, it's sometimes too late. 

freezer mealIt’s quite sad when this happens. You were such a good homemade soup… Can this label be right? I made you in 2012?!  I'm sorry that I forgot about you and now must throw you away (sniff, sniff, tear)...

The same is true of my cabinets and pantry. I’ll find a salad dressing sitting at the back of a high shelf, only to realize it expired a couple years ago.  

I realize that this says something about my organization skills...

Anyhow, this month I decided to take my friend’s advice and start my own “Frugal February” tradition. I took inventory of what we had on hand, and I planned meals accordingly.

How has it gone?

Not bad! It's allowed us to:

  • Enjoy home-cooked meals (many previously prepared, as well as some "creative" combinations of on-hand ingredients),
  • Clear out and better-organize the freezer and cabinets, and
  • Save a significant amount of money—in fact, the money we’ve saved will go toward a mini-vacation in a few weeks!

I’d say we have a new tradition in our house!

How about you?

Could this tradition benefit your household? 

I realize February is almost over… and that "Frugal March" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

Perhaps a “Money-Saving March” this year? 

Kiley Owen is a physician assistant, blogger and preventive health enthusiast. This post—along with helpful links to other resources—originally appeared on her blog, makinghealthapriority.com.