Cuisine · Frugal Frances · Lifestyle · Willow & Wonder

Pantry & Perishable Inventory & Cafe Night. And a few shopping tips!


Okay, so first of all this post is all about savings!  My favorite topic.   Quite honestly, my favorite pastime is going into the cheapest stores i.e. Walmart, 99 cent store, Ross and coming out with something dazzling, that is made well and/or at least looks that way and is a showstopper.  I love going in and evaluating all of the goods to discover a hidden gem and something I know I saved beaucoup bucks on, because I just took the time to find it!

The above picture is of the fabulous ornaments and yarn trees I found at the 99 cent store this week.  I was thrilled.  My daughter’s tree in her bedroom is going to be one fun pastel tree with wild ornaments, thanks to the cheapest store in the country!  Anyway, so here’s the tip: go into the cheap stores and take your time.  Take only what sings to you and look for trendy items and things that look expensive.  You will walk away paying very little and get so much more.


If it wasn’t for this little agenda, I would be lost in a financial and social cyclone.  I write notes, do budgets and all of my event and personal planning in this book.  I guard it with my life.  I’m not a write it in your phone kinda person.  I still love cursive over print and love snail mail.

I reference this special agenda because I do one thing every week, at the end of the week to help reduce unnecessary spending.  Now you’re probably thinking: “gosh, is she a nut?”.  But I have to be on it to keep our life smooth sailing.  Living on one income is tough, even for a family of three.  Maybe because we like to live the high life, but we have found a way that works for our family and allows for us to have me home with our little one.  But, it comes down to self discipline, making things yourself, and searching for deals.

Once a week I do a pantry and perishable inventory check.  Instead of just going to the grocery store because it’s Thursday and feels like I should be there.  Nope!  Gotta do the homework first.  I look at everything in my freezer, cabinets, ball jars, and fridge.  I device a rough menu plan utilizing all the scraps, leftovers and miscellaneous items.

Mine looked something like this today.


Sausage pizza and cheese

Garbanzo bean salad with cherry toms

Chix casserole (eat for 2 days)

Couscous and Salmon

Meatball pasta


Choc. chip cookies

I look at anything that can go together and make a decent meal.  Maybe we need to eat a nice yummy cinnamon oatmeal all week because I have a whole jar of oats leftover.  I have so many popcorn kernels, let’s eat tons of popcorn.  What are the opportunities here?  Clearly, this week I was able to stretch my groceries a whole extra week!  Hip hip hooray.  Success.  Usually, my inventory is so much more bleak, forcing me to get much more creative and to make more from scratch – but I’m up for the challenge.

My other major savings technique is devising a CAFE NIGHT!  I usually call it Christina’s Cafe night but I think it sounds better as just “cafe night”.  This is when I step outside of the normal menu box and make either egg salad sandwiches, BLTs, grilled cheese, or huevos rancheros for dinner.  I serve some veggies and call it a night.  This just helps me to stretch the food budget out a bit and adds another dinner night to the weekly line-up.  Sometimes we think we have to get so creative with our food and buy all these fancy ingredients.  I have dumbed-down our food so much cooking for a toddler by making it bland and simple.  But I have to say, it just doesn’t matter and makes the food so fabulous when you actually have a decadent meal.

So, if you wanna try my whackadoodle lifestyle…do your pantry & perishable inventory check this week, go to a cheap store and shop rich, and do a Cafe Night!  I challenge you to it and expect a report in my comment section!!!

One more tip for the night!


Pack a lunch!  There’s still nothing like PB & J even for an adult.  We went to the Snow Leopard Festival at the Santa Barbara Zoo today and played in the snow.  I knew we had a long drive, a day filled with activities and a long drive home.  I made breakfast for the road.  I packed PB&J even for my husband and I, popped a huge pot of popcorn for a snack, grabbed carrots, raisins and coconut yogurt and bottles of water.  We saved a ton since we didn’t buy breakfast or lunch and instead were able to feed more animals and do more at the zoo.

I honestly have to check in with myself and think about the payoff in order to motivate sometimes to prepare.  Like tonight, I needed to make pizza dough.  I didn’t want to.  Knew it needed to rise an hour after I made it.  I had to force myself to want to do it.  I always think or order a $40 pizza.  Or order a $40 lunch.  I just can’t bring myself to do it anymore.  So the point here is if you feel lazy.  Stop, and think about what it’s going to cost you if you give up on the idea that takes a little effort, and weigh if it’s worth it to you or not!

Good luck with your savings plans!




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