How To Hold An “Eat What You Have” Week To Help Pad The Christmas Fund


If you are looking for spare change in the cracks of the couch to help you pad the Christmas fund there is a better way. The answer lies within you cupboards.

Sure, there will be a few of you who truly don’t keep extra food in the house, but the majority of us keep a stockpile of food in our cupboards and freezers–either intentionally or unintentionally.

Items that were either on sale or they just caught our eye and we thought, “Hmm I want to try that.” Well an “eat what you have” week is the perfect time to finally try that food and use the money you save by not going grocery shopping to pay for Christmas expenses.

Lacking Christmas money? Hold an "Eat What You Have" week.


There is a reason why I planned this particular post for the day after Thanksgiving as part of the How To Plan A Christmas To Remember On A Super Tight Budget series. It is because usually leftovers flowing out of our fridges this week make it even easier to simply stay home from the grocery store and eat what we already have on hand.

If you are reading this during another week though, don’t panic–chances are you still will be able to last a week without going to the grocery store.

How To Hold An “Eat What You Have” Week

Step 1: Grab a pad of paper and a pen and start searching through your cupboards, fridge, pantry, and freezer.

I like to first do a general look through of all areas that contain food in our home. I then take my paper and pen and start listing meals I could make with the ingredients I have on hand.

If I am missing an ingredient I try my very best to substitute another.

Meals are often simple, and sometimes odd during ‘eat what you have week’. We might have mac and cheese with tuna and peas mixed in or we might have hamburger mixed in gravy over toast with a side of cream corn.

As I said, meals can get very creative! Don’t worry–you will survive! (they really need to make a bumper sticker that says “I survived ‘eat what you have’ week”).


20 Quick and Simple Dinner Ideas: Helping You Save Money by Avoiding Takeout

Need a bit of help figuring out what to make from what you have? In this post I share 20 quick and simple dinner ideas using ingredients most families keep in the cupboards.


Step 2: If you can come up with more than a week’s worth of meals, extend the challenge.

If you are able to list 7 meals that you can make from your cupboards in under 7 minutes, then chances are your cupboards hold way more than a week’s worth of food. Continue listing food until you are down to wondering if a boxed cake mix covered with canned fruit counts as a dinner.

Step 3: Make a grocery list

But wait isn’t this “eat what you have week”? Why are we making a grocery list?

Yes, you are right. I want you to eat from your cupboards as much as possible this week or longer, but there are still basic healthy perishable food items I think we all need on hand.

If your family loves apples this is the week to make them eat the giant container of sugar free organic applesauce instead fresh ones, but you don’t have to go as far as substituting a glass of Kool Aid for milk.

Stick to making a list of basics only like milk and a few ingredients that will help you make a decent dinner out of the other ingredients already in your freezer and pantry.

Also make sure you have enough fruits and veggies on hand so that your meals are nutritionally rounded . I don’t want people surviving off of nothing but starch and protein all week.

Eating up your frozen, canned or dried fruits and veggies for one week instead of fresh is okay. Eating none at all–not so good.

I think a reasonable budget for the basics could be anywhere between $10 and $20 depending on your family size, what you already have in the cupboards, and what grocery prices are in your area.

Step 4: Go with the flow

However long you manage to make your “eat what you have” challenge last, it will be easier if you maintain an open mind and palate.

Be open to trying out new recipes and food combinations. If you maintain a good attitude chances are the children might be a bit more open minded about trying something new too.

Also be willing to admit to a flop being a flop. If the spam in mac and cheese casserole tastes horrid, don’t make the family endure it. Reach for the half empty boxes of cereal and make it “breakfast cereal buffet night.”

Step 5: When you reach the end of the challenge, reevaluate

If you are done with the meals you planned out at the beginning of your “eat what you have” week, go through your cupboards one more time before you call it quits and see if you could perhaps stretch things a day or two further.

Step 6: Restock the cupboards and then bank the savings

When you are satisfied that you just can’t come up with one more meal idea based on the small amount of stuff you have left, it is finally time to call the challenge quits.

Hopefully you lasted at least one week and now you are into a new week of your grocery budget, meaning you have 2 weeks’ worth of cash to buy one week’s worth of groceries minus the small amount you spent of an few staples at the beginning of the challenge. If you had a larger stockpile you might even have as much as 4 weeks’ worth of grocery budget to buy 1 week’s worth of groceries.

This is when you need to not get too excited by your extra cash and first stop and make a grocery list.

You will need more groceries than usual because you are have little to no stockpile left. You are going to be out of almost everything.

However, restocking your cupboards won’t eat all the surplus you created. Usually when our family holds and “eat what we have” week I spend around 25% of the surplus I created on extra food to refill staples like sugar, flour and such.

Now it is your turn

Have you ever held an “eat what you have” week? If so, share with us tips that can help us make ours more successful.

How to Plan a Christmas to Remember on a Super Tight Budget

This post is part of the How To Plan A Christmas To Remember On A Super Tight Budget Series.

Subscribe and Grab your Christmas On A Zero Budget Printable Plan.










3 Things I am LOVING Lately: November 23


(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)

3 Things I Am Loving Lately What about you

First of all let me wish all my American readers an early Happy Thanksgiving! We will be putting up our tree and decorations tomorrow as well as enjoying a midday feast with friends.

Friday I might do some shopping in my PJs but you won’t catch me out in those Black Friday crowds–this introvert gets a bit overwhelmed by holiday shopping crowds.


First Thing I am LOVING Lately…

My $20 order from Hollar arrived!

Last week I mentioned how Hollar had sent me an email for $5 off an order. I listed  all I got for just $20 shipped. Well here it is! I am very happy with my whole order.

All of these are gifts for my Children. So they are stashed away in the closet for now. My favorite find from this order has to be the nail polish organizer that has a compartment underneath for storing other nail accessories. It was just $5 even thought it was the  highest priced  items seen in this photo.  My daughter loves doing her nails and right now her nail polish collection is all jumbled in a basket.

Go here to check out Hollar for yourself! Free shipping begins at just $10 on your first order.


Second Thing I am LOVING Lately…

Christmas traditions have begun.

Each year we collect our dimes, nickels and pennies in this big glass canning jar. Around Thanksgiving time we either cash it in and use it to support a charity or sometimes we just give the contents to a change drive.

This is one of the traditions I mentioned on the list of 25 Christmas Traditions For Families On A Tight Budget  I shared earlier this week.


Third Thing I am LOVING lately…

First official red cup of the season.

Although I did take part in the buy one get one holiday drink special at Starbucks earlier this month I got an iced drink so it really wasn’t until earlier this week that I had my first festive red cup Starbucks drink.

This one was actually on Starbucks thanks to their Starbucks rewards program!

Read 8 places where you can earn Starbucks gift cards plus one way to make them stretch further.


Deals So Good I HAD to Share

DaySpring $5 Mug, $5 Journal and Stocking Stuffer Sale On NOW


I really like the quality of DaySpring Mugs and Journals! And right now you can grab them and more for just $5.

This sale lasts until December 4th but supplies are limited  so shop early for best selection.

View the selection of $5 mugs here

View the selection of $5 journals here

View the selection of marked down stocking stuffers here

2 Titles That Will Help You Keep Christmas Debt Free–just .99 cents and $1.49


The Affordable Christmas: How to Have a Fabulous Holiday without Breaking the Bank just .99 cents

Keep the Happy in Your Holidays: 21 Ways to Save Time, Money, and Your Sanity This Christmas Season just $1.49

Prices could change at any time check before you buy.

Remember you don’t need a kindle to enjoy these great kindle deals. Go here and download the app to your tablet, smartphone or computer.

Psst…. my favorite way to pay for kindle book deals is with Amazon gift cards earned through Swagbucks and/or  InstaGC

Check out my Hot Deals page for great deals I find around the web. I update it almost every week day!






5 Gifts For Yoga Enthusiasts Under $15


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Do you have a yoga enthusiast on your Christmas gift list? Are you out of ideas on what to get them?

Let me help. I just took up yoga at the beginning of this year and within a month I was hooked. I now go three mornings a week and don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.

5 gifts for the yoga enthusiast on your Christmas list under $15!

5 Gifts For Yoga Enthusiasts Under $15

1. Mini Exercise Ball

These mini exercise balls are used in a lot of different exercise moves. I admit they are one of my favorite yoga accessories.

2. Yoga Blocks

Yoga blocks are a helpful aid for so many different moves. The kid in me wants to buy a dozen or so and build a tower and knock it down. That is probably just me though.

3. Yoga Mat Strap or Bag

I prefer a yoga mat bag for my yoga mat, but I noticed most of my classmates use these yoga mat straps–they would make a great stocking stuffer.

Another great alternative is a yoga bag like this one where the yoga mat fits on top and the bag fits all your yoga accessories.

4. Yoga Strap Stretcher

For those who are not so flexible (um, that would be me) a yoga strap stretcher would be a great gift to help the yoga lover on your list grow in their flexibility. They come in all sorts of pretty colors or plain ones too! (psst…can you tell my hubby and kids about this one for me?)

5. Yoga Mat Spray

Yoga can make you sweat and that sweat goes onto your yoga mat and, well, sweat stinks so eventually yoga mats can get a bit stinky too. Help your yoga enthusiasts avoid yoga mat smell with this natural lavender yoga mat cleaner.

psst…For some very inexpensive gifts for yoga lovers go over to Hollar and type in the word Yoga into the search area. When I did they had yoga socks, yoga stretch bands, yoga blocks and even a yoga mat bag for $5 or less. Selection changes very fast on Hollar so there is no guarantee, but it is worth a second to do a search.

Where to Earn Gift Cards Fast for Christmas Cash.

Earn Amazon gift cards or even Paypal deposits with these programs. That should help out your Christmas budget!