January Resolve: Great Pantry Challenge, Part 2

The beginning of a new year is the natural time for resolutions. The time for creating goals. The time for assessing and reviewing and reorganizing. Our family likes to use this time of year to reflect on the past and make new plans for the future.

We started our healthy living journey and this blog in January 2008. How far we have traveled in these past three years in terms of what we eat and how we live a "health-full" life! It's been all about baby steps for us but those baby steps add up over months and years. (That's exciting to think about!) We've been able to save money and spend less time sick and going to the doctor's office.

This year we're taking on some new baby steps to continue the journey. Our big goal is to try and eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day and continue exercising regularly (3 or more times a week). We also desire to experiment more with gardening and eating more raw fruits and vegetables.

To start off, we're pressing the reset button so to speak on our pantry. Some of you might remember we did the Great Pantry Challenge in October 2009. This was a fun way to embrace the very real challenge ahead of us - to live off the abundance we already had instead of buying excess. The best part was - we survived and we learned some amazing lessons in the process. We also came away with some new favorite recipes. We're hoping for the same this time around.

For the last week, many in Fresno have been consumed by Walmart's "Fighting Hunger Together" contest. I thought it was a cool contest. I clicked "Like" several dozen times on my Facebook account in an effort to help Fresno win the $1 million. That contest also got me thinking: what if we all put our heads together and creatively worked as a team to feed the hungry in Fresno? What if we each gave a few extra dollars to a local homeless shelter each month? What if once a year or once a quarter or once a month we each surveyed the excess in our own pantries and donated it to a local food bank? What if we just ate what we have in our pantries for an extra week and the money we saved was available to bless someone else? What if?

Looking ahead, we know for our family that January is going to be a tight month financially. We also have in mind the goal on the horizon, which is to move to Haiti to serve among the people there for a year. We want to continue to challenge ourselves to live simply, but allowing good food and community to be our medicine.

Our goals:
1. To save money in the month of January, while still maintaining a healthy diet.
2. To think about ways to use, recycle and share food and recipes with our community of friends.
3. To challenge our family and others to brainstorm creative ways to feed the hungry in Fresno.

The following is what our family is taking on for the next few weeks. We invite you to join us. You feel free to make your own plans, your own rules. Maybe you want to take on one of these plans. Maybe you want to tweak it to fit your needs, your lifestyle. The challenge is all yours. We're not here to be the pantry police; we just love to share with friends.

Our plans:
1. To avoid grocery shopping starting today and continuing through Jan. 14 (approximately 2 weeks). The exception for our family will be to buy our regular 1 gallon of raw milk, 1 flat of eggs, fruits and vegetables at our local farmer's market. We still believe these items need to be fresh and local.
2. To host a Pantry Party at our house where friends can swap pantry items, extra produce and brainstorm meal plans together. (Monday, January 3 - let us know if you're interested.)
3. To donate unused pantry items to a local food bank.
4. To share at least one meal with a homeless person in Fresno or volunteer at one of Fresno's shelters.

Check back in. We plan to share our recipes, our meal plans and our lessons learned. We invite you to share yours.

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