Day 1 of the January Money Diet – Shop at Home

January Money Diet at Happy Simple Living blog

Photo: J Luoh

Welcome to the first day of the January Money Diet. I’m so glad you’re taking part in this challenge. It’s simple, really; we just take a 31-day break from all nonessential spending — and pocket the savings. Each day, I’ll post an idea that supports the idea of having a happy, interesting, frugal but fun-filled month — all without spending a nickel. New this year, we’ll have daily homework assignments to keep us all accountable.

On this first day of the January Money Diet, begin by doing some “shopping” at home. This is the perfect time to go through the closets and drawers looking for those unused things we all tend to save for Someday.

Start in the pantry and freezer; do you have any fancy, gourmet items or forgotten goodies lurking back in the shelves? In my own kitchen, I did some excavating and brought forth a can of coconut milk, spice mixes, a jar of lemon curd, two boxes of lasagne noodles, wild rice mix, frozen cherries, instant espresso powder and more. This month I’m going to find creative ways to use these products; I’ll spoil my family a bit, and clear some room in the cabinets and freezer at the same time.

What about those specialty kitchen appliances and gadgets gathering dust? For instance, we have a panini griddle, a waffle iron, a tortilla press and a bamboo steamer basket that I plan to put into service this month.

Another place to “shop” at home is the bathroom cabinet; are there shampoo samples, fancy soaps, loofahs, pedicure kits and scented bath salts languishing in your cabinets? Gather ‘em up and plan to use them. If not this month, when?

What about those unused craft and scrapbooking supplies? And home improvement materials? Fabric and sewing supplies? Yarn and knitting needles? Blank CDs? Office supplies? Candles? Art supplies? Check your medicine chest, too; are there vitamins and supplements languishing there? Take a look around the closets and drawers of your home, and you might find a treasure trove just waiting to be used up and enjoyed.

Homework Assignment #1: Go on a scavenger hunt at home, and make a list of products you already have that you plan to use this month. Post some highlights from what you find in the comments section below. You know we’re all just dying to know what you unearth.

It’s a glorious new year, my friends – so wear your silk pajamas! Light the vanilla-scented candles, raid the liquor cabinet and drink the fancy brandy!

From our home to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013. May these next 30 days be the beginning of your best year ever.


Win a Deluxe Happy Simple Living Gift Basket

I’ll be giving away a gift basket chock-full of home and garden goodies plus several other prizes on January 31, 2013. Every time you post your homework assignment or comment during January, you’re automatically entered for the drawing. I hope you’ll stop by often this month and share your own ideas, thoughts and experiences.


About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Day 1 of the January Money Diet – Shop at Home

  • Stephanie

    I found a jar of raspberry jam and a jar of marmalade, both unopened, that friends had bought me over the summer for watering plants. I’m using them up.

  • Bry

    My family is pretty good about not wasting food. Still, I found some frozen oven-dried tomatoes and some frozen cherries, along with a hambone for seasoning a pot of beans. I also found some nice goats-milk soap. There are also scented candles and a coffee gift set that need using.

    I love your blog, but this is my first time commenting. This is going to be a wonderful month!

  • Janet McGinniss

    I am overwhelmed by the idea of going through things so I started in my mind and remember that I have Cream of Rice, a can of black beans and a small can of beets. And, any money I can save will go to a trip to Ireland to explore hidden history in stone circles.

  • Kris

    This is such a great idea! I have found treasures to use for meals this month. Thanks! Also, I found about a million shampoos, soaps and body washes from hotels (ok, maybe just 92) and am going to see if the local shelter could use them.

  • Liz Kurz

    With four kids, we don’t have any foods that don’t get rotated, and I don’t buy fancy soaps or lotions, we can’t afford it. But I do buy teas. Not fancy ones, but just herbal and green teas from our local grocery store because I don’t like to drink the same tea every day. I hope to drink more tea this month and use them up before they start to go stale.

  • Lisa

    Cleaned out all of my cupboards and fridge. Great New Year’s day project. I unearthed a jar of almonds in oil. Time to Google a recipe – must be why I hadn’t used them prior.

  • Mariah O.

    I have discovered fish in my freezer for dinner, scrapbooking papers for making thank you cards for all those christmas gifts, and yarn to make a rug (now I just need a tutorial).

  • What a wonderful idea! Sometimes I get so caught up in finding something new and cool at the store that I forget all the other projects that have fallen by the wayside at home.

    After giving your challenge some thought, I am going to pull out my Martha Stewart scoring board and use it to make Valentine’s Day card envelopes for a playdate later this month. I’ll even use some old scrapbooking paper and construction paper as the material instead of buying something new.

  • Martha

    Veritable treasure trove on the sewing shelves. I’d like to take one weekend a month and work on some simple skirts of holiday material for the cousins, gift-bags for teachers and friends, and maybe finally tackle that dress for my daughter. Knitting baskets and bins produced plans for felted bags (use up left over stash-type sampler bags) also potential presents for next holiday season.

    Baking and pasta shelves have a few odds and end–kids do not like lasagna so the noodles may wind up donated, but they will surely enjoy the odds and ends of fun from the baking shelf.

  • Nothing technically gourmet, but boy do we have too many sprinkles. We’ll have to make a lot of “fairy toast” this month. The kids think that’s a gourmet treat. 🙂 (PS I already fell off the wagon. Does it count if I was so overcome I forgot? 😀 Found a book I’d wanted a long time for more than 75% off and I completely forgot about the money diet. Otherwise, we’ve done awesomely. :))

  • Congratulations to all of you for finding some splendid treasures and goodies at home to use during January – I’m enjoying your comments so much!

  • Deborah Gore

    What a great assignment! In the pantry I found dried beans, flavored rice, teas, coffee, and baking supplies. Planned my meals for the week around what I found and will only need to buy milk this week. Money found already! In the bath, I found several gift packages of bath gel and sprays, enough to last for several months. Different scents to try! My next stop was my sewing room. With a new purpose in mind I have found several projects to keep me busy for the next several months. I can’t wait to do my garage tomorrow and see what seeds I have that can be used in the garden. Thank you for a great day at home. I am looking forward to the whole month!

  • Jane Bloss

    I have been whittling away at our pantry since I moved in with my boyfriend in September. His wife passed away 1 1/2 years ago and she had a lot of pantry items to use up as well as my own. I’m keeping an eye on expiration dates and using up those with expiring in the near future first!

  • I love this assignment! I found all kinds of great scrapbooking supplies I plan to use for 2012 pictures, googly eyes and pompoms for various kid crafts, gourmet teas, and meat galore in the spare freezer. I’m excited to use the latter to try some new recipes using our vast pantry goodies.

  • Dorothy McLeod

    Found all sorts of things to put my hand to. Mixes and gourmet goodies to spice up the meals this month.Baked goodies hidden in foil at the bottom of the freezer. In the sewing room I found all sorts of projects that have been waiting for just this sort of challenge. Looking forward to a fresh start with no money..spent.

  • GC

    I unearthed some real treasures in my freezer….roasted New Mexico green chiles…..plank grilled salmon…..fondue mix…chocolate chip cookie dough…alfredo sauce

    In the pantry, I also found some mixed bean soup mixes..from Dove Creek, Colorado….curry sauces…..spiced apple cider.

    We will have some great comfort meals (which is perfect because it is 10 degrees today)

  • In my mind, spring cleaning begins as soon as the Christmas decorations are put away. I’ve already taken an inventory of our pantry and freezers and found coconut milk, dates, dried cranberries, red beans and other ingredients to use this month. In our bedroom I found a hard-bound “Favorite Recipes” book that has never been used. I’ll be adding some family favorites to it and put it to good use. I have craft supplies galore and one of my resolutions is to actually use some of it. 🙂

  • Caity

    I’m just finding you, but this is a wonderful idea. Can’t wait to do the rest of the challenge! I have some sweetened condensed milk to use up (baking!), lasagna noodles, loads of craft supplies and a pedicure set! What a fun month this will be!

  • Carolyn

    Dinner will be GREAT! Some bratwurst from the freezer cooked with some on-hand apples, onions, potatoes! Yummy! Must bake those cookies from premade dough in fridge! Great way to start the New Year!

  • I am using up my stash of teas that seem to be pushed aside for a favorite or a new one I want to try. I’m using up my stash of aida fabric (those little pieces from larger projects) to make Christmas ornaments for next year for myself and for gifts, never too early to start planning for Christmas when the items are homemade.

  • molly_macd

    I found some DVD’s that have not been watched, an apple pie in the freezer and some quilting material that has not been touched.

  • melissa

    Dug out the hand weights, yoga mats and pumped up the pilates ball. I cleared an area in the basement and made a small mini gym. I even found a few DVDS that can be used for exercise, yoga. I scrounged up a jump rope and will keep searching for home gym equipment.

  • Bobbie

    What a fun and eye-opening assignment resulting for some treats for me! — Gourment coffees in the back of the freezer, many different teas and lots and lots of lotions, soaps, hair, facial and nail products (spa day today for me!) I also completed this before heading to the grocery store and cut my grocery list by about 25 percent this week as I’m going to use some things on hand.

  • Christina

    I’m looking forward to this project! We have six kids, so the food gets pretty well used up and rotated, no secret, long-forgotten stashes here! But I think we could work on watching dvds we haven’t seen in awhile, or playing board games we haven’t played for ages.
    Looking forward to daily posts!

  • Sara Marie

    I have dip mixes and dipping oils I will use for Superbowl Sunday. I have had them for a while and am glad they have not expired! We have DVDs that we have never watched for cheap entertainment. I have pretty stationary that was given to me years ago. I should catch up on some old-fashioned letter writing! Love this assignment!

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