Starting a new year is a time where many people make resolutions and changes to their habits. One of the areas that was really standing out in our family was our budget—specifically our food budget.
I was going crazy from making multiple trips to the store each week, yet we still seemed to have food going to waste. This led to more spending because I have a hard time sticking to my list or food wasn’t being eaten!
As I was scrolling through Pinterest one night, I found a link called “Capsule Kitchens”. Being aware of capsule wardrobes (which I love for traveling!), I was immediately intrigued. There isn’t a well-defined set of rules for Capsule Kitchens yet, but here’s a summary of what I could find.
- Select 33 ingredients which will serve as the basis for all meals you prepare
- Be as specific as possible. “Fruit” is too broad; “Watermelon” is more specific.
- Drinks are included
- Spices and seasonings are not
- Try to stick to the 33 ingredients for 3 months
I grabbed a piece of notebook paper and numbered 1-33. I proceeded to think about what we normally eat for breakfast, lunches, and dinners. It was a bit challenging, but I got my list down to 33. Then I took my list to my husband and asked him what he wanted to be sure was included. After a little bit of negotiating, our list was done!
I took the list to the grocery store and met the first challenge in the produce department. Strawberries and blueberries were on sale for $2 per package! Normally, I would have grabbed these in a heartbeat so I could freeze them and enjoy them later. However, I stuck to the 33 foods.
I was keeping a mental list of the all of the things I would have grabbed because they were on sale or sounded good. I think I skipped over about $20 worth of food by just sticking to the list! I was also done so much faster. I attribute this to not needing to read labels. I only bought what I was familiar with and was ready to check out.
After doing this for awhile, I decided to take the list of 33 to Costco. I think we will save even more money when we buy things in bulk that we will actually use and enjoy. For example, I think we will save money on frozen veggies like green beans, large jars of organic pasta sauce, and meat. I passed by SO MANY foods at Costco and did not buy a single sample product! Ha!
Once we got home, I dumped our meat into freezer containers and added some easy seasonings. For the first round of 3 months, we are sticking to foods we know really well. These include tacos, pasta, bbq chicken, soups, etc. I have a well-stocked spice cupboard so that makes it easy to be a bit creative. If cooking isn’t your thing, you can still do this with premade dinners like nuggets and meatballs!
Having only a few main ingredients keeps our refrigerator clean, and we use everything we purchased! Meals are much easier to prepare since we have fewer ingredients. I’m not going to win any culinary awards for meals, but everyone is fed and we have some extra money in the bank from our Capsule Kitchen experience!
Like anything new, it can be hard to make changes to our routines. I love trying new recipes, but I was buying lots of add-on items that I was only using one or two times. It was getting expensive and we needed to reset the spending.
We decided to leave a lot of snacks off of the list. My thinking was I could use some of the ingredients to bake snacks or cut up veggies. I am really missing the quick-grab items like fruit bars and trail mixes!
Overall, this has been a much-needed “reset” for our food spending. You could set your own guidelines or follow these as well, but I highly recommend trying a Capsule Kitchen in your home!