A week or so ago my husband noticed a rip in a bag of chips that had been sitting on a shelf in our pantry. We couldn’t quite figure out what happened; did it snag while we were loading and unloading groceries, was it torn when I bought it? I wasn’t quite sure so I told him to toss it just to be safe. A few days later we found the cause: a mouse.

Yup. You read that right a mouse was sneaking into the pantry at night and feeding off of whatever he could tear his little teeth into. I found a torn bag of coconut flakes and sure enough there were mouse droppings just beside it. I don’t know how it got into the house, but my best guess is that snuck in an open door. We have contractors remodeling our basement and they certainly like to prop doors open while they cart materials in and out of the house. I don’t care how it got in, but I wanted him out and out quickly.

I moved all the food from the basement to the pantry a few weeks earlier as part of my nesting craze and here I was digging back through each and every item to ensure none of it was tainted by this furry little creature.

I dragged everything out of the cupboard and into plastic bins that could be sealed until the mouse was caught. As I was moving things around I was astounded by the number of duplicate items we had sitting in the pantry.

I used to believe in stocking the cupboard when items went on sale. If ketchup is half price we might as well buy three bottles. If buffalo sauce is buy-one-get-one I’d pick up four. In some cases this might make sense. We tend to cook from a standard repertoire of recipes and buffalo chicken has become a staple in our house, but other things just seemed a little bit crazy.

We make Chinese food about once a month. How on earth did I end up with three bottles of soy sauce in my pantry? Or how about that tasty mango dipping sauce? How many times did I make a recipe that needed it? Certainly not enough to warrant keeping four bottles stacked in the cupboard.

That little mouse taught me a very valuable lesson. I need to pay better attention to the ingredients we have on hand. It’s so easy for jars and bottles to get pushed to the back of the shelf. I arrive at the store, notice an item is on sale and assume we don’t have any at home. The problem is we already have more than enough sitting in the pantry.

It’s nice to know I have enough food on hand to reach into the cupboard and make a recipe, but how do I keep myself from buying things in excess? I don’t want to make french fries and realize I’m out of ketchup, but I don’t need three bottles collecting dust in the closet either.

I’d love to hear your ideas for helping with this problem. I certainly don’t want to run to the store last minute and pay full price for items, so I think menu planning might be a viable solution. If I can settle on at least three or four recipes I want to make before going to the grocery store then I can check the pantry for available ingredients before ever leaving.

Believe it or not I’m also considering a grocery delivery service. While I will certainly pay more in terms of delivery fees I will not be tempted by passing sales throughout the aisles. I think this would also cut back on unexpected expenses, like oh that doughnut looks particularly tasty or chocolate fudge ice cream is on sale, yummy!

Sticking to a list in the store would certainly help with this approach, but let’s face it tasty food and sales can be too tempting to resist.

I’d love to hear thoughts on grocery delivery services and saving money. Knowing I’ll pay more in upfront fees do you think it makes sense to see if a grocery delivery service might still save me money? I’ve considered shopping for the convenience, but I really do wonder if it might save me money over the long haul.

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