Eat in Month 2012 Challenge

It’s that time of the year – time for Eat in Month. And I’m really excited that this is the third annual Eat in Month challenge. I can’t believe we’re on #3 already! I’ve heard a lot of excitement about the challenge on twitter, Facebook, and email – thank you guys so much for playing along. The challenge wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if I didn’t have you to play with me. Please keep in touch, especially on Facebook where you can inspire and help the rest of the EIM community. Feel free to post your questions, tips, recipes there. We can do this together!

The Eat in Month Challenge Concept

Eat every single meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, snacks…whatever you choose!) “in” to save money and eat better. (Hey, this may even fall in line with the New Years Resolutions some of you have made!)

How to Play

  • The most important rule is to tailor the challenge to fit you best. Can’t play a whole month? Play one week or two. Still want to get coffees out? Go for it. We’ll each have our own tailored version of the challenge, and that’s great! 🙂 Here are the rest of the main guidelines, but again, adjust as you need…
  • Cook or prepare all meals at home.
  • Drinks – coffees to cocktails – decide whether these count in the challenge or not for you. Some people just focus on the food. Some people do both. Last year, I didn’t go to Starbucks (not even for Starbucks Monday!) for EIM. But this year, I’m thinking I may still indulge in an occasional latte, especially since I only go about once a week.
  • If you’re away from home for a meal, plan ahead and bring something from home with you (i.e. to work) to eat.
  • If you got it at a grocery store, it probably counts, unless you bought it at the grocery store cafe. The only exceptions to the cafe rule include: 1. if you create a side salad to accompany a meal you’ll be making at home or 2. prepared meats, i.e. rotisserie chicken.
  • Grocery-store-prepared dishes are ok if they accompany a meal put together at home. IMG_1249.JPG We all have busy lives and taking help from the grocery store shouldn’t be a crime. Example of acceptable use of grocery-store-prepped item: you want to eat sandwiches this week but don’t have anything to go with them. You pick up some bean salad at the grocery store deli to go with your lunch. Another example: you want to make chicken salad sandwiches, but you don’t have or want to buy all the ingredients. You buy grocery-store-prepped chicken salad, take it home, make sandwiches and enjoy lunch. NOTE: Personally, I feel that buying pre-pared side dishes, etc at the grocery store (esp at Whole Foods/Earthfare/etc) are sometimes healthier and more cost-effective than buying all the ingredients to make yourself. Why not use the help once in awhile?
  • Frozen meals count (meals from scratch are better but frozen meals are still cheaper than eating out (more affordable meals and you don’t have to pay tip) and can be actually cooked at home/work/etc.).
  • Challenge starts January 1, 2012 and ends January 31, 2012.
  • Play for a month if you can, or feel free to join for a week or two, or a day…whatever you can do.
  • Those playing for a month will get ONE cheat pass – one meal (not a day) you can eat out during the month of January.
  • Have a blog? If you’d like, post photos and/or descriptions of your meals. If you have a food blog, you very well may be doing so already! Remember, this is totally optional. I’ll probably post most of mine, but that’s because I’m the host of the challenge! I can’t guarantee I will post photos of every single meal, but I will tell you guys if I cheat (which I won’t do). If I did it last year, I can do it again!
  • If you’re on Twitter, use hashtag #eatinmonth to check out updates from each other, get inspiration, request tips, offer tips, and help each other out.
  • I’ll be posting tips and suggestions also on my Facebook page, so be sure to check that out often during the challenge month for updates.



  • Get your pantry ready – A lot of times, I have good intentions to eat meals at home, but after a long day of work, if I don’t have any easy meals to whip up, I’m more likely to pick up the phone and order takeout. Having easy meals that come together quickly makes me more likely to put “pantry-meals” together instead of calling someone.
  • Click here to read my Eat in Month Pantry Tips + Ideas post
  • Have snacks ready – If I’m hungry at work, especially when there are lots of quick options around, it’s easy for me to take a 15 minute walk to pick up a snack. By keeping snacks in my desk and in the office fridge, I can just nosh on those instead of seeking snacks elsewhere. Click here to read about my favorite snacks to keep at the office.
  • Plan ahead – Prep your pantry, create a meal plan for the week. If you have a meal schedule ready, you’ll be more likely to stick to what you already planned ahead to prep/cook/eat. You’ll probably also utilize those leftovers more efficiently, too!
  • Have quick meals in your back pocket – Go ahead and jot down 5-10 quick meals you can throw together using pantry & staple items. Use this list when you’re hungry, out of energy, and out of time. Try to keep your pantry, fridge, etc stocked with a couple of the items needed for these quick meal so you’ll always have something to eat when you’re in a bind.
  • Keep it Simple – It’s nice to try to cook fancy-schmancy meals every night, but if you’re as busy as me, you just can’t do it every day. Allow yourself to put together simple meals, even if it’s heating up a frozen dinner. We know you may have better intentions, but just do the best you can while still being reasonable. Sometimes the simplest meals (spaghetti anyone?) are the best!
  • Make the better choice – Sometimes it’s about making the better choice, not the perfect one. Click here to read my post on this topic.
  • Bulk BinsClick here to read my how-to on working the bulk bins.

The Badge

You guys know I love my challenge badges! I’ve created one you can put on your blog for this challenge:

You can use the following code to add this banner to your site:

<a href=""><img src="" border="0" width="170" height="170" /></a>

The Players

Are you playing along in the Eat in Month Challenge? If so, leave me a comment, whether you’re playing for the whole month, a couple weeks, a single week, a couple days, etc. and your URL if you have a blog.

Who’s In? It’s never too late to join! If January is halfway over and you just found out about the challenge, feel free to join in on the festivities! Better late than never! 🙂

44 thoughts on “Eat in Month 2012 Challenge”

  1. Whoo Hoo I love your challenges… especially this one!! I will be playing for the whole month and will hopefully save some mula 🙂

    Thanks for all the tips! Have a great day 🙂

  2. I am in!! I love this month challenge! Wednesday is my first day off for the year and I am going to gut my pantry then go fill it with amazing food 🙂 ie: Healthy food. Thank you for doing this, I can’t wait to see what the month holds.

  3. I joined last year successfully, and it was so inspiring. Those good habits of budgeting stuck through out the year, and I even kicked the Starbucks obsession, and saved loads of money (I still love it, of course, but go monthly instead of daily). That being said I’m IN girlfriend! I used my free pass on the first, which means I need to be extra diligent.LOL. Thanks for hosting again this year, as it does help to be in it together. Looking forward to recipe ideas from all!

    • Hey Tabitha! You’re like an EIM veteran! lol 😛 jk. Thanks for doing the challenge again this year! Glad to hear that it helped you out last year! Woohoo! I had to kick the Sbucks awhile back myself, but I’m now down from nearly daily to Starbucks-Monday (once a week).

  4. This is perfect!! Thanks for sharing!! I was going through my pantry & freezer last night making a list. This is a wonderful way to start new year by eating healthier and staying on a budget. I’m in for the month. I’ll start tomorrow.

      • Hey Diana,
        Just wanted to report in that I love the challenge. I’m eating better, healthy and staying on a budget. Plus, I love the fact that I have the ingredients in my pantry to make a fun meal at home.
        I love having my dinner with a glass of wine and spending time at home with my cat. I feel empowered to continue my eat in challenge for the rest of the year. Thanks so much!!!!

        • My menu has been alot of fun salads, I call them them everything but the kitchen sink. fun pasta’s & sauce, chili, crock pot beef stew, spagetti, peanut butter & homemade jelly sandwiches(great to take to work) eggs, yogart, and fresh fruit.

  5. Yikes! I don’t think I can pull it off. A whole month?!?! Lunch meetings with clients are such an important part of my business. What a great idea though!

    I’m trying to cut back on eating out. You’re right — it’s a great way to save money, you’ll eat more healthily, and it’s more sustainable.

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