Are you ready? It’s time for the fifth annual Eat in Month (EIM) challenge! Woohoo! EIM is a great way to start the new year – with eating healthier and saving money by simply eating in. ย Easy, right? I’ll share some helpful posts throughout the month, so check back for more tips and recipes. I’ll also be adding some additional notes and reminders over on my Facebook page, so be sure to like The Chic Life on Facebook to get your hands on those goodies.

The Eat in Month Challenge Concept

Eat every single meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, snacks, coffee…whatever you choose!) “in”. The goal is to eat “in” more than you did before January to save money and eat healthy meals & snacks.

How to Play

  • Challenge starts January 1, 2013 and ends January 31, 2013.
  • 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. If you’re away from home for a meal, plan ahead and bring something from home with you (i.e. to work) to eat.
  • Traveling? Some people choose to extend the challenge by one day for each day you are traveling (and need to eat out). Some choose to just exclude those days from the challenge. Your challenge, your rules. Play as you see fit.
  • 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. In past years, I’ve been very strict and wouldn’t even get Starbucks in January. But, I think this year, my focus will be on the food – meals and snacks.
  • If you got it at a grocery store, it probably counts. Some people consider eating at a grocery store (think hot bar or cafe) eating out, while some consider it “in” since it’s a grocery store. It’s up to you! I’ve had meals at my local health food store for lunch in the past, and they usually only cost about $6.99. They’re healthy and a good deal, so you can choose if these are “in” or “out”.
  • If you want to err on the strict side, then grocery-store-prepared dishes are okay if they accompany a meal put together at home. 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.
  • Frozen meals can be eaten “in”.
  • You get one cheat pass – one meal (preferably not a whole day) you can eat out during the month of January.

Tips

  • Get your pantry ready – I find it easiest to give in to take-out when I don’t have anything already at the house to cook. Stock your pantry with some quick-fix meals so you’ll be less tempted to go for take-out. 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 eat 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. Think frozen ravioli, jarred sauce, and frozen vegetables, etc.
  • Keep it Simple – It’s nice to try to cook gourmet meals every night, but if you’re as busy as me, you just can’t do it as often as you’d like. 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. 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 Bins – Check out the bulk bins for stocking your pantry. Click here to read my how-to on working the bulk bins.
  • I’ll be posting additional tips and tricks on the blog, as well as, on my Facebook page.
  • I created this Pinterest board (click) to share meal and snack inspiration – currently there are pins from last year’s challenge, but I’ll be adding more soon.

The Badge

Here’s the 2014 challenge badge – feel free to copy the code below to use this badge on your site or blog:

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

<a href="https://thechiclife.com/2013/12/eat-in-month-2014-challenge.html"><img src="https://thechiclife.com/wp-content/uploads/images/EatInMonth2014.gif" 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.

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 a food diary already! Remember, this is totally optional. I’ll probably post a few of mine throughout the month. If you do a post about the challenge (your approach, tips, meal plans, etc.), let me know, and I’ll link to you here.
If you’re on Instagram orย Twitter, use hashtag #eatinmonth to check out updates from each other, get inspiration, request tips, offer tips, and help each other out.

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Thank you so much for reading! And for those doing the challenge, thank you so much for joining in. This wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without you doing the challenge, too!

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! ๐Ÿ™‚