Two weeks into lockdown, when life was feeling hard enough, Isobial Jackson set herself a new challenge.
Eat your way through the half-opened packets and double-ups in your pantry, and use up the contents of your freezer in Spending Freeze September.
Isobial has been documenting her challenge on her social media pages Facebook @TaupoBudgetBusters and says the original reason for the challenge was to save money for Christmas and a special anniversary that's coming up next year. She was planning to take part in an existing Facebook challenge #Shelftember, but that seemed too difficult when the latest lockdown began.
Two adult children were at home, Isobial's husband set up work on the kitchen table, the kitchen was "in an uproar" and lockdown fatigue set in.
"It's super stressful watching people eat you out of house and home for two weeks."
So Isobial adapted #Shelftember to her own challenge and has been documenting her journey along the way. Acknowledging the financial fallout from the latest Covid-19 lockdown, the aim of Spending Freeze September is to save money, pay down debt, and show budget-conscious people an alternative way to feed a family.
"I had four open packets of corn flour in my pantry. This month I am finding stuff that's lurking and using it up."
By day nine of the spending freeze Isobial was getting low on fresh fruit and vegetables and went and stocked up at Abdul's Fresh & Best Selection on Spa Rd.
She says normally frozen produce has been much cheaper than buying fresh.
"There is the same amount of nutrition in frozen fruit and vegetables as there is in fresh produce.
"But at the moment frozen fruit and vegetables are more expensive."
Isobial also buys her fruit and vegetables from Misfit Garden NZ who are based in Manuka St because she is concerned about the waste from produce that would normally go to Auckland and the Taupō-based business is well priced.
Cooking with a given set of ingredients is the reverse of making a meal plan, and Isobial says it's been fun creating dinner from existing ingredients each night.
"Someone had given us a leg of lamb that we'd forgotten about and I pulled that out."
Isobial says the challenge has given her something positive to think about while her family adapted to lockdown and emerging from lockdown.