Plan for a Pantry Challenge

Oh yes.  It’s time to “Open the kimono.”

Take the Pantry Challenge
Take the Pantry Challenge

Let’s get real about what is going on in our family finances.

I’ve never claimed to be a “Great cook.”  To be honest, I’m just barely getting to a solid “good” level.

But I sure love it.  One of my teachers has been Jessica Fisher.  She has six children, home schools, feeds her family the healthiest food they can afford and blogs about it on two sites.  Whoa.  She has been an inspiration to me for years!

One of her blogs, GoodCheapEats, has walked me through a pantry challenge for years.   Oh?  A pantry challenge? Of course.  The purpose of the pantry challenge is to:

  • clean out your kitchen and make sure you eat through the food you’ve purchased to avoid waste
  • take inventory of what your family eats regularly to ensure they are getting healthy meals
  • shop smarter.  If your kids don’t eat that “one meal” you love- you don’t have to make it every week.

So, it’s a great way to clean out the kitchen, avoid waste, take inventory, and shop smarter AND can also help the family save some money?

Sounds like a perfect January project.

My husband and I talked it over and our goal is to spend as little possible while still making sure that we are eating healthy meals.  Now, I’ve been reading about her challenges for years.  We’ve done a challenge for a couple weeks to help with spending, and it made me make better choices about our meals.

But I have never taken on the challenge for an entire month.  Should be fun. I might have a story or two to tell you about my, ahem…cooking.

Care to join me? I thought so.  Let’s make those dollars s-t-r-e-t-c-h and use every drop of their value this month.

There’s a couple steps in the process:

1.  Prepare for the Pantry Challenge.

First, I’ll be taking inventory over the next couple of days.  I’ll be going through the pantry, our freezer (oh man.  The freezer.  There may be some…things in there I don’t recognize) and the food storage cupboards.  And yes, I’ll be reporting what we have, evaluating how to use the food, and make an overall plan. (This may or may not include a major clean out of the pantry.)  And yes, I’ll show you what’s going on here. Even if it isn’t my best work.

2. Make a menu.

Next, I plan to make a menu on how to use all the foods and not have leftovers day after day.  (Which, for me, has been a big challenge.  We were taught to cook like the neighbors would stop in and arrive hungry!  It’s been a big challenge to learn to tone it down, make enough for tonight’s dinner and possibly tomorrow’s lunch so we’re not throwing away bowls of uneaten food.  What a way to waste!  No more.

And let me be clear.  I have never been successful at making a menu and sticking to it.  But we’ve made a budget this year and have stuck to it and that’s been life-changing.  Imagine what a menu will do for us?

I’d like to start making bread at home again.  I loved doing that before but somehow, just got too busy.  And by making it at home, I mean make the dough in the breadmaker then putting it in a pan to rise.  That’s my kind of homemade.

What about the crock-pot?  I’ve noticed that this past year we go out to eat when we were running and I didn’t have time to make dinner in the afternoon like normal.  No more.   By planning ahead, dinner will be slow cooked throughout the day and give us a chance to eat healthier meals from home, use up items from the kitchen and save money.  Win-win, baby.

3.  Shop for only the essentials.

Our plan is to shop to replenish the fruits and veggies, milk and cheese and use up everything from our home.  I think we have enough meat to get us through the month.  And this will be a great time to try more veggie recipes.  I plan to report in our shopping trips, what was purchased, what I thought we needed and really don’t or vice-versa.

I’m excited about this!  I’d like to see how little we can spend with the project.  It’s only a few weeks and we should be able to make some great strides, save up a little more cash to help our family get started on the right foot for the year.

To make sure you stay with me in this project, sign up below to receive updates by email.  We can cheer each other on through this!

Tell me now, how do you plan to save money in January?

8 Replies to “Plan for a Pantry Challenge”

  1. I love this. I have to add to this that in January I am going to make better use of space in my home. So in all the ‘discovery’ of what is on my shelves and pantry, I am also going to make it all work just a bit better. We don’t have much space so I have to maximize the space we do have.
    THANK YOU AMY for the motivation and the knowledge that I am not doing this alone!

    1. So cool! Staci, sometimes I think motherhood is a wee bit lonely. When we all pull together, reach out and cheer each other on- we can all do way more than we ever thought. It’s exciting!

      Can’t wait to hear how it’s going for you, what you are learning and how I can continue to supportcha, girl.!

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