Goals for the Pantry Challenge (Winter 2012)

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.

Set some goals for your kitchen this month. Make the most of what you already have. Shop your freezer. Save some cash.

Are you ready to make use of what ya got? That’s basically what a pantry challenge is.

Instead of grocery shopping as usual, it involves grocery shopping at home first. You’ll be surprised at what you already have that can make a great meal! Last year Carrie shared some great tips about how to tackle “eating from the pantry.” Seriously. Go read those. They are fabulous suggestions for how to make the most of what you have already.

Now, each of us has a different reason for doing this pantry challenge. Maybe you want to save money. Maybe you want to clean out. Maybe you have some other reason. That’s all cool.

You get to make the rules. Today we’re sharing our goals for the Pantry Challenge. I explained my pantry challenge goals last week. Here they are again:

1. To lower my grocery spending.

I’m looking at shaving a tad off my regular grocery spending. Normally I allow $600 to $800 to feed our family of eight as well as buy any cleaning, paper, or beauty products. This month I hope to land somewhere between $400 and $500.

I set a modest goal because I don’t want to make this too hard. We’ve spent less than $400 some months, but that was before we changed some of our eating habits. I don’t want to go backward on those food goals. So, baby steps for now as I source low prices on more organics.

2. To help my kids be more independent in the kitchen.

My bigger kids are of the ages when they could definitely do more meal prep, either for themselves or for the family. They might not know this yet, but their skills are going to increase this month. Bwahaha!

Part of this goal involves creating a recipe file or binder that they can access and use on a regular basis. I’ll compile our favorites and old standbys in this book so that anyone over 9 can serve on KP.

Having recipes on hand that suit your food storage is a great step toward being a good steward of those ingredients. Hopefully we can help each other out in this area.

3. Clean out my freezers and be able to defrost.

My deep freeze has a bad case of frost that will eventually impede it’s ability to run efficiently — or close, for that matter. So, we’re going to work our way through the various freezer meals stashed in there as well as the turkeys, ground beef, and chicken that I’ve stockpiled.

Are you in?

Those are my three goals for this month. I’d love to hear yours! Either tell us about it in the comments section OR link up a recent post of your goals for the Pantry Challenge. Be sure to link back to this post so that it’s easier to share ideas.

Every Monday this month we’ll share updates here on GoodCheapEats. What works, what doesn’t. The challenge officially ends on January 31st.

Hop on by these blogs and see how they’re making this Pantry Challenge work for them:

I’ll be posting daily updates on my Daily Pantry Challenge Log. Visit that page to see how well — or not — we’ve eaten on a given day. I’ll also share links to recipes that are helping me make the most of what I have.

What do you want to do with the Pantry Challenge?

Subscribe to Good Cheap Eats
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. I’m IN! I so appreciate you helping me find the balance of a pantry challenge – I was always so all or nothing I was destined to fail. I recently did a freezer challenge – the no longer working ideally and probably heavy electricity sucking freezer in the garage needs to go – it’s nearly empty – but the INSIDE freezer [see why I don’t need the other LOL?] is packed full of useful foods, the pantry is well loaded.

    Time to use up! Of course, the 13yo decided to go vegetarian last month – which is also messing with my planning, but I’m doing my best and will be buying as little as is PRACTICAL this month. Trying to decide what to do with my voluminous savings 😉

  2. instead of just eating down, I’m using the pantry challenge to build my pantry. There’s not a lot in there at the moment, and now is a good time to make certain that what is there gets eaten, and to be judicious about what we rebuild with. This week’s menu is at

  3. I’m joining this and my meal plan for the week is here:

    My goals are written in the previous post but here they are;
    Meal plan better – use what we have for the month of January only buying the perishables
    Goals – to eat some of the older items lurking in the freezers and pantry, inventory food on hand, defrost the chest freezer
    Join the pantry challenge hosted by Good Cheep Eats.

    I like how you have your daily log, I just may need to copy that idea.

    I newer to blogging and this challenge is my way of jumping in the shallow end of the blog pool.

  4. I am JOINING IN! My goals to do this are to clean out what we already have and to save some money on groceries this month

    For our family of seven, I usually spend 700 sometimes 800. My goal for January is 400 to 500. We have my husbands birthday in there and he likes a certain meal, but I am still hoping to stick to that.

    Going to take inventory today and make the menu! Thanks for the idea!!!

  5. My goal: save money! Plain and simple. This will be hard, as my husband feels he “needs” certain things that are non-negotiable, but I’ll do my best to save and accomodate him at the same time.

    • @Angela, it’s a fine line, but it is possible. I’ve found that I can’t skimp on coffee, but that with experimenting, we can find substitutes for other favorite ingredients.

  6. One of my 2012 Kitchen Goals is to allow my kids to cook more. Good luck!

  7. I spent most of December laid-up with terrible morning sickness ( TWINS!) so hubby did all of the grocery shopping. He did a great job, but now I’m not sure what’s in the freezer and pantry. This challenge comes at a great time for me as I’m getting back to normal!

  8. I’m in! Need to eat and use up some things so they don’t go to waste. Also need to get things organized a little bit better. This will be a great time to do that.

  9. We’re joining! My goals: spend $127 for the month for our family of 6; use up the remaining frozen meals I have in my freezer; no eating out; use up some of my bulk goods; empty out my pantry so I can clean and reorganize. My pantry/freezer is very well stocked right now – I have lots of butter, meat, frozen and canned veggies from my garden, baking goods – so that will help keep my expenses so low. Here is our first week’s menu plan.

  10. I’ve found items in the freezer developing freezer burn, so my goal is to eat from the freezer as much as possible to clear it out. The freezer on the fridge isn’t very big, but we also have a small upright freezer that needs a good defrost. We only have two people in the house, so I could probably go at least 3 months of purchasing nothing but perishables. I’m hoping, anyway, because my holiday groceries greatly exceeded my budget. I’ve got frozen veggies, frozen raw meat, and even frozen meals from when I’ve made a recipe and frozen half for later. Eating the ice cream won’t be a challenge, but the rest of it will require some planning ahead for thawing purposes.

  11. I’m in, but it might take me longer than a month to clean out. My goals…eat the misc bits and pieces, that I’ve been ignoring. Clear out the pantry enough to free up two cupboards. Clear out the deep freeze enough to defrost. And I love your idea of working with the kids on kitchen skills, so I’ll be working on that too. Hopefully this will all result is a lower grocery bill for the month, but that’s secondary. Thanks so much for the accountability and ideas.

  12. I’m in, I also have an over abuntance of food in my freezer that needs to be used (making extra to use for another meal, only the other meal never comes). I started a recipe book with my grandson last year. We put in the recipes he likes and the ones he makes up (some aren’t to bad – others well lets just say no one loves his cooking like his grandma, I mean we are talking tuna cookies here).

  13. We’ll be doing a pantry challenge per se, but I guess I am cheating a bit, I did my major month long shopping trip on friday 12/30. I hope to not need much except milk, bread, eggs and maybe a package of chicken pieces later on in the month. I am actually ahead enough that when hubs gets paid in the middle of the month I should be able to buy February’s month of meal supplies since I already have everything or most of everything I need for January!!

  14. SoccerMom says:

    I’m so glad you’re doing this again this year. It’s always such an inspiration! I need to start with cleaning out my refrigerator really well – I haven’t done that since before the holiday baking extravaganza began. My most immediate goal after that is to use up the odds and ends of condiments and such that are in my refrigerator. They take up almost an entire shelf, which is just ridiculous. 4 kinds of mustard anyone? Instead of focusing on budget, as I have in the past, this time it’s just using up the weird stuff so I don’t have to look at it any more. 🙂 It’s so satisfying to clean it all out and start with a blank slate and feel like I’m gaining creativity and confidence in my cooking skills in the process. A lot of that confidence is all thanks to you!

    • @SoccerMom, aww, thanks for your encouraging words. We have the same condiment problem. In our case, it’s weird Asian sauces that no one will eat but me. Think I need to stop buying them!

  15. I always sort of eat from the pantry, but have found that my freezer is full and I need to work on eating from the freezer and not buying any more meat for awhile. We are not big meat eaters and there is a good amount of meat in there!!

  16. I have been planning on doing this. My goal is to spend no more than $100 on groceries for my family of 5.

    I got a great deal on bananas a while back and have a whole shelf full of them in the freezer. Another shelf is full of turkey and ham. I want to clear some of that out and make more space.

    I plan on making some sourdough starter so I can regularly make my own bread and not have to keep running to the store for that. It should make some great turkey salad sandwiches.

  17. I’m in! We are a family of 8 and normally spend about 1,000$ per month on groceries and household stuff. I have 3 goals for this challenge. Goal 1: to spend no more than 60$ per week, buying perishables only for the rest of the month. Shopped sunday and the total was almost 300, i was shocked as the total was rising. We will be moving in 2 months, so Goal 2: is to have both freezers cleaned out and after the move we will buy another whole cow. We bought one 2 years ago, but haven’t been able to do it again due to space issues. Goal 3: not to eat out. When we stop at a fast food place it costs at least 40 for all of us to eat. Hoping to stay on track and accomplish my goals, but I am 34 weeks pregnant and am going to cut myself some slack.

  18. I am totally in, BUT I will be starting a week late. I read your post before the end of the new year and even mentioned on facebook that I would be doing this, but then I just let it slip with all the craziness from the Holidays. I’m re-grouping this week and plan to start on Saturday (I already have meals planned through then). Thanks for the motivation!

  19. I do the pantry challenge every January only we call it Gilligan’s Island. Two years ago I spent only $5.87 for the whole month. There are just two of us at home. That year I was ruthless, even trading food with friends to not go to the store. Friends love to come over for dinner in January to see what adventures in cooking we are having. At the end of December I write down everything in the freezer and cupboards, then make meal plans. I put my inventory list and recipe ideas on the refrigerator, then check off when used. is very helpful, as you can put in the ingredients you want to use and they will give you recipes. This year I have budgeted $50 for dairy and fresh vegetables. Our wine comes out of the entertainment budget. I could never do it if that wasn’t in a separate fund!

  20. We are IN! Our goal is to save money and to better organized. We don’t have a large stockpile but we do have enough that we can make 1 month of meals with. May have to buy some meat but that’s no big deal. Right now we spend around $600 a month on groceries (thats including paper goods, beauty and dog food) for 4 (two adults and two 2.5 y.o.) which I feel is way too much considering what others spend for a much larger family. I’m hoping to get this down to at least $250 – $300. Thanks for the tips to help us make this happen!

  21. I’m in. My goals are to save money (we’ve got some big goals we need to save for) and to clear out the disaster that is my freezer. I *know* there is stuff in there that is freezer burned because between moving & having a baby this summer it just turned into a big black hole.

  22. I’m going to try because I want to spend less on groceries and do a better job of utilizing leftovers. My husband and boys will not be as excited about this idea, but maybe I’ll come up with a few new meals that the kids will eat. I’m quite impressed by all of your grocery budgets, that’s for sure!

  23. I love the challenge. I don’t have a lot in the pantry but have lots in freezer. Freezer has lots of unknown meat from game feed, not sure I’m brave enough to eat. But luckily me & 4 of my friends have been exchanging freezer meals with each other so I have 10 meals in there. I try to meal plan, need to be more dedicated about that. Clear out food before a move in a month or so and fresh start in new house sounds great!!!

  24. I always enjoy your menu plans! Not soggy nachos and simple bean tostadas are in our regular rotation. My goal for this month (maybe this year?) is to try grocery shopping every two weeks. I think it may help lower our grocery bill, help me be more creative with leftovers, and save time and gas money running around to at least two different stores. I shopped about 11 days ago, and it was soooo wonderful to not have to go out shopping this past weekend!

Share Your Thoughts