January Meal Planning & the Pantry Challenge

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A pantry challenge is a great way to use your resources well. And meal planning is a key to the challenge’s success.

Well, are you ready for the Pantry Challenge? Starting today a whole crazy bunch of us are going to try to make the most of what we already have in our kitchens instead of business as usual. For me that means, buying what we need, but using what we have first.

Some people might use this challenge as a time to see how long they can go without grocery shopping, how little they can spend on groceries for January, or simply use up the stockpiles they already have stashed.

Each Monday morning, we’ll have a link up to share your progress. And each week I’ll share a few techniques for how to make this work. Some of my family’s favorite meals have been born out of a Pantry Challenge.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.

I’ll be honest, the first time I heard of “eating from the pantry,” I got really confused and thought this meant you couldn’t go shopping all month. Overtime I’ve realized that this isn’t the case. You can shop, but shop your own pantry first.

Most of us will be pleasantly surprised to see how many meals are already at our disposal.

Meal Planning – Key to Your Success?

My first step at making this challenge work for my family is to create a meal plan for the month.

Once a month meal planning has been a proven way for me to keep my head on straight. It gives me a framework for feeding my family for several weeks and provides guidance for my grocery shopping in order to fill in the blanks.

For this month and the Pantry Challenge, I’ve jotted down 31+ meals for the coming weeks based on what I know think I have in the freezer or pantry already. I’ll still need to buy a few things to make these meals happen, but at least I’ve got a plan.

  1. Sunday lunch: Brats and Peppers/ Sunday dinner: Tamales, Beans and Rice
  2. BBQ Pork Sandwiches, Pasta Salad
  3. Soup Night, Bread
  4. Grilled Chicken, Steamed Veg, Quinoa Pilaf
  5. Taco Bowls
  6. Pizza Night
  7. Tamales, Beans, Rice, Salad
  8. Pork Chili
  9. Roast Chicken, Rice Pilaf, Easy Garlic Green Beans
  10. Soup with leftover Chicken, Bread
  11. Pasta with Red Sauce, Vegetables, Bread
  12. Roast Turkey and fixings
  13. Pizza Night
  14. Turkey Pot Pie, Salad
  15. Tamales, Beans, Rice
  16. Pot Roast, Potatoes, Steamed Veg
  17. Soup with leftover roast, Bread
  18. Pasta Bar, Salad, Rolls
  19. Not Soggy Nachos
  20. Pizza Night
  21. Mac and Cheese, Steamed Veg
  22. Chili Dogs, Veggie Dippers
  23. Pancake Night
  24. Soup,  Bread
  25. Lasagna, Salad, Rolls
  26. Beans and Rice
  27. Pizza Night
  28. Chef’s Choice
  29. Bday dinner – Special choice
  30. Pasta, Salad, Bread
  31. Soup, Bread

(You can read my daily updates of what we actually end up eating here.)

What’s cooking at your house this week?

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Menu Plan Monday each week.

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  1. Happy New Year to you and your family. Last year’s Pantry Challenge was so successful I’m really looking forward to this year’s.

  2. I’m in! I’ve never done anything like this before. But I have a bad habit of buying some staples that we already have on hand, and I didn’t know it. So I have lots to use up!

  3. Very excited about this for a few reasons! My freezers are a mess and I could use some extra savings this month, so it should be great!

  4. I am going to try to use up some freezer and pantry items, too! Nothing better than saving money and starting fresh in the new year. 🙂 Thanks for the challenge! Here is my menu for the month- .

  5. I’ve been thinking about doing this! I really do need to. I want to start by making a list of whats’ in my freezer and pantry. I tend to stock up on things and then forget about them. I’m currently working on using up some frozen fresh spinach that I bought for green smoothies.

  6. I’ve had this in the plan all along for January … excited to be joining up! I’ll still be baking all of our breads each week, but I’ll be using the ingredients I have on hand. It’s a great way to start a new year frugally and with purpose!

  7. I’m in like Flynn! My frugal sil and I have already agreed to a personal pantry challenge for January. I’m making some dietary changes for myself plus I need to get the freezers cleaned out in time for the new gardening season.

    Here’s mine:

  8. I’m in for pantry challenge. I tried to come with a monthly plan but it didn’t work, so I’m going with a weekly plan. I find that this pantry challenge usually gets me trying new recipes to use up items that I bought in past to use in recipes that I never end up making.

    Here’s my post:

  9. I’m excited to participate in this pantry challenge. I’ve tried it several times in the past but haven’t met with much success–got a little discouraged and gave up early on–but this time, thanks to your suggestions, I’ve modified my goals to be a bit more realistic and believe it will be more successful this go around.

  10. can’t wait to follow along, I got my pantry/freezers cleaned out yesterday so I am ready to get back to normal!

  11. Wow do I need this right now! I placed an order for 1/2 pig, 1/4 cow and 10 chickens due to come in the end of the month. So, I need to clear my freezer out pronto!!!

  12. This will be our first year trying this. Our New Year’s GOAL is to be more organized, so I figured this is a good place to start! I haven’t gotten the monthly meal plan totally finished yet due to the sickies going around our home but it will be done by tonight hopefully! So excited to start our “new” way of life and to do this challenge!

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