Time for a Pantry Challenge!

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Want to save some money? Want to waste less food? Want to improve your shopping habits? Then a Pantry Challenge is for you!

Want to save some money? Want to waste less food? Want to improve your shopping habits? Then a Pantry Challenge is for you!

I don’t know about you, but my freezers are packed to the gills. There is a lot of bulk grains stored there, but there’s also all kinds of randomness that needs to be used up. Now that I’m getting to the end of photographing my fourth book, it’s time to get a fresh start. Time to use up what we have. Time to save some moolah!

That means it’s time for a Pantry Challenge!

A pantry challenge is a concentrated time to eat up what we have so we can save money, waste less food by rotating our stock, and learn from previous bad purchases so that we make better choices in the future. If you’re looking to clean up your diet, it’s also a great time to use up what you have without feeling guilty that it’s going to waste.

I’ve lost count how many Julys I’ve done a challenge like this. I do it every January, too. Back in my big couponing, stock-piling days, we could eat for a month from what we had on hand. Nowadays, I shop a little differently and my work revolves around food, so I adopted a 2-week challenge model so that I could stay sane and my people wouldn’t revolt.

Now is that time!

I’ll be starting our two-week pantry challenge on Sunday, and I hope you’ll join me. If you’d like, grab the button above or use this fancy-schmancy one:

Want to save some money? Want to waste less food? Want to improve your shopping habits? Then a Pantry Challenge is for you!

Just right click the image, save it to your computer, and load it to your blog. Easy peasy.

I’ll be posting daily my endeavors in the kitchen here on the blog and possibly on instagram. You can post every day or just weekly. I’ll have a spot for you to share your posts each Saturday night.

What is a Pantry Challenge?

I’ve written about this pretty extensively, so take a gander at these articles:

Feel free to leave questions and comments below. I’m happy to chat and help you troubleshoot your cupboard and what you can do with what you have on hand. There are lots of past posts that answer lots of questions, so be sure to browse the archives if you have time.

Want to save some money? Want to waste less food? Want to improve your shopping habits? Then a Pantry Challenge is for you!

This year I’m going to be kicking off the festivities with a Facebook party on the Good Cheap Eats page. I hope you’ll join me. There will be virtual appetizers as well as a cookbooky prize or two. Follow the page now so you don’t miss out!

As always, I’ll be posting every day what I make, what we use up, and how I’m freaking out. ;) So tune in, eh?

Are you up for a Pantry Challenge?

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  1. I am in! I don’t have much stored, so it might just be a one week challenge for me, but I know there are things in there. My plan is to only buy things to make meals to use up what I have. I will start Saturday!

  2. Tiffany R says:

    I plan on joining you, Jessica. I can’t wait to get some things moved out of here, defrost the freezer and save some money. And yes, I will freak out too a few times. Bring it on!

  3. Awesome, my freezer is full of meat and then random things, so I’m in. I’ll have to buy milk and bananas for the kids but we should be good otherwise. I always watch yours with interest and should finally join

    • Glad you’re jumping in!

      • The more I think about it, the more excited I am! We’ll start on Monday as we are traveling this weekend. I already had a goal of limiting the eating out and we determined we might need one meal out while traveling Saturday but we bring drinks for the kids and they share a big order of grilled chicken strips and all 4 of us can actually share one fry so we really make Chick-fil-a a treat on a budget! I reread your post from the January Pantry Challenge and I need to make a couple rules so I stick to it, but not so much as to stress. 😉
        (no need to reply!)

  4. I’m in! I said last week that I needed to do a pantry challenge after our vacation – which ended today – not even thinking about the fact it would line up perfectly with this!

  5. I am not only in, but I started two days ago! Our freezer looks like it is about to explode and our pantry is so full that I’m holding back stock on bookshelves- seriously! Since the last time I’ve done the pantry challenge my style of eating has changed. We are now eating very clean. I have gone to 75% organic produce, all organic chicken and ground meat, organic dairy and eggs. We have also cut GMOs and HFCS to the best of our ability. With the change our grocery bill has gone up. In the past we spend about $300 a month on two adults and would cut it to $50 during a challenge. Now we are spending $500-$600 a month and want to cut it to $150. I think its very doable without sacrificing the quality of our food. I’ll be checking in. Im excited for a new pantry challenge!

    • Do you have a lot of stuff to use up that isn’t part of your cleaner eating?

      • Depends on what you call “a lot”. LOL. When I finally decided that we needed to go to clean eating at home full time I donated any boxes and can goods to charity. BUT we still have conventional meats and a few canned items that I don’t consider “not healthy” but aren’t necessarily up to my new standards of eating. So we are trying to go through those.

  6. Stephanie M. says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this so count me in too.

  7. I am in!!! Other than milk, fruit and salad makings hoping not to buy anything and again I will be going the full month!

    • Patricia says:

      Mona, I’m with you.
      I’ll do it for the month also but I will need to buy milk, fresh fruit and veggies from the farmers market. Everything else will be what I have on hand and fresh eggs from my daughter’s family free range chickens. I’ve set a new monthly budget of only $85 for the above mentioned items (plus the senior center gives out our annual $20 book of coupons for the farmer’s market). NO MORE MEAT PURCHASES, no more ingredient/spice purchases. Easy to say, lets see if I can hold the line on it.

  8. YES! I love pantry challenge time! I’m not participating this time, since I just *built up* my pantry (finally), but I will be watching with interest!

  9. I’m in! I’ve started it somewhat informally already, so this is just the motivation I need to get all of the old stuff out of the pantry. Although, I’ll definitely be buying lots of produce — it’s too good this time of year to pass up!

  10. Patricia says:

    I’m in it! Oh yes I am! Although I went shopping yesterday and spent about $50 on items I “needed”. I will start it on Monday morning, but will focus my challenge on eating down my freezer. I was poking around there the other day looking for something to cook, when I found two long links of kielbasa from a neighboring farm. I forgot I had them left from this past winter’s order. I grabbed a couple of eggs and a link of sausage, sliced it up, popped it in the fry pan with the eggs and was reminded of why I saved them, tucked away under the philly cheese steaks, the frozen broccoli, the shoestring French fries – it was for moments like this. The discovery of something so healthy and simple to make was a gift. I still have 1-1/2 of these left and within the next two weeks, I’ll eat those down with cabbage, with eggs, on an English muffin – yup there will be delish meals coming from my freezer.

  11. I’m in…I’m so excited to get started. I’m gonna try to go the entire month hopefully without a revolt!

  12. I’ll join in, my freezer is over flowing…..

  13. Michelle K says:

    I have some canned items that have an expiration date that has come and gone. Those should just be tossed right?

  14. I’ll be joining at least for part of it! I stocked up on freezer meals and easy things to prepare before baby and two months out we’re getting to the bottom of it. I don’t think there’s two weeks worth left but I need to make sure it all gets used up before more gets put on top:)

  15. Oh, I’m already in my second week of eating my pantry out!! My freezer is not very big, and my pantry is just a couple of cupboards, but I managed to get two weeks worth of meals of them. Next week I’ll go and buy healthier food and start feeding my children and me better food. (better as in more organic and greener foods, we already have a 90% of our meals made from scratch)

  16. I am in. I have never done this before. I have an addiction to grocery shopping. I have a full freezer and pantry.
    I hope to just buy fruit, milk and bread as needed but get everything else from my freezer or pantry. I would thin like to make some of your freezer meals to put in the freezer. I think this will help me save money and be more organized. Thanks and keep your cookbooks coming.

  17. I’ll do with all of you. I need to clean up my freezer and this is just the ticket. Sunday will be the perfect day for me to start too.
    I’m aiming for the full two weeks.

  18. Heather M says:

    I’m so in! Started July 1, going the whole month. We head out of town aug 1 for the month (and me into sept), so much needed. I will, as always, do a modified challenge, keeping us in fresh produce, etc. Can’t sacrifice good healthy food. Also need to buy fish/seafood. Used up the last of the salmon, mahi mahi, and shrimp while my parents were in town. Fish I cannot do without. We eat it at least once a week! Looking forward coming up with some fun new meals!

  19. I’m right in the middle of one right now, as money has been tight lately. It’s just starting to get interesting! I find that they are a little more challenging in the summer. It seems that a winter pantry challenge is a little easier in that the cold temps make you want to eat soups, stews, casseroles, and lots of baked goods. Do you find that to be true? It would help things if my garden would start producing. I’m looking forward to reading about your challenge. I’ve read all your past archives. Such inspiration – thanks!

  20. Megan D says:

    I’m definitely in! Our freezers are stuffed and the stockpile is a little crazy. I’m doing one weekly $20 trip to the grocery store and $20 a week at farmer’s market and that is it! I’ve gone over budget almost every month this year so I need to get it evened out with a really lean month. My son is in year-round school so I have to get his lunchbox staples (he only eats one kind of sandwich so he has it!!).

  21. COOL!!!!! We need to stretch the pantry a couple extra months and also get things emptied out before the harvest really starts coming in.


    Blessed Be Juls

  22. I’m joining in this go round Jessica. I’m still going to be shopping but I plan on cutting the usual amount by at least 25 percent for the two weeks.

  23. The heavy work schedule lately has left me weeks behind on the blogs I follow, so I didn’t even realize you were prepping for a pantry challenge. Just this weekend, I went to the garage freezer to look for something, saw some things that had been in there for quite a while, and pulled out several meals worth to thaw. I was thinking I needed to start a personal challenge to use up some of what has been creeping in, plus the freezer really needs to be defrosted again. What timing! The difficulty for me will be that I am on the road 2 days every week for the rest of the month, and it is just hard to pack things that don’t need refrigeration and aren’t just a nut butter sandwich.

    • The kids and I were recently brainstorming shelf-stable meals for when we travel. We came up with nuts, rice cakes, dried fruit, seed/nutbutter, and applesauce.


  1. […] been following the Pantry Challenge over at Good Cheap Eats in an effort to once again be able to see the back of my freezer. […]

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