Can you save money with a Pantry Challenge? Absolutely! And not just on your grocery savings this month. A Pantry Challenge can help you save money for months to come.
If you’ve spent anytime on budget websites or scrolled through money-saving feeds on instagram, you’ve likely heard about the Pantry Challenge concept. It’s nothing too new or earth-shattering. Our grandmothers practiced this concept all the time.
Shop your pantry and use up what you have.
It’s pretty simple, really. The main benefit is obvious: You don’t have to grocery shop very much when you do a pantry challenge.
Less time at the grocery store means you have more time for other things. But, let’s get down to dollars and cents, do you really save any money?
Can You Save Money with a Pantry Challenge?
I’ve been doing an extended pantry challenge (from 1 to 4 weeks) at least once a year for about a decade now. I’ve learned a lot about my kitchen, my family’s tastes, and what constitutes a total-train-wreck-lets-get-burgers kind of experiment.
But, one thing I have learned is that you can, indeed, save money with a pantry challenge.
1. You save money grocery shopping during the challenge.
The object of a pantry challenge is to use up what you have. Since you obviously had extra — one rarely starts a pantry challenge with an empty cupboard — you use up your surplus instead of buying more.
I regularly save several hundred dollars in a monthlong pantry challenge, sometimes up to half our regular grocery budget.
You’d be surprised how much extra you have on hand when you really dive deep.
Pictured: Easy Jambalaya for a Crowd
2. You reduce waste.
Since you use up the extra ingredients on hand, you keep that perfectly good food from going bad.
Those leftovers you stashed in the freezer and forgot? That extra bag of shrimp you bought on sale? That boar sausage your buddy gave you as a Christmas present?
You end up eating those bits up during a focused pantry challenge instead of forgetting about those items until they’ve gone bad.
3. You learn how to build a better pantry.
Maybe cactus, sauerkraut, and sliced beets are regulars in your meal plans. Or maybe not. Ahem.
When you force yourself to use up what you have in your pantry, you come to terms with your shopping habits. You learn what not to buy as well as what works really well for your meal planning and meal prep.
Doing a regular pantry challenge allows you to refine your shopping habits and build a better, frugal pantry which in turn makes it really easy to do a pantry challenge! You save money with a Pantry Challenge and its long-term effects.
Pictured: Everything Hamburger Buns
4. You get creative and learn to adapt.
During a Pantry Challenge, you’re working to stay out of the grocery store, lest you be tempted to buy things you don’t have. To do so, you have to get creative sometimes and adapt.
- No cream for your coffee? Use ice cream and enjoy an affogato.
- Craving Chinese takeout? Make egg roll bowls at home.
- Running out of buttermilk? You can make cultured buttermilk at home.
- No buns for hamburgers? Make homemade hamburger buns!
- Have a hankering for tacos? Cook up homemade flour tortillas.
Those adaptations may turn out to be blessings in disguise, habits you chose to continue long after your pantry challenge ends. Save money with a pantry challenge as you gain more flexibility in the kitchen.
With repeated effort, a pantry challenge can be a great discipline to help you keep your money-saving muscles strong.