My Pantry Inventory & Pantry Challenge Meal Plan

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You can make your Pantry Challenge successful and save money on groceries when you take a pantry inventory and make a meal plan.

My Pantry Inventory & Pantry Challenge Meal Plan | Good Cheap Eats

If you read yesterday’s newsletter or last night’s post, you know that my mad skilz with math told me that if we didn’t do a Pantry Challenge for the rest of the month, we would go over budget. While we have got some wiggle room in our general funds, it’s better just to buckle down, don’t you think?

Honestly, once upon a time we were super strict with our finances. We had to be because Debt was breathing down our neck. Then we paid it off, and we relaxed. We’ve still been able to do big things, like pay off the Blue House and go to Europe, but if we buckle down once again, maybe we could do even bigger things.

So, a Pantry Challenge, it is!

This isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to doing a Pantry Challenge. I know that I need to have four things to make it work:

  • an inventory of what we have
  • a meal plan
  • creativity
  • sheer determination

Yesterday afternoon, I took care of the inventory and the meal plan.

–> Get ready: Preparing for a Pantry Challenge

A Pantry Inventory

If you know what you have already, you’ll most likely feel a lot better about relying on your stores instead of buying more. All too often we forget about things we’ve purchased and just buy more. Frequently doing a pantry challenge can help you make sure you use up those treasures.

Here’s what I found in my freezer, fridge, and cupboards:

Freezer inventory

  • 1 dozen bagels
  • lots of frozen lemon juice
  • popsicles and ice cream
  • salmon and mahi mahi
  • bacon
  • hamburger patties x2
  • hot dogs x2
  • butter x4
  • lots of oatmeal and popcorn
  • refried beans and plain cooked beans
  • ground beef
  • English muffins
  • sourdough rounds
  • chili kits x2
  • wontons and potstickers
  • Asian chicken x2
  • cooked rice
  • meatballs
  • tater tots and hashbrowns
  • pork tenderloins x 2
  • mozzarella cheese x3
  • pumpkin puree

–> Get set: Printable Pantry Inventory Sheet

My Pantry Inventory & Pantry Challenge Meal Plan | Good Cheap Eats

Pantry inventory:

  • taco shells x3
  • tuna x6
  • pasta x3
  • dried beans
  • egg noodles
  • rice (two kinds)
  • couscous
  • orzo
  • lasagna noodles
  • rice noodles
  • oats
  • diced tomatoes
  • salsa verde
  • green olives
  • pineapple chunks
  • English muffins
  • dried cranberries and cherries
  • chocolate chips

Refrigerator inventory:

  • various condiments
  • 1 head lettuce
  • carrots
  • celery
  • snap peas
  • coleslaw
  • milk x2
  • whipping cream
  • buttermilk
  • feta
  • cheese: cream, feta, cheddar, pepper jack, parmesan
  • sour cream

My Pantry Inventory & Pantry Challenge Meal Plan | Good Cheap Eats

A Pantry Challenge Meal Plan

Once I knew what we had on hand, I could make a meal plan. I’m thrilled that we can get through the next nine days pretty easily. I will most likely need to buy milk, eggs, and fresh produce. We can make the rest stretch if we’re careful. We aren’t going into this with a lot of cheap staples.

Here are the meals I’ve planned for the rest of June:




–> Go: Make Your Meal Plan Happen this Week

Are you doing a Pantry Challenge?

What’s YOUR strategy for making it work?

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. We actually *are* doing a pantry challenge… but it’s just my ds#3 and me! Hubs is away for a MONTH taking grad classes (requirement to do a certain number of hours on campus) so we are pinching our pennies. I think we can easily make it to the end of the month without a shop, and that’s my plan:

  2. Stephanie M. says

    Yes I am doing a pantry challenge and started loosely a couple of weeks ago. My spending on things I really don’t need has gotten a little out of hand and now I am left with a little too much food in the freezer. Never as much as I had a few pantry challenges ago but still a little too much. I checked what I had in the freezer and made a meal plan based on that and what’s in my pantry for the next 21 days starting today. This would also include leftovers. Outside of milk, bread, eggs, yogurt and produce, I can’t imagine what else I could possibly need in order to get through the next 21 days without doing any kind of bulk shopping. My strategy is this: I will use what I have and only purchase what I absolutely need and I should come out okay on the “other side” with an empty freezer and pantry and a little extra cash.

    • I am so thrilled that you’re doing it again. I swear, you’re one of the PC Success Stories. Has it really been 18 months since you did your first one?

      • Stephanie M. says

        Yes it has, Jessica. And I don’t mind saying that I’ve learned so much from you. I encourage anyone looking at this challenge blog to jump in and join us. It’s not only a great way to use up what you have and save money but it’s also a great way to make new friends and talk to people from all over the country. I love, love, love this blog and the challenge. It’s a lot of fun and I thank you so much Jessica for all of your inspiration to so many people.

  3. Tastycookt says

    It’s been a lovely summer day here – an ideal day for a salad, except that we had no salad greens in the house. So, rather than me going to the store, I asked hubby to pick up some on his way home, knowing he was less likely to buy extra “stuff” than I was. So, tonight, using some ground beef from the freezer, we had taco salads.

    I also had made a cake, from the current edition of Canadian Living. It was a maple glazed bundt cake – not bad, but I wouldn’t bother to make it again. However, along with a few strawberries from the garden, it finished dinner off nicely.

    A suggestion for Pat who wouldn’t buy bread because it won’t keep. Keep your bread in the freezer, take out just what you need and by the time the sandwich (for example) is ready the bread is defrosted and ready for eating. I make ALL our bread and always keep it in the freezer.

  4. Sandi says

    I haven’t actually written out a plan, but I do have some ideas of things I want to use up. Plus I just bought a bunch of produce. So of course tonight, the kid wanted to go out to dinner with a coupon and a gift card he got for Christmas he still hadn’t used. So… we went. Off to a great start! LOL. As I’m currently getting price quotes for replacing my roof, I might be doing one VERY extended challenge in the near future!

    • The kid is so great about his thrifty ways. Coupon and gift card? How can a mother say no?

  5. Liz Vee says

    I have been thinking I need to do a Pantry challenge to offset our recent overspending and pare down the overfill ed Pantry, what perfect timing! I will still buy fresh produce and milk as needed, but should have plenty to get us through a few weeks, at least!

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