Are you ready to save money, prevent food waste, and bring some order to your kitchen? Take the Pantry Challenge.
The Pantry Challenge is something I practice once or twice a year as a kitchen discipline. In the early years my family groaned and complained about it, but now that we’ve been doing it for ten years, they don’t even notice when I shift gears to a PC.
What is a pantry challenge?
A pantry challenge is a focused time when you use up what you have before buying more food.
In doing so, you waste less food, spend less time shopping, and save money by not overbuying. It’s a great way to save money and be a better steward of your kitchen resources.
Having “eaten down the pantry” dozens of times over the last decade or two, I find that during this 2- to 4- week, focused, time period, a few key things happen:
- I use up what we have. Waste not, want not. I hate wasting food. During a Challenge, I end up using up those odds and ends, weird impulse buys, and things that I overstocked. In the end, less food goes to waste.
- I save money on groceries that month. Who doesn’t want a smaller grocery bill? Doing a pantry at least once a year allows me to keep a low monthly grocery budget average over the course of the year. By clearing out excess and saving money in January, I give myself some wiggle room for future months.
- I learn what ingredients our family really loves. Or hates. When we do a Pantry Challenge and I force myself to use what we have, current preferences — and dislikes — become clear. This informs my future shopping, therefore, helping me to spend our grocery dollar more wisely in subsequent months.
- I save time because I’m not spending hours grocery shopping during the month. We have food at home! is a common mantra during a PC, and one that allows me to save time for other things.
I’ve been doing a PC every year since 2009. It’s become super successful for my family to offset our grocery spending and to refine our shopping habits to better suit our lifestyle in the present.
Each time I set specific goals for our family’s Challenge, like in December of 2013 when I spent 2-weeks cleaning out our cupboards to make room for healthier ingredients. And every time I do it, I help our overall grocery budget even out so that I can allow myself splurge months when the circumstances of life require it.
Learn how to Do a Pantry Challenge.
Are you interested in eating down the pantry, saving money, and making the most of what you have? Here are my best suggestions for getting started:
1. Read through my archives.
I typically keep a daily diary of how I feed my family of 8 during the challenge as a way of keeping record for myself as well as sharing with others some of the discoveries we make and lessons we learn.
You can read through the pantry challenge archives to get a taste of what our PC has been like the last year or two.
Read up on how to improve your Challenge experience in these posts:
- 7 Ways to Avoid Food Waste
- Tips for a Successful Pantry Challenge
- What You Can Learn from a Pantry Challenge
Here’s a video of the time I was on Good Morning America to talk about the PC and coach their reporter to do the same:
I’ve put together a quick and easy guide to help you eat down the pantry on your own. You can purchase the instant download here.
3. Sign up for my emails.
During each challenge month, I send out specific tips and tricks to help you make the most of the food you already have in your cupboards.
Sign up for the emails here.
4. Follow along during this year’s Pantry Challenge.
The next challenge will run from January 1 to January 31, 2021. You can find more details here.
You can follow along via my daily blog updates.
We’re going to have a great time this time round. I hope you’ll join us for the PC!