The 2020 Pantry Challenge

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Ready for the 2020 Pantry Challenge? This month we’re going to work together to eat down the pantry, avoid food waste, and save some money. Are you in?

spice containers from the pantry

Here we are, one foot into a new year. I’m excited for what’s coming, mainly because the new year gives us a fresh start.

On the home front, we’ve got big things up ahead:

  • our third son is graduating from high school
  • we’re replacing our 2001 SUV with a newer-but-used minivan
  • we’re planning another European adventure

Money-wise, these things are big things. Plus, we’ve got retirement accounts to fund, and I’m sure someone will need braces.

This means that even though we’re debt-free, I can’t throw caution to the wind when it comes to household spending. I’d much rather enjoy simple meals at home so that I can live it up in London.

How about you? Have you got big things coming up in the new year? Looking for ways to pay for them? How about saving money on groceries to free up the cash for better things?

As I mentioned the other day, we’re full steam ahead with the Good Cheap Eats Grocery Savings Challenges, designed to help every household cut back on food costs without sacrificing great taste at the table.

Each month we’re going to tackle a different method of saving money on groceries. I’ll offer guidance along the way in the form of recipes and tips as well as share my experience with that particular skill.

Over the course of the year, you’ll have enjoyed a lower grocery budget as well as developed some hardcore skills to help you eat well no matter what’s going on with your bank account.

Be sure to download your tracker with the full list of challenges if you haven’t already. 

Remember, that I’m not the boss of you.

You are. I’m just here to help. That said, I may offer some hard-hitting advice on the topic of saving money on groceries, making do, using up leftovers, and otherwise adulting in the kitchen. #justsaying

You aren’t required to participate in every challenge (though I hope you will). These challenges cover the kitchen skills that I have used successfully over the last decade to get us out of debt and keep us out.

I know that you will end up a wiser, richer person for having done these challenges.

Ready? On to our first challenge!

banner for the pantry challenge

The 2020 Pantry Challenge

Our first challenge starts this weekend on Saturday, January 4, 2020. Over the course of four weeks, we here in the Good Cheap Eats Community will be working on using up what we have in the pantry, fridge, and cupboards in order to:

  • avoid waste
  • save money on groceries
  • combat overbuying
  • clean out the cupboards
  • give our kitchens a refresh
  • anything and everything else that you deem worthy for your pantry challenge.

How you walk out the 2020 Pantry Challenge is really going to depend on you.

You may be taking it slowly, learning how to shop your pantry before buying groceries.

Maybe you’ll proceed through the month, learning to make your favorite convenience foods from scratch or finding creative substitutes for ingredients you run out of.

You may want to go ninja level and eat down your food storage to the bare bones.

Do what suits you best in this season.

canned goods in pantry

The Basics to a Pantry Challenge

To get you started, consider these basic steps to running a pantry challenge:

1. Take inventory of what you have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry.
2. Clean and organize as you go so it’s easy to find things when you’re ready to cook.
3. Brainstorm recipes that make good use of what you already have.
4. Create a supplemental grocery list to fill out your meal plans.
5. Do some meal prep in advance to give yourself a head start.

A monthlong pantry challenge is more of a marathon than a sprint. Don’t wear yourself out at the beginning. Take things slowly and exercise some creativity. Save something really yummy for the end.

What do I make with…?

Got questions about a funky ingredient you need to use up? Leave a comment on any of the pantry challenge posts this month and I (or one of the other pantry challengers) will help you find ways to use it up.

As always, be sure to browse the Pantry Challenge archives to get more information and timely helps.

For even more meal planning inspiration, download this FREE recipe idea generator to help you meal plan during a Pantry Challenge.

laptop screen with meal planner open

I curated 30 of my favorite pantry challenge meals in one digital resource. And it’s yours — for FREE.

Every square on the planner is clickable and will take you to a recipe here on Good Cheap Eats that uses basic pantry staples. You can print it, of course, but you’ll lose the clickable function. 

If you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, you should find this file in your inbox. Check spam if you can’t find it.

If you’re not on my mailing list yet, head here to sign up and get the meal idea generator or just drop your email in the box below.

A Yearly Pantry Challenge

I’ve been doing a January Pantry Challenge every year since 2008 or 2009. It always proves to be a great way for me to exercise creativity in the kitchen, eat down the excess in our cupboards, and save money – sometimes as much as half our monthly budget!

Check out this video from Good Morning America:

Jessica Fisher on Good Morning America

Eating Down the Pantry: How to Save by Eating Just What’s in Your Cupboard | ABC News – Good Morning America

step by step photos for making burrito filling

My Goals for the Pantry Challenge this Year

I know from experience that a pantry challenge can help me save big money, especially if I’m willing to knuckle down and really use up what we have.

However, every season calls for different practices, and “rules” if you will. These dictate my goals for each challenge and how I approach it.

Here are some of my specific goals for this year’s challenge:

1. Eat veggies most! 

I lost over 20 pounds in 2019 and hope to keep it off in 2020. Eating lots of fresh veggies and lean protein helped me accomplish this.

I’m going to try to stick to my #veggiesmost practices for the pantry challenge, instead of the carbo-loading of years past. That said, I am going to try to be wise about my spending, using what we have first but also shopping sales in order to keep our January spending low.

Depending on prices and availability, I may be buying more frozen and canned, but I don’t think that will be the case. I do live in San Diego county.

2. Use up the weird stuff.

Late last winter, my Ralphs grocery store closed down. In the last month or so that they were open, they clearanced a lot of foods. I stocked up on things that I wouldn’t normally buy, like certain Asian noodles or almond paste, because they were great prices and I’d always wanted to play with them.

Now’s the time to play. I’m really excited to make these almond horns.

3. Slim down our storage.

Thanks to the holidays, every possible storage space is filled to the brim. It’s time to use it up and determine a new normal. 

Since I started baking all our sandwich bread, I keep a significant supply of flour on hand, typically in the freezer. This encroaches on my freezer cooking jam, so I need to find a happy medium of ingredients to keep on hand versus prepped foods — or find a different way to store things.

My basic rules for myself:

  • cook as much at home as sanely possible
  • shop the pantry first
  • make an extra effort to use up all the stuff stashed away
  • don’t sacrifice our good veggie habits.

grocery bags in back seat of car

Take the Pantry Challenge & Get the Chance to Win!

Now, just by virtue of doing a pantry challenge, you automatically win in terms of money savings and increased kitchen prowess. 😉

But, wait, there’s more!

Everyone who participates in this month’s challenge is also entered to win free groceries.

Three winners will each receive a $25 gift card from one of a selection of stores.

Complete the form below for your main entry. Extra, optional entries can be gained from the following:

  • leaving a comment on any pantry challenge post
  • sharing about your challenge on your public Instagram account and tagging me @jessicagfisher
  • sharing about your challenge on Facebook, making it public and tagging Good Cheap Eats.

Okay, this post has gone on long enough. Ready to get started? Tell me.

What will you do during the 2020 Pantry Challenge?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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Comments

  1. Lizzy Jahncke says

    I’m quite sure that my pantry and freezer foods won’t stretch to a month, but I’m definitely shopping them first all month long. I actually had to do quite a bit of shopping between Christmas and New Year for a variety of life reasons. While doing that we scored a ham at super low pricing. I can get A LOT out of a ham, so I’m excited to have that here at the beginning of the PC. I’d like to eat things down to the bare bones and use up unusual ingredients. One exception will be my gluten free flours. I like to keep these on hand for a variety of reasons even though we don’t need to eat gluten free. I don’t want to use them up for the sake of using them up because they are there to serve me when I need them for feeding others or for special projects.

    I WILL have to shop for vegetables a lot. I’m trying to eat more and more vegetables. I have a #veggiesmost goal, but I haven’t figured out how to make it work for me. Hubby wants to lose weight, so he may find himself eating #veggiesmost, too.

    I think my biggest challenge will be snacks. With school age kids — one who has snack time in class — I need snacks daily. They can get expensive and take over the pantry.

    I’d like to come in at 2/3 the USDA thrifty food price guidelines for my family size. I’m not saving for anything, just trying to actually fit inside our (very small) income.

    • Great goals, Lizzy! I think you can be really proactive with homemade snacks if you’ve got room in the freezer. The PC seems to be the time when my kids snack on popcorn a lot.

  2. Kristin says

    Thank you so much for taking the time to put together the meal idea generator for free! Thsi will be helpful in future months, too – not just for a pantry challenge.

    I feel like you’re my partner in feeding my family of 14, and I’m so grateful!

    • I am! So glad you’re finding it helpful! 🙂

      • Kristin says

        There are times I feel so defeated in the midst of picky eaters, a tight budget, and a husband who tell me that “soup isn’t food” or “homemade broth smells terrible while cooking” or “can’t we just get some take out Chinese”. . . I try to smile and not see them as my enemies! I use soooo many of your recipes and tips, and I’m grateful for the pantry challenge in January. A great way to start my year! My freezer is bursting – and it’s time to get in there with a CSA mindset I’ve cultivated over the years – seeing what I have and using it to the best of my ability. I am so grateful for you and your blog and your cookbooks, Jessica!

  3. Julie Smith says

    Loose goals: Use up the canned food that needs to be rotated out, and shop the freezer meats first. I won’t include hubby’s keto convienence foods in this because that’d be stressful on me. LOL. Accomplishing these goals over the course of the month will be counted as a win for me.

  4. Peggy McGhehey says

    Have a variety ofchicken galore in our freezer! We like to BBQ so will do beer can chicken for the whole birds. I’m thinking chicken salad, stuffed breasts, lollipop drumsticks, and a few simple casseroles. I have a variety of rice, dried beans and pasta this challenge will make me use it up! ?

  5. Carol says

    I am eager to eat down the freezers and eat up the pantry,. Like some of the rest, though, I also want to keep vegetables as a priority. Well, we’ll just do the best we can!

  6. Jessica Hard says

    I am excited for this! I need to tidy up my pantry and see what’s really in there. I imagine there is more meat in my freezer than I think there is. We will for sure need some dairy and produce though!

    • Yes, be sure to allow yourself to supplement. That’s what helps you go the distance.

  7. Melinda says

    I plan to use up what’s lurking in the pantry, along with making more snacks for my kids instead of buying their usual crackers, chips, etc. I want to dedicate the money saved by doing that to buying more produce.

  8. Deborah Ann Tuszkiewicz says

    I am eager to work on my overflowing pantry. I am especially looking forward to improving my meal planning skills.

    • I find that a PC really helps me be more creative in my meal planning. Can’t wait to see how you grow in that!

  9. Marie Falzone says

    What to do with all these random.cans of beans?

    • Chili, burritos, soups, salads, dip. Pace yourself, so you don’t get sick of them.

    • Elisa Rasmussen says

      Hi, Marie! As a vegetarian, I practically live on beans. In addition to Jessica’s recommendations, let me add that various kinds of beans and rice are a staple food in Louisiana, where I grew up, and in a lot of international cuisines, too. (Indian is one of my favorites. Try dal or channa masala.) Also, pasta and beans for Italian food. And mixing black beans into taco meat will make it stretch and still taste authentic. Hope you have some great meals!

  10. Courtney says

    I picked up some close dated meats in December that I threw in my freezer that I’d like to use in January. My goal is twofold. Eat through our freezer/pantry with veggies only purchases, (and maybe cheese). And second, make a note of what things we didn’t like/want to eat/ had an overabundance of so I can eliminate those things from my list. Sometimes I think we end up with things in the pantry that hang around because they were a good deal but no one wants them.

    • I have a few of those things. I find that a Pantry Challenge always makes me a smarter shopper going forward.

  11. Maureen says

    My main goal is to re-organize and inventory everything I have (and defrost the deep freeze), which might not be finished by the end of January. Things are out of control. But, I also plan to focus on reducing waste and increasing health. So, planning and prepping will be the keys to success (and will hopefully prevent me from spending too much time in the kitchen trying to meet my goals). I’m excited to get started.

  12. Lauren says

    My goal is to work down the reserves and save money to put towards our family summer vacation!

  13. Michelle says

    In theory, I understand how a pantry challenge could save money for the month. However, once the pantry is emptied at the end of the month… won’t February’s grocery bill be high when you restock? I do not have an overflowing pantry. I keep a few cans/boxes of the items we frequently use on hand, and when those get low, I buy one or two to replace. Is this just a money saving strategy for those that stockpile food?

    • I think it really depends on what your normal shopping strategies are. I think most people buy more than they need on a regular basis “just in case”. So eventually, that extra adds up to be something you need to pare down.

      I shop the sales and buy things that we use at good prices before we need them. That’s how I keep our bills low in the first place. Overtime, I’ve got a mini store in my kitchen to shop from. During January, I focus on cleaning that out so things don’t hang out too long without being used.

      If you’re a pretty trim shopper, in the sense that you already use up what you’ve got so that the “cupboard is bare” often, then this may not be for you. Only you can decide.

      If anything, you could plan meals based on what you have so that you know things are getting used up in good time. Hope that helps!

  14. Kelly in Texas says

    We have a STUFFED pantry and freezer. My goal is to make sure that every day we use at least one freezer item and one pantry item!

  15. We are taking inventory of freezer and pantry items and building our menu around those things. Looking forward to following along with the challenge as we start of 2020 on a good foot!

  16. Elisa Rasmussen says

    I’m single and have only myself to feed, and I could probably go a LOT longer than a month on what’s in my freezer and pantry. (4 pounds of lentils! 9 pounds of pasta! and I’m not even going to tell you how many containers of CSA tomatoes I froze last summer.) So, yes, the goal is to cook more and use up as much of that as possible – and probably to make room in the freezer for extra servings of cooked meals to stretch through the rest of the winter.

  17. Andrea G says

    We just moved in November so I haven’t really stocked up on much. But I did make a list of meals I could make with minimal ingredients still needed to purchase. If I buckle down I think I could stretch to three weeks.

  18. Alice E says

    I’m planning to join the challenge. Still considering my goals, since I’m just starting to recover from a bad cold. One of the things I occasionally do is make a list of possible meals that we like to encourage me not to get stuck in a rut. This year I think I’ll copy it into a spreadsheet and organize it into sections based on protein probably. I’m pretty sure my goals will include eating more beans and rice as well as more veggies and fruit.

  19. Pat says

    I’m ready to start but have to go shopping first–LOL.
    I just got done working the Holiday Season at Omaha Steaks and lets just say that my veggie and fruit supply are really lacking. Right now–I have 2 bags of corn and a bag of brussel sprouts. For fruit there is a can of pineapple. Wow that’s sad!
    Luckily there are great sales at Fresh Thyme and Aldi that I will take advantage of to stock up on veggies and get some fruit. Also there is a great sale on boneless skinless chicken breasts at Aldi for $1.49lb in the family packs with a limit of 4. Last week I used the last of the chicken so I’ll be buying that as well.
    Otherwise we are good in all food groups and should be able to get thru the challenge without much shopping.

  20. Stephanie M. says

    Hi Jessica,

    I’m glad to be participating in the pantry challenge once again, even though, I have worked very hard to not overstuff my freezer/pantry too much anymore. I already made a list of what’s in the freezer and I have a planner to write down my weekly meal plans. While I don’t have an overabundance of things in the freezer, the challenge keeps me on board with using the things that are in there rather than adding to it.

  21. Rebekah says

    Wait! When was that GMA segment? That’s so cool! You’re famous! ( :

    Our freezers, fridge, pantry, and shelves are packed. Mostly with junk, sorry to say, but there’s a lot of good stuff in there, too. I plan to go all month with the PC and just buy fresh fruits and veggies as needed. My husband packs a big salad every day for lunch so I need to stay on top of the lettuce supply.

    We’re debt free and just bought our new-to-us mini-van, but there’s always a travel plan a-brewing. I’ve got 3 kids heading off on an international missions trip this summer and we have another whole family big trip planned, as well. Saving a few bucks at the grocery store never feels like a lot when I’m inside Aldi, but it really does make a difference with the bottom line in the big picture. If I spend $50 for fresh fruit at Aldi (family of 7 here) instead of spending $70 per week, that’s really only a couple of “impulse” items. However, it’s a $20 savings every week. Times 52 weeks a year and that equals over $1000!!!! That’s a whole plane ticket to Europe just for putting down the fancy steak and picking up the roast! Plus, we just re-evaluated our internet / phone service and saved $40 / month.

    I appreciate the pantry challenges every year because they really help me to look again at how I’m spending our money. It helps us to save REAL bucks and make little changes that add up to big differences in our family’s lifestyle. I’m off to make a list of what’s in that scary freezer downstairs….

  22. Katie says

    When I came home from the grocery store last week and went to put a box in the freezer, it was a shock to find that both of them were packed full! We started our pantry challenge on Jan 2nd, because we HAD to! I also do a lot of home canning and the jars have taken over the guest room. I do have a lot of baking ingredients stashed away in the freezer, but I want to work on using up the other stuff and not letting it go to waste.

    My goals this month: 1. clean out one freezer completely 2. Make a full inventory of food in the house 3. Clean out the jar-infested guest room for expected company 4. Eat at home as much as possible (we have a vacation and soccer season starting, so this will be a major challenge) 5. Keep grocery spending to under $70/wk, while upping our vegetable consumption

  23. I stock for the year. Our goal is to eat mainly from our own pantry and then restock with local grown meat and produce either we grow or Amish around us.

  24. Heather Lawless says

    I’m looking forward to eating the food in my freezer and pantry. Learning how best to save on my food purchases.

  25. Kathy in Denmark says

    I am in – it’s become tradition to do the PC for me, and I really enjoy it every year 🙂
    I would like to use up some things that have been lurking in the freezer and pantry and also make room for some freezer meals to help us out when I don’t feel like cooking or don’t have time.
    Great to see so many signing up – hope everyone has a great PC!

    Kathy in Denmark

    • So glad you’re joining us again, Kathy. Someday I’m coming to see you!

      • Kathy in Denmark says

        You’ll be more than welcome!

  26. Kathy from Ohio says

    I’m in for this year and am determined to work down my 3 freezers and pantry!

  27. Sarah says

    Love me a good pantry challenge! Glad to be joining you all again! My goals will be consistent lunch meal prep with what we already have on hand, shopping much less, and eating dinner at home each day. I easily lean on my hectic work schedule as a reason to take the easy road and eat out, but no more! New year, new habits! I hope all of you have a successful challenge, and thank you, Jessica, for hosting us!

  28. Eileen E White says

    More than anything I want to get organized and use up food instead of tossing it. I fall back on the same frozen, no prep things and I’m in a rut with what I eat.

    • The Pantry Challenge is a great way to exercise your creativity and get your mojo back! Glad you’re joining us!

  29. Karen says

    I just finished cleaning out the pantry and getting rid of all the old, expired food (apparently the last time I did that was 2016 – gross!). Made a list of all the open/recently expired things that really need to be used up so I can start from an organized place! Thanks for hosting this – it was a big help last year and I know it will be this year, too!

    • Terry calkins says

      Hi everyone. Nice to see so many new names on the challenge. I’ve been pantry challenging for two years. My goal is to feed the two of us, plus paper, cleaning and pet food for 100 dollars a month. Last year my total was 1328.30 for the year. I was over a bit. Have to try harder this year. We do have a big garden, chickens and fruit trees. My freezers and pantry are stuffed so I need to get on board again. We never eat out. Well twice in eleven years for biscuits and gravy but no more since hubby makes fabulous sausage and my biscuits are pretty good.
      I appreciate reading everyone else’s ideas and the wisdom that Jessica so freely shares with us. Here’s to a great new year. Terry

    • yay! Can’t wait to see your accomplishments!

  30. Laurie Gaither says

    I cleaned out and organized the panty. My three freezers (10 cu ft chest, top freezer and bottom freezer) are a different story. I want to eat them down. I plan to purchase produce, dairy and eggs. This will probably carry over to February and March too.

  31. Janet says

    The fridge does not have much, but the pantry is overflowing. We have lots of potatoes, rice, pasta, and crackers that need to be used up. We also have more than a dozen assorted boxes of tea bags. Every year during the holidays I get 2 or 3 food gift baskets. It seems they always have some type of tea or coffee included. We also have lots of baking supplies. Our goal is to cut our grocery budget by half this month and cut the restaurant budget by half. If we are successful we should save $500.

    Question for the group: Can anyone recommend a good gluten free recipe for pizza dough? We used to have pizza night several times a month, before we found out our daughter has a gluten allergy. Something we all miss. I have not found a good gluten free frozen pizza either. They all taste like cardboard.

  32. Karen J says

    I look forward to pantry challenge every year! Thanks for hosting. We are taking our two children, spouses, and four grandchildren to Maui in June so savings from this month will go into the travel fund.
    My goals for this year.
    1. spend $25 or less on groceries this month-I have LOTS of overstocked food
    2. bake my own bread, hamburger buns, etc. when I run out of bought bread
    3. use up the odd stuff
    4. be creative (I actually think we eat better during a PC due to more planning on my part.)
    I love this every January as a reset to my usual overbuying of groceries.

    • What a fun trip! Maui was pricier than I imagined, so definitely stash away the cash. And I recommend the Safeway in Lahaina over Times or ABC. 😉

  33. Linda Hanson says

    This is the best site for keeping your costs down and still enjoying your meals

  34. Belinda Van DE Griendt says

    It sounds so obvious, but I need to meal plan from my freezer and pantry! I’ve gotten into a lazy habit of meal planning, then seeing what I have, and buying what else I need. The problem with this is that the freezer just never gets emptied.
    So meal planning and shopping from my kitchen is my goal.
    I’d also like to see if I can go two weeks buying only fresh fruit, veg and dairy – everything else out of the freezer and pantry.

  35. Diane Gigandet says

    I have been implementing minimalization in my life since my 2 sons moved out last year. Still have some grocery items in the freezer and cupboard that I purchased before they moved out. A pantry challenge will definitely help with this.

  36. Dennise Fields says

    I’m working on eating what we have in the freezers and pantry! I pulled frozen ground beef and spaghetti sauce today and it’s defrosting for supper!
    If I behave myself the only items I’ll need from the store this month is heavy cream, eggs and salad fixings!

  37. Amy Schmelzer says

    My biggest goal is to hack away at the frozen fruits that I put up this summer, the summer before, and sadly, the summer before that. I froze rhubarb, pumpkin, zucchini, concord grapes, sour cherries, and more with the intention of using them in desserts and other baked goods. Nobody needs that many pies! I thawed pumpkin and zucchini to transform into muffins a couple days ago. Now the muffins are in the freezer and taking up more space than before! No worries though. My kids will eat them for breakfast, pack them in their lunches, and snack on them after school this week and next. I am thinking of turning the grapes into jam which is something my kids eat weekly on their oatmeal and in their pb&j’s.

  38. Nancy says

    Thanks so much for hosting this PC again. I always do a big stock up in Nov and Dec when prices are lowest so I plan to spend $200 a month for my family of four in January and February and eat from this surplus. Grocery discount stores are a great source for incredibly cheap fruits and vegetables.

  39. Jennifer says

    My pantry and freezers are a mess! I keep buying things that I think I am out of and then find later. So I have extra of lots of things. Plus, saving money is a plus. My husband and I are going to London in March, so it will be nice to have extra money for that!

    • London is wonderful. Keep that in your mind when you tell yourself not to go to the store!

  40. Robin Meroney says

    This weekend , I emptied out the chest freezer and the kitchen refrigerator freezer . I layed everything on a large table , and wrote up a freezer inventory for each freezer . This week I plan on doing an inventory of the food in my cabinets . My plan is to buy only dairy products and fruits and vegetables . There is only two of us at home now . Why do I have enough food to feed a large army ?

    • Great progress! I think many of us overbuy. The PC is a great opportunity to rein that in.

  41. Danielle Zecher says

    I’m looking forward to seeing how you incorporate more veggies into the pantry challenge. I lost 50 pounds last year, and still have more to go. I love the idea of getting the pantry under control, but I also don’t want to revert back to our old eating habits. I’m trying to find a balance between using up what we have, spending less (I took a pay cut and we’re working on getting out of debt), and still eating healthier foods and losing more weight.

    • Congratulations, Danielle! That’s amazing!

      Off the cuff, I’d say that I have the advantage of having three teen boys who can still carbo-load. So, I’m using things up for their benefit. There isn’t a ton in the cupboard that I would consider “off limits” so it’s just a matter of balancing things and keeping fresh veggies on hand.

  42. Harriet says

    Late replying as we’ve been tooooo busy with life.
    We have 4 deer in the freezer. Need to eat venison at least 3 days a week. Pantry is not full, so I may have to buy some canned goods before the month is over.
    Hubby’s company is closing this month so we have no choice but to go on the challenge. He will be hunting a job this week.?
    We got this!!
    I enjoy reading everyone else’s reply’s. They are motivating.

    • Glad you’re joining us! Sorry to hear about the job, though. Here’s to a great new job!

  43. Kara says

    I am so excited for all the monthly challenges. Our family dynamic is changing (blending families) and planning a related home remodel and wedding. Saving money is important but so is the health of all family members. As far as this pantry challenge my biggest goals are to limit eating out and eliminate food waste.

  44. Alice says

    I’ve spent the last 2 days going through EVERYTHING in my kitchen, and I was shocked at how much I have!!! After writing it all down, I have put together a grand total of 21 FULL meals, and that’s not counting the leftovers, and a few random chicken breasts that I will use for my lunches. We have have already decided that we will only eat out once every pay week (twice a month). I really need to cut down our food budget and stop wasting, so I can’t thank you enough for these challenges!!!

  45. Lauren says

    Finally started organizing the pantry and I’m overwhelmed….with the candy and junk from holidays of the past year! I found Christmas candy from last year, Easter candy and Halloween candy!! Anyone have suggestions, can some of it be donated? I’ll probably chuck some of it because its just old but most of it is still good. But I just cant imagine using it all and not have our teeth rot out!
    Also found 2 huge cans of pineapple juice! Hubby will drink some but not sure he can get thru a whole can before it goes bad… looks like I’ll be doing a Google and pinterest search on uses for pineapple juice lol!!
    And the amount of pasta we have… I could feed an army! I’ll do lots of mac and cheese because my boys love it. But I want them to try new things more so adding pasta dishes to my search lol
    Havent organized my freezers yet and those are really what we need to work down!! Lots of beef (we get a side every year now, this is only our second time so still learning what we like and how to cook new things lol) and breads! Thankfully my hubby isnt a picky eater and the boys are into trying new things more now that they are getting older. This will definitely be a challenging pantry challenge!

    • I would focus on the food food and not stress out about the candy. Unless it was See’s, it likely was cheap. Focus on using the high value (nutrition and cost) items instead. Maybe just move the candy somewhere else so it doesn’t distract you.

    • Jayne Hunter says

      I freeze extra pineapple juice in ice cube trays. They’re good for smoothies or dishes like sweet and sour chicken.

  46. Michelle says

    I’m excited to participate in the challenge! We have a pretty well stocked pantry and freezer, but lately I haven’t been great about keeping track of what we have. Finally going to get organized and really commit to using what we already have!

  47. Laurie Decker says

    I obviously didn’t do a very good job of inventorying my freezer. There were two bags that I just knew were chicken leftovers for soup. Well, I was wrong! 1 bag with the chicken and 1 bag with 1# packages of ground beef. Same type of bags and of course, no labels on either. Soup in the making and the ground beef back in the freezer. Hamburgers, tacos, and cooked ground beef in my near future. I don’t make New Years resolutions but I now have one to follow. LABEL everything. You’d think I’d learn!!(At least I hadn’t thawed the ground beef yet!)

  48. Margaux Patel says

    I desperately need to clear out our small freezer. It’s full of frozen fish and random veggies. My organizer’s heart dies a little every time I open it. I’m sure that there is plenty tucked in the back of our pantry that can be used up too!

  49. Jodi says

    Have long loved your PC posts! I have dabbled but intend to jump in this time. Almost a year of unemployment and some really odd stuff in the larder mean it is time to get creative. Thankful to have your experience to guide this ship.

  50. Mona says

    I am excited to be back to try again to get control of all the goodies in the freezers. I am hoping to be able to defrost both of them in a couple months.

    • Julie says

      I am participating mostly to use up extras in the freezer. I cooked so many beans this summer and froze them so we are working on them. We are trying for $200 for 6 of us, all meals and snacks. I bake a lot from scratch and my 10 yr old also bakes a lot.

    • Julie says

      Sorry, I didn’t mean to reply to this specific comment.

  51. Nancy RO says

    I have tried to do a full pantry challenge month but get side tracked. Decided that now is the time to do it. Thank you for the inspiration!

  52. I typically have a fully stocked pantry because I hate going to the store for “just one thing”, but with a potential new house and move coming up I do NOT want to spend precious time and effort packing and unpacking a pantry! My goal for this month is to plan meals based around what I already have in the pantry and freezer and only buy produce and other ingredients necessary for meals that week. I’m excited to be a part of this challenge!

  53. Melinda says

    I want to eat down our freezer and our pantry, but that will not happen in just a month. It is just me and my husband, so we don’t consume it quickly. I like to buy things on sale and tend to buy too much as if it would never be on sale again. I am trying be more realistic.

    • Hang in there, Melinda. It takes some effort to adjust your shopping, but it can be done. Stephanie here in the Pantry Challenges has made tremendous strides over the years. She used to have three freezers full but she’s pared it down very nicely. I know you can do the same!

  54. sharon corbett says

    I was out of town when it started so I am starting it late but I have the inventory done and meal plans started, its just me and my husband and grand kids often so I have a large variety of stuff in my pantry I want to use up and empty the freezer and start fresh by spring

    I am looking forward to the challenges of this

  55. Lia says

    I’ve been in the habit of shopping the pantry for years now, so I don’t have too much of a surplus at this point. I do, however, really need to clean out and organize my pantry and freezer (and probably my fridge too), so that will be my focus. I’m sure I’ll find some things I need to use up, though! And maybe a few things that just need throwing out. Yep, it’s been that long. Ew.

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