Take the pantry challenge to help you save money on food and groceries. If you’ve never heard of this concept before, the pantry challenge is where you use up the food that you have on hand before buying more.
It can be easy to do and it may need some creativity, but the pantry challenge is a great way to save money and help you spend less on food. If you are working with a tight budget, you can take the pantry challenge to see how much you can save by using the food and ingredients you already have on hand.
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What is the Pantry Challenge?
The pantry challenge is when you concentrate on using the food and the ingredients you have on hand in the fridge, cabinets, or freezer before you purchase new foods. It is not only a great way to save money, but it’s a great way to declutter your cabinets.
What are the Benefits of the Pantry Challenge?
There are a lot of different benefits to taking the pantry challenge. Let’s go over a few of those so that you can see if the pantry challenge is something you may be interested in doing.
- It helps you waste less food. This could be one of the ways you’re wasting money without realizing it.
- You will spend less on groceries because you are using the items you already have on hand. You may even be able to spend no money on groceries.
- It allows you to get creative with your recipes. For instance, you may find a creative way to substitute evaporated milk to make a dessert or dish that tastes better than it normally would.
- Gives you the chance to try new foods or find new food combinations that you may not normally try.
- You can create flavorful dishes by trial and error and make saving money fun.
How Long Should You Take the Pantry Challenge?
You can take part in the pantry challenge for as long as you’d like. Many challenges last anywhere from 1 week to a month. We like to do the pantry challenge throughout the year. Some like to take the challenge once a year or after special occasions.
This year, I think we may try to do a 30 day challenge that we found on The Purposeful Pantry, just to see if it is something we can do. We love a good challenge!
Best tips on when to do the pantry challenge:
- After the holidays are over and there are plenty of leftover foods or ingredients stocked in the pantry. You may have saved money on Thanksgiving dinner by stocking up on pantry items, but there could be plenty of food leftover in the pantry.
- In January to get a fresh start for the year.
- When you notice expiration dates are coming up.
- When you are running low on space for food after stocking your pantry.
- During the first part of spring, summer, fall, and winter.
- It can be a great way to clear out your pantries and freezer to make room for new fresh food like frozen raspberries.
How to Take the Pantry Challenge?
There really are no specific rules that you need to follow in order to take the pantry challenge so you can make your own rules.
Some families like to take the pantry challenge by using items from the pantry and purchasing only fresh food like fruits and veggies. This is not something we do because we do the pantry challenge to save as much money as we can and if we are still buying food, it’s not much of a money saver.
However, since you can make your own rules for the pantry challenge, you can do what you prefer and what works best for your family. Once you establish the rules though, be sure to stick with them when you take the pantry challenge. This is important!
Here are some general tips to get you prepare to take the pantry challenge:
Start by creating a list of all the ingredients you have in your pantry, freezer, and fridge. Write down everything. Yes.. everything! You need to know everything you have on hand when you take the pantry challenge.
Then, create a meal plan for the week, or however long you want to do the pantry challenge, using only those ingredients you wrote down. You can grab these free weekly meal planners to help create your plan.
Get creative with your recipes and be sure to use as many different ingredients as possible.
- Extra chocolate chips? Try out this chocolate chip French toast or this collection of recipes using chocolate chips.
- Yeast? Make your own homemade bread.
- Depression Era Peanut Butter Bread is a great way to use up extra peanut butter.
- Have some frozen fruit that needs used? Try making a peach cobbler or waffle bowl using the frozen fruit you have on hand.
- Oatmeal can be used for breakfast, to make healthy snacks, or to make no bake cookies. (These vanilla no bakes are easy and don’t require many ingredients.
- Baking ingredients can be used to make a variety of different cheap desserts. If you have lots of sugar, homemade frosting is a great way to use it.
- If you have some extra rice krispie cereal on hand, we have a fun selection of rice krispie treats.
- Pasta? Check out this deviled egg pasta recipe or baked mac and cheese to make a delicious side or main dish.
- Popcorn chicken in the freezer? See these delicious recipes you can make with popcorn chicken.
- Frozen meat? Try out these Asian chicken wings, ground beef instant pot recipes, burrito bowls, stir fry dinners, chicken fried steak, shredded chicken sandwiches, pulled pork, or garlic beef.
You can even prepare and cook all of your meals during the pantry challenge. If you are using items that are expiring soon or have fresh meat in the fridge, you can freeze meals for later.
If you run out of an ingredient when you take the pantry challenge, don’t worry, you can take a look at your items on hand and substitute it with something else.
Take the Pantry Challenge!
Taking the pantry challenge is a fantastic way to eat and find meals when you are on a budget. You may make delectable, nutritious meals for your family without spending with a little preparation and imagination. You may find new favorites and the best part is that you will be wasting less and spending less.