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Meal Planning: The Benefits of a Pantry Challenge

Posted By Jessica Fisher On January 9, 2011 @ 2:00 pm In Meal Planning,Pantry Challenge | 20 Comments

[4] I’m entering week two of the pantry challenge [5]. And you know something? I haven’t told my family. And I don’t think they’ve noticed anything different.

We also haven’t run out of milk. That could be part of it. Only time will tell for sure.

But, even though I made some grocery purchases [6] this past week, I spent almost half of what I normally spend. Which has me thinking…. what have I been buying?

There’s a growing list on the fridge of things I’ve run out of, but haven’t found a good sale to justify buying more.

As I think of this Pantry Challenge [5], here are some of the benefits I am gaining from it:

Spend Less Money

I’ve set the grocery budget at $400 for the month, for groceries for our family of 8. This is $200 less than we normally spend each month on groceries. (We have a separate eating out budget that covers 2-3 meals of take-out per week.)

This past week, I went under budget, but we are rich in food [6]. I have 10 pounds of potatoes, 10 pounds of bananas, 3 chickens, 5 pounds of butter, 6 pounds of cranberries, 6 pounds of apples, and other random items to show for it.

I think we’ll do okay on “less.”

[7]

Renewed Enjoyment of Bargain Shopping

Since I have less to work with, I seem to be more excited about the challenge of stretching what I do have. Great finds like buck twenty-five butter and 69 cent cranberries [6] can do that to a girl.

I look forward to the hunt in a way that I didn’t back in December. Since I “don’t have to have it,” I don’t feel pressured to buy.

Increased Creativity in the Kitchen

While last week’s meals were rather plain, they were still tasty. And I enjoyed getting creative with  different dishes and making sure we enjoyed the meal — even if it was missing a standard ingredient or two. I felt like an adventurer making things I’d never made before like Cheesy Chowder with Butternut Squash [8].

More Intentionality

Thanks to the Challenge [5], I am making sure to plan better, to pull things from the freezer in advance, to count the hours before dinner and do I need to start the bread machine? Normally, I can get neglectful about those things.

The boundaries of my budget and the commitment I made not to go over help me not to just rush to the store for convenience items or to run through take-out. Plus, having an audience keeps me on the straight and narrow. ;)

That said, here’s my meal plan for the week:

9. Beef Enchiladas [9], Beans, Rice [10], Salad

10. Pasta with Red Sauce [11], Green Beans, Cornbread [12]

11. Beans and Rice [10]

12. Shredded Beef [13], Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Green Salad, Biscuits [14]

13. Soup Night [15], Popovers

14. Grilled Chicken, Rice Pilaf [16], Green Salad

15. Tamales [17], Rice, Beans, Salad

Are you taking the Pantry Challenge?

How do you make the most of what you have?

For more meal planning inspiration, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie. [18]


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[4] Image: http://lifeasmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/pantry-challenge-copy.jpg

[5] the pantry challenge: http://lifeasmom.com/2011/01/join-the-pantry-challenge.html

[6] some grocery purchases: http://lifeasmom.com/2011/01/how-to-build-your-pantry-on-a-budget-grocery-geek-presents.html

[7] Image: http://lifeasmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Butter.jpg

[8] Cheesy Chowder with Butternut Squash: http://goodcheapeats.com/2011/01/pantry-challenge-2011-day-three/

[9] Beef Enchiladas: http://lifeasmom.com/2010/08/favorite-crockpot-recipe-shredded-beef.html

[10] Beans, Rice: http://goodcheapeats.com/2009/06/good-cheap-eat-beans-and-rice/

[11] Red Sauce: http://lifeasmom.com/2010/04/homemade-croutons-shredded-chicken-and-red-sauce.html

[12] Cornbread: http://lifeasmom.com/2011/01/buttermilk-cornbread-other-whole-grain-recipes-ultimate-recipe-swap.html

[13] Shredded Beef: http://goodcheapeats.com/2009/06/shredded-beef-filling/

[14] Biscuits: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/06/garlic-parmesan-swirl-biscuits/

[15] Soup Night: http://lifeasmom.com/2010/10/soups-stews-and-chilis-an-ultimate-recipe-swap.html

[16] Rice Pilaf: http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/11/simple-rice-pilaf/

[17] Tamales: http://lifeasmom.com/2008/12/chicken-tamales.html

[18] I’m an Organizing Junkie.: http://orgjunkie.com/category/menu-plan-monday

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