Eat from The Pantry Every Day for the Rest of Your Life: A Guest Post

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Today’s guest post is provided by Cheryl @ Moms In Need of Mercy. I appreciate Cheryl’s simple approach to meal planning and “eating from the pantry.”

I, along with many of you, took the “Eat from the Pantry Challenge.” And then I called it quits. For my family, the challenge offered a fun and creative way to take my menu-planning skills up a notch. But when it started feeling like we were in survival mode, and there was no natural disaster or financial emergency to force us into this mode, my husband asked me to stop the self-imposed challenge and return to the nearest grocery store.

While it may not seem like it, grocery shopping each week is indeed a Pantry Challenge. Every week I start a new challenge. At the end of every week, I finish that challenge and start another one. It’s called a menu plan.

At the start of the week, you may not have much on the shelves–especially if you’ve emptied your pantry these past several weeks. But as you write your menu around what you do have on hand and what is on sale, you’re creating a plan to stock those shelves and feed your family every day of the week. While many people plan only for their weekly dinners, challenge yourself to plan all of your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for the week.

Armed with this plan to stock your pantry, fridge and freezer, you’ll head to the store, spend some money, and eat from your stash all week long. By week’s end, your pantry will be getting bare again. That’s ok. You’ll head to the store again. The challenge comes in sticking to your plan.

Effective planning and pantry eating also involves stocking up when you see meats and staples on sale for absolute rock-bottom prices. You will use these as a starting point in your menu plan, heading to the store only for missing meal ingredients. As you become more savvy at stocking your pantry and planning your menu from what’s inside, your grocery cart will not be very full—and that’s a good thing, especially at check-out! Plus, a well-stocked pantry offers you the flexibility to veer from the plan with what’s on hand without going to the store.

If you have emptied your pantry during the challenge, you may be wondering how you’re going to replenish everything—much less pay for it. Take it week by week. Unless you’re preparing for long-term emergency survival, buy only what you need for the week (and extra items on sale, as your budget permits).

While this may feel unsettling at first, if you’re planning properly and shopping accordingly, you can rest assured you’ll have everything you need to feed your family for the week–and it will all be stashed away nicely in your pantry. Challenge yourself to faithfully execute the plan. You’ll soon realize just how easy it is to do an “Eat from the Pantry Challenge” every week for the rest of your life!

— Cheryl Hackett traded the glamour of her job as a news anchor for the glory of motherhood (she now keeps busy with three boys under five). Cheryl writes Moms In Need of Mercy, a blog aimed at providing practical help and encouragement for women in the areas of homemaking, parenting, marriage, saving money, and finding grace in everyday (and often messy) moments with kids.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  1. I love this post! I didn’t have a pantry or freezer full of food to feed my family for a month, but what I did was take a good look at what we did have and plan 15 meals I could use without buying any additional ingredients from the store. Each week, I tried to incorporate one or two of those meals so that I was only buy additional ingredients for the remaining 5 or so meals each week.

    It was great! We still used our $50 weekly budget in full, but most of it went to stocking up. Now, we have several boxes of cereal, oatmeal, granola bars and many jars of pasta sauce, mayo, etc. In fact the next week or two all I’ll need to buy for food is milk & fresh produce. It was great challenging myself in a way I knew we could do it. We don’t have a deep freeze or meals made ahead of time, but from one large bag of chicken breasts I bought on sale, we got a lot of meals planned!

    I’ve been learning a lot from all these sites and I am truly grateful (as is our bank account) 🙂

  2. Great read; this is just my style. Different strokes for different folks, right? 🙂

  3. Wonderful thank you so much for the post. At times I feel like a failure when it comes to keeping the pantry stocked. I feel like everyone else has endless supplies of everything, and because of my budget I don’t. I know it may sound weird but that is how I feel. Now I feel like I am a normal person filling the pantry each week … one week at a time!!!

  4. I am glad I did not do the pantry challenge because at the end of the month we DID have emergency-like conditions. I live in the DC areas and we were hit with 30 inches of snow. The stores were cleaned out of many items just before the storm. Now we are getting another storm today! Now I need to live from the pantry for real so it’s good I didn’t do it when I didn’t need to!

  5. I was searching for a good book to help me get through my diet. In the end I googled it and found this site

    They are giving away a free ebook called “365 tips for healthy living”. I didn’t expect it to be any good because it’s free but it’s actually brilliant so I thought i’d share it here 🙂

  6. Cheryl,

    Thanks for linking to your interview with me!

    We stopped shopping again after December 18th (and on that day all I bought was sugar). Since then, I had a chance to go shopping once and spend $30 last week–and that’s it.

    I was bummed that I couldn’t go more often, but, honestly, the sales haven’t been that good here, so my lack of money hasn’t had me feeling too bad, because things aren’t at their lowest prices, anyway!

    My bread making skills are continuing to improve, and I’m still trying out new recipes, even though I’ve done this before for 2 years.

    I expect a tight budget for quite some time. If I get to go shopping again this month, or next month at all, it will be great! If not, it will still be great! We still have plenty of variety to eat. Our garden is starting to come in (several months late, but this time I’ve got empty jelly canning jars over my seedlings to protct them from being munched!), and we’re looking forward to the new vegetables.

    Having more than a month’s worth of food is a great blessing when income levels drop.

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