Join the Pantry Challenge

The other day I mentioned how I am going to give my pantry (and my grocery budget) a little makeover this month. I hope to lower our January food costs and make the most of what we have.

And I want YOU to come along!

Don’t worry; I’m not asking you to eat yourself out of house and home. Promise!

Make the Most of What You Have This Month

  • For some that might mean digging deep into the cupboards and using up those odds and ends.
  • For others that might mean building a frugal pantry, scouting for good sales, and starting to stockpile items that you regularly use.
  • Still others might want to give the pantry an overhaul and remove unhealthy items and replace those with more wholesome alternatives.

Make this challenge fit YOU and YOUR life!

As for me, I’m going to attempt the following:

  • Spend $100 (or less) a week on groceries. (I currently average $150 per week for a family of 8.)
  • Focus on fresh produce and dairy.
  • Bake from scratch.
  • Eat up what’s in the freezer.
  • Build a better stockpile (healthier and more plentiful).

I’ll be posting daily updates on how it’s going over on my food blog, Good Cheap Eats.

(Since I’m busily making sure we empty our freezer, I won’t be filling my freezer this week. But, if you’re doing freezer cooking this month and would like to share you plans and progress, we’ll be talking freezer meals on Friday later this week.)

If you’d like to participate in the Pantry Challenge, just say so in the comments or link up your own blog post about taking the Pantry Challenge.

Remember: this is NOT a no-spend month. This is a month to get your ducks in a row as it concerns your pantry. Use it or add to it — it depends on what YOUR family needs most this month.

We’ll have another link up at the end of the month to share how we did and what we learned.

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  1. Im going to join in the sense that I’m going to:

    1. Completely clean out and organize my pantry (hubby is supposed to help me on Friday)
    2. Attempt to eat as much from the pantry as possible and buy as little groceries as possible.

    Next month I plan to start building a better pantry stock rather than the random stuff I always seem to end up with πŸ™‚

    • @Jenica @ Pumpkin’s Boutique,

      Jenica, I like your idea of “building a better pantry”. I cleaned out mine a couple of weeks ago and found some pretty strange stuff! I am focusing in only putting in the pantry what we will actually eat and now what looks good or is just so cheap I can’t pass it up. Good luck on the challenge.

  2. Stephenie says:

    I’m with Jenica! I organized my pantry the other night so I know what I have. My objective is to use up as much as I can from the pantry and freezer so I can start building a healthier pantry.

  3. So thankful for this challenge again this year. It helps me get my creativitiy in the kitchen back and save a little money too!

  4. I am very excited about this so far I have two weeks of meals planned without having to make any runs to the grocery store. :-).

  5. We are eating out of the freezer & pantry for the month of January. The only thing we’re purchasing at the store is basics such as milk, eggs & fresh produce. Both our garage freezer & the freezer attached to the frig are packed from the farm CSA we joined and our pantry is a mess.
    We tend to “hibernate” for the months of Jan & Feb anyway so we think it will be an easy task. Plus I can update my freezer list!

  6. What a great idea! Yesterday, I realized my grocery bill and my waistline both need reducing. This is my first year for the Pantry Challenge, so I am excited.

  7. You inspired me to inventory my pantry, freezer, and fridge. I still need to find out what storage vegetables I have left over from the CSA. My chief goal is to plan meals based on what I have rather than what comes to mind easily.

  8. For the last 4 years, we have not had sufficient income in January and February to buy groceries. Our income varies, and these months have been like this for a long time.

    Thankfully, I keep a well-stocked pantry, and I have plenty of meals that I can make just from pantry staples , as well as many more that also include items from my freezer and garden.

    So, for me, it’s a no-spend month! I will be reorganizing a few pantry shelves, but other than that, my main goal will be pruning my fruit trees, cleaning up dead stuff in my garden, fertilizing my fruit trees, and planting my spring crops!

  9. Sonja Drake says:

    This sounds so refreshing! I am in!

  10. This is too funny because we spent all last week making and freezing meals to clean out our pantry/freezer πŸ™‚ God is so good in directing me to your site to join up today~

  11. This is exactly what I need! My husband actually cooks most of our evening meals, so we can work together and clean the pantry. Another idea – clean out our freezer! I hate losing items to freezer burn and I know there are some odd packages in their we need to use!!

  12. Yes, count me in! I’m definitely up to the challenge! The last time I had a de-cluttered pantry was several years ago when my oldest daughter had a courtship guy come in from out of state…That courtship didn’t work. Maybe that’s why I never re-did my pantry! The trauma of it all threw this mama in a loop til this day! LOL


  13. I’m In! I have to find what is in the bottom of my deep freeze! Plus I am trying to cut my food bill down two thirds. That means $75 evey 2 weeks. It’s a big goal I know, but I think we can do it. Lots of venison, and other meats in the freezer will make it possible. This is how I got hooked on your blog last year.

  14. I look forward to taking stock and finding ways to cut back a bit this month!

  15. I’m taking the challenge and leaping in this year. I think this is just what I need to help get it all together.

  16. Thanks for the challenge! I will be
    1) cleaning out the pantry to see what’s really in there
    2) making a dinner menu plan using as much from my current stock as possible
    3) stocking up on basics for the next month(s)
    all in order to reduce our grocery budget significantly.

  17. Thanks for hosting this challenge. Just the motivation I need to keep the grocery budget down!!!

  18. Oi, I SO need to do this this month. Gotta work on using up my stuff and just getting fresh to fill in the holes.

  19. Hi there,
    We are doing this.
    We started a No-Spend January 3rd and we will do it through April. 30-days was just not enough for us. I want our lifestyle to be simple and thrifty! Our spin on no spend is that we don’t spend over our budgetted amount, no eating out, no extras, no new clothing, craft supplies, nothing that we can’t live without. To that end, we are cleaning out our pantry and freezer, eating lots of soups, ground turkey minestrone. We have been planning it and are looking forward to what we can save and do!
    Thanks for offering this challenge so that I can balance what will surely be some hard days, with what you all have to offer.

  20. Hey all,
    Its great to see the challenge back up. It would be great to see it again sometime in the year . More then once a year would make it awesome =) Thanks a bunch..

  21. starting the challenge a bit late as of today ,better late then never =) .

  22. I’m in!! I’m going to get more creative with my meal plan and use as much as I can from my freezer and pantry. I’d love to save enough to start a little kitchen emergency fund…I want to replace the food processor that died this summer, or get a tortilla press with the extra savings! So far the pantry/freezer meals are getting thumbs up from the family πŸ™‚

  23. I am so excited about this little project! I have to admit that I blew my budget for December and feel like this month I am going to make it up! I am going to save money, lower the amount spent and dig deep into cabinets and freezers! I also made a menu plan for January! The entire month! I have never made a month long menu and I can’t wait to see how that works out for us. I joined you in October for freezer cooking and it was an amazing learning experience for me. I focused on meats and convenience foods and it was such a HUGE help! I am going to do that again now.
    Jessica, I love when you do these practical and extremely useful challenges!

  24. Susie's Homemade says:

    Wow! $100 for a family of 8??!! I spend that on my family of 4!!!

  25. I was so happy with your challenge and started right away! My goals for januari are: use up stocks and save money. Thanks and love Amelie

  26. I’m in. We need to eat up the freezer stash (that I did in preparation for baby#3 that arrived Dec. 15) and clean out the pantry before things expire. I’m hoping to stay on track well into February, too. Our grocery budget will be 2/3 of normal to allow for stock-ups on health items we use regularly (and of course, diapers).

    Thanks for the challenge. I know I would lose focus on this if I weren’t part of a group. And I would love to do this again later in the year, too.

  27. Thanks to baby #4 on the way, and my not feel’in so hot these past few months my normally well stocked pantry has been pretty well cleaned out already! I still seem to have all of those odds and ends that are not our usual fare hanging around though so my challenge is to use up all the random stuff that seems to collect! I made your Shrimp and Noodles with the remnants of talapia and shrimp I found in the freezer already this week, and just made up a big batch of humus that the garbanzos must have be bought for ages ago! Thanks for the inspiration just as I regain some of my energy!

  28. I’m excited! We need to get healthier around our home! Thanks Mary for the link!

  29. Looking forward to my first challenge! Although rather worried about finding what’s lurking around in my freezer….wonder if it’s edible?

  30. Please add me to the list of those needing to plan meals from our freezer and pantry :-). I also need to get them both reorganized. Just a few days ago, I had mentioned this to my family, so I am IN. Thanks! Even though I am at a different time in my life, I really enjoy your blog.

  31. I have done this occasionally but not often enough. We’ll see how empty I can get it while I also shop the Can-Can sale at Shop-Rite.

  32. I’ve read about doing this in magazines and think it’s a great idea…especially since my unemployment ran out and times are getting tough. I have a freezer, deep freezer and pantry that I’m sure I ignore way too much!

  33. I am sooo with ya!

  34. I linked up. This is just what I need this time of year to go through and clean out everything. Also the budget sure needs a break after the holidays!!

  35. I really need to do this for two reasons: My DH is totally bummed by my “grocery budget” and I am not really sure what is in the back of my pantry πŸ™

  36. I’m joining the Pantry Challenge!
    Started on 1/3 dinners:
    3: Enchiladas from freezer, salad with veggies from fridge
    4:Broccoli cheese soup and bagels all from stuff from the fridge
    5: Pasta, meatballs from freezer, salad, bread from freezer, and edamame (sp) from freezer
    6: Birthday dinner out – it’s a requirement. πŸ™‚
    7: Leftovers
    8: Out of town on business
    for lunches we take leftovers and we don’t have children- just dogs and they eat leftovers too. πŸ™‚

  37. I am so excited about this! You read my mind (or heard the screams of my bulging freezer – one or the other!). Hopefully I can continue my gung-ho attitude even after my creativity runs out!
    Denise Sawyer
    Wholesome Mommy

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      I was really surprised last year about the creative things I could come up with. This week my only purpose for going to the store is milk, fruit, and a few good coupon deals. πŸ™‚

  38. Was waiting for the challenge to begin!!! Now I can use the regular grocery money to stock up on gluten free staples thru amazon, which saves me a bundle!

  39. This is great! I frequently (once every 6 months or so) do this, but don’t often last the whole month. Hopefully, I’ll stay more accountable with others reading about our projects. Thanks!!

  40. I’m incorporating a leftovers/pantry day into my meal planning. On Thursdays I create something out of leftovers from the rest of the week and items in my pantry.

    Thanks for the encouragement to do more!

    Kristi @
    Veggie Converter

  41. I just wanted to share this post from Cool People Care’s 5 minutes of Caring from yesterday.
    It lines up so well with what you’re doing this month. I love the pantry challenge, but unfortunately I was not well stocked enough to join in this month. Next time I’m definitely in though.

  42. This challenge is perfect timing! It’s a good time to use up what we have and scale down from the holiday excess . I’m happy to play along!

  43. Thanks for this challenge. Even though I joined a little late…I’ve been doing this already.


  44. Really enjoying this project. The first week has been easy. This week is asking for a little bit more creativity. But I am having some kind of fun in the kitchen these days. Thanks!

  45. I missed your Pantry Challenge last year so am glad to catch it this year. I did a pretty good job of keeping only the basics in my pantry and my freezer filled with actual freezer meals or items with an intended use. But it seems like over the holidays both the pantry and freezer fill up with things that are not usually on the grocery list and that’s what I am going to focus on using up NOW instead of waiting months to finally deal with them. Luckily we received a free ham so that will be one of the first things on my list–it is taking up a lot of space in the freezer!

  46. Stephanie says:

    I’m going to do this in February! I have been stocking up things this much with great sales so I am going to be striving to cut my grocery budget to half of what I spent this month.

  47. Can I join in please? Better late than never I suppose!! First step I suppose would be to sort out my larder shelves and freezer to see what I actually have available, right?

  48. I’m in! I want to cut my grocery budget from $200 a week to $150 (less if I can). I cook for a family of three, but live in Bermuda where we import almost everything and grocery prices are insanely high! I saw oranges this week for $1.50 each!! I passed on them and got some kiwis instead, which were going for .25 cents each (more like it I think!)

    I also have surveyed my pantry and have a quite of bit of dried beans and lentils, so I plan to incorporate them in soups and stews for the month.

  49. I’m so excited about this! What a great idea! I do cook / bake from scratch, but can always use new ideas! Thank you & God bless!

  50. I think I must be ADD I just cant get ideas to use up what’s left in the pantry. Is there a site to help with menu ideas from what’s on hand? Any advice would be a big boost for me πŸ™‚

  51. I’m going to be doing this in 2012 πŸ™‚

  52. Betty819 says:

    I prined off your form where you list what is in your pantry, fridge, and freezer and I just took a partial inventory of what’s in those locations and I didn’t get to all the pantry shelves..DH is still sleeping and he’s the one that says “there’s nothing good to eat here” He just wants us to go grocery shopping so he can buy sweets which he shouldn’t eat because of being a diabetic..He likes “to eat too high off the hog” Last week we bought 3 rib eyes and I don’t recall the exact cost and I don’t always save the store receipts but maybe I should start just to add up how much we spend on groceries and prove that we should cut back on our spending. For the price of those steaks, we could go to a restaurant and order steaks and probably make out cheaper then the cost of buying the steaks and cooking them yourself. We live in a gated, Sr. Citizens community and are not allowed to have grills..One sheet wasn’t enough for all my inventory so I will need to print more off. I think the idea of not specifying a specific day for such and such meal is great because it makes you feel you are obligated. I need to start clipping coupons again to save money and also go to store on Sr. Citizens day where we get a discount(5 or 10%)on Thursdays.

    Sneak out early and grocery shop either early morning which I prefer or evening after dinner…alone!
    You can go through the store quicker during those times of the day and also “think better” when it is not crowded.

    I think if I plan 5 days of meals..and work from that list, it will help ease some of my stress and save money. I just threw out 2 ears of fresh corn that we had not used that has been here over a week.

    DH used to volunteer to cook dinner sometimes but due to his limitations physically due to back surgery in 2013 and his lack of mobility, I think for two people and have had to take on chores that he once took care of. We tend to eat out more than we should and not only does it cost more but also helps put on weight.

    I’d like to sit down when I have some free quiet time to myself and see if I can follow some of your ideas.

  53. Betty819 says:

    Thanks for the really surprized me when I started taking inventory, how much we really have on hand and I should start using up some of it..looking for simple recipes to use. Have bben married 50 years and I’m tired of cooking! Need to go through all my cookbooks again and donate ones I don’t use much. My son gave me a cookbook called “Cooking with 5 ingredients” by Barbara C. Jones. Now that’s the kind of cookbook I like anymore! My DH likes mac and cheese and I’ve never made it from scratch before but found a simple recipe on website..Yields 9 servings. Can I make the whole recipe and put half of it in a ziploc bag or storage container and freeze the rest for another meal, another week and reheat it in microwave for a few minutes after it thaws? I have been saving some of small containers prepared foods come in that is perfect for 2 people for one meal. Would the macaroni or pasta be like rubber if heated over in microwave?

    I found a good recipe for meatloaf off Christy Jordan’s blog that we like and Instead of using the regular meat loaf pan size, I was able to make 3 or 4 small size one and used disposable foil pans I bought from grocery store and wrapped everything in heavy duty foil. That is working out good and not a lot of waste..

    Is there a good website called “Cooking for two?” A dear friend used to freeze portions for 2 in ziploc freezer bags because it took up less room in her freezer, because her DH refused to eat leftovers the day after. I’m looking on pinterest for some easy and appealing meals using foods that we like to eat. Found one for pork kabogs that is cooked in the oven that I want to try. Could probably substiture boneless chicken in place of pork also.

    I plan to print out extra copies of your inventory sheet and use it for garage freezer contents. Maybe I could use a command hook and hang up a clipboard on the freezer so we’ll remember to cross off any product we use up from the freezer. This all sounds like I have everything in control but my ADD will get in the way of following my ideas routinely..

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