What is a Pantry Challenge? Well, it is pretty much what it says. A pantry challenge is a technique I have to use up the food I have in my pantry or freezer.
I set up one week every three to four months as a ‘Pantry Challenge Week’. This forces me to check through my pantry to see what may be hiding in the back. It forces me to check dates on items that I have forgotten about. It also forces me to look in the freezer. Look everywhere in the door, the drawers, and underneath the frozen bags of whatever is lurking in there.
I use coupons and I stock up on many different things. Sometimes these are things that we don’t use very often and I tend to forget about them so setting up this challenge helps me to be less wasteful and forces me to be resourceful. I think it goes along with my goal of trying to be a better steward of what God has blessed me with.
There are many versions of the pantry challenge but I try to keep mine pretty simple. Some people try not to buy anything when doing a challenge but that is not really a possibility for me. We need milk on a weekly basis as I don’t have room to store a month’s worth of milk. We also need fresh fruits and veggies. During the summer months that isn’t such an issue as we can just eat out of the garden. Right now though there isn’t a garden to eat out of.
I will go to the pantry and make a list of items that I have. Just a scratch sheet of paper. I will put a few pictures below so thank you for not judging my pantry, my freezer, or my handwriting. This is an example of what I do:
You can see some of what I found in the freezer: (Yep, that’s frozen pumpkin in there. There is also some bird seed in there from a project we did a while back.)
These are my pantry cabinets: (Those huge bags of French’s Onions were from Sam’s and I am trying to use them up.)
Once I have a list scratched out I look at my menu plans and see what meals I can come up with to use some of these items. Then I write them down like this:
This will get posted on the fridge and I might even update it on my calendar as well. We will mark through the meals as we make them. I have included some snack ideas also. I have one meal as a ‘Free Day’ which means that we can either scrounge up another meal from the pantry/freezer or maybe order some pizza!
My grocery list and bill will be a lot lower this week as I will mostly be purchasing only a few dairy products, some fresh fruit and veggies, as well as a couple loaves of bread. Take a peek in your pantry and freezer to see what you might have hiding in there.
Here is a better organized freezer after I took inventory: