Every year about this time I like to do a Pantry Challenge.
It not only saves me money but helps me clean out my Pantry with foods I’ve bought that I was going to “get around” to making.
If you’ve never heard of a pantry challenge, join me for your first one. It is simple. Just make an effort to use up the foods/items you already have.
I choose this time of year because, for me, it is a bit slower time of the year at work and allows me to get into the kitchen more. Plus this is the time I need to start saving for all the holiday spending coming up in a few months.
It is fun, almost like my own version of the TV series “Chopped”.
The pantry challenge can last as long as you want. Me, I’m in for a month, sometimes I go a little longer!
I’m sure you have some questions on how to proceed, so below I share with you the four I asked when I first started.
I have to admit I kind of went on a forced pantry challenge in March when the pandemic started!
1. What… I Can’t Spend Any Money?…
This really depends on you and the size of your family. Assess the reason for your pantry challenge. To save money or we just have too much food in the house.
The motivation should be to eat down the pantry, so you get to set the rules.
It is hard to go on a month long pantry challenge without spending any money on groceries, but I try to limit it to just fridge items like milk and fresh produce. The key is to really focus on what I already have.
Depending on what you have on hand and what your normal shopping habits are, not to mention other factors like having a home garden, it could be a no-spend month for you.
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2. I’ll Spend Too Much To Replace My Stockpile…
I certainly was able to go a long time without going to the store because my pantry was fully stocked during the pandemic. However there is a difference between having enough to get by and having your food supply outgrowing your storage space. I was teetering on this when the pandemic hit. Part of my issue is re-learning how to buy for less people in the house.
Now my current pantry challenge will really be a challenge as it isn’t as filled as normal.
Replacing your stockpile. Don’t worry good deals are still around and you stockpiled it to use it. It is better to keep your pantry foods fresh because you’ll be amazed the first time you do a pantry challenge just how many things have expired dates on them!
3. I’ll Feel Like I’m Poor…
When you are disciplined to your pantry challenge, you don’t get to buy what you want.
No matter what our financial situation is, when we have food on the table we feel “enriched”. But adjusting your grocery spending is one most tangible things to do to put extra money in your savings.
The yearly pantry challenge helps me remember my harder times. Just by agreeing to spend less than I could, I force myself to really focus on what is needed. I also find myself eating healthier as I’m not restocking those darn Oreo’s!
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4. But Wait Am I Really Saving If I Use Food I Already Paid For?…
I don’t know anyone who is organized and disciplined enough to only buy what they need and always uses it up without ever wasting anything.
For me I love to shop for groceries. I fantasize that I will be cooking up a storm every night and inevitably end up with items in the cupboard, fridge, or freezer that need to be used up.
I know quite a few people who are like me and here’s the thing… if you don’t use them up, then your definitely wasting money!
In addition to eating things up before they go bad, a pantry challenge reminds me to be more careful on how much of something I use. I love olive oil, but during my pantry challenge I pour less into the pan when I’m sautéing vegetables. This also extends to pouring cream in my coffee.
Join me this month in the Pantry Challenge. Let’s all save some money, eat up our pantry and start fresh!
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