It’s so easy to think we have to go to the store every single week (or maybe even more often!), but I’ve found that when I challenge myself to make do with what I already have on hand, we can usually eat pretty well. Plus, we can save a lot of money in the process!
In recent weeks, I’ve been feeling like we have all sorts of odds and ends in our pantry, refrigerator, and freezers which need to be used up. But with the busyness of the Christmas season, I didn’t have much creative juices or energy to come up with ways to use this random assortment of items. Thus, the Eat From the Pantry Challenge idea was born.
I’d been contemplating how I wanted to pull it off, when FishMama  wrote and asked if I’d be interested in doing an Eat From the Pantry Challenge in January since she was also feeling like her cupboards were bulging. I guess great minds think alike, huh?!
So we brainstormed for a few days and decided we’d co-host an Eat From the Pantry Challenge on our blogs January 1-31, 2010. We’re attempting to avoid grocery shopping as much as possible and will be blogging what we’re feeding our families, creative recipes we’re concocting, and how we’re pulling this whole thing off.
To be perfectly honest, I’m still not exactly sure at this point how I am pulling this off because I’ve never done something like it before. Let’s just hope it doesn’t royally flop seeing as there’s no such thing as backing out now!
The good news is that I have all of you and FishMama  so if I get in a bind or run out of ideas, I’ll know just where to turn. Whatever happens, I know it will be an adventure!
Now, let me say right upfront that I am not going to completely avoid buying any groceries for a month. We like to have fresh eggs, milk, and produce, so I plan to buy those at least three times during the month.
So here are our family’s goals for the Eat From The Pantry Challenge:
2) Only buy dairy (milk, eggs, cheese, etc.) and produce (fruits/vegetables).
3) Spend a total of $75 or less on groceries during the month of January.
4) Donate the extra $85 leftover (or more) that we would usually spend on groceries to Gleaning the Harvest .
Now for some caveats: we usually have dinner out once a week as a family (this comes out of our “Dates and Eating Out” envelope and is separate from our grocery money) so we plan to continue that. We also often eat a meal at our extended family’s house at least once per week and we plan to continue that, as well. Plus, we’ll actually be in California for the first few days in January visiting FishMama and her family so we aren’t going to officially start our Eat From The Pantry Challenge until we get home.
You can see FishMama’s goals and plan for her family here .
Would you like to join us in this Eat from the Pantry Challenge? We’d love to have you along! However, I want to encourage you to make your own rules according to what works best for your own family’s needs. Don’t feel obligated to do things the way we’ve decided to do it; do what works for you!
You can join in the entire month, or for two weeks, or just a week–it’s up to you! It’s not a competition, we just hope to encourage you to get creative and save money by wisely using things in your freezer, refrigerator, and pantry.
So, set goals for your own family for the Eat From The Pantry Challenge. And, if possible, consider setting aside the money you save by participating in this Challenge and either applying it towards debt, putting it into savings, or donating it to a worthy cause.
This is a simple way that you can squeeze a little extra out of a tight budget to help meet a financial goal or give to someone in need. It’s not required that you do this to participate, it’s just something I’d encourage you to consider.
At the end of each week in January, we’ll have a post with a Mr. Linky for you to share about what you ate from your pantry the past week and how the Challenge is going for you. You can also interact with others participating in this challenge on Facebook  or follow along here on Twitter with the hashtag #pantry .
If you’re participating in the Eat From The Pantry Challenge, post about your goals and plan and then come back here and leave a direct link to your post below so others can read about it and be inspired. If you don’t have a blog, you can tell us about your plan and goals in the comments section of this post.