Ready or not, our Eat From The Pantry Challenge is beginning!


Now that we're back from vacation, our almost-month-long Eat From The Pantry Challenge commences today. I'm excited and just a little bit scared as to how it's all going to work out. Whatever the case, it'll certainly be an adventure!

I'll keep you posted on how it goes and will be sharing recipes and pictures as the next four weeks unfold. My husband has promised to be a willing participant in this whole thing (bless his heart!), so I'm hoping my creativity in the kitchen doesn't turn out to be a whopping failure.

I'm usually sort of a make-do-with-what-you-have cook anyway, so it's not a completely new concept. However, I've never "made do" for four whole weeks, so I'm positive there'll be some flops along the way. Be prepared to laugh along with me!

Are you participating in the Eat From The Pantry Challenge? If so, I'd love to hear about how it's going for you. And if you've been posting about it on your blog, you can link up your progress over here.

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  1. krysti says

    i will freely admit we have messed up a couple times this past week and grabbed some take out instead of cooking/eating what we had. However, I will also pat myself on the back when it comes to reusing leftovers and making things stretch to enable us to get through this month. We were able to buy 9lbs of bananas for $1(i know, no shopping, but couldn’t pass up that deal) and made 11 loaves of banana bread. We were also able to make 8 jars of applesauce from apples. I discovered a nifty tool on that allows you to input the ingredients you have and it gives you a recipe. We’ve used this a few times to make new out of old. yum!

  2. Angela Cook says

    My 10 year old daughter and I are taking this challenge, we are 4 days in and doing good. Getting ready for snow here which is unusual, so staying home and eating won’t be so hard!!

  3. says

    It’s going far we are sticking to the plan. I’ve used up more than I thought I would! I’m going to be able to cross a lot off the list tonight after crocking two pots of soup to feed another family! I added Wintertime Chili to tonight’s menu.

    Glad you had a good trip and congrats on the house!

  4. Susan says

    Thanks for the idea. I’m single and need to clear out my freezer so I can do some smarter, healthier cooking this winter. So, I’m in on this challenge. I came back from my parents house for New Years with a couple of meals from mom and already had some veggies thawing to make a pot pie. So, I’m eating the food from mom this week, made the pot pie last night and have 1/2 of it in the freezer for later in the month. Thanks for the idea and the continued example you give!

  5. Morgan Rayl says

    I am doing the EFTP Challenge as well. However I started mine at the start of Dec. My Dec. goals where to only go to the store twice for milk, cheese(if needed) and free sale items. I reached my goal and have made a new one for Jan. My new goals are again to go to the store twice for milk, cheese(if needed) and free sale items and meat. Dec has just about cleaned me out for meat. I love doing this and try to do it twice a year. This is my 1st time doing it for two months. And I think I am going to make it! I cant wait to see what meals other have come up with because this month I will be getting way more creative then last month.

  6. Amy says

    I’m so excited about taking part in this challenge. It’s just my husband and me at our house (until May, when our little boy will be born!), so we don’t have quite as many mouths to feed as you. However, I didn’t really think that we had all that much – my pantry is small, and my fridge was practically empty, so I didn’t think I could make it much more than a few days on the food we had.

    But after months of reading frugal meal ideas, and a little drive to save money and start the new year off well, I decided to inventory our pantry and see what I could come up with. I was amazed how with a lot of thought and a little creativity, I was able to make a whole month’s menu – something I’ve never done before, even when I was planning to shop!

    Last night was our first night’s attempt, and I made chicken enchiladas. I didn’t have tortillas, so I made the cheddar-jalepeno tortillas on Tammy’s Recipes. It was AMAZING!

    Thanks again for the challenge – it’s going to be an exciting month!

  7. Shonda says

    I desperately need to get a handle on my freezers and pantry, so I’m doing this challenge as well. I believe I have enough for at least 6 weeks (less milk and eggs) and am looking forward to seeing what I can come up with. My teenage daughter is picky, so we’ll see how it turns out.

  8. says

    I’m participating in my own way. I have a large stockpile and want to maintain most of it due to various reasons, so I don’t want to entirely deplete everything in my house! However, I do have older products near the “use by” date, and my chest freezer and freezer above my fridge have some older meats and things in them that need used up. So, I made a two month menu based on what I have that needs to be used.

    That said, I will still shop weekly for produce, dairy, bread and the best of the other deals. I’m pregnant and have a 3yo, and she and my DH are picky-picky. This pregnancy has given me considerable nausea and though I’m nearly 4 months, it’s still tough going. So if my body tells me I need whole wheat bagels, you can bet I will be getting a pack!

  9. Michelle says

    I started this past Sunday. Sarturday was my last trip to the store. But instead I am taking it a week at a time – babysteps. Once I make it through one week then I will try to go 2 weeks, etc… However, today I have to go buy milk and bread. My trips to the store will consist only of milk, bread, eggs and produce (which still can be costly when you are feeding 4 growing boys). I wish everyone lots of patience and the will you need not to cave when your 5 year old is begging for McDonalds french fries :o)

  10. Alison says

    I’ve decided to participate in this challenge, as well. Only going to the store for produce, milk and a few other things. I hope to redeem the overage I spent the past two months on our grocery budget! My husband is completely on board. We use allrecipes alot, too. It’s great for finding recipes for random ingredients. I’m getting more brave with my substitutions, as well. It’s only day 5, but I’m still motivated! The posts on here help alot. Especially that guest post yesterday. Very encouraging. Thanks!

  11. Ann says

    I will also be participating – in my own way.
    I will be focusing on using up the meat in my freezer.
    I just went to the grocery store, well actually 3 stores: CVS, Target, Aldis, and HyVee. So I will be starting now. I will be going to the store only for things I NEED and will do my best to make do with what we have.
    Thanks for the inspiration Crystal.

  12. Lauren says

    We’re doing it here too! I’ve got a $100 budget for the month, which includes all the stuff for my daughters 3rd birthday party. I’m only buying a few “staples”that are missing (honey, olive oil) and things like milk and fresh fruits/veggies. We’re having a baby at the end of Feb, so I really need to clean out the freezer so I can start making casseroles and make ahead meals at the beginning of Feb.

  13. Becky says

    I’ve decided to do this but my goal for myself is to try and not go to the grocery store for anything other than dairy and produce until we recieve our tax return which will probably be sometime between mid February and beginning of March. I am allowing for eating out once in a while so my hubby and I can have a couple of dates. I really think I can do this so I will be watching closely to see what everyone is cooking.

  14. kathi says

    Anyone have any ideas on what to do w/ cheddar cheese? I bought a lot last month (cause I was getting it for less than $1.20 a lb) but my family of 4 still has 8 lbs of block cheddar cheese. The good news it is individual sealed in 8 and 16 oz chunks to it should keep longer than if it were a single block.

  15. Kelley says

    We started Jan. 1st. went to the store for the first time today for eggs, oranges, dog food and three coupon deals that were expiring and ended up costing me $8.40.

  16. Kalla says

    Although I am not participating in this I love to read how you do it. This month is a little out of the norm for us with some things happening that put me out of commision for a while and well I can’t leave my husband to feed us…. (hes crafty with foods but I love when there is a plan). Good luck to everyone!

  17. Tracy says

    At first glance, I thought I would just watch this challenge from a distance; however, I have decided to jump right in. I’ve only started using coupons about 6 months ago and began trying to “stockpile” a short time after that. Our weekly budget is $60. I am feeding a family of 5 and I continue to surprise myself at what I’ve actually been able to do with $60/week over these last few months, especially since my local grocery store does not double coupons…(sigh) But with the New Year here and lots new financial goals, I’ve decided to begin this challenge…well my version of it anyway. I’m definitely going to be buying milk, eggs, and fresh produce and we’ll see how far my stock will take us. My goal is to save at least $60 of this month’s grocery budget. I read some comments and I also initially had the thought of needing to spend more next month, because I will have used up so much this month, but what I’ve come to realize is that I started without a stockpile and I’ve created what I have on just $60/week, so I know that I can do it again. So for me even if I don’t get through the entire month, but I can save one week’s worth of grocery money, it will be a great accomplishment.

    And I would just like to say Thanks Crystal!! Your blog has really helped me these last 6 months not only with all the deals that you post, but also seeing your financial accomplishments has helped to motivate me to become debt free. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  18. says

    I was very nervous about this challenge. However, it has gone really well so far! For the first time, I made a weekly menu. I have also done some prep work the night before on the days that I work out of the home. This makes coming home to fix dinner a breeze! I have also been quite good about fixing a large portion of meat and then making different meals from that (I did a whole chicken and a ham ). We will see how creative I can be in the next couple of weeks!

    One of my “rules” I wrote up is that I would only shop for perishables unless Harris Teeter Super Doubles or triple coupons came up. Well, it is a good thing I added that rule as there will be Super Doubles this week! However, I plan to put the items I buy aside for next month and I will only buy items under $1!

  19. Nancy says

    Day 3 of the challenge.
    Day 1- frozen chicken breasts, rice, cream of chicken soup, broccoli, and shredded cheese dish.

    Day 2- green bean casserole plus chicken and au gratin potatoes

    Day 3-chili and corn bread

    Breakfast is whatever cereal/toast/oatmeal the kids scavenge plus fruit
    Lunches are usually PB&J or left overs. We are getting ready for a move so clearing out the pantry is good although I doubt we’ll make it a whole 4 weeks.

  20. Heidi says

    I am in on this. I am a single person and read the post from ‘Kelly’ and about cracked up. I can make a meal and eat off of it like 5 times (lunch and dinner but not in the same day). I also included no going out to eat what so ever including coffee stops, fast food, bagel stops or dining out. It’s day 5 and this monring I wanted to stop for a coffee. I didn’t. I could have made it at home but didn’t this morning.

    I plan to make a list of what I have in my pantry and take pictures. Who knows how long I can do this. Perhaps into February.

    I will be going to the grocery store though for produce needed, anything fresh dairy and perhaps bread. I also decided if a recipe is lacking one thing I might purchase it just to help with removing the other items in my pantry for dinner. I am going to really think about that though because I want to be creative. Thank you for the insperation. I goal is to put the extra $$ i save to a credit card I a paying off.

    God Bless!


  21. Trilogymom says

    I hope I can meet this challenge or at least clear some of my overstocked pantry out. I should have bought some beans to get ready for this, but now it’s even more interesting! Good luck to all and thanks for the challenge!

  22. Amy says

    I’m so excited to take this challenge! I’m hoping to limit myself to $20/week for my family of 5 (including an 11 yo boy and hubby with very hearty appetites.) Thanks for your great ideas!

  23. Mar says

    We’re doing good with this so far! I’ve even made my lunch for tomorrow by chopping up lots of fresh veggies (which we had as an appetizer for dinner tonight as well) and putting everything I need in containers (salad, dressing, veggies, cheese, raisin – seriously, raisins are good on a salad – and even roasting almonds as a topping). It’s all in a bag waiting to go tomorrow.

    I’ll be interested in seeing how we are doing the last third of the month and if we can avoid temptation to run out and get something just to complete a meal. I don’t want anyone to take this the wrong way, but I’m kind of looking at that time period as a little bit of what families on food stamps or welfare do during the last few days of the month before their benefits come through. Believe me, we are no where near needing food stamps or government assistance, but you read about the difficulties these families go through and how they have to be creative with what they have. I want to see if I can also be creative and live up to this type of hardship. With the food we have on hand, we may have to do this in February to get to that point.

    I hope that last paragraph doesn’t sound condescending or something. It’s not meant that way at all…

  24. says

    The whole fam is on board – so we are full steam ahead. I’ve put together a menu for the next five weeks – which will clean out my meat freezer (a little bit) and some of my canned goods (a little bit). My goal is to spend $15 a week on whatever we need – this week it was dishwasher detergent and carrots. Thank goodness for the Electrosol coupon! Next week, who knows? It is making me start to see things differently – like buying breadcrumbs vs. using the heels of the bread that no one eats anyway. And it really feels good to eat up some of the food that has been hanging around for awhile. Can’t wait to see how everyone else is doing too.

  25. says

    I thought the first week would be pretty easy but it hasn’t been. I have been very encouraged by everyone that is trying this challenge.

  26. Megan says

    I’m loving this challenge & I’m so happy that so many people are in on it. I allotted $50 for the month so that I don’t have to miss every deal but I have to make some serious decisions. My son and husband drink atleast a gallon of milk a week so I made sure to account for that. Today we got Costco coupons in the mail that expire before the challenge does so if I have $10 left in my budget I’ll get to use one coupon….I’m actually loving having to decide what I can buy instead of just running out and buying all the deals; makes me thankful for the things I choose.

  27. Chris Jones says

    Well, I’m off to an excellent start! But the funny thing is, I actually think I’m jumping out of the starting gate a little TOO fast. I’m so eager to use up the old stuff that I’m making meals that are too large and filling up my fridge with leftovers! I need to remember this is a month long race, not a week long sprint, and pace myself. Depending on what’s left on January 31, I may even try to extend the challenge through at least part of February.

  28. says

    My husband and I decided that this would be a fun challenge for the month- especially considering all of the random odds and ends we have in the cupboards. We started off and are doing well. It should prove to be a lot of fun and use some creativity too :)

  29. says

    Last week went really well, even though I was $1.24 over my budget of $30. I was able to stockpile 8 bags of Starbucks, though, so I was pleased with that! This week is a busy one, and I’m trying to be diligent to keep up with the menu. Thank you for the challenge, and for being an inspiration!

  30. says

    I have done really well, but just found out we are having my friends kids stay with us for the weekend so that will require a few special groceries for them (shouldn’t go over my $30 budget though!).

    I have so much stuff to use up so I know I can easily make this challenge (plus I just did a big freezer cooking day) . .. my only concern was my son’s snack items, but I decided to rotate my large stock of cereal and make some snack mixes with it to stretch the pretzels, etc! Hooray!

  31. April says

    I started this in December for the purpose of saving money from running back and forth to the store. It worked great too. Then at the end of the month, last week, I went to the store and went crazy! But everything I got was for a menu item to get me through January. At the end of the month I will head back to the store for another run to get through February. This is the first time that I have successfully stuck with my menu for longer then a week, I went for 5 weeks and still have another two weeks before I have to make another one! I am so excited. Actually using the cookbooks instead of looking at them. Adding vegetarian meals to the menu has helped a lot as well with keeping costs down. We only meat on the weekends and we haven’t gotten bored yet. Amazing in and of itself.

  32. Patti says

    We started Jan. 1. Our meals have been:
    Country ribs (slow cooker), rice, black-eyed peas, succatash, texas toast
    Black bean soup from scratch, texas toast (leftover)
    turkey tetrazzini (made my own white sauce),broccoli
    Big breakfast
    Vegetable soup (homemade), party pitas (from Taste of Home web site)
    We seem to be eating a lot of soup but it is freezing cold here and that is what we all want! A great book I use often is called “The Use It Up Cookbook” by Lois Carlson Willard which is out of print but can be found on eBay or Similar to, it is very inspiring to read and think of new dishes to try with on hand ingredients!

  33. says

    When our chicken didn’t defrost in time to cook for dinner last night, I was so tempted to ask Hubby to grab a pizza on the way home, but as we only have $2 and change lest in our food budget for the week, I did not. I checked our Stock List and was able to whip something simple, appetizing and newly-purchased free up. Yay! Thank you for the encouragement. I have just posted my first EFTP Challenge post on my blog at

  34. says

    I am so excited for this challenge (although we also started a couple days late). It hasn’t been that hard for me to jump on board since we are hunkered down for our third winter storm in three weeks! I can’t wait until we get towards the end of the month to see some SERIOUS creativity come into play!!

  35. Kristi says

    I love your site and congratulate you on your goals and accomplishments. We started the challenge last weekend and I made a menu based on what we had and ran to the store for the fill in things, other than the basics that most of us will be running for think I am set until at least February. I wish I had taken before pics of my freezer, because it was awful and now I can literally “see the light”, although I hate to admit that!! We had lots of fun on Saturday night using up some odd and ends from the freezer and had a kick off appetizer supper, my DS 6 & 4 thought is was great. Maybe not the most nutritious, but very exciting to start with a bang!! Can’t wait to see everyones ideas too.

  36. says

    I’m LOVIN this!!! I decided to do this (on my own) and one of my readers enlightened me that you were doing this too!

    I find that:

    1) I waste much less.
    2) Make meals stretch longer than I would have ever thought.
    3)Appreciate leftovers more.
    4)Thing of creative ways of using “scraps”.

    I actually had a LOT of “equity” in my fridge, freezers, pantry, and storage shed, so this is going to be pretty easy for me. I also get a weekly delivery of farm-fresh produce, which we prepaid for, so I don’t factor that in.

    I think this is also helping me realize what’s truly essential to have on hand in the pantry, and what really isn’t!

    Carrie@Organic and Thrifty
    This has been so fun and inspiring!

  37. Ashley says

    I considered this challenge….then decided I’d do it, half heartily . But now it looks like I will be fully participating. A torn meniscus and surgery next week – with 7 days off work and on crutches. My hubby did some shopping this week, but I am so thankful to have a stockpile to fall back on so he doesn’t have to worry about it. So, I’m in, all the way now. :)

  38. Ashley says

    I considered this challenge….then decided I’d do it, half heartily . But now it looks like I will be fully participating. A torn meniscus and surgery next week – with 7 days off work and on crutches. My hubby did some shopping this week, but I am so thankful to have a stockpile to fall back on so he doesn’t have to worry about it. So, I’m in, all the way now. :)

  39. Rebecca Harrison says

    I’m in and loving it! We have done it for 3 days and it is going great. Last night I took inventory of what I have and it is amazing! I didn’t know I had so much food! Can’t wait to see how this goes for the rest of the month!