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Eat From the Pantry Challenge–coming January 2010

Eat-from-the-pantry-challenge

I've been spending lots of time the last few weeks reflecting on this past year–the triumphs and struggles, the victories and failures. While doing so, I've been making out a list of concrete and realistic goals for 2010.

And I'm excited about what this next year holds–some of which involves this blog! I'll be sharing more details about some of my goals for 2010 and unveiling new features and additions to this blog (including a complete blog re-design!) over the next few weeks.

In the mean time, though, I wanted to tell you one big thing FishMama and I have up our sleeves. Instead of hosting another Freezer Cooking Day in January, we're going to be co-hosting a month-long Eat From the Pantry Challenge.

We realized in inventorying our cupboards, refrigerators, and freezers, that we have lots of food stocked up and many odds and ends which need to be used up. So during the month of January, we'll be challenging ourselves to stay out of the grocery store unless absolutely necessary and feed our families from what we already have on hand.

I've done this for a week or two at a time, but never for an entire month so it should certainly be an interesting adventure in creativity! We'll be blogging what we're eating, recipes we're concocting, and how we're pulling it off.

While no one is required to participate, we'd love to have you join us–whether for a week, two weeks, or the whole month!

Stay tuned for more details on the Eat From the Pantry Challenge coming early next week. If you're planning to participate, you can sign-up on the Facebook page here.

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!

71 Comments

  • This should be interesting! I already have (grown) kids who look & look in the fridge & pantry for something to eat, then walk away saying, “There’s nothing in there.” These same folks are amazed when I prepare a full meal & set it before them at the dinner table later that same day, without having bought anything new. Creativity is Queen in MY kitchen!

  • Paula says:

    I am with this challange. I not only want to save money but I want to not waste as much food as we did last year.

  • Kim says:

    I would really like to do this. Perhaps this will give me some inspiration to do it and not give up!

  • Linda Bossle says:

    Crystal, I am sure we will LOVE all of your new ideas – but please know what a blessing you already are and how much we love your blog NOW. Thank you for your dedication.

  • Crystal says:

    I am one of the moderators of Pantry Challenge in yahoo groups, check us out…..We do this year round and its definantly rewarding……..My new years resalution is to get my grocery budget down even more and be able to hit up on more sales………

  • Kristine says:

    I will definitely be participating. I am going to inventory my kitchen. Knowing that other people will be having a pantry challenge will make it easier. This is great!

  • Deanna says:

    January is a great month to declutter and begin anew…what a great way to clear the clutter in the freezer and the cupboards. I look forward to participating!

  • katie says:

    looking forward to it, but i have to admit that DH working at the grocery store might make this challenge harder!

  • maygan says:

    I was recently thinking I needed to do the same, so I’m excited to participate in this!

  • Lana says:

    I so need to do this! Three college kids here over Christmas break has resulted in too much food in the pantry. Hubby and I need to clean it up before buying more.

  • I just cleaned out my pantry today and saw all the stuff that we can use…then I read your blog…I am so up for the challenge! This is going to be exciting!

  • Karen G says:

    I am so up for this challenge! DH’s job was jsut eliminated (second time in 18 months) but we’re blessed to have a full freezer and pantry. I’ll be ‘buying’ milk, eggs, and OJ at CVS using ECBs (as I have done for most of the past year) and picking up fresh produce as we need it; for everything else I’ll be working from the stockpile. I’m excited to see what you come up with, Crystal!

  • alison says:

    i can not wait for this challenge. i have saved so much money since i discovered your blog over a year and a half ago! im slowly backing away from all the stores (i used to feel like i had to snag every deal!). i want to cut it down to cvs once a week and kroger 2 times a month! yay for a new year.

  • Heather says:

    I found we were in the same situation back in November, at which point I deliberately chose items that I knew we’d probably not get to before the end of the year and used them as donation items for local food banks. I’d like to challenge all your readers to do the same with any items they may not be able to readily use, or which are quickly approaching expiration. The food banks are ALWAYS in need of donations.

  • Danielle says:

    I was just thinking I needed to do this too! I did a quick trip for fresh stuff today.

  • Mrs. Rogers says:

    I hope that you will post your meal plan for each week, as well as any little purchases you need to make to get you through. I always find it very interesting how something delicious can sometimes be made with items that you normally wouldn’t put together! Your blog is just wonderful!

  • Challice says:

    Does this include fresh veggies and dairy?

  • Diane says:

    This is so timely! I am trying to save money to add to my IRA so the taxman doesn’t take as much of a cut as he would like. I’m going to use up all the meat and fruit and vegetables in my freezer during January and February to make this possible. Good luck to everyone!

  • Jennifer Hotchkiss says:

    I need to do this too. This would give me the motivation to do it! Thanks!

  • Jessica H. says:

    I am so excited to see this challenge. My family needs to focus on this as well. I have plenty in my freezers and cupboards to use and end up eating out way too much! Our pocket book cannot afford this as we are on a super tight budget so this challenge will be wonderful!

  • Jen says:

    Count me in for this challenge, we will be moving 1200 miles away at the end of Jan and I def. need to use up some of my stockpile/pantry before then. With our move we are doing some major downsizing/decluttering. The hardest part for me is we buy a lot of fresh produce (we have fresh green salad twice a day) but I will try to replace this with other things and still meet our dietary goals.

  • Missy says:

    I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I’ve been trying to clean up my pantry and it is hard!

  • Heather says:

    We just had the opportunity to do this after thanksgiving and what a great blessing it was. We used up alot of food and it came at a time when I was sick and taking care of the 4 kids was about all I could handle. I am going to love seeing how other people do it.

  • Heather N. says:

    I’ve been doing this all month. My husband commented a few days ago that our cupboard is getting low and he’s noticed that I’m not stockpiling as much. I informed him that we have been eating from the stockpile! LOL! He never even knew it! Just a few more day of December to go and I think I could quite possibly squeeze another couple weeks of eating from the pantry out if I really try hard…other than the fresh things.
    Thanks for being such and encouragement to all of us as we try desperately to be better stewards to the many blessing the Lord has given us!

  • Ellen says:

    I was thinking of trying this before you mentioned it… but what do you do about really ‘good’ sales in terms of stockpiling? I worry that I might ‘miss out’.

  • I am wanting to sign up for this, but when I go to facebook, I cannot see a button to hit sign up. Just maybe will be attending? “smile” Deb

  • This is a fantastic challenge. All that food represents money …. money just sitting there not earning any interest. You’ve invested it in the food item and there it sits. Time to make it pay off! Eat it! Let the other non-food invested money earn you interest! I look forward to learning how all of you do with this challenge. Oh, one good tip is to do create a printed inventory of everything you have in your pantry first. Keep this list handy. Not only can you refer to it during the month, but you may be surprised at what you find in it and it helps keep the pantry items top of mind!

  • BT says:

    Sure! We are going away for Februaury, so I’ll stock up on our return!

  • Jenni Lee says:

    I had planned to get my pantry/storage room back up to full this month, having not replenished it much in November or December. It is my goal to always have a certain amount in there, for emergencies, so I think I will play along by buying ONLY those things that I NORMALLY keep in my pantry, and only eating what I would normally find there!

  • Crystal,

    You know I’ve done this before for a couple of years at a time. We’ve started doing it again out of neccessity and we’ll be glad to join you during the month of January.

    I still have 200 lbs of potatoes left in my pantry 🙂 (we’ve eaten 160 pounds since about 5 weeks ago).

    I’ll just be eating from the regular winter menu that I have. Unfortunately, our fall/winter garden is not doing well this year, so that means no turnips and not too many greens (I have a little swiss chard left). We have lots of canned fruit, canned vegetables, and a few frozen vegetables as well, so we’ll be fine as far as fruits and vegetables go. We still have lots of lemons from our garden as well.

    Tonight we’e having pork roast with fig sauce, roasted rosemary potatoes, cauliflower, and peas.

    We still have powdered and eveaporated milk. We also have butter in the freezer, so my baking can continue!

  • Ambrosia says:

    I made this a goal of mine months ago (so far, it’s not going too well). I’ve been trying to stockpile, but in the process I ended up with stuff I never use/forgot about and no room for stuff I could really use. I have cans and cans on spaghetti sauce that was on sell and I never remember to get noodles! I took most of my cans out of the cabinet, at least the ones that were moving slowly, and put them on the open shelf under the microwave (well, my daughter mostly did it, toddlers find fun in those types of things, lol). That way I can look at them every time I go into the kitchen and consider using something. I’m in =)

  • Lynda says:

    Since starting couponing in May I have added so much more to my pantries, but it is not food we normally eat. We typically eat fresh, then frozen fruits and veggies, but I have cans in the pantry “just in case”. I am going to follow along with you all, but with limited participation – I even have no oven right now to even use the dozen plus cake mixes I bought super cheap. The canned milk would only last just so far and I would have to buy eggs…

    BTW, where does one KEEP 200+ potatoes and keep them from going bad?

  • Julie M says:

    Wow! I think I have a lot to learn from all you and look forward to this challenge. I also look forward to hearing everyone’s tips and tricks!!

  • Lynda,

    We bought 360 pounds of potatoes right before Thanksgiving; we have 200lbs left. We keep them in our pantry, which is in the garage. It is 55º in there. It’s a little warm for potatoes; they would ideally like it at 45º, but they do okay there. I buy them when they go on sale right before Thanskgiving and they last us until the beginning of February.

    You can see pictures of my pantry here: http://theprudenthomemaker.com/awellstockedpantry.aspx
    Those were taken after we had been eating from our pantry for a year (no potatoes in those photos!) We had been 8 months with no income and very little after that. I had canned some fruit that year thanks to the kindness of my in-laws and my parents in giving us some money to buy peaches and pears that year (as we had eaten through all of the ones I had canned the year before). Everything else was bought before.

    We’re starting to need to live out of our pantry again, which is thankfully stocked again, for the most part (though I am low on powdered milk–but I have plenty for January and February). Eating from the pantry has become a pretty normal way of life for us the last couple of years, supplemented from our garden.

  • Jennifer says:

    I just went six weeks doing this (didn’t have any extra $ to shop with) but I still feel like I have lots of random food around. Granted, I am single and cooking for one usually but I still had some dinner parties with up to nine friends coming! I finally was able to shop again this week and ended up buying a lot less than I would normally buy because of what I learned from this time. It felt a bit like the prophet and the widow where she shared what little she had and it filled him, her, and her son because of her hospitality and her faith.

  • Laura says:

    I’m in, with the exception of buying salad greens and maybe milk. I look forward to ending up with extra room in the fridge, freezer and pantry! I’ve been wanting to reorganize them anyway, and this will be a good incentive.

    If there are any bargains that I simply can’t pass up, I’ll donate the items to the local food pantry. Before Christmas, I was able to get some canned goods, cereals and crackers at really good prices, which made me feel good. Then I gave them to our “adopt a family,” which made me feel even better.

  • Cathy says:

    Sounds like a good plan! We’ve been doing quite of this in November and December to have Christmas money so are now in need of a January stockup. It really did help our grocery bill those months, though.

  • Elisa says:

    We were already planning on doing this to save money in January! Just buy the fresh produce and milk — I have enough of the rest for a long time! I KNOW I am going to have a VERY hard time passing up the sales — I don’t know how I will be able to resist getting something free or close to it. The only clause on our challenge is that I can get something if it is COMPLETELY free — I mean, who could pass THAT up?? I am glad you are doing this though — it will make it easier for me to stick to it! 🙂

    I would like to know too — where do you keep 200 pounds of potatoes???? Do you have a cellar? And HOW do you eat 160 pounds in only 5 weeks???!!! I love potatoes, but 160 pounds in 5 weeks? WOW!!

  • Bonnie says:

    So for a whole month, you will be passing up good sales for cheap and free stuff? Just wondering, I need a good cleansing, but I don’t know if I could stay out of the stores and pass up the good deals. Plus, if you use up your stash and haven’t been replenishing, since it is such a long time, won’t you find yourself paying full price for things because you passed up on several deals that normally would have restocked your pantry? I don’t want to sound negative, I just want to know how people feel about the pos and neg aspects so I can participate and be smart about it.

  • adrian says:

    what a great idea! Looking forward to the posts about this!

  • Tricia says:

    I am looking forward to this challenge as well. I have already warned my family this year is going to be different. Limited spending, pay down debt, and we will continue to save. Thank you Crystal for your blog.

  • Melissa says:

    Love this!!! We did this with a small budget allowing fresh milk and some fresh produce, but it helped me realize how much I really do have on hand. (It also gave me the confidence our family would be fine in an emergency.)

  • MacKenzie says:

    I did that last year and it was great. Not only did I save money but I was so happy to have the odds and ends not occupying space anymore. We will probably be moving in January so we’ll be doing an impromptu version of this just to avoid moving random foods or letting frozen food go to waste. I look forward to seeing your ideas.

  • Christina says:

    I’m going to do this also. We have enough stocked up except for fresh veggies and milk. Just have to create a menu for the month so I’m not tempted to run out and buy more stuff.

  • amy myers says:

    I’m in. I think this is a great idea. My cabinets and freezers are maxed. Hopefully I’ll get my daughter to try some new recipes. I love your blog. Thanks, Amy

  • I think that is a neat challenge!!! I think the only thing I would do was set aside a small amount to spend weekly or bi-weekly for fresh produce. I have to eat greens for my health and a month without them has proved a disaster in the past.
    By the way, I also have at least 200 pounds or more of potatoes stored! We have a small room off our basement we store them in and we eat tons of potatoes in order to use them up!!!

  • cwaltz says:

    I actually was brave enough over the holidays to do some bulk food cooking. My daughter and I made up a revised granola with white chocolate and cranberries, along with pumpkin muffins.

    I think I’m just gonna watch this go around and see how it works out. I am going to follow though because maybe this is something I can do later on and I would love to see how pantry stuff picked up inexpensively can be incorporated into meals.

  • Mar says:

    I am sooooooooo ready to take on this eat from the pantry (and freezer) challenge. We waste far too much and I want to use what we have and clear out some space in my overfull pantry and freezer. Can’t wait!

  • Elisa,

    I have been working on a page that shows the different ways we eat potatoes (although you can see several ways on my 4 months of seasonal menus as well). Last night I cooked 6 pounds of roasted rosemary potatoes and we ate almost all of them (there are 7 in my family).

    The 360 pounds of potatoes I bought only cost me .20 a pound. That’s a lot of food for $72!

    The new page should hopefully be up by the New Year.

  • Joscelyn says:

    Oh my word! I SO need this!
    My pantry is so full, of things I haven’t used in a while…. I need to clear out!
    Thanks for this!

  • Michelle W says:

    This is a great idea! I have hosted three dinner parties this week, and spent a good deal of money on them. While I enjoyed the fun and fellowship, I’m ready to step back, use what I have, and save the money.

  • Brooke P says:

    Wow, what great timing. I was planning on doing the same thing for the next two weeks. With 7 in the house, the freezer goes pretty quickly, so I won’t be able to make it a month…I have three that need school lunches. It’s hard to send too much in the way of lunches from the freezer. I’ll need fresh milk and eggs, and I want to use a few high-value Qs before they expire. BUt I’m right there with you!

  • Honey says:

    After looking at the sales ad this week for Kroger I will join you at least one week. I feed 7, so I might have to take advantage of freebies and to buy some produce! I have a nice stockpile right now including dairy. My husband has been laid off for 6 months. I am job hunting and my (only-ever-homeschooled) children are going to school-so they will be eating lunch there. Since things are tight this challenge would serve us. I actually like having to use what you have because it forces creativity. Some of my best meals have come from someone giving us something and me having to get creative.

  • rebekah says:

    I am in!! I have a plethera of goods in my pantry and freezers!! I have been wanting to do this and will be glad to join in except for milk and eggs and fruit i will stay out of the stores!

  • Mona says:

    I am really excited to be a part of this challenge and the chance to clean out some of my stock. Will also use ECB’s and RR’s for milk, get fresh eggs from relative who raises chickens so will only need to buy some fresh produce. Every thing in stock for baking and bread making. Totally agree it is going to be hard not taking advantage of the great deals but will be worth the wait to use up what we have on hand. Other than produce we are overstocked on everything else so I’m going to start working on my menus. Thanks for the incentive!

  • stacy says:

    I’m in for this challenge! It’s a good way to clear out the cabinets. What about free stuff? I work at a childrens center and if a milk carton is opened and even if just a 1/2 cup of milk is used it can’t be used again for the children. Our director lets staff take it home instead of pouring it down the drain. I haven’t had to buy milk in over a year! I can’t give that up even for a challenge.

  • Sara says:

    I am in for this. We did this a few months ago. I would love to join in on this challenge!

  • Leslie says:

    I’m really happy about this challenge as I have been thinking it is much needed here. I have a few questions though. I need tortillas this week, but thinking in this vein has me not wanting to buy them…Does anyone have a recipe for tortillas that is easy?? I have tried to make them before….and they were awful! =)

  • Melinda says:

    We’re definitely in. I’d like to save money on groceries this month, plus our pantry is overflowing – I really need to get it scaled down.

  • Ellen Drake says:

    I absolutely LOVE the idea of an eating from the pantry challenge. Such a catchy name, such a resourceful idea! With that said, I have really put a lot of effort in the past few months into stocking up my pantry and freezer. My goal isn’t to stock food for any certain length of time, but more to stay a few steps ahead of the game in the event I miss a sale on a staple item or I need to avoid hitting the store for a week. Truth be told, I’ve worked so hard on my pantry and freezer stash that I would be sad to part with it simply because that would mean I’d have to work extra hard to build it back up again! Do you find yourself having these same sentiments or do you see yourself still having some reserves after this month-long journey? Thanks again for such an inspiring and encouraging blog. I look forward to reading it every day not just because it helps me to save money, but because he encourages me to be a better wife and mother. Thank you and happy new year!

  • Lisette says:

    I’m doing a mini week long challenge through the first of the year! I’ve been having to get creative, so it will be fun to see where the rest of the week takes us!

  • Coby says:

    I’m in! I already planned out the month’s menu! I will be purchasing fresh veggies through an organic co-op. I split this with my mom and will cost $22 for the month and give us tons of fresh veggies to go with our meals, but that is all I am spending!!!!

  • School lunches can be made from the pantry!

    Here are some ideas for school lunches:

    Tuna Fish Sandwiches (on homemade bread)
    Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches (on homemade bread)
    Turkey sandwiches with sprouts (if you have alfalfa seeds to sprout) and cranberry sauce
    BBQ turkey sandwiches
    Soup in a thermos with bread, biscuits, or crackers (chicken noodle, chicken and rice, barley, tomato, minestrone, chili, etc.)

    Sides:
    raisins
    craisins
    nuts (peanuts, cashew, pistachios, etc.)
    dried apricots or other dried fruit
    muffins
    pickles
    olives
    homemade pretzels
    foccacia
    rolls
    apples and carrots if you have them

    Desserts:
    hard candy
    oatmeal cookies
    chocolate chip cookies
    chocloate wafers
    popcorn
    homemade carmel corn
    homemade candy
    fudge

  • Crystal B. says:

    We aren’t in a position to eat from the pantry at this time, but I am going to be following to get ideas on how to better stock (also looking at a potential move, and don’t want to start stocking to move it…). I look forward to following this challenge and getting ideas from it. Thanks!

  • Briana says:

    Fabulous idea as usual! I know I have a pantry full of items I need to use up! 🙂

  • Heather says:

    I was thinking about doing something like this when I spotted your blog entry! My pantry has overflowed into our living room, so I think it’s about time to use up the food we have and stop restocking what doesn’t need to be stocked.
    Thanks. I can’t wait to see the recipes and can’t wait for the inspiration to keep me going until my pantry is emptied out. We’re hoping to move soon, so an added benefit will be less to pack up and move!

  • Amy says:

    My husband and I laughed when we saw this as I started this week using up all the stored food we have. How appropriated time-wise for me. I think I will do a weekly recap on my blog (I’m way behind in that department) of what I made each week for dinner at least. Thanks for adding fuel to the fire!

  • We do this on months where grocery money needs to go to medical bills.

    I’m at a spot where I really need to stock UP my food storage.

    It will be fun to see how this all plays out though.

    Tammy and Parker
    http://www.prayingforparker.com
    @ParkerMama on Twitter

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