The Pantry Challenge: How Low Can I Keep My Grocery Budget This Month?

The first morning back to school, my 14yo son’s looking in the pantry and declares, “There is nothing in here to take with my lunch.”

Uh, Wha…?

This is what he was looking at.

pre-pantry chaosI decided it was high time to take this thorn out of my side. Obviously, we have plenty of food. But who can find it? A couple of bloggers are hosting a “Eat from the Pantry Challenge” and I decided it was just the kick in the pantry that I needed.

The first step was to move things around and take stock.

pre-pantry organized

Looks better, eh? (Humor me.)

I actually wrote everything down and was quite shocked at the amount of inventory I had packed in that space.

one can cream of celery on can diced tomatoes four cans black beans three cans evaporated milk 1 can cheddar cheese soup three cans cream of mushroom soup crushed pinapple two cans baked beans refried beans two cans sweet corn two cans clam chowder turkey gravy green beans three cans tomato paste can crab meat taco shells three boxes penne pasta two mac and cheese five boxes spaghetti German egg noodles black olives bread crumbs syrup fried onions roasted red pepper dressing sherry cooking wine red wine vinegar yellow mustard spicy brown mustard peanut butter dill pickles one packet onion mushroom box elbow macaroni box ziti rigati bacon bits two cans tuna red beans and rice packet dry split peas six potatoes one sweet potatoe saffron rice packet dry pinto beans white rice five jars red sauce five jars white sauce…

And that’s just the one shelf.

The goal is to create meals with what you already have on hand. A Pantry Cleanup, if you will. Once I started taking stock, it wasn’t too hard to find a full week’s worth of meals. I’m sure there’s more, but I stopped there for now.

I still need to go to the store tomorrow: we need milk; bread (not making that from scratch yet); bananas; applesauce; coffee. Definitely need coffee. We go through that like whales eat krill. Oh, and poptarts. One concession I made that makes my 14yo very happy.

Truth be told, it’s already been two weeks since I went to the store — The Hubs got milk at one point. We stayed home for Christmas and did not have family visiting, so I’ve already been working through some things that have been piling up. I’m challenging myself to go through even more and see how much I can save that can be put towards debt instead.

My original goal for the month’s grocery spending was $400. I’m going to take out $200 tomorrow and see how long I can make that last. Just to clarify, my definition of groceries covers more than just food:

  • personal items; hygiene, etc.
  • pet food
  • small household/kitchen items
  • The Hubs’ lunches (until he deploys)
  • cleaning supplies

The Pantry Challenge Button

It’s not too late to join in on the challenge! You don’t have to have a blog! Check out Money Saving Mom or Life As Mom for more inspiration.

8 thoughts on “The Pantry Challenge: How Low Can I Keep My Grocery Budget This Month?

  1. While we were living in Germany, we were in a car accident on the A3. It was a totalschaden so we had to get a new car right away and we were broke! We seriously ate out of our pantry for three weeks. It was insane what we had stocked up in there.


  2. I chuckled at the 14 yo’s remark. Sounds like my 17 yo and my spouse. I announced that we were doing the same thing and spouse and kid promptly went out and bought themselves chips, Nesquick, white bread, hot dog rolls, nasty hot dogs and few other horrid things in Costco sizes for their personal consumption lest (Heaven forfend!) I make them eat beans and rice, and meat and vegetables and NO SNACKS for a month….

    When does your husband deploy?


    jolyn Reply:

    Well aren’t they just all alike! I just went to the store today and my 14yo was like, “You didn’t get very much.” While looking in a still very full pantry.
    The Hubs leaves soon, very soon…;)


  3. LOL I was the one thinking there was nothing to pack in my four year old’s lunch for today! [Stop by my blog and take a look at my pantry- you’ll understand why I’m laughing.]
    Your goal seems very realistic! Good luck sticking to it!


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