This pantry challenge is custom. As in, I totally made up the rules! I love challenges in general. They force you to do a good thing by applying a little positive pressure.
I had two goals going into the pantry challenge:
- Use up as much old food as possible before I have to throw it away. Cut down on waste!
- Save a bit of grocery money
No Spend Pantry Challenge Rules
I’ve seen others do a complete no-spend pantry challenge, where they don’t go grocery shopping during the challenge. That’s not for me. I didn’t want to sacrifice health or overspend before or after to make up for not spending during it. However, I didn’t spend money on any of the recipes below. I used only what I had in my house.
I also had some overall snags:
- My husband went on a work trip halfway through. At that point, my life was in survival mom mode. The pantry challenge went on pause for a few days.
- My hubby has Crohn’s disease. Due to this, he can’t do gluten or dairy. It’s fine, but part of why I have random ingredients in my pantry.
- I have a bad habit of buying ingredients for healthy recipes that I never get around to making. 😂Yikes.
The Pantry Challenge: Clean Out & Recipes
Now, here’s how it went!
Day 1: Cleaned out the pantry. I put all the food that needed to be used up in a tub on the counter.
*We had quite a few half-opened boxes of crackers, a can of sardines, and odds and ends we could use that night for our “snacky dinner.”
Pro Tip: Keep your pantry challenge a simple as possible. If you overthink it, you’ll have a hard time following through. This is why I kept the challenge to dried goods only (and not all the food in my house).
Day 2: Made pumpkin muffins with canned pumpkin, flour, and old honey that needed to be used up.
Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food: I’ve made these before. They’re simple and delicious.
Day 3: Made chili from beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste – all things newly expired or will be within the month.
The lentils turned out to be like refried beans in consistency. I wasn’t sure if it would work. But it cooked into the chili just fine.
No recipe used. I went with what I had, added meat, and put in seasonings.
Day 4 (Which was actually 3 days later): Made coconut ice cream. I had no idea if this would turn out any good, as I altered the recipe a lot. And it didn’t. The consistency was off.
But I spent a long time trying to figure out how to use macadamia nuts and why in the world I bought them in the first place.
The picture shows before I put it in the freezer.
Day 5: Made pumpkin protein balls. This used up my last can of pumpkin. And I had the rest of the ingredients (or similar ingredients) handy.
Recipe used by Wellness by Kay: These were yummy!
Day 6: I forgot a picture, but I had dried lentils and gluten-free pizza crust mix to use up.
I had ham in the freezer from the holidays still. So, I made a ham and lentil soup recipe I used to make. It worked! Soup is very versatile.
For the pizza crust, I just made the dough into more of rolls/breadsticks. My family loves carbs, so there were no complaints.
Day 7: Banana bread. This used up more of the wheat flour, the fancy sugar I bought (for who knows what), and old bananas we had lying around. I wasn’t sure how this would turn out because I didn’t have the yogurt the recipe called for. But it was delicious.
Related: Frugal Meal Ideas For Families
I honestly forgot most of this was in the pantry. I feel good about using up things that would have been tossed. Life is busy lately, and it’s shockingly easy to forget about, well, everything. I also saved a good chunk of money on snacks for the week.
Most pantry recipes were found by a simple Google search or in one of my cookbooks. And I was able to mix and match what I had without too much trouble. (The only recipe it absolutely did not work for was the coconut ice cream.)
Plus, the kids LOVED that I was baking. I don’t do it nearly as often as I used to. I’m waiting for them to ask me if I need to clean out the pantry again!
Maybe a freezer challenge?!
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Will you take the pantry challenge? You have nothing to lose, and it’s more moolah in your pocket.
And check out these other fun challenges to try: