My Pantry Challenge Recipes & Meals: Save Money Today!

food pantry clean out, no spend canned goods

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.

food pantry clean out

*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.

pantry challenge inventory recipes, ideas, and meals 2024

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.

chili before and after

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.

pantry challenge rules before and after

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.

pumpkin balls in a white dish

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.

banana bread for the pantry challenge no food waste challenge with canned goods

Recipe used by Sally’s Baking Addiction

Related: Frugal Meal Ideas For Families

The Results

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!

What’s Next?

Maybe a freezer challenge?!

Don’t miss the Wealthy Woman nesletter – with tips and wealth-building ideas. Plus you’ll have access to great free resources!

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:

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