Pantry Challenge Update: Week One

Ten days into my Pantry Challenge, and my half-empty refrigerator is making me uneasy–especially because I know it’s only going to get emptier.

This week’s revelations:

Grocery shopping with $25 is depressing. Armed with a calculator, Henry went shopping with me Sunday and added up our purchases as we went along. We spent $22.25 on about a dozen items like milk, yogurt, bananas, and veggies–and today, we’re already running low on milk.

The good stuff is going quickly. Those two beautiful jars of homemade applesauce I canned in the fall? My boys ate it all in three days. The dried apricots and cranberries are gone. We have one granola bar left. (Scratch that, my husband just ate it.) There is so little to snack on that I find myself giving up and making a cup of tea instead. That is probably a good thing.

There are no funds for fun stuff. Apparently, beer and chips are non-negotiables for Super Bowl Sunday (or so my husband says). When I told him there was no way I was spending half of my weekly budget on Guinness, he trudged off to the store with his personal credit card. (Yes, we each have a fun-money account for purchases we don’t agree on.)

I’m now psycho about food waste. Let’s jut say that if you come over and ask for a glass of orange juice and leave an inch or two in your glass, I’ll be refrigerating it and offering it to you next time you visit.

This week’s menu (you’ll notice some repeats from last week because I ended up swapping a few meals out):

Super Bowl Sunday: Cocktail meatballs from grass-fed beef stash, homemade mac-n-cheese, raw veggies w/ dip, and homemade cornbread

Monday: Birthday dinner for friends: Whole wheat spaghetti with homemade sauce from freezer, green salad, homemade bread, chocolate pie

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Fish with baked fries* and steamed broccoli

Thursday: Chicken piccata with fettuccine* and green salad

Friday: Lentil & brown rice casserole and frozen Pennsylvania carrots from freezer (thanks Mom!)

Saturday: Dinner at friends’ house

*These are meals I made last month at a local dinner-assembly place & purchased with a Living Social coupon

A few of you mentioned you were going to try your own version of a Pantry Challenge. How’s it going?

Liked this post?

Sign up for my weekly Reality Bite email with tips, ideas, and encouragement and you'll receive a FREE e-book, "16 Game-Changing Tips For Feeding Kids".


  1. Steph says

    Ha! Way to stay strong and just say no to the beer. It is definitely a budget buster. I usually try to stay in the $50/week budget range and last week I spent $38 at Kroger (saved $48). I planned out about 25 meals based on what we already have. I just need a few more ingredients, but I am going to wait for those to go on sale so I should only need to buy basics from here on out for a few weeks.

    • says

      Wow, $50 a week?!? That’s amazing. I was trying to hold steady at $100/week but have been going waaay over lately–which is why I decided to finally do this challenge. It is smart to plan out that many meals in advance. I usually only do a week at a time, but I think I’m going to follow your lead and start planning further.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *