Join My Pantry Challenge!

by Sally on October 23, 2012

I have a tendency to stockpile food (read: Hello, My Name is Sally. And I Hoard Groceries.). I can’t pass up a good deal, and there’s something comforting about having three extra canisters of oats on hand just in case.

But at some point, my basement shelves runneth over. And my wallet feels especially empty.

I embarked on my first Pantry Challenge last year because I wanted to stop being wasteful. I wanted to use what we had. For one month, I challenged myself to spend only $25 per week on food for my family of four.

I failed miserably, busting the budget yet still driving my husband to nearly divorce me (read: Pantry Challenge Update: Desperate Note From Real Dad).

And I’m crazy enough to try it again.

My Autumn ’12 Pantry Challenge begins this Sunday October 28th and ends Sunday November 18th.

Want to join me? Here are the rules this time:

  1. Spend $50 or less per week  for food*. Keep in mind that your weekly budget can be higher– the point is to significantly shrink your current grocery bill.
  2. Draft weekly meal plans and try very hard to stick to them (I’ll be posting mine).

If you’re joining me, tell me in the comments section!

*This budget does not include toilet paper, cough drops and other non-food groceries–this also does not include trick-or-treat goodies, which I don’t purchase until Halloween.
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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin Jingjit October 24, 2012 at 4:35 am

That would really be fun! We don’t have a stockpile of food (we only have one cupboard where we can store food) but you’ve inspired me to peek all the way back and make sure there’s nothing in there being overlooked.

Dina Rose October 24, 2012 at 8:42 am

Every summer I empty the pantry and the freezer, supplementing only when necessary. It’s a great feeling. Good luck.

Lisa October 24, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I’m in! Sort of! I purged my pantry supplies when we moved this fall, so my shelves aren’t overstocked at this point. However, after dropping a couple hundred dollars at Target over the last 2 days, I have decided I need to do some conscientious shopping. I also realized when I was grocery shopping at Meijer on Monday that I spent more on blocks of cheese than you did on groceries during your challenge last year! Yikes! I’m going to try to reduce my grocery budget, make and stick with menu plans, and most importantly, reduce the amount of food waste in our house. I’m also moved in enough to stop buying and start baking. I like knowing what’s in the food my kids eat…we love sweets, but I feel better knowing that the chocolate cupcakes I made this morning contain sugar, veggie oil, cocoa, and eggs….NOT preservatives and fake color. So, yes, long story short, I’m in for reducing my expenses, using what I have, and paying more attention to my purchases.

Sally October 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Lisa, thanks for your comment. I like the term “conscientious shopping”! This is about using what you have–and just like you said, an important part of that is reducing food waste. Glad you’re joining us!

Sally October 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Thanks Dina!

Sally October 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Robin–hope you found some good stuff back there. :)

Tessa October 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I will join you! I definitely need a pantry clean out and I may feel a little better going into Christmas spending, having been more frugal the month before.

Sally October 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Tessa, glad to have your company for this challenge! Excellent point about saving some money for holiday spending too.

Jenn October 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I’m in. My pantry is full and I need to clear it out! Plus I’ve been wanting to start meal planning.

Sally October 24, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Terrific. Welcome, Jenn!

Carrie G October 24, 2012 at 6:47 pm

I’m in & started this week! Tonight’s dish featured prunes, capers, olives & bay leaves! The shelves are already getting lighter :-)

Becky October 24, 2012 at 7:53 pm

We are on the tail end of a similar quest, but mine included everything in both of our freezers as well. Didn’t quite get to everything in either the pantry or the freezers (frozen pineapple chunks – what in the world did I buy those for and how can I use them now? Red rice, wild rice, brown rice, oh my!), but we are definitely lighter than we were. Won’t know the grocery savings until the end of the month, but I’m hopeful!

Sally October 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Becky–use the frozen pineapple in smoothies! Keep us posted on your savings.

Sally October 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Carrie–that’s great! Sounds like an interesting dish–what did you make??

erica October 25, 2012 at 3:54 am

i am in! family of 5 with a major high grocery bill…need to start somewhere:)

Sally October 25, 2012 at 6:32 am

Erica–wonderful! Thanks for joining us.

Danielle Omar, Food Confidence RD October 25, 2012 at 8:01 am

I’m going to try it myself! I have a pantry full of food (budding grocery hoarder) and would love to see it get empty…if not just for the joy of filling it up. :-) Going to post on my Facebook page to get some more takers!

Lisa October 25, 2012 at 8:08 am

I will join you! I’m on a limited budget but live alone and would love all the help I can get!

Sally October 25, 2012 at 8:17 am

Danielle–hooray! Thanks for posting it too.

Sally October 25, 2012 at 8:17 am

Lisa–good to have you joining us!

Kristin October 25, 2012 at 8:24 am

Would love to give this a try!!!!

Sally October 25, 2012 at 8:25 am

Kristin–would love to have you join us!

Greenstrivings October 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Okay, I’ll give this a shot, but with the caveat that I’m participating in a food swap next week, so brackets around that stuff — although I’m planning on bringing these gingerbread toaster pastries with pear filling:

http://www.eatthelove.com/2012/02/gingerbread-pastries-bourbon-pear-filling/

And I actually have almost all the ingredients in, yes, the pantry. Which in my small kitchen is more of a metaphorical reference to the cabinets in general rather than a beautifully-shelved separate space. Anyway! $50/week, onward and upward!

Sally October 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Wow–those pastries look amazing! Glad you’re on board. :)

Laura Ann October 27, 2012 at 10:33 am

I’m in! What a great idea. I feel so guilty going out for dinner when I have food in the pantry AND in the freezer.

Sally October 27, 2012 at 10:41 am

Laura Ann–great! Welcome! And yes, I feel the same way. When I took an inventory of what I had in the house (between the pantry, fridge, basement shelves, and chest freezer), I was a bit embarrassed…

Anna October 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I’m in! Making my list this afternoon.

Sarah October 28, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I am in! Heading to Aldi to spend my $50 or less for this week! I have lots in the freezer and pantry I can’t wait to use up! Woohoo!!!!

Sally October 28, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Awesome, Sarah! I’m doing a lot of my shopping at Aldi today as well. Good luck!

Sally October 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Anna–that’s great! Keep me posted on how you’re doing.

Bobbi Jo Nichols October 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I am in. This is the perfect time for me to do this too. Money is short and I have a lot in my pantries, freezers and fridges. Love things like this. Hugs, Bobbi Jo

Sally October 28, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Bobbi Jo–glad to hear you’re joining us!

Wendy October 29, 2012 at 4:19 am

I ‘m joining you because we shop at sam’s club and realized that we had expired cans if clam chowder and chicken broth in our pantry. I realized that we can keep expired cans after the expiration date an I am on a mission to use then up by the end of the year.

Teresa October 29, 2012 at 10:35 am

Want to join! Just figured our October grocery bill to be approx$300, 2adults 1 one yr old, and living overseas. My husband was shocked and I was ecstatic!

Sally October 29, 2012 at 10:46 am

Teresa–yay! That’s a pretty good bill for a month! I usually spend $150/week for a family of four. And some months, even more including farmer’s market purchases and “quick trips” to Trader Joe’s that turn into multiple grocery bags! Glad to have you join us.

Kristin October 30, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I am going to try this after my cleanse is over in a couple of weeks. Thanks for the challenge – makes it seem more doable if you think of it as a game.

Sally October 30, 2012 at 7:45 pm

That’s great Kristin! Please keep me posted on how it all goes.

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