Join My Pantry Challenge!

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.

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. says

    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.

  2. Lisa says

    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.

    • says

      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!

  3. Tessa says

    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.

  4. Becky says

    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!

  5. says

    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:

    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!

  6. Laura Ann says

    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.

    • says

      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…

  7. Sarah says

    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!!!!

  8. Wendy says

    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.

  9. Teresa says

    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!

    • says

      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.

  10. says

    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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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