Lessons Learned From The Pantry Challenge

by Sally on November 20, 2012

Much to my family’s relief, the Autumn Pantry Challenge is over. Though we struggled through last year’s challenge (I got crabby and actually gained weight), it was a lot easier this time around. I chalk that up to a more realistic weekly budget ($50) and an especially large stockpile of food to start.

I went about $5 over budget this last week. But I also got resourceful. We had leftover homemade hummus but no pita, so I made my own (recipe here):

I also used up a can of black beans for these brownies that everyone loved (recipe here):

I spent about $150 on groceries for the three week challenge–that’s a savings of $200-250 compared to my usual spending.

Top takeaways from the Autumn Pantry Challenge:

  • Keeping an inventory made all the difference. I wrote down everything I had in the freezer and pantry, divided it into categories like “meats” and “grains”, then crossed off items as I used them. When I planned out the next week’s meals, all I had to do was glance at my lists to figure out what I had on hand.
  • Meal planning. Meal planning. Meal planning. Mapping out each entire week in detail–and knowing I had all the ingredients I needed–made life easier and lessened my stress level immensely.
  • Sticking to my grocery list was painful but empowering. I shopped only for basics–that meant milk, veggies, and fruit, plus any additional ingredients I needed for dinners that week. When I spotted a great deal, I couldn’t stock up like I normally would. But spending so much less each week felt terrific.

If you did your own Pantry Challenge this month, how did it go and what did you learn?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin Jingjit November 21, 2012 at 12:01 am

Mmm.. I love black bean brownies!

Stacy @School-Bites.com November 21, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Awesome post and tips, Sally! Can’t wait to try making the pita bread. I have a black bean brownie recipe that I love, too. They are crazy good! No hint of black beans at all.

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