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?