The past few years I have been enjoying participating in pantry challenges. A pantry challenge is when you spend a specific number of days (in my case it’s usually a month) focusing on eating the food you already have in your home, rather than buying food at the grocery store. This food might come from your pantry, your fridge, your freezer, the back of your cupboard, the basement storage room, under your bed (I hope not here)…in short wherever you keep your food!
During the pantry challenge it’s important to limit the amount of money you spend at the grocery store. I always choose to give myself a $50 weekly budget during a pantry challenge. I’ve found this gives me enough money to buy some necessities and perishables, but limits me enough so that I am forced to focus on eating from my pantry. If you are unsure how much money to allow yourself during a pantry challenge I recommend cutting your regular grocery budget in half.
For Example: If you regularly spend $100 a week on groceries, only spend $50 a week during the pantry challenge.
Why a Pantry Challenge?
You may be wondering what the point of a pantry challenge is, and I get it! We don’t want to put ourselves through any extra stress if we don’t need to, right?!? I can assure you that a pantry challenge IS worth the effort and here’s why:
1. A Pantry Challenge Saves You Money
When you complete a pantry challenge successfully you will find extra money in your budget (I mean, who doesn’t want that???). For example: my regular grocery budget for my family of 5 is $120 a week. During the pantry challenge I only budget $50 a week to buy groceries. This gives us an extra $70 each week, or $280 for the month.
2. A Pantry Challenge Prevents Food Waste
Have you ever found something in the back of your fridge, and it’s moldy??? I have! Many times! I’m sure you had good intentions to use it up (we all do), but then life happens, it gets pushed behind some other foods, and eventually ends up in the trash.
When you participate in a pantry challenge you are actively using up all your food to prevent it from going to waste, meaning you will get the full value from your groceries. I mean, you spent money on it, you deserve to enjoy it before it goes bad!
During a pantry challenge you should be using up food that:
- You have forgotten about.
- You bought but your family doesn’t enjoy eating it so you never used it.
- You have been avoiding because it requires extra prep or effort.
- You bought during a stock up sale and haven’t gotten around to using it all yet.
3. A Pantry Challenge Teaches You New Frugal Methods
When you are forced out of your comfort zone to try something new, you are able to learn important lessons and skills. A pantry challenge will help you to learn new frugal methods in the kitchen. These are lessons that you can carry on with you, even after the challenge is over. This in turn will help you continuously spend less at the grocery store.
4. A Pantry Challenge is Rewarding
I love challenging myself! I love the feeling of accomplishment once I have successfully completed a challenge. It’s one of the reasons I do the Pantry Challenge year after year. It’s rewarding! Knowing that I did something hard and came out the other end makes all of the sacrificing worth it! And I want you to feel that sense of accomplishment too!
Want to join me???
So….do you want to join me for my next Pantry Challenge (please say yes!)??? One of the things I have learned, over and over again, is that there is strength in numbers. When we have a community sharing ideas and supporting one another we will be much more likely to reach our goals and see success!
This is why I started the Pantry Challenge in the first place. It all began a few years ago on Instagram. I needed a little extra cash one month and decided to eat out of my pantry for a month. I posted about it on Instagram hoping someone (anyone!) would take pity on me and join me in this challenge. Fortunately, I had many many supporters and that community made the challenge so much more enjoyable and doable.
So, my next challenge will be January 1-31st and I would love for you to join!
Here are a few ways you can join. Pick one way, or pick all three! It doesn’t matter, just join!
1. Share on Instagram
Share your pantry challenge ideas and progress on Instagram using the hashtag #januarypantrychallenge. If you tag me @sweetfrugallife you will even be entered into my giveaway for a $100 gift card to the restaurant of your choice!
Following the hashtag #januarypantrychallenge on instagram will also give you some fresh ideas and inspiration from others participating. Be sure to follow me on instagram and check my stories daily. I will regularly be sharing my progress there.
2. Join My Email List
Throughout the month of January I will be emailing weekly emails to anyone who signs up. These emails will give you some tips, encouragement and ideas to help you see success during the challenge.
Be sure to sign up for this email list here so that you can get these special tips delivered right to your inbox!
3. Join Solo!
Not a fan of any of the above ideas? That’s ok! Just decide your own rules and participate in your own way. If flying solo is your thing, then do it! The most important thing is that you are doing what works best for you, staying strong, shopping smart and saving money!