It has been nothing short of chaotic here for the past few months. We’ve gone through pregnancy, a crazy delivery and NICU stay, summer school, T-ball, surgery, and more. I tried to plan ahead of time with some freezer meals for after I had out most recent addition, but when things didn’t go as planned, it was like a chain reaction was set off and we were thrown into “survival mode” which included fast food and more expensive convenience foods.
Now that things are finally settling down (knock on wood), I am focusing on reducing our grocery spending. I’ve had $400 budgeted each month for this year and we have gone over that the past few months due to the chaos. Enter the July pantry challenge.
What is a pantry challenge? You eat what you have and get creative to use things up. Along with this, you only buy milk, fresh fruit, and fresh vegetables. I decided I am going to do a modified version. In my modified version, I am still going to plan on using only what I have. In addition to buying just milk, fruit, and veggies… I am allowing myself to buy 1 additional ingredient per meal if I am out. This would cover things like mayo, teriyaki sauce, salsa, spices, etc. If the meal I am going to make is missing more than 1 ingredient, I won’t make it.
A pantry challenge is a great way to use up what you have, but is also a great way to cut your grocery bill for a month or two. I’m hoping to come in way under $400 for this month, and maybe even next month so there is a cushion in that budget category to stock up on meat the next time we need to.
I haven’t fully inventoried the freezers or cabinets yet, but that is the goal over the next 3-4 days. I have already planned meals and purchased groceries through July 8th because I had surgery yesterday and wanted to be able to not stress about what we were going to eat during recovery time. Those items were purchased in June so I’m not counting that cost in this month.
I did a pantry challenge around this time last year as well and was fairly successful. It’s nice to do this over the summer when the kids are home from school to help eat up what has been sitting on shelves.
I’ll be sharing my weekly meal plans on Sundays (starting tomorrow) which will also include a list of what I had on hand, what I needed to buy, and a link to recipes if I have them already posted on the blog.
Have you ever done a pantry challenge? What is one thing you learned during it?