Save Money on Groceries With the Pantry Challenge


Keeping a well-stocked pantry and a dialed-in grocery budget is kind of my thing. So when I was asked to take one for The Penny Hoarder team and do the pantry challenge, I didn’t hesitate. To be fair, I like the challenge of creating something out of nothing.

With pantry challenges, you’re competing against your own cooking habits to find delicious meals using what you have on hand. So I rolled up my sleeves and got started taking stock of my pantry shelves.

How the Pantry Challenge Works

There’s no right or wrong way to do a pantry challenge. But the idea is to reduce food waste by eating down the contents of your pantry. This means no grocery shopping during the entire challenge. GASP.

The trick of pantry cooking with a mostly empty fridge is that you have to get creative with your meal planning. And this was more challenging than I expected because, as vegetarians, our family’s daily diet relies on lots of perishables like fresh vegetables and eggs.

Because I hate grocery shopping, I typically create a monthly menu and try to stretch the time between grocery store trips to as long as possible. So when we started this pantry challenge, it had been two weeks since my last grocery trip, and things in the fridge were getting desperate. Let’s just say the light was on but not much was home.

To make the food we already had in the house stretch to feed a family of four until the weekend, I had to be frugal. Here are a few things we learned along the way.

Need to make a few dollars go a long way this month? Here’s a meal plan complete with a shopping list for how to feed two for two weeks for just $65.

4 Pantry Challenge Tips to Help You Succeed

To have a successful pantry challenge, it helps to have a solid strategy for meal planning and recipe ideas. Here are the things that helped us shop our pantry and make the most of what was on the shelf.

1. Start With Protein

As vegetarians, our protein sources can be a tricky balancing…



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