How to Do a Pantry Challenge

Want To Do a Pantry Challenge? Here’s How to Get Started

If you’ve heard about people doing the Pantry Challenge and are interested in trying it out for yourself, we’re here to help you get started. A Pantry Challenge is an excellent new trend that people embark on to save money and reduce food waste. That’s why we’ve written a how-to guide to guide you on your very own Pantry Challenge. Here’s everything you need to know about doing a Pantry Challenge:


What Is a Pantry Challenge?

A Pantry Challenge is simple. All you must do is eat as much as you can of the food that you already have in your house. However, the hard part is to do this while buying as few groceries as possible. This forces you to get creative with what you cook and how you combine ingredients. Can you find a fun way to combine that box of macaroni and a forgotten can of beans lying in the back of your cupboard without buying too much else?


Why Do a Pantry Challenge?

There are plenty of reasons to do a Pantry Challenge. First and foremost, it helps you clear out all the old food sitting around in the back of your pantry that is just waiting to be used. Secondly, it enables you to save some much-needed cash on groceries as you economically make your way through what you already have. Finally, the challenge reduces the amount of food you waste, which is good for the environment and your wallet.


How To Do a Pantry Challenge

There’s no set way to do a Pantry Challenge. Some people give themselves a strict budget of what they’re allowed to spend at the grocery store each week, while others focus on using every item in their cupboard until it’s empty. With that in mind, here are a few key steps you’ll want to take to set yourself up for success:


Take stock of what you have.

Before pulling out the recipe book, take paper and a pen and write down every item in your cupboard. A thorough inventory will allow you to know what you’re working with as you begin meal planning. You should also include items in your fridge and freezer, such as that bottle of salad dressing or frozen peas that has been sitting there for a few months.


Set ground rules about spending

This is where you get the most wiggle room in the Pantry Challenge. Maybe you want to wait at least a week before you’re allowed to go shopping. Or perhaps you’re allowed to go whenever you want, but your weekly budget is limited to only $20. Whatever rules you come up with, write them down and post them to the fridge for the whole family to see. This will help you resist the urge to abandon ship and order pizza.


Start meal planning for the whole week

Waiting until the last minute to come up with tonight’s meal will make you much less likely to stick to your Pantry Challenge. Try meal planning for the whole week so that when the time comes to cook, you’ve got all your ducks in a row. Bonus points if you can meal prep ahead of time or cook enough for two meals. After all, last night’s dinner leftovers make a perfect lunch for tomorrow!


Set a goal for yourself

Sure, a Pantry Challenge is a great way to save money and reduce food waste. But beyond that, what do you hope to achieve with the money you’re saving? Are you trying to bolster your savings for an emergency fund? Save for a family vacation? If you have a clear goal in mind that you’re working towards, this can help motivate you to keep up with the challenge. You can even dedicate the portion of your food budget you typically use to go into a savings account.


If you’re interested in other ways to save money or learn more about budgeting, check out the School of ACE blog!