Recently, I unveiled my Ultimate List of Ways to Save Money. It’s a short but growing list of all the ways I talk about saving money around the house.
#9 on the list: Do a pantry challenge every so often.
Soon after posting this, I received a comment that made me realize not everyone is familiar with the term “pantry challenge.” I’m not sure where I first heard that term. It’s highly possible I made it up, although I believe I heard about it in a local online deals forum.
What is a Pantry Challenge?
A pantry challenge is where you try to use up the contents of your pantry. Some people do it to get by when money is tight, others do it when they’re trying to fulfill a “no-spend” challenge, and I do it when my pantry gets too cluttered and out of control.
For instance, you might challenge yourself to not visit the grocery store for three days while you utilize ingredients from your pantry, fridge, and freezer to make a complete meal. I can usually scrounge up a frozen pack of chicken or beef, some pasta, and ingredients for a sauce or cheese topping of some kind.
I also like to use random bottles of sauce, 2/3 empty bags of shredded cheese, fresh herbs on the verge of going bad, and leftover unused veggies from a meal several days ago. Really, anything goes. The ultimate goal is to avoid throwing away perfectly good food (and $$) in the trash for no good reason.
My favorite version of this is a fridge challenges when I feel like the fridge is crowded and we’re on the verge of throwing away some expensive ingredients like mushrooms, bell peppers, olives, basil, or meat.
Fridge Challenge Example
In fact, just today I made a lunch entree completely out of leftover refrigerator items and a $1 clearance whole wheat pizza dough from the grocery store.
- 1 diced sweet red pepper (originally bought for stir-fry but didn’t end up needing this one)
- 2 diced medium tomatoes on the vine (bought for sandwiches last weekend, but never used)
- 1/2 package shredded Mexican cheese blend (from our spaghetti dinner last night)
- 1/3 cup diced Kalamata olives (from a pizza I made last week)
- 1 pre-made refrigerated whole wheat pizza dough (bought on clearance for $1)
This turned out so delicious that I’m kicking myself for not buying all of the pizza dough on clearance that day. I forgot you can freeze this stuff.
Talk about saving money! It’s like finding money on the ground (or in the fridge, at least). I think I’ll go ImpulseSave $10 to congratulate myself for being a pantry challenge genius. :)
Are you a pantry challenge genius? Please share your pics with us on Facebook!