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Let’s Save Some Money: The Eat from the Pantry and Freezer Challenge!

Let's Save Some Money: The Eat from the Pantry and Freezer Challenge!

Would you like to join me in saving literally hundreds of dollars on your grocery bill over the next month?

It’s time to eat from our freezers and pantries!

The impetus for this challenge was the fact that each summer I save up extra cash for purchasing fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables for preserving.

And maybe also the fact that my pantry and freezer are both in need of a good cleaning. An actual scrub down, yes, but also cleaning out foods that we have in abundance, rather than continuing to go to the store every week or two to add to ALL the food that we already have. Have you ever wondered exactly how much food is hiding in your kitchen?Β 

Here’s the plan:

Wednesday, May 16th- Challenge launch date (get ready, get set…)

I’ll kick things off and share a bit about my own process and goals next Wednesday, and welcome you to share your goals as well.

This launch date will give you a few more days to figure out what you have on hand and get those meal plans ready to go for the following Monday.

Monday, May 21- GO!!! Eating from the pantry and freezer commences.

I’ll share my own meal plan for the first week of the challenge, and open a link-up for you to share yours as well. I’ll be tracking how much I spend each week of the challenge, and it would be great if others shared their financial goals and spending as well!

Each Monday from May 21- June 11 (4 weeks in total), I’ll be posting my meals plans and sharing my progress and you’ll be able to check in and do the same.

How to join in with the challenge

What you need to do between now and May 21st:

  1. Decide how much money you want to save and how long you think you’ll do the challenge for. I’ll be at it for 4 weeks and you can join in for a little or as long as you want.
  2. Do a detailed inventory of your freezers, pantry and fridge
  3. Write up a meal plan for at least the first week of the challenge
  4. Make a short list and purchase any fresh foods you need to complete your meals (I’ll still be buying eggs, dairy and fresh produce during the challenge)
  5. If you need extra help, particularly with the inventories and the meal planning, download a copy of my book Plan It, Don’t Panic: Everything You Need to Successfully Create and Use a Meal Plan. It includes printable planning pages (for inventories, meal planning, and grocery shopping), as well as plenty of tips for taking inventory of your food and (of course) on how to make and use a meal plan.

During this month-long challenge, I will be putting all of my ebooksΒ on sale. Use the coupon code CHALLENGE25 to take 25% off any single ebook, OR use code BUNDLE50 to buy all 3 of my ebooks at 50% off!

Sound like fun? I love the chance to clear out my kitchen, make good use of the food that we have, and save a lump sum of cash while I’m at it.

Will you join me as I eat from my freezer and pantry?

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42 Comments

  1. I’m totally in but can we go to the store and just not spend as much? I don’t have tons in my freezer and pantry to last a whole month of no food shopping? Add that school is out as of the 23rd and I know I couldn’t last that long with no food shopping.

    so I was thinking cut my food bill in half or more and do the challenge? or is that so not the challenge and I’m thinking wrong?

    1. You can definitely still go to the store. You’ll see in my post next week, when I share my plan and my goals, that I’m not going to avoid the store entirely. I’ll still be spending a small amount on dairy, eggs and produce, to go with all the other food I already have. There’s no set way that you have to do this, so if just decreasing what you spend is your goal, that’s perfectly fine!

  2. I want to join you and I think I can actually do it too! I have so many canned tomatoes and frozen corn from last summer and we got a 1/8 of a cow not too long ago and I have 2 chickens so my husband shouldn’t go be upset that we are having terrible pantry meals haha. And I just stocked up on beans in my freezer. Wow I do have a lot of food right now! When will your books go on sale?

  3. Stephanie-I want to do this! Have wanted to do this for a long time now, but here’s my question. I feel like I stock up when things go on a good sale, and what if I deplete my stock, and then nothing’s on sale? πŸ™‚ I have a full freezer and pantry right now, so I have plenty, but I’m always afraid I’ll go spend more once my stock is depleted down. Any thoughts on my “fears”? πŸ™‚ Thanks!

    1. I do think about that myself sometimes, but I also know that I tend to get to a place where we have so much that I just don’t feel justified in spending any more money. I think that if you’re amazingly organized and you really keep up with your stockpile, and you always eat through all the foods that you buy, you rotate through what’s in your pantry/freezer, etc. then I suppose you could deplete your stock and then have to spend more on non-sale items.

      For most of us, I think that things tend to get a little bit buried, or we buy so much that some of it gets towards the end of its shelf/freezer life, and that’s primarily why I do it. I still get the benefit of being a careful shopper, but I also make sure that I don’t overbuy or stockpile to a degree that things are going to waste. Does that make sense?

      Also, I feel like I just have to trust that things will be on sale again, and that our money will stretch as it needs to, and that God will provide for our needs in the right time and the right way. He always does. πŸ™‚

  4. Perfect timing! I was planning on doing this already! After my husband taking 7 weeks off for paternity (and us eating out many meals), I was wanting to save some money this month and eat what we have on hand in the freezer/pantry. I think we should be set for the month except for buying milk, eggs, and fresh fruit.

    I already have an Excel spreadsheet I use to track what food I have in the freezer. Just gotta add the pantry items.

  5. What a great idea! I’ve got a ton of food languishing away in my pantry while I get new groceries every week. I really need to do this — thanks for the reminder!

  6. This truly is perfect timing! My second child is due to arrive sometime in the next couple of weeks and I have been rampantly going through our miniature freezer in an effort to put meals aside and stockpile some new goods (we currently live in England – small fridge, small freezer). About 5 more dinners and the freezer is done!!! Pantry has a little longer to go, but we are on our way.

  7. Excited about this challenge! We are about to get 1/32 of a cow in our first co-op order–good timing!!

  8. I am in on this challenge! I need to use up those things lurking in our freezer since I cleaned it out last spring! With the new seeds/plants going in the garden, I need to use up some more of the things I have canned so I can use the jars for this years bounty.

  9. Really, this couldn’t have come at a better time. My in-laws will be here on 5/20 for a 3 week visit, and DH and I were just talking about using the freezer and pantry during their stay. Feeding 3 extra adults for 3 weeks is a huge financial challenge for us, and I’m excited to participate!

  10. This is great! I actually just did an inventory of my deep freezer and the fridge-freezer (is that what you call that? I never know) a few weeks ago, and am actually DOING this very thing now! We usually end up spending about $600 for our family of is, excluding the $105 monthly milk shares for three gallons (we live in VA, where milk shares is the legal way to get raw milk), but including non-food items such as toilet paper, toothpaste, and other random items. I want to get in on this for next month, as (1) it so conveniently begins (GO!) at our new paymonth and (2) this will help us as we safe for our midwife payment installments (since VA insurance also doesn’t cover homebirth midwifery.)
    Thanks for doing this! I love your website and am excited to be a little part of the Keeper movement πŸ™‚

  11. Just downloaded your books…very excitied to read them! I will try the challenge, this ought to be fun! Have lots of work to do before we start, between that & planting season I’m going to be busy!!! We can purchase fresh foods during the challenge right? Or else the kids lunches are going to be interesting!

  12. Great idea! We actually started this this past week and it’s been going well so far! Our goals are to:

    1) save some money

    2) make room for quick and easy pantry/freezer items for once our baby arrives, due at the end of June. I am hoping that at least until the fall we can avoid doing much cooking, so why have a pantry full of staples like lentils, baking goods, etc. when we could eat them up now and then have more convenient/prepared foods on hand?

    I’ll be happy if we can make it through about May 20 or so without buying much new stuff – just milk, a little produce, and some peanut butter to help us use up some bread and crackers. πŸ™‚

  13. I need to do this. We raised so much meat last year that all my freezer space was full. I’m finally starting to see a little space the fridge freezers. This plan would get me more organized about using the freezer food as well as what’s left in the pantries. I’m in!

  14. This is a great idea! We have purchased half a cow the past few years and would like to soon start getting some pig too (maybe chickens??), and of course want to save up for fresh produce this summer to can! We will be using as much as we can from our freezer and pantry to cut down on the current food budget!

    Here are some great tips on saving in some areas of your budget when you are trying to reach goals!
    http://www.iheartbudgets.net/2012/05/09/budgeting-basics-part-3-setting-up-your-budget-and-reverse-engineering-your-goals/

  15. I’m in as well. Doing a freezer and pantry inventory is on my to do list, plus I want to save some grocery money to pay for the 1/2 cow we just got in the freezer. Plus we have just got a lamb in the freezer. This challenge will help me spread the better cuts of meat out, and allow me to use up the stewing steak which always left!

  16. I have never tried something like it before… but certainly want to give it a chance. Thanks Stephanie.. for this CHALLENGE πŸ™‚

  17. We would love to join you and blog about this! Great idea…thanks for spurring us on! Saving money AND cleaning out are always good goals. πŸ™‚

  18. Great idea – we travel a lot in the summer and so it’s perfect timing to clean things out – that way I don’t have to worry about the freezer dying while we are gone! I’m in!

  19. Due to the distance traveled I only go into town once a month, so I am already doing this – I even buy enough milk or what I think will be enough and feeze it. I pour a little of each gallon jug into a jar and then put the jugs in the freezer. This along save me $1.00 per gallon

  20. I have been doing this since the beginning of the Month. I just finished reading the book “Seven” by Jen Hatmaker.
    I could not make my crew eat only 7 foods for the month and refuse to make myself a separate meal every night. We chose to eat out of the pantry and freezers.
    I have slipped up only once, tonight, when I chose to take the ballet dancers to Wendy’s instead of cooking for the second time tonight.

  21. This comes at the perfect time. I was thinking of doing something similar and this is just the push I needed. Though I’m coming at this from a different perspective. I haven’t been eating very healthfully and want to change that.

    As much as I’d love to toss everything and start fresh, my frugal nature and budget won’t allow for that. But if I use up everything in the pantry and replace it with healthier alternatives, well that works. πŸ™‚

  22. I get an “invalid discount code” message when I try to use the BUNDLE50 code. I have all three of your books in the shopping cart. Is the code no longer valid?

  23. We started this today! I already made a stew from some stuff from my freezer that has been there for a while and I had been avoiding figuring out what to do with it!

    I expect to save about $500 this month. =D

  24. I did this for lent! It was such a good and challenging thing for our family. We were able to donate the money we saved to a friend of ours that was heading to Kenya.

  25. Ok, I’m in! We moved into my grandmother-in-laws house last week, and inherited all of her pantry items. This should be fun.

  26. This is great! I’ve actually been doing a pantry challenge myself with a few friends since the beginning of May. I am doing well on depleting the pantry stash, but the freezer still seems full. I will admit to being a little tired of beef since that is the only kind of meat in the freezer right now. If I can squeeze out another week of pantry/freezer meals, I’ll consider myself right successful. Enjoy your challenge, hope you ALL do well!
    Blessings,
    Kristy

  27. I actually started doing exactly this, quite by accident, beginning Monday 5/14! I had bills to pay and money is a little tight until my next paycheck, almost 2 weeks away. I’ve got beans, soups, ramen mix, pasta, rice, cornmeal, canned tomatoes… I’m determined to use these things up. The leftover Christmas ham bits I had in my freezer ended up in a mac & cheese stovetop casserole, and it was really, really good… and not only because my pastor baked it with TLC. πŸ˜‰

  28. I just bought your ebook, “Plan It, Don’t Panic” and I am really looking forward to checking it out! I already have “Real Food on a Real Budget”. What a great informational book. Thank you for all of your helpful advice and being someone to admire!

  29. Perfect timing on this challenge, and it sounds like many of us have the same reasons for joining – finding out what’s lurking in the back of the freezer, gardens are starting to come in, and the extra money is always useful. Just need to review my freezer/pantry lists and then put the meal combinations together. I take it one step further – I post the entire few weeks’ menus on the frig so there’s no mistaking what needs to be defrosted or prepped for that night. Good luck to everyone!

  30. Well my pantry challenge ended this morning the fridge broke over night and we lost everything! EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    UGH!!! πŸ™ not a great way to start a beautiful weekend.

  31. I just finished week four of my challenge and have decided to go another four! For one, the family is actually enjoying what I’ve been coming up with and for two, I have been cooking so much from scratch it hardly looks like I’ve touched it over a month! I did buy fresh produce and dairy, plus a few extras that were REALLY good sales. All in all I spent just over $200 for one month for a family of seven! =)

    1. Lisa, that’s amazing. Sounds like you’ve done a fantastic job, plus you want to keep going for anther month? Wow. You’ve got me beat. πŸ™‚ I have also really enjoyed doing it and found it easy, but one more week and I think we’re done!

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