Benefits of a Pantry Challenge


If the idea of cleaning up and eating up your pantry appeals to you then you are ready for a Pantry Challenge!  The benefits of doing a Pantry Challenge at least once a year are so numerous.  If you are new to the idea of a Pantry Challenge, then you’ll want to check out these posts about my past challenges:

What is a Pantry Challenge

A Successful Challenge

Getting Creative with a Pantry Challenge

A Freezer Challenge

Our family chooses to do a Pantry Challenge every year around this time.  We actually did a “soft” version this last month.  We worked hard to focus on only buying grocery items which we truly needed.  We hit the store a few times but didn’t go overboard as we sometimes can.

This month though, we will step it up and really make a concentrated effort to avoid any grocery shopping (except for items like milk).  This forces us to use up what is on our shelves and in our freezer.  As I mentioned the benefits of this month long challenge (or week long if that’s all think you need!) are numerous but I thought I’d share with you our top 6 Benefits of doing the challenge:

  • WatermarkIt_Jan26055818Save Money. Obviously without going to the store for entire month, we are saving hundreds of dollars.  When your household wants to save money for something, doing a challenge is a super way to add some extra cash to that savings.   You can’t complain about that.
  • Our menu is more Creative. It’s kinda like being on the Food Network show called “Chopped”!  You have a shelf full of a different items and you are faced with having to put together a presentable meal for your family.  This has forced me to be creative and develop some pretty incredible meals over the years.  This challenge definitely gets you out of a food rut.
  • Create less waste. Food items are getting used up before they go bad.  I’m more attentive to reusing leftovers and stretching the use of items (e.g. a whole chicken…I can turn it into multiple meals vs. one big dinner).  I notice I keep my freezer and refrigerator cleaner and more organized during the challenges.  Plus, I’m rotating my pantry shelf items and making good use of things which may end up in the compost this summer if it’s not consumed now.
  • Rediscover Family Favorites. Way back in a bin on my pantry shelf last year I found a box of hard taco shells.  Over the last number of years, we have used mostly soft tortillas for taco night.  But when I went to use up this box of hard taco shells, my family rediscovered their love of the crunch!  It’s fun to revive an old favorite which had been forgotten…it makes the Challenge that much more fun.  I’ve also revived many of our old family favorite recipes which somehow had been replaced over the years.
  • WatermarkIt_Jan26055421 (2)Clarifies items NOT to purchase. Sometimes in our frenzy to get great deals, Jon and I break our money saving rules of not buying multiple things which we aren’t sure our family will eat.  We always think our boys will eat anything we put in front of them…we can hope, can’t we? So every year during the challenge, I’m able to evaluate items left on our shelves and determine what I won’t be buying this year.  Last year my kids refused to eat the stuffed grape leaves I had bought on clearance.  While Jon and I enjoyed them, I realized they wouldn’t be making a regular appearance on my grocery list!  Same with the tuna Jon so lovingly bought at 33 cents apiece.  Ick…I don’t like tuna and neither do the kids.  Pretty sure that won’t be our shelf for a long time.  It’s important to know what your family eats and doesn’t eat if you want to be frugal.
  • Gaining Valuable Real Estate in your pantry and freezer. I don’t know about you, but if my freezer is so full and unorganized that every time I open it, stuff falls out then I don’t want to even open it. Same with the cupboards.  It’s a hassle and frustrating to try and fit everything back in and make it stay.  The Challenge frees up so much useable space on your shelves and in your freezer.  It makes you want to organize it which in turn makes you excited about going in and using the items.  Plus, it allows you to then fill your spaces with food that your family loves (see benefit #5).  My family would much rather have a shelf full of homemade Raspberry Jam then a shelf full of tuna.  Once I use up the tuna, then it allows more room for the beloved Raspberry Jam!

Our month long Pantry Challenge will begin on February 1st this year.  After reading the benefits of the challenge, I hope you’ll consider joining the challenge!  Who wouldn’t want more cash in their pocket, more space on the shelves and yummy, creative food in their tummies?

Have you done a challenge before?  What did you like about it?  What were the drawbacks?


Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.  Read more of Erin’s blogs about homesteading, farming, homemaking and other fun things at

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