The Pantry Challenge

Original Image by Incase via Flickr
Original Image by Incase via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

With the new year approaching, there’s no better time to take on the Pantry Challenge! If you haven’t heard of this challenge, keep reading! By partaking on the Pantry Challenge, you can literally save hundreds of dollars that have been sitting in your house!  In addition, you have the opportunity to get a real cleaning done-literally and figuratively.  Starting the year on a fresh page will be great with this challenge, which aims for families to eat solely from their pantries.

The Pantry Challenge can sound intimidating, but with some quick preparation, it can be well worth it!

  1. Prior to the start of the challenge, estimate how much money you want to save and how long you aim to partake in the challenge
  2. Do a detailed inventory of pantry [fridge and freezer if you’re doing an entire overhaul]
  3. Create a meal plan for at least the first week of the challenge. If you need help creating meals, download the Plan It, Don’t Panic: A Complete Meal Planning Resource PDF to limit stress and worry while menu planning
  4. Make a short grocery list of any fresh foods needed to complete the meals
  5. Get cooking with your pantry’s ingredients!

To get your creative juices flowing, here are some foods I found in pantry that I plan to use in future meals:

  • Green Chiles: Thai green curry; salsa; quesadillas; sirloin tacos; enchiladas; green chile sauce; chili verde; pork green chile; chicken stew
  • Baked Beans: bean and pasta soup; bean and pepper tortilla pizza; chili bean dip; chili bean quesadillas; curried beans; enchiladas; macaroni hot pot; nachos
  • Tomato Soup: parmesan basil tomato soup; chicken tortilla bake; pasta fagioli; chicken with sun dried tomatoes; tomato chicken stir fry; corn chowder with sun dried tomatoes; beef barley stew
  • Bamboo Shoots:  sesame chicken; coconut thai chicken curry; moo goo gai pan; chicken lettuce wraps; Chinese rice soup; chicken dumplings
  • Diced Tomatoes: tortilla soup; Middle Eastern tomato salad; stuffed tomatoes; penne alla vodka; tomato corn salad; tomato and sausage risotto; creamy tomato bisque; tomato soup
  • Water Chestnuts: sesame chicken; coconut thai chicken curry; moo goo gai pan; chicken lettuce wraps; Chinese rice soup; chicken dumplings
  • Chickpeas: chickpea couscous; fried chickpeas; Mexican chipotle hummus; Lemony chickpea stir fry; sauteed chickpeas and kale; avocado and chickpea salad; fried chickpea polenta; chickpea and spinach spread
  • Chunky Tuna:

With the pantry challenge, it can expand your creative juices to use ingredients in multiple dishes! Notice that I can use bamboo shoots in the same dishes as water chestnuts? WIN-WIN!

Additionally, Pinterest has some great ideas to stretch those meals and make the most of pantry foods! What’s the most creative concoction you’ve made with pantry staples? If you’re up for additional challenges, expand the challenge to include freezer and fridge foods.Why not grab all family members to come up with meal ideas for the next week?!

Photo Credit: 5 Dollar Dinners and The Toddle in Favorite Five


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