Eat from the Pantry Challenge and Menu Planning

With a new year comes organization and that makes me so happy. Now that I have a design plan for my pantry makeover, it would only make sense to start an eat from the pantry challenge and get my food organized too.

I did my first eat from the pantry challenge in 2015 when I literally found 15 boxes of pasta in my pantry. While I would like to think it’s an Italian thing it was really a disorganization thing. I can’t tell you how many times I have come home from the grocery store to find what I needed was already in the pantry.

Eat from the Pantry Challenge Tips

Set Your Challenge Guidelines

Before getting started, you will need to establish guidelines for your pantry challenge. You do want this to be a challenge but you also want it to be fun and not so strict you can’t stick to it.  If you would like some extra inspiration and motivation, make sure to visit Beauty and Bedlam or Good Cheap Eats. I found both of these sites very helpful when I did my first eat from the pantry challenge. 

Besides the obvious budget guidelines, I like to incorporate some other rules such as including a weekly slow cooker meal, no leftovers go to waste and learning a new cooking or baking skill. This year, I want to learn how to make my own pasta.  

Set a Grocery Budget

After comparing different challenges I discovered most people were pledging to spend $100 per MONTH on refrigerated items and produce. That would most definitely be a disastrous challenge considering I typically spend $250-$300 per week. I have 4 grown adults eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in this household and nobody would fall into the “skinny” category.

After doing some number crunching, I determined a budget of $100 per week ($400 for the month) would be allocated to dairy, fresh produce, eggs and lunchmeat. I may have to expand the budget slightly but we’ll see how it goes the first week. This has also inspired me to get that chicken coop done so we can have fresh eggs each day.

Take Inventory of your Freezer

Now that we have set a budget, the next part of the challenge is to inventory the freezer. In my case, it turned out to be a lot of ingredients for recipes that were never made and on the verge of freezer burn. I also came across some “mystery” items that were never labeled so that will be interesting once they are thawed.

Create a Weekly Menu Plan

Lastly, every Saturday I create a meal plan before going to the grocery store. I add items to the list that are needed to compliment or complete a meal. I plan to do this challenge for 4 weeks and will post my weekly menus below. There is no particular order in which we eat the meals planned but it definitely saves on time when we know our options for the week. Also, it should be note that I always have a fresh salad on the table with dinner. 

Week 1 Menu and Grocery Purchases $95.83

  • Spaghetti squash with cheesy Italian sausage and spinach
  • Trader Joe’s Shrimp burgers, broccoli
  • Bundt Cake Breakfast
  • Beef barley soup and grilled cheese
  • Pot roast, potatoes and carrots
  • Spaghetti squash noodles stir fried with shrimp and veg
  • Leftovers

Week 2 Menu and Grocery Purchases $91.18

  • Penne, sausage, meatballs and spaghetti sauce
  • Ham, smashed potatoes and brussel sprouts
  • Double stuffed tacos and refried beans
  • Potato soup with grilled cheese
  • Buffalo chicken wraps
  • Grilled pork chops, rice and green beans
  • Leftovers 


  1. Vicki K. says:

    Great ideas for when I clean out my pantry! I’ll use what I have to figure out recipes for the week and go from there. I can always whip up something without having to go to the store, but having the whole week planned will be awesome.

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