Eat From The Pantry & Freezer Challenge

During Week #3-4 Of The 52 Week Organized Home Challenge
About The Pantry, Refrigerator & Freezer

Let's take the next two weeks to do an Eat From The Pantry & Freezer Challenge, where you try to empty some of your shelves, eliminate food waste and save money on groceries.

Eat From The Pantry & Freezer Challengeuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

It really is the perfect time to do it if you're following along with the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, since in weeks numbers 3-4 we're decluttering and then organizing our pantries, refrigerators and freezers.

As part of that process we're going to get rid of expired food, but we're also going to find a lot of food we'd just plain forgotten about, or that is close to expiring but is still good.

Now is the time to actually eat that food before it goes to waste.

You've already bought it, after all, so you'll save money at the grocery story by not having to buy as many groceries over the course of the next two weeks.

In addition, it will make you feel better about being a good steward of the resources you already own.

I really detest throwing away food. With hunger being a real issue for people in this country and across the world when I waste food it makes me feel guilty. Eating what I've bought can eliminate that guilt.

Guidelines For This Pantry/Freezer Challenge

In addition to doing this Eat From The Pantry & Freezer Challenge concurrently with weeks #3-4 of the Organized Home Challenge, I also run this challenge about 6 months later, since it works well to do this routinely in your home. But there really aren't too many strict guidlines.

The best approach is to figure out what your family wants to accomplish with it, and then do what it takes to accomplish those goals.

Whenever my husband and I commit to one of these challenges our goals are:

1. Use up excess food stores before things begin to expire.

2. Free up some room in the pantry/freezer for new purchases.

3. Save money, especially after the holidays, and again in the summer when our family is eating all our meals at home together.

With these goals in mind we're not really going to go hard core with this challenge, and try to not purchase anything at the grocery store. And I don't think you have to either.

After all, I still like fresh produce, and my kids want to drink some milk, etc.

This isn't about deprivation, this is just about using what you have more consciously.

So what I'd like you to do for the next two weeks, or longer if you've got lots of food stored in your home, or shorter if you don't, is to shop from your pantry and freezer first, before going to the grocery store each week.

Really look at the ingredients you've already got on hand, and get creative with how you can use them to make a meal.

Make as many meals, for breakfast, lunch and dinner that you can using items you already have.

If you need one or two things to round off a meal, or there's one vital ingredient you're missing but you have everything else for the recipe already, sure, buy those at the store.

But as much as possible use up the canned food, the baking mixes, the frozen meat, etc. that you purchased with the intention of eating but then, for whatever reason, haven't actually gotten around to eating yet.

In addition, as you go through this exercise, be honest with yourself as you look through your freezer and pantry. Are there items in there you stockpiled up on because they were on sale, or you had a coupon, but no one in your family apparently likes because no one is eating it? Well, either tough it out now and eat them, or be realistic and donate them to a food pantry. If you're just not ever going to eat it, give it to someone else to eat while it's still fresh, not expired!

But either way, remember that huge uneaten stockpile you accumulated. Keep it in your mind. Because, after all, it would have saved you a whole lot more money and been more pleasant not to have bought that particular thing at all you've now learned.

So the next time you see the big sale, or the great coupon for that item, you can easily just let it go. And instead you can use your limited resources to buy something else, something your family will really enjoy and not let go to waste.

So I hope you'll be joining me for the Eat From The Pantry & Freezer Challenge this year. It'll help us get our food storage areas decluttered, organized, and save some money all at once!

Here's the two relevant weeks of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge that this complements:

Resources On The Site That Can Help You Do This Challenge

I find it easiest to "shop from my pantry and freezer" and make meal plans to use the stuff I already have if I know what I have on hand.

That's where a pantry inventory and a freezer inventory really come in handy. So if you don't have a current inventory go ahead and create and/or update those now. Here's free printable forms you can use:

pantry list
Pantry List Inventory
freezer inventory form
Freezer Inventory Form

When doing these inventories you will come across food and wonder if it is still good to eat or if it is already past its prime. Here's a couple of cheat sheets that can help you make those determinations.

pantry food storage chart
Pantry Food Storage Chart {Cheat Sheet}
food storage guidelines
Refrigerated Food Storage Guidelines {Cheat Sheet}
freezer storage times
Freezer Storage Times {Cheat Sheet}

Next, once you know what you've got that you can eat in your home already it's time to make some meal plans to use up these ingredients. You can get more general directions for making a meal plan here.

In addition, it is best to write out your meal plan and your hopefully much shorter grocery list of what you'll need to round off the meals you'll be making from stuff you already have purchased. Here's some printable forms to help you with these tasks.

meal planner template
Weekly Meal Planner Template
menu planning ideas form
Menu Planning Ideas Form
printable grocery shopping list
Grocery Shopping List

menu planner template
Menu Planner Form + Grocery List

Good luck with the Eat From The Pantry & Freezer Challenge! I hope you can use the next couple of weeks to save money, eliminate food waste in your home, and to actually use the resources you've already got in your home.

And if you do find things that are still good to eat in your pantry but that you know no one in your home will actually eat go ahead and donate that food to a food pantry now. You can check out the link to see a list of what food banks and pantries need most!

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