Have you ever gotten to the last week of the month and you’re out of food money? Or it’s one of those months that ends up having that 5th week in it and you need to wait that extra week until payday? Or an unexpected expense just has funds shorter than normal? Perhaps it’s just time to rotate some pantry/freezer items. Whatever the reason, it happens and it can be a challenge. I try to regularly have a “pantry week” when we ate out of the pantry. Sometimes the meals were “interesting” but we never went without.
Introducing the “Pantry Meal Challenge”!! A whole week (or however long you need to) when you eat out of the pantry/freezer and minimize what you purchase. Now I can already hear the “UGH”, “Really?” I say “Let’s Do It!!!”
Here are the rules (they’re pretty easy) —
- Use items in your pantry/freezer
- Be creative! Think outside your cooking box! Experiment!
- Minimize what you purchases
- I realize that you may need to pick up a few basics — milk, bread (or make your own), etc. but try not to buy something if you really don’t need it.
To help you get started, I’ve made a “What’s In My Pantry?” printable. This will help you get a really good idea of what you have on hand. You may actually be surprised at what is hiding in there! (surprised both good and bad). Now it’s time to be a creative thinking and some up with ideas using these items. Here is a very basic Weekly Menu Planner to help you.
A few of my “stand by” dinners are –
Soup – whatever meat you have, frozen/canned veggies (a great way to use leftover veggies), spices, and broth. Add bread or biscuits. Soup is SO versatile and flexible so don’t be intimidated…it’s fool proof! This can be done on the stove top, crock pot or even the oven.
Shepherd’s Pie — same idea as soup except make it without too much broth, if any. Put in casserole dish, top with mashed potatoes/tater tots/hash browns and bake. Viola — dinner!!
Chef salad — a great way to use up misc fresh veggies! Leftover meat can be used as a protein, as can hard boiled eggs or canned beans (I like Garbanzo beans on salads). Leftover, kinda stale, bread can be toasted up as croutons. There is no wrong way to make a salad!!
Casseroles — The same idea applies here. Use leftover veggies and a protein, add some spices for flavor and perhaps a little liquid and bake. Super easy!
Try not to be too intimidated by this and HAVE FUN!!! I’d love to hear some of the things you came up with — good and bad.