Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pantry Challenge!

The pantry challenge was born several weeks ago due to a huge overabundance of food and a need to spend less cash. Here is what I wrote on our family blog about it (you can see why my dear husband suggested a separate blog):

"Most of you who know me well have seen my pantry. It's big and usually pretty well-stocked. This fall it started getting really full and I knew I'd have to plan lots of meals to start using stuff up. I also have a full size freezer in the garage that is full. This summer I froze lots of our garden tomatoes and am trying to save money buy cooking bulk beans and freezing them in appropriate portion sizes. I also started making/saving chicken broth and freezing it. All of this freezing is so I don't have to buy cans of beans, tomatoes, or broth.

I also feel way more secure somehow having tons of food on hand and we've had so much upheaval lately I think I let the stockpile grow and grow and grow to help me feel better.

So, I planned to start using stuff up in November, but we came home from a trip November 2 to find the water mess and then we had family visiting and two weeks of meals and snacks from wonderful friends at church. I was given lots of excellent, random leftovers from the church kitchen, too. Even though I didn't even visit a grocery store for nearly 3 weeks I probably only used 2 things out of our pantry & freezer. The food was flowing in abundance.

Here is a photo of the pantry & freezer from the weekend before Thanksgiving:

Wow, I actually feel a little vulnerable showing those pictures to whoever is out there reading this. It's like my secret stash, EXPOSED!

Anyway, we took a huge bag of food to church that weekend for the Thanksgiving baskets. You can imagine our surprise and delight when we found out that we were actually receiving one of the baskets. Even more hilarious is that we found some of our own donations included in the groceries we received.

This wasn't just a simple Thanksgiving basket. It was filled with all the Thanksgiving necessities (which I totally used) but came with two other bags full of groceries. Here is a picture of how generous the church community was with us:

So, what am I to do with all this food? First I gave a big box to someone who needed it. Next - I need to use up this good stuff! After some talking with friends I decided to have a Pantry Challenge - Here are the rules:

1) For the months of December and January I cannot add to my pantry or freezer.
2) New dry or canned goods must used for planned meals in the next week only.
3) Purchases should be primarily produce & dairy for the fridge.


1) Freezer meals received from my monthy meal swap can be added to the freezer. I can also purchase dry goods to make my freezer meals for the next swap only.
2) I can add up to five pounds of hamburger or chicken if I am down to one pound or less of either.
3) If I get things for free, they can be added to the pantry or freezer.

I am posting this challenge on the blog for accountability and for fun. I will post a picture of any grocery shopping each week so you can what I am buying and how little I spent because I'll be drawing on the vast food resources we already have.

So that's all. Now you know about my weird food-hoarding habit and how I plan to pare things down this winter. Thanks for your encouragement & support! If anyone else wants to have a challenge of their own, I'd love to hear that you're doing it, too. Please ask questions or comment so I know there is some accountability."

FYI after 4 weeks I am down to 35 boxes of cereal, 21 cans of soup, & 15 boxes of crackers.


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