We’ve all gotten to the point where our freezer and pantry are overflowing and yet we can’t find anything to eat. Well, we got like that a couple weeks ago, so we started our first ever “pantry challenge”. We also need to pare down our food supplies as we get ready to transition into our summer accommodations (our 31’ toy hauler). We have a small refrigerator and pantry in our park model, but the food storage in our trailer is about 1/3 the size we have now.
We thought it was going to be really hard to eat just what’s in our pantry and freezer for a week. Well, it turns out we’ve got a lot of stuff in our pantry and freezer! The challenge was to try to eat just what we had in our house for a week without going to the store to restock. We could use anything in the pantry, fridge, or freezer; but we weren’t allowed to go buy extra ingredients. If we didn’t have a spice…oh well. When we ran out of bread…we used crackers. When we ran out of rice…we used riced cauliflower. When we ran out of mustard…too bad!
What we ate darn good during the challenge
We (really just Holly) ended up making most of our meals from scratch. Thank goodness we had ground beef, chicken, pork loin, ribs, and bacon in the freezer. We also had plenty of rice, pasta, chicken broth, and crackers in the pantry.
We made chicken and noodles, spaghetti, BBQ pork sandwiches, Asian stir-fry, fajitas, breakfast burritos, gourmet salads, and lots of other meals. We even baked up a few desserts!
A few of the meals were a little iffy
I don’t think we’ll be making Kung Pao chicken or BBQ ribs again anytime soon. Pantry challenge or no pantry challenge, those recipes were terrible.
1 week wasn’t much of a challenge
It’s kind of embarrassing how much stuff you can pack in a little pantry and park model-sized freezer. We were only going to do our pantry challenge for a week, but we ended up going 2 weeks. Honestly, we could have probably gone 3 weeks if we’d really wanted to. We decided to do the pantry challenge one more time as we get closer to leaving Arizona for the summer. We need to use as many condiments, canned goods (e.g., soups, stocks), boxes (e.g., rice, pasta), and spices as we possibly can.
We saved a lot of money
We didn’t start the pantry challenge to save money, but it ended up being a side benefit. If you don’t go to the grocery store, you can’t spend any money. We probably saved $200-300 just by eating what we already had in our kitchen! We also limited our restaurant budget and only went out once when a friend was visiting from Colorado.
OUR LESSONS LEARNED
The Pantry Challenge was actually kind of fun. We ate good food, invited friends over for dinner, and spent more time together at the table. We learned (or, really just reaffirmed) a few lessons during our 2-week challenge:
- We buy way too much food.
- We buy waaaaaaay too many condiments.
- Costco is a good deal, but only if you actually eat what you buy there.
- Cooking from scratch is darn good.
- We’ll be repeating the pantry challenge every 6 months or so.