Money Challenge: Empty Your Pantry and Save

The Pantry Challenge

Welcome to The Penny Hoarder’s monthly Money Challenge, helping you find simple ways to improve your finances.

This month, we’re going to help you save money on food and reduce waste by clearing out your fridge, freezer and cupboard. Known as the Pantry Challenge, you’ll have to use the food you have on hand to create meals for one week. The only rule: no buying. And you’ll likely have to get creative with meal ideas.

Here are tips to help you taste success

Meal prepping is key. You’ll want to use up fresh meat, produce and other perishables before they go bad, letting you save a frozen pizza for later in the week.

Your best friend might be your slow cooker. Think bulk meals like chili or a stew that will last for days.

Spice it up. Reinvigorate one day’s dish the next day by adding new spices.

Get the most out of pasta and grains. Both are easy to make, go with just about anything and are great for leftovers.

Get baking. Beyond cookies and cakes, you can use staples like flour and eggs to make meal-friendly fare like dinner rolls, pizza dough and banana bread.

Switch up how you cook to add some variety. One night it’s a casserole in the oven and the next it’s chicken and veggies on the grill.

Don’t know what to make? Use a recipe site that lets you search by the ingredients you have.

How to complete the challenge- Make meals for one week using what you have on hand.

  • Unless absolutely necessary, no buying food for the duration of the Pantry Challenge.
  • Once complete, reward yourself by using a little of the savings to enjoy a treat away from home (think: ice cream or pizza) You’ve earned it!

Share some easy-to-make meals and how much you saved in the comments!


i always cook meals at home, use the products i have and i know i save by eating home, i do eat out once a month thank you for the post


I do that when money is getting tight, or right before leaving for vacation, or just because I HATE going to the grocery store and I want to see how long I can go! Its amazing what I can find in my pantry.


Yayyyy. I’m in!


Good Evening Everyone, I see lots of great ideas. Meal prep is nice my daughters do that with the family husband wife 2 children 7 years old @& 2. The other 3 Boy’s 14,10,&3. … It’s great for them but I’m alone now with my Maltese Terrier 11years old. And when my 6 children were younger & @ home, I wasn’t meal prep’N… So I’m used to cooking big meal’s. I can’t cook small ? any suggestions!… ?Thank’s…


I have been gradually doing this. Everything is so expensive right now. I bought some peppers and used the ground turkey in my freezer to make stuffed peppers. I had the rice, and I only needed to buy the peppers and pasta sauce. It was really good - I’ll get 4 meals out of it.


@lismox Sounds delicious! It’s all about shopping for deals now. Just spent $6 on a dozen eggs yesterday. Yikes!


I wish I had a pantry like that in the picture above. :smile:

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I’m in. Food prices are insane and my eating out needs to STOP.