How To Do A Pantry Challenge | Shelf Cooking 101 – EP 196

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One key way we can save money on food and see a reduction in our grocery bill (at least for a time!) is through a pantry challenge. Join us as we talk more about using up the food and ingredients we already have on hand to cut food costs and change the way we grocery shop long term.


  • Fresh starts. It’s that time of year where we start some fresh sinking funds and new savings goals. If you have new saving goals we highly recommend starting a new high-yield savings account to keep your savings out of sight and out of mind. Right now we love Axos bank because they have no minimum balance fees or requirements. And if you sign up for an account at you support the show at no extra cost to you.
  • illuminating the dark places. Whether you’re flipping on the light in the creepiest part of your basement, digging into the recesses (and less beautiful parts) of your budget, or sorting through all the canned goods and non-perishables in the secret spaces of your pantry you never knew existed; we’re here with you every step of the way. Illuminating the dark places, with fear and trembling we step into the unknown.

EP 182 – Eat Healthier and More Affordably w/ Cassy Joy Garcia

EP 149 – Frugal Meal Planning w/ Ashtin Cope


This article from Cheap Skate Cook outlines how even a short 10-day pantry challenge can save us money

What Jen + Jill have to say:

  • This is not the week to win any health-foodie awards or try any gourmet meals
  • Why 10 days?
    • They last long enough to get me reacquainted with the recesses of my freezer (usually on the hunt for any meat we have left), but they don’t last so long that the troops I cook for start rebelling.
    • With clear rules and a set end-date, you stay focused and don’t burn out
  • Why do it?
    • You ran out of grocery money and have to make-do with what you have.
    • You are trying to save money for another purchase or expense.
    • Your pantry and freezer are out of control. Time to clean house and start fresh.
    • It allows us to practice creativity AND ‘gamifies’ the experience

More Headlines

This article from A Reinvented Mom outlines HOW we can engage in a pantry challenge and the key steps to take to experience success.

  • Use a pantry challenge to save money and reduce waste by preparing meals using the food you already have in your pantry, freezer, and fridge.
  • The point of a pantry challenge is to use up the food you’ve already bought and save money in the process. 
  • How to prepare
    • Take stock and inventory of what you have
    • Throw away expired foods
    • Set weekly budget for essential fresh ingredients
    • Determine how long the challenge will be
    • Plan first week of meals
  • How to implement
    • Low hanging fruit
    • Pair protein with sauces and marinades
    • Add in sides – frozen, fresh, rice, pasta, canned goods, etc.
    • Know that rice and beans can be a main dish!
  • Tips for successful pantry challenge
    • Keep it a secret!
    • Make a list and stick to it
    • Spruce up frozen stuff with fresh stuff
  • What comes afterward?
    • Reflect on what you learn
    • Tally up how much money you saved
    • Restock the things you know you will use often
    • Prioritize what items/ingredients remain and utilizing them in future dishes

BILL OF THE WEEK –  Thank you for sharing your bill about going to the beauty school to get your haircut (usually $16 but got it for $6)!!

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Lightning Round 

Most recent ancient pantry item we’ve cleared out and how we did it.

  • Jen-  salsa, burrito bowls
  • Jill-  buff chicken dip; artichoke, red pepper tapenade


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Thanks for listening! See you next week!

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