Summer pantry challenge

Not long ago I was straightening my pantry.  I realized I have TON of food just sitting there waiting to be eaten, and decided I needed to focus on USING some before I spend too much more at the store.  Then, lo and behold, I was blog-hopping, and it turns out Jessica from Good Cheap Eats is thinking along the same lines.  I decided it’d be fun to join in on her Summer Pantry Challenge.

I’m going to see how many meals I can come up with in July that will use the food I already have. I’ll be sharing examples of the meals I will be coming up with this month, and see how much I can cut back on trips to the store. Doubtless I’ll buy some things.  But I have so much food here at home that I’d really like to put on my thinking cap and see how creative I can get.
Some ideas I’ve already had to use up my excess:
* Offer my family jam instead of syrup on their breakfast pancakes
* USE those pickles we canned so diligently last summer
* Check our greenhouse and pick those greens instead of buying spinach
* Serve more applesauce that I canned last year
* Make more homemade bread

Other things I currently have an abundance of include pasta, tortillas, potatoes, and beef.  Useful items, eh?  Here are the meals I’ve planned around food already in our freezer and pantry:

That’s 31 dinners, and I haven’t even thought very hard.  In most cases I’ll be making enough of each entree to provide a few servings leftover. At least half the time our lunches consist of leftovers from dinner the past few days, so that is one way to use my time and our food efficiently.  Breakfasts will be pancakes or oatmeal since I have lots of flour and oatmeal right now, and occasionally eggs & toast or cereal.

I’ll keep you posted!


  1. I’m trying to do the same with food in my freezers. There are bags of berries, containers of applesauce and other odds and ends that need to be used up before this season’s produce starts arriving. Thanks for the challenge!

  2. Oh, thanks for the ideas! July is looking to be a TIGHT month for us (we’ve been diligently saving for our son’s speech therapy bill that we know is coming, but we’re still a ways away and it’s coming SOON!) so I’ve been thinking about how I can do the same thing. I have so much in the pantry and my freezer, I just need to put it all together into actual meals. A few of your ideas I already had, and a few I hadn’t thought of. Thank you!

  3. Stephanie says:

    I recently organized my pantry; now I need to take inspiration from you and plan some meals around what’s in there!

    Just an idea for your applesauce surplus: how about making apple butter? It’s great on homemade bread and as a pancake topping. I usually make my apple butter from apples, but a quick search showed several tasty looking recipes using applesauce as the base.

  4. Yeah! So fun to have you join us! I remember reading your “no-spend month” posts in the past — I’m sure you have inspired so many of us. Can’t wait to see how it goes for you. (I’m jealous — no garden from which to can that amazing amount of food.)

  5. Fantastic ideas. I was just looking at my canning shelf and noticing how much is still there when it is usually looking pretty empty. (We did do a LOT of canning last year, though, and had a new baby in October, so I wasn’t doing as much cooking as usual.)

  6. I love this! I did something similar to this a couple months ago that I called the Power Savings Month. I got as creative as possible to use up every last drop in our pantry and freezer in order to save a ton of money for a month. It is so refreshing to see the savings and also create some fun meals in your need to get creative. Good luck and I can’t wait to hear how the challenge goes!

  7. I’ve been sort of doing this recently anyway, but your post has inspired me to go and take an inventory of what we’ve got to finish off the job! (especially since my husband’s taken my toddler out of the house for a bit, so i can get things down without having to worry about her running off with them!)

  8. Your “greenhouse” …. do share more. Love this idea, by the way.

  9. laura h. says:

    Trying to do the same thing with items in the freezer and pantry and yes, you are right amazing how seldom a person really NEEDS to go to the store. Use what we have before it goes to waste and has to be thrown.
    Oh and don’t forget that items in boxes do expire and must be used or they too will go bad. My son thought he was being helpful when bringing grandson over with graham crackers (unopened) but they were one month past expiration date and boy were they bad. Into the garbage they went–not even good for a pie base-they were horrible.

  10. I love your blog, Mary. And it has been a source of inspiration for me. You challenge is a fine idea, but might I make a another suggestion? In these very tough economic times, where many families are losing their homes and children are not eating as well as they should, consider donating your excess. Is there a family who you know is going through tough times? Surprise them with a load of your home-canned groceries. Just leave it at their front door with an encouraging note. God will pour out the blessings if you do.

  11. i wish i had a greenhouse!!! i wonder if we can put a small one in the backyard.
    im looking forward to reading your progress and checking out some older postsid love if you would visit my blog and check out my Summertime Pantry Challenge
    I subscribed via email so i can follow your progress and maybe get some ideas!

  12. What a great idea Mary! I don’t have enough to make it through the month, but I know I have things I could definitely use up. BTW just wanted to let you know that we’re big fans of your Ethiopian sloppy joes around here. They’re a new fave!