One of my favorite ways to save money is to have a regular eat-from-the-pantry-week. Usually, I make this the last week of the month every month or two.
This forces me to use some things that I had bought with good intentions but never cooked. These items also tend to get pushed way back into the cabinet or pantry as if I think they will disappear if I simply can’t see them.
When I shop I also tend to really stock up on sales and such so having a regular pantry week forces me to use what I have stored and to let up on the stockpiling for a bit.
Normally, I choose to do a pantry week when Kroger isn’t having a great sale. You know those weeks when the sale items are just junk food? I try to skip going to the store altogether those weeks.
Today I am sharing my best tips for having a successful pantry week.
How to have a successful pantry week.
pantry week 101
While I call this a “pantry week” it is more of a “use it up week.” I include everything in my pantry, fridge and freezer when I am planning a pantry week.
Take Inventory of What You Have
Do this by making a categorized list on a sheet of paper- meat, dairy, dry goods… Then start going through and writing down everything you have on hand and add it to the correct category. Also, take care to note how much of an ingredient you have as you are writing it down. Include everything here…spices, oils, baking powder…it will make meal planning MUCH easier I promise!
You are still going to be planning your meals this week. Get out your recipe cards, cookbooks or Pinterest and start looking for recipes that use the ingredients you have on hand.
Keep your meals really simple and realize that if you don’t have EVERYTHING on hand for a recipe that is totally fine! Most of my meals consist of 5 ingredients. The trick is knowing what to cut and what to keep. If a chili recipe calls for a ton of different spices but all you have is taco seasoning, then just roll with it!
Recipies may call for several different fresh veggies but all you have on hand is a few different cans of veggies or a frozen medley, then just use that.
Don’t get too creative here either. We want our families to actually eat the food we make.
Related Article: How to Meal Plan
Purchase Things to Fill Gaps
This may sound contrary to the who pantry week idea but hear me out.
There are some things we can’t do completely without and you need most basic things to bake with. So there is nothing wrong with going to the store to get milk, eggs and bread or other random things you need to fill out your meal plan. If you pack school lunches for your kids you might need to buy that stuff.
You will still save a significant amount of money this way. Just have the discipline to limit your purchases to exactly what you need and don’t take the kids or husband with you.
Related Article: 10 Best Tips for Cutting Grocery Costs
Other Helpful Tips
- Plan all your meals-breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
- Plan to be spending some extra time in the kitchen cooking a little more.
- Let the kids help come up with meals. This will ensure they eat them.
- Visit the library to check out new cookbooks for inspiration.
- Keep a “best of pantry week meals” list each time you have a pantry week.
I love pantry weeks and I really love the extra money we save by doing them. Have you ever done something like this? If not, what’s stopping you? Let me know in the comments below!