Financial Challenge #5: The Great Pantry Clean-Out Challenge

Financial Challenge Series:

We are so excited to present to you our 2018 Financial Challenge Series! Each month, one of our employees will complete a financial challenge and then blog about it right here on our Blue Chip FCU News Blog! Be sure to let us know your favorite challenges, suggest future challenges and share your own challenge results! This month’s challenge:

Financial Challenge #5: The Great Pantry Clean-Out Challenge

What is it:

Instead of buying more groceries for the week, you eat primarily what you find in your pantry/freezer.

How long did we do it:

We did the Pantry Clean-Out challenge for one week.

Here’s how it went…

Remember the old say, “Waste not, want not?” The Pantry Clean-Out Challenge puts these words into action. An added plus, your Grandma will be very proud of you! Every two weeks, we get our new allotment of money toward our grocery budget and off to the local store we go. We spend our allotted amount and eat like royalty for 2 weeks. But… how often do we take a look at the left over items in our pantry and freezer; the half-empty bag of meatballs left over from pasta night… The extra jars of chicken broth and all of the “cream of ________” soups sitting in the pantry…. The 5 opened/half-used boxes of pasta in the cupboard. This challenge is all about using what you already have to plan out meals for the week.

The first thing we did was take inventory of our proteins. What meat/proteins did we have to plan meals around? One of our proteins happened to be the end of cooked ham that was popped into the freezer a few weeks ago. Score! Everyone loves ham. Next… we raided the pantry to see what could go with that ham. No potatoes and no beans… but we did find egg noodles. If you are anything like us, you may not be great at making up recipes on the spot, but in comes the magic of the internet. We just goggled recipes with ham and noodles and viola… options! Check out and for recipes that match the ingredients you find in your pantry.

We took the challenge to the next level by using ONLY what we found in our house. The recipe we found called for a can of cream of mushroom soup, which we had and half a cup of milk; which we didn’t have. Instead we just used the broth from the cooked ham to add even more ham flavor. The Great Pantry Clean-out Challenge was a huge success with our family finding a new go-to meal and saving money that week!

At the end of the week, here is what we discovered:

Pro’s List

  • Money Savings: The biggest and most obvious pro is that you save money! We saved an entire week’s worth of grocery money that month!
  • Convenient: Most of the items you are going to use are in your house already! Even if you have to buy a protein, you can still use up those leftover potatoes, eggs, pasta, rice, ect…
  • Less Waste: We have all felt that sense of guilt as we threw away food that went bad because we just didn’t get to it quickly enough. Doing the pantry clean-out challenge one week a month will help eliminate waste.
  • Variety: Most home cooks rely on their go-to meals. This gives you an opportunity to get creative and try some new recipes.


Con’s List

  • Time: This definitely requires more time than you may usually spend on meal planning. You may even need to do a little research to match your ingredients with recipe ideas.


Is this Right for you?

If you tend to buy extra pantry/freezer items throughout the month, this is the PERFECT way to use them AND save money. After trying the pantry clean-out challenge, we are definitely going to set aside one week per month to eat out of our pantry/freezer and save money! If you are looking for other easy ways to save money, check out more of our BCFCU Financial Challenges.