Dear Readers,

This is a post about how I am saving more than $300 this month and how you can save money too.

Along the lines of the Leftovers Recipes post which you can read here, I wanted to tell you about something I am challenging my culinary creativity to do to lose weight and to save money.

Over the weekend, I got creative with food leftovers and after squeezing into my work clothes today (again) I decided that enough is enough. I can utilize the money I save on decorating a room or two.

What is the Pantry Challenge?

The idea is simple, you use up all of the food items in the house before going to the grocery store. You will need to get creative when all that is left is those obscure things in the freezer with no label or the sauces in the cupboard.

If you want to have a go, the first thing to do is to audit your cupboards, freezer and refrigerator of everything you have including quantities.  For example, this is from an old food audit I did:

Food audit sample

I split this up to have number of uses or meals I could make for my family with the item.

The second thing to do is to create a meal plan based on the items you have.  I like to create one for the week and I will usually create a plan for 4 to 6 weeks in advance.  An example of one of my meal plans is below:

Meal Plan Example

Cook books and online resources are great inspiration.  Some websites such as Allrecipes.com have a really neat tool that allows you to search for ingredients.  Use these in conjunction with your list of foods you already have to create your meal plans.

Once you have the meal plans, follow them to create your meals.  Avoid visiting the grocery store for as long as you can and see how much you can save.

I know I typically spend $300 every two weeks on groceries, partly due to special dietary requirements so I’m pushing myself to go 4 weeks without visiting the store.

If you would like to take the challenge, I would love to hear from you in the comments and some of the recipes you came up with to get through the challenge.

Good luck!