pantry challengeOK, I’ve decided it’s high time to do a pantry challenge. Mostly because MY pantry has become extremely challenging. (Note, the photo above is not of my pantry. If it were, this post would not exist.)

I actually have two pantries, one a few steps from my kitchen, and another at the bottom of the basement stairs. Both are full to the point where we sometimes don’t know what we have because we can’t see it. This has led to buying duplicate items (I now have enough coarse salt to last a lifetime), which is not only annoying but makes the problem worse. Couple that with the fact that I’ve never met a pretty dried bean or whole grain that I don’t love, and it’s time to buy less and shop my pantry more. We’ve reached critical mass!

This is part of an overall decluttering project, but also designed to save money so we can enjoy other things, like travel. There’s also an element of avoiding food waste in there, because even non-perishable pantry goods don’t last forever, or at least not in their prime quality.

My Shopping Plan

Usually pantry challenges start in January, but my January was a blur of travel and jet lag and Kleenex. In light of that, February 1 felt like a good time to start. My goal is to limit purchases to specific perishables, like fresh produce and dairy products, as much as possible. We have a freezer full of local grass-fed beef, plus assorted cuts of chicken and pork. I’ll allow replenishment of some non-perishables and semi-perishables if it would be very hard to do without (for example, I just bought more diced tomatoes and jarred capers from Costco), but if we run out of canned beans (for example) but still have dried beans on hand, we will be cooking some beans!

What I Hope to Accomplish

My end game is to have saved money, headed off potential food waste, and have a streamlined pantry that we can use as a baseline to determine what items we really need to keep on hand. I’m a vocal advocate for having a well-stocked pantry, but I tend to take that a notion a little too far, myself. I feel like reining myself in will be a good thing. My hope is that I won’t ever need to do a pantry challenge again, at least not on the major scale I’m embarking on today.

I failed to take “before” photos when a) I was at home, and b) there was good natural light. I will post some next week!

Would you benefit from doing a pantry challenge? I invite you to join in! Here’s more inspiration from around the web: