This is the third day of my 28 Days of Spending Zero Challenge.
To read all the posts in order, start with Day One or visit the Overview Page.
Over the next couple of days, you’re going to tackle some basic and fundamental necessities to the challenge. You’re going to assess and organize your pantry and see what you have on hand so you can better plan your meal strategy for the month.
You’re going to start with the pantry.
If you’re not participating in our No Spend Challenge, this post will certainly help organize your nonperishable foods so you can see what you have on hand so you can make your food budget stretch and last for the entire month.
Assess and Organize Your Pantry
This organizing exercise is going to feel more like you’re going shopping in your pantry rather than the grocery store. You’re going to go through it all, assess what you have on hand, figure out what you need to use up and overall get an idea of your current inventory.
Remember, don’t panic. If you find you don’t have something crucial to the survival of your family, then you can use the money you set aside at the beginning of the challenge to make a small purchase. But please be very mindful of what you’re doing and make sure it truly is a necessity or you’ll find yourself at the store more often than not.
Today is about using what you have on hand and knowing you can survive with what you have. It’s an opportunity to look at the food you’ve stored and collected differently.
When you go through your pantry and freezer, try to think creatively. Look at the food you have on hand and think of ways you might be able to use that can of corn in a way you hadn’t thought of before.
Think simple. And follow these easy steps to bring order to your pantry. Don’t forget to use our Panty Inventory Form.
Organize Your Pantry
1. Clear out a large space to work on so you can remove items and set things out, assess what you have, and put back.
2. Remove everything from the shelves one at a time. Check expiration dates and watch for anything that may have spoiled or is beyond salvaging. Canned items should not be bulging or leaking. Previously used items that are open should be placed somewhere else, possibly in a cupboard.
3. As you clear each shelf, wipe it down thoroughly. You can use a multi-surface spray, or other natural cleaner and a microfiber cloth.
4. Write down each item as you go. Use our Pantry Inventory Worksheet we’ve provided for you to keep track of all your items. This will become your shopping list when developing your meal ideas.
5. Put back your pantry items in a clean, logical order. You’re going to want to do it just like the grocery store: each item should be faced towards you, stacked in a way that’s easily accessible, and the most popular items should be placed at eye level. If you have several of the same items, check expiration dates and put the oldest item to the front.
6. Are you surprised to discover items you weren’t expecting to find? It’s amazing what we have on hand that we are completely unaware of.
Wow, I bet your pantry looks amazing, and you know exactly what you have on hand for the month.
If you’ve found you’re missing a few staples and you don’t think you can substitute or make it till the end of the month without a family uprising, take the time now to pick up these limited items and use the money you allocated a few days ago on your worksheet.
Refrain from purchasing anything else than those few items.
Brave? Think you can do without? Awesome! I ate a lot of peanut butter on my last challenge, and by the end of the month, I was sick of peanut butter – something I thought I would never say.
But you know what? I made it through—and just know you can do it too!
So swing open the cupboards and see what you have available for the month. What you find will more than likely surprise you enough to realize you have more than sufficient quantities on hand and with a little creativity can create some fantastic meals for your family. Let me know what you dream up, ok?