So you’ve just completed a pantry challenge!
Are your cabinets and freezer pretty much empty? Are you left wondering what you can make with a can of tomato soup and half a jar of pickles?
One of the most fun parts about doing a pantry challenge, for me, is being able to refill the pantry again. We completed a month-long pantry challenge in March that left us almost completely empty; and the very next day we got to work filling our kitchen again.
Restocking your kitchen after a pantry challenge can be daunting, but here are some steps to take to make sure you can effectively fill your pantry again AND keep it organized for good!
Decide how much you want to spend
Do you have any extra money that you saved from not buying much in the pantry challenge? I committed to spending only $25 a week during our challenge, which gave us an extra $200 to spend refilling our pantry. We split it up among different stores, like Sam’s Club, Kroger, and miscellaneous others.
If you don’t have that extra money, consider setting aside 10-15 dollars of your weekly grocery money to buy what you need. I typically do this every week anyway- a small part of our grocery budget goes toward random things we need to stock up on.
Remember, you don’t have to buy everything at once! You’ve likely depleted almost your entire pantry, and that can take awhile to build up again. Do a little bit each week and prioritize- Maybe this week you need flour and seasonings, but Parmesan cheese and pasta can wait until next week.
Inventory and organize your stock
What got me in trouble in the first place was that I had a lot of different items stuffed in the back of my cabinets that I never used. And honestly, I forgot they were in there. After I finished the challenge, I downloaded the Out of Milk app and recorded every thing I put in the pantry and freezer.
You can separate your kitchen into different sections in the app- like Pantry, Deep Freezer, Little Freezer, Snack Cabinet, etc… and you can get as detailed as you want. For things I bought that I know I’m using this week, like canned tomatoes, I won’t enter them in the app because I feel like that’s not a good use of my time. But if I buy 9 pounds of ground beef, I know those are definitely being entered in.
It’s also a good idea to organize your kitchen so you have a general idea of where everything is. We used a label maker to divide our main pantry into sections- The top is for pasta, the next row is for jars and other miscellaneous items, and the one below that is for bottles and cans. It’s simple, but I know I won’t be reaching blindly, desperately searching for that one thing I need.
Plan to incorporate a pantry meal once a week
Once you finish filling your pantry, you actually have to use it! Using your Out of Milk app (Or whatever you used to inventory), see what you have available and make a meal out of it. You should be a pro by now after your pantry challenge! On weeks that I see some really good deals, I’ll make at least one or two meals out of my pantry to give me extra money for those sale items. It creates a nice cycle of simultaneously emptying and refilling my pantry at the same time.
It’s a rewarding feeling knowing that your pantry is completely filled again. Does it give you a sense of security like it does for me? As long as you keep your inventory up-to-date, you’ll be able to continue rotating your stock, making pantry meals, and ensuring that none of your food expires.
Do you have any tips for restocking your kitchen after a pantry challenge? Share in the comments below!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.