Here's What I Learned After Grocery Shopping From My Pantry for One Week

Some of these money-saving tricks are now part of my normal routine.

Grocery shopping seems to add up quickly lately. The spike in prices inspired me to challenge myself to only shop from my pantry for a week. This forced me to get creative and think through pantry-friendly meals and snacks with ingredients I already had on hand. Want to try it out for yourself? Here are tips on how to create a well-stocked pantry and inspiration for what to eat.

What I Counted As "Pantry" Ingredients

While the goal is to mostly utilize pantry items. there will be times you'll need to grab fresh or frozen ingredients. So I included produce that can last for a long time (like apples, oranges, celery, and dates)as well as frozen items (like cauliflower rice, frozen berries, edamame) because the goal was just to use things I have on hand to avoid a week of grocery shopping for new fresh items.

Some of the staples I leaned on included:

  • Oil and vinegars
  • Condiments and sauces
  • Salt, pepper, and spices
  • Shelf stable fruits (apples, oranges, bananas, Medjool dates, etc.)
  • Canned and dehydrated fruits and vegetables (freeze dried berries, dried mushrooms, canned peaches, canned tomatoes, etc.)
  • Canned salmon, chicken, and tuna
  • Canned beans and soups
  • Nuts, seeds, and nut butters
  • Bulk grains and legumes
  • Snacks like bars, chips, popcorn, jerky, and oatmeal packets

What I Ate

Pantry Breakfast Ideas

For breakfast, it's a great idea to use canned and dehydrated fruits, nuts and nut butters, bread, and whole grain cereals. Here are a few morning meals I had on repeat.

Pantry Lunch Ideas

We're all super busy during the day, right? So for lunch it's best to stick with easy classics you can throw together in 10 minutes or less.

  • Canned chicken salad with mayo and canned mixed vegetables
  • A packet of flavored tuna served with crackers
  • Black bean veggie burgers

Pantry Dinner Ideas

For dinner, it can be nice to save some money and time by sticking with low-cost pantry essentials. Here's some quick and easy options to try.

  • Bean curry with any canned beans you have on hand
  • Pasta with jarred tomato sauce
  • Canned salmon salmon cakes
  • Minestrone soup
  • Dry soup mix layered with colorful lentils, split peas, and rice

Pantry Snack Ideas

Snacks are a great way to stay energized throughout the day. It's nice to have a mix of nourishing store-bought snacks as well as homemade ones. Here are a few to try.

What Happens When You Grocery Shop From Your Pantry

After a week of shopping from my own pantry, I learned a lot. Here's the positives and the potential drawbacks.

Your Diet Might Be More Nutrient Dense

Canned produce often gets a bad rap for being void of nutrients but this is far from the truth. In fact, canned fruits and vegetables have the same or higher amounts of nutrients as frozen or fresh produce!

You Will Save Money

The fresh produce section can feel overwhelming with prices reaching over $6 per item. Shopping shelf-stable goods can help you save money. For example, 3 fresh peaches (about 15 ounces) averages $4.17 vs one 15-ounce can of peaches averages just $1.79.

It Adds Variety to Your Diet

Shopping from your pantry may force you to try out some new, delicious recipes! It's also a great time to use up any pantry items you may not normally use that are coming up on their expiration date.

You'll Reduce Food Waste

No one likes throwing away food they've spent money on. Pantry items like bulk grains, canned foods, and packaged products typically last anywhere from a few months up to years. This means you won't have to worry about them going bad and you'll probably waste less food.

You'll Have to Do More Planning

Shopping from the pantry requires a decent amount of planning ahead. You'll need to make sure your pantry is stocked, familiarize yourself with pantry-friendly recipes, and allot time to cook.

The Bottom Line

Getting all your groceries from your pantry is a great way to save money and challenge yourself in the kitchen, all while still eating a well-rounded and delicious diet. But it does have a few drawbacks—it requires extra planning and lacks fresh ingredients you might enjoy. It probably doesn't make sense to do all your grocery shopping from your pantry, but it is a good tool to add to your regular grocery shopping routine: Before going to the grocery store, look for anything on your list in your own pantry first. If you already have it, no need to spend money on more! Plus, you could cut down on food waste this way.

Alternatively, you could take on this challenge of only shopping from your pantry for one week every 6 months to save money and clear out any pantry ingredients that are getting close to their expiration dates and free up a little room in your cupboards.

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