What does a family of 5 eat on a 10-Day Pantry Challenge? Can you still eat healthy? Here’s how we did no food waste, budget-friendly meals, and clean eating during our pantry challenge.

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Near the end of August, we decided to run a pantry challenge. These are always motivating, creative, and bring out a lot of nostalgia for the days when we basically ate our kitchen bare every single week.

If you’ve never done a 10-day pantry challenge, here is how they save us money and help us eat healthy.

Eat Well During a Pantry Challenge

The reality is, we were pretty well stocked up from our Costco experiment, but a few rules really helped us eat well this week:

  • No food waste – if you don’t finish your meal, you finish it the next day (or maybe at the next meal). No food waste!
  • Leftovers – again, preventing food waste. A lot of our snacks and lunches were little snacky servings of food we made ahead of time. This makes the leftovers feel less like leftovers and more like a fresh meal.
  • Baking from scratch – While I don’t bake everything from scratch, we do try to make some of our staple baked goods. This saves a lot of money and helps ensure clean ingredients lists! You’ll see what we made in the menu below.

What We Ate During Our Pantry Challenge

Last week I shared nearly every meal we made on Instagram and Facebook Stories (those are great places to see our day-to-day cooking and grocery hauls!). However, since those only last 24 hours, I thought I would share them in a more permanent post for you.

Here is the list of what we ate during the last week of our 10-Day Pantry Challenge.

Some meals, the kids and I ate the same thing. Some meals, we ate different things. I’ll specify those below.

Chris ate dinner with us, grabbed a granola bar for breakfast, and ate lunches at work.

kitchen day


Kitchen day! I baked and prepped a bunch of stuff for the week ahead.

Breakfast: Banana muffins, frozen fruit, cereal we got on clearance from Kroger

Lunch: Pizza at church

Dinner: (had friends over) Spatchcock chicken, roasted green beans, cauliflower rice with garlic and turmeric, roasted potatoes

Snack: frozen fruit, carrots, celery


Breakfast: Banana muffins, smoothies made with these cheap hacks

Lunch: Packed lunches (celery, carrots, plain yogurt, banana muffins)

Dinner: leftovers from Sunday, lentil soup (recipe in my eBook, Dinner for a Dollar)

Snack: frozen fruit, leftover Cheesy Lentil Pie

Late-night dinner for me: lettuce wraps (leftover chicken, grass-fed cheese from Costco)

(We usually have a small mid-afternoon meal on weekdays, so I’m including that with the snacks)

dinner leftovers


Breakfast: yogurt with honey, baked oatmeal

Lunch: Sunday leftovers with steamed veggies

Dinner: salad, crackers, steamed veggies, chicken salad

Snacks: frozen fruit, carrots, celery, baked oatmeal, random gluten-free cookies from the pantry we bought for a friend who visited, popcorn

dinner: crackers, salad, chicken salad, veggies


Breakfast: oatmeal (I topped mine with frozen berries)

Lunch: leftover lentil soup, chips

Dinner: Vegetable curry (I didn’t follow an actual recipe, but the beef version is in Dinner for a Dollar)

Snack: frozen fruit, carrots, celery, baked tortillas with melted cheese, a few cashew clusters (from Costco)

(Here’s how we save the most money and eat real food with Costco)

steel cut oats topped with frozen berries


Breakfast: yogurt with honey, baked oatmeal


Kids – personal pizzas (whole wheat crust on clearance at Kroger, Clean & Cheap Pizza Sauce, cheese, and bacon from the freezer).

Me – Greek quinoa salad with chicken and roasted broccoli

Dinner: leftover curry with rice

Snack: frozen fruit, carrots, celery



Kids – cereal we got on clearance at Kroger, banana muffins (I froze half of what we baked on Sunday, so they lasted all week).

Me – yogurt, quinoa, frozen berries, honey,

Lunch: salmon patties from Soul Food Love, quinoa patties (made from veggies, leftover rice, and leftover quinoa) from 100 Days of Real Food (affiliate link), roasted green beans, cauliflower rice

Dinner: Leftover lunch

Snack: Cookie dough babies with a friend who came over for tea, Chocolate chip cookie bars (recipe still needs some tweaking)

This week, we pulled a lot of recipes and techniques from our little eBook, Dinner for a Dollar.

Want to see pantry cooking in action? Here’s how we take a recipe and make it work for us – without most of the normal ingredients.

Lessons Learned During Our Challenge

We do 10-Day Pantry Challenges every 3 months or so, and I end up trying something new each time.

(To find out why we do 10-day challenges instead of 30 days, go here.)

This time, Kitchen Day made a huge difference. Not only did I feel like I had convenient, easy food on hand, but a 2-hour baking session also helps me use odds and ends from both the pantry and the freezer – which was the whole point of this exercise.

Next time, I might try going a little longer and just buy a few fresh ingredients to tide us over. We didn’t clean out our stash as thoroughly as I would have liked.

However, since this challenge was part of our #CheapHealthyCostco Experiment, I felt I needed to get back to that.

Have You Ever Done a Pantry Challenge?

What was your experience? Do you think it helped you save money? Leave a comment below and tell us about it and what might help us next time!

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