Last week my pantry challenge ended and while I did make some exceptions I actually feel pretty happy with how it went. Most importantly I noticed a large decrease in my grocery budget for those weeks. I feel like I didn't make as big of a dent in my pantry as my husband probably would have liked but by the end we were all done! We actually caved with about 2 nights left and ordered Chinese food after I had spent hours reorganizing/cleaning the girls rooms before playing room switch-a-rooney. I was PCS (a military move) tired, was ordering Chinese food, and didn't care. Thankfully my husband is pretty supportive and I'm sure his love of Chinese food didn't hurt my cause.
I'm not sure what I'd have done differently. We eat a lot of produce and that's not something I'm willing to cut back. I'm considering joining a CSA this summer but am concerned that we will end up with entire boxes of greens and nothing else. The farm about 5 minutes from us offers both a CSA option and a farm stand option so I might just use their farm stand. I'm also considering a produce service that delivers a box to my front door each week but genuinely prefer to support local farmers; I may wait until winter to utilize the produce delivery when I simply can't buy local. We will have a small garden this summer but it's dry here and we get late freezes (as in still might) so I'm not sure how it will do and can't really plan on it. I think the real answer is to stay away from the store as much as possible. While using Wal-Mart Grocery Pick-Up has significantly cut down on impulse purchases it's still easy to add a few things to your cart you don't need. The biggest help to my challenge was to meal plan from what we already owned (especially proteins), double check my cart and delete items before checking out, and making as much from scratch as possible. Having peanut butter and jelly on hand as a backup helped too.
I'm considering completing a small freezer meal session soon. I already meal plan for a month at a time and try to buy anything freezable upfront but having the meal already assembled should make a huge difference. I have a few chicken dump meals in the freezer and used one for dinner last night. It completely saved the day! I know this summer we will want to be outside even more and cooking dinner after having been at the pool/splash park or on a hike will be the last thing on my mind. If I can plan ahead and use the instant pot or crock pot in conjunction with my rice maker it should make our summer days less stressful!
Did you do a pantry challenge? How did it go? Have you considered how your meal planning and prep will change this summer?