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Pantry Month Final Update

snow and sunshine january 30, 2011Yesterday ended the Pantry Month challenge. I gave my family $100 to buy groceries for the entire month, supplementing with what we had on hand in our chest freezer and pantry. Here's the final report: Accounting

After week one, when I ended up having sinus surgery, we eliminated the idea of including restaurant food from the $100 total. We spent $25.95 on milk, kefir, and tea.

In week two, we bought $36.68 of yogurt, milk and produce.

By the January 19 report, we spent another $20.92 at the other whole foods on bananas, kale, cheese and milk.

In the final week of January, pantry month went to hell in a hand basket. I contracted tonsillitis and could barely eat which you would think might limit grocery purchases. Instead, Alex threw the budget aside and bought a selection of things I might be able to enjoy: ice cream, bananas, kefir, yogurt, and honey, that ancient throat healer. I was too ill to keep track of purchases.

Our Mint software shows an unaccounted for $143.06 spent at grocery stores in January. I'm not sure what of that qualifies for the pantry month count. I do know that beer and wine are restocked but unconsumed, which I suppose we could count as Alex's reward for taking care of me so well. I know he intentionally over-bought on his last grocery run because the ice storm was forecast and he was heading out of town.


  • I do think we could have managed to stay under the self-imposed $100 limit if I had not gotten ill. We are fortunate to have had the savings from the rest of the month to spend. I now feel more empathetic to families with a tighter budget who face health challenges.
  • $100 is not enough for our family. Snowville milk alone cost $26.32. We would need to drastically change our eating habits and values to regularly eat with $100/month.
  • We did not consume nearly the amount of odds and ends in the pantry that I had hoped. There are still many little jars of lentils and beans and quinoa. Some are at least two years old and perhaps I should just sprout them and feed them to the chickens.
  • We noticed how many 'treats' we buy at the store regularly, based on how many things we had to deny ourselves in January. We will try to curb these because they were not missed once we left of the store.
  • We didn't eat a great variety of vegetables and fruits. They are expensive, so I limited us to high nutritional value items like citrus, bananas, and kale. We did have some frozen vegetables in the freezer at the beginning of the month and used most of those. I found it boring to cook without fresh veggies.
  • This challenge would be easier in the summer when fresh produce and eggs are mere steps away. Perhaps I will try a pantry month again in August or September with a more realistic budget.

I know a few people commented that they were going to try a grocery challenge with their families. How was your January?

Bloggers Amanda from Homestead in My Heart and Sally from Real Mom Nutrition shared that they are taking up a pantry challenge for February. I look forward to reading about their experience.

Added to Hearth and Soul Volume 33.