The Pantry Challenge Is A Fun Way To Make Extra Space In Your Kitchen

Efficient grocery shopping is never easy, and often, we find ourselves with a pantry full of miscellaneous items that end up ... well, just sitting there. It's always good to have a stocked pantry, but every so often, the inventory needs to be turned over. This is when the pantry challenge can come into play. It's a fun way to actually use up those excess pantry items and make extra space in your kitchen.

The rules of the pantry challenge are simple. Don't go out and buy ingredients for a new recipe; instead, come up with meals using the food you already have. It may sound uninspiring to do, especially with takeout on your mind, but consider it as a fun game or creative exercise. You could even pretend you're on a cooking show. Do whatever it takes to clear out some pantry space and have a free meal. (It's free if the money is already spent, right?) Plus, as you scrounge through the kitchen, you can utilize the time to install some kitchen organizers for your pantry that will make your next go at the challenge even easier.

Focus on ingredient groups and make balanced recipes

Before you embark on the pantry challenge, strategize recipe ideas that are in line with the ingredients you have available. There are plenty of common pantry staples you can target, like bags of dried noodles or grains, cans of beans and vegetables, boxes of broth, and jars of sauce. Identifying these categories can open your mind to a plethora of balanced meals — complete with fiber, protein, and carbs — that are ready to be created.

More likely than not, your pantry challenge will result in you making a stew or pasta-type dish. This is the nature of canned and dried goods. However, this is less limiting than it seems, especially with a solid variety and a well-stocked pantry. This may look like a soup, utilizing chicken broth, canned tomatoes, corn, navy beans, and dried lentils. It could be a pasta dish, ready to take on a jar of marinara and a can of cut green beans. Don't forget to raid the fridge and freezer, too, since there could be some greens you bought last week or bread you froze last month begging to be used up. Mediterranean quinoa salad, artichoke risotto, beef stew, and more ... the possibilities are endless. The pantry challenge is good for more than just clearing out space, too — the innovation can make canned food taste better and inspire resourcefulness and creativity in the kitchen.