5-Day Pantry Challenge: How to Cook Without Shopping

Al's Epic Family Life
by Al's Epic Family Life

Hey guys. I decided to start January with a no shop, pantry challenge. The idea was to see if I could go five days without buying any new food. I was only allowed to use holiday leftovers and whatever I had in my pantry.

Spaghetti and meatballs

Day 1

For day one we started with some confetti sheet cherry pancakes, and I used some random leftovers today to make us lunch. For dinner, I took some leftover dressing and turned it into meatballs so we could have spaghetti and meatballs. 

I took a pound of ground beef and two eggs. I used my leftover dressing. I rolled the meat into meatballs and baked them in the oven at about 450 for 30 minutes.

They turned out pretty good but I don't think that spaghetti and meatballs was the best meal for this leftover dressing because the flavors didn’t really work with spaghetti. If I were to make this again, I would serve them on top of mashed potatoes with some gravy that would make more sense with this dressing.

Eggs with some leftover ham and cheese

Day 2

For breakfast on day two of the pantry challenge I made some eggs with some leftover ham and cheese. Then I turned it into breakfast burritos. For lunch, I warmed up some leftovers from Christmas Eve dinner.

Leftover ham and fried rice

For dinner, I took the rest of the leftover ham from Christmas Eve and turned it into ham and fried rice. I cooked up my rice in the instant pot. Then I cooked up some eggs. I basically just cooked everything in stages in my instant pot. 

Then I sautéed my veggies and set those to the side. I also sautéed my ham, fried up my rice, and added some seasonings and sauces. Once everything was warmed I threw all of it back in with some seasonings and sauces.

I added some soy sauce and a little bit of sriracha for flavor. My family all loves fried rice, so it's always a crowd-pleaser at our house.

Creamy chicken pasta

Day 3

For day three of our pantry challenge we had cereal for breakfast. For lunch, I made some tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. I made tomato soup with leftover spaghetti sauce from the spaghetti we had the other night.

For dinner, we had creamy chicken pasta. To make this I took one piece of chicken breast out of a package of chicken and put it in my crock pot and cooked it on high for a while. I put the rest of the package of chicken in the pressure cooker for 30 minutes and saved those for two other nights. 

I added half a block of cream cheese and a small can of cream chicken soup to the chicken in the crock pot. I also added a little bit of leftover spinach and some water and gave it a mix. Next, I added a full pound of garden rotini, and enough water to cover the pasta.

I put the lid on and let it cook on high for about 30 minutes. I stirred the pasta every 10 to 15 minutes so it didn’t stick together. My family all loved it.  

Chicken tacos

Day 4

On day four we had blueberry corn muffins for breakfast. I made some cornbread muffins, and I put blueberries in them. They were really good. For lunch, we mostly worked on leftovers, but I also made some cheesy yogurt and potatoes.

For dinner, I made some chicken tacos with the rest of my chicken from the previous night. I used two chicken breasts and a lot of chicken broth. I used the chicken juices that came out when I cooked them for broth. 

I shredded up the chicken and added a lot of seasonings, including salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, some tomato, chicken bouillon, and some cajun. I also added in a drained can of corn. I put everything in the pressure cooker for 4 minutes.

Then I made some sauteed onions and a can of refried beans to put on the side. I also warmed up some tortillas and shredded up the last of the cheese that we had. This dinner came together super quickly. It was super tasty, and we all loved it.

Oven hash browns and eggs

Day 5

For breakfast on day five I made some oven hash browns and some eggs. For lunch we had leftovers. We still had plenty of leftovers.

Pantry challenge recipes

For dinner, I made some chicken pot pie. I used a big container of mixed vegetables. I added the last little bit of chicken broth from the day before. I also added some shredded cheese and cooked it on medium heat until everything was nice and warm.

I added a can of cream of mushroom, a can of cream of chicken, and a little packet of baked potato-flavored instant potatoes. So, for the last night of the challenge we had chicken pot pie soup, and it was delicious.

Pantry challenge

I’m so proud that we made it five extra days without going to the grocery store. I think that is so great. I bet we could have even held out and made it six days. This was a great way to really slow down our spending after the holidays.

What a great challenge. Did you make the most of your holiday leftovers? Leave me a comment in the comments section and let me know.

Join the conversation
  • Maria Maria on Aug 29, 2023

    I often practice the Pantry Challenge to avoid going to the grocery store; it works well, saves you money and empty out some of your freezer and pantry stock.

  • Maryann Los Maryann Los on Aug 29, 2023

    I plan on having a dinner party tomorrow using only food I already have in my house. Dessert is already made, in fact. Leftovers are a great way to stretch your food budget!