Feeding Your Family

Feeding your family, while always necessary, can be one of the most dreaded tasks of motherhood. Mealtime is challenging no matter your situation. Whether you work outside the home, work from home, or your home is your work – whether you have one kid or 10. Keeping your family fed requires physical and mental energy several times a day.

feeding your family

It’s no wonder we reach for the frozen pizza or wait in the drive-through line for food already cooked for us. With everything else we’re already managing and in charge of, feeding our family can be easy enough with a convenient solution. Those convenient solutions, however, can also be expensive, and uncomfortable. (Have you ever gotten sick from drive-through food? Raise your hand…)

For us, living out of town, homeschooling, and working from home causes us – dare I say, forces us – to be more intentional about our meals and meal preparation. This time of year has a pattern of stretching me in my creative meal planning, but it’s the best thing we do for meal time all year long. Feeding my family through the pantry challenge is one of my favorite seasons of the year.

how it started

This is my sixth year doing a #pantrychallenge. Back in the winter of 2018, I saw Jessica from Three Rivers Homestead, talking about her pantry challenge and asking if others wanted to join in. We had just hosted my entire extended family for Christmas, it had been our first full year of gardening and preserving a harvest, and after listening to her explain how she used the pantry challenge in feeding her family (and keeping them full and happy), I jumped in with both feet.

I wrote about the first couple of weeks of my experience here. I remember I promptly went to the grocery store on February 1st. We went a little over a month without groceries that first year, and while I was pleased to know we could do it, I learned a lot. I really had no idea what our eating habits or patterns were, or exactly how much food we were consuming (or even what) on a regular basis. It was eye-opening for me.

When you “shop” from the food in your fridge, freezer, and pantry, you have to sometimes dig deep to creatively put together a meal. Frugal Fit Mom, Christine, does regular Freezer Clean Out videos, where she menu plans based on what she needs to use up from her freezer. This isn’t a new concept, but at the time, The Pantry Challenge or a Freezer Clean Out were new to me.

how it’s going

With feeding your family already feeling like a daunting task, the thought of expending more mental energy to create meals (three a day..!) based on your knowledge of your food inventory sometimes feels overwhelming. Exhausting, even.

My competitive side, however, spurs me on to see how long I can, how well we can eat, and whether I can create any new family favorites to carry over into other meal-planning sessions.

The longest I’ve gone in a pantry challenge to date is seven weeks. This is something I start every January (or sometimes sooner, depending on our situation with weather or even finances). Every year, no matter how good of a job I think I’m doing on keeping tabs of what’s on my shelves or in the freezer, I surprise myself with items I find.

“We have turkey breakfast sausage? Why?” or “I forgot I bought these cans of lasagna soup…” (What even is lasagna soup?!)

I menu plan ahead of time so I know what I’ll be making, what I need to “shop” for from the pantry or the freezer to give it time to thaw, and what needs to be used up. Typically, the start of the pantry challenge is using up leftovers, cooking up any fresh produce still in the fridge from Christmas meals, etc. Then it’s on like Donkey Kong as the kids used to say…

How you can do the same

Tonight, we’ll be having something we’ve never had before. It was a recipe of Hubs’ Grandma Lena, and I’m using four cans of beans. It has beef, bacon, and brown sugar in it as well so I’m sure it will be delicious – despite the fact my children hate beans. I keep trusting they’ll learn to love them one day…

I keep track of all of our meals, and every year when I hit a “wall” in menu planning, I go back to previous pantry challenge records and remind myself of what we ate, liked, loved, etc.

I would encourage you to try a pantry challenge if you’ve never ventured to do one before. You’ll learn a lot about your family’s eating habits and about everything you’re capable of creating, and you’ll also save money while reducing food waste!

To stock your pantry the whole year through, check out Azure Standard. Then, browse Jessica’s Instagram and YouTube for her Pantry Challenge tips, and click through Christine’s Freezer Clean Out videos for some inspo. Then cinch up those apron strings and transform your meal time from a dreaded chore to a delightful accomplishment!


While you’re in the kitchen working diligently on feeding your household, make sure you’re catching up on the latest episodes from TME podcast!

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