Creating a Pantry Challenge

What is a pantry, precisely? It is something different to each person. For some, it is a room. For others, it is a cupboard. You have your idea of what a pantry is. And I have my idea. Who is right?

We all are!

I would like to tell you about my pantry. Mind you, I am really just beginning to create mine, and I do not have a lot of room to spare.

Last year, my older daughter moved onto campus. I moved my younger daughter into her sisters’ room, and am using the empty ‘box’ as a sort of store all. Mostly, at this point, it stores my older daughters apartment stuff. She has recently moved up north, and will likely get all of her stuff next month. The ‘box’ also holds a few book shelves:

1. Gifts and gift wrap.

2. Homeschool books.

3. Crafts.

It also has another set of deep shelves, with two drawers underneath. I am turning this little area which uses to be an incredibly small closet, into part of my pantry.

So, what does my pantry consist of?

1. The deep shelves, with the two drawers.

The top shelves of my pantry shelving unit. This unit is in the "box".
The top shelves of my pantry shelving unit. This unit is in the
These are the bottom shelves of my pantry shelving unit in the little room. Notice the two drawers at the bottom.
These are the bottom shelves of my pantry shelving unit in the little room. Notice the two drawers at the bottom.

2. Three small racks in the kitchen, which holds the food that we will be eating soon or use frequently.

3. My refrigerator.

4. The freezer above my refrigerator.

My Freezer Contents
My Freezer Contents

I spent some time the other night cleaning out the freezer. It is only the freezer to the refrigerator, but I consider it an extension of my pantry. It looks better now, and I found out that I can still room for more freezer foods.

NOTE: I freeze all leftovers, even the leftovers for my childcare business. That is why there are single servings of some things. I am trying not to waste any food if at all possible.

Here is what is stored in my freezer at this time:

1 qt. fruit mix-ins

5 packages of 1/2 chicken breasts

2 cream cheese

6 – 4 packs of butter

32 eggs

1/2 qt. homemade crushed tomatoes

19 qts. homemade pasta/pizza/salsa sauce

1 sm. Italian bread

3 – 8 oz. blocks of cheese

2 meal size packages of turkey bacon

5 servings homemade fruit sauces (apple, peach, pear)

1 package Boca burgers

1 turkey ham

5 – 1 c. servings of shredded zucchini

8 qts. homemade chili

1 package broccoli spears

2 packages sliced American cheese

3 qts. vegetable mix-ins

3 qts. strawberries

1/2 can tomato paste

5 servings cantaloupe

1 pint homemade vegetable broth

2 qts. egg noodle casserole

Not too bad. And I will be adding a few more things as well. The trick is to freeze flat when using plastic freezer bags. Then you can stand them up or stack them for optimal space use.

5. Shelves in the bathroom.

Are these three really considered part of my pantry? Yes! They are very important aspects of my pantry, as a matter of fact. Of course, I also am also trying to stock up on personal hygiene and household needs. I am including these into my pantry stock-up plan.

Below is where I will record how I am creating my pantry, as well as the step-by-step plan for setting it all up.


P.S. Feel free to join the challenge any time. This page will stay here for your convenience, and you can post here any time, even when I am done creating my pantry.


Step 1:

I guess that the first step here, if you have the choice, is to figure out what you use regularly that can be stored for the long-term. I plan to get out a notebook and work on this myself. Why don’t you all join me. I will post my list, then move onto the next step here.

Feel free to comment with your own pantry list. It will help us all to figure out what is needed.

My list will consist of items for all four of the areas of my ‘pantry’.

Step 2:

The next step is to decide how long you want to store things for. 3 months is a good place to start. Once you have three months of everything in stock, then you can picking up things for six months and so on. I am doing mine for three months to start.

The second part of step 2 is to decide how many of each item that you will need to stock up on to equal three months worth (or however long you choose).

NOTE: Mine is done and all posted below. Notice that I was mainly concentrating on three months, but the personal hygiene items that I listed are for a year.

Step 3:

The next step in creating your pantry is to decide where you will store everything. I have several places in which I can store items:

* on the racks in the kitchen

* on the shelves and in the drawers in the extra room

* on the bathroom shelves, and under the cupboard

* in the laundry area

You should begin by disinfecting these  areas and letting them dry well, then we will move on to step 4.

Step 4:

This is more like a bunch of little steps in one. Here is the process:

  • Begin shopping. Getting a little each week for your stocks, along with your regular shopping, is great. These can be sale items if you like.
  • Store your items in an organized fashion. Earliest expiration dates in the front. Like items together.
  • Begin marking off the items (and how many) that are on the master list that you made.
  • Create another list, which will be your inventory. Mark how many of each item that you have with tally marks, checks or dashes, so that it will be easy for you to mark off each item that you use. This will help you to determine what you need to replace.
  • Now you just have to keep up with it.

These are all the steps that I am using to create my pantry. I hope that the challenged has helped you as well.

NOTE: I have made some notes below my previous comments. Read down further to see what I have been doing.


43 thoughts on “Creating a Pantry Challenge

  1. Okay, so these are the items that I would like to have stocks of. The amounts are what I would want to start with for a three month supply, but in some areas (as in baking needs) some of the items would last longer. Remember, I buy store brands of almost everything.


    1 of each herb and spice that we use, but…
    3 cinnamon, ground
    3 cinnamon, sticks
    2 dozen eggs
    4 shredded cheeses
    1 gal. bread and butter or sweet pickles
    1 gal. dill pickles
    1 large each jelly: grape, apple and strawberry jam
    1 each sauces: terryaki, soy, worchestershire
    1 each dressing: viniagrette and ranch
    1 each: mayo, ketchup, syrup, mustard, lemon juice, yeast
    1 fajita/tortilla shells


    1 block american cheese, 1 bulk shredded mozzarella cheese
    1 bulk shredded mild cheddar cheese, 1 large block velveeta cheese
    homemade meatloaf single serves – as many as I can fit
    homemade shepherd’s pie single serves – as many as I can fit
    homemade flapper jacks pie single serves – as many as I can fit
    whole wheat bread dough – as many as I can fit
    1 bulk Boca burgers
    1 bulk tvp granules (fake hamburg)
    1 qt. size baggie for leftover meats for future soup/casserole
    homemade apple/fruit sauces single serves – as many as I can fit
    homemade pasta sauces single serves – as many as I can fit

    1 gal. size bag of each:
    assorted homemade muffins
    french toast strips
    vegetable and pasta liquids – for future soups/casserole
    leftover vegetables – for future soup/casserole
    leftover fruit chunks – for future smoothies and shakes

    whatever else I can stuff in there.


    1 bulk each bulk pasta/equivelent: speghetti, macaroni, wacky mac, rigatoni, lasagna, shells, penne
    1 bulk white flour
    3 – 5 pound ww flour
    20 pounds sugar
    4 boxes each sugar: confectioners, dark brown, light brown
    2 cans yellow cornmeal
    1 can white cornmeal
    2 cans buttermilk powder
    2 large powdered milk
    1 yeast
    1 large baking soda
    2 cans baking powder
    1 canister salt
    1 cornstarch
    12 evaporated milk
    6 sweetened condensed milk
    3 baker’s cocoa
    1 bulk chocolate chips
    12 cans pumpkin
    4 large jars applesauce
    1 jar wheat germ
    4 dozen canned corn
    4 dozen canned peas
    4 dozen tomato soup
    8 minute brown rice
    12 cans tuna
    3 boxes soda crackers
    1 bulk peanut butter
    dried beans: an assortment – not sure how many I will need
    canned beans, baked vegetarian, 12 cans
    canned beans, red kidney, 12 cans
    canned pineapples, 36
    canned pears, 24
    canned peaches, 12
    canisters raisins, 2
    oyster crackers, 6 bags
    animal crackers, 6 boxes
    graham crackers, 6 boxes
    round crackers, 6 boxes
    dried fruit, 6 bags
    raman noodles, 36 packets
    hot cocoa, 1 bulk
    coffee, 1 bulk
    creamer, 1 bulk
    tea, 1 bulk
    iced tea, 3 bulk canisters
    koolaid, 12
    popcorn kernals, 5 bags
    mild salsa, 6
    canned tomato sauce, 12
    canned diced tomatoes, 12
    canned whole tomatoes, 12
    oates, 6 big canisters
    v8 juice, 6 big cans
    orange juice, 6 cans
    vanilla, 2 big
    peppermint extract, 1 big
    food coloring, 1 box
    coconut flakes, 3 bags

    I am sure that there is more, but I cannot really think of them right now. My next comment will be on the other things that I will stock up on.

    NOTE: The things that we are using each week are stored on the two racks in my kitchen.

  2. Personal Hygeine Stock-Ups – 1 year, without getting too personal…

    12 soap
    12 shampoo
    6 conditioner
    4 deodorant
    6 toothpaste
    8 toothbrushes
    2 bulk q-tips

    Household cleaner stockup for three months, again, some of the things made from these products may last longer than 3 months:

    4 borax
    2 fels naptha soap
    4 washing soda
    4 baking soda
    4 vinegar
    1 bulk dish soap

  3. Other household needs for three months. Again, some will last longer…

    3 bulk toilet paper
    1 bulk trash bags
    1 bulk each: plastic wrap, parchment paper, wax paper, aluminum foil, sandwich baggies, snack size baggies, freexer paper
    2 bulk: gal. size freezer bags, qt. size freezer bags
    2 nine volt batteries
    1 bulk AA batteries
    1 bulk AAA batteries
    1 bulk C batteries
    1 bulk D batteries
    2 bottle oil for lamps

  4. In my pantry, I have a row of canned corn going from front to back on the vegetable shelf. It holds stacks of two, with room to lay a few more cans on top.

    I have done the same with peas and tomato soup so far.

    I will have separate inventory lists for the freezer, refrigerator and pantry shelves and drawers.

  5. I just would like to suggest you buy your spices at the natural living center (Stillwater ave Bangor) it is much much cheaper there. I just bought cinnamon, probably about double of what you would get in a jar, it only cost me .75. most towns have some sort of natural store where you can buy bulk spices and herbs. this is almost always cheaper. they also sell flours, rice, beans, and peas.

  6. Why are you freezing tomatoes?!? It is SO simple to can them all it takes is a boiling water bath for 30 minutes.

    I make my own soap. I’ve been doing this for years, it’s not difficult and the soap is so versatile it can be used for everything from shampoo to oven cleaner.

    I have never found it frugal to buy expensive products to hoard…

    1. I don’t think she’s talking about buying expensive products to hoard. I think she’s talking about buying something at the dollar store or when you have a coupon, or when its on sale. Then you buy more than one, enough until the next sale. This was a concept that the original readers of “the tightwad gazette” were familiar with.

  7. I don’t have a canner yet, but it is on my wishlist, and I can’t wait to learn how to make goats milk soap and other soaps, when I can do it affordably.

    I don’t consider it hoarding, and I don’t spend a lot on the food that we purchase. I do stock up when on sale, and with coupons that bring expensive things down to under $1.00 (usually).

    We don’t consider stocking a pantry hoarding, it is necessary, and we do not hesitate to share when someone is in need.

    When we get great deals on tomatoes, etc., we freeze them because we do not have a canner. It is the cheapest way for us, at this time, to store the food.

    Most of what I actually purchase are baking needs, pastas, dried beans and rice. Sometimes we get other things that we can store, usually free or very cheap. This is how we are building our pantry.

    I live in Maine, and things are bad here right now. Whatever we don’t use during the week, we put into the pantry. We eat fresh produce as much as possible, but refuse to let it go bad when we cannot use it in time. Then, we make sauces, breads, muffins and freezer mix-ins from the fresh produce. It works for us.

    Have a nice day.

  8. Also, I was already out of work for two months this year, and I may be out for another month – though I hope not. The food that we store can get us through that time. It may be that this is going to happen every so often, and we have decided to give up much to try to be prepared for it.

    I provide childcare, and the children’s parents also help with the food stocks. This is what their children eat from as well, not just us. I regularly have children for 2 meals and 2 snacks a day, and sometimes for three meals. I do not tell the parents what to bring. They bring what they want their children to have, with the understanding that I will not be making separate meals for each child. Too time consuming. So we all contribute components to each meal.

    Also, with things as bad as they are here, parents, on ocassion, will pay me in food, so I do not have a lot of choice there.

    I have learned to take what is offered as well. People offer up fresh produce from their gardens, or food from cleaning out there cupboards (usually during spring/fall cleanings). I accept these whole heartedly. And sometimes someone will give food to friends, and they bring me what they do not use.

    When the latter two things happen, I determine if my daughter or I will eat the stuff. If not, I determine if a child that I care for will eat the product. If not, I give the food to the food cupboard. They helped me out a lot, and it is the least that I can do.

    My point is, accept whatever foods people want to offer, and deal with them accordingly. If you can’t use them, give them to someone else.

  9. I found very informative. The article is professionally written and I feel like the author knows the subject very well. keep it that way.

    1. Hello,

      I freeze both eggs and cheese. Here is what I do:

      Eggs: Crack the egg into a bowl. Break the yolk. Pour into a snack size zipper bag. Put these bags into a quart size freezer bag.

      To make things easier, you can put multiple eggs into containers for freezing, just remember to break each yolk.

      Cheese: For blocks of cheese, slice and to put into quart sixe freezer bags. You can put a package of sliced cheese directly into the freezer without opening it when you get home from the grocery store.

      Hope this helps.

  10. Excellent site that I have sent to my three daughters.

    Everyone should learn these basics.

    Kudos to Shannon.
    Thank you and good luck.

  11. I just found this site. Im so glad I did. Love the info on freezing eggs, we have chickens and I wanted to be able to store some before the days get so short that they stop laying well. I wondered about freezing them but wasn’t sure if it’d work out well. The pantry list is awesome, I plan to use it as a sort of guide to revamp my current random system. Thanks

    1. I am so happy that you enjoy the site. I always hope that the information placed here will help others live more frugal lives. I would love to have hens laying eggs so that I could do the same with the fresh eggs.

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  13. I didn’t see anyone mention some of the “unused” or ‘wasted” spaces that can be used to store foods. So, I will share some of mine!

    1. Due to childcare state regulations, I can’t keep cleaning products under my kitchen sink. So, I keep those in the drawers under my front loader washer and dryer, and in the cabinet above my laundry area. That leaves all the space under the sink free. I buy my cooking oil, and vinegar in gallon containers. So, I store them under the sink, along with any soda we have (which I normally don’t buy, but I do keep some on hand for tummy aches and some recipes). Since these are in plastic containers, should there be a water leak, they are not ruined.


    2. I keep canned goods (both home canned and commercially canned) that won’t fit into the pantry stored under the beds. I started doing this years ago when I lived in a small house that had no pantry and very little storage area. I have a huge pantry now, but on good years when I have jackpot produce, I still use under the beds. To keep it simple, the items are in boxes, labeled on the side and I just slide them out when I need the contents.

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