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No-Spend Challenge: Food Ideas

Every so often, I get to organizing and cleaning out my freezer and pantry. I think most of us are storing a good amount of food in the house, and never really utilizing what we have. I don't know about you, but if I use a pantry item in a recipe, it goes back on the list for the next week, so I'm never really getting through my whole stash. For me, this happens because I'm also prepper-adjacent, meaning I'm not a full d-day prepper, but I do keep a good amount of food in case of an emergency and I try to be as self sufficient as possible (growing, preserving, canning, freezing everything I produce).

It occurred to me when creating my No Spend Challenge, that many of us have this extra food just sitting around. Maybe it's the oatmeal that is a third tier food for your kids, or an old lasagna in the freezer, but everyone has some stuff that we can make into meals. This blog is aimed at giving you some ideas to use up what you have, without spending any extra.

You'll want to do a couple things first:

  1. Check the expiration dates

  2. Consider reducing your meat consumption

  3. Let the kids get involved

I can only really give ideas for what I have here, because I don't know what you have, but I'll list what I think of when I walk through my kitchen and check everything. Hopefully this can inspire some ideas in your own kitchen!

  1. Peach oatmeal bake with canned peaches, oatmeal and cinnamon

  2. Breakfast casserole with frozen hashbrowns, frozen bacon or sausage, eggs and cheese (maybe throw in a bag of frozen or canned veggies in there)

  3. French toast with the frozen sourdough I have saved

  4. Homemade pancakes/waffles/muffins with nuts/craisens/etc

  5. Tuna sandwiches or tuna salad on crackers

  6. Salmon Cakes

  7. Veggie Soup

  8. Chicken Noodle Soup

  9. Any version of chili (vegetarian or not)

  10. Rice and Beans

  11. Stir fry with rice

  12. Bean burgers

  13. Tacos or nachos with shells/chips, black beans and canned corn, salsa, and diced tomatos/chilis in a can plus cheese

  14. Banana Bread with the frozen brown bananas in the freezer

  15. Rice Crispy treats with unopened cereal no one wants and marshmallows (can add any kind of cereal to these)

  16. Peanut Butter and Jelly

  17. Chicken Pot Pie with frozen pie crusts, cream of chicken soup, frozen veggies and frozen chicken

  18. You can make your own bread, crackers, tortillas, etc with your flour

  19. Baked goods ideas are endless!

  20. Allll the pastas and sauces... and the sauces you can make with the other canned goods. Yum!

You may want to ask your kids to help! Mine have some good ideas and kids typically would rather eat simply anyways. All four of mine would be ecstatic if we had rice and mixed frozen veggies every night. They all like roasted/air fried chickpeas, and my oldest came up with his own famous nutella sandwich with milk (Carb + Protein + Fat = Balanced for you judgy moms out there).

You also may need to talk your partner into this, and I've come up with a few selling points:

  1. You'll save a crapton of money.

  2. There is less waste

  3. You can work together as a family to accomplish this task

  4. Your cabinets and freezer will be decluttered after

  5. The person that is in charge of feeding everyone makes the rules, so tough cookies.

Good Luck!

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