The Pantry Clean Out and a No Shopping Menu Plan

It’s amazing what happens to your psyche when you clean out your pantry. For me it was three sets of emotions all rolled into one: GUILT-RESOLVE-ELATION.

The Guilt Part:

I found many duplicates of things and, unfortunately, many expired items.  I also found items that I purchased specifically for baking at Christmas time and subsequently never used.  What in the world am I going to make with three cans of sweetened condensed milk?

Crap.  Waste.of.resources.

The Resolve Part:

I’m going to use everything in this pantry before it expires.  Including the sweetened condensed milk. (Any suggestions?)  

The Elation Part:

An organized pantry! (Okay, is it weird that I open the pantry to just ‘look’ every time I’m in the kitchen now?  Don’t answer that.) :)


The good news is that I now have a pantry that is organized, and I will make sure I use up what I have in the next month, before anything else expires.  I will also make sure I check the pantry before I go shopping.

My menu for the week:

  • Monday:  Slow Cooker Pork Loin Roast, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole
  • Tuesday:  Shrimp Scampi, Spinach Salad
  • Wednesday: Zesty Chicken Sandwiches, ffs, salad
  • Thursday: Steak Kabobs, Greek Salad
  • Friday:  Homemade Pizza, Salad
  • Saturday:  Away for weekend
  • Sunday:  Away for weekend

The best part:   No grocery shopping necessary. :)

Do you experience any kind of emotion when cleaning out your pantry?




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  1. P.S. I failed to mention that I do a pantry challenge 2x a year as part of Jessica’s Pantry Challenge at her Good & Cheap Eats blog. If you’re not familiar with her site, you may want to check it out. I always find some inspiration.

  2. I did a pantry challenge last month. It always feels good and gives me a sense of accomplishment when I can create space and use up the partial bags of food items in the pantry and freezer. Plus I love the $$ that remains in my checkbook :)

  3. Stephanie says:

    That’s awesome that you got it all organized! Hopefully there wasn’t too much waste! I hate when that happens. I love to get stuff when it is on sale to stock up, but then I end up throwing stuff away…. makes you wonder if you are just best to buy what you need for those few weeks in the future vs overbuying, or even just pay normal price for it??

    Love looking at a clean & organized pantry :) always makes me happy too!!!

    • Yes, absolutely. I have so many ideas now for the sweetened condensed milk, I’m positive it won’t go to waste! :)!

  4. Madeline says:

    I love it when I Organize the pantry.It’s like Christmas morning! I did it recently since we moved, and wow! I have a lot of food!! I am also excited about lower grocery bill months! I have a LOT of pasta, all shapes, bought on sale. A lot of canned beans and canned fruit. Lots of staples such as rice, lentils,beans (Dry.) We could eat for about 3 months I think with just some produce purchases!!

    It’s a nice feeling!!!

    • I used to have a lot of pasta in my pantry, and I still have a fair share, but I’m trying to lower my carb intake. Not easy for this Italian! I’ve been using my canned fruit in spinach salads. YUMMY!

  5. My pantry consists of cereal, cereal and cereal. It’s my daughter’s favorite meal! And then there are the lentils, soup mix and quinoa. On the top shelf are the baking items which I use only at Christmas. There are about 5 bags of icing sugar up there because I can never remember if I have any when I’m shopping for Christmas baking. Then there’s the stuff on the floor – the bulk stuff from Costco that takes up so much space. We could definitely live for a week just eating from the pantry. In fact, years ago when I first started blogging that was a regular thing – for one week a month I wouldn’t grocery shop, I’d make meals just from the pantry. I think I should start that up again.

    • I like cereal too. It’s my favorite before bed snack. I rarely eat it in the morning. I hate storing stuff from the big box stores. My favorite is BJ’s, where I buy a lot of my dairy and meats. When I buy the big bulky snacks, I never know where to put it, so I’ve stopped buying them there. I’m hoping to make my food last for two weeks, with minimum grocery shopping. Let’s hope! When you do your monthly pantry eat-out, let me know and we can do it together!

  6. My problem is the freezer, every time I try to ‘eat it out’ – I put more inside! I was doing well in the pantry and then hubby went shopping – BIG mistake!!!

  7. Use the sweetened condensed milk to make a “better than anything” cake! You probably have some cake mixes in your pantry too to use up!

    I have been on a house cleaning binge. When I went through my freezer I made a list of almost 20 meals we can make just with what we have on hand. So excited for cheap grocery weeks.

    • That sounds like some cake! I do have a white cake mix….hmmmmmm……
      I’m hoping to last 3 weeks without a major grocery shop. I think I can do it! :)!

  8. Your pantry looks great and I would suggest using the condensed milk as creamer in coffee. Or go to and putting it in as an ingredient to see if any of the 681 recipes that came up appeal to you.

    • Thanks Juhli! I’m sure there are a ton of recipes. I just cleaned out my recipe books and found out why I bought it. I was supposed to make magic bars at Christmas time AND fudge!

  9. lemon meringue pie

  10. It's me, Sam says:

    I fyou slowly heat the SCM, In the can, on the stove in water for a few hours it’ll turn into caramel… It’d be good on ice cream, apple crisp, etc

  11. I’m pretty organized, but do find things. When we moved, I was into making homemade power bars for the kids, and the recipe calls for dried dates. I bought a giant container at Costco, and somehow they simultaneously got moved to the back of the pantry at the same time the kids decided they preferred homemade muffins. Last week, I discovered the giant, unopened container. Date are not cheap! They probably cost me around $10. I’m determined to use as many as I can before they go bad. 😉

    I mostly have small amounts of leftovers that no one eats (just enough taco meat that I saved it, but not enough to fill a taco), that kind of stuff. I always hope to use it, and end up throwing away the odds & ends at the end of the week. I need to figure out a more efficient system for sure, because I feel guilty!

    Good luck using up all of your pantry treasures. PS – I still have canned pumpkin from Thanksgiving. I asked the husband to pick up a can for holiday baking, & he brought home a 6 pack from Costco. . .

    • I bet those dried dates were expensive! Hope you can use them up before they go bad!

      That’s the trick about Costco….sometimes their portions are too much. Hopefully pumpkin lasts…otherwise you can have pumpkin pie in August? :)

    • We buy those dried dates from Costco. My hubby uses them to mix up his own trail mix. Maybe you can try that? Also use your pumpkin to make pumpkin muffins or bread :)

  12. Fudge. Fudge. And more fudge. Or key lime pie! My favorite. That’s what I’d do with the sweetened condensed milk! (you can also make pina coladas……….I’ll be right over) :)

    • Pina Coladas?? Really?? How awesome is that! I had no idea what treasure I’ve discovered in my own pantry! :)

  13. Make Magic cookie bars: you need graham crackers/crumbs, butter.margarine, the SC milk, choc or other chips, coconut, nuts. Easy and disappear fast!

    • I was cleaning out my recipe books and found the Magic cookie bars…I was supposed to make those for a Christmas treat and never got around to it, as well as some fudge. Yes, I agree, they would disappear fast!

  14. I have had issues with my pantry for the whole 11 years I’ve lived here. I was spoiled by what I had in my old house – a walk-in pantry big enough to set up a cot in there if we needed the extra sleeping space:) I actually did attempt to organize mine a couple of weeks ago. I filled up 3 paper grocery bags of duplicates that I gave to my son (a recent look in his apartment revealed he could use it), plus I discovered 5 cans of pineapple chunks (I thought cans of tuna were crammed back there)!! Last week I defrosted the freezer in the garage and the same thing happened; I had 3 chuck roasts in the bottom of the freezer along with enough chicken, seafood, and pork to last most of the month. I’m planning a no-spend menu for the next couple of weeks too, with the exception of some dairy and produce products. Tonight: sweet and sour chicken (to use one can of pineapple…)

  15. You could also use something like tang if you have it or frozen orange juice.

  16. I am adding a link to a recipe that I haven’t actually used, but it will give you an idea. I seriously just mix 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, one container of cool whip and one packet of crystal lite mix (the dry powder) in regular or pink lemonade. I wouldn’t add the food coloring… It would be more full with the contents of one frozen can of lemonade.
    My grandma lived through the depression and I learned a lot of things from her “use it up” mentality. You really don’t have to stick to recipes because that usually means going to the store for some obscure ingredient or something you are simply out of… Instead use recipes as a guide and throw in things you have at home. In this case I would stick to the condensed milk and cool whip and then add whatever you have for flavor and color. Orange juice or lemonade frozen concentrate, crystal lite powdered mix, sweetened koolaid powder, or unsweetened koolaide powder and a little bit of sugar are some of the ideas that come to mind. If you have a premade crust in your cupboard, great. If not, look for graham crackers, nilla wafers or something that you can mix with melted butter or margarine to make your own.
    This is the way I cook all the time. If I look in the cupboard and see spaghetti sauce I go to the cupboard for pasta and go to the freezer for sausage or ground beef. If I see alfredo sauce I look for chicken, shrimp, imitation lobster or crab or even kielbasa in the freezer or pantry. It is amazing what you can make do with when you set your mind to it. I know you coupon like me, so you probably have a little of this and a little of that tucked away that you can use in this manner.
    Good luck but I know you are creative and can do this!

  17. The sweetened condensed milk can be used to make pecan pralines. Your pantry looks great! I totally get why you would open the door to look at it :)

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