The end is in sight for Pantry Challenge

Fifteen more days.

That’s it.

Yes, we’re scheduling an end to the Armageddon Pantry Challenge. And it’s not because I think we’ll run out of food.

This might sound lame, but it’s because we’re just done. In the beginning, we wanted to do the challenge to experience what it was like to survive off our pantry for a long period of time. I know “long” is relative, but June 8 will officially be Day 100 for the challenge. I think 100 days is long enough to know we have what it takes to only eat foods from our pantry storage (minus the milk and veggies we chose as “cheat” foods).

Plus, we have company coming. Nobody wants to come to our house this summer if all we have to eat is rice and beans and some weird can of whatever and expired pudding. (Note to self: If we don’t want company in the future, tell potential visitors we are living like pioneers off our pantry.)

The husband and I came to this agreement during negotiations this week. Pretty much since we started March 1, he’s been asking, “How long is this going on?” or “How much longer until we can buy chicken/pizza/potato chips/etc.?” My original answer was, “Until it’s gone. Better get to eating all that cereal.” But now that we’ve made it this close to Day 100, it seems like a good stopping point. A nice round number to land on, and a good time to stop before someone leaves me for the Weinerschnitzel.

Yes, dear readers, I know you will be sad to miss out on tales of how I ran out of coffee and turned into an ogre. You wanted to see that solitary grain of rice on the shelf in the pantry. Maybe you wanted me to talk about using tea bags five times and pretending that it was the Depression.

Don’t worry, there’s still more time for all that. I’m working to use up the remaining food in the next 15 days. Now that’s the real challenge: a race against time instead of seeing how long we can stretch the food.

Now that the end is in sight, I find myself getting a little nostalgic about the challenge. Even hubby admits he’ll be a little sad to reach the 100-day milestone. We agree there’s a sense of accomplishment in surviving the challenge, but a sort of “what now?” feeling as well.

What will I miss about the challenge? Not going to the grocery store as often and not spending so much on groceries. Of course, we can control that. And I think my shopping habits have changed and I’ll keep some of the things I’ve learned during the challenge. But just because I learned how to make tortillas doesn’t mean I won’t be happy to pick a package up from the store if I don’t have the time or desire to make fresh ones. I will relish the freedom of choice.

I anticipate continuing to bake our own breads and rolls (especially hamburger buns) because they’re delicious, and I think it’s smart to eat foods that don’t stick around for weeks without growing mold. Seriously, those preservatives must do something to our bodies when we eat them.

I hope we don’t lose some of the things we’ve learned during the challenge. I love that the idea of going out to eat at a restaurant seems like Disneyland. The few times I’ve been out to lunch with friends who want to rescue me from the challenge for a tiny break here and there, it’s such an incredible treat. I don’t want to lose that.

So, on Day 100 what will we be doing? I know a lonely little pint of contraband gelato waiting for us.

If you want to check in on the challenge during the week, go to

Erin McIntyre is an advanced master gardener, writer and Grand Valley native. Please email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with story ideas or feedback.


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