13 September 2021

A TEOTWAWKI Pantry Challenge

Hello Cheapskaters,

On Saturday, a lovely friend from The Netherlands mentioned in her beautiful post a challenge to live off our pantries as they are right now, for two weeks.

That is a brilliant idea, and here's why: if you don’t know absolutely for sure you can do it, then you need to assume you can't; that if there is TEOTWAWKI event, your pantry won't have everything in it to sustain you, your family, your pets, your home and your garden.

We all have decent, well stocked pantries. And we might all think we have everything we'd need for two weeks other than fresh milk/fruit/vegetables and perhaps bread.

But unless we attempt to live off what we have RIGHT NOW, we'll never know for sure.

So, with that in mind, I will be joining Petra and for two weeks, starting today, living from our pantry as it is right now.

Quite a few friends mentioned that they didn't want to do that because they are saving their pantries for an emergency; a few mentioned that they felt the need to keep stocking and didn't want to run their pantries down.

Cheapskaters, your pantry is meant to be used! If you are building your pantry and not using it, then that is hoarding, not stockpiling or pantry building and it is not saving money, time or energy.

A stockpile is a fluid thing. It is meant to change, and change often. It is meant to be used, and then refilled. It is not meant to sit in the house or shed and look lovely.

So keep stockpiling. Keep filling your pantry. I will be. Right now our pantry has more than enough (I think) of the basics and a few treats/luxuries/extravagances to last us a very long time. But after reading and thinking about Petra's thoughts, I need to be sure.

Of course I have my lists, and they are quite detailed, with exact quantities, but unless I test those numbers accurately they are just estimates.

Now I won't be using what I'm adding for the next two weeks - I will use what I have on hand as of today, and only what I have on hand. Any half-price or marked down specials or other shopping will be put aside for the two weeks so I know that only what is in the pantry will be used.

It will be a very worthwhile experiment and experience. I know that Wayne will say "we're out of such and such" and I'll tell him I'll add it to the list, but we won't be getting it or using it until after 27th September (that's when my two weeks will be up). There may be grumbles, but I'll deal with them - if this was a real TEOTWAWKI event I'd have to deal, and so would the rest of the household.

Seriously think about joining the challenge; I suggest you start today. Right now. Immediately. No running out and doing a top-up shop before you start.

If we do find ourselves in a TEOTWAWKI event we won't have time to run out and do a top-up shop and even if we could I can guarantee there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of other people all trying to do the same thing. If you thought the TP Wars of 2020 were bad, think of that scenario on steroids and you'll have some idea of just how time consuming, frustrating and potentially dangerous that will be.

I'll be making detailed notes of what I use, what it was used for, how much and what is in the pantry. This information will be very important in a TEOTWAWKI event because it will give me a picture of how long what is in the pantry will last without rationing, and then with rationing. This information will also help with future shopping and pantry rebuilding.

While I was listening to a podcast this morning I went through the fridge and freezer and wrote up lunch and dinner meals for two weeks, using what is in the pantries. We will run out of salad veg, but there are plenty of canned, dehydrated and frozen vegetables in the pantries. Fresh fruit will come from our trees, the fruit in the freezer and canned from the shelf. There is yeast and flour to make bread. I know we'll run out of fresh milk, but there is powdered, UHT and tinned milk in the pantry.

Right now, being only a couple of hours into the challenge, we're looking good.

There are two bottles of fresh milk in the fridge, 8kg of cheese, 5 dozen eggs, 2 lettuce, 2 tomatoes, 2 pkts hot dogs, 1 pkt smoked salmon, 4 cream cheese, butter, 2x600ml cream.

There is meat and chicken in the freezers or on the shelf, along with beans.

In the bread tin is a loaf of bread and a packet of English muffins. There are two packets English muffins and two packets bagels, as well as four croissants and six hot dog rolls in the freezer along with three packets of wraps on the shelf. They are all things that would be bought every fortnight, but if we run out there is flour and yeast and they're all easy to make.

I can't wait to see what the pantry looks like at the end of the two weeks and what I have on the lists.

On a note of caution: if you do join in (I hope you do) please don't post what's in your pantry. No one, even us Cheapskaters, needs to know exactly what and how much you have in your pantry - that is private and confidential! I talked about this a while back on our YouTube channel.

 I hope you join Petra and me! If you do, please comment below. I'll be posting every day with what we eat and what pantry ingredients are used.


  1. Does TEOTWAWKI have power/gas/water still available?

    My pets and I could live for a couple of months without actually 'cooking' anything if needs be. Although I do have a butane stove and gas canisters so I could have a cuppa and cook some rice or pasta.

    If the utilities are still available, then the scope time we could cope broadens significantly to several months.

    This is a great challenge. It's the kind of thing I like to do regularly without actually giving it a name :-)

    1. For the duration of this challenge, utilities are available. You can't use anything you buy, or get delivered. Imagine you are locked in your house, no one can get in, you can't get out, for two weeks. You live on what you have on hand. For some of us it will be easy, for others it will be hard, if not almost impossible. For all of us it will be a learning experience.

  2. I'm starting this challenge today. Things are tight at the moment . Another lady suggested I look up this challenge. Reading your post has made me feel confident . I can do this. So thankyou .


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