Pantry Potluck

What do close-to-expiration food items, leftovers, and overlooked boxes and bottles have in common? They’re all ingredients for family fun!

If you’re anything like me, your cabinets and refrigerator have accumulated at least a few odds and ends you just haven’t gotten around to using. Get ready for spring cleaning by taking them all out and putting them to good use!

To start, first get rid of anything that is just too old to use, or anything whose safety could be questionable. We don’t want anyone getting sick. Then call a family meeting. Discuss how you can use up the items and have fun at the same time.


Challenge your family to think of new and creative ways to use the items you’ve been accumulating. You can do this in numerous ways:

  • Give them a time limit
  • Give points for creativity, number of ingredients used, etc.
  • Have them go head to head and determine which dish(es) you like best
  • Add a “secret ingredient” (like Iron Chef does) that HAS to be used. This can be the item you have the most of, the item that will expire soonest, or whatever you’re in the mood for!

Be sure to set any guidelines ahead of time, then let them loose to create! Keep in mind that they will likely make a mess, but that can be half the fun. Remind your family that this is just for fun, and there is no pressure to create a five star meal. Laughing is encouraged!


If your family isn’t competitive, or you want a bit of a calmer experience, you can simply use the opportunity to cook and create together. Take out the ingredients you want to use and brainstorm new ways to put them together. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out the following websites that will let you search for recipes by ingredient:

This can be a great opportunity to teach your kids about cooking, creativity, and experimentation. If your children are younger, they can be your helpers as you experiment and share the experience with them.


After the cooking has been completed, take the time to enjoy the results together. If your family competed against each other, hold the judging and put on a mini game show. If your family worked together, put out all the results and have everyone be the judge. Depending on how skilled your family is at cooking, you may want to have a backup dinner plan! Either way, it should be a fun and memorable experience. And maybe you’ll discover a new favorite dish!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s