MamaBake Lean Larder HOWby Karen Swan

The MamaBake Lean Larder challenge is off and racing!

Let’s get started!

 Step 1:  The Clean Out

Organise and de-clutter the pantry so you can SEE what you have, what needs to be chucked and what you have an abundance of.  Where possible, transfer things like rice, flour, nuts etc into clear glass or plastic containers (glass jars are often free at op shops!).  Then you’ll be able to see at a glance how much of something you have left, and you’ll reduce the risk of losing the lot to pantry pests!  Use this as an opportunity to give your shelves a good wipe down.  I use a diluted mix of eucalyptus oil and water or, if I’ve got any, my DIY Citrus peel cleaner.   Organise your shelves into categories (baking, spices, grains/rice etc).   If you want to share your Lean Larder journey with us, be sure and take before and after photos!  See what I found in my pantry here.

Step 2:  The List!

Write out absolutely everything you have in your pantry.  For ease of reading, you can group it into themes;  Herbs and Spices, Flours, Baking Ingredients, Grain and Rice etc.  You can check out my list here.

Step 3: Meal Planning.

Create a meal plan (either a week, fortnight or the whole month) based on the food you have in your pantry (and fridge/freezer). Buy only fresh fruit, veg, meat and other perishables.

Tips: plan by food group, so rice based meals, stews, soups, cakes and muffins, lunch box foods, kids snacks etc. Look at what you have most of (I have 5 cans of coconut milk for example) and search for recipes that can use it in different ways.

Keep your stock list inside your pantry so you can easily see what you have and cross off what you use up.  Are their any ingredients you’ve no idea how to use?  Ask us and we’ll put it to the mamabake community.

Step 4:  Share your journey!

Odd Ingredient MamaBake Session:  invite your mama-sisters over and each bring the strangest ingredient you have in your pantry.  Got a 2kg jar of preserved lemons that you’ve no use for but would love some dried chic peas?  Swap them!  Join forces and swap/share ingredients you have to complete different meals.

Lean Larder Challenge, ‘Help me clean my pantry!’ MamaBake session:  Share the load: have your mamabake friends over to help with the clean out and recipe plan. Then reciprocate.

The Abubdance MamaBake session:  if you’ve all got loads of the same thing, have a themed MamaBake session and see how many different meals you can come up with!

All the recipes I post for the month (as well as the archives from last 2 weeks of March) have been made using only what I have in my larder.  Search the archives for past recipes that you can make.

We’d love it if you shared your meal plans, storage tips and recipes with us!  Please email them (and any photos) to

Let the #MamaBakeLeanLarderChallenge begin!

Vintage Pantry mamabakeLean Larder Challenge(image:

*Do you write a blog? 

Take part in the challenge and blog about it and we’ll feature you as a guest post and follow your progress.  Please email your interest to

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