Pantry Challenge, Week Three Check-In (Recipe: Yogurt-Peach Popsicles)

By the end of the third week of our pantry challenge, we were able to use up a huge load of peaches as well as enjoy some great homecooked meals.

We’re finishing up the third week of our pantry challenge. It’s been a great exercise in really watching what we’re eating and making sure I shop our pantry before I go someplace else.

As you may remember, I wrote down a few goals for this month’s challenge:

1. Keep an inventory.

I haven’t done the best job of keeping track of what’s in the freezer, but I think I’ve stayed on top of it, more or less.

2. Thaw the freezer.

I still have quite a bit in the freezer, so this week will be a big push to see what kind of headway I can make in emptying it. The ice is getting pretty thick around the edges, so it definitely needs to get done.

I’d like to have some freezer meals ready before we get heavy into school, so I may need to do some freezer cooking with whatever meats are left. That will give me a good excuse to empty it as well as get the freezer filled with ready to go meals. Win-win!

3. Use the house freezer better.

I’m really liking the practice of making the refrigerator freezer the holding place for the week’s meals. That method has worked really well and is now a keeper.

4. Enjoy the produce box.

As I mentioned yesterday, the produce box has been beautiful! Going into this week we had a ton of peaches still. I wasn’t sure what exactly to do with them since no one in our family likes cooked peaches. That rules every pie, crisp, crumble, and jam.

I put my thinking cap on and made three delicious recipes: peach sorbet, peach salsa, and yogurt-peach popsicles (scroll down for the recipe). So good!

They were a great way to enjoy the peaches without cooking them. There were a few that “went off” before we could use them up, but overall, I think it worked well.

5. Save some coin.

While I didn’t make a huge dent in our grocery spending, I think I did pull a little fender-bender. My bills are lower with each week and I think we will end the month at least $100 under budget, if not $200. That’s pretty cool. (Plus, we still have a ton of food in the freezer.)

Daily Pantry Challenge Log

You can hop on over to my daily pantry challenge log and see what our meals really looked like each day. I think we’re eating well most of the time. The 3×7 meal plan is really helping me be more intentional with our food storage — and limiting the number of “free-for-all” meals that we have.

How is the Pantry Challenge going for you?

Let us know in the comments how this month’s pantry challenge is working at your house.

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Comments

  1. Our pantry challenge is going pretty well. I cleared out a ton of space in our big freezer and have been slowly filling it back up with helpful things like frozen meals and green beans from the garden. Yesterday we went to a peach farm and picked 29 pounds so I’ll be adding those soon too. I’m not a canner so I mostly do freezer jam and freeze them in slices. I might try dehydrating some too. And I like your idea of peach salsa.

    Here’s my update:
    http://www.momscupofambition.com/2012/07/pantry-challenge_21.html

  2. Pantry challenge here is going okay…
    We cleaned out the deep freeze and now it is lovely!
    I’m trying to be smart about getting prepped for back-to-school, while using our garden produce wisely, and minimizing trips to the store. Milk and cheese – if I could make those, I could stay out of that place!! :D

  3. This is the second week in a row when I’ve done well on the pantry challenge until the end if the week. Then suddenly some major expense comes along and blows the budget out of the water. Last week was a gallon of coconut oil, this week was unexpected house guests — the bacon to feed them all was expensive! But without the pantry challenge I would really have been over budget, so it has been a blessing.

  4. I have spent more than I budgeted for the pantry challenge, but that’s still alot less than I was spending! I blogged about our week here: http://pleasuresofprairielife.blogspot.com/2012/07/pantry-challenge-week-three-report.html. Highlights: I defrosted the freezer, we ate well, and most of our grocery spending is on fresh produce.

  5. those popsicles sound really good! i think i’ve give them a try (scaled down though since i only have 4 popsicle molds). :) love that you alternated fruit & yogurt.

  6. This past week, I spent more than I have in a while. I stocked up on certified organic chickens from an Amish family that supplies eggs for our CSA. They were $5 each & I got 10 of them, and then I stopped on my way home and picked up 4# of cheeses from the Amish coop. The good news is there are no preservatives in the cheese there and its quite inexpensive. While there I also got some beef sticks, and then outside at an open Amish market, I got a quart of orgainic tomatoes, a pound of honey, a plate of maple cinnamon rolls, and a pepperoni roll. Seems like I got something else but I cant think of what. I spent $100 this day cuz thats all I had in my pocket. :D

    I also stocked back up on a 10# bag of chicken breasts, onions, and half & half from Costco, and I also stopped at BJs and stocked up on kosher salt. I got a couple extra boxes to have on hand.

    And then Friday night, the Schwans man stopped by… sigh.. I bought tamales, herbed shrimp, and shiskkabob beef and spent $40. He only comes once a month these days, thankfully. :)

  7. I used everything usable, except 2 cans condensed milk and some bread crumbs. Both big freezers cleared out, pantry cleaned out, fridge had just condiments, water and milk left, inside freezer had freeze pops and yeast. Had to throw away a few things that were old. It is so nice to start with a fresh clean slate! After spending 2 full weeks only spending 50$ and using everything we had, we spent an entire day eating out, donuts, Mexican food and pizza. Now I have shopped for 3 full weeks, aside for needing fresh fruits and veg and our weekly 7 gallons of milk. Going to put some meals in the freezer and get ready to take 2 of my girls out of town for a week. Thank you for the inspiration!

  8. Charlene says:

    I am curious about freezer cooking with your frozen meats. How does that work? I have been wondering about that. We get a beef from a local farmer and get it butchered. When we get the meat, it is frozen. I never know if it is a good idea to thaw the meat to make stuff with it (like meatballs for freezer cooking, or meatloaf, or various other yummy stuff) and then refreeze it. Since I don’t get it raw, I don’t have the chance to make things when it is fresh (not frozen). As school is about to get back into the swing of things, I have been thinking about this more than usual. Any thoughts on the subject would be much appreciated!

    • @Charlene, from my experience, once the meat is cooked, it starts the “freshness count” over. It depends on what kind of freezer meal you’re making, I suppose – is it the kind that is all uncooked, just pre-assembled (would want to start with fresh meat) or the kind that is already cooked and just needs to be reheated (casseroles)

    • Jessica says:

      @Charlene, you can thaw, doctor it up, and refreeze it (baked or unbaked). Either way is “technically” fine according to the usda, if it’s been handled properly the entire time.

      However, I think that texture is better if I refreeze it cooked. Also, it’s more convenient that way. So, when I’ve had frozen beef, I would cook up taco meat, shredded meat filling, casseroles, meatballs, etc. I think that you can do quite a few things with your frozen stock.

      With the grilling cuts that you might want to grill right before serving, I would add chilled marinade to the frozen meat in a ziploc and put it back in the freezer. It will marinate as it thaws. You can also plan ahead for seasoning rubs and compound butters to use on the meats that you might thaw right before cooking. Leave more questions if we haven’t covered everything you have in the freezer. I’m guessing you could probably do anything if we plan it well.

  9. Overall, I’ve been doing fairly well at my pantry/freezer challenge. I started after July 4th (so as not to include cook-out food), and so far have only spent about $150 on a family of 3, most of that being on fresh fruits, veggies, and milk. Between our cooler and some rough-totes and towels (make-shift coolers), I defrosted our deep freezer and took an inventory of what we had. Most of what’s left in there now is fish (deep sea fishing catches), chicken breast, and veggies.

  10. We didn’t do so well this week on spending less; we made two trips to the store. But, we are making good use of leftovers and “little” items.

    This week I plan to use only what we have here at the house for all dinners. My goal is to empty out enough this week to organize the pantry well next weekend.

    We have tried out a few new recipes during this challenge so far, and we’ve found some tasty ones!

    Thanks again for this challenge!

  11. destiney says:

    i found your blog the day you started the pantry challenge and i tried to do this it was perfect we have a huge deep freeze and it is jam packed with stuff. i had also just found out about freezer cooking. well so far i think we have barely put a dent in the freezer. which really need defrosting too. i think this would be easier for us to do in winter. like right before hunting season. which is usually when i quit buying things n use it up so all the deer will fit. plus summer is a hard time for us we are always gone it seems camping, reunions, fairs, and all that also the kids are always here and there with family so it tends to be only 2-3 people a night verses the whole lot so i never seem to cook a real meal. but i LOVE the idea of putting the weeks meals into the freezer in the reg fridge i always do the 5 o’clock freezer dig b4 and this way i actually look and see what we have on hand n work from there. plus i know what i want to cook way in advance!

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