Pantry Challenge Day 8: Simple Meals

This is Day 8 of my month-long Pantry Challenge series  where we’re eating down the pantry (and freezer and fridge) to use up what we have, rotate stock, and save some cash.

Today was a mellow day. Two of my boys were gone most of the day for science class, so that meant getting everybody up and out the door at a certain time. While we were out, the younger kids and I went to a local lake, walked (and sometimes dance-walked) the paths, played on the playground, and explored the grassy knolls. It was great to get out.

Breakfast and lunch were both easy since I had cleaned out the pantry and knew what we had. Cereal for one and sandwiches for the other. We ended up having Indoor Smores for a snack which was quite yummy.

This evening was date night, so FishBoy15 served quesadillas and fruit to his siblings while hubs and I went out to Chick-Fil-A. Nothing extravagant, but a chance to have time to focus on each other.

All this combines into an easy meal day all the way around.

Day 7 Menus:

Breakfast: Cereal and milk
Lunch: Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Sunbutter Sandwiches, fruit, yogurt
Afternoon snack: Indoor S’mores
Dinner: Quesadillas, apples and carrots for the kids; for the parents, Chick-Fil-A

That was an easy day.

How did yours go?

This post is part of a month-long Pantry Challenge series. You can read more about my goals for the challenge here.

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  1. Day 7

    Breakfast – Cereal and toast
    Lunch – Vegetable soup, crackers and fruit
    Dinner – Kielbasa, fried potatoes and peas

  2. I worked yeterday, so the kids had breakfast and lunch at Mamaw’s house. I threw a whole chicken in the crock pot for dinner and served it with noodles and carrots when we came home. Second big success of the pantry challenge: no takeout on a work day. WooHoo!

  3. So funny! Our crockpot has ‘been our dog’ for a long, long time…and we have dogs too. They get the bones etc AFTER we make stock. So far we haven’t given them any chicken bones, but I may start doing that since they get completely soft after 24+ hours of cooking, so they should be safe for dogs.

    I love using the crockpot instead of a pan because I can ignore it even when I go out, but for turkey stock, I need to use a huge pan on our stove’s special simmer element.

    Here’s how we make poultry stock, something we usually do once a week. http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2010/11/turkey-or-chicken-soup/

  4. Proper care and feeding of a family takes a lot of energy….especially when doing the pantry challenge! I’m a week into this challenge and I’m tired.

    Chalk Day 8 up as a success. Breakfast was on your own and everyone ate at home. I took leftovers to work for lunch. The oldest ds ate at home but Hubs and the youngest ds had fast food – – both had dental appts. at noon and daughter had to dash back to school so as not to miss a chemistry test. We had breakfast for dinner. I prepped an overnight french toast casserole yesterday morning before I left for work so all I had to do was pop it in the oven and cook some sausage to go with it. The fam was quite happy. I was glad too as it was a new recipe but it was obviously a keeper. Will be adding it to my recipe binder today. And, last but not least, I prepared Taco Soup in the crockpot before going to bed. I’ll be plugging it in this morning as I head out the door so dinner will be ready when I get home tonight.

    I will be stopping at the grocery store after work today. We are out of fruit, veggies, cheese and milk.

  5. Finished up the remaining baked french toast, the last of the slab apple pie, and… something else, I forget what. Dinner was make your own pizza, where I went veggie and pesto and the kid did marinara and meats.

    I was at a store right next to the grocery store, knew I needed milk, so ran in to get some. Glanced through the sale paper and found 5 things that I was out of and have been waiting for it to go back on sale. (I rarely purchase things other than milk and some produce unless it is on sale.) Some of them are items that take months to be on sale again and the sale ends today, so I decided it would be best to get them regardless of the pantry challenge. I neglected to account for the college kids all returning for spring semester, and apparently so had the store. I had to get rain checks for all but one of the items. How thoughtful of them to allow me to continue clearing out what I have before putting more in it but still getting it at today’s price!

  6. Heather M says:

    Jan. 8 was a good day for the challenge. Both kids home sick(ugh), so breakfast: veggie sausage patties(from freezer) & whole wheat mini bagels. Lunch: chicken noodle soups from pantry(one likes campbells, the other progresso). dinner: roasted butternut squash & bacon pasta w/cheese sauce (yay! used the squash I’ve had forever; 6-cheese italian shred mix from the back of the fridge!)… a new recipe and really yummy, if you like butternut squash. The squash was huge. Used 4 cups cubed for recipe still had tons left so prepped it to freeze and it yielded at least 6 cups cubed. Also used rest of coconut milk from Saturday’s dinner to make coconut chocolate chip muffins, which called for dried cranberries, but I only had raisins which didn’t sound right. Chocolate chips it is! Yum! I’ve also been going through ten years worth of Cooking Light magazines to free up a shelf. Both recipes were from CL, with a few modifications. We’ll be trying all kinds of new things now.

  7. Does it bother your kids or you that you get to go out to eat and they don’t? My kids LOVE to eat out, and would be so sad if we went out without them, ESPECIALLY if it were Chick-Fil-A! I am not in ANY way criticizing you – please know that! I just wonder this same thing every time I see someone say this. I do understand that marriage is important and a priority and I do think my own kids understand this. Maybe it’s just that we handle it differently? We tend to take hikes together, etc. We occasionally go together to get a $1 drink at McDonald’s :), things like that. But if we eat out, it’s a treat for the whole family. Can you share your thoughts? I want to emphasize that this is not something I am criticizing – it’s just something I wonder about in other families because I have seen several bloggers mention eating out of takeout for themselves when the kids eat from home. Having read your blogs for years, I love your thoughtfulness as a parent and as a wife, and just would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this.

    Although I’m not doing pantry challenge myself, I enjoy reading these so much, because it gives me good ideas! I know it’s an effort to post so much detail, and I for one very much appreciate it.

    • @Sheila, thanks for the disclaimers; that’s helpful. You know, I don’t think it bothers them because they are all together as a unit. One child going to do something, say with friends, is harder for the others than if it’s the parents. They know parents get to do different things. We eat out as a family often, so it’s not like they don’t get to go ever.

      The younger ones used to get upset that I was just leaving, but now they’re cool with it, too.

      We didn’t always have the ability to do this when they were young, due to babysitting or finances, but it’s been peppered throughout their childhoods and considered “normal”. They love date night, actually, because it’s a total play night. I often have something good for dessert for them or they watch a special movie.

      • @Jessica, Thank you. I think the key is that you make it special for them in some way also. For us, eating out has always been a ‘family’ event. We have for most of our kids lives gone to Mass on Saturday night and then gone out to dinner as a family, and that’s usually the only time we go out, and that’s why I feel that my kids would be hurt if we excluded them. But given that you make the evening something special for them also helps me to understand. Thank you for responding and not being offended that I asked. I think you are a great mom!

      • @Jessica, I know that it is so hard to discern tone in a comment and I especially since I am a pretty direct person, I REALLY try to be careful with that, because I know I can come across as short. People who know me in real life would know how I meant something, but when we have never met, you don’t. :) In my case, if I didn’t admire you as a person and mom, I wouldn’t have wanted to hear your thoughts. However, I am shocked to see people attack each other most every day on the internet. They would never say those things face to face. Have a good day!

  8. With the kind of schedule we have been keeping over the past several months, another dinner at home last night is a big win for us. And planning to cook tonight, making three nights in a row. With a broken dishwasher, we could have easily made the choice to eat out, but we have gone “old school” and have been washing dishes by hand. Don’t mean to sound like I am complaining. It’s just been different. The real test will be Thursday when husband is out and boy is coming in late from soccer practice. Often when all I have to do is feed him, I struggle to get dinner on the table. Ideas for feeding a hungry but picky teen?

    • @Julie, last winter our dishwasher was broken for two months while we waited for the landlords to make a decision. I feel your pain. In the end I bought paper plates. I needed a break.

      A hungry but picky teen needs to step up and start helping to meal plan and make dinner. I know he’s busy with soccer, but he can also do “make-ahead” meals or help you make freezer meals. If he’s going to be picky, then he needs to participate. Be strong!

      • @Jessica, Luckily the broken dishwasher was fixed Wednesday. Not too many days of dishpan hands. More than a week and we would have broken out the paper and plastic ware.

        My son has taken a little larger role in making his own food. And during fall sports, I made a habit of large batch cooking, leaving it in the fridge since it was gone before the week was over. Boy seems to have convinced me to go for cheap Mexican. Unless I can convince him the leftover chicken we have can easily be turned into nachos and/or quesadillas for both of us. Problem is, I would rather go out to eat too. Will let you know if my resolve holds and we eat in.

  9. Day 7 Menus:
    Breakfast: Peanut butter bread and milk
    Lunch: Leftover brisket chili and drop biscuits
    Dinner: Pork chops, scalloped potatoes, asst. fresh fruit

    Day 8 Menus:
    Breakfast: Peanut butter bread and milk
    Lunch: Leftover brisket chili for husband; cheese and crackers for me; apples for both
    Dinner: Husband and kids had hot dogs for dinner and dad treated them to dessert at Dairy Queen; I had a work-related dinner function.

    No one has mentioned snacks for the kids. I would love to hear what other mothers are serving for healthy after school snacks. We typically do homemade bread and milk; apple slices and peanut butter; or cheese and crackers.

    • @Janet, this list is a little fall centered, but works all year round really: http://lifeasmom.com/2011/10/10-frugal-fall-snacks-for-hungry-kids-recipe-spiced-pear-cake.html

      We’ve been eating meals so late, my kids haven’t needed an afternoon snack.

      • @Jessica, I had never thought of croutons as snacks, but you are right my kids would love them. I can’t wait to try the cheddar coins. I have all the ingredients on hand so it works for the pantry challenge. The cake recipe sounds wonderful, but will have to wait until we restock the fruit this weekend. Thanks for the great suggestions.

    • Heather M says:

      @Janet, My kids are older (11, 16) and always starving when they get home. They pretty much eat a second lunch when they get home. Things like: easy quesadillas(cheese/tortilla/microwave), tuna & crackers, cold cuts and baguette, fruit, leftover pasta & jarred red or alfredo sauce (I always make extra pasta when making a pasta dish & spray it w/olive oil for the fridge, then they can heat it up quickly). They’ll also eat chips and salsa, hummus and pita chips, etc. Once in a while a treat of regular chips, cookies, brownies, etc.

  10. Day 8: total success… love it when the plan works!
    Breakfast: everyone had their ‘usual’ from the kitchen (hubs likes eggs, I like yogurt, and ds#3 eats a homemade hashbrown casserole)
    Lunch: lunchboxes packed for everyone – back to school!
    Dinner: leftover chili from the enormous batch I made earlier this week

  11. Yesterday seems like so long ago, I forgot what we had.. haha.. Good thing Im tracking on Weight watchers. ;)

    I had maple oatmeal & coffee for breakfast
    For lunch, Tamales from the freezer (I have loads of these.. good thing since they’re one of my favorite foods)
    I had oranges & rice cakes for a snack later in the day.
    I made stuffed cabbage rolls for supper and we had mashed potatoes & tea with them. Also had a Dutch caramel cookie thing. M’honey had a cinnamon roll from the freezer.

  12. Breakfast – cheese toast, hard-boiled eggs, apple slices
    Lunch – homemade lentil minestrone soup using lentils I have had for AGES, bread made in the bread machine
    Dinner – roast beef, mashed potatoes, salad, bread, choc. chip cheesecake bars
    I was taking a meal to a family in our church as well as feeding our family for dinner, and it was so tempting to just buy ready-made mashed potatoes or cookie dough to make the dessert. But we had all the ingredients on hand, and the potatoes needed to be used up, so I pushed myself to make everything from scratch because not to do so would have been wasteful . . .It blows me away that I am still able to come up with not just “food”, but really good meals without going to the grocery store! (Disclaimer: I did go grocery shopping once so far this month because we were out of eggs, butter, milk, and fresh produce and they were having great sales on meat so I bought a couple of packages of the meat we use all the time as well). We’ve eaten like kings this week; we have been in no way “wanting”. I’ve certainly had to be creative and have definitely spent more time in the kitchen, but it truly makes me happy to be feeding my family well for less!!! I might just be able to cut our grocery bill by 1/3rd after all! :)

  13. Dinner was pork ribs, baked potatoes and steamed carrots. Even ds who is 2.5 tried the ribs and had three, first time he was ever eaten ribs or pork. Needing to do a grocery shop soon for fresh veggies, and milk, but need nothing for the freezer. I am just getting started on this freezer, i am serious this time, lol.

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