Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Thirteen

This month I’m doing a Pantry Challenge. For two weeks, I’m focusing on using up what we have to save money and time and to reduce waste.

Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Thirteen

I am starting to feel like Old Mother Hubbard. I know that in the big scheme of the whole wide world, this is not true. We probably still have more actual food in our possession than many folks worldwide. I am thankful for that.

That said, the cupboards are getting bare. I am very close to being able to unplug the freezer. If push came to shove it all in the fridge freezer, I could. I’ve got meat thawing for tomorrow, so maybe….

The snack department is dwindling. Today I concocted what I’m calling Lemon Drop Scones. They were a quick and easy snack to prep this afternoon since there was nothing else. Cheese is almost gone. Crackers, sunbutter, and fruit are almost gone. It’s gonna get interesting these next two days. We’ve got carrots, but they need to be peeled and cut. Work?!

For breakfast I cooked up a 10-grain cereal that Bob’s Red Mill sent me to review. I really liked it. FishBoy9, the picky one, opted for standard oatmeal. He says the grain cereals taste like couscous of which he is not a fan. The others had one or the other. I didn’t keep track.

Lunch was grilled cheese and tuna sandwiches as well as apples and leftovers.

For dinner the kids had pancakes and fruit salad while hubs and I had our date night. We brought home leftover pizza so the kids are thrilled to share that tomorrow.

I definitely need to go do some more baking so we can eek out the next two days. Wednesday cannot come fast enough!

Breakfast: Hot Cereal and Oatmeal

Lunch: Leftovers, Apples, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Tuna Sandwiches

Dinner: Pancakes and Fruit Salad for the kids, Date night for the parents

Snacks: Popcorn, Scones, Apples, Oranges

Pantry ChallengeThis post is a part of the Pantry Challenge where we’re trying to save money on food by using up what we have. I’ll be posting daily updates on how the challenge is going.

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  1. At this point I am feeling the same way sometimes, and sometimes I feel like we have too much food still! I broke down and bought a pint of raspberries. I needed fresh fruit in my life. So I am at $14 for the month.

    Breakfast- Found a last little bit of pre-portioned almonds. It was hiding at the bottom of our “snack box”. It was breakfast. I think the hubs skipped bfast
    Lunch- Last of a potpie for the hubs. A salad at work for me.
    Dinner- I made pizza with the last of our thawed pizza sauce, pepperoni, and pineapple.

    Tomorrow will be salmon I think. Or maybe leftovers. I’m kind of craving meatloaf, and I don’t normally care for meatloaf. Ok so I just decided. Salmon salads tomorrow and meatloaf Wednesday… BOoyah

    • I know the feeling :-)
      I am craving meat these days, so I changed my mealplan a little. I have to remind myself that the meal plan is not set in stone and I can in fact change it if I want to ;-)

      I hope a little flexibility will be what carries me through the rest of the month.

  2. B: oats and milk for daughter and husband. Buttered roll and coffee for me
    L: Rye bread with topping. I have a lot of meat topping/cold cuts in the freezer, and I am using them at lunch
    D: Pork meatballs in a curry sauce with rice (a Danish specialty – the meatballs are boiled in water). Vegetable curry for husband (onion, carrots, white cabbage, red bell pepper, coconut milk)
    Snacks: fresh fruit, carrot sticks and nuts.
    The meatballs were already in the freezer and needed to be used up. I made both dishes when my daughter was napping, so was less stressed at dinnertime. I need to do this more often!

  3. It was a rainy, cold day today!
    B – smoothie for me, eggs & bacon & toast for hubs, breakfast sandwich on homemade roll for ds
    L – lunchboxes all around: last of the bean dip & tortilla chips for me; pepperoni, cheese & crackers w/homemade larabar for ds; sandwich & chips for hubs
    D – spaghetti and cheese bread. Exactly what we needed after standing on the bus ramp in the rain.
    I’m making up for last week’s trip out of town. It will probably take me another week to feel like you do today! :)

  4. Stephanie M. says:

    Today was an easy day; spent the morning starting my weekly cleaning and did not have to cook dinner tonight due to leftovers.

    B – leftover eggs, honeydew, and sausage for Hubby; 2 slices of lite rye toast for me.

    L – Sandwich and Christmas cookies for hubby; Fat free Greek yogurt and breakfast bar for me.

    D – Leftovers from dinner last night for hubby; Salad and 1 lite multi-grain wasa crisp for me.

    Dessert: Popcorn for hubby and a low-fat English muffin with 1 TBS. peanut butter for me.

  5. Breakfast – Bagels and cream cheese
    Lunch – Hard salami and swiss cheese sandwich with tomato soup
    Dinner – Meatball hoagies on toasted buns with provolone cheese, macaroni salad

  6. B: Pancakes, mixed berries and milk
    L: Leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes
    D: Dirty rice, green beans and apple slices

  7. Vanessa B says:

    Well I’m back on the wagon. We took a few days off. Even though we mostly ate at home, pantry challenge wasn’t in the foreground of my mind. Sunday we entertained most of the day so we have odds and ends of leftovers. My fridge is more full than when we started the challenge. Yesterday I shopped again, I needed a few non food items, but of course I bought food also. My husband is taking his lunch for the next few weeks. I needed lunch items for him and I stocked up on $.29 avocados, who could pass on that deal? I spent $22 on food making my total for the month $82.
    Monday’s meals
    B: yogurt, cheesy eggs, I added black beans and butternut squash to my eggs, it was very tasty
    L: L/O pizza and oranges
    D: fajitas made with L/O steak and guacamole
    Snacks: string cheese and fruit snacks
    Dessert: Italian cream cake

    • Heather M says:

      29 cent avocados??? What awesome world do you live in? We’re just happy they aren’t too pricy at Costco. Lucky. :)

  8. Breakfast: hard boiled eggs, leftover banana muffins (made from frozen bananas), grapes
    Lunch: Leftover hot dogs, buns, pears, veggies and dip
    Dinner: Texas chili (from your cookbook; it was delicious!) with cheese, sour cream, green onions, black olives; green salad

    I’ve doing this challenge through Friday. My goal was to spend $0 for 2 weeks but with being sick and having company last weekend we ended up purchasing some things. My total is $41. I don’t think that’s too bad. Life happens! I have a plan for this week that should use up all the odds and ends.
    http://www.mrsmaryannshouse.blogspot.com/2014/01/pantry-challenge-menu-plan.html

    My mother-in-law brought some produce that she thought might go bad at her house so we’re eating that up too (salad, grapes, green onions, etc.). She also gave us 6 pounds of ground pork that someone gave her and they don’t eat much pork so it was just setting in her freezer. A great blessing–I can make my own sausage without sugar for the Whole30. Yeah!

  9. Day 13:

    Breakfast: eggs and toast
    Lunch: leftovers or sandwiches
    Dinner: Flavorful flounder, quinoa salad, mixed vegetables

    I’m starting to see some space in the freezer, but not enough.

    • I was so excited at the space getting freed up in the freezer. Then the kid stopped at the store for something and found last-of-the-season eggnog. He’s a huge eggnog lover, so he bought all 4 half gallons that were still there. I let him have one, I stuck the other 3 in the freezer for him to enjoy later. On the one hand, I was pleased there was space to fit it in without stress. On the other hand, that ate up a lot of my free space, so now it seems awfully full again. :(

  10. Breakfast: was running very late so skipped, think the kid had cereal
    Lunch: I was ravenous so I broke down and got a Chipotle chicken bowl but I still only ate less than 1/2 of it, he got Subway at college food court
    Dinner: nachos made from L/O Chipotle
    Dessert: strawberry semifreddo for me, Christmas candy for him

    I still have gobs of frozen and pantry items left. I have very little fresh food remaining, except for a head and a bit of celery and a large bag of carrots. If I don’t find something to do with them soon, they’ll be getting chopped and frozen. The celery, especially, is reaching the end of usefulness. Other than making a cream of celery soup, any suggestions? Nut butter and celery sticks are only edible for a few stalks. Maybe time for another veggie chili, but that still only uses a few of them.

    • We don’t really like celery much, except for homemade cream of celery soup, so I always have to cut it up and put it in the freezer. It does make it nice when I need it just to pull out exactly the amount I need already cut up.

      • That is exactly what I do too!

      • It is nice to have the celery ready to go, yes. I just did not want to have to dice and flash freeze 1.3 heads of celery. I will do that with the 1/3, but I used the full head to make a braised celery and tomatoes dish. It did not have a very celery flavor, so if you guys will do creamed celery soup, this might work for another option. There are a bunch of recipes out there for it, all of them with slight differences. I basically used this one, but I fried up regular bacon instead of pancetta, took it out of the pan (along with a lot of the grease) and then used the remaining grease to fry up the onions. You would obviously skip the bacon entirely. The tomatoes alone did not have enough liquid IMO, so I added some broth like the other versions called for. I started with a half can of diced tomatoes, but after it braised for an hour, it seemed to not have enough flavor so I added in the other half and let it cook for another 20 minutes or so. I did not pare the celery first, but it cooked long enough that it was plenty soft.
        http://food52.com/recipes/21532-marcella-hazan-s-braised-celery-with-onion-pancetta-and-tomatoes

  11. I finally got around to taking inventory of what we have in our freezers. I am seeing why doing this twice a year–even if I am not truly taking on a Pantry Challenge–is important. After finding a few odds and ends from as far back as March, I know we need to use up these items somehow. I have created a meal plan for the next two weeks in hopes of doing just that.

  12. I made crepes last night for dessert to bribe the family to stick out the challenge a lot longer. DD will be eating them all week for breakfast. DS is finishing off some cereal from the pantry that’s getting old. Lunch was leftovers. We ordered pizza for dinner, which was planned for two nights ago but got delayed. I couldn’t talk the family into homemade pizza, so we’ll have some tortilla pizzas for lunch a bit in the next week to use up some sauce and toppings from the fridge (DD will be happy for more pizza).

    I was getting frustrated at how slowly I am using up old things and bits-n-pieces, because I am trying not to make it too obvious to the family. I still think that’s the only way to get rid of SO MANY items that we no longer really want to eat. So, I’ve decided to give myself some grace and proceed as planned (the slow road), but I’ve promised myself that I won’t quit until it’s all gone and I will be much more careful shopping in the future so that I don’t have to engineer another purge like this again. I feel a bit better. And I look forward to the July challenge when I’ll just be getting rid of 6 months worth of odds-n-ends.

    • Slow and steady wins the race. Keep on trucking… :)

    • Heather M says:

      I think your approach is perfect. My family has no idea we’re doing this. But that’s because I’m buying all the fresh items we need, and a few things we were out of, like tortilla chips. It’s the best/only way for me to do this. Still not seeing much room in the freezer or cupboards, so I’ll be at it a while longer, mainly to use up things that need to get eaten so I don’t have to throw food out. Good luck!

  13. Thank you for this pantry challenge! While I haven’t been as strict as I should have been, it has been a good experience. I have used up some odd things we have on hand, there is more room in the fridge and freezer, and I have been able to put up a few meals for when the hubs and I are out of town at the end of the month(first vacation without kids!) We will be keeping the challenge going through the end of the month, in hopes of using more up. Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Heather M says:

    A little late on Day thirteen. Couldn’t get on a computer while I was awake and home. The kids had commandeered both for various urgent things (end of semester this week, son is also busy making music, literally, in his free time).

    Breakfast: cereal, eggs, bacon, and I also had the last of the best batch of fresh blackberries!
    Lunch: lunchbox fare for the other three; I had tuna on whole wheat toast, raw veggies, and a fat free greek yogurt
    Dinner: my chicken black bean enchiladas (chicken I had poached last week, black beans were my last bag from the freezer and I’ll have to make a new batch later this week, salsa & sauce from the pantry, tortillas & cheese fresh)

    I also put a ton of pinto beans in to soak for 24 hours. I’ve never made pinto beans from dry before, but I have several large tins in them from a box of “food storage” items I bought a few years back. I’m now trying to use the items up. I passed all the wheat on to a wheat-grinding, bread making friend since I’ll never use it. Have been already using the macaroni. And now to use the beans and sugar(I always forget it is there and buy more!). I bought these boxes in a fit of over-preparing. I need to use this food up! I would rather keep “emergency” stores of food we really eat easily and often (hence full cupboards).

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