Our meal plan during a pantry challenge comes (mainly) from what we already have.
The short version is that for the next two weeks, I’m going to try to create meals from what we already have instead of buying more. A cursory glance at our food stores shows that we’ve got sufficient baking and grain items, a mediocre amount of dairy and veg, and a middling amount of meat. There are lots of odds and ends in the freezer.
My goals for the pantry challenge are manifold:
1. Eat up enough of the stuff in the freezers — I have one side-by-side and one deep freeze — so that I can defrost the deep freeze.
2. Rotate our stock and use up the random things in the pantry, especially the specialty items on the condiment shelf.
3. Save some money on groceries.
Since I’m still planning to buy milk, eggs, and fresh produce, I’ll still be buying groceries, but hopefully, I won’t need to buy too much else. We shall see, eh?
As I mentioned yesterday, there are five key ways to prepare for a pantry challenge. If you haven’t reviewed them yet, they are:
- take inventory
- plan some meals
- buy necessities only
- cook something
- bake something
- think of all the money you’ll save
Following these steps will ensure that your pantry challenge is a successful one.
This round I’m doing something a little different. In past challenges, I’ve focused on my deep freeze instead of the little bits of randomness in the side-by-side.
But, really, I want the side-by-side to be the staging area for suppers. I want to be able to plan my week’s meals, pull those ingredients from the deep-freeze, and have a place to store them during the week — and in the kitchen — until I need them.
With my new approach to the challenge, I won’t end up overlooking those little bits of randomness and I can move back toward using the side-by-side as a holding station for things I want to use each week.
Best laid plans of mice and men, eh? We’ll see.
Tackling the side by side with a meal plan
So, with this in mind, here’s my inventory of the side-by-side:
- frozen, uncooked shrimp
- whole wheat tortillas
- hashbrown potatoes
- tomato soup
- leftover meat sauce for pasta
- cooked rice
- roasted corn
- corn tortillas
- enchilada sauce
- leftover tikka masala and coconut rice
- roasted vegetable sauce
- bread crusts
- satay sauce
- frozen fruit
- chicken broth
- sirloin steak
- ham steak
- frozen egg patties from Good Food Made Simple
In the pantry, I know I have pasta, rice, beans, muffin mixes, canned tomato items, crackers, and rice cakes, among other favorite pantry staples.
Out of that, I’ll make these dinners and lunches for the next five days. I say five since we’ll be heading out of town for the weekend and mooching off friends and family. I didn’t realize that when I scheduled the challenge — Oops! But, I’ll be packing snacks and meals for the road so we don’t spend too much money traveling. Pantry Challenge on the road?
My people just might freak.
Anyway, here are the meals I’ve got planned for the week:
- Egg Sandwiches
- Breakfast Bar
- Oatmeal Bar
- Granola and Yogurt and Berries
- Muffins and Smoothies
- Kielbasa and Eggs (my kids love this; I don’t)
- Soup and Sandwiches
- DIY Pasta Salad
- Snacky Lunch
- Homemade Mac and Cheese
- Quesadillas, fresh fruit and veg
- Ham Steak with Cheesy Potatoes
- Cheese Enchiladas, Beans, Rice, and Salad
- Chicken Tikka Masala Soup (we’ll see how that goes!)
- Baked Shrimp, rice, green salad
- Steak Tacos, fresh salsa
- Pasta with Meat Sauce, green salad
- Beans and Rice
It will be hit or miss with the vegetable sides and fresh fruit. But, I need to clear some space so that I can think straight.
Be sure to join me tonight (7/6/14 at 5pm PST) for a Pantry Challenge Q&A on Facebook.