Pantry Challenge Day 12: The Night I Didn’t Want to Cook

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This is Day 12 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. I didn’t want to cook tonight, but I did.

Last night I mentioned that I thought we might go out to dinner tonight. That was the plan this morning, but by the time hubs came home from work, the kids were busy playing with friends and no one wanted to head out to the great outdoors away from the warmer indoors that is home.

Hubs offered to go pick something up, but that didn’t seem in keeping with that “intentional take-out” that I’ve been preaching about.

Even though I didn’t want to, I went to the kitchen. As the meal plan would have it, I did have something to make: chicken taquitos. However, I hadn’t thawed the chicken since I thought we were going out. I didn’t want to nuke it and make it tough, since it was thin chicken cutlets that we had grilled last month and then frozen. So I let it sit on the counter while I softened the tortillas.

I got the brain storm to make oven chimichangas with canned beans, chicken, and the little bits of grated cheese from quesadilla night. Those baked while I hacked away at the half-frozen chicken. FishBoy10 was supposed to help me with dinner tonight, but since I was doing something a little unsafe, I excused him, lest I set a bad example.

For the record, I think I was safe, but I wouldn’t necessarily want my kids to mimic my actions.

I ended up with five burritos to bake into chimichangas, 20 chicken taquitos, and 3 cheese taquitos. Yes, cheese.

I love jack cheese and corn tortillas, so I made the unorthodox cheese taquito. Yes, the cheese oozes out and browns on the tray, but that’s part of it’s charm. Love it.

I also made a big salad and homemade dressing to go with and rifled through the condiments to find sour cream and two salsas: green and spicy chile.

It was a fabulous dinner, despite the fact that I hadn’t wanted to cook it. That means we’ve eaten in for 12 straight days. Might be a record for us.

In other news, we had oatmeal for breakfast and rice/potstickers/leftover pizza for lunch. Nothing to write home about, really.

Day 12 Menus

Breakfast: Leftover Raspberry Baked Oatmeal, Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets
Lunch: Leftover Pizza (three slices), Potstickers, Rice, Oranges
Dinner: Chicken Taquitos, Chimichangas, Salad

My sister comes tomorrow which promises to be fun and tasty since she loves food just like us. We’re almost halfway done.

How are you doing with the Pantry Challenge?

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. Breakfast: used up 2oz of grilled chicken in an omelet
    Lunch: Tartine Sardine (from a French café recipe collection I got for Christmas, whoo hoo) which used up one of 6 (!) cans of sardines. Got any good sardine recipes?
    Snack: cranberry pumpkin bread from yesterday
    Dinner: tomato soup made from V8 instead of plain tomato juice

  2. After being out of town for a few days, I was thrilled to have food from my kitchen!
    Breakfast: big breakfast for hubs (scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese grits, red grapefruit), oatmeal w fruit for me; ds opted not to eat. (This is not something I like, but I’m trying very hard not to impose my food issues on my boy!)
    Lunch: guys ate while at bowling; I had leftover pizza and an apple.
    Dinner: rotisserie-style chicken in the crockpot, cornbread, homemade mac’n’cheese, green bean ‘fries’ (an experiment for us as I am trying to include more veg of all kinds in our meals).

  3. We only had one set back on Friday. I forgot to make some pizza dough so we ordered out. Other then that we have been eating from our pantry and freezer. This is huge for us because we would normal order out once a week (at least).

    I had one question: Can you use flour tortillas instead of the corn? My son is allergic to corn and I really want to try some of these recipes but I’m not sure if the flour tortillas will work.

    • @MonicaB, Flour tortillas still work great in the oven! It makes more of flautas than taquitos (because they are so long…if you buy the burrito sized flour tortillas that is) but they are still tasty. 🙂

    • @MonicaB, yes, as Jennifer said, flour will be fine. My burritos were flour. I brushed them with oil and baked them at same temp as the taquitos. Super good and crispy.

  4. My husband and the boys took a trip to Cabela’s and Gander Mountain while I worked yesterday. I threw frozen pork barbeque leftovers from the freezer straight into the crock pot. I got home just before they did and we had pork BBQ sandwiches with peaches. Is there anything better on a busy day than throwing a big frozen lump in the crock pot and coming home to dinner?

  5. Breakfast: homemade oatmeal and craisin mini muffins
    Lunch: leftover pizza (I had made a pizza using Bisquick for the crust and it was delicious and super easy. Tasted like a pizza biscuit!)
    Dinner: loaded potato soup from the crock pot (great use of the huge bag of hashbrowns from my freezer!)
    Snacks: crackers and peanut butter

  6. I’m really enjoying reading your eating from the pantry adventures. I’m trying to do somewhat of the same thing. I have a ton of frozen meat in my freezer, and I’m trying to come up with meals to use it all up. When I see meat that’s on manager’s special, because the sell by date is approaching, I’ll buy if even though I have specific plans to use it. It’s like an addiction, lol. I do the same thing with bread too (hangs her head in shame.)

  7. Heather M says:

    Jan 12: a super easy day. We had no big plans. I finished going through my 10 years’ worth of Cooking Light (yay!) and now have a less crowded shelf and lots of new recipes to try/alter(I do that a lot).

    We ate leftovers. All leftovers. the fridge was full of leftovers, and now less so. Just enough for Monday lunches. I also boiled a bunch of eggs for snacks, breakfast, and salad( I had bought a bunch around christmas, as they were on sale, and need to get them used!).

    Also checked up on my grocery spending and I think the month is going to be great for me. I’ll report at the end. I rarely actually track how much I spend, but easily $800+ a month. That will not be the case this month. at all. Yay for prudence and being a good steward over our resources.

  8. Hey, your taquitos look great! And so does that salad! Im out of fresh greens.. thinking about perhaps having to do the dirty & go buy some. 😉 I’ve been eating green from my winter coles and freezer. I still have some beet greens (like chard) to use up soon.

    Yesterday I had oatmeal with homemade apple butter as my sweetener.. then I had leftovers from my Mexican meal out with M’honey (corn tortillas with about an oz of sliced steak & Mexican cheese, beans & rice, a few corn chips & salsa.. ) and for supper, I bit the bullet & made the 5 Minute Artisan dough and made pizzas.. I made 2 pizzas and one pan of garlic bread! Thanks so much for the inspiration!! It was so easy!
    One of them I used homemade tomato paste that I spiced up with Johnnys Garlic seasoning, Italian blend seasoning, and red pepper flakes, then topped it with Hungarian dry pepperoni (from a Costco 4pk) and sauteed onions, siced red bell peppers (frozen from my garden) and Italian sausage. I used Pizza mix cheeses from my freezer, and a little bit of fresh parmesan from the frig.. The second one, I divided in two, used the rest of the red sauce on half and used the rest of the pepperoni on half.. On the other half (which was my favorite) I used the Spinach, Artichoke, & Parmesan dip from Costco as the sauce.. then I added the rest of the sauteed onions, red bell pepper & Italian sausage to it. I was running out of pizza cheese (had more in the freezer but didnt want to open another bag)so I added the last of the pizza cheese, more fresh parmesan and I shredded a good bit of smoked gouda to it too.. It was delish!! Next time I think I’ll make a whole pizza like that. Then I made bread sticks by patting the dough out, and sprinkling Johnns Garlic Seasonings on it & when it came out of the oven, I brushed it with melted butter.. It was a tasty treat!! Thanks so much for giving me the motivation & guiding me in the right direction. The bread dough was a hit.

    Funny thing about that bread dough.. my gf who lives in NY (Im in Ohio) made bread with the same recipe and posted it on one o f her foodie pages on FB yesterday.. Thought it was funny we were making the same thing at the same time with no communication between us. ;_)

    • Heather M says:

      @KimH, I really need to try that dough recipe! I never make any dough, but this might be the one that breaks me. Sounds awesome!

      • @Heather M, It was really easy.. I googled 5 Minute Artisan Bread on You Tube and found the authors to the books video and recipe.. then I made it in my stand mixer. I just left it in the mixer (after I scraped down the sides) and inverted a plate over the top of it for it to rise for 2 hours.. Then I added a little bit of flour to the top of it to hand it, and a little more here & there as I was pressing it into my pan (as needed) and it was good to go. I precooked the crust for about 5-7 minutes at 400° and the complete pizza for about 10 minutes. Good luck! I’ll definitely be doing this again.

  9. We sort of failed this weekend with 3 meals out ….2 lunches while on the road and Saturday night dinner to celebrate good grades (one got a 4.0, the other a 3.94 – worthy of celebration!). Total spent on all 3 meals for 4 was $50 thanks to coupons (BOGO) so that isn’t too bad in my opinion.

    Saturday breakfast was on your own. Sunday breakfast was coffee cake and fruit. I had some buttermilk that needed to be used so I made 2 coffee cakes on Saturday night – one to eat and one to freeze.

    Tonight’s dinner was delish! A sausage and veggie dish which is a family fave and I tried a new Cheese Muffin recipe which was wonderful and used whole wheat flour that needed to be used.

  10. I have had dinner out or carry out every night since Thursday. Not on top of planning for sure. But I finally took an inventory today and learned how much beef I have. Need to find fish and poultry on special so I can provide some better choices for the fam. Wish I could convince my son that vegetarian is not a bad word. Nor is meatless.

  11. Margery H. says:

    Funny, I’ve had days when I thought we might go out, and I didn’t want to cook. Ended up getting something together at the last minute, and it turned into a nice meal that everyone enjoyed.

  12. I know that feeling, when you’ve been running all day and feel like you just can’t do one more thing. That’s so TERRIFIC that you cooked dinner anyways. You’re an inspiration! And that dinner sounds so good. I’ve made and love cheese taquitos, that’s not so weird. Chicken and cheese is awesome, too. And I put frozen raspberries on my grocery list so we can have raspberry baked oatmeal next week. It looks and sounds delicious! Love your blog!

  13. Oh, and we’re not really doing the pantry challenge (even though I’ve wanted to every year and then forget to start on January 1st because it’s still holiday-crazy around here) but I was inspired by you, so this week instead of making a new menu and grocery list without seeing what we have, I looked at what we had on hand, and THEN made a menu for this next week based on what’s in the pantry, fridge and freezer. I know this sounds obvious, but it’s a big improvement for us. And sure, there are a few things we need to pickup, but much less than an average week. Every little bit helps, right?

    Today my DH, DD14.5 and DS13 all had cereal and milk for breakfast, what they have everyday. I had Nigella’s Chocolate Banana smoothie with the last banana, plus [the last of the] spinach, flaxseeds and wheat germ added ( which I can then carry around with me while I get chores done. For lunch we were totally out of bread AND lunchmeat, so I assembled carrot sticks with ranch dressing (DD14.5 fav), apples and oranges along with drinks and gave DH and the kids the go-ahead to grab sandwiches at McDonald’s when they were on their way to the library (we homeschool). I wish I had made bread yesterday, but it was kinda a crazy day, so I’m just going to forgive myself (especially because I just got done making the dough for Artisan Bread in 5, Artisan Pizza Crust in 5 and NYTimes No-Knead Bread today. (Love love love those breads and make them all the time! It’s a small world.)). At least there won’t be fries and tons of sugary soda, too. For dinner there’s homemade mac and cheese sitting in the fridge for the kids plus green veggies in the freezer to heat up really quick, and DH and I are going out to dinner for date night. Besides McDonald’s today and getting drinks twice while out and about this week, we haven’t eaten out since January 11th, which is really, really good for us. Thanks for the inspiration, especially for saying that every meal doesn’t have to an event, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

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