Pantry Challenge Day 15: I Made Yogurt

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This is Day 15 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 I made yogurt.

I’d like to say, don’t try to make yogurt, prepare breakfast, and drink a cup of coffee all at the same time. With six hungry children clamoring at your feet. And get out the door by 9 am.

It’s more than my multi-tasking brain can handle.

I think we survived though. Everyone ate. The yogurt got made. We weren’t late.

My coffee might have suffered.

At the store a couple weeks ago I played the debate in my mind about buying a large container of Greek yogurt or making my own. The price of milk favored making my own. This morning I finally got around to it. It’s not hard to make yogurt at home.

You can read my full post on the experience. Short story is, the crockpot method didn’t work for me. I recommend the temperature/heating pad method.

I didn’t incubate the yogurt as long this time. After five hours is was pretty thick. A reader had said that a shorter incubation time would make it less sour. Here’s hoping that’s true. The Google led me here which supports the theory.

The yogurt is chilling until tomorrow morning. We’ll see then.

For breakfast, I made Creamy Rice using whole milk instead of half and half/milk. I had a partial bag of arborio rice and a vanilla bean in the pantry, so that made for a tasty breakfast. I just tossed the vanilla bean into the pot at the start. In retrospect, I would have used half a vanilla bean to stretch it a little further.

I also made a homemade juice of apples, carrots, pears, ginger, and spinach. I really liked it. The kids did, too.

Lunchtime saw us using up leftovers. The children were not thrilled. C’est la vie. I made up for it after school when we had cookies from the freezer. So glad I did all that baking last month. We’re reaping the rewards now.

Tonight was date night. I had a gift card to Chipotle, so that’s where we went. The kids had an easy dinner: Quesadillas. FishBoy12 took care of the meal prep. Yeah for kids who can cook!

Day 15 Menus

Breakfast: Creamy Rice, homemade juice
Lunch: leftover Summer Rolls, leftover salad, leftover Stuffed Shells
Afternoon snack: Chocolate Minty Melts
Dinner: date night for parents at Chipotle, Quesadillas for kids

We’re almost halfway done with the challenge.

How’s it going for you?

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. We always incubate our yogurt from 4.5 to 5 hours, and it comes out thick and delicious – not at all sour. My two-year old eats bowls and bowls of it every morning. Here’s hoping for a successful taste in the morning!

  2. 1. I love making yogurt! Though I do the crockpot method as it has worked well for me.

    2. I miss having Chipotle! (and many other restaurants…though being in a small town in the middle of nowhere certainly has helped our budget)

  3. Another day of every bit of food coming from fridge or freezer. Success!
    Breakfast: fend for yourself
    Lunch: mixed seafood stir fry
    Dinner: veggie-heavy shepherd’s pie, peppermint ice cream

    I’ve made yogurt in both the crock pot and stovetop/oven methods. The crock pot did not work so great for me. Okay, but not fantastic. The oven method worked better. It sounds like the heating pad gets the best results, but I don’t have one. 🙁 I looked last time you posted about your results, but the ones in the stores were $30, which seemed a bit much since it was supposed to be helping me save money.

  4. Breakfast – finished off the bagels, fruit
    Lunch – I had a luncheon meeting for work so I got lunch out on the office dime. 🙂 No idea what everyone else did.
    Dinner – Tried a new skillet pasta recipe (good!), salad, applesauce, last of the cheese muffins from Sunday night.
    Dessert – finished off the bar cookies….time to bake (again)

    Nice surprise at my door when I got home from work. A prize package from Cooking Light and Aldi’s which included gourmet chocolates (about 5 varieties), baking sprinkles (lots!), and a $25 gift certificate to Aldi’s. Woohoo!

  5. I bought a yogurt maker at a thrift store for $3 its done a great job for the last 9mo. Thanks for the tip on the less incubation time, I’ve been doing a 7-8 hour incubation and its been very sour.

    Not much for wonderful progress on the emptying of the pantry but I have this week taken 4pt jars and 1 qt jar that have been emptied back to the pantry. So I suppose that’s doing pretty good.

    Yesterday’s menu was:
    B: cereal or home made yogurt with home caned apples in heavy syrup.
    L: sandwiches for boys, I had pizza at work (co-worker brought it in)
    S: salad and garlic bread (from the freezer) hubby’s night to cook he loves salads and didn’t want a pasta one this time.

    B: see yesterday
    L: leftovers for those of us at home and sandwich to the healthy child who got to go to school
    S: leftovers that that we have many, so I might pull out some of that extra lettuce and make a salad.

    • @Heather, Sounds like you and I might both continue this challenge in some fashion after it ends. Perhaps we’ll have to figure out a way to report to each other so we can keep up the encouragement. 🙂

  6. Jan. 15: Another good day (which means I sent the hubs with a sandwich,pretzels, and an apple), since the leftovers were pretty sparse.

    Breakfast: grab what you want (cereal, fruit, etc)
    Lunch: lunchbox for healthy 16yo(most days she takes a turkey sandwich, fresh berries, carrots, sometimes an apple or a treat), see above for hubs; 11yo sick at home ate a quesadilla and an apple; my friend took me to lunch for a late birthday treat.
    Dinner: a big success. spicy teriyaki pork and veggie stirfry over rice. Used frozen pork chops (sliced into strips) that were desperately needing to be eaten. Fresh veggies from costco (red bell pepper and baby bellas) and the last leftover head of broccoli. I mixed chili garlic sauce in the teriyaki sauce (along with water to dilute, and cornstarch to thicken). What a revelation! Spicy yumminess! We all like heat in our house. the 11yo pronounced it tasty and asked for seconds. Luckily there was just enough to send it in with the hubs for lunch.

    Today I’ll put together the large veggie tray for the HS Chorus and plan to use the rest of the fresh veggies the rest of the week (but I already started last night!). I hope to make banana muffins as well. And dinner, mostly taken from pantry/freezer. Will report tomorrow.

    • @Heather M,
      Here is a marinade from my sister for stir fry, she says turns out well. I figured its worth a try b/c I bought the Chinese 5 spice from the bulk food store and have no idea what you’re supposed to use it on. 3T soy sauce, 2 T orange juice, 2 t 5 spice, 1 tsp honey, 1/2 t garlic, 1/4t pepper and hot peppers to taste( i didn’t add black pepper and instead just used crushed peppers to taste.

      I actually have been very good normally about building my menu around the items I have on hand. Although I’m still trying to figure out what to do with those 16pts of turkey I caned from my 17lb bird (I have 2 more turkeys in the freezer still!) on Thanksgiving day. So suggestion there would be lovely. I want to thaw out my big freezer this year before the garden produce goes into it as it has never been done! And this year it looks like I’m going to need to buy a half a cow again (it last us 2 years).

      • @Heather, My kids use 5 Spice in an Egg Drop Soup they make.. It mostly just sits in my cabinet from when they lived here.. I dont use it either.

      • Heather M says:

        @Heather, That marinade sounds really good! Can you tell we like asian inspired flavors around here? I’m jotting down that recipe and will try it out at some point! Thanks!

        I have to say, I’m envious of your big freezer. We live in an urban area in a small space and have no room for a freezer, or a second refrigerator for that matter. And we have the smallest patch of a yard you’ve ever seen, and it only gets a few hours of sun a day, so I can’t even grow tomatoes! I’ve tried and it’s pathetic. And that half cow sounds awesome. Couldn’t fit it in my one little freezer.

        Re all the turkey, enchiladas (replace chicken w/turkey), turkey wild rice soup, turkey noodle soup, turkey tetrazzini, etc. I’d just do anything that is typically a chicken dish and replace it with turkey.

        Good luck with all the turkey!

  7. I do love good home made yogurt… I rarely make or eat it anymore but I used to all the time. I have a yogurt maker these days but back in the olden days, I just used an oven with a pilot light.. worked great for me. Also, you do NOT have to scald your milk if you’re buying milk from the grocery store.. people used to do that back in the olden days (again) to make sure to kill any icky yeasty beasties in fresh whole milk. Just add your starter culture, stir away and put it where you’re gonna put it. If you want super duper thick yogurt, use 1/2 milk and 1/2 half & half. Dont use cream cuz you’ll get a thin icky yogurt.

    I had my usual oatmeal & your rice sounds awesome… had 2 cups of coffee too..
    Lunch was mostly the toppings off a piece of pizza and roasted garlic & olives .. had to go to the store to get a birthday cake and walked past an amazing anti-pasta bar.. I fell in, face first. 😉
    Supper we had out at Olive Garden with some of our kids (all grown) for one’s birthday then we came home & had birthday cake..

  8. I made your Cranberry-Orange Granola for the first time tonight. It was a big hit with the husband and kids. I knew when I was cooking it would be half gone before morning. I did add a scant cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips I had in the pantry for a little extra sweetness.

    The pantry doesn’t look particularly empty, but what is left is an odd mix of this and that. There are boxes of pasta, gelatin, crackers and dried beans purchased at stock up prices, but we are out of oatmeal, powdered milk and most other baking supplies. Coming up with meals is taking a bit more imagination than usual.

    Today’s menus:
    Breakfast: The last of the pumpkin bread, milk and bananas
    Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwiches; bean and bacon soup; apple slices and blueberries
    Dinner: Brats, Tatar tots, strawberries and kiwi

  9. Still using things up, but had to go to the store for oatmeal and cheese. Also bought ice cream with a coupon and chips, which weren’t necessary but will help the husband survive the rest of the month.
    breakfast-oatmeal, almonds, frozen raspberries from summer
    lunch-tuna/egg salad on english muffins, apple
    dinner-brats/sauerkraut/buns and tater tots
    dessert-brownie mix from cupboard and that ice cream

  10. Whenever I use a new (from the store) starter, my yogurt is super runny, even to the point of being unstrainable. I have read that commercial yogurt isn’t cultured for very long and has very little beneficial bacteria in it. (Read this on Healthy Home Economist.) So it makes sense that there wouldn’t be much bacteria there to work with.

    When I save out a little of my own yogurt (even if it’s runny) by the second generation it is better and by the third generation it’s excellent. So, for the first batch I make a half batch and call it drinkable. My second batch is strainable and my third batch is perfect.

    I’ve had success with both the heating pad method and the crock pot method *if* I chill the yogurt after incubation for 8 hours without disturbing it.

    I really hope you have terrific success with your yogurt. Even with my ups and downs with it, it’s worth it to have a high quality probiotic food for my family.

  11. I’ve made yogurt in the crockpot and it came out runny as well. I quit making it until I found an article at kitchen stewardship. You make it in quart jars and freeze for 1 hour after letting it incubate in a cooler. So far I’m on batch 5 and every single one as thick as the greek yogurt I started with. Haven’t needed to strain either.

    It’s been great to have around as a snack or sour cream substitute. Husband loves it on his mexican food! I love that there’s not really any dishes to wash right away.

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