Pantry Challenge Day 18: A Panda Feast

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This is Day 18 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. Tonight we diverged from the Challenge for a Panda Feast.

Today went by in a flash. I’m typing this quickly so I can enjoy an evening “off” of the Pantry Challenge. You see, hubs is on a Panda Express run. Just one of those days…. (That’s an old picture.)

I had planned on pizza. But as we all know, I was out of flour. So, after school, work, and chores were done, I took whoever wanted to go on a Walmart adventure.

Guess what?! Four kids wanted to go. And because we were already out, I decided to hit Sprouts, too, to fill out the produce holes that the box delivery on Wednesday didn’t fill.

When you take four kids grocery shopping to two different stores, it will take longer than you anticipate. So, not enough time to go and make pizza dough. And of course, I forgot to use a free product coupon and so I have to go back anyway. Sigh.

No worries. We’ll just have the beans and rice that was supposed to be tomorrow’s lunch tonight. Except….

that I was relying on dried beans and hadn’t soaked or cooked them yet. It’s starting to sound like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, isn’t it? So, I’m sitting there wondering what to fix or if there was a “fun restaurant” that we could take the fam to. Hubs made the call to go get a Panda Feast. So, there we are.

And I’m good with it. It’s Day 18, and our family has only eaten not-homemade twice this month. That works well in our “dining budget” as well as our grocery budget. While FishChick4 helped me sort beans for tomorrow, hubs is taking care of dinner. Yeah, FishPapa.

Here’s the rest of the day:


I had a pancake mix that I made during this month’s freezer cooking as well as butternut squash from yesterday’s project. I mixed them together with some spices and a few chocolate chips. It would have been great, but we were running low on milk so I decided to use the Coconut Milk Beverage that was in the fridge. Gave the pancakes an odd texture.

The kids ate them without complaining, but I know they didn’t love them. Too many weird things at once.


For lunch I dug out the last loaf of sandwich bread from the freezer and the last two cans of tuna. I used the last of the mayo to make tuna salad. There was no cheddar, but surprisingly my kids were good with jack. Lunch was a choice of tuna sandwiches, tuna melts, and grilled cheese. Oranges on the side.


Hubby provided the aforementioned Chinese food. FishBoy12 made lemonade. We ate well. And are ready to continue with the pantry challenge.

Day 18 Menus

Breakfast: Butternut Squash Pancakes, Milk
Lunch: Tuna Salad for sandwiches, oranges
Afternoon snack: Saltines
Dinner: Chinese food takeout, Lemonade

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. Sometimes those days happen and on those days I’m so grateful that whatever goals I’ve set for myself are being achieved well enough that I can indulge and enjoy for the moment. I remember days when it was just not possible to come up with that extra cash – I’m sure you do too – and I’m so glad the good choices I’ve made now can outweigh the consequences of one off night!

  2. For us:
    Breakfast was everyone’s usual, (eggs for hubs, cereal for ds) but nothing for me as we were running out the door and I planned poorly. (I have to take meds that require me to wait an hour before eating, thus, no breakfast & poor plan).

    Lunch: lunchboxes for all – chicken salad sandwich & apple for hubs, tossed salad w/homemade croutons & homemade ranch w/ half a sub for ds, and chicken salad w/crackers for me (I don’t usually get much of a lunch at school).

    Dinner: I had planned pasta fagioli soup – all I needed to do was heat and add pasta… however, ds had to meet his Boy Scout troop to pack for a campout this weekend, which led to lateness, which led hubs to say “Let’s stop here.” Which he later regretted, but we did. No soup… it will move to later this weekend.

  3. As Cherie said.. its nice to be able to have the luxury to eat out if need/want be… When my kids were little (all grown now) that wasnt the case.. If I didnt make it, we didnt eat. Im so thankful my life resembles nothing as it did then..

    I had oatmeal with honey & coffee for breakfast, tamales for lunch- one red pork & the other hot green chili with chicken from the freezer, and for supper we had beef tips with red wine & mushrooms over mashed potatoes.
    We had a couple Warm Delights chocolate cake & brownies that have been hanging out in the pantry a long time.
    Snacks were oranges & bananas

  4. Heather M says:

    Friday, Jan 18th was fine, as pantry challenges go.

    Breakfast and lunch were the usual. It’s always the same idea.
    Dinner: Rice pilaf w/wild rice (box from pantry.. usually keep these on hand for when I don’t want to think about what to cook, and friday is always a day like that for me), crab cakes (from the freezer, 1st time trying this brand, and we LOVED them), quick sauce I made for crab cakes, and salad (the neverending stash from a week ago is dwindling and starting to need pickng through).

    Today, Saturday is going to be a nonevent. We are also blessed to be able to eat out or pick up without much concern. We have always been able to. We are not wealthy at all, though. And have college right around the corner and also enjoy traveling. So we need to not overdue the eating out so we can have more available for these two items (college/travel). This year is going to be pricy in the travel dept. as we are definitely doing something fun and new for spring break, since last year everyone stayed home but me (I escaped to a friend’s a 6 hour drive away… I needed a break). Plus two weeks after that a very dear friend is getting married on the other side of the country, so at least two of us will be going. And every summer we go to the other side of the country for family vacation (my family lives there… I left, like a crazy person). So, yeah, eating out is not a huge priority this year, just a necessity occasionally. Today will likely be one of those days. I’m headed off with 4 teenagers to a concert on the other side of town and will be hanging out in that part of town until it’s over, and the boys will be on their own. The hubs wants to take the 11yo to dinner/movie. This is the beginning of a 4 day weekend with the kids, and the hubs working even more than usual, so it’ll be interesting. Hope you are all enjoying a nice one!

  5. On the pizza dough…have you tried the Flieshman’s pizza yeast? It really does make a difference. It does not need to rise like a regular dough. (I do let it sit while I finish pulling together the sauce and fixings.) Also, it relaxes the gluten so it is easier to work with.

  6. Dried beans? A pressure cooker is your friend! I can crank out 2 cups dried beans in under 30 minutes any night of the week. And lots of meals can be done in the same pot.

    And no one blows up their kitchen with one anymore 😉

  7. Nicole Rao says:

    I know this is an old post, but I stumbled on it while reading through the pantry challenge sections since we just started ours yesterday 🙂 Anyways, I have your cookbook and make your pancake mix and they have yet to come out ‘thick’ looking like yours. It’s not just your recipe, it’s every single one I’ve tried. I don’t overmix, use exact measurements, have a griddle, etc….but my pancakes always come out ridiculously thin and sad. Any help/hints?

    • Do you spoon flour into the cup or scoop with the measuring cup? That could make a difference in measuring the flour. Also, how fresh are your baking powder and baking soda? And, maybe how hot is your griddle?

      • Nicole Rao says:

        Thanks for getting back to me!!! I spoon flour in and then scrape off excess with a knife. I think my supplies are pretty fresh b/c I cook from scratch a lot 🙁 should the griddle be super hot before pouring batter on? I feel like such an idiot that I can cook tons of stuff but pancakes, lol!!!

        • My husband says, “Ask a question and be a fool for five minutes. Keep quiet and be a fool forever.” 🙂 It’s good you’re asking! That’s how we learn!

          Yes, the griddle should be so hot that a few drops of water will dance on the surface when you fling them on it. Once you get to that point, you can start cooking pancakes. I hope that’s the trick. That would be great!

          • Nicole Rao says:

            LOL!! I like his mentality 😉 I’ll try to make sure it’s hot like that next time. No giving up, pancakes are hubs fav I’m determined to figure it out. Thanks Jessica!

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