Pantry Challenge Day 7: Pantry Clean-Up

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This is Day 7 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 cleaned out the pantry.

I forget how consuming a pantry challenge is, of my mind and my time. I feel like I got little done today, but when I think inside the kitchen, I realize that I did accomplish a few small, but great things.

First up I cooked a big pot of garbanzo beans (aka chick peas). I’ve been using canned beans on my salads for months, but I knew that I could save money and enjoy them more often if I cooked from dried. Yesterday I got the dry beans soaking. This morning I got them cooking in the slow cooker. By later afternoon, they were perfectly cooked. I’ll be posting a tutorial on these legumes as well as what to do with them next week. I love them.

So, what else was cooking on Day 7 you ask? Voila:


This morning I laid out the breakfast bar with choices of yogurt, applesauce, pumpkin bread, energy bars, granola, and oatmeal. Everyone had his choice. You can see mine above.

I actually cheated last week and used butternut squash instead of pumpkin in the bread. I guess I forgot to tell you that. It worked out very well. The squash made the bread super moist.


For lunch I had planned a Snacky Lunch. I knew we had crackers and cheddar. I also experimented by making our own garlic and herby “Spready Cheese”. You might recognize it as Boursin, Alouette, or Rondele at the store. Around here we call it “spready cheese”.

I tried making my own. Seeing as the store bought version is $4 to 6 and I can make it for less than a buck fifty, I figured it was worth my while.

The kids ate it right away and loved it. Hubs tried it when he came home from work. He thought the flavors were a little strong. I’m guessing that might be that it had had a chance to chill and meld flavors more in the time between lunch and his homecoming.

A little more testing and I’ll be sharing the recipe for that, too.


[sorry, no pic, I was eating]

FishBoy12 liked tonight’s meal plan, so he chose to do the prep work even though he just cooked on Saturday night. He seasoned the pork roast and got it cooking in the slow cooker. He mixed the dough for the Pumpkin Onion Rolls and formed the rolls.

We had carrot sticks as a side and topped the sandwiches with BBQ sauce from the freezer, homemade pickles. I tried some of the pickled Daikon on it, but it didn’t have much flavor. Maybe that will increase in a few days?

Day 7 Menus:

Breakfast: Breakfast Bar of Energy Bars (cookbook), Slowcooker Applesauce, Pumpkin Bread, yogurt, granola, oatmeal
Lunch: Snacky Lunch
Dinner: BBQ Pork Sandwiches, Pumpkin Onion Rolls, Homemade Pickles, Carrot Sticks

And a Pantry Clean-up

See that? That is a messy pantry. It’s what I’ve been ignoring for a few weeks. The configuration of this closet is so awkward that it lends itself to weirdness. Things just get jumbled and it’s hard to keep things straight.

Or maybe I’m just lazy.

Either way, when I reached in for crackers at lunch time and saw that I already had almonds and hadn’t needed to buy any yesterday, I figured it was a good time to see what we did have. There’s a lot in there!

I didn’t inventory it yet, but it’s on my mind to do tonight. That will make meal planning so much easier. Especially to remember that I have three butternut squash to use up!

I also found the makings of s’mores as well as an evaporated milk. So no more cream shortage. Though, I might still want to put ice cream in my coffee sometimes.

So, that’s my day in the kitchen.

How was YOURS?

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. Another successful day here! Meals went as planned. Here’s the day’s menu:
    Breakfast – the last of the breakfast sandwiches from the freezer
    Lunch – 3 of us ate leftovers, 1 ate at school
    Dinner – Homemade mac & cheese (your recipe! used up the last of the cheese), green peas (last bag of anything green from the freezer), pear slices, the last of the pumpkin snack cake.

    Tomorrow’s dinner has been planned and items pulled from the freezer. Pan & recipe are on the counter and ready for me in the morning (prepping dinner before I head to the office).

    The picking’s are getting slim here as far as lunch fare and veggies (both fresh and frozen – corn is the only veggie left in the freezer and in cans!). Fruit will be gone by the end of the day tomorrow; we’re down to 1 grapefruit, 2 clementines and 1 apple.

    Oh, almost forgot…we had to send the oldest ds to the grocery store tonight for coffee. Hubs can’t do without that! $5.33 spent – yay for a sale. Add that to the $21 from Saturday and we’re right at $26.00 for the month. Well below what it would be if I’d done my usual shopping over the weekend! Here’s to another successful day!

  2. My two toddlers gobble up oatmeal, so I fixed banana-walnut oatmeal for breakfast. Lunch was “homemade Chik-fil-a”, with grilled chicken nuggets made from some meat I got last week on sale, waffle fries that had gotten lost in the freezer, green beans, and apple slices. For dinner I made “lawnmower tacos” for the first time because I had sour cream, corn tortillas (which I cut into fourths and baked to make chips – so easy!!!) and chicken broth I needed to use up. As a special after-dinner treat I whipped up strawberry-banana smoothies to use up some yogurt that had been hanging out in the fridge. For snacks the kids had raisins and breakfast cookies (from the freezer). This is fun!!! Thank you for inspiring me to do my first “pantry challenge”!

  3. Still going strong here.

    Breakfast – Oatmeal and toast
    Lunch – Salads with cut up chese, lunch meat and fruit
    Dinner – Chicken, french fries and corn

  4. You’re doing great! I’ve decided to do this in February as that month works best for us [January is always so loaded with amazing sales in my area that it’s a pointless challenge then LOL – February I wanna empty the fridge for our upcoming vacation anyway so it works well – plus my freezer is packed from january’s sales!]

    I look forward to the spready cheese recipe – my kids call it ‘carrot cheese’ because they love to dip carrots in it LOL. I’ve often thought of trying it on my own but I’m so much lazier than you!

  5. I found scones at the way back of my freezer yesterday. I hadn’t liked them to begin with but was pleased when my daughter gobbled them up for a snack yesterday (despite the fact they appeared to be slightly freezer burnt.)

  6. I totally agree with you about pantry challenges requiring so much mind energy! I’m constantly having to review what we have and what’s about to go bad (which makes me wonder how much food I waste normally?). And as we run out of things I have to figure out what to do with what we have. Even though I might make a menu for the week, by the time I get to a certain day that needs, say, sour cream, I might have already used it in baking or something. So it keeps me on my toes!

    I’m also spending a lot more time baking, making my own bread and stuff like that. That’s okay. Just have to work it in. Today I’m trying English muffins so i can use up a 3lb log of breakfast sausage I found in the deep freezer! We’ll have breakfast sandwiches.

    We get a milk and egg delivery today so I should be able to stay out of the store until the weekend, at least.

  7. We had a good day yesterday. Breakfast was yogurt and toast for the kids and quick bread from the freezer for me. DH had fruit. The kids ate at school, and DH & I had leftovers at work. Dinner was chicken noodle soup I made from leftovers and the bones from Sunday’s chicken.

    I know what you mean about time. I didn’t feel like I got anything done this morning because I didn’t have time to do any computer work, but really I made ranch dressing, bread dough, started dinner in the crock pot, and did a load of dishes.

  8. Yesterday was a breeze for me.. I had oatmeal & coffee for breakfast, my leftover Pressure Cooker Green Chicken Stew for lunch and supper both. M’honey had spaghetti from the freezer that was from the last time I made it for him. I cook a regular family amount 1# noodles plus sauce and freeze the leftovers for another quick meal another day. It works for me! 😉

    You would probably faint if you saw my pantries.. I have so much in them its flowing outward.. but thats part of how I shop and how I run my kitchen/pantries/freezer. I could actually probably live for many months off my pantries and freezer.. and I do.. often. 🙂

  9. Also, dont forget.. you can make some wonderful hummas with those garbonzos.. Any flavor or combinations you love!

    • @KimH,

      have you ever used a mix of garbonzo ad kidney beans? I tried it once with some carrot puree and lime instead of the lemon and it was awesome … but haven’t made it in a while. Perhaps this is something for later in the week/next week. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. Day 7 –

    waffles for breakfast again …. not sue if little guy likes them or not or if he’s getting distracted.

    lunch – 2yr old ate at Daycare – hamburger, noodles, peas, pears. He always eats more tor them than us, but only goes Mondays. Avocado and pears for baby. Daddy had instant oatmeal cups and Mommy packed a turkey wrap with pumpkin/gingersnap parfait and pumpkin brownies.

    Dinner – last of the sauerkraut with hot dogs, apple slices for little guy and sweet potatoes for mom. Usually I a not a hotdog fan, but for some reason they tasted good with the 3-pepper mustard. Not the most nutritious but we had them and needed to be used up. Dad snacked later when coming home @ 8 … long work night. Little one at green beans, pumpkin, and oatmeal like a champ!

    Day 8 – made banana cinnamon chip muffins and some pumpkin bread with over-ripe bananas and 2 cups of pumpkin puree from freezer for breakfat/mid-morning snack.

    lunch – more instant oatmeal cups for daddy. he really claims he does not get hungry for lunch often b/c he’s so busy. 2 yr old had cucumber slices, a fluffernutter, and some pumpkin spice marshmallows. 😉 Mommy ate left over pumpkin soup, and baby tried chicken for the first time.

    ** caribbean jerk chicken in crock pot for shredding and mixing with mango, peppers, onions, pineapple over rice for dinner later tonight. We’ll see how it turns out. Basically dumped a bottle of jerk marinade over a lb of boneless chicken thighs and am leaving the rest up to the slow cooker after I sautee the veg and add the rest of the ingredeints after shredding.

  11. Heather M says:

    Jan. 7 for us: sick kids home from school who ate snacky foods, fruit, etc. For lunch I ate leftovers from birthday dinner out. No one was feeling like much, so I made bacon and scrambled eggs for dinner. Am in the middle of planning meals. Have a yummy looking new recipe to try for tonight. It’ll use the butternut squash that’s been languishing on the the counter. I’ve been searching for a recipe to use up he rest of the coconut milk from this weekend, and think I’ll try a coconut muffin recipe. But we’ll see how the day goes. Report to come tomorrow.

  12. Last night was a small victory for me and the husband. We thawed out some salmon, chicken soup and pesto sauce. The soup and sauce went into the risotto. The rice, soup and sauce had all been hanging around for a bit. And we even have some leftover to turn into a lunch for tomorrow. I used homemade bread crumbs (sandwich bread ends) seasoned with some Old Bay and lemon pepper on the fish and finished it in the oven. Roasted cauliflower topped with leftover parm from NYE mac n’ cheese bites was our vegetable.

    Now what to do with the rest of the soup…Will probably help us round out another meal later this week. I am enjoying the challenge. And I too find it takes much mental energy and creativity to use what we have on hand. But I get such satisfaction out of doing so, it is worthwhile.

  13. Still going here too! I made Carnation Instant b’fast in a Thermos to carry to work this morning. I carried the frozen soup I found in the freezer last night and ate it for lunch. The hubs and kids all ate packed lunches and we always eat breakfast at home (well, I pack mine from home and take to work-I have to be there at 6 and I am not hungry at 5 when I get up).

    Tonight is a cheat night for the hubs and me. He was diagnosed in October with Leukemia. Knowing that $ is all going to medical bills now, my cousin brought us a gift card to a really nice steak place here. It will cost us some to go (tips), but we need the night out!

    Tomorrow, we will be right back at it. 🙂

  14. How exactly do you make “spready cheese” yourself?

    • It’s cream cheese, garlic, and herbs. Recipe coming soon. 😉

      • @Jessica,

        Thanks I was wondering the same thing. I would love to make my own spready cheese!!
        Our meal week has been going great with only one small snag of needing additional milk. Two more days planned and then back to the store!

  15. zimms zoo says:

    I can’t wait to see how to cook up garbanzo beans because i have a bag in the pantry to use.

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