Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Eight

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This month I’m doing a Pantry Challenge. For two weeks, I’m focusing on using up what we have to save money and time and to reduce waste.

Hot cereal

This is gonna have to be quick. There’s a new episode of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD to watch tonight….

School days seem so incredibly busy, but we’ve done really well staying on task and being done at a decent time each afternoon. Still the day is full. FishBoy11 had his first karate class today. I think it was good.

This morning when I got home from the gym, I mixed up a big pot of 8-Grain Cereal that Bob’s Red Mill sent us to try. I didn’t like oatmeal until I was an adult, so part of me was skeptical that I would like it, but I loved it. The kids all ate it without complaint, so I think we’re good to go.

I spent about an hour this morning in the kitchen prepping stuff: I got hot dog bun dough started in the bread machine for lunch. The kids had hot dogs for lunch while I had a couple sausages and the leftover roast vegetables from last night.

This morning I tossed two containers of Ratatouille from the freezer into the slow cooker with a can of tomatoes. That simmered most of the day, then I blended it with my immersion blender and tossed in a bag of meatballs from the freezer. That, with pasta and a salad was our dinner. The sauce was so full of veg, but no one complained.

Snacks included a banana cake that I made this morning (from a mix and two very ripe bananas) and a lot of fruit and baby carrots.

produce box january

The produce box came today. It was kind of disappointing. There are many things that will be work to use up (collards, turnips, rutabagas). In their defense, the low temps (20’s) have hurt the winter crops. Plus, I should have waited on going to the store yesterday. I bought oranges yesterday and we got a ton of oranges today.

Breakfast: Hot Cereal with Cream and Sugar

Snacks: oranges, carrots, Banana Cake

Lunch: Hot Dogs with Homemade Buns, Apple Slices, Carrots

Dinner: Spaghetti and Meatballs in Vegetable Sauce, Salad

Pantry ChallengeThis post is a part of the Pantry Challenge where we’re trying to save money on food by using up what we have. I’ll be posting daily updates on how the challenge is going.

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  1. Yesterday and today dinner was canned soup and toast. Both of us are under the weather, and we’ve got other stuff (school, home-buying, minor surgery) going on. I forgot my lunch this morning, so rummaged through the free office snacks and came up with a mini-bag of potato chips, an orange, and some chocolate-chip cookies. Er. Not the most nutritious, but filling and free.

  2. I feel like the first of this year hasn’t been the best for us. My back is finally starting to feel better!!! YAY!!! Unfortunately I received a call today while I was at work, my husband grandpa made a turn for the worst. He has to catch a flight at 4AM. Not exactly my favorite time to wake up…. He had a crazy day running around because my car is in the shop….. Deep Breath…. It will all be ok….. Any whoozle

    Breakfast: Bacon…. Laziness won this morning
    Lunch : Last of the pot pie (hubs) last of the baked spaghetti (me)
    Dinner: We ate out… sorry… it had been a long day and wine was necessary

    Silver lining: We finished off two bits of leftovers today at lunch and I will be by myself for a few days while the hubs goes visit his pops. So I can finish off anything that is left and scrounge until he gets back.

  3. Breakfast: cereal
    Lunch: pizza from Costco food court
    Dinner: chicken stuffed with brie & apple, green beans, sweet potato, yeast rolls
    Dessert: finished peppermint ice cream

    So we wanted pizza for lunch, were near Costco, so picked up one of those enormous slices. While I was there, I discovered they had some boneless spiral cut ham on clearance for $0.97/lb. Argh! Frugality won over pantry challenge once again, and I picked up $15 worth. I put one in the fridge and the larger one in the freezer.

    • I have never seen anything on clearance at my Costco. They must do things differently here or there.

      • They don’t put it in an special place or advertise it particularly. On occasion, if there are a bunch of the product and it is about to expire, they might highlight the price to draw attention to it, but that (from my experience) is pretty rare. If you see a price that ends in a 7, though, it has been marked down.

  4. Day 8:

    Breakfast: Last of the chocolate chip bread, fresh strawberries and milk
    Lunch: My husband and I had a planned lunch out
    Dinner: Smothered chicken breasts, stuffing and fresh raspberries

    While baking the chicken I poached a couple of additional breasts. I will use the poaching liquid and half the poached chicken for soup. I diced the other breast and made chicken salad for lunch later this week.

  5. B: Oats with milk for daughter and husband. A couple of leftover rolls for me, which I threw on the toaster. Coffee.
    L: Rye bread with different toppings. We have a variety of Things both in the freezer and the fridge, so I am using those up slowly but surely 🙂
    D: leftover chili sin carne with rice.
    Snacks: banana, rice cakes, apple slices. I don’t always write these down, but my daughter (aged two) always has a mid morning snack and an afternoon snack.

    I baked sandwich bread and made granola and egg salad. I also picked up a few things at the store, but spent very little. I will gather my receipts on Sunday, so I know exactly how much I have spent so far.

    I really enjoy reading all the comments! It’s fun to see how everyone is doing and I can gather some inspiration for future meals 🙂

  6. I am out of town at a conference, so I’m doing my best to eat as frugally as possible.
    B- hubs got biscuits on the way home from dropping me at the airport. I bought some fruit and cheese and a bottle of water.
    L- hubs and da had their lunch boxes, which I prepped before I left. I bought a quesadilla and finished off my bottle of water from the morning.
    D- hubs and ds had Chinese takeout (which I don’t like, so it was a nice treat for them). I picked up an apple and a complimentary cup of hot chocolate when I got back to the hotel, them went down and got a chicken caprese sandwich with a salad for dinner. There were bottles of water in the room so I drank one of those.

  7. The cereal looks great! Might have to check that out after our colossal oat supply is used up a bit more.

    B: eggs, yogurt, pumpkin pancakes (freezer)

    L: I packed a lunch for the kids as we were out. They had PB&J (homemade bread), fruit salad, cheese slices and a muffin (freezer). I had leftover black bean soup after they were down for naps and my husband ate cottage cheese, turkey pepperoni and mixed nuts.

    D: Korean BBQ tacos (made with one of many roasts in the freezer) and roast veggies

    I did run to the store last night but not for groceries. My husband is nursing what we think is a sinus infection so I picked up more salt packets for the neti pot, apple cider vinegar and some Chapstick.

  8. DINNER LAST NIGHT: leftover broccoli leek soup and southwestern baked potatoes. We filled baked potatoes with black beans, olives, salsa, and shredded cheese and put them back in the oven to melt the cheese. Then we topped with light sour cream and avocado. I had the salsa in the freezer. When I’m not going to use an open jar of salsa quickly, I freeze the leftover salsa in an ice cube tray and then pop the salsa cubes into a plastic freezer bag. The cheese was leftover from a previous recipe, too, when I had shredded too much. When I baked the potatoes, I included a lone sweet potato that I have left. This will go into tonight’s dinner.

    DINNER TONIGHT: A batch of turkey “kitchen sink” enchiladas that will serve for 2 dinners. I keep a stock of corn tortillas in the freezer and T’ll fill them with leftovers also from the freezer: the last of the turkey I cooked last Saturday, some rice and beans, and that lone sweet potato I baked last night. I have a can of green enchilada sauce in the pantry. Along with that we’ll have a salad to use up the veggies I have on hand: lettuce, cucumber, avocado.

  9. It must be fun to cook for a large family. We have 5 eaters, but the children are 5,3 and 10 months. Leftovers could last for days around here! Nice on the bank account, but annoying when I run out of Tupperware because it’s all used. One of my favorite parts of this challenge is seeing white space in the fridge!

  10. Stephanie M. says:

    The day before yesterday, I had written that I made baked oatmeal for the first time for yesterday’s breakfast. I sent some with my husband who called me between meetings to rave about how much he loved it and he shared some with a couple of his co-workers who loved it too, so thanks to “Jessie” for the idea. Will definitely make again and again.

    Jessica, I read about how many oranges you now have and here is a little something you can do with some of them:

    5 or 6 oranges
    1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar
    1 to 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

    Peel each orange and section; cut each section in half. Toss the oranges with the sugar and vanilla to taste in a serving bowl. Cover and chill for several hours.

    This is so good; it tastes like a creamsicle. And it’s a good way to use some up some of those oranges.

    Also you can make an orange coffee cake. I have a good recipe but I’m sure you can find one you like on the internet.

    B – Hubby had baked oatmeal and clementines; I had a low-fat English muffin with one scrambled egg on it.
    L – Hubby had a ham and cheese sandwich and some cookies; I had a fat free grilled cheese sandwich.
    D – We had a macaroni and ham casserole using up some ham I had cut up in the freezer from a ham we cooked about a month ago. Hubby had some crème brulee; one left for tomorrow night.

  11. Vanessa B says:

    B- Cranberry Carrot Muffins. ..again. The kids are growing tired of these
    L- pizzadillas, thanks for the inspiration
    D-Roasted chicken, leftover vegetables, cranberry sauce, last ofthe dill bread and salad
    Dessert- I made another French Apple pie trying to use up the green apples that are past their prime but still good for baking

    Baking a chicken and an apple pie on the same day was a lot of work but we’ll have lots of easier leftover meals for the rest of the week.

  12. I love hot cereal for breakfast in the winter!
    Breakfast-oatmeal for me, hub scrambled eggs into leftover taco meat and topped with sour cream (very creative of him!)
    Lunch-spinach salad-the spinach from New Year’s Eve is still good.
    Dinner-chicken,greeen beans, and 58 minute bread from my new Oster Express bread machine
    Snacks-apple, almonds]
    Grocery budget for January-still $0 I did spend $1.56 for three boxes candy canes for next year (to put in the cupboard at work). The pull date was 3/15. Those things last a LONG time.

  13. Breakfast: cream of wheat with milk / coffee
    Lunch: cheese with croissant / ice water
    Snack: 2 small chocolate chip cookies made with remainder of choc chip tube dough
    Dinner: mac & cheese and sliced beets – made with frozen pasta pulled from freezer and a can of sliced beets from grocery delivery .

    Got my monthly grocery delivery today – heavy on the paper and personal products, light on the grocery items. They did send my accident, organic beets complete with beet greens, 1 lb bag of organic carrots and a BIG eggplant – oh yes, I ordered 1 green pepper and they sent 4 so when I called I was told to keep everything not ordered, it was their fault and they credited my order for next month for the extra three peppers – the others were put in my order by accident and I wasn’t charged for them anyway. I cut off the beet greens to give to my daughter for their chickens (they supply me with eggs) and will make fried eggplant slices for eggplant/pepper rolls and then have more than enough left for a big eggplant parm casserole (eat one portion/freeze three portions). Also will add a piece to spag sauce I have frozen. Also bought 1/2 lb green beans and 1 lb of fresh organic spinach (which came in two bundles – that’s a lot of spinach). I actually had room in my freezer door to put a fresh loaf of bread – small steps make big changes. My biggest challenge is that my 4-yr old granddaughter is coming for lunch and sleepover until tomorrow afternoon – so I have to plan special lunch/dinner/breakfast/lunch in my menu. Good luck to all in the challenge – I LOVE a good challenge.

  14. Day 8:
    Breakfast was eggs over easy and toast.
    Lunch was miso soup with vegetables.
    Dinner was lentil tacos with tomato, guacamole, cheddar cheese, sour cream and lettuce, rice and corn from the freezer. The kids love lentil tacos, so there’s not much leftover.

    I made bread last night because we were running low, and all of the banana muffins are gone so I’ll have to make something else.

  15. Have your or your kids ever eaten raw turnips & rutabagas? We love them sliced with a dash of salt on them and YUM!! You can dip them in Ranch dressing too for happy kids.. Just wanted to share they dont have to be a lot of work!

    We had egg & cheese omeletes for breakfast
    Teriyaki pork loin, broccoli & salad for supper
    turkey stick stnacks

  16. We are kind of having a pantry challenge thanks to the snow that just won’t quit! After 5 days they finally had our roads cleared enough that I could have went to the store last night but I was tired and passed thinking I would go this morning…HAHAHA That was funny…we woke up to 2 more inches, nasty roads and it’s still falling. I’m SO over winter. I managed to come up with the goodies to make your triple chocolate donuts for the kids this morning….they have been in the house for 6 days now (our windchills have been -30 and we have over a foot of snow on the ground) they deserve a treat for not killing each other at this point. LOL

  17. Try cooking the turnips or rutabaga with potatoes an mashing them all together. Even my husband will eat them this way.

    • I found out during my elimination diet last year that turnips give me an upset stomach, but I’ll live with it for a day or two. We have done the mashed roots thing and no one complains as long as the potato ratio is pretty high.

  18. Breakfast – Nutella toast
    Lunch – Chicken, black beans, veggies and cheese quesadillas
    Dinner – Ham, broccoli and noodle casserole

    Still lots of food to use up but can actually move things and see (some) of the food we still have left to enjoy.
    This challenge may last even longer than I thought it would but that’s okay too.

  19. We have been doing good eating out of the pantry. Craving the local restaurant’s fried chicken though LOL. I did go to the store today and bought $33.46 of food and $82.70 of non-food. I forgot buttermilk so will be making my own for a few more weeks.

  20. Lunch was leftovers. Breakfast and dinner were from the pantry/freezer, but didn’t include much in the way of old straggler items. So, I pulled something older from the freezer for dessert and will focus on using up more than a few older items for the next two days. Also, I cleaned out the fridge and now have a written inventory for it. I need to work on the odd bits of cheese, pepperoni, and some Christmas leftovers, etc. I hope to use most of those for snacking and work the rest into next week’s meal plan.

  21. Christina says:

    B – Cereal.
    L – leftover veggie beef soup, cheese toast, fruit
    D – Thanksgiving dinner. Since my oldest 2 were in Philly & New York with the high school band for Thanksgiving and I was still in a wheelchair, we decided to have our Thanksgiving meal after I got to start walking again and everyone was home. Almost everything we made used pantry & freezer ingredients. My daughter did have to go to the store to get ingredients for her fruit salad. It is her annual addition to our meal. And what is not to love about fresh fruit salad. The only other thing I really needed to buy was more butter and some crackers to top the casserole. We had turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, brownie trifle, & fruit salad.
    I’m looking forward to playing with the leftovers.

  22. B-Baked oatmeal/banana (me), Oatmeal pancakes (freezer)/choc milk (kids)

    L- Chick-fil-a with gift card

    D: leftover BBQ meatballs, mac and cheese, carrot slices

    Snacks: Raisins, Oranges, Apples, Yogurt, Trail mix

  23. Tonight I took everything out of the refrigerator freezer and organized it. (I used the two icky bananas on the counter to make banana muffins for the freezer. That led to putting all the breakfast foods on one shelf, all the fruit for smoothies on another, etc.)
    When Hubs came home from work today, he commented on how nice the fridge looked. 🙂 I had organized it after lunch and washed out the plastic door containers that hold the condiments. All the jelly is now together, as is the salad dressing, coffee creamers, etc. It sure feels good to be getting it all in order.
    Next, the extra freezer. We have a deer coming and I must organize it before I add that large amount of meat.

  24. Heather M says:

    Late to Day 8. Busy day yesterday and when I could have been on the computer, the children(they’re 12 & 17) were doing HW on both. So.

    Breakfast: cereal, bacon, hardboiled egg, blackberries
    Lunch: Kids had lunchbox fare. Hubs took leftover asian turkey w/rice and salad. I was treated to lunch for my bday(was Monday) by a good friend. Had Cafe Rio the healthy way: salad with only lettuce, shredded chicken, pico de gallo, black beans, dressing on the side and hardly used any since the black beans and chicken were so flavorful.
    Dinner: True empty the freezer type of dinner. For some crazy reason we had a box of beef empanadas we’d never tried(I think 17yo was with me that day at an international market). They had to go. So did the french fries (a healthier than others brand, but still). So did the last of the breaded chicken tenders in a bag (my son’s favorite)– big bag from costco w/only 3 pieces left). Popped them all in the oven and steamed some fresh broccoli to help the meal out. Also, I did not eat anything but the broccoli. I opted for leftover healthy homemade chile con carne.


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