Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Fifteen

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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.

Sorry, no picture today. And I’m going to be quick for now, but will do a much larger wrap-up in the morning. It’s been a busy day! Just finished watching Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, so it’s time for this girl to power down.

We made it through a 15-day Pantry Challenge. No one was harmed or maimed in the process of our pantry challenge. We ate well.

And I ran to the store tonight. 😉 Here’s today’s menu:

Breakfast: Pumpkin Bread, Granola, Frozen Berries

Lunch: Pork Tenderloin, Mashed Potatoes, Frozen Vegetables

Snacks: Homemade Granola Bars

Dinner: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Spaghetti Squash, 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. Congratulations on making it for the 15 days. I did have to pick up milk and eggs yesterday for a total of $6.38 which takes my total for the 15 days $102.82 and will be continuing until I can see the bottom of the deep freeze so I can defrost it. Might take a few months but I will not stop this time until it is done. Thank you for doing this Challenge and showing me how lucky we are to have so much food but to use up what we have before we buy more.
    Breakfast – Sausage and pancakes
    Lunch – Continuing to finish off the lunch meat and cheese for sandwiches and canned peaches
    Dinner – Brats, hot dogs, fries and applesauce (had all six grandbabies here for dinner and still enough left for lunch today

    • Isn’t it funny? I’ve done this so many times, but this time seems to really hit home the message of our abundance. Wow! Even though it all looked so bare at the end, we could still have survived for much longer. I think I would have a grumpy family if I pushed it that far when it wasn’t a true necessity, but I am definitely humbled.

      • I have done this challenge with you not sure if its 3 or 4 times and have always been grateful but this time more so I think because we had bought a quarter of a cow the end of November so really wanted to use up the old stuff and I still have a ways to go with that but definitely have used up a lot. Will continue on the eat down journey and hopefully keep the grocery budget down and get to the point that I can put everything in the two fridge freezers and be able to defrost the deep freezer. I may be doing this until May but again I want you to know that I appreciate how your Pantry Challenge shows me how bad I am with over stocking. Thanks again and will be back in July! Hopefully with a much smaller stock.

      • Stephanie says:

        I did the challenge sort of this time. My husbands car was in the shop they need to order a part we could still drive our car but chose to leave it there and I would just stay home with the kids…read go no where, spend no cash. Amazing how many meals I can make and when I finally did go to the store it was to round out meals for things we still had at home. I am definately thanking God for how well He provides for us and for the resourcefulness that he has blessed us with.

  2. Day 15:

    Breakfast: eggs and toast

    Lunch: barbeque tempeh sandwiches, quinoa salad with avocado, green beans

    Dinner: My oldest son helped me make Veggie Alfredo Lasagna which turned out really good. I used two quarts of vegetable broth from the freezer to make it plus some vegetables from the fridge/freezer. The “alfredo” sauce was made out of cauliflower.

    During the day I cooked some black beans to put in the freezer to make meals easier, since I don’t like to buy canned beans. I’m low on eggs, coffee, fresh vegetables, and out of mayo, so I’ll have to go to the store soon.

    • I would love to know more about that lasagna!

      • Jessica, I used this recipe:, but I used vegetables I had on hand, like one eggplant, which I sliced and put salt on for about half an hour before I needed it, then washed the salt off and chopped. I also used a medium sized onion, about a cup (or so, didn’t measure) of spinach and a large carrot. My son and I thought more carrots and mushrooms would be good. He also thought that the sauce needed something extra, so I suggested next time we put parmesan in the sauce. We sautéed the vegetables until they were just tender (he sliced the carrots kind of thick so it took a bit) and he added about half a teaspoon of Italian seasoning while they cooked. I didn’t have ten lasagna noodles, only six, so we did two layers instead of four. I thought it tasted great, and the leftovers we had are now gone! I’ll definitely be making this again.

  3. Congratulations on reaching the end of your challenge and thank you for the daily updates!

    Breakfast: Buttered roll and bananas. Milk for daughter, coffee for me 🙂
    Lunch: rye bread with lunch meat, carrot sticks, grapes, radishes
    Dinner: Leftover curry dish with rice from monday. I cooked a bit more rice and it was enough.

  4. Stephanie M. says:

    It’s been so much fun doing this challenge because this is the first time I’ve made a true effort to “eat down” the freezer and many things from the pantry. My freezer contains enough meat in it for a few more weeks and we will continue with it till it’s all gone. My pantry is a very large one in the garage and I’m seeing many of the baskets starting to empty out as well. The challenge has not been hard since so far because of my very large inventory, I have not had to get too creative using up all kinds of strange things together but that day is coming sooner than later and I am looking forward to a cleaned out freezer and pantry. See you at the next challenge in July.

    B – Hubby had oatmeal; I had 3 low fat pancakes and 1/4 cup SF syrup

    L – Hubby had a breaded pork cutlet sandwich and Christmas cookies; I skipped lunch today.

    D – Hubby had some Chunky vegetable soup over rice; I had the leftover pasta and beans.

  5. Breakfast: cereal
    Lunch: 1/4 baked potato, applesauce
    Snack: brie cheese
    Dinner: L/O Indian butter chicken, L/O jasmine rice, salad

  6. Day 15
    Breakfast: Banana, chocolate chip muffins (your recipe which my kids gobble up with gusto); apple slices and milk
    Lunch: Soup and sandwiches
    Dinner: Cube steak with hash browns, green beans and asst. fresh berries

    We are going to press on through the weekend to use up some odds and ends in the pantry — mostly gift basket items I would not normally purchase.

    With my shoulder surgery scheduled for mid-February I want to turn my attention to restocking the freezer with easy, make ahead meals (thanks to everyone for their kind words of encouragement). My challenge will be that my shoulder pain is such that a 1/2 day or full day of freezer cooking is not on the table. I will have to do a bit each day to restock. I also have to make sure that they are truly easy to cook. My husband really dislikes to cook and my girls are not quite old enough to use the stove top — they are still too short to reach the knobs. I am going to use some of our pantry challenge savings to purchase some beef and pork for the grill. While my husband does not like to cook, he will happily grill.

    • Stephanie M. says:

      Hi Janet:

      I just wanted to say good luck with your surgery. My neighbor had shoulder surgery last year for a rotary cuff and I took it upon myself to make a few dinners for her and her family. I am sure you will get some help from neighbors or friends and family especially since your husband does not like to cook. Even if he doesn’t, he will support you and no one will starve. Good luck with everything and I hope you have a speedy recovery.

    • Did you see the one-hour plan I posted last week? That should be a good one to help you get going. It would take care of 14 meals. 🙂

    • Heather M says:

      Best wishes on your surgery. A freezer full of food ready to pop in the oven is a great idea to get your family through your recovery. Hope everything goes well: the surgery and the homefront!

  7. Stephanie M. says:

    Hi Jessica:

    I already sent in my post earlier today but I really wanted to take some time to thank you for the wonderful motivator that you are. Emptying my freezer and pantry was something I really never took the time to do and with all of these wonderful posts I’ve been reading each day, it has really taught me that it is not necessary to keep on adding food to an already full freezer and pantry. All of us work hard for our money and it seems fruitless to keep adding to full freezers and pantries without ever using up what we have. Thank God I did not have too much that was expired. However, I did find some ground chicken in the freezer this morning that was dated to sell before January 2012. Obviously, I got rid of that in this morning’s trash pickup. Thankfully, there was nothing else like that in my freezer and I’ve learned some valuable lessons from this challenge. I will keep following your posts and look forward to July when you have another challenge.

    Thank you again and God bless you and your family! 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind words, Stephanie. Thank you for participating!

      I did think of one thing you might be able to do with your time as well as your pantry stock. Is there a Ronald McDonald House near you? They provide free shelter and food for families whose children are hospitalized. They are typically near Children’s Hospitals. Anyway, I’ve had many friends who’ve benefited from their services. They would be a great place to share baked goods or ready to go snacks. That might help you take your interests in food as well as the extra you might have and really bless other people. 🙂

  8. Yay! You made it! I’m continuing my pantry challenge for a bit longer, focusing on eating meals out of my pantry & freezer, because with only 2 of us, it takes a bit longer to finish things off. BUT, I’m going grocery shopping and stocking up on some good deals again. Thanks for the encouragement and motivation to do this challenge!

  9. Heather M says:

    Good for everyone who succeeded in eating down their stores! We still have a ways to go, since we’re keeping ourselves in fresh food and when a “regular” item is gone, I do replace it. But, slowly we’re seeing space open up in the cupboards and freezer (and fridge, though it’s likely to be filled up with new fresh produce tomorrow!).

    Breakfast: waffles, turkey sausage, egg, apple slices
    Lunch: lunchbox fare; I had one open face sandwich (one slice of bread) toasted w/one Laughing Cow light cheese wedge, deli turkey slice, and some avocado slathered on top– this is so delicious everyone!; pile of sliced cucumber; pineapple and raspberries eaten together (also super yummy combo!)
    Dinner: Running low on lettuce, but needed an easy and fast dinner, so I threw some frozen breaded chicken tenders in the oven (son’s favorite!) and served them to hubby & daughter as chicken caesar salad, while son ate them straight. He also had some carrots and pineapple. I took advantage of the oven being used and heated up the last portion of the Greek Greens and Sweet Onion Pie from over the weekend and really enjoyed it again. I will be making it again one day! I also ate a hardboiled egg for additional protein.

    Ready to continue forward! wishing everyone well who does. And hoping we can continue to connect here to keep ourselves going. The posts really are a lot of fun to read through. 🙂

    Thanks, Jessica, as always, for having such a wonderful blog!

  10. We ate our standard breakfast and lunch fare… then crashed and went out for Mexican after a very trying day at work. :/
    We will, however, continue the challenge…

  11. Congrats on your fifteen days!!! I’m commenting on the 16th and I’m kind of all over the place as far as my memory goes. I know I had applesauce and bacon for breakfast. I think I had curry at work for lunch. I’m pretty sure we did salmon rice and broccoli for dinner, but who knows. I could be talking about Tuesday or today…

    I’m officially back in the gym after injury!!!! I’m so excited!

  12. Breakfast was pantry items. Lunch was leftovers. Almost all of the leftovers are gone. I am going to be more careful for the rest of my challenge and not make too many leftovers, so that I can get through all of the soup, etc in the freezer for lunches. I am taking the weekend off, but then will be back at the challenge for another month+. We have a work dinner Friday night and all of the kids will be with grandparents most of the weekend, so hubby and I will be catching a movie and a meal or two out. Maybe we’ll finish off the leftovers for our other meals.

  13. H Jessica! For the past few days I’ve been meaning to thank you (like many others!) for the idea of a pantry challenge. Although I’ve been reading your blog for over a year now and read about your two previous pantry challenges, I didn’t jump on the bandwagon until this year, just to “see how it goes.” I thought we had to be done last weekend, but managed to get through this week by trying new recipes using all of the odds and ends in the freezer/pantry. We ended up loving all of the new dinners enough to put them into our “arsenal.” That’s a big deal as new recipes can be hit-or-miss, but it’s an even bigger deal that we found them because of the challenge. And now that my freezer(s), fridge, and pantry have been defrosted, purged, and cleaned, I’m actually excited to restock. (I really enjoyed the break from grocery shopping.) So, thank you! 🙂

  14. A good day…
    Breakfast- egg on toritilla with salsa and montery jack (four eggs left)
    Lunch-roast beef sandwich with leftover pot roast, apple
    Dinner with friends-The best! One group brought piizza, one brought ice cream and toppings, we provided wine (which comes out of our entertainment budget)


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