Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Five

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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.

Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Five

Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls

The challenge is a third over which is kind of amazing. I think my people are eating well, but I do see a couple folk getting a little jumpy that I won’t go out and buy something. I know they’d be more understanding if we were doing this out of absolute necessity. So, it’s interesting that they can’t have peace about good food.

Turns out they are hungry. I’m not sure why that is since it seems like I’m cooking lots of food. But, breakfast, lunch, and dinner were devoured. Devoured. No leftovers. Not even lasagna. I made popcorn and busted open a box of Trader Joe’s cookies.

So, I need to up my game a bit.

I did all my meal prep either last night or this morning. That is proving to be a successful technique. I find that having a plan and getting things prepped in advance is really conducive to nice meal times and a clean kitchen. Note to self: be this organized all the time.

Yesterday, I forgot to tell you how I harvested a ton of basil from the AeroGarden. A TON. I blended it up in the bullet with some olive oil and garlic. I used that as the sauce on my pizza. Today I mixed what was left into some Roasted Vegetable Puree from the freezer. I used that and a little bit of ground turkey from the freezer and some cottage cheese and mozzarella to make the lasagna. There was none left, so I guess they were happy. Or starved.

Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Five

Tuna Sandwiches

In the name of make-ahead, I made sure that I pulled ingredients for tomorrow’s meals: meatballs and taco meat. FishBoy16 and I sorted the last of the pinto beans from the pantry. Those are soaking now, about three pounds worth. I’ll cook them in the slow cooker tomorrow and we’ll have burritos or tacos tomorrow night.

We’re running out of butter and oils, so I’m going to need to invest in either or both to keep us going. We’re almost out of eggs, down to three, but for baking purposes, I’ll use flax as a substitute for eggs.

I’m a tad disappointed in the upcoming produce box. Four items (daikon, turnip, rutabaga, and collards) are things that upset my stomach. I am happy to share those with the neighbor, but that certainly cuts down on my options and my spending. Glad I put next week’s delivery on vacation. Except that next week’s will probably be good! Ha! After paying for the produce box, I’ll have $70 left until the 15th, so I’m going to be spending carefully.

Breakfast: Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls

Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches, Tuna Melt, Grilled Cheese, Carrots, Apple Slices

Dinner: Lasagna, Roasted Broccoli, Cookies and Popcorn for dessert

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. We’ve eaten out more than I would like. But they are not spur-of-the-moment outings, so that is some progress from previous challenges. They are more planned, thoughtful expenditures… so that gives me a little comfort.
    For example, hubs wanted to go out to eat for lunch after church. He told me this in advance. He knew which place he wanted to go. He knew what he wanted to order, as did ds, ensuring they both would like it. Much better than “I feel like McDonald’s,” (which does occasionally happen around here).

    Breakfast: smoothies, bread, eggs, milk, homemade larabars.
    Lunch: out – hubs had a steak salad w/bleu cheese, ds had a club croissant, and I had the special: half a sandwich w/ tomato basil soup (DELISH and perfect for the weather we’re having!!)
    Dinner: leftover smorgasboard

    Our progress here:

  2. Breakfast: eggs scrambled with L/O SW rice & sausage crumbles, banana, peppermint coffee floats
    Lunch: Costco samples
    Dinner: L/O Jamaican Jerk pork with green peppers and onions, yellow rice, sweet potato
    Dessert: finished off NYE snacks

    Breakfast was pretty substantial and a bit late, so we weren’t really hungry for lunch. I went to Costco for eggs and cat litter so snagged a few pieces of cheese from some demonstrations they were doing and just called that lunch. I had fun today doing some research to find ways to use up these frozen strawberries in my freezer that I no longer want to use for smoothies. Now I have a list of recipes and not enough berries!

    • Do share. I too have a bag of strawberries, intended for smoothies, that haven’t been used. August was a looong time ago so I feel I need to use these up. And not just bake them in cake or muffins.

    • Yes, please share your strawberry ideas. I have 7 bags to use!

      • Use them in frozen fruit cups. Purchase a frozen container of 100% frozen fruit juice, make it up, and add your strawberries and other fruits. I especially like bananas because they don’t freeze solid! Let them sit out on the counter about 30 minutes before eating.

      • Jessica B says:

        I throw a cup of Frozen strawberries in with 6 oz of plain greek yogurt and a splash of a sweetener. Let sit in fridge until strawberries melt and mix up. Very good and VERY filling and not high in calories if you keep the sweetener reasonable. I eat this as a mid day snack, sometimes it makes me think of strawberry ice cream.

        • Jessica B says:

          That should be strawberries defrost, they won’t melt. Don’t wait that long :o)

        • Thanks for the great ideas Jessie. I have Greek yogurt so will give that a go first. I’m thinking this would be good with many frozen fruits. I have quite the stash in my freezer from buying cases of fruit from my co-op when in season.

  3. We were pleasantly surprised with leftovers from a catering job at my wife’s workplace. Now we have lots of food in the fridge! It just doesn’t mesh with the menu plan. Oops. I’ve rearranged and replaced some meals, and we’re definitely eating well — I just hope none of it will go to waste before we manage to use it all.

    Today I made split pea soup with ham for the freezer, and between lunch and dinner we ate rice and bean burritos, sauteed bok choy, baby carrots, hummus, dolmas, pesto pasta, and leftover desserts.

  4. Day five was a good one. I’m trying to get through as much food as possible but I feel like I’m adding more to the freezer than ever! I know it will all work out though. Today was my first day of moving around. The doctor said I need to stay active without over stressing my back so I did a little cooking and we went to the movies.

    Breakfast: Leftover bacon and eggos for the hubs. Two cups of community coffee for me. The meds make me so sleepy (and nauseous) that’s been breakfast lately.
    Lunch: for Christmas we were gifted a refill bucket and cup to cinemark theaters. It’s $3 for each. So we ate movie snacks.
    Dinner: leftover potpie for the hubs. Smothered porkchops (freezer), leftover blackeyed peas, and greens for me

    I also have a frozen homemade white bread loaf baking in the crockpot. I read that it could be done so I figured it would be a nifty experiment for the summertime. I had several rolls/loaves frozen so I don’t consider it a great loss if it doesn’t work.

  5. Vanessa B says:

    Day 5
    I had a meal plan but plans mean nothing on Sunday. My husband brought home sprinkle doughnuts for breakfast so I didn’t make any muffins. My dad brought over ribs and fries so the pork chops didn’t get cooked. My brother showed up and seeing as his birthday is this week I threw together a boxed holiday cake mix and let the 2yr old help decorate it with mini marshmallows, it was a strange texture. We threw out snacks for everyone. I did get 2 loaves of dill bread made in the afternoon. We ate one and have one remaining.

    B- doughnuts
    L- children had lil smokies, mac n cheese, cottage cheese and pineapple, husband had a sandwich, I had the L/O chicken bits on top of a salad
    D- ribs, fries, coleslaw
    snacks- dill bread, cheese ball with a strange mix of crackers
    dessert- birthday cake

  6. B: eggs all around, and the kids had baked oatmeal from the freezer.

    L: kids had PB&J made with leftover pumpkin pancakes, their Christmas Goldfish, raisins and apples.

    My husband and I went to the Bengals game (where your team beat us 🙁 it was embarrassing). We didn’t have lunch before we left and refused to pay outlandish prices at the stadium. So afterward, I ran for Chipotle which we ate while watching The Incredibles with the kids. We eat Chipotle at least once and often twice on the weekends. We both love it, it’s healthy (what we order is, at least) and it gives me a nice break from the kitchen. Aside from a date night every couple months, it’s really the only “dining out” we do so we feel comfortable allotting for it in our budget.

    I honestly don’t remember what the kids had for dinner! Some assortment of muffins (from the freezer), trail mix, turkey, cheese and bananas. We had just got home from the game and everyone was exhausted so I threw something quick and easy together for them.

    I also had my daily green smoothie after the kids went to bed.

    Today I plan to clean out the refrigerator and make banana bread with a bunch of spotted bananas. I think I’ll also need to blanch and freeze quite a bit of fresh spinach. It expires tomorrow and I don’t think we will eat it up before then. Maybe I’ll use some crushed tomatoes and add it to a batch of spaghetti sauce.

  7. Day 5
    Breakfast: breakfast bars and milk
    Lunch: hotdogs, chips and asst. fresh berries
    Dinner: Pork chops, AuGratin potatoes and apple slices

    Did some baking to restock the breakfast items including banana bread and chocolate chip bread. Today I am making granola and another loaf or two of bread. Based on my pantry supplies I am thinking gingerbread and pumpkin bread. Around our house breakfast is usually a slice or two of bread, a glass of milk and a piece of fruit. Quick, easy and filling and the kids do not need any help with this menu.

    • AuGratin potatoes would be perfect for a meal this week! We add ham to ours so it can stretch a budget:) Thanks for the idea.

  8. Day 5: Breakfast was oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins. Lunch was miso soup with assorted vegetables that needed to be used (mushrooms, carrots, onions and garlic) and some radishes my husband sautéed with balsamic vinegar, butter and garlic. For dinner we had baked ziti with salad and bread.

  9. Heather M says:

    First sunday of 2014 means the annual switch in church meeting schedule. 2 congregations in our building, meeting either 9-12 or 1-4. We moved to the 9-12 (switch each year to be fair). That combined with staying up late habits lingering from winter break means we rushed to church and zero breakfast. Got home around 12:30 and threw together lunch and put dinner in the crockpot and oven. Then proceeded to spend the rest of the day and night (literally all but 3 hours) stressing with daughter after discovering a MAJOR college app issue she thought had been fixed but wasn’t and the system wouldn’t allow her to submit her last college application on time. It wasn’t resolved until about 45 minutes ago. Grace period allowed. Technical issue. But there was no way to know that until they opened, which was 11am our time. I don’t know when I’ve been so angry/frustrated in a very long time. Sadly, I made a super yummy dinner, but my stomach was in knots and could only eat a very small portion.

    Breakfast: nothing
    Lunch: tuna sandwiches, chips & salsa for the kids, and I had raw cauliflower with a light dip (pantry & fresh)
    Dinner: Healthy chile con carne, cornbread (freezer, pantry)

    Also made a batch of banana oat muffins. yum!

  10. B Leftover pancakes
    L homemade Mac n cheese with hot dogs and peas
    S homemade pizza and oranges

  11. Another cold day we spent inside. But being cold outside means I have more time to cook!

    Breakfast: Overnight Steel cut oatmeal with apples for me, eggs for hubs, cereal for kids
    Lunch: Turkey Sandwiches on Leftover Rosemary Bread
    Dinner: Baked Cube Steak with Mushroom Gravy, Roasted Potatoes, Greenbeans
    Snacks: Banana with peanut butter, Marshmallow treats made with Lucky Charms and a partial bag of opened marshmallows (kids loved them!)

  12. I just started doing this after Christmas. I was googling inexpensive recipes and came upon your site. I’m so glad there are other people who have to do this too. When I told a friend of mine I was doing it she got upset and offered to buy me groceries, thinking we were broke. I said no, you misunderstand I’m a food hoarder, we need to eat some of this stuff. When I was cleaning out my pantry I found 7 bags of flour and 3 of sugar. It’s insane. My deep freeze is half full and we have an order in for half a cow soon. The only thing we’re out of is hamburger. We have pork, chicken, roasts, steaks and hams. I’ve also got more pasta than should be allowed by law, rice, 2 bags of potatoes, beans, tortillas a pantry and my small freezer full of frozen/canned fruits and vegetables. I think we’ll be ok, lol and I may even extend it out another couple of weeks If we don’t pare down enough. I’ve given myself $80 for fresh food. We don’t buy milk because we live on a dairy farm and we don’t buy eggs because my parents own chickens. so far I have spent $10 because our store had some good cheese sales and we were out of cheese because all of the dishes I made at Christmastime for various parties seemed to call for it.

    • Isn’t it funny how different folks can shop? I have friends who only buy what they use that week. I can’t fathom that; I’m always stocking up on sale items or things that I want to experiment with for variety. Glad Google introduced us! I’d love to have my own milk and eggs. Fun!

  13. Day 5 … Sunday right? Breakfast was by hubby and boy: eggs bacon sausage (I think thats the last of sausage) and hash browns … also served up some apples. It was late so we called it brunch. Dinner was an awesome buffalo chicken salad with homemade blue cheese dressing … it just goes to show me that I do have a pretty well stocked kitchen!

  14. Day 5…. Breakfast we finished off Banana nut bread
    Lunch was egg, bacon and cheese muffin sandwiches
    Dinner was baked penne with pumpkin sauce and salad

    • Pumpkin sauce? I’ve never heard of such thing. Please elaborate?

      • Sandi, It is quite good. Cook 2 slices of chopped bacon about 3-4 mins, then add a shallot minced cook about a minute. Add 15 oz pumpkin, 1 can chicken broth, 1/2 tsp rosemary, 3 TBSP Pecorino Ramono cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked pasta. Into baking dish and top with Ramono and/or mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake 25 to 30 mins. And Yummy! Have also used William Sonoma Sauce but usually just make it as directed.

  15. Jessica B says:

    Do your kids eat a mid day snack? Or can they make it from lunch to dinner ok? Mine always need something around 3 (and so do I) but I sometimes wonder if I should make a bigger lunch or if this is a bad habit.

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