Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Fourteen

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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 fridge

Can you believe it’s been two weeks already? I’m making this challenge last a full 15 days since the month is a long one. Makes it easier to budget. So, we’ve got one more day.

While we could definitely make it longer on cutting our costs and buying less. My family is ready to move on. And that’s okay. In the old days I could pull off a longer challenge because my kids ate less and I stockpiled more. Different season, I guess.

The fridge has got some white space going. I like that. That big brown bottle at the top is chocolate syrup that my boys made. I told them they could have “junk” if they made it themselves with more wholesome ingredients. They took me at my word. Last night after I posted my update, FishBoy13 made an Orange Julius. (Recipe in my new book. It’s naturally sweetened and SUPERYUM.)

I have a feeling they might be more motivated to cook now that I’m putting in some new parameters on the kitchen….

I was gone for half the day, speaking on meal planning and freezer cooking at a local church. That is always loads of fun — even if I was having a bad hair day and forgot to put in earrings.

The kids ate granola with fruit and milk while I was gone. I made a Not Too Sweet Granola this morning before I left. I’ve been meaning to post the recipe for weeks now. Soon.

For lunch they made eggs, hashbrowns, and bacon. All on their own. From what I hear, FishChick7 peeled potatoes and FishBoy16 did the cooking. Yay for independent kids!

This afternoon I stepped on the scale and just about had a heart attack. Something is not quite right. I weighed more than I ever have. Like more than when I came home from the hospital with a baby in my arms. So, you can guess what I did? Ate a box of chocolate!

No, I made sure I got to the gym this afternoon.

For dinner, I made Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Beans, Rice, and a BIG salad. I ate salad and some pork. Very good. And pretty much what I should eat all the time. You can guess how I’ll be restocking our pantry.

Tomorrow’s the last day! Have you accomplished your goals?

Breakfast: Granola, Fruit, Milk

Lunch: Eggs, Bacon, Hashbrowns

Dinner: Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Beans, Rice, 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. Day 14

    No, I haven’t accomplished my goals yet. I have at least a couple of weeks left to go till then I think. I still have lots of vegetable broth and zucchini in my downstairs freezer, and lots of quinoa and beans in my cabinet. I’m working on those things.

    Breakfast: Eggs and toast

    Lunch: barbeque tempeh sandwich with cheese, corn and green beans, husband had bbq tempeh and mac and cheese

    Dinner: Leftovers, finished up quite a few things in the fridge

    I made spent grain bread today because we needed more bread and I have spent grain in the freezer from making beer. One more thing out of there!

  2. Yeah, I’m with Stacy, gonna keep going at least until the end of the month. I also have a lot of quinoa and beans in the pantry. 🙂 Then again, I also have a bunch of meat in the freezer which she does not.

    One thing I love about pantry challenges is not only using up the stuff I already have, but challenges usually seem to occur during times of life that are a little slower than my typical hectic life, so I have more time to think about out-of-the-norm recipes and have time to try them rather than just read/save them. Like that Indian butter chicken I made the other day that got saved probably two years ago and I just never made it. Today, I went searching for something to do with celery other than soup or chop-and-freeze. Braised celery was a popular response. Who knew? So I tried it. I don’t think it will be a favorite side dish, but it was different and used up celery that was starting to soften. Plus it was a green veggie that was not the usual broccoli, green beans, spinach, or salad. And it wasn’t too celery-y. Next time, I think I’ll try it in the crock pot.

    Breakfast: cranberry pumpkin bread with cream cheese
    Lunch: fruit & nut trail mix bar (wasn’t hungry at lunch)
    Snack: brie cheese, pretzel crisps (was ravenous around 3)
    Dinner: L/O steak, sliced sauteed sweet potato, braised celery & tomatoes

  3. Plain dishes like rice and beans have started to seem more interesting during the pantry challenge. (I’m continuing until the end of the month so we can fit all our frozen food into the freezer we’re taking with us when we move.) I’m definitely going to have to fit in “salsa rice” as a side sometime soon. We’re running low on bulk rice, but I know I’ll be buying another 20lbs in February, and using up the leftover salsa gets us closer to the goal. And the refrigerator needs a good cleaning now that the shelves are mostly empty!

  4. I have definitely not accomplished my goals yet. We are slowly cleaning out the freezer, and there is a ton of white space. YET, both of my freezers are still jammed packed. Don’t worry though I still have a minimum of 17 days left.

    Breakfast- Two pieces of bacon an two mini cookies. Not the best breakfast, but at least I ate some food!
    Lunch- Stirfried mixed veggies
    Dinner- Salmon with baked sweet potatoes and broccoli and cheese.

    Tomorrow is meatloaf YAY… I will mash up my baked sweet potatoes and serve it with that. I still have a little soup left, and I will probably bring it for lunch

    Also about the scale. Take it outside and break it in half. Seriously. The scale means next to nothing. When I was at my “biggest” I was a size 8 that weighed 125lbs. Now I am a size 2/4 that ways 135. Being my height and 135 on a chart would mean I am “overweight”, but any doctor would say that I am in better shape that 75-85% of people. I am extraordinarily strong for my size. Muscle weighs more than fat, but looks smaller. As long as you are happy with you, and you feel good mentally and physically that number is for the birds!!!!!

    • We are slowly cleaning out the REFRIGERATOR and the FREEZERS are packed full……. Always proof read

    • About the scale…. It’s a 4-pound weight gain in one week, so that is a bit alarming. I just wouldn’t want it to keep up at that rate. My clothes are tight, so that is telling. I was telling myself the clothes had shrunk, but I think I was wrong.

  5. We are far from our goal, but we are continuing on with the challenge for the rest of the month. I still have 2 small, but very full, freezers! I would love to do more freezer cooking, so my goal is to more or less empty at least one of the freezers so I can defrost it and make room for freezer meals.

    Breakfast: oats with milk
    Lunch: Rye bread with toppings for daughter. Raw veggies on the side (I cut up veggies for snacks every day, but I forget to write it down 🙂 )
    For my lunch, I cut up the last of the potato patties and fried it with some onion in a pan. I burned it a bit, but ate it anyway 😉 Fried egg and a piece of rye bread on the side.
    Dinner: Tomato soup with lots og vegetables and some chicken. Homemade bread. Daughter and I ate with my mothers group ( we eat together once a month), so no cooking for me!
    My husband attended a course and was home late. He ate his packed lunch for dinner, as he was served lunch at the course.
    After dinner snack: I was really hungry about 20.30, so I toasted a piece of bread and had some leftover Christmas candy.

  6. We are doing just fine in the challenge – last week didn’t really count, so I’m planning to go the full month. I will have to get some milk.
    B- smoothie, cheese omelet & toast, protein shake for ds
    L- lunch boxes: sandwiches & crunchy things for hubs & me; homemade mac’n’cheese in thermos for ds
    D- Italian ‘sloppy joes’: leftover meat sauces on toasted French bread w melted cheese on top. Easy and the guys loved it!

  7. Stephane M. says:

    I also am continuing with the challenge until everything is gone. I think I did a good job using up what we had and not buying anything we didn’t need. My freezer looks much, much better now than when we first started. I’m thinking it will be a few more weeks before it’s empty completely and I am vowing not to let it get like that ever again.

    B – hubby took a taylor ham and cheese on an English muffin; I had low fat pancakes and S.F. syrup.

    L – hubby took some leftovers. I had a fried egg.

    D – hubby had the last of the leftovers and I had pasta and beans.

  8. I, too, will be continuing with the challenge. We are finally starting to see some open space in the pantry and freezers but still have a long way to go so hoping to go into February with what we currently have. Will still continue to pick up dairy, fruit and produce but otherwise will (hope) to avoid the grocery stores.

    Breakfast – Bagels with cream cheese
    Lunch – Ham and cheese sandwiches with cut up carrots with ranch dressing
    Dinner – Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn

  9. By the end of this week, the odds and ends and the most tempting foods not allowed on the Whole30 should be gone. 🙂 Making a meal and grocery shopping plan today, shopping tomorrow and then doing some food prep and freezer cooking Whole30 style on Friday. We should be set to begin the Whole30 on Saturday!

    Breakfast–hard boiled eggs, pears
    Lunch– leftover chicken, sweet potatoes and green beans from the weekend
    Dinner- Thai chicken with peanut sauce (crockpot freezer meal), broccoli, cheesy potato balls(from freezer; made with Thanksgiving leftovers).

  10. Today is our last pantry challenge day! And no one was injured or starved during the process :). I think we fared well. Tonight we are having pancakes, because we are completely out of meat, but that just means I accomplished my goal of freezer clean out. 😉

  11. Day 14:
    Breakfast: rice flour pancakes, mixed berries, milk
    Lunch: Went out to lunch with my husband
    Dinner: Sandwich bar, corn, apple slices
    Evening snack: Warm cinnamon bread YUM

  12. I still have plenty of freezer food but snacks are gone and ive noticed half eaten packs of crackers in the snack basket. I have 3 teen boys – big eaters, and now im forced to make meals because my backup foods (no time to cook) are mostly gone, fish sticks & chicken nuggets which i now must make more for the freezer but the worst thing that happed is i ran out of chocolate chips, lol, we will survive with sugar cookies. But i have only spent $217 ($17 needed for salad for school teachers lunch ). I had a really bloated grocery budget and i feel really good about the money i havent spent. 🙂 – i live in my car ~ 2 basketball seasons simultaniously and 2 different schools? I drive all 3 boys to and from school and practices. Which makes it difficult to plan meals? My husband is a big help with short notice meals.

  13. Dinner:
    Chicken piccata for three, from one HUGE boneless half breast from the freezer.
    Rice. Cooked extra for shrimp fried rice the next evening
    Roasted brussels sprouts. Some leftover for lunch.

    My bi-weekly CSA box arrived with an infusion of fresh veggies and fruits so I have a lot to work with now.

  14. mommy-2-2 says:

    So far I think I have accomplished my goal — which was to eat more of what we have and be more mindful when shopping. My goal was to reduced our food budget this month and try to carry that forward to the future by doing more planning and less “last minute day of shopping” . So far so good! HAve spent $280 as of 1/15 and my plan was to spend $500 this month so I am at least on target to succeed! 🙂 Love the motivation of this site!

  15. Nia Hanna says:

    Well, we’re out. We officially thawed and cooked up the last 3 packages of meat, on Monday night. I prepared some meals with it and have the equivalent of one package left and am not sure what I’ll do with yet. I went shopping for more protein sources and some other items that needed replenishing. I’m trying to hang on to the little money I have left and will do my best to stretch it as far as possible over the next few weeks, in an attempt to not overbuy and continue not stuffing our cabinets, fridge and freezer.

  16. First, on the weight issue, how do you feel and how do your clothes fit? I know it is hard not to check the scale, but that’s not the all inclusive answer. If things don’t feel right, trust that you know what to do. 🙂

    I haven’t followed the challenge strictly, but I did clean out and organize the kitchen fridge and freezer. (We have a full – sized of each. Don’t ask, we’re in a rental. ) Which was good as we had to put everything in the chest freezer for a week to have the fan replaced on the kitchen freezer! Made meal planning/making a big harder as things were sort of organized but sort of buried in the chest freezer. Kitchen freezer is now fixed and I’m slowly moving things around. But I have saved some decent money the last two weeks. Now if I can just refrain from buying chicken beasts for a bit longer. ..

    Oh, and does anyone have a recipe for using Thai Coconut Sausages? I have an abundance of them. 🙂

  17. Yesterday we had bean burritos and Haitian rice bean mix with a small amount of lettuce for supper. Lunch for 2 of us was leftover cheesy white chili with chips another had 2 pieces of summer sausage, a boiled egg, carrot sticks and cake, and breakfast was yogurt mostly, I had granola with mine. I still feel like I have too much around so I’m keep up the challenge for a while longer. Last year we stuck it out and kept Feb food budget low too.

  18. We were out of town on a family emergency for almost a week and we mostly ate pb sandwiches and oatmeal. It was a small case of roughing it. Now we are back at home and back into the pantry challenge.

    Breakfast: Pancakes (Freezer), eggs and toast
    Lunch: Turkey Sandwich, apple slices, chips
    Dinner: Chicken and Dumplings (almost out of Chicken)
    Snacks: Pumpkin Bread (using pumpkin from freezer) and Chocolate Chips Muffins (using some whole wheat flour that no one cares for but they don’t seem to notice it when there are chocolate chips involved)

    I will have to grocery shop tomorrow to get a few needed items but I hope to keep going for another week to make up for the week that we were gone. My family is thrilled (not).

  19. After supper tonight, I opened the freezer to see what to lay out for tomorrow night. My thoughts? Where did all this food come from! My freezer looks as though I need to start a pantry challenge. I am certainly game for another 10-14 days. My pantry is a totally different story, as is the fridge. They look rather pitiful. So, I will be shopping for some fruit, vegetables and dairy this weekend, but that is about all.
    In my efforts to stay out of the store, I have neglected the household items. I discovered that the 4 of us are down to one extra roll of toilet tissue. OOPS! Glad I saw it before it became an issue.
    Jessica-hubs went to the oncologist today. All is well except that he has gained 12 pounds in a month. Fluid retention is a huge side effect of his new chemo so he is now on a diuretic. I give you permission to blame your 4 pounds on his new chemo. That’s what I am doing. Sympathy side effects 🙂

  20. Breakfast was from the pantry. Lunch was planned out with my little one. Dinner was soup from items in the freezer with enough left for another meal.

  21. Heather M says:

    SOUnds like a lot of us are planning to go the full month! I certainly am. My goal is also to keep to about $500 in grocery spending for the month. last week and the week before I spend quite a bit, since I needed to. This week has been great so far. Only bananas and bread at Target yesterday. I’m trying to wait until Friday or Saturday to go to Trader Joe’s for a few fresh things, but we’ll see, since I just used the last of the lettuce tonight (Wed.– day 15). I think I’ll make it.

    Breakfast: waffles, turkey sausage, apple slices, eggs
    Lunch: Lunchbox fare; I had an open face ham and cheese “sandwich” but only one piece and tons celery sticks with laughing cow light cheese
    Dinner: pulled out the bag of raw shrimp from the freezer and made a shrimp and bell pepper & onion sauté with Spanish flavors. Red & green bells were fresh. Made rice pilaf on the side. I only ate the shrimp and veggies (used a lot of veggies). Somehow last time I bought a bag of raw shrimp at Costco I wasn’t paying attention to shrimp size. These things were huge. Super yummy, too.

    I also made the batch of pinto beans, using your recipe (mostly), Jessica. Yum! Because of the volume ( i made a lot), I had to let them cook about 6 hours on high. After 4 they were still pretty hard. I packed 8 2-cup ziplocs into the freezer and had about 1 1/2 cups left and they’re waiting in the fridge for me to make something with. I think I”ll try making some of them refried beans at some point. I’ve never made them before and we eat them often. Any thoughts on refrying the pinto beans, anyone?

    Also, this took up what little space I have made in the freezer. I know I’ve used more food up, so wonder what’s shifting around and filling it up so full! I need to make black beans and need a little more room for a batch!

    On to the rest of the month!

    • I mash the beans and stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil (for about 2-4 cups beans) and season them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. It’s not as fatty as “refried” but I like them just as well.

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