Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Nine

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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 Nine

I find it really hard to believe that we’re already on day 9. Time’s flying. Over all I’m enjoying being the queen of my kitchen. The challenge seems to make me pay more attention and to plan ahead. It’s such a good feeling to be making breakfast and have a plan for BOTH lunch and dinner going. I hope that’s a habit that goes with me after next Wednesday.

In other news, I have no exciting picture to share with you. It’s been a busy day. After days of not being able to get any writing work done other than the nightly Pantry Challenge update, I fled my home. I’m typing at Starbucks, hoping to knock out some writing assignments.

The kids had running club this morning which meant that we had to leave the house by 7:45. No morning gym for me. I’m not THAT organized. Instead I made them a full breakfast: eggs, bacon, and biscuits. That was a nice way to wake up my people this morning! Sweet to see the smiles on their faces when I said, “bacon and biscuits”. 

Before we left, I put an all-natural vegetable soup mix into the crockpot. It contained split-peas, barley, lentils, rice, and pasta. We came home to soup and grilled cheese. The soup was not a big hit. The three littles tried really hard, but even with the reward of chocolate, they couldn’t finish the whole bowl. Admittedly, the lentils and peas weren’t completely soft and the noodles were overcooked, so I don’t blame them.

Though I fled for supper, I left the family all the makings of a fajita kit with detailed instructions on how to make it. As for me, I got my coffee free with a coupon Starbucks sent me and used a gift card to buy a Bistro Box, so I think it’s a win.

Breakfast: Eggs, Bacon, Biscuits

Lunch: Vegetable Soup, Grilled Cheese

Dinner: Fajitas, Mom at Starbucks

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. Sounds like a winning plan! 🙂
    As for me, I’m weary of eating out.
    B- I ate a green apple from the hotel lobby, grabbed a bottle of water from my hotel room, and bought a granola bar from te vending machine.
    L- fajita bar at the conference. Tolerable.
    D- decided I was in the mood for a cheeseburger so I got one at the hotel restaurant. Mistake. :/

  2. Today was a very long day. They all seems to have been lately. I’m on my own for a few days so I’m literally foraging around my house to eat things that wont be eaten otherwise. I hate to put things in categories today because I’ve literally snacked all day due to the craziness of it

    Food for today: a few pieces of pickled okra, an orange, the last piece of chocolate covered bacon (a gift from the holidays), a leftover piece of homemade pizza, the last glass of wine in a bottle (hehe), and two bites worth of brussel sprouts. Seriously I ate all of it at different times. Tomorrow should be more normal…..

    Meanwhile I still have the crockpot monstrosity in the icebox. I HATE throwing food out, but I know it isn’t exactly going to get better with age….. I’m conflicted….

  3. Christina says:

    Today was the first day back in school for my kids. My daughter is beginning her last semester as a high school student. Wow! Time has flown by!
    Breakfast was breakfast bar at home. cereal, bagels, fruit
    Lunch – The kids ate at school. I made a pizza-dilla to use up some tomato sauce in the fridge.
    Supper – Leftovers from last night. Plus I made gravy for the potatoes

  4. Breakfast: slept in so skipped it
    Lunch: L/O gnocchi alla sorrentina
    Snack: cranberry pumpkin bread, strawberry banana bread
    Dinner: pot roast, potatoes, green beans (all retrieved from freezer)
    Dessert: strawberry semifreddo

    Today was a fun kitchen day. I made cranberry pumpkin bread (used up a can of pumpkin and some homemade cranberry sauce) and strawberry banana bread (used up frozen strawberries and frozen bananas).
    I also made the semifreddo with thawed strawberries, using the recipe link I posted a few days ago. It says 10 servings, I apparently underestimated the serving size. I did not want to put it in a large ring pan, I was using my loaf and jumbo muffin pans to bake bread, so I used my silicon muffin tray. I was surprised that I completely filled all 12 muffins and it seemed to use only half the batch. That left me scrambling to find other things to put it in that I could fit into the freezer since I did not have space to put another muffin pan (and keep it flat until they froze). I popped the muffins out and now have great personal-sized desserts for later.

  5. Day 9:
    Breakfast: banana bread, fresh strawberries, skim milk
    Lunch: LO roast beef salad on toasted buns and last can of chicken noodle soup in the pantry.
    Dinner: Macho burritos, beans and rice.

    My youngest told me very politely one day last week that she did not like the canned soup. “I like the kind you make. It tastes good.” Words to melt a mother’s heart. So tomorrow homemade chicken potato soup is on the menu. I have left over chicken and about 3 pounds of red potatoes that need to be used before they go bad.

  6. I agree! Its so nice to know what we are having for dinner without doing the last minute panic!

    Breakfast -Omelet w/cheese and bacon
    Lunch – Veggie soup and grilled cheese and bacon sandwich
    Dinner – Pizza and salad

  7. B: youghurt with homemade granola.
    L: Egg salad sandwiches on homemade bread
    Dinner: Oatmeal for daughter. (we had a meeting in our bank and got home late, so I had to feed her quickly before bedtime). Vegetarian burgers (burgers from the freezer) with oven fries (parboiled potato wedges baked in the oven untill crisp).

  8. Vanessa B says:

    B- cereal with raisins for the kids, and lox, cream cheese on a bagel for me
    L- chicken nuggets, carrot sticks, orange slices and butternut squash salad for me
    D- Fried rice with leftover pork chops and lots of veggies
    Dessert- apple pie
    Snacks- I made cinnamon cereal mix for my 5yr old to take to school and we smacked on some crackers

  9. Stephanie M. says:

    So it’s day 9 already in this pantry challenge and I have to say for myself I have never stuck it out so long so I’m seeing results I’ve never seen before. My fridge in the garage is getting downright empty, which will make it that much easier to clean tomorrow. I decided that tomorrow, I will clean both that refrigerator and the one in my kitchen, it’s time. The refrigerator in my garage is one that I used to have in my kitchen until I got a new one. It comes in very handy when I’m having a party or BBQ and I need extra space but in the recent years, it’s turned into a second full refrigerator. It’s like closets – the more you have the more stuff you buy to put in them. My refrigerator in the kitchen is starting to look a little bare too but that’ okay; that tells me I’m doing the right thing in this challenge. My small freezer above the refrigerator in the garage and my stand up freezer in the garage also is where I store all of my meat and I’m happy to say, I’m seeing some light at the end of that tunnel too but it will still be weeks before that’s all gone. So even when the pantry challenge is over next week, I will keep pressing on with my own until the job is done. Having been part of this pantry challenge which was my first time (and not my last), gave me some real motivation and now I’m motivated to go all the way until there is nothing but air space in those freezers and then I’ll only buy what I need for one or two weeks at a time. Like I said previously, it’s only my husband and I and there is simply no reason any more to keep the freezers that stocked up. I did have to go to the food store today but I did not buy one piece of meat. I just needed milk, eggs, yogurt and some veggies and I walked out very happy that I didn’t slip up and buy stuff I didn’t need.

    B – Hubby took leftover baked oatmeal and a yogurt. I did not eat breakfast today.

    L – Hubby had the last of the ham I sliced up earlier in the week on sandwich and I had a salad and a fat free multi-grain wasa crisp.

    D – I found some stove top stuffing in my pantry that was nearing the expiration date so I made a stuffing casserole with it.

    • I know what you mean Stephanie. It is so nice to see the stock going down and seeing what we have in the freezers and pantry. Jessica used to do the Challenge for four weeks but the last one she cut it down to 2 wwks but there were some of us that continued it for a while since it does seem easier to do when you are being held accountable.

      • Stephanie M. says:

        You are right. At this point, even though the challenge is coming to an end, and I am sorry about that because it was quite fun for me to check out the posts every day, I would be remiss to stop now because I would feel that I had an unfinished goal. I always complain to myself about how loaded the freezers are; I actually went and bought plastic bins with lids and labeled each bin with it’s contents because I got tired of having to dig through everything in the freezer to find something; I also got tired of buying something only to find out I had it already; and lastly, I got tired of everything falling out when I opened the door. Now the bins have been removed from the freezers because there is more room and I’m able to actually see what’s in there. I find it strange that I would have lived so long with a stuffed freezer the way I did because otherwise, I am an organizing junkee. Every room, every closet, every drawer, every cabinet in my house is completely organized. I even buy my greeting cards that I need for the year in January, mostly birthdays and at the holidays, I always buy next year’s, and they are organized in plastic bags that are labeled for the occasion and sitting in a pretty box I got at the craft store. Whenever I need one, I just go and get it. The point is, my freezer was really screaming for this “clean out” and I will continue with it until it’s done and have promised myself not to ever go back to that again. But I will keep checking out this site and look forward to another pantry and freezer challenge in the future. 🙂

        • Heather M says:

          I understand how you feel. I have piles of food in the cupboards and freezer (though only have an above the fridge freezer). Not ready to stop my challenge yet. Was at costco today for certain necessary items. looked at the 6 pack of black olives and thought how we’re down to one can. We don’t eat them that often. So i decided not to deviate from my list and wait until next costco trip after we eat the last can. and stick to the spirit of the challenge. Which I am going to try to keep as a habit for a while going forward. Until I can see lots of space in the cupboards and freezer.

          My only thing is, part of why they’re so full is for emergency purposes. What if we are stuck for a while? or suddenly money is even tighter and we need to seriously pull back spending for a while? Well, then we have food to survive on. i don’t want to deplete my “storage” completely. But it’s time to eat a lot of it and slowly replenish with sales.

          • Back in 2012, I set up an emergency food storage. It’s all shelf stable food that we can use in a true emergency (whether local, national or just financial). I found that that really freed me up to use up the kitchen supplies and not feel like I needed to hold onto something. I rotate the stock out every six months, but we have it in case of earthquake, etc. Would something like that work for you?

        • I’ve still got FIVE days left. Why are y’all ready to kick me off the island already?! 😉

        • It is nice to be able to see what you have. Makes meal planning easy. Just told my hubby that I think I am a food hoarder and its time to just use up what we have and put the $$’s in an envelope and will see there will be money to restock instead of thinking I need to pick things up when they go on sale. Especially since they will be on sale again in a few weeks. So glad that Jessica will be doing the page again for this challenge too.

          • Stephanie M. says:

            OMG – I recently told my husband that I think I’m a food hoarder too! That’s so funny!!!! I’m also glad that Jessica will do this page again; it will help keep us all from “going outside the line!” Ha Ha.

          • Well, who knows, I might be able to eek another full week out of this. It’s getting close, though.

      • Yep, I’ll be setting up a new page for anyone who wants to keep chatting after the 15th!

    • I’m soooooo proud of you! You’ve done a great job. Ride the wave, baby.

      • No one wants to kick you off the island. We want you to stay and be the Mama Bear and keep us in line. 🙂 Glad you will be doing the new page again for the Challenge again!

  10. B: eggs, plus freezer muffins for the kids

    L: turkey/mushroom/ginger wrap for the husband (a recipe from your cookbook! I used turkey instead of pork and froze the mixture in lunch-size portions), leftover black bean soup for me, PB&J/raisins/avocado for the kids

    D: Lasagna Soup, using Italian sausage and chicken broth from the freezer and a few pantry ingredients. I also took a clue from you and roasted some extra vegetables (zucchini and carrots) and used my immersion blender to puree them with the chicken broth. It gave the soup a wonderful creamy quality, without any dairy! Win!

    I also used some ground beef from the freezer and a homemade cornbread mix to make some Sloppy Joe Cornbread Muffins for a lunch/playdate with friends today. Extras are in the freezer and will make for quick lunches in the coming weeks. I like having easy things on hand to feed the kids other than PB&J.

  11. Day 9: My refrigerator is emptying out, but the freezers still have a ways to go. I think I could do this challenge for a couple of months if my husband and kids wouldn’t rebel.

    Breakfast: Oatmeal with various toppings, mine had peanut butter and banana, husband’s had cinnamon, brown sugar and raisins.
    Lunch: My husband had the leftover falafel with tabouleh and I had the leftover lentil taco with corn and rice. Kids had sandwiches.
    Dinner: I made a new soup to use up some of the beans I have in the cabinet. This was Romanian bean soup with sour cream biscuits. The biscuits were also a new recipe for me, so I could use up the sour cream. Both were very good!

    I did go to Aldi and got sandwich meat for the kids, eggs and garbage bags. I only spent $35, which is way less than usual.

  12. I just took an inventory of my freezer. In meat, poultry, seafood, I figure I have enough on hand for the next 28 dinners (serving 3 adults). I made a quick menu plan to use it all up. I didn’t take stock of frozen vegetables because I have those mostly to use in casseroles, soups, fried rice, etc, when I don’t have fresh vegetables on hand.

  13. I went to Aldi today and spent $57. I only bought the things we needed like eggs, milk, sour cream, avocado’s, onions, blueberries, potatoes, luncheon meat, etc. The kids start back to school on Monday and we had nothing for sandwiches and no fruit. The one splurge was ice cream.
    Tonight for supper we are having a lasagna from the freezer and some rolls from the freezer. I think tomorrow will be a small freezer meal cooking day. We are to have rain all day and now that I can find everything and get it organized, it would be most productive.

  14. I just found this blog this week and LOVE it! I am so inspired!!! I am going to miss these particular posts once the challenge is done but look forward to what comes next. I try to !I’ve frugally but still have a long way to go. I have gotten to where I would rather eat at home too, as some of you commented. I spend most days at work thinking of what I will cook for dinner, which usually involved a stop by the store on the way home—not as often now that I am rethinking the use of pantry/freezer items I already have.
    So glad I found your blog. Happy New Year!

  15. We ate from the pantry for breakfast. Lunch was planned out (although the kids lunch boxes were from the pantry). Dinner was leftovers and a little bit from the pantry, because we were on the run. This weekend is going to be a bit quiet, so I’m going to revamp my plan to try to get rid of a few more odds and ends. I’m itching to bake, but trying to hold out until at least Sunday…both to save my waistline and to encourage the kids to finish a few things in the pantry first. Maybe I’ll bake breakfast items, so it’s not just goodies.

    I’ve also decided to try to track all my grocery spending this year (or at least for the first few months). I know that sounds pretty obvious, but I usually get 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the month before I miss something and then just quit. I think it would be helpful for me to see monthly totals and yearly averages like Jessica does.

  16. Heather M says:

    Day 9. Let’s see if I can remember yesterday. Busy (it seems I’m always busy).

    Breakfast: cereal, full-fat pork sausage links for son to eat w/his cereal, growing boy that he is(leftover from xmas day, the only day I buy them for all year, a treat for the hubs mainly; we eat lots of turkey or vegetarian breakfast sausage otherwise), hard boiled egg, blackberries (I got a 2 for 1 last week and they are the sweetest batch. will be sad when they are gone soon)
    Lunch: lunchbox fare for kids, hubs left before I realized I hadn’t sent him with lunch (again! I’m slacking there… must fix it), I had tuna w/cottage cheese, crackers, raw cauliflower & light homemade dip
    Dinner: daughter(she’s the 17yo) had her weekly swim team pasta dinner, which happens the night before meets during meet season. son and hubs scrounged and I have no idea what they ate. I went to book club and snacked on that food for dinner. I brought leftover cheeses and water crackers(always have these in the cupboard) and a package of chocolate hazelnut crisps that were leftover from christmas. Someone made homemade hummus and it was delicious. Inspired me to try my hand at it one day. And someone else made a relatively healthy apple cranberry cake (very little fat, but sugar) that was really tasty. I only had a tiny two bite serving.

    I have so much more to get through that I’m not stopping my modified version(buying fresh, and if I run out of something we don’t want to wait for, I’ll buy it, but trying to eat up so there’s no waste and more room). I’ll be sad not to have all these great comments for inspiration. It really is fun reading through them all!!

  17. I have a soup on the stove now that has italian sausage, black beans, lentils, garbanzos, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, spices and veg broth. Add that to the bread maker chugging away-our house smells awesome. And I got EVERYTHING from the pantry or freezer. I do believe we eat better during pantry challenge!

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