Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Six

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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 Six

Today was our first day back to real life. And it was okay! I didn’t pull myself out of bed quite as early as planned, but I did get to the gym this am which was good. I’m shooting for a 5 days at the gym, take weekends off kind of schedule. So far, so good since last Monday. Ha!

While I found another partial carton of eggs in the fridge, I still went ahead with my plan to use flax meal instead of eggs in the pancakes this morning. I also used dry milk. Between the two and mixing both with water, I think I miscalculated something. The pancakes were much thinner than normal. But, the kids gobbled them down anyway, dubbing them “pancrepes”.

FishBoy16 sauteed some mushrooms and ham, too. That was yummy.

I thought I was pretty hot stuff that I had the seasoned beef thawed and the beans in the crockpots for dinner. Until I saw that I forgot to add water to one pot of beans. Several hours later. Ugh. I added the water and cooked them anyway. I think/hope the worst that could happen would be that they are gassy. We shall see, eh?

Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Six

I cooked up all the pinto beans we had in the cupboard and will freeze the leftover beans once they’re chilled. While it seems odd to be adding to the freezer supply, I’m doing it without spending money and also making the most of what we have. Having cooked beans on hand will be a great convenience as the pantry challenge marches on.

I had three crockpots going at once earlier as I put a bag of meatballs and some red sauce in a third pot for lunch. The kids had that along with pasta and spaghetti squash.

I used the leftover quinoa from Friday on a salad. The neighbors gave us some beautiful, ginormous avocados from their tree. They are a meal a piece. So good! Needless to say, I had half on my salad today.

Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Six

Dinner was burritos and quesadillas for the kids, which they love. Hubs and I switched date night to Mondays, so we headed out for a bit.

Overall, the challenge is going well. I’m being more mindful of what we have and how much I have left to spend. I’m not sure how to translate some of these things to next month when I need to do some hefty recipe testing, but I feel good about how I’m stewarding our resources right now.

I’m also trying to improve our family’s diet, so this clean out is good for us. Gives us a clean slate without throwing things away.

The kids are thinking outside the box, too, and dreaming up things to cook. Today’s creation was Homemade Chocolate Syrup so they can make iced mochas at home.

Breakfast: Pancakes and Milk, ham and mushrooms.

Lunch: Meatballs and Pasta with Red Sauce, Spaghetti Squash, Salad, Cookies for dessert

Dinner: Burritos and Quesdillas for kids; date night for parents.

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 6: Still going strong. We have only spent a whopping $10 on groceries this month (bread, ham and milk). I went to the chiropractor today and he helped my back more than ANYTHING I had done so far!! Yay!! I actually feeling 80% back to normal.

    Breakfast: Boiled egg (kinda) and two strips of bacon
    Lunch: Leftover baked pasta casserole
    Dinner: Scrounge what you can find kinda thing. (Im thinking a salad??) Not sure what the plan is for tomorrow yet. Im about to go dig in the depths of the deep freeze and see if I find inspiration.

    I had a similar situation as the lack of water in the beans. I thought I was doing awesome. Late (LATE) last night I boiled eggs for breakfasts/snacks. I grabbed one this morning and cracked it open only to have it run everywhere…. Guess I miscalculated the cook time.

  2. Day 6:
    Breakfast: Banana or chocolate chip bread, milk and fresh raspberries
    Lunch: Hotdogs and chicken noodle soup
    Dinner: Roast beef, rice and green beans

    After dinner I made roast beef salad for lunch tomorrow for me and my husband. Kids still not back in school due to extreme cold weather. Will likely feed them left over chicken tenders from earlier in the week.

    I received the results of my MRI today, which show a complete tear of the rotator cuff that will require surgery. Will definitely need to save some money in the budget to cover the medical costs. The MRI alone was $642 out-of-pocket. It is also 4 to 6 weeks in an arm sling following surgery. Since it is my right shoulder, I will also need to do some serious freezer cooking to prepare for being out of commission in the kitchen. If I tried to use a knife with my left hand, I would be paying for an emergency room visit for stitches too 🙂

    • Janet….I have been in your position with the torn rotator cuff of the right arm. So glad I had the surgery even with having to take drugs for a week after ( I don’t even like to take Tylenol and kept thinking I was going to become a drug addict since I thought I was so dependent but one day I woke up and realize I had slept through the night, on the recliner of course, and never took another one after that) and 6 weeks of PT that I thought at the time would never end but the end result is so good to have your arm back and be able to do everything you did before the injury, no inconvenience and no pain. Best of luck and lots of prayers coming your way. Yea and stay away from using the left hand for anything…..someone will have to redo everything you try to do. 🙂

    • Heather M says:

      Ay! Good luck getting geared up for surgery and with the surgery and recover. I guess, at least you have answers.

    • Hang in there, sister! Let me know how I can help you plan some freezer cooking. I do have a “man plan” that needs to be tested. It was designed for my husband and boys to make; just haven’t gotten around to making them do it. Ha!

      Feel better soon!

  3. Breakfast: I was given some bread, I think it was supposed to be a banana bread, but it was overcooked a bit. As in looked like chocolate but it wasn’t. We ate some of that with some cream cheese, and I just had to throw away the rest. It really did not taste good, and I have too much food I actually want to eat! We also had some apple slices.
    Lunch: Greek salad with some gyro meat
    Snack: veggie chips and salsa
    Dinner: It was college football championship game night, so dinner was intentionally composed of appetizers: chicken firecrackers, mini tacos, breaded calamari. Go Noles! Long time coming, but national champs again. Whoo!

  4. Vanessa B says:

    Started the day making your mix and match muffins with cranberry, carrot and orange zest. Very tasty. I packed away 13 for my 5yr old to take to school since it’s his snack week but left the extras for the family on the counter and the dogs had a delicious snack while we ran errands, sigh. We went to Walgreens for peanuts and plastic bags and ended up some Christmas clearance items, several bags of nuts and eggs. Spent almost $8 on food items. The children finally got their McDs Happy Meals but used a gift card. Dinner was mostly leftovers. Husband has no memory of the muffin discussion, he ate 1 of the 13 muffins, so the family gets to enjoy them at home but I need to scramble to fix another snack to send before noon. Any suggestions?

    B- Cranberry Carrot and Orange Muffins and orange slices
    L- McDs 🙁
    D- L/O Ribs, Fries, Dill Bread, Salad, Cucumber and dip for the child that won’t eat salad

    Dessert- Birthday cake
    Snacks- crackers, chips

  5. Today was a productive one in the kitchen. I used the expiring spinach to make spinach nuggets ( for the first time. I was so pleased that my kids (3.5 and 1.5 yrs) loved them! We ate some and the rest are in the freezer. I finally made a loaf of sandwich bread in the bread machine, as well as six mini apple pies with some languishing apples and a half batch of pie crust that had been in the freezer since September. I started to make banana bread and realized I am out of baking soda. So that will have to wait.

    B: between the four of us, we had eggs, yogurt, muffins (freezer), bananas, blueberries and green smoothies.

    L: aforementioned spinach nuggets, mini apple pies, cheese & salami, pickles, mixed nuts

    D: I tried a recipe from a new cookbook I received for Christmas. The groceries were purchased before the challenge started. It was Roast Chicken with Cherries & Sage, with lima beans on the side. Delicious!

    In hopes of spending less time in the kitchen today, we are having soup in the crockpot tonight. I prepped the veggies while dinner was cooking so it should be an easy day.

  6. Day 6: I made eggs over easy and toast for breakfast. Lunch was bean soup, and dinner was alligator etouffe. The alligator had been in the freezer a while, so we finally decided to use it.

    I finally inventoried my freezers, so I listed out some meals I could make with what I have. There’s quite a bit of stuff in there, mostly homemade vegetable and turkey broth, frozen vegetables from my garden (chard and zucchini) and frozen fruit. I made banana crumb muffins with two bags of frozen bananas I had put in the freezer at some point during the year. They turned out yummy!

  7. I got a late start on my pantry challenge. On Saturday, Jan 4 I cooked up a 12-lb turkey that had been in my freezer and we are getting 5 days of dinners and some lunches from it.

    Jan 4:
    Breakfast: oatmeal, bananas
    Lunch: PBJ sandwiches, carrot sticks
    Dinner for extended family (5 adults): Turkey, mashed potatoes/gravy, salad, biscuits, crockpot apple crisp)

    Jan 5:
    Breakfast: homemade yogurt with bananas & pineapple, toast
    Lunch: cheese sandwiches, apple slices
    Dinner: Turkey shepherds pie with leftover mashed potatoes and gravy, salad

    Jan 6:
    Breakfast: oatmeal, raisins
    Lunch: toasted cheese sandwiches, pickles, carrot sticks
    Dinner: Quick turkey tetrazzini with peas, broccoli, bread and butter

    Jan 7:
    Breakfast: cornflakes and bananas
    Lunch: Leftover turkey tetrazzini, fresh pineapple chunks with avocado
    Dinner: Turkey enchiladas (filling also includes cooked pinto beans from the freezer and one remaining sweet potato), salad.

    Planned for Jan 8: The last of turkey
    Breakfast: egg sandwich, orange slices
    Lunch: leftover turkey enchiladas
    Dinner: broccoli leek soup (made with stock from turkey carcass), baked monte cristo sandwiches

  8. II is c o l d here this am! Still -6 with a wind chill factor of -30. Brrrrrr we are used to cold temps but not this cold so after I finish this its out to the kitchen to put on a large pot of veggie soup ………..mmm

    Day 6 –
    Breakfast – Cereal and toast
    Lunch – Leftover Penne from day 5
    Dinner – Perch, jasmine rice and peas

  9. Stephanie M. says:

    We are enjoying another frigid day out here in New Jersey. 🙂 I didn’t have to cook today because we have leftovers from last night so I spent the day finishing up cleaning my house. Next, I want to take apart my refrigerators and clean those. This cold weather sure helps me get done a lot of jobs in the house and other little projects that I have been putting off.

    For breakfast: I made hubby a taylor ham and cheese on a large English muffin with some clementines. I had a slice of raisin cinnamon toast from a loaf that has been in my freezer for quite a while; still good though. I also had a fat free greek yogurt.

    For Lunch: I made hubby a roast beef sub using up the last of the roast beef and cheese doodles. I had a fat free turkey hot dog on a slice of low fat rye – ran out of hot dog buns. My afternoon snack was a low fat breakfast bar.

    For dinner: My hubby had the leftover lemon chicken and wild rice and I had a salad.

    For dessert: Hubby had some crème brulee that I had made on Sunday. There are two more left for him.

    My freezer in my kitchen is finally starting to empty out. The freezers in my garage are looking better too but it’s going to take me probably another four weeks before I can start with a clean slate, especially where meat is concerned. My stand up freezer in the garage still has several plastic containers filled with Christmas cookies which takes up a lot of room. Every year, I bake about 1200 cookies and give many of them away to friends, neighbors, my husband’s office and whoever else but I’m still left with quite a few. I also have another refrigerator next to it and in the freezer above it is where I keep all of my large roasts. But I am so determined to rid myself of all of it before I buy any more. There is something so satisfying about watching the refrigerators and freezers emptying out.

  10. Still lots of food in the freezer, but working it down. Two no spend days in a row for me, which is amazing for me. My grocery spending for the month has stayed at $0. I’m going to see how far I can go.
    Breakfast-oatmeal with frozen blueberries, almonds, and roasted coconut chips
    Lunch-white chili found in the freezer
    Dinner- tacos with the next to the last avocado
    Snacks-apples, almonds, and brownie cake pops with Christmas sprinkles

  11. been doing good..except kids have been snowed school!!did not plan on all 7 being here trapped inside due to minus temps going through a little faster than expected!!scrounging together some meals for today(i have plenty of dinners left)need a sponge..but i am holding off until at least tomorrow..and doing way better than usual so thats the goal!!

  12. Omgosh ~ i cannot beleive the turkey sausage. I have the same problem with pork sausage? Im thawing my ground turkey today! That is the most beautiiful avacado i have ever seen (im freezing in Oh) there are only icecycles on my trees lol…

    • They are much more beautiful avocados than what I get in the store. The man says he has BAGS of them. I need to go back. They just moved in, so it feels odd to be mooching avocados, but I’m sure they are having to chuck a lot.

  13. I’d never thought to put my meatballs in the crockpot! My daughter loves them with beefy mushroom gravy, so I’ll have to try that combination next time.

    B-leftover baked oatmeal
    L-ravioli in cream sauce with peas and pears
    S-leftover shepherd’s pie with homemade artisan bread and oranges

  14. Heather M says:

    Day 6 was good. Also my birthday. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked my birthday dinner ever. Yesterday was the first time. I wanted Thai food but didn’t want the calories, so…

    breakfast: depending on who: cereal, turkey sausage, eggs, bananas
    lunch: lunchbox fare for the kids, hubs had lunch at work, I had a protein bar and banana on the run
    dinner: made a delicious Thai coconut curry chicken soup with spinach, sugar snap peas, shredded chicken, rice noodles, and lots of other yummy things. So good (a few fresh items, freezer, pantry)

    We did go out for frozen yogurt for dessert, despite the rapidly dropping temperatures(this morning it was 3 degrees, wind chills at -15, unheard of in the DC metro area; I think it was super windy and about 20 degrees when we left for dessert last night). Sure was yummy!

    • Stephanie M. says:

      Hi Heather:

      Happy Birthday. You said you never cooked your own birthday dinner. I sympathize with you. My birthday is on Christmas Eve and I have been cooking on that day for as long as I can remember. Everyone comes in and says happy birthday and the evening goes on. My mother and husband always wrap my birthday presents in birthday paper rather than Christmas paper but I have no idea what it is like to have a special day devoted just to me. Oh well, that’s the way it goes. I was due in January and came early. This must be why I’m so impatient; it was born with me. Ha Ha. 🙂 Anyway, Happy Birthday to you. May you enjoy many more healthy and happy birthdays!!!!

      • My older sis is a Christmas baby and I remember her crying because she never got birthday gifts … they were always wrapped in Christmas paper 🙁 when both my kids were December babies hubby and I agreed to do nothing Christmas related til after their birthday! Now at 23 and 21 they tell me to go ahead and decorate before …. I think it helped them deal with those issues by us making a concentrated effort to separate the 2 days. Shared parties however were the norm. Birthdays are 2 years 3 days apart

      • Heather M says:

        Oh Stephanie, a christmas eve birthday! You are a saint for living that life! Thank you for reminding me that Jan. 6 is not over the holidays. 🙂

        I’m really enjoying your posts during the Challenge. Thanks for them.

    • I bake my own birthday cake most years because I’m a snob and know it will be exactly how I want it. Last year, though, hubby made me a chocolate cheesecake.

      I think birthdays are permission to do what and eat what you want. 🙂

      • Vanessa B says:

        Happy Birthday Heather!

        Jessica I laughed out loud because I do the same exact thing. 2 yrs ago for my birthday, I made Pasta Vodka and all the fixin’s for 10 people because I like MY version the best. I am becoming such a food snob.

      • Heather M says:

        Which is why I never cook my own birthday dinner. Until now and I really wanted Thai food but really didn’t want to mess up my weight loss that I’m doing so well with. For the first year ever, I was happy to cook my own birthday dinner. I never would have been in the past.

        And, I totally get the cake snob thing and wanting exactly what you want for your birthday cake. Good move, though. giving your hubs the opportunity to bake for you. 🙂

      • Heather M says:

        OK, that first reply was to Jessica, this one is to Vanessa:

        So glad to hear I’m not the only one. I think that’s part of it… becoming so much more of a food snob, and knowing how calorie laden and greasy so much restaurant fare is, even more of a snob. Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  15. I am starting late since we didn’t get back to town until very late Sunday night, but I am ready to go. I am SO overstocked (freezers and pantry) that I will be working to deplete things until we go on vacation on Feb. 15 (at least). I’ve decided that I won’t stop until every last item that has been sitting is gone, but it’s going to get painful. I need to figure out a reward for myself for sticking with it. To keep the family from revolting I will work a couple of normal dinners in each week, but maybe I can use something up in the side dish or dessert those days. And I definitely plan to maintain balance, like with a good dessert to offset a dinner that the family might not be excited about. I’ll be picking off the top of the freezer and pantry until I do inventories next week (things are stuff so full, that I am not looking forward to all that digging). In two days, we’ve gotten rid of a few items that have been languishing and I have a plan for the next week or so. Glad for the accountability and ideas! Thanks everyone.

    • Today I went shopping. Ralphs had a buy $45 get $5 off coupon. I “forced” myself to buy stuff, though I could have spent less. It was all stuff we will definitely use in the next week, but it made me realize we really can do with less.

    • Heather M says:

      Will be fun to follow your progress while we can! I can kind of relate… lots of food. But still need to keep us in fresh items. That’s something I can’t give up. Good luck!

  16. We are still eating from the pantry, I have found I can’t handle eating the same type of meat day after day so I am putting some back in the freezer (read pork roast LOL) and pulling other things out. Tonight was egg rolls and pot stickers as I am tired of moving them from shelf to shelf in the deep freezer. So they are out of there LOL
    Blessed be

    • I find that I can eat pork roast a number of times if I use different flavor profiles: Mexican, Asian, American…. it doesn’t seem the same if I change the sauces and sides.

    • Heather M says:

      I’m having the same issue… not wanting to only eat chicken though. Lots of chicken in the freezer. Not as much of the other stuff. So, we’ll see how long I can go without buying additional protein options. Already used the only beef (not ground) cut. No pork. Just chicken, fish, ground turkey, ground beef. So, we’ll see when I break down and buy something else.

  17. Tonight was left over night. We have been cooking meals every night since the challenge started and the fridge was full. We have been taking lunches of left overs everyday and the two kids (still out of school) are eating them also. Tomorrow it’s back to the grind and more cooking. Other than milk and salad makings, I won’t need anything else at the store for another week or more.

    • Great job! I’ve been meaning to ask, how’s your husband’s treatment going?

      • Thanks for remembering and asking! We spent the week after Thanksgiving in the oncology unit. He had a rare and extreme reaction to chemo #3. So, he has now been on chemo #4 for 19 days and so far, so good. That brief and intense hospital stay was a mere $43,000! Another reason to stick to my pantry challenge!
        Love the daily posts. They keep me focused! And thanks again for asking 🙂

  18. Day six went well 🙂

    B: oatmeal and milk for daughter. Yoghurt and granola for Husband and myself.
    L: Rye bread with different “toppings” (don’t know the exact Word in English!)
    D: Homemade pizza.
    I had some feta cheese, that I wanted to use up, so I made one pizza with tomato sauce, artichoke hearts, fresh tomato, red onion and feta. Made another pizza with thinly sliced potato, olive oil, dried sage, a little red onion and some manchego cheese from the freezer. I think it was one of the best pizzas I have ever had!

    It’s really a great challenge, and I think I will continue throughout the month of January. My fridge is starting to look a little bare, but the pantry and freezer are still very full!

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