Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Ten

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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 Ten

FishBoy16 and I are trying to sync our gym times. Since he doesn’t drive yet, it will make it much easier on me if he goes when I do. This involves a little compromise. Read: I went to the gym a little later than I would have liked this morning. I think he would have gone earlier if I could have dragged myself out of bed sooner. So, it’s not his fault.

All that to say, breakfast was later than I had planned, and so I put out a breakfast bar instead of making waffles. The kids had granola and clementines. I made an egg and sausage for my post-workout meal.

I redeemed myself on the waffle fail by making Sauerkraut for lunch. I even got it in the slow cooker before seven am. This is one of my kids favorite meals ever.

Dinner was pizza. I made a double batch of Artisan Bread Dough before we left for our homeschool park day. When we got home I chopped a bunch of toppings: green onion, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, black olives. I also used up the very little bits of gourmet cheeses we had on hand: Brie, Jarlsberg, as well as Monterey Jack, romano, and mozzarella. I made a 5-cheese and bacon pizza that was out of this world as well as a veggie pizza with the Jarlsberg-Jack-Romano blend. I really liked the little punch that the cheeses gave the pizza.

Can you believe the challenge is 2/3 done? Don’t worry. I’ll start a behind-the-scenes Pantry Chatter post for those who are continuing their challenge past the 15th. 🙂

Breakfast: Granola, Pumpkin Bread, Clementines

Lunch: Sauerkraut, Pork, and Potatoes

Snacks: Clementines, Fruit Snacks, Carrot Sticks

Dinner: Pizza

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. Today was pretty boring on my front. It was the last full day by myself before the hubs gets home from out of town. So after work I spent some time cleaning and taking care of the boys.

    Bfast- pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (seriously)
    Lunch- was too busy to eat. I hate it when that happens but it happens at least once a week. I normally keep a snack in my bag like almonds for those occasions but with the dwindling supply of groceries I didn’t have anything
    Dinner-lentil soup (freezer)

    I also washed all of the sauce off of the yucky crockpot catastrophe and I’m trying to make a soup out of it… I feel like it might actually work

  2. Breakfast: L/O Greek salad with gyro meat
    Lunch: banana strawberry bread
    Snack: trail mix
    Dinner: ham, yellow rice, mixed veggies

  3. Today I was off work to recover from eye surgery, and my wife is taking care of me between bouts of homework. Post-op checkup in the morning, then home for lunch: tri-color rotini w/ leftover shredded chicken and broccoli and parmesan cheese for me / chicken caesar salad for her, then nap #1. We went to the library to pick up an audiobook to amuse me over the weekend (reading is possible, but tiring) and walked around our prospective new neighborhood in the afternoon. No word back from the seller’s agent yet… I may be tempting fate by designing change-of-address announcements on Vistaprint. Nap #2, toast & tea, and then a T-bone steak dinner to celebrate my new eyes. Now there’s pumpkin bread in the oven (from a mix, though), I am cuddled up with sleeping kitties, and — aside from the unfortunate ITCHING as a side effect of the painkillers — all is right with the world.

  4. We are down to just a few protein choices, but I can see what’s in my freezer now. 🙂

  5. Breakfast – Finish off the chocolate chip banana bread
    Lunch – Leftover veggie soup, Turkey and cheese sandwiches
    Dinner – Cajun chicken/mushroom pasta, garlic rolls

  6. Vanessa B says:

    Breakfast- cereal and raisins, muffins
    Lunch- kids ate spaghetti Os: not my favorite choice. I mixed the L/O fried rice and butternut squash and added it to a wrap with spinach and teriyaki sauce. It was amazing.
    D- cooked down the chicken bones all day and made chicken and noodles with it. Yum!
    Snacks- son took yogurt to school, kids had fruit snacks at home and cheese and crackers.

    We had a processed foods kinda day, fail. I’m trying to cut back on processed foods but it’s so difficult for my family and with our budget. I guess I should learn how to make fruit snacks and crackers at home.
    We shopped today for snacks, fruit, milk, and more. Spent $30. Total spending for the challenge is almost $60.

  7. Angela B. says:

    Breakfast-toaster struedels(I fogot I had bought these)
    Lunch-bannanas/leftover pizza/tortilla chips and guacamole
    Dinner-rotini pasta made with a can of progresso recipe starter & chicken sausage & salad

  8. Stephanie M. says:

    Today was fun for me. I’m having a Valentine’s Dinner party for 10 on February 8 so I spent the morning at Home Goods picking out goodies for my table. Tablescaping is something I love and I try to make my dining room table look different for every dinner party I have. I decided on red, white, and black so I picked up some really nice black and white dishes for a song.

    B – my hubby had a roll with butter and a yogurt; I had a slice of cinnamon raisin toast and a greek yogurt

    L – we both had tuna fish sandwiches; his regular and my low fat.

    D – I was supposed just reheat the leftover casserole from last night for hubby and figure out something for me. We usually don’t eat the same thing because I’m always trying to stick to my low fat plan but I decided to make some marinara and pasta and so we had that with some cucumber salad. I’ll give hubby the leftover casserole for lunch tomorrow; he has to go into work for a couple of hours in the morning.

    Does anyone ever get sick of eating low fat and salads all the time? I swear one day I’m going to wake up and look in the mirror to find lettuce growing from my head!! 🙂

    • I get sick of those things only when I have forbidden other things. Normally, I love those just because. So, I try not to forbid them. 🙂

      • Stephanie M. says:

        I love them too but I’ve been on WW for 14 years now and sometimes I just want some fettucini alfredo or some other horrible thing. On Sunday, I will be on a break from all of this healthy eating and I’m going to have something that’s unhealthy. I find that I’m more successful with weight loss when I indulge once in a while. Right now, I need to lose 10 pounds and I have to say that it was a lot easier for me when I was younger to lose weight. Now that I’m 53 and heading towards menopause, it’s gotten so hard to lose even just a few pounds. Ho hum. But bring the donuts on…….Monday it’s back to business.

        • I totally get you on the weight loss thing. I’ve got 5 to 10 stubborn pounds that will not budge no matter what I do.

          • Stephanie M. says:

            It does not help at all when you have a husband that can eat all he wants and not gain any weight. I’ve been with my husband since we’re 16 years old and I remember when we were kids, I was always so concerned that his thighs were skinnier than mine. His brothers told me not to worry – look at the size of his feet they would say. Ha Ha. Now it’s many years later and he’s still thin and I’m struggling. I’ve given up trying to get my legs thinner than his; it is was it is. Oh well!! In the meantime, I continue to eat healthy and watch him eat what he wants. I’m sure my arteries are like straws and his seem to be fine continuing to eat what he wants. Sometimes we watch TV while we’re eating and if he gets up to get something, I sneak something off his plate. He is 52 and just had a heart valve replacement. This is something that has been festering for years and now it was just time to do it. So in November, he had the procedure done; he was on disability was 6 weeks and now you would never know that he had surgery at all. His blood work always comes back fine. But before he went out on disability, I made sure I saved as much money as possible to sustain us while he was out even though he got disability payments but they did not start right away. I also made sure our freezers were stuffed so that we did not have to worry about someone finding us dead because we starved. Ha Ha. 🙂 He just walked in and I read him what I wrote and he said, “Listen, don’t tell everyone about your dysfunctional husband.” We’re having a really nice day the two of us.

        • I’m an sure “your dysfunctional husband” is a great man. How wonder to “grow old” together — since 16, too! Yay for long, happy marriages!

          • Stephanie M. says:

            Thank you Jessica for making my last two weeks so fun. I am a stay at home mom even though my kids are grown now. There really is no reason I have to stay home any longer other than I just want to at this point in my life. You have really helped me to learn something about the way I run my kitchen and the posts from all of the other wonderful ladies have been so much fun to read as well. I feel like I have made some wonderful new friends and I’m hoping that we can all speak again even after this challenge is over. When you stay home and your kids are grown, there is only so much cleaning you can do. I have really enjoyed reading all of the posts from everyone and feel like I’ve been renewed. I am very grateful to everyone that responded to any of my posts. It makes me feel really good to know that someone likes something I had to say. Thank you so much.

        • Thank YOU for participating! I’m not quitting until the 15th, so don’t say goodbye just yet. 🙂

          • Stephanie M. says:

            No, I’m not saying goodbye. I intend to stick this challenge out with you and everyone else until the 15th and further with anyone else that is participating on the “page”. I will continue after that to look you up and keep up to date with whatever is going on and I remember reading somewhere that you would be doing this again in July and I will be involved there too. Can’t get rid of me that quick. I have to tell you that this is the very first time that I’m involved in a blog and my husband couldn’t be happier that I finally found something to do with myself other than worry about day to day life. My two daughters always tell me that I should get involved in something; whether it be something to do with interior decorating, baking and cooking, window decorating, and the list goes on. I have a lot of interests but at this point in my life, I think it’s a little late to try to start something like that. I spent many years going back and forth to Germany to visit my grandparents. My mother was from there. I now have friends there and hubby and I were there for two weeks in August. If I had my way, I would open a café where you could just get coffee and cake; no other food. In Germany, every day between 2 – 4, the entire country stops to have coffee and cake and there are many cafes there to go to. I love to bake and have received many awards for baking contests that I’ve entered. My father was from Cyprus so I also know some Greek cooking and baking. I know how to work with Phyllo dough to make spanakopita which is a spinach and feta cheese pastry and also baklava which is a sweet nut and honey filled pastry. And I can make numerous fancy tortes that I learned from my friend in Germany. But I would need a lot of money to open a café of my own and I wouldn’t have a clue how to run such a thing. So it’s a dream. Not all dreams come true but I’m still very happy with my life as it is. In the meantime, I just work each and every day at making my family as happy as I can and learning something new every day and your blog has certainly helped me to do that.

        • I think you should teach some baking classes!!! Find out if your local rec center offers classes and/or needs teachers. Or teach a class at your church. You could totally do that. 🙂

          • Stephanie M. says:

            Thanks for the encouragement but our local rec does not have baking classes and our church is so small that they have services in a local school. They are trying to raise money to build their own church. In the meantime, I bake upwards of about 1500 Christmas cookies each year. My husband sets up a large table in the living room so between that and the dining room table, I bake for about 3 days straight, set up the cookies and when I’m done, freeze them and give them out to everyone and anyone. This is something I’ve been doing for well over 20 years. A few weeks back while I was baking, the Federal Express man came to deliver a Christmas gift to my husband from one of the companies he deals with and I had no idea who he was but he said it smelled good when I answered the door so I ran and got a plastic container and filled it up with whatever cookies I had at that time and sent him away with some. That’s just me and who I am. Ha Ha. At St. Patrick’s Day, I always make about 15 Irish Soda Breads and give them to my family, my neighbors and my husband to take to work. My days in the kitchen, just like yours, never end. Only, I don’t have such a big family to feed so I feed everyone else. I am like “Marie” on the show, “Everyone Loves Raymond” when he comes in she always asks him if he’s hungry. 🙂 My husband always says after we have people over, “You must be happy now; everyone can hardly walk.” I’m waiting for the day when cooking and baking is no longer something I like but so far, it hasn’t happened yet.

        • Stephanie…where do u live? Hoping u live close to me and I can buy a torte……my dad was from Germany and we are 3 hrs from a german bakery… I live by miChigan/indiana stateline….ps email me at erika1e at….would love to trade german recipes

    • Heather M says:

      So fun to read this thread… if i had more time right now, I’d comment more.

  9. we’re eating fancier with this pantry challenge than a regular grocery week. i feel spoiled!

    last night we tried the pablano chili enchiladas. midwestern mild gal here; delicious and yet next time i’ll mix green peppers with the pablano. baa-ooo-gha.

    this morning hubs made omeletes using up some christmas day feast white cheese, wilting grape tomatoes, fresh spinach.

    tonight i dug out a slab of salmon out of the freezer. smells. i’;ll prepare a pasta dish for the girls as a backup using leftover alfredo sauce. i got a bottle of pinot noir with it too.

    i pulled a whole turkey out of the freezer too for an old fashioned meat and potato dinner tomorrow. going after those fresh squash too. since i don’t have enough potatos on hand for a big pot of mashed i’ll make a few smaller side; one mashed, one quinoa with peppers and brown rice, and i don’;t know until tomorrow.

    after reading about your pizza i’ve decided to try a friday pizza night going forward. i too was a homemade pizza failure in the past so this time i’ll try yours. my hope is to create a pleasant tone for our weekends, including making sure the girls get fed before they head off before I get home from work. hey JF-got any helpful hints for making the pizza on a grill instead of an oven?

    a final thought – since i’m late to the party discovering you, i appreciate all the links to your older posts. i enjoyed reading about your wedding. and i learn a lot too. thanks buddy!

    • Glad you liked the enchiladas! Were the Poblanos too spicy? We find that they are very hit and miss. Sometimes they will set my mouth on fire, and sometimes they taste like roasted bell peppers.

      • The flavor and mouth feel of these enchiladas are to die for.

        As far as the heat goes, I think there were a couple of things happening. My homemade salsa verde for one – next time I’ll leave out the seeds 😮 Second I used light sour cream. I think the fully loaded would have helped the heat and given it a richer flavor. The chilies themselves? Not sure since it’s the first time I’ve eaten them. I’ll just use a mix of pobalano and sweet next time. And there will definitely be a next time!

  10. Day 10:
    Breakfast: Bagels and cream cheese for the adults and bagels and peanut butter for the kids. Also had bananas and raspberries
    Lunch: Homemade chicken potato soup and biscuits
    Dinner: Sausage ring with rice-a-roni and blueberry muffins

  11. B- my guys ate at home. I went to an awards breakfast where there was plenty of food, but I’m not a breakfast person…I ate fruit and home fries.
    L- lunch boxes for my guys (hubs finished off the pizza from night before). I ate a chicken sandwich and chips. I was starving but nothing really looked good.
    D- the guys went to Subway after bowling. My Airman son, who lives in the same area as my conference, picked me up and took me out for some real food. We had Mexican. I was so grateful.

  12. I am at $200 but i dont need anything! The next 2 weeks will be much more difficult. Friends for dinner and a game night with friends here! Im praying about that! Its jan and gray outside and i dont drink lol? And on a diet, where is my head :-):-)

  13. While I’ve felt like I’ve done a decent job so far (saving money & clearing out the frig, freezer & pantry), I fell off the wagon (HARD!) yesterday. My local Whole Foods had 80/20 organic ground beef on sale for $3.99 pound. I bought close to 15 pounds, and the butcher lowered the price to $3.49 lb. Smoking hot deal in my area. They also had Pretzel Crisp Tuscan 3 Cheese on sale for .87/bag – grabbed 5 bags. So today I will be cooking ground beef & making burger patties & meatloaf to store in the freezer. Seems counter productive but I couldn’t pass it up. I’m planning to continue through the end of the month and can hopefully make up for this transgression (lol!).

  14. B: scrambled eggs for the grown ups, fried eggs and freezer baked oatmeal for the kids.

    L: (we had friends over) Sloppy Joe Muffins, homemade applesauce (the last container from the freezer), raisins and cheese slices. Leftover lasagna soup for the two moms.

    D: roast chicken (last one from the freezer), mashed potatoes & cauliflower, green beans (from a can)

    I really need to use up these brown bananas, but I don’t like banana bread so I’ve been dragging my feet. I already have plenty in the freezer for smoothies so I don’t want to do that either. Not sure what I’ll use them for.

  15. last night was tuna noodle, tonight is pork and sweet potato hash…possible pancakes with it.

    Doing okay, slowly getting some holes in the pantry but nothing that has to be replaced right now

  16. Day 10
    Breakfast: eggs over easy and toast, and a banana for me
    Lunch: leftover Romanian bean soup and a slice of bread
    Dinner: fettuccine pomodoro and spinach salad- my older son’s friend was over for dinner, so no leftovers

    I was not sure what I wanted to make for dinner tonight. I just had to pick something and go with it, and it was pretty good.

  17. I’m truckin’ along. Been using up freezer meats and tons of crackers and cereal all week. Today, I made a double batch of the homemade little bites for the freezer…should have quadrupled it…will next time. What else did I use up this week? Used up rest of pumpkin purée to make pumpkin bread; wrapped in individual slices for lunch making. Used up an organic pancake mix that daddy had bought. Last night used up mini bagels for pizza bagels, which were not a huge hit. No need to buy those again. Tonight, frozen ham from freezer, using up a few organic chicken tenders that daddy bought that only he and the littlest like. Using up leftover rice, too. Found two random packs of Knox gelatin so made jello with fruit juice left over from new year s. Pushing quesadilla s tomorrow to use up leftover cheese from New Years.

    • What are homemade little bites?

      • Entemanns little bites are mini muffins, and my kids are partial to the chocolate chip ones that daddy buys. Loaded with HFCS. I use a recipe from joy of baking for simple muffins (melted butter, milk, flour, sugar, eggs, basically) and add mini chips. The melted butter apparently makes them taste rich enough as the store bought because they gobble them up. They come in packs of five. I portioned three to a Baggie and froze all the little baggies in two huge baggies. Grab and defrost breakfast.

  18. Minor set-back, as hubby wanted to make burgers for dinner. But, he was the one to make them and we stuck to salad and some open chips, etc from the pantry for sides. I think that I’ll be able to get through more of our old food items in the next two months if I acquiesce to the occasional specific request like that. Breakfast and lunch were from the pantry. I turned some extra grilled onions and sour cream into a chip dip, but that was the extent of my creativity. I promised my son coffee cake for breakfast, tomorrow. And planning on leftovers for lunch. Maybe smoothies for a snack with some random fruit pits from the freezer, too.

    • Heather M says:

      Yes, acquiescing occasionally makes a huge difference. Last weekend I gave in to Chinese take-out for the other three (I ate my own healthier meal). No one realizes we’re using up things that have been sitting too long and need to be used! I’m like you, need to continue on longer.

  19. Swapped some apples for babysitting the granddaughter (whom we adore and would have watched anyway!) I have spent no money-zero- on groceries yet this month and treat January pantry challenge every year as a game to see how long I can go, especailly after the excess of December. Except for the apples we are out of fresh fruit, but have frozen and dried available. For fresh veg, there are carrots, celery, a bit of spinach, and a whole cabbage. Also, we are down to ten eggs, I cube of butter, and are out of cheddar cheese. We still have muenster, edam, montery jack, mizithra, feta, parm and a bit of swiss (we love cheese, can you tell?) We also still have milk as we use that ultra pasturized kind and are not big mllk drinkers anyway. There’s just the two of us to cook for and I was way to stocked up at the first of the month. I have a whole jar of coconut oil that I bought previously at Trader Joes and will start to experiment with that. Love the challenge of Pantry Challenge!

    • I am impressed! I don’t think I could go that long unless I specifically stocked up for that purpose. Yay you!

      I used coconut oil to make Magic Bars today and they turned out great. I think I could even use less than the amount of butter called for.

      • Thanks! Good to know they turned out. I have everything for those on hand except the sweetened condensed milk. There was a can lurking on the top shelf when I organized for the challenge, but it had expired 8/12 and I decided that was past my comfort date so I chucked it. I did find a chocolate chip recipe that used coconut oil so I might try that.

  20. Heather M says:

    Day 10. Yesterday feels so long ago already.

    Breakfast: cereal, bacon, hardboiled egg, blackberries (depending on who)
    Lunch: lunchbox fare for the kids. Hubs had lunch at work (again! I’ve been terrible this week… need to fix that. However, I think his lunch was a snack, since he was so busy yesterday and inhaled food when he got home late). I was treated to lunch at Panera by a group of friends (again, more birthday celebrating).
    Dinner: Hubs and I had the rest of the birthday coconut curry chicken soup. Kids had Costco pizza slices I’d brought home for them(they love this treat after I trek there, which I did late in the afternoon; had some serious needs so had to go; kept food spending fairly low). We all had some fresh baguette from Costco. I finished with an apple.

  21. B: Oats with milk
    L: Egg salad sandwiches on homemade bread
    D: Potato cakes (pantry item) with leftover rice, mushroom sauce (pantry item), peas.

    I was scrambling a bit around dinner time, but managed to use some things that have been lingering in the pantry, so all things considered this day was a succes 🙂

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