Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Three

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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 Three

Quick update tonight since I’ve been in my jammies since 5pm and we’re going to watch a movie soon. I think early dinners are the way to go. They facilitate early bedtimes.

My kids slept until almost nine this morning. I have no idea why, I’m pretty sure that they averaged 11 to 12 hours sleep. Amen.

I set up a Breakfast Bar of quick breads and fruit. We’re down to 3 loaves of bread now after I made SEVEN yesterday.

Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Three

Lunch was soup from the freezer and crackers. We had two kinds of soup: Vegetable Beef with Barley and Potato Leek. There was none left from the 2 quarts.

Dinner we had a feast: grilled chicken, salad, quinoa, and root beer floats made with homemade vanilla ice cream.

On the homemade ice cream: I read a Michael Pollan quote recently that said this: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. That resonated with me. Then, I went shopping before Christmas and read the ingredients on ice cream packages. I realized that I could easily make this one of the first things to change. I already have an ice cream maker, and I know that it can be cheaper to make myself. Tastes better, too. So, I made that tonight. It only takes 20 minutes and is an easy way to have our junk food and eat a little healthier, too.

We did not, however, make the root beer. It was left over from when my family visited earlier in the fall. But, when I shared the Pollan quote with the boys, FishBoy9 immediately asked if we could make root beer ourselves. So, yes, we’re going to try that, too.

Pantry Challenge 2014: Day Three

Breakfast: Vanilla Cranberry Bread, Pumpkin Bread, Bananas, Oranges

Lunch: Soup from the freezer, crackers

Dinner: Grilled Mustard Chicken, Salad, Quinoa Pilaf, Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream in Root Beer Floats

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. I made this tonight:
    It was sooo good and I had all of the ingredients (or similar ingredients) on hand. Since I didn’t have jack cheese I subbed mozzarella. I had a turkey kielbasa that I needed to use or freeze. I was afraid it would be too spicy with 1/2 tsp. pepper flakes so I added 1/4 tsp. I’ll do a little more next time (hubs likes things spicier than I do).

    I’ll make a trip to the grocery store tomorrow just to stock up on some good meat sales and a few necessary staples (milk/bread). I cleaned out the freezers before Christmas which has really helped me get a handle on what I can make with what we have on hand. I probably could make it close to the end of the month with the meat in the freezer but I like to take advantage of good prices. I ordered 40 lbs. of bs chicken breasts from Zaycon to be delivered in mid Feb. Should be interesting prepping all those boobs.

    • Thanks for the link! I’d never heard of that site. Looks like a good one. Wish I was in a gardening frame of mind….

      • Mavis’ site is a really good one, even if you aren’t in to gardening. Her recipes are really good and she has a heart for saving money in the kitchen. Lots of interesting info on her website. I found out about Zaycon chicken through her They charge $1.89 for bs breasts that are hormone and additive free. You can go to their website to see if they have a delivery spot in your area. They only do chicken a few times a year. The delivery in our area is on the other side of town from us but it’s right on the hubs way home from work 🙂

    • That recipe sounds wonderful. I have some potatoes I need to use up and I’ve been wondering what to do with them. I also have some kielbasa in the freezer. I have frozen broccoli, not fresh, but if I thaw it out first I don’t see why it wouldn’t work, so I’ll be giving that a try in a couple of days. Thanks for the link!

  2. Day 3:
    Breakfast: Banana muffins, milk and fresh raspberries
    Lunch: Tacos and tossed salad
    Dinner: Spaghetti with meat sauce; Texas Toast with garlic and cheese; asst. fresh berries

    Any ideas on using up molasses? For some reason I have two unopened bottles of molasses, which is an ingredient I rarely use. I do not recall purchasing them. I think perhaps my mother bought them when she was last here with the idea of baking something with her Grandchildren.

  3. Homemade root beer was a special occasion staple in my house growing up, and is one of my favorite things. I have the ingredients to make it on hand. Might have to do that one day soon.

    Janet- Molasses cookies? I don’t have a recipe, but I have a friend who makes them for me every year for Christmas and I love them. I would also use it on pork. with a little bbq sauce and mustard in the slow cooker. Sounds crazy, but I bet its yummy

    I unfortunately tore a (serious) muscle in my back last night at the gym. It was excruciatingly painful. I ALMOST went to the ER, but instead I didn’t sleep all night and went to urgent care this morning. $128.00 and who know how many more bills later I need this pantry challenge more than ever!

    The husband did go to the store and bought white bread and ham to make my life easier. We ate homemade pizza for dinner. I slept through lunch (on pain medicine). I have a friend bringing me chili tomorrow (thank goodness). My wonderful husband is a dunce in the kitchen! Luckily I’m not on complete bed rest.

    • Heather M says:

      Ay that sounds painful! I hope that muscle fixes itself quickly! What were you doing when it tore? I live in fear that I’ll do something like that while I’m in the middle of this weight loss “journey”….

      Good luck with everything right now!

      • Hi Heather! Thanks for the well wishes. I am one of those people who is always at the gym. I go 4-6 times a week. Since I’ve become a “gym rat” I’ve injured myself four times. One sprained ankle, one torn labrum, one sprained wrist, and one smashed finger under weights. The fifth injury was the first to ever stop me dead in my tracks and make me want to go to the hospital immediately. I was doing a workout called “sandbagging” it is a shoulder workout that uses kettle bells. I hurt myself with 20lbs 🙁 and considering the normal amount of weights that I use that is nothing. I tore a major lower back muscle and caused my hip to pop out of alignment!!

        My advice is to do a light warm up before you stretch, eat plenty of protein, and most importantly LISTEN to your body. If something feels wrong DONT DO IT! That will help tremendously with injuries.

        Good Luck on your journey!

        • Heather M says:

          CeCee, THANKS for this advice!! It’s really helpful! I joined my gym on Sept. 6, and have been there 6 days a week since then (except when we were out of town Dec. 27-Jan.1, and the one day their power was out due to a transformer issue). I am working with a trainer once a week and I do cardio for at least an hour, and his strength/circuit routine about 5 days a week. So far, so good. Fingers crossed. I’ve lost 48.8 pounds the past 17 weeks. Last week being out of town and eating less carefully for the first time, I was only down .4 of a lb. So I’ve been doing really really well. I live in fear of a derailing injury and really want to make sure that I can get the rest of the weight off before anything happens. Or that nothing major happens. I LOVE the gym, my workouts, etc. I will be continuing on after reaching my goal and staying healthy for the rest of my life. I’m not getting any younger and need to make it a priority. My initial goal is only 20 pounds away, but I might go for 10 more beyond that. Now that I see what I’m looking like it feels like maybe more. We’ll see. Thanks for the encouragement and the advice. It’s much appreciated!

    • Ouch! Feel better soon!

  4. Heather M says:

    Day three and we’ve already half-derailed. The kids were back in school yesterday, then we got snow and cold last night, which doesn’t work well here. All we need are a few measly inches and school is delayed or canceled. They’d predicted a mere inch, but it turned into 4+, since the rain changed over earlier than thought. 5 am wake-up call to tell us no school. So we all slept in and were lazy. stuck inside with windchills in the single digits (but they say Tuesday morning we’ll have windchills at -23, which I’ve never seen in 22 1/2 years living in the DC area!). The hubs had a serious hankering for chinese food, and since we haven’t had takeout like that in months, I relented. There’s always the rest of the month. so….

    Breakfast: eggs, bacon, blackberries
    Lunch: everyone scrounged; I had crackers, ham, laughing cow wedge, and carrots
    Dinner: they all had chinese food. I had a healthy bean tostada loaded with lettuce, tomatoes, and green onions.

    Tomorrow I’ll meal plan and bake banana muffins. Since I didn’t today.

  5. That soup looks yummy! With the holiday leftovers in the freezer, it’s definitely soup season. In the next couple weeks I know I’m making turkey barley soup, split pea soup, and bean soup with ham (my first ham bone!). If time permits, I may be brave and try a paprika cauliflower soup, too. These are great for taking to the office during the winter, and easy to heat up when we get home, too.

  6. OUCH on the torn back muscle – YIKES!!!!!
    Today was a planned out-to-lunch day with my new daughter-in-love! We had so much fun, and my mom came along (and actually bought lunch for everyone). I’m so glad – after years of all boys – to have a GIRL in the family. 😉
    The rest of the meals went as planned – smoothies & pumpkin bread/oatmeal for breakfast; Pioneer Woman’s pollo asado, refried beans and queso w/ chips for dinner. Dessert was butter pecan frozen yogurt from the freezer.

    I totally agree on the homemade ice cream!!! I bought an ice cream maker this summer, and it makes treats so easy. And SO much better. (I do try to follow the “eat all the food you want as long as you make it yourself” philosophy – junk food and regular!) Homemade root beer? My son would be delighted – do tell how it goes!!!

    Our progress:

  7. B- vanilla cranberry bread and Cheerios
    L- quesadillas with leftovers
    D- ham, Mac and cheese, green beans, whole wheat rolls and sweet potato casserole

  8. Do you have your pumpkin bread recipe somewhere? I tried doing a search and couldn’t seem to find it… I have some pumpkin leftover from holiday baking and some breakfast-y bread sounds yummy. 🙂

  9. This is what I did for supper: From the freezer I took out leftover beef gravy, leftover roast beef, corn, green beans and a pie crust. I boiled two cut up potatoes, one onion and one carrot. Then I combined all in a baking dish and topped with the pie crust. It was delicious! Hubs ate two large helpings! Too bad I won’t be able to exactly replicate. Love using up what is in the freezer.

  10. Day three was another good day! Finally got to sit down and plan out menus for the month and we are “more” than covered. So excited I’ll be able to eat from the pantry and freezer for the next month and a half and only have to pick up dairy and produce! Some of which I will be picking up today.

    Breakfast – Banana nut bread
    Lunch – Pizza
    DInner – Shrimp scampi

  11. Vanessa B says:

    Day 3
    B- ham & cheese scrambled eggs, toast and orange slices
    L- leftover odds and ends; mac n cheese, egg rolls, etc
    D- leftover lasagna, salad, carrot sticks and French apple pie

    The lasagna was a homemade frozen one from a month ago. Turned out beautiful and delicious. My husband says the frozen one tastes better. I will definitely continue doing lasagna this way, do all the work once to enjoy multiple times. Maybe next fall I will do it earlier and make 3.

    My family is not crazy about leftovers but when my dear husband walked in the door and saw me making an apple pie he didn’t care that we were having lasagna the sequel for our main course. Moral of the story; hot homemade dessert is the remedy for any food ennui.

    Day 4 requires a trip to the store for fresh veg, milk, eggs, tortillas, and fresh meat for my carnivore family. Trying to only spend $30, we shall see.

  12. Hi everyone: I love reading all the comments every morning. Jessica, you are a real inspiration to me. I found your site last year by accident and have been reading it since then. I have done several freezer challenges since I’ve been reading your blog but have never managed to completely empty my freezer and pantry. My pantry is a gigantic closet in the garage, everything organized by like items in labeled baskets. I tend to replace things after they’re gone rather than using the other things I have. So for the first time now, I’m determined to get out from under it all. I have been working on my own challenge since November where my freezer is concerned. I’m actually starting to see some “white space” now. But this time, I’m really not going to stop until it’s all gone and then, I think I’m going to stop buying meat in bulk and only but what I need for two weeks at a time since my husband gets paid twice a month. I love to do freezer cooking and baking so I’ll continue that but stocking up on so much meat really has to stop since it’s only my husband and I. Our kids are grown; one is still home and many times, she eats out with her friends or cooks her own dinners especially if I’m cooking something “unhealthy” that evening. Even my husband and I don’t eat the same every night. I’ve been eating mostly healthy, low fat only foods for years; my husband still wants his meat and potatoes so all of our dinner plates usually look different. I call our home, “Steph’s all night diner!” In the meantime, we are cold here in New Jersey with snow and I still have weeks worth of food in my freezer.

    • Welcome aboard! Glad to have you join us!

    • the1chery says:

      Steph, I have that same issue! I bought and bought and bought; meat and veg and other things to stock up and freeze but I’m only one person (my three kids are out of the house and my grandkids dont eat over very often) and my freezer was soon stuffed to the rim. A few months ago my grandson uplugged my freezer by mistake and it was sitting like that for, I’m guessing, 1 or 2 weeks until I smelled something horrible and discovered all the food warm and rotting. SO that took care of my stock pile! Now I’m resolving to only buy what I need for the week and at this time in my life that isnt much. That should save me a lot of money!

  13. We are making headway through the pantry and freezer. I took some leftover cinnamon raisin bread from the freezer (only about 6 slices) and 1/2 cup of leftover eggnog from Christmas and made a baked french toast for breakfast. Hubs was unsure how it was going to turn out but once he tasted it, he was pleasantly surprised. Yeah!

    Breakfast: Baked Cinnamon Raising French Toast, coffee (we are using up a brand we don’t exactly love)
    Lunch: PBJ or Grilled cheese
    Dinner: Grilled Chicken Salads (kids are going to birthday parties so hubs and I are keeping it simple)

  14. Day 3

    B: pumpkin oatmeal and hardboiled eggs (kids), scrambled eggs (parents). We eat a lot of eggs in our house. They’re healthy, cheap and easy!

    L: deviled eggs (see?), leftover turkey, cheese, fruit, muffins (made with languishing fruit and veg). Lunches are normally a thrown together, snacky affair here. I packed my husband leftover chicken from a few nights ago.

    D: pork & cabbage stew (cabbage needed to be used up) and sweet potato/mushroom/spinach quesadillas (again, using up produce so it wasn’t wasted).

  15. YUM! What recipe do you use for the vanilla cranberry bread? I have both fresh and craisins on hand.

  16. B- bran muffins from the freezer
    L- leftovers, lawnmower taco, Spanish rice, corn, pears
    S- daughter had pancakes, cheese, eggs, we had date night with Chinese take out (entertainment fund, not groceries)

  17. Breakfast: skipped
    Lunch: chicken & veggie soup with asian dumplings – dumplings from the freezer, chicken broth from fridge, veggies from veggie drawer, came out super tasty!
    Snack: popcorn
    Dinner: gnocchi alla sorrentina (red sauce with fresh mozzarella) with a baguette – gnocchi was in the pantry, canned tomatoes in the pantry, mozzarella in the fridge and nearing end of life so great to use up, baguette from freezer

    I’d been planning to make 15 bean ham soup, but neglected to soak the beans, so that got postponed a day.

  18. For day three we had veggie breakfast burritos, using up some of the chopped frozen bell pepper and onion in the freezer. For lunch I had bean soup, my husband had leftover falafel and tabouleh salad and the kids had sandwiches. We went out for dinner because we had already planned a trip to the symphony/bought the tickets last month.

    Slowly we’ll use up the freezer stash.

  19. This pantry challenge is already making me feel motivated to not only save money, but also to clean & organize the entire kitchen while I’m at it! Thank you SO much for the motivation & inspiration! 🙂

  20. Day 3 was good here too … breakfast was ham and eggs and the Boy made hashbrowns in the waffle maker. Everyone made sandwiches with lunchmeat and carrot sticks and apple slices kn side. Hubby made dinner with sauce and chicken ravioli from freezers and also found a stray can of crescent rolls … I love that hes signed up for the challenge! Was feeling under the weather so glad he dug around in the freezers 🙂

  21. Hi everyone!
    I am only on Day 2 of the challenge and overall good! I have to blog about today, but should have it posted soon. We have to run to the store tomorrow before school gets back into swing for a few fruits, but otherwise the grocery trip should be fairly minimal! 🙂

  22. Brunch: Scrampled eggs, pancakes, homemade rolls, freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee (phew!)

    Dinner: Buffet of cold cuts and bread. (This is typical in Denmark and features our very dark rye bread).

    Dessert: Danish apple cake (apple sauce and maccaroons layered and topped with whipped cream)

    We ate dinner at my in laws, so since I didn’t have to cook dinner I spent some time preparing slow cooker bakes beans and cooked up a big batch of kidney beans in my pressure cooker in the afternoon.

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