Pantry Challenge: Days 6, 7, & 8

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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 vacation

Hey there! I’m back. Did you miss me? Before I scheduled the Pantry Challenge, I scheduled a weekend away with family and friends. That means our pantry went on vacation with us.

While I had big hopes of making all our meals and packing them along, that didn’t really happen. What kind of fool am I not to let Gramma Marilyn and my bestie, Jessika, cook for me?! Jessika made us awesome breakfast sandwiches this morning (so good!) along with Breakfast Cookies. It’s flattering to have a friend who cooks from your own cookbooks.

Despite the total mooching, I did do my best to contribute, though. Here’s what we packed from the pantry:

I had done a really good job (if I do say so myself) of cleaning out the fridge before we left, so we stopped at the store on our way home to buy milk, veggies, and (yes, a splurge) sushi rolls. Dinner tonight was Chicken and Satay Sauce (both from the freezer), rice, and grilled veggies.

groceries pantry challenge 30

This is the groceries I bought today, minus the sushi. I wasn’t sure if I should count the sushi rolls, but since I bought it at the grocery store, as opposed to a restaurant, I will. It was $30 for a Crunchy Roll, a California Roll, and all this in the picture. That brings our challenge grocery total to $60. The half gallon of milk is for my husband to take to work. He has been keeping milk and cereal at work for a cheap, easy lunch.

I’ll be getting the produce box this week, so that’s another $50 (I bought a few extras) for the challenge. If we bake, we should be good on not buying a whole lot more for the challenge.

How’s the challenge going for YOU?

Pantry-Challenge-GCE-150x150This post is a part of the Summer 2014 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. Stephanie M. says:

    Welcome back, Jessica. Glad to hear you had such a nice weekend!

    I think our pantry/freezer challenge is going very well. We have eaten almost all of the frozen leftovers; There’s only one more small piece of a casserole and one bag of bean and beef burrito sauce left in there. There are also some home made apple turnovers and a couple of pieces of blueberry coffee cake. As for uncooked meat, there is only 1 bag of chicken legs, 2 bags of chicken thighs, 1 London broil, 1 bag of scallops, 1 bag of boneless pork chops, and one lb. of ground beef. That’s not really too bad and could be gone within the next week to 10 days. Since we’ve started this challenge, I spent a total of $90.95 on three visits to the grocery store. I only bought what I absolutely needed and quickly walked out again. It was tempting to “go outside the line”. While in there, I started thinking about a dish I haven’t had in a while and how good it would be to have that but I stayed strong and told myself that after I’m done with everything I have in the freezer, I can go and buy what I need to make that meal but not until so before it got the best of me, I paid for my stuff and got out of there. The items I purchased were mostly perishable ones that we’ve run out of like zucchini, bananas, strawberries, nectarines, blueberries, raspberries, and watermelon. I also needed some paper towels, milk, cereal, and eggs. That’s it. So now we are full steam ahead on week 2.

  2. We were away from home for a few days. Our son wrote (and passed!) two college CLEP tests. We’re back now, and the challenge continues. Last night’s dinner was slow cooked pork chops. Tonight’s is Indian Spiced Salmon and baked sweet potatoes. I’m starting to see some room in the freezer!

  3. Maureen says:

    This weekend we were out a fair amount and had DS’s birthday yesterday. So, we weren’t really focused on the challenge, but I only shopped for birthday meal items and a few staples. Our few meals at home were from the “pantry”. I am working on a meal plan this morning for this week. I am usually able to make much more progress during the week with hubby at work and the kids home to eat up the bits from the freezer, etc. And we will be home for almost all of our meals this week, so I should be able to come up with a good plan (focusing on clearing out the kitchen freezer).

  4. Yes, we missed you!! 🙂
    We’ve done pretty well this weekend with our challenge – I did get milk, cheese, and a roast at the Farmer’s Market.
    Saturday was probably our most successful (creative) day:
    the power went out just as I was taking your Chocolate Zucchini Cake out of the oven, and precisely at lunchtime. I had planned to make pasta – the water was even boiling on the stove – when the power went out. We had sandwiches instead, using hamburger buns left from our July 4th gathering, and chips. For dinner, we had our pasta, using up leftover spaghetti sauce and making garlic bread from hotdog buns from the 4th! And naturally, everyone had some cake (which has gotten rave reviews at my house)!

  5. No shopping this weekend but did go out with girlfriend on Saturday, bogo coupon used and split the bill and had a really great (and cheap) time. Had toast for breakfast and chicken wraps for lunch.
    Sunday we had blueberry pancakes for breakfast, hard salami and swiss cheese sandwiches for lunch and, baked wild cod, baked potatoes and glazed carrots for dinner.
    Menu planning is done for this week so let the week begin!

  6. We had everything out of ghetto fridge and freezer last night. I made teriyaki chicken, smothered corn with bacon, a huge salad that used up bits and pieces in the crisper and garlic bread. I leave today to go backpacking with my dad and son so my husband and daughter are on their own for a few days.

    • What is smothered corn? Sounds yummy!

      • The smothered corn is our new favorite recipe. You take about 3 pieces of bacon and cut them up. Brown In a pan and then throw in a half an onion, chopped. In the meantime cut the kernels off of 4 ears of corn. When the onion is softened add the corn to the pan and sauté until done. Season with salt and pepper and eat. It’ll be your new favorite recipe too.

  7. That really shouldn’t be ghetto. It should be the.

  8. Saturday we had:
    Breakfast- eggs over easy and homemade toast
    Lunch- peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, leftover pasta salad for me, chips and homemade cookies
    Dinner- skillet gnocci with chard and white beans, homemade bread with butter

    Breakfast- eggs over easy and homemade toast
    Lunch- leftovers, my husband had the rest of the ravioli di funghi and I had the rest of the pineapple tofu stir fry with rice, we both had a banana muffin
    Dinner- chipotle mac and cheese with a salad

    I’m making bread today, and we have to go to the grocery store for more milk and ingredients for pies for one of my son’s band outings.

  9. Chocolate Zucchini Cake is a favorite around here, especially when it is prolific in the garden. I need to try your Ranch Dressing recipe. Thanks for the links! Weekends away are the best, but there’s no place like home, right?

  10. Yay! for the awesome get away, but we did miss you very much.

    We have had a pretty great pantry challenge so far. Over the weekend we managed to finish most of our leftovers so that we could start fresh today. I am actually baking a chicken right now. So we will have baked chicken for dinner and leftovers for lunch. We have eaten out twice since the start, but we keep a separate budget for that. I am starting to see a small dent in the deep freeze. The real difference is the icebox where everything is almost gone. I’ve never been so happy to see empty space! We have spent a little over $80 of our $150 budget so far. If I keep it tight this week we might make it through the first under budget.

  11. Heather M says:

    So far the Challenge is going really well. I’ll just focus on dinners for days 6-8, since breakfast & lunch are usually the same variations as the first 5 days were. This weekend was hugely successful, Challenge-wise.

    Day 6: inventoried my freezer so I have a good list of available proteins and veggies (otherwise it’s on,y a few convenience items and ice cream). Want those mostly gone so we can start clean in September when I’m finally home. Dinner was a healthy salmon chowder with baguette. Used the rest of the found shelf stable whipping cream to “richen” it up, fresh veggies and canned wild Alaskan salmon from the pantry. Super tasty! Also threw a few fish sticks in the oven for the growing boy. Have only enough fish sticks left for him to have when we eat the discovered tilapia. For some reason he doesn’t love it, but he loves all sorts of other fish.

    Day 7: Dinner was a huge success: spicy basque style chicken over yellow rice, with green beans. Chicken and green beans from the freezer. Rest of that recipe came from pantry ingredients, including a found bag of yellow rice. Super yummy!!

    Day 8: got up early to put a healthy chile con carne in the slow cooker (steak, pinto, and black beans from the freezer, fresh tomatoes and canned crushed as well). Made cornbread from scratch, and a pan of brownies from a box (all baking pantry items!). We were ready for Sunday dinner after church. All I had to do was throw together a salad.

  12. Shannon says:

    I am new to your site but read your book while visiting my SIL in Atlanta. Loving a good challenge to clean out!
    We have made: 3 baked spaghettis (to freeze) to keep on hand for our Care Ministry at church (we are gradually reducing our grain intake so this was a great way to use up 2 boxes of spaghetti and two jars of Ragu – I also now make my own sauce), granola using up a container of oats and some nuts from the freezer, salmon sausage (a gift my husband received in February – it was delicious!) with roasted sweet potatoes (using up a 25 lb box I got at the farmers market in the spring – still have about 20 left that are starting to sprout now – got to use them!). Our garden is in full swing so making lots of marinated salads with tomatoes and cucumbers (and cold cucumber soup) and basil and finding all my eggplant recipes to make soon! It is supposed to rain all afternoon and evening so a good day to make “freezer soup” – have it in the crockpot. All those odds and ends plus my last jar of canned tomatoes from last summer (so now I can start fresh!) in the crockpot all day. Family is NOT excited about soup in the summer so we will see – hoping it is cooler bc of the rain! We have only bought a few produce items and dairy – spent about $50 so far. Making a run to the farmers market today for peaches, though! Got to have fresh peaches in NC!! Will freeze a bunch of those too. Funny to say how much I am freezing but that is why I need to clean out – to make room to store some good summer produce for use in the fall! We will make ice cream several times using up cans of evaporated milk I stocked up on at Christmas. I just ran out of mayo and saw your homemade recipe – am going to try it! Duke’s is my favorite, though 🙂 Thank you!

  13. Tiffany R says:

    We used up shrimp from the freezer and grits from the pantry for dinner (can you guess what we had??). I also had a little package of peppers and onions that I had gotten with a frozen entree in my freezer that I threw into the mix. I also used up some zucchini in your chocolate cake recipe. It was delicious and no one knew that it had zucchini in it.

    We are plowing right through the food in the house with just a minimum of items bought. The family is complaining some but not too much.

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