2015 Winter Pantry Challenge, Day 1

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This month our family is participating in a Pantry Challenge. We’re focusing on using up what we have in order to save money and time as well as to reduce waste.

Pantry Challenge Day 1

I didn’t intend to start the Pantry Challenge until tomorrow, but since I wasn’t going to buy excessive groceries, it made the most sense to just do it. I spent half the day in the kitchen planning and prepping for a pantry challenge, so my brain was already tuned to PC.

Here are some of the frugal tweaks I added into the day:

My kids don’t love the hot rice cereal that we have in abundance. I added some into their oatmeal this morning where they wouldn’t notice it. Any leftover hot cereal I added to the Cinnamon Roll dough for tomorrow. I was pretty impressed with myself for both maneuvers.

When I did my big inventory, I found a bag of leftover taco shells in the freezer and another bag of stale chips and some stale tostada shells to use as the base of Lawnmower Taco. The tostada shells were many months past their date, so I chucked those. The casserole wasn’t as large as I would have hoped. It was inhaled in about five minutes. Not a good night to forget to make rice. Some folks made quesadillas to fill the gaps. Needless to say there were no leftovers.

But there’s snack cake for dessert!

Breakfast: Oatmeal Bar

Lunch: Quickest Chili in the West, Milk and Honey Cornbread

Snacks: Popcorn and Cranberry Chocolate Snack Cake

Dinner: Lawnmower Taco, Quesadillas, Cumin-Scented Cabbage Salad

Im-Taking-Pantry-ChallengeThis post is part of the 2015 Winter Pantry Challenge. Read through the archives to catch up.

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  1. We started the pantry challenge right after Christmas. Lunch today was soup (leftover turkey soup) and sandwiches (made with LO roast beef). Dinner was hamburgers, french fries and tossed salad. We were out of buns so we used sliced sandwich bread instead.

  2. I always have trouble making enough food to satisfy my family too. Your post made me giggle. Glad they had cake to pacify them 🙂

  3. We started today as well. It was a total lazy day when it came to meals. This morning was just cereal, lunch was peanut butter sandwiches and supper was burgers and hotdogs (that hubby brought back with him when he was working away) on homemade whole wheat buns and fries made in the Actifry. I’m glad to use up those pkgs of hamburgers and dogs, they were not good quality at all and taking up space. hubby tried. 😉

  4. Heather M says:

    We didn’t start yet. Instead, we started our day ending our annual New Years vacation at my in-laws in NY, where we had brunch with friends at a diner on Long Island. Spent later afternoon/evening driving home to northern VA in rain (awful drive this time.. Arrived home w/a splitting tension headache as I did the driving). We ate snacks of leftover donuts my MIL sent home with us, and random tidbits from 7-11. We got home at 8 and we’ve just snacked on things like pistachios and Christmas candy. Not our most nutritious day. We’ll partially start Challenge-ing tomorrow, but dinner plans out tomorrow and Tuesday, so… 🙂

  5. Vanessa B says:

    We started yesterday. I did a combined inventory of the freezers and started a list of possible meals.
    Friday breakfast – ham and cheese scrambled eggs
    lunch – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
    Dinner – steak tacos,”cheesy chips”, Mexican rice, beans and avocado salsa Verde

    Saturday breakfast – ham and cheese scrambled eggs w/ carrot sticks and ranch?…. my kids are weird
    lunch – mac and cheese with lil’ smokies and applesauce
    Dinner – Ham and corn Chowder
    Dessert – Pear Upside down Cake

  6. Turns out I’m going to do the pantry challenge and freezer cooking at the same time. I really wanted to get some easy dishes in the freezer before Lio left and life got hectic so yesterday (you’ll be so proud of me) I got the makings for over ten meals in the freezer!!! There was a sale on turkey breasts (1kg a piece) and so for the first time ever, I ground turkey and made patties. I just took your book and followed a bunch of recipes (chicken, meat balls, turkey, beans). But for our meals now, I’m going through the cupboards!!

    • Yay! So glad that you’re getting a handle on military mom prep. Glad he has work but bummed he’ll be gone. When’s he come home?

      • Not sure. Around May. This is the first time that he leaves and I am having to deal with work, homeschooling and being alone. Wish me luck! So, this is totally typical at my house. I made a double batch of chicken cacciatore to put some in the freezer, but then someone came for dinner and most of it was eaten.

  7. We did inventory just before Christmas and have worked through quite a bit since. From ingredients found in our freezer/fridge/pantry (plus a few supplemental fresh veg) we’ve had:
    – creamy chicken enchiladas (leftover capon from Christmas, cream cheese from the fridge that I over-bought on sale)
    – lasagna with ground turkey
    – smoked salmon pesto pasta (smoked salmon unearthed from the hidden depths of the freezer, and pesto I made and froze last summer)
    – kalbi ribs, edamame (freezer)
    – Spanish tortilla with onions and potatoes from the basement (those won’t rot now!)
    – sausage rolls (puff pastry and sausage from freezer)
    – soup (made from Christmas capon bones) soup with wontons (freezer) and spinach (fridge – caught it just before it went bad – yea!)
    – salmon filet (freezer)
    – clam chowder (pantry)
    – homemade sushi (smoked salmon, krab, seaweed salad, and fishcake balls from the freezer)
    – onion bhaji (basement), naan (freezer), tamarind sauce (fridge), chicken curry (frozen chicken thighs), carrot halwa for dessert (used up the last of the carrots before they went bad, too – quite exciting!)
    – bratwurst (freezer) and mashed potatoes (basement)
    – spaghetti w/browned butter and mizithra cheese (freezer – got it on sale a couple years ago and lost it in the freezer…)

    We have plans for almost everything else in the freezer. I’ll have to buy more veg, and some soymilk to make smoothies out of all the frozen fruit, though (I found 10 bags and partial bags – what was I thinking!).

    It’s cool to be so close to seeing the back of the inside freezer, and the bottom of the small deep freezer. And the process of doing the inventory has made organizational categories very clear (bread / fruit / veg / grains / meat / seafood / veggie proteins / frozen meals), so hopefully I won’t lose things in the future 🙂

  8. LOL – I’ve done that before… and people had to ‘fill in the gaps’.
    Breakfast was our weekly date – hubs & I have a standing breakfast date on Saturday mornings.
    Ds#3 didn’t wake up until lunchtime!

    Lunch was chicken tenders & fries for ds (I had a tender & broccoli for lunch) and hubs wasn’t hungry because he was busy working in the yard.

    Later, he came in and had a snack of pepperoni, cheese, and crackers… and ds joined him.
    I had planned a meal for dinner, but no one was terribly hungry so we just picked at leftovers.
    Ahhh…. vacation. 🙂

  9. Michelle Porter says:

    Well today wasn’t a very good day to start apparently.
    Breakfast – Cinnamon Rolls and juice
    Lunch – Nothing
    Dinner – at my parent’s and they bought pizza (sent the leftovers home with us

    What do you guys do about a child who all of a sudden decides they are the pickiest eater ever!!! I’m about to pull my hair out. My 11-year-old daughter has now decided that everything I or her father cook or feed her, is the grossest food in the world. Then she complains about how we don’t feed her. UUUUGGGGHHHH!!!!! Her dad is ready to beat her into eating, but I just keep telling him she will eat if she is hungry. I make sure I have fruit and yogurt and cheese but now all of a sudden she doesn’t want to eat those either. I offer cereal as a last resort. I’ve never had this problem before so I’m not sure how to end it.

    • She will eat when she gets hungry. 🙂
      From experience – if you cave, you’ll have to deal with a ridiculously picky eater forever, and you’ll always be subject to her whims. Serve meals as usual. She’ll eat when she’s hungry. (And hugs to you – I *know* it is exasperating!!!)

      • Michelle Porter says:

        That’s what is so exasperating!!! She is my child who would eat salads 3 meals a day when she was young. She would try any and everything. Just within this school year has she become so picky. BUT, and get this, we made homemade bean and ham soup on Saturday. I was dicing onions for the soup and for the next 20 minutes, she kept coming in the kitchen sneaking pieces of diced onion. Then got mad when I had added it all to the soup. Sheeeeeeesh!!!!

    • My eldest is 17. When he decided he didn’t like what I was making, I told him he was on his own for breakfast and lunch. I suggest giving her the responsibility to prepare her own meals. And go read Bread and Jam for Frances 🙂

      • Michelle Porter says:

        Thanks ladies. She is such a whiny girl she would probably just go hungry and not learn a lesson at all. Maybe I will take her to the store with me tonight and let her pick out some healthy things. She was hungry after dinner last night which she did eat, and I offered her an apple or an orange. Her comment….”Mom, you know I don’t eat healthy stuff.” What a change.

  10. So ready to start the Pantry Challenge!

    Brunch: Bacon, eggs, fried potatoes, toast
    Snack: cheese and crackers
    Dinner: Chicken spaghetti, green salad

  11. Angela B. says:

    Second day and still staying strong…

    lunch-ham sandwiches and salad
    dinner-spagetti w/ bread and butter

    I haven’t done my inventory list yet but I plan to tonight….wish me luck!

  12. I’m glad I found this blog. It’s easier to do a pantry eat down when I know I’m not alone. I do this periodically and am doing it now. I haven’t “officially” started it since I didn’t inventory. Before Christmas my mom and a couple of friends cleaned out their cabinets and gave us so much that I had no room in the pantry and gave some to the food bank. My eat down will last 2-3 months.

    Right now I’m doing 3-4 days a week of freezer leftovers. I may inventory this weekend and then make a plan. Lawnmower Tacos sound good. I also tend to take a lot of those too small little bits and make soup.

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