2015 Winter Pantry Challenge: Day Eighteen

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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 sandwich

It was date night tonight which means I got one-on-one time with my husband; the kids were thrilled because they got Sauerkraut and Spare Ribs, a meal my husband doesn’t care for. I call that a double-win.

Breakfast was a fend-for-yourself kind of deal with FishBoy12 making hot cereal for everyone. At lunch we had sandwiches: almond butter and jam for some, avocado for the mama.

I’m not sure how we will muddle through the remaining twelve days. The store house is looking fairly uninspiring. We keep running out of fresh produce and dairy which tells me those must be the things we eat a lot of, huh?

Breakfast: Hot Cereal with toppings

Lunch: Sandwiches

Snacks: Cheese and crackers, fruit

Dinner: Sauerkraut and Spare Ribs, boiled potatoes

How did the pantry treat you today?

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. Heather M says:

    A quiet and uninspired Challenge day here. Son was off school for a teacher work day and the hubs working very late because State of the Union. Son made some music, took care of some “pressing” issues he was dealing with (-3 year old kind), and I did laundry,things around the house, and a few errands.

    B: toast, fruit, cheese
    L: hubs had lunch with a colleague, son and I had pizza from target… A day off treat.
    D: hubs had dinner at work (they have to stay on a night like tonight and provide it for them); son had eggs, bread, and a banana; I finished my leftover Vietnamese from the other night.

    The real work begins again tomorrow for the rest of the month. Planning, cooking, baking. Etc. Looking forward to finally fully embracing the challenge without so much eating out/takeout. I’ll probably go into February, based on the food we have and last year’s track record!

  2. We keep running out of produce and dairy, too. I buy four gallons of milk per week anymore, and now I need to buy more I guess! There’s only four of us here, but two teenagers and my husband has been drinking lots of milk lately.

    B-oatmeal with peanut butter and sliced banana, tea

    L-leftover falafel in homemade pita bread with cous cous salad, three crackers with nutella

    D-grilled cheese and tomato soup from a can that needed to be used

  3. Stuck with the game plan even when things got tough! In the middle of making dinner, my MS symptoms and fatigue started getting the better of me. I hung in there long enough to finish cooking, but couldnt stick around to eat dinner, headed to bed. Iam grateful I usully start feeling crummy at about 5 pm, when dinner is almost made(we eat at 5:30 just about every night, otherwise the littles revolt!). If we ate dinner later I am sure we would rely on take out quite a bit and bust the budget! Hard day, but I made it!
    B-finished off the leftover crepes, oatmeal, and donuts from last night
    L- tamales or leftover pizza
    D- chicken stir fry with rice, steamed veggies and salad

    • Sorry to hear you are struggling, but proud of you for fighting thru to the bitter end!

    • Crystal’ I understand. My lupus symptoms got the better of me last night too. Bought an already cooked meatloaf and used up last of potatoes. Got fruit at Fresh Market because I cannot live without good fruit. Tonight might be a classic southern dinner, 3 veggies and cornbread (I have a ton of cornbread in the pantry.)

  4. I’m down to my last freezer meal this week. Still some bits & bobs in there – using up some prawns in a salad later on this week. We used up all our commercial cereal and I asked my husband if he had any requests: he nominated coco pops! So I found a recipe online and made him some. All I had to buy was the organic rice puffs. We’ll see if he spots the difference…
    Spent a little more this week on the groceries, although I assessed which fruit was not being eaten & accordingly didn’t buy more. Feeling a lot smarter and thriftier when I shop these days!

  5. Breakfast: eggs, bacon, toast (I actually cooked all the rest of the bacon from the package so I could crumble it to put in other things)
    Lunch: sandwiches
    Dinner: leftover Chipotle
    Dessert: the strawberry “oatmeal bars” I made the other day end up incredibly crumbly for some reason, not really bars, so I scooped out some of that, poured some cream over it, and heated it up. Yum!

    • Stephanie P says:

      Sorry the oatmeal bars didn’t turn out like planned but they sound amazing that way too!

      • It was pretty good, yes. I’ve made them before with no problems, so I have no idea what I did wrong this time. It turns out the interior is more like bars are supposed to be, it is just the perimeters that are so crumbly. I also forgot to reduce the recipe’s sugar content, so they are sweeter than I really wanted. I tried to combat that today by having a small piece for breakfast, topped with a huge scoop of tangy plain Greek yogurt. Yogurt, oatmeal, and fruit counts as a decent breakfast, right? We’ll just overlook the sugar and butter that were also present. 🙂

    • I kind of like it when crumbles take over, because they are so good with Cool Whip and if you layer them, they look really fancy.
      Which reminds me, I have Jello and pudding to use up!

  6. Stephanie M. says:

    My pantry is becoming noticeably scarce. There are still quite a few bags of pasta and plenty of baking supplies, but the canned goods sections is really thinning out. I tend to focus more on the freezer but I am also working on the pantry as well. Today I used the last three cans of cannellini beans from there. My goal was to have the freezer completely emptied out by the end of this challenge and I’m afraid that might not go quite as planned. A lot can be removed from there between now and the last day of the challenge but it takes time because certain things create enough leftovers for a couple of days so it is not every day that something comes out of there. But we are doing our best and certainly not “adding” anything to the freezer. Needless to say, just because the challenge comes to an end here, doesn’t mean I won’t continue until I’ve met my goal.

    B – Hubby had cereal; I had two waffles and strawberries.

    L – We both had pork salad sandwiches with lettuce and tomato made with the leftover roast pork from Sunday. (I make this the same way as chicken salad or tuna salad – mayo and celery). Hubby also had a hard-boiled egg.

    D – Bean soup with hot dogs made with the last three cans of cannellini beans from the pantry.

    Dessert – Crème brulee that I made using up almost all of the heavy cream left in the container.

  7. We too are continuing to use up lots of things but as always will also continue into February to get the freezer and pantry down. Still enough to make lots of good meals so no complaining here.

    Breakfast – French toast, coffee
    Lunch – Frozen plain(littles) and combination (bigs) pizza
    Dinner – Chicken fingers (littles), buffalo chicken (bigs), french fries, applesauce
    Snacks – apple slices w/caramel sauce, chips and dip

  8. Jessica S says:

    Have had to hit the grocery store for neccessities and coupon deals too good to pass, so that is helping round out things around here.
    Kids finally back to school after a long weekend!
    B- buttermilk pancakes made with a mix of wheat and AP flour, strawberries( great sale deal)
    L- pbj, berries, chips, yogurt tubes and veggies
    D- light dinner before TKD- defrosted a package of bacon and cooked that. Made kids grilled cheese and bacon sammies with canned fruit.
    Snack- air popped pop corn tossed with cinnamon sugar butter

  9. Everyone was back to work today and it’s just the 2 of us again; college girl that was home is back on campus.
    I planned ahead for last nights dinner by making pizza dough monday while I was home and had time.
    Beginning to see more white space in fridge and freezer!

    B: fruit smoothie
    S: peanut butter crackers
    L: leftover chicken fajita meat + hominey casserole for me; chef salad for hubby
    D: Homemade pizza (used up the pepperoni and green peppers from the freezer), oranges for dessert
    S: Apple slices w/peanut butter for hubby before bed

  10. Everyone was back to work today and it’s just the 2 of us again; college girl that was home is back on campus.
    I planned ahead for last nights dinner by making pizza dough monday while I was home and had time.
    Beginning to see more white space in fridge and freezer!

    B: fruit smoothie
    S: peanut butter crackers
    L: leftover chicken fajita meat + hominey casserole for me; chef salad for hubby
    D: Homemade pizza (used up the pepperoni and green peppers from the freezer), oranges for dessert
    S: Apple slices w/peanut butter for hubby before bed

  11. I really enjoy seeing what you and your family are eating. It’s very inspiring. We have started today. Not intentionally but after doing a fairly big shop I realised we had little room left!

  12. Tiffany R says:

    Rocking through the pantry and freezer. Yesterday used up a few things for us.

    Breakfast: Steel cut oatmeal w/apples, pecans & blueberries and coffee (me), leftover pancakes from freezer (kids)
    Lunch: Turkey wrap with last of flat-out bread, tortilla chips (found 3 open bags in pantry so I combined them into 1 big bag), grapes
    Dinner: Grilled Chicken Gyros (freezer), Homemade Tzatziki sauce, Rice (daughter), Sweet Potato (me & hubs), Creamed corn (son). I used up the last of the half/half that was about to expire along with corn frozen this summer to make the creamed corn. Everyone likes something different and I was trying to use up a few bits and pieces.
    Snack: Pumpkin muffins (mix)

    Went to grocery store yesterday since the only fresh produce we had left was 2 apples. Bought bananas, carrots, grapes, bread, etc. Was more expensive than I was expecting ($28) but we can’t eat well without fresh items.

  13. I haven’t chimed in yet, but we are doing really well. I had way too much food stocked up! We will definitely be going into February.
    B- oven baked pancakes (I found a bag of mix I had prepped for camping this summer)
    L- taco corn fritters, applesauce, pepper strips (and now I’m out of cornmeal- boooo)
    D- chicken pot pie
    S- crackers and cheese

  14. Stephanie P says:

    Yesterday went as planned. We still have a ton of food. It seems like we only keep running out of the fresh stuff and milk and eggs! As usual I only have my lunch listed as DS is fed at preschool and DH doesn’t eat lunch since he sleeps during the day.

    B: Mickey waffles for DS (from the freezer stash from this weekend), Overnight oats for me.
    L: Buffalo chicken chili, cucumbers, orange
    D: Pineapple chicken (not a hit with the boys), French fries for DH, leftover homemade macaroni and one piece of broccoli for DS, and wheat pasta and broccoli for me.
    S: I had yogurt and frozen strawberries after I went to the gym

    Tonight will be another not so fun dinner as I’m playing pork chops and the picky ones don’t like them.

  15. Pantry challenge is going pretty well here. Not getting rid of things as quickly as I’d like, but I realized something today while reading everyone’s comments…we are eating more fresh BECAUSE of the pantry challenge. I haven’t ever noticed that before. I think it’s because we don’t have a new supply of snack foods, like pretzels in the pantry. So, the kids are eating more fruits, yogurt, etc. I guess that tells me that I don’t need to buy as much of the snack stuff on a regular basis, because noone is complaining and I would rather have everyone snacking on produce, etc.

    My fridge isn’t as crazy full as it usually is, either, but I’m not entirely sure why. I’m going to mull that over for the next few days and see if I can figure it out (because I love a bit of white space). We’re being better about using up leftovers more quickly, but that only helps a little bit. And I got rid of some languishing condiments the first 10 days. Not sure what else is causing it, but I’m on a mission to figure it out so that it continues.

    • I noticed the same thing, Maureen! The bag of apples was gone before I knew it. The kids just like something they can grab and go, and I guess apples was the only thing left!

  16. No epic fails dinner wise yet. Choices are narrowing down, but I was really overstocked from December.
    Tuesday’s meals
    breakfast eggs, leftover ham, green pepper
    lunch’-leftover veg soup, apple
    dinner-baked chicken, corn, stuffing (glad to have used up that box)
    snacks-3 ingredient peanut butter cookies

  17. Vanessa B says:

    That sandwich is my kinda sandwich. Yum! Here’s the update. My 6 year old lost his first tooth on Sunday. He’s growing up :'(
    Husband hasn’t had work for a few days. Prayers!
    Breakfast – cereal, English muffins with peanut and honey
    Lunch – English Muffin pizzas ( the kids love making these) kids had ham and pineapple and I had kalamata olive and artichoke
    Dinner – Carbonara, greek salad, garlic bread (this dinner was sogood)
    Dessert – Pineapple Upside Down Cake

    Tuesday: Tried making Salmon Cakes for the first time. Used Rachael Ray’s recipe. Everyone liked it.
    No breakfast
    Lunch – Sonic $.50 corn dogs anf and tots
    Dinner – we had guests for Salmon Cakes atop baby greens, bacon wrapped green beans, seasoned rice pilaf
    Dessert – Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  18. First time chiming in but I’ve been so enjoying all the posts. Sounds like everyone is eating really well, considering you’re in a pantry challenge! I’m in an unusual situation. Husband and I are splitting so he’s moved out, daughter is back at college, and teen son is fed nearly every night at his robotics lab (parents take turns providing) so it’s usually just me here during Jan/Feb/Mar, the height of robotics season. Last week I had finger surgery so I have less use of my left hand and can’t get it wet yet, which can make cooking tricky. So I’ve been eating down my freezer, which was stocked with all kinds of soups and chills in 2-cup portions that I’d been making from scratch the last couple of months. This has really saved me so that I can just heat up whatever I’m feeling like eating for lunch or dinner and put the container in the dishwasher. No shopping, no chopping, no real cooking, and no dishes to hand wash.

    I’ve been wondering, though, for those who live in remote areas or cold climates, do you worry about not having enough food stocked up? I’m in CA and don’t have to worry about not being able to get to a market, but if I lived somewhere snowy I’d probably want to have emergency meals on hand. Anyone in that situation? Just curious.

    • Stephanie M. says:

      Hi Leslie:

      I live in NJ. I live within a few minutes of several supermarkets but when I hear that we’re getting significant snow, I just make sure I go out before and get what I think I might need should we be snowed in for a few days and so does everyone else so the stores are ALWAYS packed before a snow storm. Having a few extra freezer meals stocked in the freezer is always a good idea. We are never snowed in for more than a few days so it’s never really a problem. My freezer is never completely empty so there’s always something in there I can make.

    • Here in central New Hampshire it’s both cold and snowy (although it’s been a fairly dry season so far) but I don’t find myself too worried about going without. The longest we’ve had to go w/o power was 8 days I think – not fun but also not unheard of in rural New England…that said, my husband is beginning to get a little twitchy about eating all of our stock, so this pc may end for us very soon:)

    • Jessica S says:

      NE Ohio chiming in… My husband JUST *scolded* me this morning that “the preps are looking really low!” when he walked through the storage pantry in the basement! I laughed and told him I was doing a Pantry clean out so we can do a good rotation of the stockpile. We are very careful to always have a dozen + gallons of water on hand, basics in the deep freezer and plenty of staples /basics on the shelves for emergencies. We live close enough to a handful of stores but when snows fall heavy and fast we often do not get a snow plow through for up to a few days.. We are a bit off the beaten path and not township priority. So unless there is an emergency.. when they call schools off we are not out and about. We have had short term power outages and with our generator and supplies we don’t have to worry!

  19. Hi Leslie! I live in Wisconsin, so it’s cold and snowy here in the winter. I don’t worry about being snowed in too much, since I live in a city. I have to fight my pack rat tendencies, so I try not to stock up too much. We always have something to eat here, it just might not be exactly what everyone wants! There was a year when my oldest son was about one that we got a ton of snow and all of the surrounding stores were out of bread because trucks couldn’t make it to town. These days I make my own bread, so no worries about that now.

  20. I am in SC and believe it or not we had not one but two storms last year around Feb/Mar that shut us down. I am north of town and our ice was worse and my husband worked to get a portion of my driveway cleared so I could get to work on like the third day. People with large 4X4 trucks got out and about – I saw no reason to go out since we were just fine at home. We knew the weather was gonna be bad and went to the store to provide food for our kids that were at school downtown. My daughter was in her sorority house (on campus) and you would be surprised that they are not obligated to feed the students when the school is closed – even kids in the dorms. Our other two were sharing an apartment so they were fine. Fortunately no one lost power for very long if at all.
    I have a tendency to keep that “always be prepared” mode so I am using the PC as a way of rotating my stock – using up things that are close to expiration and those items that may have languished in the freezer a little too long.

    Yesterday was an interesting day as I ate according to my hunger since no one else was here.
    Breakfast – the last of the strawberries
    Lunch – had a bit of leftover sharp cheddar so I made pimiento cheese and ate some with melba toasts
    Snack – had a small avocado so I made some fresh guacamole with some tortilla chips
    Dinner – son came home not feeling well and I was making chicken stock in my crockpot. Made some rice with the stock to freeze for fried rice at a later date. We ate a small bowl of rice with stock poured over it. Simple. Put a variety of size containers of stock in the freezer.
    Dessert – I made a chocolate pound cake to cheer up my son – he and his GF broke up the other day, poor guy

    I am seeing a nice rotation of stuff going on. We have not been adding to much back in which is good.

  21. Tuesday –
    Breakfast was monkey salad & a smoothie for Hubs, and a slice of broccoli-bacon quiche for ds#3 & me.
    Lunch: leftovers from last night’s dinner for hubs, salad, Triscuits & trail mix for ds, and citrus salad for me.
    Dinner: Pioneer Woman’s chili without masa or beans. Leftovers will go in some lunches tomorrow.

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