2015 Winter Pantry Challenge, Day Four

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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.

2015 Winter Pantry Challenge, Day Four - Here's day four of our pantry challenge where we're trying to use up what we have and still eat well.

Today has been go-go-go and it’s late now that I’m writing the update, so this will be short and sweet. Having a menu plan for every meal of the day is saving my bacon, even when I don’t follow the plan.

We headed to the movies this afternoon when FishPapaย got off work. It’s Tuesday and even though our local cinema has been bought and sold twice in the last two years, they still have bargain Tuesdays. We went to see The Hobbit for cheap. Well, $6/person which is cheap these days. The kids brought spending money and as luck would have it, sodas, popcorn, and candy were all $2. They scored. One child even bought me a Coke!

Afterward it was very tempting to go out to eat, but since I had already promised my two orthodontics patients that they could choose the week’s dining optionย after their appointment tomorrow, I was able to finagle everyone home where I made a vegetable stir-fry with Thanksgiving turkey from the freezer. It was intended for a pot pie, but I just didn’t have it in me after The Hobbit.

Here’s how today played out:

Breakfast: Oats/Farina mixed with lots of toppings

Lunch: Corn tortilla quesadillas, beans, rice, vegetable dippers, and hummus

Snacks: movie theatre snacks

Dinner: Turkey-Vegetable Stir-fry, Rice, Barley Pilaf

How did YOUR day go?

PS I’m having a hard time keeping up on comments. So sorry about that. Hoping to catch up soon!

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. I did the grocery shopping today after planning the weeks meals last night. It was a relief to go from $300+ per week in Dec to just over $150! Three meals from the freezer this week.

  2. Stephanie M. says:

    It’s fun being diligent and removing something from the freezer almost every day and watching the inventory go down, knowing that we are using what we have and not wasting anything. So far, we are eating really well and other than produce and that, my local supermarket has not had the pleasure to see my ugly mug in a week which normally, I go constantly to the store for one thing or another.

    B – hubby had mini corn muffins from the freezer left over from Thanksgiving (I still have 7 left so they’ll be gone in a few days), and a Greek yogurt with home made granola which I just made two days ago. I had a mini bagel with L.F. cream cheese and scrambled egg whites.

    L – Hubby had the last of the turkey on a sandwich with lettuce and tomato. I had a salad.

    D – We both had meatloaf, chicken flavored rice, corn, and peas. Our daughter wanted turkey meatloaf, so I made one just for her.

    Later in the evening, after all three of us returned home from the gym, hubby had a small bowl of cashews and almonds.

  3. Breakfast – ham, egg and cheese bagels
    Lunch – Leftover jambalaya, fruit
    Dinner – Confetti chili, cornbread

  4. Making things this week that I always intended to learn how to make, but never got around to learning. I baked a whole chicken in the crockpot, made gravy from the drippings (first time, I usually just buy the jar), and then I made chicken broth from the leftovers overnight in the crockpot. (Love that I didn’t have to clean the crockpot first…). The chicken left me with probably 2 meals worth of chicken, I have what I need to make quesadillas, alfredo, or chicken pot pie (there might even be enough for all three). All in all, this year the experience has been great, and no one has caught on that we are in the middle of a pantry challenge yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. So far so good. Everything is going according to what I’ve planned.

    We had soft pretzel bites with caramel sauce for breakfast, stuffed red peppers ( with onion, minced meat and rice) for lunch, and we’ll have a veggie salad for dinner.

    No snacks in between since the kids are at school and me an my husband work until 5:00 PM so there no time to snack. We usually have three main meals a day.

  6. All is well in the kitchen yet this week. Today was a crazy day…busy, busy, busy. Here’s how today played out (breakfast and lunch are me only, who knows what the others did other than I know they ate at home!):

    B: egg on toast
    L: meeting ran long at work so the office bought lunch – sandwich & chips from Jimmy John’s
    D: beef fried rice (used up the last of the pot roast from Sunday), egg rolls from the freezer

  7. Tiffany R says:

    I am trying to use up some coffee in our pantry that is not a favorite so this week I have been blending it in with my regular coffee. So far, so good. Hubs even commented that the coffee was really good the other day. I guess my sneakiness is working…

    Breakfast: Thin everything bagel (me) and bagel & juice (kids)
    Lunch: Lunch w/my ladies bible study (me) and Turkey sandwiches, chips, fruit and babybel for kids (tried giving them frozen yogurt yesterday and it didn’t go well. I think I’m going to blend it into smoothies)
    Dinner: Hubs is out of town so another easy dinners. Frozen pizza & fruit (kids) and Grilled Chicken salad (me)
    Dessert: Homemade Ginger cookies from the cookie dough in the freezer

  8. So far so good with the pantry challenge! Breakfasts are pretty much the same, although I am making an effort to use up the three boxes of instant oatmeal in my pantry. The kids usually have toast or frozen pancakes or waffles that I make up on the weekends. Lunches we all bring from home to school & work – sandwiches, fruit, trail mix. I have been focusing on dinners for our pantry challenge and things are working out well. Sunday night we had chicken drumsticks and string beans (all from the freezer). Monday night we had pasta and meatballs/sausage (meatballs/sausage/sauce from the freezer). Last night was leftover pasta and meatballs. Tonight I am going to make pork fried rice with chopped pork loin from my freezer, frozen peas (also from the freezer), and rice (also frozen). We will have shrimp and chicken dumplings along with the rice – two 1/2 opened bags in the freezer of those so yay, we are using those up too!! Once I did my inventory of the pantry, fridge, and freezer I posted my list on the fridge where everyone can see it. As we use stuff it gets crossed off. So far we have only gone to the store for dairy/produce/cold cuts. All in total about $100. I am feeling good about this challenge because I anticipate the only things I will need to shop for are the previously mentioned things.

  9. We’ve only been shopping once so far in January – and it was because I (sick with.. food poisoning? stomach flu? something) needed ginger ale! So my nice hubby bought 7up, coke zero (both on mega sale) and waffles. Other than that, we’ve been eating up all the yummy food we already had. Yesterday I had a salad with clementines – so good!

  10. Vanessa B says:

    I haven’t used up as much as I would like to have by now, due to spoiling my husband. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wrote a list of things I need gone, but I think I should move them all to a designated area so when I open the cabinet they will be the first thing I see. Kids went back to school so it’s just me for breakfast and the little guy and I for lunch, unless my husband pops in.

    Breakfast – oatmeal package
    Lunch – hot dogs, carrot sticks, hubby had a Sammie
    Snack – bananas and Hershey kisses (when I wasn’t looking ๐Ÿ™‚
    Dinner – Cheeseburgers (by request) seasoned fries and the last of the coleslaw
    Dessert – last of the chocolate chip ice cream

  11. Sherrie Roderick says:

    I was completely amazed that I had all this food. I was sad that I have to buy meat this weekend. My husband is a deer hunter and hasn’t gotten one since 2012. This hits out food budget hard. Still The pantry challenge is fun. I love looking at my meal plan, laying out the meat and going on my day!

    • My husband is a hunter as well Sherrie. It helps our budget too. This year my husband got an elk and a deer. We try to eat wild game instead of farmed animals. Hopefully next year you (your hubby) will get a deer. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Three has been my winning number. I stretched a 3+lb pot roast to 3 dinners for 3 adults. 1) Pot roast, potatoes, carrots, gravy. 2) Beef stew, biscuits, peas. 3) BBQ beef on buns, cole slaw. The only thing I had to get from the store–the buns for the BBQ beef. Everything else came from the pantry and fridge. Tonight, we’ll have ravioli (from the freezer), marinara sauce (from a jar), and a cabbage salad with kalamata olives and lemon juice. I sticking to my menu plan so far.

  13. Stephanie P says:

    I’m really realizing how often one of us isn’t around for dinner and we only have a four year old! Last night I was away for running group, so we had different dinners, but the boys had the one that was planned for the night. As usual Owen had lunch at his preschool.


    B: Home made wheat pancakes (we premake and freeze) and applesauce for Owen. Overnight oats for me.
    L: Tuna on rye, celery and laughing cow, mandarin oranges
    D: Boys – Wheat fish sticks and fries. Me – (after I got home from the run) Leftover pork and sauerkraut and vegetables.
    Snacks: Larabar, Popcorn, and 1/2 grapefruit

  14. Breakfast – Oatmeal w/blueberries
    Lunch – Leftover Jambalya
    Dinner – Confetti chili and cornbread
    Snack – ice cream

  15. Melissa F says:

    Hey there everyone! I have been reading everyone’s updates! I added my last name initial since there were a few other Melissa’s making posts. I had my surgery on December 30th ( I last posted the Sunday prior). We did have to eat out the Monday night before my surgery because I had to work late trying to get stuff done before my (6) week recovery period away from the office. But I still came home that night and made my Italian casserole – which was wonderful to have ready when we returned from the hospital on Wednesday afternoon. The 2 loaves of pumpkin bread made it through yesterday when the last of it went in my son’s lunch bag.
    My helpful husband did a small run to the store for some fresh produce – spent $40 so far during our challenge. I wanted fresh berries everyday so he took care of that along with fresh spinach, bananas, marked down ground turkey and a bottle of Tide that was on sale – we hadn’t seen that low of a price on it in about 2 years and he used a coupon.
    Yesterday I was able to make a quiche and 2 loaves of banana cranberry bread (recipe from skinnytaste) with the help of my husband. I love the cook once and eat multiple times later theory!
    I didn’t make a meal plan or inventory – leaving room for husband to vary the cooking and go with the flow in how I was feeling to help. I know we are well stocked so we have a lot of wiggle room.

    Keep up the good work everyone! I enjoy reading the posts!
    Melissa F

    • Stephanie M. says:

      Hi Melissa:

      Best wish for a speedy recovery and I’m so happy you have such a helpful husband. By the way, my daughter’s name is Melissa too. We usually call her Missy. Hope you feel better soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Melissa F

      Best wishes for a speedy recovery from me as well. Thanks for the update, you sound organized!

      • Melissa F says:

        Thanks Rhonda! I am usually very organized but the surgery was a quick decision when there was a cancellation and I felt overwhelmed with such a short planning time. I think we will be fine though because my husband is in tune so to speak.

    • I know I’m late in replying. I hope you’re recovering well. I’m very impressed that you’re taking this on. I’d be making my husband go for take out. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. One of your kids bought you a coke – sweet! (literally!) I’m impressed that you were able to come home and make dinner. I think I would have been pretty tempted to eat out.

    I often do the same thing – I will have a meal planned with something and then I will often change my mind at the last minute to something simpler. I would imagine that when you make pot pies, you have to make a few? There are only 4 in my family and 1 pot pie isn’t enough to feed everyone anymore.

    Keep up the great work – thanks, as always, for encouraging us by sharing.

    • Believe me, it took great will power. But, when you have to report in every night and you don’t want people to think you’re straying from your duty… well, you step it up. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I have to make two pot pies and side dishes to fill my people.

  17. Heather M says:

    Tuesday was the last “only half-in” Challenge day for us, as it was my birthday. Only Challenge-worthy things were that my hubs took lunch to work, and no one really ate breakfast.

    B: except that I ate leftover Xmas candy for breakfast, cuz, you know, it was my birthday. Sick w/flu son, serious snow falling outside, dr appt for college girl, so breakfast was mostly overlooked.
    L: after her physical, we picked up food because, well, we were out, it was my birthday, and it was nasty out (more like yesterday was an epic fail in our region… Schools should have been delayed/canceled but instead commutes of 4 hours, buses never getting to stops or schools, hundreds of accidents, yeah it was rough). So pizza it was.
    D: reservations canceled due to flu kid, so we picked up food from same restaurant for dinner at home. Without the hubs, who got stuck at work covering a late breaking not fun news story and didn’t even get home until 11. But the food from our favorite Lebanese place was still delicious! And we have leftovers. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. B-banana bread and ebelskivers
    D: Felafel from the freezer and homemade pita bread with lettuce, tomato, and shredded carrots(I was super tempted to go to the store and buy some yogurt and cucumbers to make tzatziki to go on these, but I made due with what we had and made a tahini sauce instead!)

  19. New Years Turkey leftovers and stock turned into a ginormous pot of turkey noodle soup. Made with those tiny noodles you find in the Lipton chicken soup—so excited that Kroger carries those. Also had Samwise Gamgee Samwiches–we were suppose to have them this weekend after the movie but it didn’t happen. First time for DH to have them. All thumbs up. And enough for samwiches for lunch tomorrow! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Were those MY samwiches? I love those….

      Also, I found those noodles too and it reminded me of my childhood!

      • LOL — Yes, those were YOUR samwiches! We hadn’t had them in a bit. And we had some left-over filling for samwiches for lunch as I had the teen cut up a ton of mushrooms and onions. I’ve gotten that soup a couple times when the kids were REAL sick as that what my mom got us. So I took the turkey noodle soup recipe and swapped out the noodles. So fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Breakfast: Hubs had his usual of eggs & bacon, with a side of monkey salad. I made hot chocolate for ds#3 (almond milk, cocoa powder, maple syrup, a little vanilla and some vitamin C powder blended in for good measure) and he also had a slice of ham & broccoli quiche. I had a small slice of quiche too, with a big glass of water.
    Lunch: in our lunchboxes -leftover soup for me; chef’s salad for Hubs (his standard school lunch); cheese & crackers and a small salad for ds#3, along with a brownie for a sweet treat.
    Dinner: Taco salads, using the last of the tortilla chips (after ds#3’s nacho adventures!!!) – seasoned ground beef, lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheese dip, salsa. The guys had a brownie after dinner.

  21. We are still right on track, love it – eating our fresh veges & fruit + taking advantage of all the garden goodies in our freezer!

    B – Hubby – oatmeal, toast, orange juice & coffee; wheat toast & pb + coffee for me
    S – banana for hubs
    L – Hubby – turkey sandwich & apple; me – leftover meatless spaghetti & kiwi
    D – Meatloaf, mashed potatoes & frozen garden green beans

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