2015 Winter Pantry Challenge: Day Seven

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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.

pizza night pantry

Okay. Today we pretty well, despite the fact that the bread machine died come evening. I knew it was going to happen when it was making weird sounds about a month ago. A new pan is $25; a new machine $70 unless I want to go for the big guns and pay $250 for a Zojirushi. Or I could just “man-up” as they say and learn to use the Kitchen Aid. I only use the bread machine for dough, so it’s a dough machine. So’s a Kitchen Aid.

Oh, the problems, the problems. 

I’m particularly proud of how I used leftovers today. At lunch time we used the last of the homemade mayonnaise for Tuna Salad. At dinner, I topped pizzas with feta and pesto for one of my favorite pizzas and leftover beans for a Burrito Pizza. I scrounged a little pre-cooked sausage from the freezer for my carnivore. It was a great pizza night! The glass of Alamos Malbec didn’t hurt, either.

There is lots of white space in the refrigerator which makes me very happy. I cleaned out the few overdue leftovers we had forgotten about so we could wash the dishes. The fridge looks so spanking clean. I’ll have to take a picture tomorrow.

Breakfast: Granola, milk, and fruit

Lunch: Tuna Salad on Homemade Buns, Homemade Pickles, Veggie Dippers

Snacks: Glazed Lemon Cake (baked with my 8yo)

Dinner: Burrito Pizza; Feta Pesto Pizza; Pepperoni Pizza; Proscuitto Pizza; Cheese Pizza; Last-Minute Pizza Sauce

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. Stephanie M. says:

    Well here we are at one week into the pantry challenge and things are going well. Normally, I budget $400.00 every two weeks when my husband gets paid for groceries and I always use it all. That’s $800.00 a month for two people! Our youngest daughter (24 years old) still lives with us but she cooks a lot of her own food or only eats the healthier part of the meals that I make. She will ask me to pick up special items for her when I go shopping that hubby and I won’t eat and I do. Other times, she’s out w/friends or boyfriend and eats somewhere else. So she really doesn’t add much to our grocery bill. When the pantry challenge started, my husband had just gotten paid and I only budgeted $200.00 for the next two weeks because freezer/pantry were quite loaded. So far, I’ve spent $123.28 and I don’t anticipate needing anything until it’s time to get paid again, next week. It makes me realize how many needless things I pick up at the grocery store that I can really do without. This pantry challenge helps to keep me in check and teaches me that there generally is no need to spend as much as I do.

    B – Hubby had 3 mini corn muffins, a Greek yogurt with homemade granola, and a banana. I had two slices of toast.

    L – Hubby had a meatloaf sandwich using up the last of the meatloaf from the other night. I, on the other hand, had the pleasure of going out with two of my girlfriends today. Occasionally we go out but today we decided to have lunch once a month. We had the best time and lingered in the restaurant all afternoon. By the time we left, there was no one there any more except the staff!

    D – I came home to find hubby eating rice and the last of the tacquitos from the freezer; (leftover appetizers from the holidays). I ate nothing; too full from lunch.

    • Heather M says:

      Stephanie, I know what you mean about needless spending. I don’t actually budget an amount for food, but find when I’m planning better or doing a pantry challenge or just generally being more conscious of my spending, I spend WAY less on food. And we waste less then too. Lunch w/friends is the best! I enjoyed one this week, too. 🙂

    • Great job, as always, Stephanie.

  2. I also use my ABM’s as dough machines, 90% of the time (if there is a time crunch, I bake the bread off in the ABM but much prefer conventional loaves baked in an oven). All of my ABM’s were acquired for free (freecycle, a friend) or thru thrift shops ($8, $12, $15, $30) Have you considered those avenues?

    • I only use my bread machine for dough as well, and love the fact I can use the timer for when the dough is done. I can’t do that on my KitchenAid.

      I have gotten all of my machines at Goodwill or garage sales.

      • Melissa F says:

        After I found Jessica’s site a few years ago I started looking for a bread machine in thrift stores and garage sales with no luck. Finally one day I found one at a church rummage sale and they wanted $40 for it with no manual – I couldn’t pull the trigger. So finally I just asked my husband for one this past Christmas. We have only made two loaves baked in the machine and do not care for it. I will have to wait a little while in my surgery recovery before I can start baking in the oven.

        • Last month I saw an Oster bread machine exactly like the one I have for ten bucks. I checked and it even had the little paddle inside. I didn’t buy it as mine works perfectly well, but thought about who I could give it to. Making bread in the machine isn’t my favorite either, but using it for dough is awesome. My family is amazed at my prowess at cinnamon roll making.

        • Baking good loaves in the machine requires vital wheat gluten. That helps the loaves not sink, in my experience. The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine book has some great recipes.

    • Last summer I bought a bread machine at a rummage sale for $3. Winning!

    • I have never had good luck the few times I’ve tried thrifting. But, if I’m near one, I will give it a try. Thanks!

      • After three semi-cheap break machines conking out on my husband and I in four years, we decided to bite the bullet and invested in a Zojirushi. We bought the Home Bakery Virtuoso® Breadmaker BB-PAC20 from Bed Bath and Beyond and saved a little dough (ha!) by using a coupon and some lingering gift cards. Hands down, it is the best investment we have made in the kitchen. That baby is quiet, quick, and whips out dough in no time. We bake with many kinds of flours and found our old bread machines just couldn’t cut it with whole grains. Not the Zojirushi! This machine is worth every penny!

  3. Another successful day! I was out of town for the day with work so the office bought my lunch. Hubby went out too. Friday is our one day we allow ourselves to eat out for lunch; all other days we brown bag it.

    B: banana muffin, cereal
    S: choice of pistachios, sesame snack mix or pretzels
    L: deli sandwich/chips (me – office pd), leftover stuffed pepper, pretzels, pear (hubby)
    D: baked potato, salad + we cleaned up the leftovers of honey bbq wings and stuffed peppers

    Jessica, like you, we opened a bottle of King Estate Pinot Noir last night. That was the perfect touch to the end of a long week (first 5 day work week in 3 weeks; it bout did me in!).

  4. Kids got 2nd snow day call off of the week AFTER I started packing their lunches!
    B-homemade pancakes and waffles from freezer, fruit, hot chocolate
    L- sammies I had packed, box of macaroni and cheese, veggies, pretzles, hummus and chip dip( all tossed on the table) Dad ate turkey sandwich and sides, I ate leftover refried beans, taco meat and rice
    S- fruit, cookies I made with last of dough from freezer, homemade honey wheat bread
    D- last pack of chicken breasts, yellow potatos ( baked in oven with some butter and Lipton savory garlic and herb seasoning) and green beans sauted with garlic and pepper, finsihed off loaf of bread

    LOVE making bread and I just use my kitchen aid and a large glass bowl.. MY KA is 9 years old and sometimes seems a tad sluggish.. Husband did some research to see if anything needs oiled or tightened.. starting to research their life expectancies.. and to see if I buy another.. or put towards a little more higher end like a Bosch….. I definitely USE the machine! it is not just a decoration..

  5. You are doing great – so sorry about your bread machine!!! I do love my Zo – bought forever ago when I was feeling flush I guess LOL – it’s been seamless ever since. HOWEVER I have lots of frugalista friends who swear they do well buying used at the thrift shop getting cheaper models but for so little money that when the machines start acting up they just shrug and look for another $10 machine . . . might be worth a peek if you have the time [ha!]

  6. I am so excited how we are actually finishing off the leftovers for lunch. We are eating good and the leftovers are disappearing and not turning green! Put great northern beans in the crockpot to soak last night and are cooking away now and tonight hope to soak pinto beans so I can have them ready to go for some more good meals. Amazing when you dig into the pantry what you find that you forgot about. Still lots of good stuff so we will continue to eat good. Thanks Jessica for the yummy pizza recipes. We will be trying them as we have pizza night almost every Thursday and always looking for new ideas.

    Breakfast – Oatmeal w/ blueberries
    Lunch – Finished off jambalaya
    Dinner – Baked chicken strips, mac & cheese, leftover vegetable medley

  7. Ate leftover rice pilaf and chicken for breakfast. Odd, but filling. Lunch was really late and was the Chick-Fil-A calendar card offer of free drink and sandwich. It was so filling and eaten so late, I skipped dinner. Therefore, not any progress but not contributing to the problem, either. Planning to get some tortilla chips, yogurt, milk, and maybe fresh spinach for salads today. Hopefully that will be the extent of it.

    • I used my Chick-Fil-A calendar card on Thursday. I don’t drink Coca-Cola soft drinks, so they kindly offered me a choice of lemonade or iced tea.

      • The stores around here usually don’t let you trade for the lemonade since that price is so much higher. I’ve never had a problem getting tea instead of the offered Coke, though, and was actually what I also had with my sandwich.

  8. Hi everyone
    Sounds like everyone is doing great! Your pizzas look fabulous Jessica, and good luck trying the switch to the KA for your dough.
    I did two shops this week totalling $88. Mostly fresh food.
    B: oatmeal for kids
    L: turkey sandwich, yam chips or onion chips for kids and fruit, smoked salmon for hubby and I am not sure what else he found
    S: Chorizo sausage, brussel sprouts, roasted veggies, stuffed zucchini and quinoa
    D: caramel popcorn

  9. Melissa F says:

    It was a good day yesterday – we did try Jessika’s chocolate chip cookies. My daughter loves to make cookies. We made them after dinner and everyone loved them right out of the oven. Only 4 left – and my cookie dough lovers thought the dough was yummy.

    My son was only able to glean enough leftover chicken for the creamy enchilada recipe we will make on Sunday for dinner. I had hoped for enough for chicken pot pie as well but I guess everyone was really hungry! We saved the back, neck and giblets for later use by putting them in the freezer. I need to make chicken stock soon. We had a small amount of the homemade “rice a roni” leftover too.

    So far today we had French toast for breakfast – from the freezer that I froze after Christmas morning breakfast. I think we have enough to do one more breakfast. I will have some sliced strawberries in little while as my fresh fruit for the morning.

    Making a quiche for lunch today using the leftover smoked sausage from a few nights ago. Dinner will be a marinated and grilled chicken breast served over salad. I will make a vinaigrette dressing and throw in some feta cheese and kalamata olives.

  10. As predicted, Friday/day 7 was so not in keeping with the Challenge. I knew it’d be rough since it was my daughter’s last day home. She’s on a plane to LAX right now, then on to Hawaii. Boohoo! We stayed up late tonight before, playing games, etc. Between her, my son home sick w/the flu, and a husband who has been working crazy hours this week, I’m soooo ready to be back on something of a schedule.

    B: vegetarian sausage, cereal, toast w/jam
    L: hubs left early for a dental appt before wk and I didn’t get anything together for him to take. But they had a party late afternoon and I think he only ate that, so it could have been worse. Daughter had her last Chipotle for several months. Son had a hot dog from 7-11(!!! Told you we were off the rails today!). I actually ate my birthday dinner leftovers so that was something.
    D: we got our favorite Peruvian rotisserie chicken takeout… Daughter’s request. It was yummy. And I think my husband will eat the leftovers for lunch all weekend!

    Now we can really get into the Challenge. I knew this first week would be rough. It was better than I anticipated so that’s something. I forgot that day 6 I also bought more tortillas and green onions. When I had gone shopping on Monday, Trader Joe’s was out of both and we can’t live without either. Spent $10. I’m at about $73 so far. That’s way better than my usual spending, especially since it’s coming off vacation, when I typically buy a lot more food.

    Now I’m going to go sulk since the girl is gone. And plan meals. And stay warm (soooo dang cold today!). And hopefully drag myself to the gym. Happy Saturday everyone!

    • Stephanie M. says:

      Hi Heather:

      You are doing considerably well with all of the “stuff” on your plate. Between your son with the flu, a husband with a busy and sometimes unpredictable work schedule, just getting back from vacation, and getting your daughter ready to go back to school, I’d say you’re doing great! Everything will calm down now and you’ll be back into a regular routine in no time. Keep up the great work! As for your daughter, we can all sulk with you; she’s headed for sun and warmth and we’re stuck here in arctic weather. Have a great day and ALOHA!!!!!!

  11. Also, Jessica, those pizzas sound fabulous and delicious!!!

  12. Friday was a good day for the pantry challenge.
    Breakfast was eggs & bacon for hubs; pumpkin pie for ds#3; hot tea for me.
    Lunchboxes: tomato soup w/homemade croutons & a slice of pumpkin pie for hubs; tossed salad, cheese & crackers and pie for ds#3; an orange for me.
    Dinner was leftover scalloped potatoes, chicken breasts with zucchini, broccoli, and carrots roasted in the oven. (I was glad to turn the oven on. It’s freezing here and we all feel like hibernating.)
    I will have to go to the grocery store this weekend for necessities like milk & eggs, but overall, we’re doing well.

  13. I have a kitchen aid and a bread machine last year I made your whole wheat cranberry rolls, one batch in each to see if there was a difference. My bread machine was dying and I was curious if I should replace it.. They were both good but the ones in the bread machine rose better and were noticeably better.

  14. Tiffany R says:

    I have a bread machine and a kitchen aid and to be honest, if the bread machine died, I’d stick with the kitchen aid. It does dough just fine and since I don’t bake in the bread machine, I don’t really need that feature.

    Breakfast: Pancakes from the freezer (me), Cap’n Crunch french toast (hubs and son), daughter didn’t get up til lunch
    Lunch: Leftover LoMein from Chinese restaurant with a different dressing (made Pioneer Woman’s Sesame Dressing), Turkey sandwiches for everyone else
    Dinner: Salsa Chicken in the crockpot w/soft tortillas and cheese, rice from freezer
    Dessert: Left to be determined – not having an oven limits my options.

  15. I use our kitchenaid for dough all the time and it works great. Our pizza last night was a super success as well, but we just used up a few veggies and cheese – no meat…oh well! I always use your last minute pizza sauce – it is the best ever!! 🙂

  16. After losing a paddle to our breadmachine for the second time (it cost $25 to replace – too much as machine was a gift and cost less than $100 new), I stopped using the breadmachine and switched to stand mixer. To help with the rising, I add all but flour and then sprinkle yeast on top; let it sit for a few minutes and then add flour. Breads have risen great everytime and I can see yeast reacting (so I know if I have a bum batch of yeast). Except for pizza dough, I use bread recipes out of “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking” by Jeff Hertzberg, MD and Zoe Francois. It has lived up to its name (although initial making of bread is sometimes closer to 7 to 10 minutes), but it’s been great. It’s available in many libraries and once you have the basic premise, you can do a lot with the recipes.

    • We’ve made that dough before. Some days I love. Some days I don’t. Usually I don’t have room in the fridge for the dough, but I do now! Thanks for the reminder. We’ll go that route this week.

    • I got a 7 qt. Kitchenaid stand mixer for my birthday one year after going gluten-free and having to make all the bread for our family of 10. I use modified versions of the recipes in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but the dough never seems to make it to the refrigerator. I give it a long rise and just bake it fresh; it never seems to make as much as the recipe says it will, and two loaves of bread disappears pretty fast at my house. I figured out that the dough rose best if I kept it in the microwave above my oven, turned on the oven for a brief period, and then just left the microwave door closed. It gets pretty warm in that microwave. It’s a little weird, but seems to be what works best in my kitchen!

  17. B:Bran muffins(made from stuff to thin out the pantry!)
    L: Leftovers, or pb and j for the kids
    D: Homemade pizza rolls- used up more odds and ends from the freezer and veggies

    I made a costco run yesterday, and spent quite a bit, but a lot of it was toiletries(lots of good, thick lotions to combat the dry winter skin and eczema that plagues us!), plus diapers, loads of produce and of course milk. I usually make it out of costoco under $100, but about once every quarter its over $200. I don’t love that it happened during a pantry challenge, but when you need diapers and they are on coupon, you take the plunge!

    Also, my MIL brought me some beef from the cow they bought this year. I am super happy to have it, but again find it funny that I got it when I am trying to clear space! At least I had already cleared some good space in the freezer so I had room for all that meat!

    I am happy that I dont seem to have as many weird items to use up. I think I have gotten better about buying what our family will use and not just buying what is a good deal.

    • Sounds like maybe you need to do your own pantry challenge in a different month.

    • Heather M says:

      I just wouldn’t include toiletries in your food budget for the pantry challenge month. After all, they aren’t food. Bet if you just looked at food from costco, the $$ spent is way less? 🙂

    • I agree with Heather. I wouldn’t count anything that’s not food as groceries. But, if that’s how your whole budget is set up, you might want to reconfigure.

  18. Jessica,
    I have a kitchen aid and use it to knead my dough. I like to knead the dough a bit before putting it back in the bowl to rise. Just my thoughts but why have an extra appliance? Also, before I was blessed to have a kitchen aid mixer, I just kneaded the dough on the counter top. I taught my kids to knead the dough also. I just don’t see the need in “extras” sitting around.
    I love reading all the comments during the pc! I’m always learning new ways to use leftovers, etc. Because I buy mostly in bulk, always cook and bake from scratch, making all my own mixes, etc. it seems like I first “shop” the pantry/freezer/storage room. 🙂 When we do stock up, we wait for sales. I can, dehydrate and freeze fruits, veggies, etc. and only buy produce in season/on sale. Have a nice day everyone!

    • To be honest, I think I have tactile issues. I do not love the feel of messing with dough OR cleaning up the flour that ends up everywhere. I think I love the bread machine because the mess is reduced and I don’t have to touch it much. Weird, I know.

  19. We didn’t do as well yesterday as I had hoped, but it wasn’t a total loss. I also completely cleaned out the fridge, only tossed a few things, and have much more white space than I thought I would after rearranging. I took a little time to prep/salvage a few things to avoid some waste, too,so that was good.

    I primarily used my kitchen aid for dough. I only use my bread machine when I want to start the dough cycle at a time when I won’t be there to turn it on (i.e. if I’m starting it at 5am, before we wake up). I usually turn my oven on to preheat for a few minutes, then turn it off and place the covered dough in it with the door closed to rise. It comes out beautifully every time (just don’t let the oven temp get above 200). If I get it closer to 200, then I find it doesn’t even take the full “rise” time, which helps on days that I am short on time. You could always try it for a couple of weeks and see if you miss the bread machine. Good luck!

  20. I’ve had great success using my KA mixer to make dough. I actually own a bread machine and no longer use it. Some great bread recipes and videos can be found on Noreen’s Kitchen website and on YouTube.

  21. I use my kitchen-aid primarily as a dough machine! LOL…Mostly for homemade pizza night. It is easy to use, easy to clean. And with the dough hook the dough is ready in 20minutes. I love it, give it a try.

  22. I love my bread machine – homemade bread to go with the crockpot meal on days I work outside the home makes me feel like I have a chef on staff…. I decided to do a pantry inventory before I ran across this blog, and it was hilarious. One of the funniest thing – pumpkin pie is one of my husband’s favorite desserts and pumpkin was in short supplly a couple of yrs ago, so I decided to stock up. My main pantry is under the counter in the space our defunct dishwasher came out of, and with an arthritic knee for the last few months, I’ve been doing good to even put things away, let alone inventory. But I was finally able to do it, and lo and behold, 13 cans of pumpkin. 0_0 OK, I see pumpkin muffins, bread, pancakes, and pie in our future, plus a moritorium on purchasing more for a while! However, the inventory was a big help and I’ve been able to keep up with it, too (always the hard part, for me) Ask me how many cans of food I have now, and what kind. Go ahead. I KNOW!!

  23. I bought my Zo bread machine December 2006 and it cost $200. I use it at least once a week for pizza dough. Over the holidays I often use it daily for rolls. So that is 8 years, approx 52 times a year – probably has been used at least 450 times and still is going strong. I think it’s a great investment!

  24. Michelle Porter says:

    I have definitely not been doing a very good job of posting everyday. I think it will be easier for me to post on Saturdays for the week. This week we have had an activity for the kids every night of the week except Tuesday which is one of my later days at work. I get off at 6:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
    Here is what we ate this week. Breakfasts I usually have a honey bun or some other bad for you item and my husband usually has eggs, my kids eat at school. Lunch I have either leftovers or peanut butter crackers or something like that. My husband eats something at home and my kids eat at school
    Dinners were all at home. Monday: Homemade bean soup with ham. Tuesday: Chili Spaghetti which is basically just canned chili served on spaghetti with cheese on top. Wednesday: Homemade Beef and Broccoli stir fry served on pasta. Thursday: Chicken Tenders with mixed vegetables. Friday: Pork Chops and Green Beans. Today I made homemade chili and there is plenty of leftovers so that is what we will be having tomorrow. Lunch on Sunday is eaten at my parent’s house and we pick up some kind of treat on our way to church.
    Snacks this week has been fruit (apples, bananas, oranges and grapefruit), air popped popcorn in the air popper my daughter got for Christmas (she thinks it is the greatest gift ever, LOL), yogurt, and clearance Christmas candies.
    I did go the grocery to 3 different stores today. I spent $18, 21, and 23 dollars. I was completely out of any type of beef and to be honest, we love our beef. I bought milk, eggs, butter, cheese, bread, bottled water, drink mix packets, some canned goods, bananas, mustard, ketchup, a few other misc. items I can’t think of right now but my best trip was at the store where I spent $21. For my $21 I got, 6 lbs. of ground beef, 3 packages of thinly sliced sirloin tip steaks about 1 1/2 lbs. each package, almost 2 lbs. of beef stew meat, a can of refried beans and a can of Spanish rice. When we are in a hurry for a quick dinner (which this week we have evening activities for the kids another 4 nights) I used those along with salsa and cheese and make Nachos for a quick dinner. Next week, I will definitely need to buy some pork, and maybe some chicken again but then I still have a whole chicken, a package of fresh chicken tenderloins and a pack of chicken legs. So in total I spent $62 today so I don’t think I will spend only $100 like I wanted to but I still feel like I can keep it at $150 for the month which is half of what I usually spend.

  25. Creative dinner! Found another use for pumpkin for you: my triple batch of chili was a bit too tangy and I didn’t want to add any more salt. Websites recommend carrot which I didn’t have so I plopped about 1/4-1/3 cup frozen pumpkin (it was in a little baggie which I defrosted enough to pop in half). Asked my taste testers AFTER dinner about the tang. “Nope, all gone.” (the 2nd half of the baggie will get tossed into my spaghetti tomorrow as a thickener.)

  26. Well, I haven’t been grocery shopping in a week and we are out of fruit, potatoes, some baking supplies. Still have lots of meat and a few veggies I can squeeze in but overall I am going to have to start planning a little more carefully and not be lazy. Dinner tonight was great though. I seared then slow-cooked some Cubed sirloin steak, then added the rest of the fresh spinach at the end. Meat was tender and delicious. I also tried a new recipe, Cajun Spiced ?Butternut Squash Fries. They did not have the texture of fries but they were very good anyway. Since there wasn’t very much meat I let them eat tortilla chips and salsa as an appetizer. I served biscuits (from a can, bleh, but my hubby bought them), and frozen broccoli as the sides, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. I can go a few more days without going to the store as long as hubby doesn’t mind eating frozen broccoli at lunch and dinner (he loves it!)

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