2015 Winter Pantry Challenge: Day Twelve

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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 pantry challenge

Can we really be halfway through the Challenge? Yay! Time flies when you’re having fun. As promised, a better photo tonight. It’s pizza night!

Since one of my sons is having a dental procedure on Friday that will result in sore gums, I decided to bump pizza night earlier in the week.

I grabbed cheese, sliced peppers, and cooked hot Italian sausage from the freezer, made a quick batch of dough and Last-Minute Pizza Sauce, sliced up some onions and we were GOOD TO GO! It was so yummy!

Since it only made one large and two small pizzas, I made a large romaine salad with feta, olives, tomato, and scallions. I didn’t toss it with the dressing since I wasn’t sure how hungry they’d be. I made ChiChi’s Italian Dressing, so it was super yum. There was enough for a good size lunch salad for me tomorrow.

I am curious, though, what the kids would have done if I had made Caesar Salad.

The best part of the night was when I went fishing for compliments about the pizza, asking my husband didn’t he think it was better than Costco’s? He hesitated. Ahem. Then I said, pretty good dinner for a Pantry Challenge, eh?

The kids all said, “This is a Pantry Challenge?!”

Why, yes, yes, it is. And it’s already day 12. My job is done here.

Breakfast: Mix and Match Muffins with Mixed Berries

Lunch: Burritos and Quesadillas

Dinner: Pizza and Salad with ChiChi’s Dressing

Dessert: Nanna’s Apple Pie, made almost completely by my 8-year old!

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. Today was good. And a bonus today was that I scored 2 free tickets to the K-State v. Texas Tech men’s basketball game so we had an impromptu date night which included a quick dinner out for the 2 of us!

    B: choice of yogurt, fruit, oatmeal
    S: choice of pretzels, pistachios, string cheese
    L: leftover pasta for college girl, taco soup w/tortilla chips for me, and a salad for hubby which cleaned out several misc. items from the fridge – – he even commented tonight how good his lunch was *wink, wink*
    D: Chick-fil-a date night for hubby and me, college girl worked the men’s ballgame and they fed her

    No plan in place yet for tomorrow’s dinner…better put my thinking cap on!

  2. Oooh, those muffins look like just what I need to make. I have a lot of yogurt to use up. Too bad the kids don’t like fruity muffins and we are out of chocolate chips. I wonder if I could chop up a Mr. Goodbar? Or maybe just add some sugar and cocoa powder for chocolate muffins? With white chocolate chips?? Does that sound like it would work?

    I just pulled your pepita bars out of the oven. I hope I didn’t overbake them. The oven was set at 350 for most of the cooking time! That uses up some pumpkin seeds that I have had stashed in my freezer for two years. Eep!

    Dinner tonight was hot dogs, strawberries, carrots, leftover spaghetti squash, and steamed broccoli. Very easy for the chef, although I didn’t use anything from our pantry or freezer.

  3. Omigosh, today was full of yum! The “split pea soup” turned into more of a ham and bean stew — yellow split peas, lentils, onions, carrots, yellow squash, and a very meaty hambone. And our housemate brought home “surprise bread” from work — a chewy baguette and a HUGE rectangular loaf that I think may have cheese incorporated (it’ll make great sandwich bread, anyway). Plus lots of citrus and the last of the cherries from our produce run last week. Filling, fresh, and frugal. It’s been a while since we had pizza night… thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Nia Hanna says:

    I know what you mean about “fishing for compliments”. We use a recipe from Amy’s Finer Things for ‘Brown Bag Burritios’. If made with ingredients from the store, these burritos taste like Taco Bell. If made with ingredients made in my own kitchen/ from scratch, they still taste like Taco Bell to my taste buds, but to hubby, it’s just another homemade burrito, and he’d prefer something else.

  5. Really enjoying the Challenge. I did not have THAT much to get rid of, but it is such a good learning experience for me…after working so many hours that I used to cook for a whole week on Sundays, and stuff the freezer so my family had plenty to eat, now we are retired and it’s just the two of us. Learning to cook for 2, and realizing I can go to the store when ever I need to now, is so radical, that the Pantry Challenge has been a huge help in using up what I have and seeing where I buy too much and waste food. Thanks.

  6. Tiffany R says:

    We are not huge red meat fans at our house and for some reason, I have several packages of different cuts in the freezer. I guess I can’t turn down a good price. So, tonight I made a recipe using stir-fry beef and it was less than stellar. The kids wouldn’t eat it and hubs and I both had stomach aches from it. Dinner fail.

    Breakfast: Pancakes from freezer and coffee from clearance (me) & 1/2 bagel and juice (kids)
    Lunch: Out with a friend for Vietnamese
    Dinner: Beef & Broccoli (fail) with steamed rice (me & hubs). The kids had chicken fingers (freezer) heated in the microwave when I realized that dinner was a no-go.
    Snack: Ice cream and last of crockpot chocolate cake

    • Bummer on the stomach aches. Is that just cause you don’t eat it very often?

      • Tiffany R says:

        It’s more that we don’t eat it often because it causes stomach aches. I have a limited diet due to gastro problems and this did not meet the standards. It is my fault, I knew going into it that it probably wasn’t going to turn out well. Most nights I have a grilled chicken salad while my family eats whatever is on the menu.

  7. Still lots of goodies but running low on some things so thinking since it is to warm up a little, into the 20’s, today I may just run and pick up a few sale items and dairy and produce.

    Breakfast – Oatmeal w/blueberries (from the freezer)
    Lunch – PB&J sandwiches, chips
    Dinner – Spinach lasagna, garlic rolls, salad
    Snacks – carrots with dip, ice cream

  8. Stephanie M. says:

    Still watching my freezers and pantry empty out. Up until now, I have not had to write up a meal plan because I had a very good variety of meat and frozen veggies and side dishes from the pantry. I just decided each night what we would have the next day. The variety of meat in my freezer is getting narrower and I only have a half a bag of green beans in the freezer and maybe enough corn for one of us. I’m going food shopping on Friday so today I sat down and figured out what I want to cook for next week from my freezer and what I need to buy to make those meals and made a shopping list based on that. I will be bypassing any and all sale items because I don’t want to add anything to my stock. My goal is to get rid of as much as I can this month without adding anything to it. From now on, I am going to try to shop each week for only what I need for that week. I used to do that years ago and it always worked for me. I would have never had to be on a pantry challenge because I was never overstocked. Last Winter during the pantry challenge, I had so much in my freezer, it was a sin. I actually started my pantry challenge in October and it took me four months to empty it out. I vowed to never let that happen again and I haven’t. But there’s always room for improvement and I want to keep even less than I do now in my freezer which is much, much less than last year. My biggest problem is that no matter what’s on my shopping list, it’s always more than I need and then I end up buying all kinds of other things that I see and BOOM, I’m overstocked!

    B – Hubby worked from home today so it was nice to have breakfast together: We both had poached eggs on multi-grain English muffins; he also had hash browns from the freezer and I had strawberries. (the hashbrowns he had were McCains homestyle babycakes. I only mention these because they are great to keep on hand in case you want these with breakfast and don’t have the time or you just don’t want to make homemade. They are so good; we eat them as a side with dinner too, not just breakfast.

    L – Hubby had the last of the leftover Chicken soup from Saturday; I had salad.

    D – We had kolbasi and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes. For me, this was so good; I can’t wait for the leftovers tomorrow. For hubby, he only ate the potatoes and the kolbasi. He would surely sell his sole to the devil before he eats sauerkraut! I never get to eat this and I had a bag of sauerkraut in the fridge and a kolbasi in the freezer so I just decided to make it anyway; After all, I’m someone too! 🙂

  9. Heather M says:

    Today was a good Challenge day. I’m pushing costco to Friday so that’s also something. Here goes:

    B: cereal and veg/turkey sausage for son, hubs turkey sausage; me whole wheat toast w/PB & banana
    L: son took a snacky lunch wince school was delayed and lunch would be shorter-pistachios, clif bar, crackers; hubs took last of the awesome wonton soup I made last weekend (and raved AGAIN about it last night– “and you came up with the broth? Wow!”), last slice of pizza from the other night, and a pear; I had tuna on multigrain crackers and the yummiest easy salad of butter lettuce, some cranberry goat cheese that is almost gone from the holidays, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. So good.
    D: cooked up the last pack of ground turkey into Asian turkey for lettuce cups (me) or over rice (hubs) and about 1/4 of it plain to freeze for pasta sauce later (it was about 1 3/4lbs total). Also steamed French green beans (we adore those skinny ones and always keep them in the freezer) and baby carrots. Son’s not a fan of the turkey’s flavors so he had some spinach mozzarella ravioli from the freezer w/his veg and a banana.
    Snacks: son had his quesadilla (almost every day after school!) and pretzels. I had air popped popcorn, tangerines, and homemade mini raspberry preserves muffins.

    So I also have tons of preserves/jams in the cupboard and we don’t really eat PB & J so they sometimes end up tossed. I’m coming up with new ways to use them up. Stephanie M posted a recipe for surprise muffins. I adapted it by splitting the flour 1/2 unbleached AP and 1/2 white whole wheat, used a sugar/stevia baking blend, and then just mixed some raspberry preserves into the batter instead of making it a “surprise”. Also baked them into minimuffins. Then I can control the amount I have as a snack (they are only 47 cals each!). They are yummy and not too sweet, so perfect! I’ll try these with other jams I’ve got. Now I need to find a few other options that are relatively healthy for all those jams because otherwise it will be muffins nonstop!

    • We have our jam on popovers or toast or baguette. My kids also warm it to top pancakes.

    • Stephanie M. says:

      Hi Heather:

      So glad you enjoyed the muffins. Now I have a questions for you. We love the fresh French cut green beans too and they always come so many in a bag. We have to then eat them constantly till they’re gone so they don’t go bad. You mentioned that you freeze them. How do you do that? Do you portion them out (raw) in little freezer bags or do you blanch them first and then freeze them? One time, someone told me to blanch them and then freeze them which I did. But when I went to defrost them at another time, I found them unedible as they were all mushy.

      Also, I have a very easy recipe for cream puffs which you could use your jam for rather than cream.

      1/2 cup butter
      1 cup flour
      4 eggs
      1 cup water
      1/8 tsp. salt

      In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, water and salt. Bring to a boil. Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir till the mixture forms a ball that doesn’t separate. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time until the batter is smooth,.

      Drop a small spoon of batter (I use a dessert spoon) 3 inches apart onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 -35 minutes till golden. Remove from the oven and let cool. Split puffs and remove and discard any soft dough from inside. Fill with whatever you like, in your case, jams.

      Just in case you ever want to make a cream filling.

      2 pints of heavy cream
      2 small packages of instant vanilla pudding

      Whip heavy cream until stiff. Add vanilla pudding. Add milk a little at a time until smooth.

      If you make the cream puffs with cream rather than jam, then double the recipe for the actual puffs because the cream filling makes enough for a double recipe.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

      • Hi! Thanks for the cream puff recipe! I have never made them. I will have to try at some point. It’s a great idea!

        As for the French green beans, I buy them frozen at Trader Joe’s. I’ve never tried the blanching and freezing method for them. When I buy them fresh it’s because I’m going to use them all up right away! Maybe you need to blanch them for less time? No idea otherwise. Good luck if you try again! 🙂

  10. Vanessa B says:

    I feel like I’ve barely committed to this pantry challenge. Dinner plans fell through when we had unexpected visitors (as always) during my cooking time. I’m not running a public house!

    Breakfast – yogurt and granola with chia seeds
    Lunch – chicken bites with carrot sticks and sunflower seeds for the little guy and I had chicken bites on top of my yummy salad
    Snack – string cheese and yogurt
    Dinner – pizza and salad purchased with a gift card

  11. Yesterday was pretty good here. I made granola bars so the kids would have something for snacks.

    B- cereal and milk

    L-we had “brunch” at my youngest son’s school because he got an award along with some other kids, so no lunch for us

    D- I made black bean burgers with the black beans I made earlier in the week and the buns I made made on Monday. Sweet potato fries from the freezer rounded it out.

    I have to make some more bread today, since we’re low on that, and I might make muffins this week.

  12. I am traveling and my guys are at home.
    I’m so proud of them so far!!!
    Breakfast: I ate a Clif Bar at the hotel before hitting the road for a meeting (I brought a stash with me, since breakfast is usually pricey and not much I like). Hubs & ds#3 made pancakes at home. 🙂
    Lunch: My co-worker & I ate Greek before said meeting. I spent $10 for lunch. Hubs & ds#3 ate leftovers in their lunchboxes. Yea!!!
    Dinner: We ate a burger for dinner; I spent $15 including the tip. Hubs & ds#3 went out for their planned meal out before Hubs’ bowling.

    Not bad, I’d say!

  13. Stephanie P says:

    That pizza looks amazing! Definitely better than a Costco pizza.

    I guarantee neither my husband or son will ever know that we are doing a pantry challenge – they just don’t pay enough attention 🙂

    B: Steel cut oats for me, cereal for DS.
    L: Salad with baked buffalo chicken and leftover quinoa, orange.
    D: Chicken cacciatore over spaghetti. I had roasted vegetables with mine. I know DS hasn’t been eating lunch at school and hasn’t eaten a ton at dinners lately, so I supplemented his meal with a cheese stick, Stonyfield yogurt drink, and I cut up a large raw carrot, thinking he’d eat some of that. Well despite serving himself a large portion of spaghetti he ended up not liking the chicken cacciatore. He DID eat the entire carrot and his other sides at least.

    I think DH was just “eh” about dinner but he’s the pickiest person alive so I don’t really base my meal plans on him. If it were up to him we would have meatballs and spaghetti, pizza, or French fries and meatball subs every single day. Case in point – tonight I am out of the house AGAIN (getting really tired of this week), and I realized I wouldn’t have time to bake the ziti I had planned, so dinner was up to him. And he picked….meatball subs and fries. I will be having leftovers from last night.

    • Some Pantry Challenges haven’t gone so well, so they have noticed before. Also, I think we’re used to eating out less frequently. In the past, they would have asked more often and I would have said no.

      • Stephanie P says:

        I honestly can’t even imagine trying to meal plan or cook for that many people ever! I get overwhelmed trying to even somewhat please two!!

    • Right there with you! The hubs and son have no idea what’s happening. It’s great! ????

    • Stephanie M. says:

      Oh my husband knows alright and is on board with it. However, I did warn him yesterday that he might start seeing some strange things coming his way. His response was he sees that everyday when he walks in the door. Funny man – NOT. Well, I fixed him. When he opens up his lunchbox today, for lunch he will find a Tupperware filled with Chef Boyardee mini raviolis that I usually keep on hand for when our young grandson comes over. 🙂

      • I’m glad I wasn’t drinking when I read your comment. LOL!

      • Stephanie P says:

        Ha NICE.

        Sad thing is if I made spaghettios my DH would be thrilled! To him something as basic as the chicken cacciatore or really any kind of chicken is “strange” to him, so I don’t think he would notice anything actually being strange.

      • Ha!

      • I’ve several times ended up with something a little strange, or just had a weird meal of random bits of leftovers that don’t really go together but need to be used up. The kid’s response lately has been either “that’s not as weird as when we had XYZ” or “we’ve had stranger combinations before.” Nice to know we have benchmarks of oddness now!

  14. haven’t posted in a few days, forgetting now what we’ve eaten… oatmeal, raisin toast, eggs, chicken quesadillas with chips and salsa, caesar salad with grilled chicken strips, red beans and rice, snacky dinner from holiday appetizers out of freezer, clementines, subs (heroes, hoagies, sandwiches, whatever word you prefer) with veggies and Italian meats… probably other things as well but that’s what I’m remembering at the moment. I’m slowly plugging away, but not even really touching much of the meat in there that I really need to use up. My ‘this work week should be easier’ plan was completely off-base so things not working out as originally envisioned. The kid has helped out by finding frozen desserts for us (ice cream, pies, cookie dough) nearly every evening. Ha!

  15. Fantastic that on day 12 your family is just realizing they are in the middle of a pantry challenge. FishMama, you do an awesome job of feeding your peeps ….. and encouraging and inspiring your readers.

  16. I agree! You’re an inspiration to many! So much so…. we’re having pizza tonight! hahaha!

    Yesterday was a pretty quiet day, very cold and overcast. Son was home for breakfast so husband made scrambled eggs and sausage links for us. Later, I made us a fruit salad cup.

    Husband surprised me for lunch with a hot dog from a little stand about 5miles from our house on a main road – we kind of live in the country. That was fun.

    Snacks for the day – Cosmo salted caramel puffed corn from Sam’s, melba toast with butter and sliced apples.

    Dinner was a treat of beef stroganoff made with some trimmings from a whole filet of beef. Served over egg noodles with a side of green beans. It was amazing – used a recipe I found online from Food & Wine.

    Dessert – the last of the pineapple sherbet

    We have friends that like to grill steaks on Saturday nights during nice weather. Instead of being at the mercy of whatever price steaks happen to be that week, we decided to buy a whole filet of beef when it was on sale at Kroger and cut our own steaks to have on hand when we have those grill nights.

  17. Got to clean out the fridge of the last leftovers today. For breakfast I threw the leftover broccoli and cauliflower into my eggs, lunch was the leftover grean beans, leftover alfredo, and a salad. Dinner was leftover Mexican chicken over pasta and the last of the green beans. Today I finished the last of the pasta. I do have a little alfredo left (which was to use up the leftover chicken) and I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. I can make more pasta, but can anyone think what to do with about 1 cup of homemade alfredo? We still have a lot of meat in the fridge, so I’ll pick up fresh veg tomorrow or Saturday, but other than that our pantry challenge is still going strong. Usually by now we are beginning to bow out, but this has been a good one. I think I have been better about buying what we actually use. 😉

    • You can make a white pizza with the Alfredo sauce! Use it instead of pizza sauce. Add chicken, diced tomatoes, and maybe some scallions. Top with some cheese and you’ve got a special pizza.

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