2015 Winter Pantry Challenge: Day Twenty-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.

Chicken Noodle Stirfry

I really am quite pleasantly surprised that we’re already to day 24 without too much carnage. In fact, today was quite tasty! If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I was a little late on the draw when it came to dinner tonight. After a rather nerve-wracking day nursing my two Wisdom Teeth boys, I didn’t really have a plan for dinner that I wanted to eat.

I made it an experiment. I had chicken and cabbage and was leaning toward Asian, so I rummaged for the Japanese Udon and Ramen noodles I knew were in the pantry and pulled together a really tasty stir-fry dish. The boys with the sore mouths had clam chowder from Costco and the rest of us ate this. It was so good! I had a hard time stopping. I’m so glad there’s some leftover!

The day started out with baked donuts. I made a few tweaks to this recipe. They were really sweet and spicy, but honestly? Tasted like muffins, not donuts.

For lunch we had chicken quesadillas. And then, of course, you already know about supper. For dessert, the girls took the last package of puff pastry and made Cinnamon Puffs. So yummy!

I’ve got four more days to the challenge, one of which is a birthday for my sweet husband. That will be our family dining out night.

Breakfast: Baked Donuts

Lunch: Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas

Dinner: Chicken and Cabbage Noodle Stir-fry

Dessert: Cinnamon Puffs

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:

    Today was an uneventful day regarding the challenge. Hubby slept at work because of the storm and daughter went to her girlfriend’s house so I did not cook dinner at all.

    B – Hubby and I both had baked oatmeal

    L – Hubby had the last of the leftover hot sub. I had a tuna fish sandwich

    D – Hubby had dinner provided at work. I had a ham sandwich.

    Dessert: I had the last of the jello

    Not the most nutritious day but who cares. I never cook when hubby isn’t home; to me, that’s a day off! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Heather M says:

      Eh we all have our days— but you got proteins and grains in. You can eat your fruits and veggies another day. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’m surprised he even had to go to work. But, this is CA where everything shuts down.

      • Stephanie M. says:

        Yea, unfortunately, no matter what the weather, he ALWAYS has to go in. Even during Tropical Storm Sandy, he had to go in. He is the Chief Engineer in charge of Chase’s largest data center in the country and it never, ever closes, no matter what.

        • Heather M says:

          My hubs is the same…. Work never ever goes away. On 9-11, he was the only person heading into DC while there was a mass exodus out. He works at home if all he needs is a phone and computer when things are rough. But it never stops. Ever.

  2. Breakfast – cereal
    Lunch – Cheese and sour cream tortillas, potato chips
    Dinner – Turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green beans, applesauce
    Snacks – Rice krispie treats, pretzels w/dip

  3. Breakfast: eggs, l/o cheese grits
    Lunch: pasta with marinara sauce (kind of bland and disappointing)
    Dinner: pot roast with mushrooms and celery, mashed potatoes, sliced tomatoes sprinkled with Herbes de Provence, and buttermilk biscuits (came out great and made up for lunch)
    Dessert: ice cream sandwich

  4. It was a busy day around here. I didn’t know if I’d feel like doing everything I had on my list, but I got it done. I sliced the ham for lunch meat, made a double batch of banana crumb muffins, paid my property taxes and did laundry. Plus I did my bike ride.

    B-peanut butter toast, tea

    L-my husband and I had the last of the leftover chili, kids had sandwiches, etc

    D-I made Amish bean soup and sour cream biscuits, turned out yummy. We had a banana muffin each for dessert.

  5. I’m glad to hear someone else thought that baked donuts taste like muffins. All the recipes I’ve seen call for nutmeg and cinnamonโ€ฆ..all I want is a plain donut recipeโ€ฆ..what would happen if I left out those to spices??

  6. Can you please share the asian sauce that you made? Even just an ingredient list; I can go from there. Thanks!

    • I used soy sauce and chicken broth with a little garlic. I would have added ginger if I had some. Then mix a bit of water and 1 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch together and add that to the pan. Whisk over low heat until it thickens.

      • I used to struggle with creating a stir fry sauce – then I realized that all the asian condiments can pretty much be mixed together without any conflict of flavor. I am currently mixing hot chili sauce, oyster sauce, black bean sauce and soy with broth for a great stir fry for vegetables.

      • Vanessa B says:

        Very tasty! We had this the other night with one leftover pork chops. For the sauce I used soy sauce, chicken broth, sambal oelek chili paste, garlic, ginger powder, peanut butter ( I think almond butter could be used for nut-free families) and lime juice at the end. I also added strips of egg for more protein. My family absolutely loves this meal and it’s so economical!

  7. Are cinnamon puffs like roils but made out of puff pastry? May have to try that!

  8. Jessica S says:

    It was another school called off snow day.. 4 this school year all this month!
    B- I used the last of the Buttermilk and made a double batch of pancakes… served them with bananas that are super ripe and tossed all sorts of nut butter spreads on the table! juice
    L-Hodge podge of pretzles, hummus, last of the lunch meats, fresh fruit and a cake ball (made the night before!)
    D-defrosted and brined some boneless porkchops, made a gravy with a roux and some homemade chicken stock, served with a box of stovetop, some frozen broccoli and homemade corncake

  9. Melissa F says:

    We started our day with a Zaycon pick up of a 25 lb. box of cod fillets. We got out the foodsaver and processed most of it until I ran out of bags, then broke the whole pieces up and put them into freezer bags. The filets are IQF so they won’t stick together and I can take out what I need for a meal. The foodsaver fillets will last longer as it protects them a bit better by removing air.

    Breakfast – son had oatmeal, hubby had an English muffin w/bacon and I had a grilled cheese w/bacon, we split an apple
    Lunch – tortilla chips with guacamole and salsa ( I was the only one home)
    Dinner – scrambled eggs, sausage links and toast
    Dessert – Ice cream (son bought)

    I made some breakfast sandwiches for the freezer for my son. Only had 3 English muffins so that’s all I made. They will be on sale again this week so I will pick up another pack.

    We will continue the PC into February since we are doing so well. I will keep with my buying strategy with fresh items and sale stuff that I normally look to stockpile. I think we are up to $185 for the month so far, which is good for us.

  10. I do so much better when I only go into the store occasionally. So much better that I am considering moving to a once every 2 weeks or maybe even once a month shopping trip. I’ll just go to the farmers mkt on the inbetween week so we can still have fresh stuff, and I won’t be tempted by the other junk.
    We had banana bread for breakfast – cheese, crackers, and odds and ends for lunch, and used our recent beef purchase for a pot roast. Yum!

  11. B: waffles from the freezer and fruit, mom had b-fast on the run with Breakfast cookies
    L: kids lunch at school (don’t judge me ๐Ÿ™‚ we do pack lunch periodically too). Mom & Dad, leftovers – butternut squash soup, apple, tapioca pudding made with almond milk
    D: the scramble with kids events. Leftovers. Beef stew for M&D. Herbed pull apart rolls. Kids – pulled pork with melted cheese wrapped in tortillas. Tapioca pudding.

    We benefit from weekend cooking. Typically I make bigger meals on Sunday which stretch into a lunch or two and dinner. This weekend that was beef stew, butternut squash soup, and meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy.

    We’ve been on the PC for the last 3 weeks. First timer on a challenge like this. We’ve loved it! We did take 3 steps forward and 2 step back when I found the ingredients for meatloaf in the freezer. Made the meatloaf and made meatballs, which went back in the freezer.

    We plan on extending this challenge at least another week into Feb. Maybe further. I’m considering a condiment challenge or spice challenge of some sort. Those two items we seem to have a lot of.

  12. B- oatmeal with frozen fruit
    L-Green Smoothies and cheese and crackers
    D- Turkey Sanwhiches(with turkey and rolls from last night) lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red bell peppers, avocado, and baked beans

    The end is in sight, but my freezer and pantry are still quite full. I am ok with that, mostly because I never like it to be empty. But I have used up most of the older things, so most everything in there isnt even close to their expiration dates. Over all, this has been pretty successful, and I have a plan for the rest of the week as well as freezer meals for the following week while I am out of town.

  13. Our Monday went off without a hitch.

    B: choice of banana, yogurt, leftover biscuits & sausage gravy
    L: turkey salad – either as a sandwich or with salad greens
    D: beef stew in the crock pot (so good!)
    S: apple slices & peanut butter

  14. One situation I’m running into this month is that as I use up items I have extra leftovers. I’m trying not to be wasteful and will always reheat leftovers for lunch. There are only two of us so it can stack up.
    Here’s today’s menu….
    Breakfast-egg muffins (almost out of eggs)
    Lunch-leftover turkey shepherds pie
    Dinner-leftover meatloaf, leftover shepherds pie, and leftover pizza (Ahh! leftovers!)
    Not my favorite day but I am using things up and not tossing.

    • We eat a lot of leftovers here, too. Sometimes I put things in the freezer for another week when I get too much that I feel we won’t eat in time. Lately I haven’t had so much leftover because I have two teenage boys, but that’s ok too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. We followed the pantry challenge for a full three weeks and then things started getting sparse in the pantry. I decided to do a bit of the bulk shopping online to get some essentials that were at a very good price. My mom and I actually split some of the Bulk items which was nice. I also purchased fresh meat and raw milk from a local farmers Cooperative that I’m really excited about! Overall I don’t think we actually saved a lot of money this month, but I used up oddsand ends along with some older items from the freezer and pantry. The PC also helped me realize that there are items that I don’t need to buy in the future such as several different rice varieties and specialty flours and grains, we just don’t need so many choices. The PC also showed me that we eat mostly fresh produce and dairy and we add in pantry items like grains to supplement I also don’t keep much meat in the freezer as I don’t have a discount store around and my local supermarket doesn’t offer meat sales very often. This means I can only afford to buy a weekor two worth of meat at a time. Overall the pc was a nice experience for me!

  16. Day 24/Monday was another successful Challenge day, but man, the snow was disappointing. Around here we got 1-2 inches and that is it. So cold and nothing to show for it. It’s been like this all winter– wimpy storms and cold. Oh well. I guess we could be completely buried like parts of New England. But a massive storm once every 5 years is fine by me. If I have to live where there’s winter.

    B: cereal and turkey sausage for son and hubs; toast w/PB and banana for me
    L: son took a variation on his usual: baguette, pistachios, clif bar; hubs was too busy for lunch, and I had a big salad w/tuna, hard boiled egg, feta, tomato, carrot, cucumber. Yum!
    D: beef stew w/potato, carrot, mushroom and homemade buttermilk biscuits (both made Saturday)
    Snacks: son had chicken quesadilla, chips, pineapple; I had apple spice cake and cheese

    Jessica, your dinner looks a lot like typical food I make around here either rice or noodle based. We LOVE Asian food! Great throw-together!

  17. Tiffany R says:

    Like a lot of other posters, I am finding that I am using up more leftovers and incorporating odds/ends into my meals. I am still shopping mostly like usual but more conscious of what we already have so that I can use that up first. Proteins are getting pretty sparse so that will need restocking in the beginning of February.

    Breakfast: Steel cut oatmeal w/apples, blueberries & pecans and coffee (me), waffles (freezer) and juice (kids)
    Lunch: I made a grilled chicken salad but since I would be out of the house, I wrapped into a flatbread and took it to go. Delicious.
    Dinner: Chicken Parmesan (freezer), broccoli and rolls (freezer) for hubs & kids, Grilled chicken salad w/roll (me)
    Dessert: Strawberry Oatmeal bars (leftover from last week)

    The sauce for the Chicken Parm was repurposed homemade tomato soup from 2 weeks ago. No one was eating the soup so I jazzed it up to be tomato sauce and used it for the chicken parm. Ha, they will eat it one way or another, I’ll make sure of that!!

  18. Carolyn S. says:

    Jessica, I’ve been wondering this each time I see and/or participate in the Challenge… doesn’t it cost you a huge bundle to restock your pantry and freezer when you’re through with a challenge?
    I can’t say I’m really participating this time around (certainly not posting, but that’s not unusual), but I do love using up the ‘bits and bobs’ knowing that’s what you would encourage me to do ๐Ÿ™‚
    My husband cut my twice-monthly food budget by $100 at the beginning of the year because our insurance costs have gone up and as you said once before, the food budget is where the most wiggle room is. I can’t say it hurt us, but my getting-bare shelves make me see HUGE dollar signs as I make up a grocery list.
    I’m not sure I even made sense here, but the question comes down to: doesn’t emptying your pantry, etc. end up costing you much more the next month? And how DO you stock up for emergencies, etc?
    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I used to freak out over emptying things out, but since I now have a special emergency/earthquake stash of canned goods in the garage, the worry is diminished.

      As for “stocking up”, I typically shop for what I think we’ll use in the next week (except for bulk buys or sale items), so it’s not a huge “let’s fill the shelves” kind of thing. The PC is like the time to use up that overflow or the things that I planned but didn’t use.

      Next month will be unusual since we’re doing a Whole 30, so the money we save this month will help next month not be crazy. I hope.

  19. I also have a package of puff pastry lurking in the freezer. Can you share how your daughters made Cinnamon Puffs? Thanks!

  20. Monday:
    B: eggs & bacon for hubs; milkshake for ds#3; water for me.
    L: Hawaiian chicken w/rice (he’s loving this!!) for Hubs; tortilla chips, turkey, homemade LaraBars and homemade trail mix for ds#3; out for me (I was at a workshop)
    D: Nachos… very comforting for a Monday evening. Browned & seasoned the last pound of ground beef in the freezer, topped tortilla chips with the meat, cheese, diced tomatoes (out of salsa), and sour cream. Very filling and delicious.

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