Pantry Challenge Update: Week Three

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We are in the home stretch, people! Week Three is done. Whew! I’m so glad. Our pantry is looking pretty sparse. Pasta is gone; rice is gone; most of the beans are gone. The big freezer is emptied and unplugged. Only one week to go!

This last week is kinda crazy. I’m not quite jumpy like I have been in past years when week four was close to break me. I think it helps that I kept our one meal to eat out each week. That’s been a welcome respite. 

This update combines my meal planning and Grocery Geek posts into one post for the week.

Meal Planning

Week 3 Meals

Here are the meals we had this week:

Planned Meals for Week 4

We are only going to go through Friday night. That will be our last night, completing 28 days.

Groceries So far

My big boys are getting their wisdom teeth out tomorrow so I had to go to the store to stock up on soft, comforting foods for them. I spent more than I would have liked, but I think we’ll be able to squeak through the week with maybe a milk purchase or two. Here’s hoping, anyway.

Ralphs week 3


Last Sunday the girls and I went to Ralphs for some basics: coffee, sugar, potatoes, oil, spinach, eggs, sour cream. Hubs and I went back a few days later for milk.

Total spent at Ralphs this week: $47


On another day I was at Target and picked up two loaves of bread.

Total spent: $6

Sprouts final


This weekend I went to Sprouts for things to round out the coming week: bread, cilantro, poblanos, jalapeños, avocados, tomatoes, chicken, bananas, apples, pears, and grapefruit.

Total spent: $38

Costco Final week


Last night I went to Costco, mainly for a good deal on the things my boys would need after their dental work: applesauce, chicken broth, frozen fruit, mashed potatoes, yogurt, almond butter, juice, and clam chowder. I picked up the potstickers for my husband to hold down the fort with when I’m out of town for a day this week.

Total spent: $112

Spent this week: $203

Month to date on groceries: $532

Wow! Even with the extra soft foods for the boys, we’re still doing pretty well. We should be able to be under $600 for the month, about half of what the USDA estimates it would cost to feed my family at home for a month. We still ate out a few meals, but I’m very pleased so far.

How’s the month shaping up for YOU?

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  1. Melissa F says:

    I haven’t posted in a few days. We went to our hunting property on Thursday and returned yesterday.

    My son and I went shopping on Wednesday: Walmart – $7 for bananas, avocado, apples and a pineapple. Publix – $33 for produce, yogurts (still on sale & with a coupon), a couple condiments that were on sale and had coupons, Emergen-C was 25% off and Publix had a coupon ( I bought 2 small boxes for my daughter, that college campus is teaming with germs!!!) and I found organic French onion dip mix, Goya empanadas and balsamic vinegar on clearance. Also got some English muffins on sale to make breakfast sandwiches for my son.

    We did eat 2 meals on the road (to and from) and 1 breakfast out while away.

    The meals/food I made in the last few days: seafood pasta salad, quiche, potato salad, clam chowder, grilled steak, sautéed pork chops. Filled in with fresh fruit, vegetables and chocolate pound cake.

    We got home yesterday and took my son to see American Sniper and out to eat at a British Pub. It was nice to get out but the movie was so very somber it just had an effect on me – I worry about this world we live in and I worry about my son who wants to join the military. It was frightening, but very touching. I cried. Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper did a really good job.

    Wanted to give a shout out to all you in the Juno zone – you are in our thoughts and prayers. Hunker down and stay safe!

    • Stephanie M. says:

      Thanks for thinking of all of us, Melissa. I am in New Jersey and it’s been snowing off an on all morning and it is bitter out there! But I think the real blizzard type conditions will start later in the day or tonight into tomorrow. I have the weather channel on all morning and I think I heard that the airports are closed now. There’s such a strange creepy quiet outside with not a single plane flying by and everything so still. I guess this is what they mean by the calm before the storm.

    • It was a great movie and fantastic acting! Also had a profound effect on me.

  2. Melissa F says:

    Also – hope the wisdom teeth removals go well. My daughter got her’s out on January 5th while she was on winter break from college. Just a rough couple of days.

  3. Stepyhanie M. says:

    My husband gets paid twice a month and each time I budget $400.00 from each paycheck. I always spend that and usually more. In fact, I usually spend almost the whole thing all at once; mostly because of impulse buys and non necessary items. So far for the month of January, I have spent a total of $464.99 and I will not need to go to the store any time now before the end of the challenge. That speaks volumes of how much money I waste and how careless I really am with grocery money. Lesson learned!!!

    • Don’t be too hard on yourself. I imagine with an almost empty-nest, it’s easy to do.

      • Stephanie M. says:

        Yea, things definitely get financially easier when the kiddos are grown and moved out. Our last one is going to be 25 in April but she really doesn’t require much from us anymore. I spend some extra money in the grocery store buying things for her that we don’t eat. We all eat healthy, I think, but she eats different than us. She won’t eat any kind of pasta, potatoes, and only eats brown rice. She eats almond cheese and drinks almond milk. Both of these things we don’t eat or drink. I’ve tried them and they’re okay. I’m not much of a milk drinker anyway; the almond milk is pretty good but as I said, I don’t drink that much milk. I find the almond cheese tasteless and as far as brown rice, I have tried so many times to like that but it’s just not happening. I wish I could like it but I just don’t. She loves avocados. I’m know I’m in the minority on this one but I don’t like those either. I’m sure I’m the only one on this planet who doesn’t like them. I also buy her things like chick peas so she can make hummus. Another thing I’m not crazy about. It sounds like I’m a picky eater and I’m not; I just don’t have the same pallet as hers. So, the little bit of extra money I spend buying her things that she wants, doesn’t add up to very much. That said, never in my life have I been as frugal as I am now. Yes, I put change in jars and yes, I am doing the 52 week dollar savings challenge. But the great thing about having participated in the pantry challenge is that I know I really don’t need to spend nearly as much as I do which leaves me extra money for more fun things. 🙂

  4. Stephanie M. says:

    My hands are so cold right now, I can’t even type right. I misspelled my own name. I think it’s time for some tea!

  5. Tracy Morrell says:

    I think you mentioned in a previous post that your dad was just diagnosised with type 1 diabetes. I am not sure how different that is from type 2, but I have been doing a lot of reading about sugar levels, because my last set of blood work had my sugars up and my doctor is concerned so I have been trying to reverse this through diet. Here is a website someone posted on my facebook page which lists some common food/spices that help with blood sugar, maybe they might help your dad.

    • Type 1 diabetics do not produce insulin. Their pancreas has shut down. You could eat every spice known to man but without daily injections you would die. I take up to 8 shots per day and test between 8 and 10 times. Diet is an important part of our daily regime, but insulin is what keeps us alive.

    • Heather M says:

      Also if you’re concerned about your sugar levels, very regular exercise helps. Getting the heart rate up can do wonders for sugar levels, especially combined with watching the diet. 🙂

  6. My daughter had her wisdom teeth, all 4, taken out Jan 2. They gave her the high-powered pain medicine and it made her very sick. Other than that she did very well. Some swelling but no bruising at all. Just remember NO straws!!! Her doctor’s name?? Dr. Kevorkian, haha!!! Anyway, good luck to your boys! I’m sure they will do just fine.
    I have really enjoyed the pantry challenge this year. It really makes me stop and think before going to the store and makes me very mindful when I’m in the store. And as I said, it’s carried over to my husband and his work around the house :0)

  7. I baby sat my husband on one of our first dates when he had his wisdom teeth pulled. He was pretty miserable, but it was 37 years ago and he did survive.
    I am still going strong on the challenge. My cupboards are getting bare, but I could probably go another week if I was so inclined, which I am not.
    Today’s meals
    breakfast-egg muffin sandwich
    lunch-last of the past pull date cottage cheese, canned pineapple rings and half an orange
    dinner-turkey shepherds pie type thing made with leftovers
    I have spent $8.79 this month on groceries. As we get to payday at the end of this week, I am pleasantly surprised at how much is left in the bank account. I’ve used January as a no spend money on anything month as much as possible. There’s just the two of us so I don’t have to worry about kid needs.

  8. Oh, I feel their pain. I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed too.
    And I feel your pain. Ugh. It’s just not fun.
    Here’s the link to our 3rd week:
    Overall, we’ve done very well. I went out of town for a week, but while I was home, hubs & I had our weekly breakfast date and the rest of the time, we ate out very little. I did get creative to try to avoid going to the grocery store, and it looks like we spent about $200 for the month.
    This week will be a little more challenging, largely because I’m losing steam. But we will survive 🙂

  9. We are doing really well around here, finally getting into a good groove with the Challenge. It’s pretty clear we have plenty of food, as I could come up with several more weeks worth and only have to buy fresh. And that’s not even getting crazy “creative”. So I think we will keep going and only buy things we run out of or fresh items, just as I’ve been doing this entire month. And try to keep the eating out to a minimum, which was a big problem the first few weeks of the Challenge. I think I’ve fixed that one for now, except the necessary meals out, like the hubs and son on Saturday when they go to the Car Show in DC all day, and lunch w/a friend for me this week. I just tallied spending on food for the month (I don’t include meals out or non-food items in the tally), and we’re at a mere $221. I think we may have to grab a few fresh items but not much (salad stuff, milk, maybe bread), so should be under $250 for the month. Yay!! 🙂

  10. I wanted to keep the spending under $100, so I’m a little annoyed that we’re up to $124 as of today. However, I did come across a few things that I really like that I rarely purchase due to their expense that were heavily marked down because they were close to the sell-by date and the store needed to shift them. That was about $20 of it (including $10 for 2 pounds of smoked salmon from yesterday). $25 of the purchases were things the kid bought that I would not normally have purchased. He used his money, but I still counted it. I guess when factoring in all that, and noting I’ve barely made a dent in the cupboards even though the freezer door can close easily now and yet we haven’t felt any kind of pinch or need for creativity, we aren’t doing too badly. I can definitely be pleased that the only things we did purchase were perishables; not one thing we bought was added to the pantry or freezer this month except a bag of tortilla chips that is already half gone.

    I didn’t even tell the kid I was challenging myself this month. I think maybe I’ll do it again for Feb, letting him know about the $100 cap, and see how we do.

  11. I post this here but it is now the 29th….my family are sick of me now and fed up with this challenge!! They are tired of the fridge and pantry looking empty. I am exhausted trying to keep baked goods around, and making 7 meals per day is getting very hard!! Hubby works day and night so he needs a lot of food to keep going! Now i need to plan februarys menu plan and i don’t wanna!


    The sad part of all this is i planned for $ 800, and i spent over…haven’t finished the calculations yet, but yikes! I know its better than my $1000-1200 usual month, but i thought that using up what i have would reduce that further. I know i don’t have a lot of storage space so the amount of food i have on hand doesn’t last too long, so i guess I’m doing ok for my first challenge.

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