Pantry Challenge Day 1

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This month we are eating down the pantry to save money and reduce food waste. Join me every day for the Pantry Challenge!

eggs and hash

Technically this could be called day 4, but since this is the first day that I’m “officially reporting” We’ll just go with it, okay? 😉 Every day this month, I’ll share what we’re eating and how we’re using up what we have.

Breakfast: Kids had cereal and/or eggs; I had Zucchini and Sweet Potato Hash leftover from Saturday and fried eggs.

Snacks: apples and bananas

avocado toast

Lunch: I had found a clearance loaf of sourdough bread in the freezer. The kids had salami or almond butter sandwiches while I had avocado toast.

Can you tell I’m trying to stay on the healthy bent?

PC pot roast

The dinner plan almost didn’t happen because I didn’t put the roast in the slow cooker until almost 11. But, it was still done in time to eat about 6.

Dinner: Favorite Pot Roast, Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Carrots.

I had cream cheese to use up so I made this variety of potatoes. Usually no one notices the tartness of the cheese because I add some milk that’s naturally “sweet”. We are out of milk so I used some chicken broth. Didn’t really work out for me for some reason. The tart flavor was really strong. Most kids noticed; one commented. Not sure what that was about.

How did your Pantry Challenge go today?

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  1. Vanessa B says:

    I call this Day 1 even though technically we’re on Day 4.
    Breakfast – cereal
    Lunch – Mac N Cheese, lil smokies, carrot sticks
    Snacks- animal crackers, apples with peanut butter, popcorn
    Dinner – leftover Tortellini Alfredo and copycat Olive Garden salad, the kids had turkey sandwiches

  2. Jessica S says:

    B- Kids were given oatmeal packets and the last of the homemade pumpkin mini muffins. I ate a bowl of Old fashioned oats with PB and banana
    L- kids had water, PBJ, carrots, pretzels, sliced oranges and PB kiss cookies from freezer.
    D- Split a roasted a chicken that had been defrosting. used the fresh broccoli and 2 of those Alfredo noodle pouches ( emergency night stash)

    chicken carcass will enter the crock pot with veggies and poaching liquid from the other day first thing in the morning!

  3. Today- mostly eating pantry staples, but we had some leftovers in the fridge we ate for lunch, and I had a whole bunch of broccoli about to turn, so we used that up. Also, I found a great recipe for 1 hour whole wheat bread that my family loves, so WIN!
    Breakfast- cold cereal and yogurt for kids, steel cut oats and tea for grown ups
    Lunch- leftover pasta
    Snacks- crackers and fruit ropes
    Dinner- broccoli cheese soup and homemade bread

  4. B: Raisin bran cereal, skim milk, hardboiled egg and fresh raspberries
    We had lots of guests over the holidays and many wanted ready to eat cereal for breakfast. Consequently, we have several open boxes we need to use up. This is not something we usually eat much of, but I told my kids it is cereal for breakfast this week. I want to use it up before it all goes stale.

    L: Leftover beefy shells, tossed salad, and sliced strawberries.

    D: Broiled blade steaks, couscous, green beans, served with fresh raspberries and blackberries.

  5. B – Scrambled eggs, sauteed green & onions, 1/2 avocado (dh fried some eggs, toast)
    L – Homemade lentil soup, toasted sourdough bread
    Snack – raw almonds
    D – didn’t go as planned. I wound up with a migraine so never made it to the store for tortillas. Dh felt sorry for me and picked up El Pollo Loco. A grilled chicken breast, pinto beans and salad are about as healthy of an option as you can find for fast food.

  6. Tastycook says:

    Breakfast – cereal or muffins
    Lunch – ham & cheese on wholewheat buns ( homemade)
    Dinner – beef vegetable siup.

    So far this week we have emptied 2 ceral boxes that have been hanging around for a while.. The soup tonight finished the Christmas Day beef and all the veggies were from the freezer. Leftovers have already been packed into the freezer – enough for one main meal and one lunch.

  7. Breakfast: eggs on a bagel
    Lunch: tummy wasn’t feeling happy for some reason, so I nibbled some hummus but mostly skipped it. Kid bought a pizza slice at work.
    Dinner: grilled chicken, mushroom & green bean risotto (pre-made frozen “vegetable” package that I got on sale but did not like and will never buy again), fresh tomatoes
    Snack: we were both still hungry after dinner, so later had some carrot sticks and cheese

    I’m going to be doing a one-day road trip for work tomorrow, so here’s hoping I get my act together early enough in the day to pack a lunch before I go. I should do it now, but I’m seriously exhausted so I’m going to bed instead.

  8. I shared what we ate below, but I wanted to say thanks for the lasagna recipe. I don’t have an overflowing freezer or pantry, so I was menu planning and figuring out what I needed to buy to help use what I had. I had some lasagna ingredients, but I needed ricotta cheese. Once I read your recipe I saw that I could do it with white sauce. That is awesome. I was so excited I made the lasagna tonight for tomorrow. What a great shortcut. Thanks.

    Back to work today ;(. Everyone took lunches with deli stuff. Pricey I know, but I can’t give it up. I only buy it once a week, and then we eat peanut butter when it is gone. I also included fruit and left over holiday baked goods for snacks from the freezer. Breakfast was muffins and hard boiled eggs. The muffins were because my sister sent over things she was getting rid of and that included muffin mix. It will help me stretch out the cereal. Dinner was chicken tortellini soup, and there is enough for another night or a couple of work lunches for me.

    The thing that is most exciting is that when I shopped yesterday I was very intentional about my purchases and really thought about what we had. I spent $79 dollars, which is about half of what I usually spend for four of us.

    • I think I made this comment on the lasagna elsewhere. The white sauce is so much cheaper than the cheese filling and my kids love it. They don’t even like lasagna with ricotta. Double win.

      We love deli stuff, too. I hear ya.

  9. Today was a mixed bag for us.
    I had to go get a mammogram EARLY this morning before heading back to work… ick… so I was not at home to make breakfast for my guys. So hubs went out for a biscuit. :/ I had a cup of hot tea before said mammo. Ds#3 had a glass of OJ and a homemade larabar when he got up.
    Lunch: planned lunch out for dh & ds. I came home, had homemade soup and a little citrus salad, and went back to school (I’d been in meetings all morning away from campus).
    Dinner: I got home late because of some school issues I was trying to resolve. Then I had to haggle on the phone with our insurance company over a prescription… UGH. Thankfully, I had ground beef thawed for a quick meal of spaghetti (I had some free gluten-free noodles that we were supposed to test). That’s comfort food for my guys, so they waited patiently and were more than happy with the result. (And the noodles were quite satisfactory, according to my guys. Win Win.)
    I also learned this morning that my dear friend’s father passed away. He has been ill for a while, so it was not unexpected, but still sad. And I re-learned the value of having meals in the freezer for such occasions – I ended up spending an hour after dinner making food to take to the family tomorrow evening, all the while thinking, “Once upon a time, I had these exact sorts of meals stashed in my freezer. I should do that again.” Fortunately, I had the ingredients for the dishes I needed, just had to get disposable pans so the family doesn’t have to worry about returning them.
    So…. yeah. Mixed day. Tomorrow should be better!

  10. Breakfast and lunch my daughter eats at school and my son had cereal and some snacks, then got sick. He picked up the stomach flu his sister had this past weekend. I generally don’t eat during the day, something I need to stop doing! For me it’s 2-3 cups of coffee and cream and Mt. Dew the rest of the day, something else I need to stop, just not hungry. Dinner was leftovers. Tomorrow night will be a crockpot freezer meal that’s thawing in the fridge now.

  11. Chilly night in Georgia! We had leftover homemade gumbo soup from the freezer with leftover Cuban bread. A glass of milk and some leftover sugar cookies from Christmas for dessert!

  12. Breakfast: Older two kids first day back at school but they wanted a snack before school breakfast, they were that hungry. PB and honey on oatnut bread for one, scrambled eggs for the other. The baby had scrambled eggs with toast. Husband had oatmeal in a jar and I had the leftover scrambled eggs my kids asked for but didn’t eat. Lesson learned.
    Lunch: goldfish and PBJ for baby, salad mix with chicken and bluecheese crumbles.
    Snack: made a cake using a mix that i found during inventory and homemade cream cheese frosting ( found two opened yet unused packs in fridge.) baby had leftover hotdog with chili.
    dinner: tamales i made with my mom and sister in laws during Christmas and letil soup made during the summer.

  13. For breakfast it was breakfast burritos and fruit. I had peanut butter toast and a banana for lunch. The boys had free lunch at school. Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs with your crockpot red sauce garlic bread and salad. Snacks were popcorn or leftover Christmas goodies. On to day two!

  14. Breakfast: Smoothies
    Lunch: Leftovers
    Dinner: Chef salad and garlic bread

    One of my goals is to eat out less this year. My hope is the pantry challenge will help me kick start a meal preparation routine (though I was happy to see that even the Queen of the Pantry Challenge eats out at least once each week!)

  15. Okay, I’ll bite the bullet and play along starting tomorrow. I’ve watched you do these the last two years but stuck my head in the sand because I love trying new recipes (which means buying new ingredients that then linger in the pantry way too long) and because I feel comfortable when I have all the ‘basics’ (in my house, that’s an abnormally long list) on hand. Eating it all down intentionally makes me feel weird. Also a little nerve wracking because we had a decent earthquake here the other day and we’re all waiting for the Big One, and I comforted myself with the fact that it will take us at least a month to get hungry…

    That said, it’s time to eat through it before it gets too old, and I could use the money savings towards a Canada-California roadtrip that’s coming up this spring.

    • Vanessa B says:

      I know exactly how you feel Amy. I too like to keep a certain amount of basic food stored for emergency situations, we have had crazy ice storms here in the past. I also like to try new recipes which has left my cupboards full of bits of this and that. So I have decided that my goal is use up all the bits of this and that and the oldest of my long-term food storage. I have put a star next to all of the “must go” items on inventory list. A month long pantry challenge won’t deplete my 22lbs of beans and rice or 17 cans of tuna. But hopefully I can get through the 16+ open boxes of cereal, crackers, pastas, grains, etc.

    • You’ll do great. Thanks for joining us! If it makes you feel better, I have a separate Emergency Food storage in the garage. That helps me relax about using things up.

  16. Stephanie M. says:

    Today was easy because I didn’t have to cook at all. We had leftovers from last night. Because there’s only two of us – kiddos are grown and moved out, even though the younger one still comes home on weekends, many times when I cook, there are leftovers for the next day. So much of the time, I only have to cook every other day. And we’re having a cold moment here on the east coast so I had made a beef stew the day before.

    B – Hubby had cereal, banana and a breakfast bar. I had multi-grain waffles and strawberries
    L – Hubby had a ham and cheddar sandwich and an apple. I had a salad and some whole wheat crackers
    D – We both had leftover beef stew
    Snack – Christmas cookies for both of us and an orange for me.

    • Danielle L Zecher says:

      Yesterday was a no cooking day for me too, we’re also a family of two, so had a quite a few leftovers.

      Breakfast: Peanut butter & honey sandwich (bread made in the bread machine, and trying to use up the massive stash of honey).

      Lunch: Leftover turkey pot pie.

      Dinner: Hubby was on nights, so it’s the only meal he ate, leftover turkey pot pie for him, and leftover vegetable soup with cheese and crackers for me.

      I did do some grocery shopping. Harris Teeter had a great sale on bacon and a few other breakfast items. We really didn’t have much in the way of breakfast items, so I didn’t feel too bad buying that. I did cook up some bacon last night for breakfasts for the week, since I’m trying desperately to kick my fast food breakfast habit.

      • Heather M says:

        Sounds like you’re off to a good start re breaking the fast food breakfast habit! 🙂

      • Stephanie M. says:

        Hi Danielle: Just a thought: Since you are trying not to buy fast food breakfasts, why don’t you consider making freezer breakfast meals? I do all the time. Maybe on a night where your hubby is working, you can have some fun in the kitchen. Some things I make ahead are French toast, egg casseroles, breakfast bowls, turkey sausage, pancakes, and muffins. It’s really nice to just go to the freezer on any given night, take out what I want and let it defrost for the next morning. Boom!! 🙂

      • Don’t feel bad about buying, just be wise!

    • Christmas cookies. 🙂

  17. I’m also counting this as day one, since I really can’t remember what we ate up until today 🙂

    Breakfast: Kids (ages 4 and 11 months) had oatmeal. I had homemade rolls and coffee. DH had oats with milk before he left for work.
    Snack: apples and almonds
    Lunch: rye bread with cold cuts. Cucumbersticks and red bell pepper on the side.This is the traditional lunch in Denmark, and we almost always have this in some form. The rye bread is very good for you and very filling, so it makes a great meal.
    Snack: Clementines. Leftover goodies from Christmas/New Years
    Dinner: Rye porridge (I don’t know what else to call it, lol) and a glass of milk for the kids. Carrot/almond soup with a dollop of sour cream and a baguette leftover from New Years Eve for the adults.
    We were actually all going to have soup, but the power went out as I was cooking and didn’t come back on until after 45 minutes. It was out in our entire area due to an “error” according to the electric company. When it came back on, it was too late for the kids to eat with us, so we fed them and got them to bed before DH and I ate.

    I think we will do ok in this challenge, but I am a bit rushed to use up the last of the specialty food we have left over from New Years. I am also forcing myself to make some of the more time consuming/ labour intensive meals in the beginning of the challenge, since I know it will be nice to have some easy meals at the end of the month. If I only made the easy meals now, I would most likely give up on the challenge in the end of the month. So, I hope I am setting myself up for succes 🙂

    Kathy in Denmark

    • Heather M says:

      I love hearing about different people’s food traditions. Thanks for sharing that info! I like your idea of the more labor-intensive food first. And, all those holiday left-over odds and ends make for interesting food. Good luck!

    • Yes! That is a great idea to tackle the hard stuff first and make the end easier. I’m trying to motivate myself to do that.

  18. Trying the pantry challenge. After taking stock of pantry this weekend went shopping. It was so hard not to stock up on sales, I put stuff back before paying. My daughter thought I was crazy Big step for me. Grog bill was 100 less than normal. Im hoping it can last a another week. We are trying to pay car and house addition off. Your email comes in in morning right as I’m planning my day so it gives encouragement..thanks.

  19. Jennifer Norton says:

    I am loving this much-needed pantry challenge!
    Breakfast/lunch was kind of a hodgepodge of bagels, yogurt,fruit, and salami.
    For dinner, I thawed a 3lb package of ground beef, and made a yummy meatloaf, and sautéed a portion of the beef for taco meat for a lunch option this week. Leftover mashed potatoes from Sunday, and steamed some fresh carrots with dill, and a salad with baby spinach and veggies and pecans. Family was happy! 🙂 Thank you for all the inspiration!

  20. Easy day yesterday…using up leftovers

    Breakfast – cereal and coffee
    Lunch – BBQ chicken sandwiches, applesauce (leftovers)
    Snack – fruit and cashews
    Dinner – Confetti chili, cornbread (leftovers)

  21. Last night I made cauliflower soup and included some cheese that was gifted to us for the holidays.

    Tonight is Taco Tuesday – which we started after reading Jessica’s suggestion (Bean and Rice Bowls) in the Good Cheap Eats cookbook. If I have leftover chips or tortillas from another night, then I usually only need to buy an avocado and tomato. I’m well stocked with canned beans and refried beans, and we always have a bit of cheese in the fridge.

    Funny how one of the easiest and least expensive meals has become a family favorite!

  22. Yesterday was a rough one 🙁

    Breakfast: Toast with jam and cuties (clementines)
    Lunch involved a broken down car and an emergency rescue to get hubby resulting in us eating out 🙁
    Dinner was supposed to be crock pot beef and broccoli with fried rice. Due to the situations earlier in the day I didn’t get the beef in the crock pot. Combining everything from the day had me in a foul mood and I so desperately wanted to order pizza and call it a night. But I sucked it up and improvised the recipe using the stove. Sadly it was not a good meal at all. The beef sauce was way too sweet and the fried rice (frozen from Trader Joe’s) did not taste very fried “rice-y” to us.

    C’est la vie. Here’s to a better day today 🙂

    • Heather M says:

      Days like those, we all have them! Good for you, though, not giving in to the pizza! At least you learned what doesn’t work improvising, and what isn’t your favorite at Trader Joe’s. 🙂

    • oh no! That sounds rough. Good job not giving in to pizza, even though it would have been easy. Especially since you didn’t like what you did make, since that would make it easier to give in next time. Stand firm, and I definitely hope today went better for you.

    • I hope things have shaped up since this rough one. Good for you to suck it up even if it wasn’t tasty! You won’t remember a week from now, but you’ve got more money in your pocket.

  23. Breakfast Granola and yoghurt
    Lunch I was out for lunch with my sewing group but it didn’t cost me anything as we save during the year. Hubby had ham and salad sandwich
    Dinner sweet and sour chicken using up chicken from the freezer and pineapple from the cupboard
    Snacks fruit and biscuits left from Christmas (fo hubby)

  24. Yesterday’s meals:
    Breakfast- oatmeal and leftover pumpkin bread
    Lunch- husband: soup
    me- leftover spaghetti
    Dinner- baked chicken, mixed veggies and cauliflower rice, rolls
    I have tons of chicken broth in the freezer and during the cooler months, my husband will eat chicken or turkey soup every day for lunch. I need much more variety since I get bored more quickly than him.

  25. Doing fine.

    B- The usual: cereal, toast, OJ (and coffee for the adults)
    L-PBJ, grapes, string cheese, trail mix for son (school’s back in session); roasted turkey and cheese on whole wheat, yogurt, clementines for hubs and myself (leftover turkey from the previous night)
    S-Still eating the goodies that were gifted to us at Christmas. Not particularly healthy, but they sure are tasty!
    D-Grilled ham/turkey/cheese sandwich for son (his request), grilled ham/cheese for hubs and myself, green salad, homemade applesauce, homemade cranberry sauce (a Christmas gift).

    The freezers are still stuffed, but at least I’m starting to see space in the fridge.

  26. Day one was meatloaf from the freezer, homemade mashed potatoes (only 3 potatoes left now ) and green beans. DH did not kill a deer this season 🙁 Our freezer is already looking a bit “white”.

  27. Heather M says:

    Day 1 was also our first back home after a week away. I didn’t get the inventory done (too much else to catch up on). But, luckily haven’t had to go to the store yet because shockingly, our milk is still good! Here’s the report:

    Breakfast: cereal, OJ, and sausages left over from Christmas for hubs and son; I, ahem, had a few pieces of See’s chocolate covered cashew brittle. (red face)
    Lunch: son took to school the usual bag lunch of (hereafter “the usual”): crackers or pretzels or bread; clif bar; pistachios & almonds for protein; something sweet like a rice krispie treat or a few cookies. Hubs ate at work (he eats at work when he has someone over to shadow him for the day… he’s a favorite among the interns and is fast becoming popular with other staffers at his place of work, because he really teaches people things.. these other people are a new phenomena, so it’s happening all the time lately). I had a tuna sandwich and grapefruit.
    Snacks: son always seems to eat a second lunch when he gets home. he had a favorite: chicken pepperoni cheese quesadilla. I had random christmas goodies floating around. Clearly these are posing a problem, I need them to hide or be gone!
    Dinner: was too busy getting things cleaned up and organized post vacation, so luckily we had one freezer dinner I had made last August still waiting. A pasta with roast vegetables and chicken. Perfect on a freezing cold night in the DC area.

    Hoping to get at least some of the inventory started, but regardless, I’ll wing it and also hope the milk lasts a few more days so I can wait to go to the store on Thursday. 🙂

  28. We are joining the challenge!! I’ve done this before but never posted comments, I thought it would be fun to have fellow supporters & maybe help me stay the course. ? B: was cereal for kiddos, I forgot to eat, ahem, usually I have a protein shake. L: was leftover pizza & chips for all, my husband took a salad to work. D: is going to be ham & baked potatoes. We are blessed with a very full deep freezer plus fridge/freezer. So when I did inventory I found two turkeys, two hams (who can say no to a $4 shank?!), ribs along with other oddities & a couple freezer meals. I think we will get through this month no problem and there is protein for an extra month or two….or three. ?

  29. I’m late to the party in posting so this was my yesterday.

    My goal for this challenge is to use something from upstairs fridge, freezer and/or pantry daily. Our 2nd fridge and upright freezer are downstairs and in good shape. Upstairs in the kitchen fridge/freezer is where all small things go to hide. Yesterday we ate cereal for breakfast (need to use up milk), kids had lunchmeat sandwiches and pretzels, hubs had leftover Mac n cheese, I had to buy lunch at work and had fries and snow peas. Not the healthiest, but all that sounded good. Dinner was sausage gravy over biscuits and hasbrowns. Reading this back makes me realize what carb heavy meals we eat. Oh well, this is what we like, we are using up what we have and it was tasty.

    I did use something from pantry and fridge, so mission accomplished for day one.

  30. Suze Clark says:

    Jessica, doing well with the Pantry Challenge. Did my inventory, planned meals. Went thru the frig and eating leftovers. I’m responsible for the family finances. Starting the New Year I have taken to heart the bounty we all have. All is good. Thanks for your inspiration. Blessings

  31. I’m doing a modified pantry challenge this time around with my second baby due in early March. Trying to use up odds and ends in the freezer and pantry this month and then starting to fill the freezer back up in February with our favorites for when baby gets here. I love reading everyone’s meal ideas!

    Here were our meals today:
    B: cereal for husband, homemade blueberry bread and bananas for the me and the 2 yr old
    L: husband took leftover hungarian chicken/pasta, fruit, string cheese; I had a hodgepodge since I was driving during my lunch- homemade PB granola, apple, string cheese, chocolate chia power pudding; 2 yr old ate lunch at the sitter’s
    D: All three of us are fighting colds right now so luckily I had some homemade chicken broth in the freezer I could turn into chicken noodle soup with rutabaga and carrots, also had bread
    Snack: popcorn

  32. Angela B. says:

    Better late than never right…
    First day back in our routine with school, work, volleyball and dance so it was a bit crazy

    B- cereal
    L-kids eat at school, hubby took leftover taco salad and I had a sandwich and chips
    D-baked French toast and chicken sausage

  33. The first time this month I’ve had a “want” and didn’t have it. We had crockpot posole and it was screaming for some cilantro. We did have cheese, cabbage, sour cream, avocado, and chips to top with so it still tasted great.
    My meal plans are working out for this week. I have plenty to work with. My goal is to spend no money on food and go into no stores for anything for as long as I can this month. So far, so good.

  34. Adding in really late here! My week flew past me, and it was literally home from work, eat, sleep, repeat every night! But we did fairly well on the challenge. I caved on Wednesday and got us Subway for dinner, but used a gift card from Xmas, so didn’t cost us anything. Other than that we’ve been consistent in keeping with home meals. Bought produce and freezer bags yesterday (Man, they are expensive!) Spent $32. Started my challenge on Boxing day, and have spent a combined total of about $50, for produce, dairy, etc. Feeling pretty good about that!

    I’ve watched and followed along on these pantry challenges for about a year now, but this is the first time I’ve joined in with comments! It’s so nice to see the friendships and encouragement that happens here in the comments! Good luck everyone!

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