Pantry Challenge Day 19

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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!

empty deep freeze

Hey! Hey! Hey! Guess what I did today?

That’s an empty freezer! I was able to combine the two freezers and unplug one. Look at all that ice! It was time. I did declare bankruptcy on the mystery sauces/soups, but I’m not gonna feel bad about it. I promise to always always always label forever and ever. Amen.

Still have a LOT of oats and polenta and flax but they fit in the fridge freezer. I just need to remember that I have them. I could be baking more with flax and save on eggs!

Boom. Take that, termites.

We have one tri-tip left for Sunday’s game day meal, and a bunch of ice cream, grains, and spinach. Haha! I will be doing a bigger grocery shop next week for sure.

Here’s what we ate today:

Breakfast: Granola, Pumpkin Bread with Flax, Fruit, Yogurt

Lunch: Chicken Sandwiches on Homemade Focaccia for the kids; Leftover Potato Soup from last night for me

Dinner: Favorite Pot Roast, Cauliflower, Mashed Potatoes

How’s YOUR Pantry Challenge going?

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  1. B: Egg-sausage muffins, toast, skim milk
    L: I had a work luncheon yesterday and had the LO tortilla soup for lunch. My husband had a LO brat and baked beans; the kids brown bagged lunch at school
    D: We had 4 children unexpectedly spend the night. I had planned on spaghetti and meat sauce and needed to find some sides to stretch the entrée. I made garlic bread with some sub loaves from the freezer, applesauce from the pantry, and cherry tomatoes and raspberries from the fridge. I also opened up the last two bags of LO Christmas candy for dessert.

  2. Jessica S says:

    Husband let me sleep in this morning and handled the morning routine so I know that everyone was fed breakfast and had a lunch packed. When I woke I had a bagel with PB and Honey with coffee and a banana. Lunch.. I ate a few clementines, hot tea, water.. ?? I cannot recall..
    I felt much better than yesterday so I took an old cake mix and made a batch of cookie with it.. not my favorite but the kids did not care! I also made a lemon blueberry poundcake- YUM!
    Dinner- I had defrosted a whole chicken so I tossed it into the crock pot today.. served with alfredo noodles before we ran off to volleyball!
    Strained the crockpot drippings and saved the carcass. that will go into the crock to stew all day tomorrow! .

  3. Heather M says:

    Day 19! A good Challenge Day, and a good weekend coming for sure! After all, it’s the great Blizzard of 2016, Snowzilla. Snow started after lunchtime and it’s pretty fierce outside right now (11:45pm Friday night). Supposedly keeps going all day tomorrow. Wonder what it’ll look like in the morning? I’ve decided that for the blizzard, I’ll be offering a nice brunch and dinner each day. With three of us, and two prone to sleeping in late, it should work well. We have plenty of snacks to fill in the gaps. Today, school was canceled in anticipation of the storm, and the hubs metro’d to work and came home in the afternoon after the snow had started. I ran errands in the morning while it was still dry and son slept in, like a good teenager.

    Breakfast: nothing for hubs and son; toast with honey for me

    Lunch: not sure what son ate; I had raw veggies and dip and a tuna sandwich; hubs ate nothing until he got home around 4. He snacked on baguette while I finished up cooking.

    Dinner: homemade chile con carne over macaroni (beef, red beans, extra sauce from slow cooked beef all from freezer; added onion, chili seasonings, cumin, oregano, etc.; macaroni from pantry)l green salad, brownies (from pantry, baked this afternoon).

    Finally a good Challenge meal, after weird days not using much up. Also planned some of our eating for this weekend. I’ll be posting our blizzard food and happenings on instagram @heatherabm Finally ready to make a dent in our food supply!

    Hope you are all enjoying your weekend so far, and that if you’re snowed in, like us, you’re enjoying it too!

    • Stephanie M. says:

      I was thinking about you, Heather, every time I saw the weather report and saw that Washington was getting pounded. We’re next!

      • Heather M says:

        How much have you gotten? We’re at 26 1/2 inches at our house, as of 8:20pm Saturday. Still snowing for a few more hours.

        • Stephanie M. says:

          Well, I just got up. It’s Sunday morning at 7:00 and the sky is blue and it’s beautiful out there! My husband says it looks like about 18 – 24 inches. It’s hard to tell though because of the snow drifts. In any event, it’s a lot. The snow in the street in front of our house is packed down so today, we are going to go for a walk. I would have liked to walk last night while it was snowing but the roads hadn’t been plowed yet and it would have been impossible. I woke up around 2:30 this morning and I came out to the kitchen and just stared out the window. The moon was full and it looked gorgeous outside. Well, have a great day today.

  4. Well my fridge is looking really bare but the freezers not so much. The cupboards have space too.l
    Breakfast today was eggs for hubs peanut butter toast for me
    No one ate lunch
    Supper was stir fry with chicken and egg rolls from the freezer
    Snacks were chips and salsa and/or popcorn

  5. Laurie in CA says:

    Jessica, victory on emptying out the deep freeze! I’m considering buying a freezer for the garage as I’d like to buy 1/4 grass fed beef. What size is yours?

    B – I had the last of the baked oatmeal from the freezer, dh had eggs and toast
    L – I thought I was grabbing a container of frozen pinto beans but when it thawed I saw I had scored some taco soup. I topped it with grated cheese and avocado, yum. DH had an angus burger
    D – We were having the granddaughters for the evening so we had a simple dinner. I cut up leftover tri-tip and we had steak salads with bleu cheese and balsamic dressing. We had french bread leftover from last night.

    One really positive thing we’ve noticed since the challenge is how little food waste we’ve had. Our trash can wasn’t even a fourth full on pick up day. We recycle all of our cans, plastics and paper goods.

    • I know what you are saying about the food waste. I had been a little disappointed that I wasn’t seeing more white space in the freezer until I realized how few leftovers I have thrown out. I’ve been better throughout the challenge of either eating all of the leftovers or freezing them before they go bad. So, I guess that’s a success.

  6. Yay, empty chest freezer!

    Mine needs defrosted, bad!
    Breakfast, son ate at school, daughter stayed home with upset stomach so she ate nothing and I had my coffee and the last of the cream.
    A few snacks for lunch and the grocery, didn’t do so good there, lol. There was a really good sale on ground beef and split chicken breasts, so I bought a few packs of each and stocked up on more cream.
    Supper I tried making pizza dough, I think I mixed too much flour into it when trying to shape it, but good. Husband had pancakes.

  7. Tastycook says:

    Hey, congrats on an empty freezer Jessica. Come back in 6 months and I might have one too!!!

    Hope all of you to the south of me are safe in the path of THAT snow storm. It’s tough for anyone, but I’m sure even more so for those of you who are not used to snow and don’t automatically put snow tires on your vehicles come November. Hope power outages are kept to a minimum. Stay warm and cosy. Guess no going to the store because you run out of something (she said, tongue in cheek). Seriously, stay safe!

    Another good day here for the PC – a few more things gone!!

    Breakfast: Toast and PB for hubby, yougurt and a muffin for me.
    Lunch: LO chowder from the previous night.
    Supper: Another pre-made meal from the upstairs freezer (Italian pork) over egg noodles – used the end of the bag!! It takes a few meals to go thru a bag of any pasta or rice of any kind, with just 2 of us.

    • Heather M says:

      Yes, no one has snow tires in DC area. No chains on anything but the firetrucks/ambulances. Everything is completely shut down, except the odd neighborhood restaurant/bar one can walk to. No complaints from me or most of my friends. It’s nice to have forced time at home. 🙂

  8. Stephanie M. says:

    Congrats Jessica: Mine should look the same in not too distant the future.

    B – Hubby had cereal; I didn’t eat.

    L – Hubby had tuna fish sandwiches and clementines. I still wasn’t hungry.

    D – We had cheeseburgers; Yes cheeseburgers in this freezing cold weather. We had a craving so we answered. Glad the craving came before the snow. We also had some French fries. I have to say, the burgers were so good. And our backyard smelled awesome; wonder what the neighbors thought. 🙂

    • Heather M says:

      Nice! Bet the grill is buried now. My friend’s is so buried, if they lost power, they’d have to do some serious digging (they’re over 30 inches where they live further out from the city).

  9. Wow!! Woke up at 2:30am to about 8 inches and at 7am to 15 inches and its still coming down! Snow slopes are reporting over 2 feet and expecting at least another 12 to 18 inches to come! Let it snow…Let it snow
    We will definitely be eating out of the freezer for a few days but can’t wait till my freezer looks like yours! Looks like a dream to have an empty freezer but its probably a panic attack too! lol So glad we are learning to eat the leftovers fasterso we don’t waste but it will take us a while to eat down our freezer. We still have some good stuff so don’t think it will be too bad.

    Day 19
    Breakfast – Oatmeal w/blueberries
    Lunch – Sandwiches and pretzels
    Dinner – Finished off the Cajun chicken pasta and dinner rolls

  10. The empty freeze looks great. I have loved checking the posts and comments throughout the challenge. If I am honest I think we really used what we had and am out of the PC. My shop yesterday brought my total for the month to $500. We usually spend close to $800 a month for a family of four. Although I did not have the stock that many people had (ours was a modified version) utilizing what we did have and shopping carefully have been great. I hope to continue those same strategies from now on.
    Breakfast-toast and PB-kids bought breakfast at school-they never do that
    Lunch-sandwiches-I brought cheese and pita bread-fridge was empty
    dinner-pizza-I bought the dough while food shopping but didn’t buy already made pizza 🙂
    I will still check in to see all the success

  11. Day #22 for me….

    B – finished the last of the waffles with cup of decaf coffee; hubby made himself some french toast

    L – still working my way through the 10 homemade bean burritos. Had one for lunch. Hot tea.

    S – homemade hot cocoa and marshmallows. Maybe more marshmallows than cocoa.

    D- Leftover rotis chicken from the freezer, refried beans, rice from freezer. Choc pudding for dessert.

    Dusting of snow began coming down before bedtime.

  12. Well done on an empty freezer, I plan on turning mine off after dinner tonight when we have had the last ice cream for pudding.
    B I had tinned grapefruit and cup of tea, hubby had the last of the muesli with milk and a cup of coffee
    L we had the last prawns from the freezer in a baguette with spinach and crisps
    D we are having pasta with hone made tuna and cheese sauce with ice cream for dessert

    I made a batch of Rick buns this morning to use up the last of the currants and an open packet of dried apricots plus the last if an open bag of flour which we have had for our snack today

    • I watch so much BBC I usually have no trouble with the Queen’s English, but this one threw me. When you say, “When we have had the last ice cream for pudding” is pudding a reference for dessert, or was this just a mistype? (in which case I apologize for pointing it out)

      • Hi Sandi, sorry to be confusing, yes pudding is the same as dessert.

        • I knew a couple different meanings for the word but now I know another. That must sound a little odd when you are actually serving an edible pudding. 🙂 Thanks for the education!

  13. Well, it’s still snowing! We’re ok, didn’t lose power and things are calming down after the media storm about the impending blizzard.. Since the snow hasn’t stopped yet we’ve not started cleaning up. I am having my driveway plowed since its 1/2 a mile long and straight up. Since things are supposed to thaw mid week it’ll be a sheet of ice if we don’t. Hope everyone is faring well.
    Yestersay breakfast was an egg with sautéed spinach. Tea with almond milk and stevia. Kids had leftover waffles, bacon, and eggs
    Lunch was leftovers for the kids- homemade ham and cheese pockets and cut veggies. I have one kiddo with a bad cold so she didn’t eat much, just some broth. I had a grilled chicken breast and sautéed zucchini.
    Dinner was a taco salad with homemade salsa I canned in the summer. It was so good! I skipped the beans on mine and had browned, seasoned ground turkey breast.
    I made 3 loaves of oatmeal pumpkin yeast bread yesterday. The kids seem to like it and it’ll make good French toast. I froze 2 loaves.
    Today I was going to make meatball subs to use up some ciabatta rolls from the freezer and pesto in the fridge but my sick kiddo wants chicken noodle soup. So I pulled 2 split breasts out of the freezer to make that. I will make a Greek chopped salad to go with it. Man, I miss cheese with this plan I’m following!!
    Tomorrow will be shepherds pie I think. Still staring at a big container of leftover mashed potatoes. Unless someone has a good idea for them? I’m all ears.

    You are all such an inspirational group. So many good ideas.

    • I used my leftover freezer mashed potatoes earlier this month. Rather shepherds pie-ish style. I took leftover turkey and gravy from the freezer, a can of cream of chicken soup from the pantry, mixed it with peas, sautéed carrots, onions, celery,garlic, then topped it with the leftover mashed potatoes, topped that with cheese- then baked the whole thing. It was very good in a comfort food kind of way. Plus it used up a lot of freezer leftovers.

    • Shepherd’s pie is often a great way to use up lots of different things, not just potatoes. This was a couple days ago, so this may be a moot point, but you could consider potato [pan]cakes. I know I’ve done those occasionally after Thanksgiving, using up a bunch of the potatoes with some eggs and other bits. There are a bunch of different varieties out there, so hopefully you could find one that fits whatever plan you are following that does not include cheese.

  14. Look at that empty freezer. Way to go! 🙂

    Quick question: How do you replace eggs w/ flax in baking? We usually have plenty of eggs thanks to the girls, but twice a year they molt and don’t produce during that time. I do have ground flax, however.


    B-Oatmeal w/ dried apples and peaches from the freezer, homemade granola, maple syrup, and brown sugar (what was my hubby thinking???). Sure tasted good, though. 😉 Coffee, OJ, toast.

    L-Typical packed lunch for son. Date lunch for hubs and me.

    D-Son requested French toast, hubs had a bowl of cereal, I didn’t have anything since I was still full from breakfast and lunch.

    S-Preswim snack of yogurt, banana bread, and string cheese for son; I think hubs nibbled on a little bit of trail mix

    • one egg = one tablespoon finely ground flax seeds plus three tablespoons of water whisked together until it becomes gelatinous

  15. Friday

    Breakfast: Oats and milk for DH and DD1. Oatmeal for DD2. Soft boiled egg and a piece of rye bread. Followed by a roll and coffee for me.

    Lunch: Packed lunch for DD 1. DH doesn’t take lunch on Fridays, since he gets bread mid morning at work and has a shorter day than the rest of the week. Leftover pizza and rye bread with boiled egg for DD2 and I.

    Dinner: Oatmeal for DD2. Rye bread with lunch meat for DD1. Nachos and mixed salad for DH and I after the girls were in bed.

    Snacks: Chocolate chip scones for DD1 on the walk home from preschool. Apples, clementines.

    Yesterday was looong, because DD2 woke up very early. I had actually put her down for a nap before I ate breakfast, which is unusual. DD1 was very tired after preschool, which is why we decided to feed the girls early and get them in bed before we ate our own dinner. Sometimes you just have to roll with it 🙂

    Kathy in Denmark

    • Heather M says:

      On the flip side, you probably had a nice meal and evening with your husband!

      • I always enjoy one on one time with my hubby and it was nice to have dinner just the two of us 🙂
        I did have to put our 4 year old back to bed a few times while we ate, she had trouble falling asleep.
        And like all other parents of littles, we are pretty much exhausted come Friday night. We’ll get our sleep in a few years :d

  16. Congrats on the empty freezer.
    I am slowly getting down in the freezer, and am cleaning it out this week ( empty or not!). I will just bag items and clean the freezer and then replace the items. My freezer is on the back porch and so it will be just freezing or a little above as I clean it out. Thank goodness for a good hot hair dryer!.
    I got rid of our 2nd freezer a couple of months ago and had refilled this one with what I still had in that one. Still long on pork loin roast, chops, and stir fry ( I usually buy 2 when on sale and have the butcher cut 1 loin into 4 roast, the other I have cut into 3/4 in chops. Then when I get them home I freeze the roasts right away and the chops I further cut down , some I leave and package 3 to a package. some I cut for chinese food, and then about 6 I slice so I can stuff the chops. All go into freezer bags and then are easy to take out just a meal’s worth at a time. Our butcher doesn’t charge to cut them down for me. Great value. Saves me 2 to 3 dollars a pound for my boneless chops.
    Today, me left over spaghetti for breakfast, Dh had brunch later 2 eggs fried sunny side up, and hashbrowns. For supper, we are having a roast of beef (DH insisted ), roast potatoes, roasted onion and Carrots.
    Tomorrow the rest of the roast will be sliced very thin and be the making of many roast beef sandwiches. I see fried rice ( using some of the roast) and beef barley soup in this next weeks menu.
    Spent $76 on groceries this Thursday. $25 and 62 cents of that for the roast of beef. Reasons not to let hubby drive you to do shopping. Did talk him out of a ham ( have 2 still in the freezer) . Got honey, rutabaga, small cabbage, 10 lbs of onions and a small bunch of bananas. All these veg were under a $ a pound. Oh and 3 garlic. Everything else over $1 a pound and stayed in the store. Did splurge on 10 nice looking mushrooms, that will be gingerly used this next week. One for sure will be mushroom, and cheddar cheese omelets. Bought 2 doz. eggs, and 2 small packaged ground lean beef at 30% off.
    One thing this high lot of prices is making me focus on local winter vegetables, frozen vegetables and tinned.

  17. Melissa F says:

    Hurray on the emptied freezer!
    Faced with a possible freezing rain or snow event, it seems a lot of folks got into the stores on Thursday and Friday.
    I stopped Thursday night and picked up some sale items at Food Lion , we didn’t need any bread or milk lol.
    The creamy chicken enchiladas I made for dinner were great, had to use some cheddar as I didn’t have enough Monterrey jack but they were still yummy. Just enough leftover for hubs lunch on Friday.
    Friday’s lunch for me was a pimento cheese sandwich on pumpernickel bread from a local cafe, it was amazing. It was cold and rainy outside so I was grateful a coworker offered to pick up lunch.
    I sent hubs to the store for a few things and it must’ve been the crazy weather but he brought home steaks for dinner, along with 4 bags of assorted chips! So, grilled steaks for dinner with corn on the cob and garlic greenbeans.
    We woke up to light snow, it was so pretty but after a few hours it was finished and melting away. I made bacon, egg and cheese English muffins for breakfast along with a cut up mango and blueberries- it’s always a win to get hubs to eat fresh fruit.
    For lunch he requested chili to go with his Fritos he got at the store! Not my fave but it’s good when it’s cold outside. I made some applesauce muffins to use up some applesauce my son left behind when he moved out last month.
    We will be having honey ginger wings for dinner, another request from hubs. I guess I should try to have some healthier options tomorrow lol
    Hope everyone in the snowstorm is hanging in there, we made it through this one ok although it will be freezing tonite. We are hoping the wind dried stuff out pretty good to avoid too much ice.
    Melissa F in SC

  18. Way to go on the empty freezer, Jessica! What an accomplishment! Meals were pretty simple on Friday, but the food is still moving along!

    Breakfast: Eggs on toast with feta and hot sauce, bacon (me) and hubs had a ham sandwich and a pickle
    Lunch: Various snacks: cheese and crackers, sausages, veggies and dip
    Dinner: Baked chicken with green beans and my first try at quinoa. We didn’t mind it, but nothing to write home about. Will try it again though.

  19. Hope you blizzard people are all safe and warm!

    Breakfast-banana muffins with chocolate chips from the freezer, OJ
    Lunch-leftover baked sweet potato and vegetables from the night before
    Dinner-Hosted book club. I made lentil vegetable soup and provided wine, friends brought fresh bread, salad, cheese, and halibut dip with crackers. It was a feast and lots of fun!

    So far this month I’ve only bought a half gallon of milk and four onions. I had LOTS of food and we are only two people. Husband’s not even noticing my creativity yet.

  20. We celebrated DD1’s birthday today.

    Breakfast: Apples with peanut butter and almonds
    Lunch: Leftovers and Chipotle (I forgot my lunch again-ugh!)
    Dinner: Dinner out and homemade birthday cake in (Pumpkin Better than Anything cake at the request of the birthday girl-YUM)

  21. My PC challenge day #23 included….

    B- homemade ham and potato patty with fried egg

    L – nachos made from corn tortillas, meat from 2 chicken wings, leftover refried beans, cheddar cheese and dollop of sour cream & dried cilantro

    D – Ham and Lentil Soup with Brie Paninni Sandwiches

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