Pantry Challenge Days 17 & 18

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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!


Cranberry Oat Truffles (coming soon!)

So I didn’t post on Wednesday night because there really wasn’t anything to write home about. We are hitting a lull in the PC. Also, I’d had a few fails, like my sourdough starter looking questionable, deciding to dump it AND the dough I had already made with it (when I was in denial that it was questionable), and then stopping at the store for bread and cheese because I just couldn’t handle time-intensive lunches during the school week!

I had date night with my sweetie and then today was a fresh new day. Yay! I’ve got a renewed meal plan to get us to the weekend when we’ll be eating with family for several meals, and I did some baking/food prep to make tomorrow and Saturday morning so much easier.

I’m feeling pretty good about the baking work. I made Granola, Pumpkin Bread with Flax Seed since we’re out of eggs, and two kinds of Mamabars/Energy Bites. We’re out of almonds so I used coconut chips and oats and fiddled. One of the new creations we are calling Cranberry Oat Truffles. Will have to remake and actually measure ingredients so I can share the recipe.

And instead of brown sugar (which I’m out of), I’ve been using a combo of white sugar and molasses. Boom. Making do. (It’s also great to be using up things. There were quite a few ingredients hitting their limit.)

ALSO, the deep freeze is starting to show bare spaces, as is the fridge freezer. I should be able to combine them tomorrow after I pull out a few things to share with my mom and sisters.

I could totally keep all this popcorn, cornmeal, polenta, and flax seed meal (and just bag it up for the termite tent), but I have so much I’d really like to share and then start with a reasonable amount of supplies. I am not sharing the lemon juice or chocolate chip stash, however.

I’m not crazy!

Here’s how we’ve eaten the last couple days:


Lawnmower Taco

Wednesday’s Pantry Challenge

Breakfast: Eggs, Toast, Smoothies

Lunch: Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Dinner: Pasta with Cream Sauce for some (from the GCE in 30 Minutes cookbook); Nachos for others; date night for the parents

Thursday’s Pantry Challenge

Breakfast: bagels, eggs

Lunch: Lawnmower Taco, Veggies

Dinner: Potato-Corn Chowder (from the Good Cheap Eats cookbook, but with peas instead of corn because that’s what we have.)

How are YOU doing on your pantry challenge?!

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  1. Day 17

    B – baked oatmeal from the freezer for me, fried eggs and toast for dh
    L – leftover bean soup for me, dh had a frozen Angus burger
    D – BBQ tri-tip (defrosted from freezer), baked potatoes (pantry), broccoli (veg delivery), French bread (freezer)

    I was looking in the pantry and noticed a lot of out of dates canned and jarred goods (some 4 years out of date!) that my 92 yo mother purchased. She loves to shop and will go to the dollar store and buy things but then never use them. Lo and behold when I got home yesterday she had purchased three more bags of things. Aaaaccckkk, this is driving me nuts, especially during a pantry challenge. Lord preserve me.

    Day 18

    We had to make a trip to Costco today to buy food for my granddaughter’s first birthday party Sunday (it comes out of the entertainment budget, not food). We were going to go out to eat afterwards but instead bought chicken alfredo and a loaf of French bread (saved us $20 and comes out of the eating out budget). I think the only other food item we bought that wasn’t for the party were cherry tomatoes and organic greens for $10 (from the food budget).

    B – baked oatmeal from the freezer for me, fried eggs and toast for dh
    L – the last of the leftover stew for me, I’m not sure what dh had
    D – chicken alfredo, salad, French bread

    • My grandson is going to be one on February 1st. Don’t they grow so fast? My daughter is hosting his party which is great as I hosted Thanksgiving, Christmas, and granddaughter’s birthday.

    • Hi laurie-
      how many budgets do you have for the week or month? how did you decide that they are all separate?

      • Laurie in CA says:

        I set up my budget several weeks before the end of the month. I tell every dollar where to go. I have categories for food, entertainment, eating out, household expenses, blow money for each of us, clothing, etc. (You decide what is important to you and how to allocate your funds). If there is unspent money at the end of the month, I transfer it electronically to a holding fund. We are debt free except for our house so we have a lot of wiggle room but I still tell my money where to go or suddenly I will find it gone and we still have expenses. Read Dave Ramsey’ s book The Total Money Makeover.

        • Laurie, my monthly budget is similar. We get two checks/month: on the 1st day of the month and on the 3rd Weds of the month. Been doing my budgeting this way for 38 years.

          Every dollar has had a name. When stamps began to get expensive, I had to create a budget for them too!

          I’ve begun calling it my “spending plan” instead of a budget because that is what I’m doing…planning to spend my money! 😉

        • Laurie in CA says:

          I should have said I set up my budget for the following month halfway through the current month. By that point I know what my expenses will be for the following month.

      • Marcie, in answer to your question about how many budgets…I have 37 of them. Every billl/expense that I know will incur me money whether weekly, monthly or annually, is a line item on my page of loose leaf in a 3-ring binder.

        At the 1st of the month, maybe I fund 10 budget items. Then the 2nd check of the month, I fund the remaining budget items. When I was paid monthly, it was done at the end of the month b/c I got paid at the end of the month. Whoa – that took some getting used too!

        • Laurie in CA says:

          Most of my bills are paid either online or through our credit union’s bill pay system (no charge to us and they mail them). I seldom need a stamp. It saves me a lot of money.

          • Thanks everyone these are all great suggestions. I?ll have to find a good way to budget. I scanned through ramsey?s system of budgeting, there are some good ideas there too.

    • This made my day. It reminded my of my dear, sweet great grandmother (98 now bless her) who would do the same. She no longer drives herself but she’s often tempted to buy things just because they’re “only $1 for this!”

    • Bless you and your mother. Does she know you are trying to use up the pantry? If not she may be nervous when she sees it getting empty. I’m retired, but nowhere near her age and I get nervous without food in the pantry. My main goal has been to use up the oldest in pantry and freezer and cut down a bit on the volume of stuff I keep on hand.

      Remember you can still use lots of things when they are past their dates. Of course, pitch cans that bulge and be careful it they are dented. I can’t be more specific without knowing what they are. If it was me I would just put her new purchases in all together and consider them not part of the challenge. Consider this, if you weren’t doing the challenge and checking things, you might still not have found the older stuff.

      Good luck and bless you.

      Good luck and bless you.

    • Your mom is 92, so I assume she endured the Great Depression and the rationing of WWII. Perhaps when the cupboards/freezers begin to show “white space” she unconsciously begins to feel anxious. We had a neighbor once who filled her little apartment to the brim with clothes (many with the tags still on them that she never once wore) because as a child during the Depression she had only two dresses–one for the week, which was washed out every day, and one for church. And don’t get me started on my parents–they saved e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g!

      Anyway, you’re blessed to still have your mom with you. We’ve lost all of our parents now, and we surely do miss them. (Even if they did exasperate us now and then. Payback for al the times we exasperated them, I’m sure. smile!) Give her a hug, and give yourself grace on the PC.

      • Laurie in CA says:

        Having an elderly parent live with you (for eleven years now) is not for the faint of heart! It is a daily challenge. It is much like living with a four or five year old in an old body. They don’t want to be told what to do but don’t always make good decisions/choices. I couldn’t do it without the help of my husband. He is a good buffer between us. I am very type A and she is very type B. Messes don’t bother her and they drive me nuts (I stay out of her room). Hubs and I joke that she will outlive us all 🙂

  2. Seeing some space in the pantry, but the freezer is still pretty packed even though I’m trying!
    breakfast-cinnamon toast, tea
    lunch-peas, rice, and left over chicken tikka frozen last September-kind of dry, but I got it down
    dinner-pork chops, sweet potatoes, and a box of frozen mixed veg

    I’m excited because I’m hosting book club tomorrow and had enough things in the pantry and freezer to make a decent lentil soup-no trip to the store required!

  3. Today was a bit of a random food day. I transferred some food from the fridge into the freezer for left overs, so that was both good and a bit blah, because now there’s more in that darn freezer! But, on the positive freezer front, there’s so much more space in my deep freeze now! I actually have to lean in to get things from inside! Before starting this challenge I could just skim the top with a breath and things would fall out!

    Breakfast: eggs and toast with bacon, avocado, feta cheese and hot sauce for me, hubs slept in and skipped breakfast
    Lunch: chicken salad sandwiches, pickles, still more left over christmas chocolate (lord help me, when will it end!??!?)
    Dinner: Crock pot loaded baked potato soup (which will put MORE back into the freezer, but it will make for easy dinners, so that’s a positive thing, right?!?!?! Please tell me yes, as I watch my empty freezer fill back up!!!

    • Heather M says:

      YES! putting food in the freezer will save you on those crazy nights you’re tempted to pick up something. Plus, if your deep freeze is emptying out, you’re doing really well!! YAY!

    • Haha! Yes, it is worth it. I made a bunch of mom- mcmuffins the other day, and also a bit of cookie dough. I find that both are so valuable to have for unexpected guests or just starving children when they get up, or a quick healthy-ish snack for them. We won’t talk about the fact that my 15 year old son can down 3 in one sitting- reminding myself this is why I bulk cook. Lol

    • Yes, Sarah as I’m experiencing the same “problem”. I’m not buying meat and doing this pantry challenge but find no extra room b/c I keep filling it back up with pre-made meals or leftovers. But I have to take the same approach that it is saving me time and money for the future!

  4. Day 17
    B: Cereal, skim ilk and bananas
    L: I had a work luncheon; my husband treated himself to Chick-fil-a; daughters brown bagged for school
    D: LO sliced roast beef, buttered egg noodles, and canned green beans

    B: Cereal, skim milk and bananas
    L: I had a work luncheon; my husband treated himself to Burger King; daughters brown bagged for school
    D: Chicken and noodles (chicken from freezer), canned peas, tossed salad and strawberries

  5. Breakfast: Smoothies
    Lunch: Leftovers
    Dinner: Frozen pizza (not proud, but it did come from the freezer! What can I say, Wednesday are nuts!)

    Breakfast: Egg bake or PBJ
    Lunch: Leftovers or lemon chicken orzo soup and fruit/salad
    Dinner: Chicken Milan and green beans

  6. Sarah,
    I feel the same way about one step forward and another towards the freezer! I keep trying, but it feels odd to move food when I’m trying to empty our abundance. I love your comment. Jessica, I check your website multiple times a day during the challenge. Your recipes have consistently been something that my family will eat. I’m a proud owner of your cookbook! Mary

  7. Heather M says:

    Boy the past few days have been bizarro around here, plus random eating. Day 17, I went to Trader Joe’s first thing to stock up on fresh items, etc, since we are due to have a doozy of a storm and I know how everyone gets here, clearing out the stores the day before a storm. Also, I had to stage a house which kept me tied up most of the day. Got home JUST in time to miss the epic disaster of a commute in the DC region (1 inch of snow turned the roads into sheets of ice). Took the hubs 3 hours and 10 minutes to drive the 5 miles home. If he hadn’t bailed off the freeway at the last second (he took side roads), it would have been a good 5 hours. It usually takes him 15 minutes. I didn’t eat lunch. Son snacked too much after school. Hubs ate a huge late lunch at work. So, Day 17:

    Breakfast: cereal and vegetarian sausage for son; cereal for hubs and me.
    Lunch: Son took usual snacky lunch; hubs ate at work; I didn’t eat.
    Dinner: Son ate taquitos from the freezer; I was so starved when I got home I made a sandwich and then scrounged for snacks (chips, fruit, etc); when hubs finally got home at 10:30pm I made him a few tamales from the freezer.

    Day 18 we awoke early to a text that school was canceled since the roads were a mess (some people were STILL trying to get home!). Hubs took the metro to work instead of driving. I had a few errands in the afternoon (roads were fine by then), including a last minute “emergency” for the house I staged, which required me going to Target the afternoon before a massive blizzard is due to hit us. Needless to say it was a nightmare. And it made me succumb to the craziness and buy junk food for my guys for the weekend. I guess If I had to stand in a huge line, I was going to make it worth it? We certainly didn’t need anything else. But let me tell you, it’s been a wild 24 hours. I’m not surprised I caved. I think it’s in the air here when snow is coming.

    Day 18:

    Breakfast: nothing for hubs and son; I had toast and honey.
    Lunch: hubs ate at work; son, after sleeping in and chilling, decided he was hungry and had his favorite chicken-refried bean-pepperoni quesadilla and a banana: I didn’t eat until 4 (running errands), when I caved for myself and ate a frozen pizza and some fruit.
    Dinner: Son apparently snacked too much in the afternoon (ugh, unexpected days off…) and wasn’t hungry; I wasn’t hungry; hubs ate a late lunch at work and wasn’t hungry. So we all had some small late evening snack; fruit, pretzels, ice cream.

    Yeah, the past few days have been terrible, Challenge-wise, and we have eaten pretty terribly. But I’m thinking now we’ll be stuck at home and I will be cooking, maybe baking, etc. And maybe I will finally see some movement from our food inventory. I looked at it this evening and we have hardly made a dent in our supply. Hopefully between now and the 31st we will eat a lot of good, healthy home-cooked meals and I won’t have to shop for a thing, except maybe milk. We are fully stocked.

    Hope all of you in the storm’s path fare well!! Will be thinking of you, and NOT of all of you in sunny warm places, like my family and Jessica… 😉

    • Stephanie M. says:

      Hi Heather: Happy to hear you are all okay from this storm. We are bracing for it. It’s supposed to start sometime tomorrow night (Saturday). You can, of course, imagine how the grocery stores are. Apparently, some people aren’t as stocked up in their freezers as we are. I guess that’s why they’re not on the pantry challenge. LOL Glad I didn’t have to go but the parking lots are full! Hubby already has the snow blower ready. He went and got gas for it last night. Have a wonderful day!! 🙂

    • I hope you all stay safe in the storm.

    • Glad your hubby made it home safely.

      Stay warm!

  8. We are still plugging away.
    Breakfast was eggs and toast
    No one was home for lunch
    Dinner was leftover chili mac or ham and potatoes and pasta salad
    Breakfast was pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
    No one was home for lunch
    Dinner was enchiladas and lettuce salad
    Snack was birthday cake

  9. This week we are using up our “freezer meals”, while I see pockets of space in my freezer and pantry, we still have a long way to go.
    Breakfast- cheese toast for kids, apples, cheese, crackers and coffee for me.
    Lunch- Turkey chili for kids, chicken salad for me.
    Dinner- Roasted Turkey with gravy, potatoes, green beans.
    I spent an additional $65 (now up to $165 this week) at Sam’s club for cream, olive oil, non-stick spray, non-food items like plates, cups, etc…. more fruit and cheese-since these were wiped out by an additional 7 kids we had at our home on Monday.

    Question- Do you include the cost of things like paper plates, cups, foil, dish soap, containers, zip lock bags etc. in your weekly grocery budget?

    • I do this year.
      I spent last year stocking up on things and watching all the sales. I’m trying to trim $100 a week off our “grocery” spending, and I include tissue, zip bags, detergents, etc.. in that amount.

    • Some do. I do not. For me, edibles and drinkables go under groceries. Paper goods, soaps, etc. go under household.

    • I used to, but found it works better for me to have it separated out. I now have categories for groceries, eating out, household products (cleaners, toilet paper etc), baby car products (diapers, wipes etc). I found after doing this I actually started spending less as I could see exactly how much was being spent on each. Before I would go “well, the grocery spending looks high but that’s because I had to buy diapers and laundry detergent and paper towels.” Now, if it looks like the grocery spending is getting high it’s because it IS and I start to simmer down with the food expenses 😉

  10. Tonight we finished the last Buy One Get One Free pork tenderloin that was kicking around the freezer – feels good to have used those and now be done with them.

    We also made a box of Stovetop stuffing that was in the pantry (I’m usually a “make it myself” kinda gal when it comes to stuffing – but my mom always made Stovetop and every so often I’m nostalgic for it…)

    The family voted for pizza tomorrow night. I’ve got sauce and dough already, so we’ll need just a few more things to put it all together.

    I need to make another batch of tapioca pudding or I’ll never get through it all.
    Learn from my plight: a little tapioca goes a looooong way. Beware of buying mass quantities!

    Cheers, Everyone : )

    • Melissa F says:

      I understand the nostalgia for the things we grew up with – mine is the kraft macaroni and cheese!

    • I know the feeling! We wintered in AZ two years ago and I found a bulk type store where tapioca was really inexpensive. I bought what I thought might last us a year. After using it for two years I still have over a quart jar full in the pantry. May just have to make some really soon.

  11. Stephanie M. says:

    My freezer is not just showing white space, it’s getting empty. No longer do I have the variety of food I had going into this pantry challenge. I have about 10 more Christmas cookies left and then the big Tupperware that’s holding them comes out of the freezer too. My frozen vegetable container is emptier than I’ve ever seen it and I have one empty shelf in there. And another one almost empty. Pantry is looking much better too.

    Day 17
    B – Hubby had a cheese omelet, bacon, hash brown patties, and toast. I had a cheese omelet and a pear.
    L – Hubby had the leftover ravioli, meatballs, and garlic bread. I had a salad.
    D – We had the leftover casserole from last night.

    Day 18
    B – Hubby had nothing – ran out early. I had pancakes from the freezer.
    L – Hubby had a business luncheon. I had a tuna fish sandwich.
    D – We had macaroni and cheese from the freezer that I made about a month ago. More white space!!!

    • Way to go on the empty freezer and pantry space! It’s so satisfying, isn’t it!?!?!?

      • Stephanie M. says:

        You got that right, Sarah! Now if we can all keep this going after the challenge is over and just maintain what we actually need in the freezer rather than stocking up so much that we don’t know what to do with it all. But, alas, that probably won’t happen and good for Jessica or there wouldn’t be a pantry challenge. LOL 🙂 And we wouldn’t have each other to talk to. 🙂

  12. I only have three proteins left. One is ground turkey which only I will eat. We did not have the stock not to buy meat etc, so I have shopped throughout the challenge with an eagle eye. We currently have three proteins left. One is ground turkey, which no one will eat but me. I am amazed at how I really was able to empty and use up things I had. It has given me new ideas and made me want to adopt different habits in my shopping routines. Yesterday I made blueberry muffins for breakfast. We were out of eggs so I found a recipe without them. For lunch everyone brought pb and j. I brought left over soup from the fridge. Dinner was beef stroganoff using chicken broth because it was what I had over left over linguini with cut up raw veggies. My fridge is practically empty. Wednesday was peanut butter and toast or cereal. The kids bought lunch at school. I took left overs. My husband had a sandwich and premade calzone that I had made over the weekend from frozen pizza dough. I have been doing a lot of cooking and I have been mixing up breakfast and have not purchased cereal all month. They still have the same box of Cheerios in there. I have to shop today, no bread, no eggs, almost no milk. I will come back to read what every one is eating. It is fun and gives me new ideas.

  13. Still eating good and watching things disappear but still lots to go. Like that we are eating the leftovers and not waiting till they turn so many colors then through them out. Excited with the big storm coming through that we don’t have to run out to restock like everyone seems to think we have to do for the so called “biggest storm in a 100 years”…lol Just going to sit back and watch it Snow………..and eat

    Day 17
    Breakfast – Last of the muffins
    Lunch – Turkey and/or Hard salami and cheese sandwiches, yogurt
    Dinner – Pizza

    Breakfast – Toast w/Nutella
    Lunch – Leftover pizza
    Dinner – Shredded leftover pot roast, peas and gravy over rice

  14. I love reading how everyone is doing. Like the previous poster said, it gives me ideas! I’m all about new ideas.
    This winter storm is set to bear down and start dropping the white stuff around 5-8pm tonight. My husband called me from coscto last night (he was getting gas in his truck) and said didn’t you want something from aldi? He does listen. So he went into aldi to grab sweet peppers, spring mix, bananas, and some other random produce. My family gets very grumpy without salad fixings. He spent $21. He did call me from the store and say ” do you know they don’t take American Express? What’s my PIN number for my debit card?” It was really cute. The man doesn’t shop much anymore since I’m home with the kids but he was willing to give it a go. I like him. A lot. Lol. Now we’re all stocked up for the storm. Kids can’t wait. I for one am glad to be home. The last blizzard we had I was still working (I’m a CRNA) and it look me 2.5 hours to get to work! I’m happy to stay home and cook. And eat. Bring on the hot chocolate and mini marshmallows.
    Wednesday the kids had mini bagels for breakfast with almond butter and rhubarb jam. I had a handful of almonds and dried apricots. Hubs had a homemade breakfast burrito at work.
    Lunch was leftover spinach lentil soup from the freezer
    Dinner was leftover beef roast made into a stroganoff type dinner, with fresh dill from our veggie box and sour cream. I had mine without the sour cream and over mashed cauliflower instead of egg noodles. We all had roasted mixed veggies with it.
    Yesterday breakfast was steel cut oats with berries
    I had 2 eggs and sautéed kale, and hot tea with almond milk. It’s not too bad.
    I skipped lunch, wasn’t hungry. Kiddos had spinach salads and cut up fruit.
    Since I inventoried my upright freezer a few days ago, I found a few questionable items that I wanted to use up. A foodsavered bag of about a pound or so of salmon belly. I buy whole fish when they’re in season and fillet them myself so I keep the scraps. I also found a bag of home frozen sweet corn that’s seal wasn’t closed. It wasn’t freezer burned but I defrosted it first to see if it tasted like freezer/ it was fine. So for dinner I made a dairy free potato corn chowder with salmon and bacon. Topped with some more fresh dill it was so good! I snuck the rest of the puréed cauliflower into the soup and the kids had no clue. i call that a win. I made zucchini carrot dinner rolls to go with. Oh and a salad on the side
    Today it’s going to be either leftover pesto pasta for the fam or homemade pizza. We shall see what the family feels like.
    I am SO glad to be doing this challenge. I am raising Berkshire hogs right now and they’re likely to be ready around May. I need room for that since I’m not buying another freezer. I’m confident that if I keep this up I’ll have no trouble making room for the pork in the coming months.

  15. Starting to see at least some improvement in the freezer and pantry.

    Breakfast – leftovers for me, husband ???
    Lunch – fast food for me, husband took his usual peanut butter sandwich
    Supper – leftovers and soup made of broth and leftover Alfredo type linguini, green beans and corn

    Breakfast – leftovers for me, husband ???
    lunch – leftovers for me, husband took his usual peanut butter sandwich
    supper – Green bean, potato, ham and bacon soup. ( the weather was frightful.)

    I am hoping to do some baking this weekend and use up some more pantry items. I’m really enjoying reading what everyone is doing and how they cope.

    • I have to piggyback onto this as well. LOVE reading everyone’s posts. I have developed such a fondness for looking forward to this that what will I do come February??? Although I’m eating down the freezer, I still have much to go and I did this for 18 days in December as well!!! We are a “family” of two these days so it takes longer to eat what has been purchased. Guess I need to starting learning how to shop for two and not for 5 anymore! 😉 But it does bring me comfort to know that there is food in the house.

      • Felicia, we are also a “family” of 2, so I hear you about it taking a long time to get through the stash! I started this challenge in late December, and definitely plan to continue into February!

  16. Thurs 1/21
    Breakfast: oatmeal
    Lunch: Moe’s – someone kindly crashed into the kid’s car this weekend on his way to work. It ended up totaled, so we are back down to one vehicle. He got the payout yesterday so I picked him up after his morning classes and we went car shopping. They just opened a new Moe’s across the street from campus. As in today was grand opening. They were offering a free bowl of queso cheese (which he adores) plus I had a bit of money left on a gift card plus a $5 off coupon. We happened to be one of the first 100 so we both also got a (surprise!) free t-shirt. All for the princely sum of $0.45 after all above discounts were applied. Score!

    Dinner: sweet Italian sausages with onions, garlic, and multi-colored peppers tossed with basil pesto and pearl/Israeli couscous – this was a gamble since I did not know how it would turn out. Huzzah! I’m totally going to make this again in the future. Even the kid liked it. I would normally use something more like penne pasta, but this is a pantry challenge after all, and neither jumbo shells nor thin spaghetti seemed like it would work. I also meant to chop the last of the fresh tomatoes to use them up but then I forgot.

    In case anyone cares: I cooked the couscous in chicken broth (reserved broth and leftover couscous for soup). I cooked the sausage in a frying pan, then removed and cooked the onions and peppers on the leftover grease. When nearly done, I added the garlic. While those were cooking, I bias-sliced the sausages. I put them back in the pan along with a big scoop of basil pesto (great big thing from Costco that I almost never use) along with some black pepper. I stirred all together, added in the cooked couscous, served in a bowl topped with shaved parmesan. Fabulous.

  17. I have not posted my daily eats, but I have read every post and every comment. Love it for the encouragement to keep going. So excited that we cooked a 23 pound turkey earlier this week – had the first meal and one leftover meal, turkey and noodles last night (which also created some leftovers) and then bagged up 8 bags of turkey for future meals! There are only three of us but one is a 13 year old boy who, as most of you know, can eat more than his own weight during a week! I’m pretty sure the guys have no clue this has been a pantry challenge month – I’m tempted to just keep going until someone realizes what’s going on. I have spent less than $100 so far this month and will definitely keep going into February. Thanks to you all for your ideas, your encouragement, and the camaraderie. Thoughts out to all of you in the path of the winter storm – stay warm and safe!

    • Susan, I may be going into February as well. I find that I’m needing to replace some of my “staples” like garlic, onions, celery, carrots but my protein supply seems quite ample. With only 9 days left in the month, I’ve spent $36 and change so far for JAN. We are a family of two adults these days so we don’t eat down a pantry as quickly as we would have when we had teens living at home! 😉

  18. We are still plugging along here. One more freezer organized yesterday. Found a few surprises. I have come to the conclusion that I am a food hoarder! Jeez, I could feed a lot of people. I need to stop buying on sale when we have enough. Here’s how the last 2 days went.
    B-your pick of meat grits, eggs, yogurt with granola and pumpkin bread
    L- leftovers for hubs, salad for me, kids lunch at school
    D- chicken tortilla soup, oranges

    B-same as yesterday
    L- salad and grapefruit for me, leftovers for hubby and kids eat at school
    D-steak, green beans, rolls, peaches and strawberries all from the freezer, salad
    I thought all the steak was gone til cleaning out freezer. Strawberries and peaches were from my 2014 stash that I thought were gone also. So glad I’m doing this challenge. Everything was delicious yet and finally used a lot up. We are filling the big freezer up this weekend with fresh beef so it was time to get to the bottom of it.

    • Sandy, Im with you! Im a food hoarder, after doing my investory at the beginning of this challenge- I had 12 lbs of ground beef and 6 lbs of ground turkey. My pantry and freezer are thinning out, but I have a long way to go.

      hang in there

  19. Tastycook says:

    A couple of successful days here but it is going to take forever to use what we have. This week I have made a couple of loaves of bread and a batch of blueberry muffins, using stuff from the pantry and freezer. I also took the time to inventory both freezers in the basement. We have tons of raspberries, blueberries and green beans. There’s enough protein to last for 3 months easily. The pantry challenge here will last until we head south for a few weeks and then will have to start up again because I REALLY want to use what we have (then I’ll start all over again!!)

    Day 17
    Breakfast: Pancakes (from the freezer but originally they came from a mix) with maple syrup and coffee for both of us.
    Lunch: Cheese and crackers and a piece of coffee cake
    Supper: Salisbury steaks with leftover scalloped potatoes and green beans. I have had a hankering for salisbury steaks for a while and they really hit the spot. Tried a new recipe (not much different) but it had a mushroom gravy Mmmm. . .

    Day 18
    Breakfast: cereal and tea for me, PBJ and coffee for hubby
    Lunch:Take out from a local bakery as I went to meet hubby – best apple strudel I’ve had in a while!!!
    Supper: Bacon potato corn chowder This finished the bag of potatoes and used a couple of cans from the pantry. Made it in the early afternoon so it had time to sit and let the flavours blend somewhat.
    Snack after curling: Coffee cake for hubby, cheese and crackers for me.

    Did pick up more potatoes when I was out yesterday as well as some pate that was sale priced at 99c!!! Will use that as part of a deli tray for a potluck this evening.

    The pantry challenge has so far been very easy for us as we are so well stocked but I am succeeding in emptying some open packages- cereals and pasta and seeing some empty space, just a little, is good. Love reading what everyone else is doing.

  20. Wednesday we broke all the rules. More than once.

    Yesterday was a new, successful, day!

    Breakfast: Donuts for all (leftover from son’s school party).
    Lunch: Husband had a working lunch, son took a packed lunch, daughter had almond butter sandwich and peaches (found a can when I organized the pantry), I had leftover cheesy enchilada soup from Tuesday night.
    Dinner: Made t-bone steaks, baked potatoes, whole grain pasta and sweet corn. I was reminded why I always, always ask hubby to cook the steaks. The ones I made were less than great. Also had a to deal with a meltdown at dinner. We are sticking to the meals at home being put on the table buffet style and our son is required to pick 3 things to go on his plate and eat. He didn’t want anything except for pasta which we didn’t back down on. In the end he tried the baked potatoes and the corn. I could tell that he liked the baked potatoes but he was in a “mood” so he wouldn’t admit it and sat at the dinner table pouting for the rest of the meal. ::sigh::

    After last night’s dinner the side-by-side freezer was down to a few packages of frozen vegetables, ice cream and popsicles. I ventured out to Antarctica (aka our freezing cold garage) to pull some items out of the deep freeze to replenish it. I pulled in a package of green chili from this past season (already, peeled, chopped and seasoned – pain in the rump to do when buying but SO worth it after the fact), pork chops, beef short ribs, chicken and turkey. Should get us through quite a few more meals. And as a bonus I was able to close the deep freeze without playing Tetris with the contents first #winning

    Have a great weekend everyone!

  21. I too am thrilled with this PC. I can’t really say I have much white space yet but things are not falling out when doors are opened and things are not stacked so high. I keep promising myself I am not going back to old buying habits. We live in the country and the nearest store is 8 miles away and my Aldi store is 15 miles away so I justify always getting extras, but no one needs as much as I had.
    B – the usual egg and some form of bread. Whatever I am trying to use up.
    L – LO from Tuesday night
    D – Hodgepod of LO from fridge
    B – just toast as I had a 7:30 a.m. Dr. apt. After that we stopped at Aldi and picked up red potatoes at $ .20 a #. Forgot to get some tomato sauce as mine is all gone but when I got home found 2 lg. cans of tomato puree. That should work for what I need.
    L – free pancakes from IHOP for me and hubs had to buy his. Not sure if I am ever going to use their free coupon again as $ 7.00 for his pancakes is ridiculous considering what it would cost to just make them at home.
    D – The last LO from Tuesday. Glad they are gone

    • I can identify with your need to have extras on hand. When I was young we were 20+ miles from any store and as a country girl I am used to a full pantry.

      What has helped me is to keep a spreadsheet of what is stored in the pantry area. This is separate from my cupboards with what I keep for immediate use. When I stock up I add to the spreadsheet, when I transfer to the cupboard I subtract. This lets me cook without having to update the list, but still have an idea of what’s on hand. I group items on the list by category, such as grain products, dairy, meat, vegetable, fruit, spices etc. If there is a sale or I am going to Costco, for instance I can check the spreadsheet and see what is on hand. This helps keep me from stocking up on sale items I have too much of already on hand. I keep totals for each category.

      Just a thought, you might want to consider. Keeping it on the computer makes the list easy to update.

      Think I’ll go fix pancakes for my hubby, he loves them.

  22. Jessica S says:

    Good Morning! I am in NE Ohio and where we are usually the ones getting snow blasted we are watching the news and everyone else getting it! Stay warm and stay safe friends!

    Breakfast- bagels and fruit I think
    Lunch- packed regular school lunches
    Dinner- I had pulled out a prepped crock pot bag- beef tips in a mix of French Onion, Golden Mushroom and Beef Consumme. ( which is pretty much 1 of 2 total recipes where I use canned soup. It is a Grandma recipe and I cannot make it any other way! 🙂 Served it with a partial bag of egg noodles and frozen corn.

    Breakfast- eggs and toast
    Lunch- packed normal lunchboxes
    Dinner- I have no idea! I came home from work feeling less than fabulous. Took a shower and laid down in bed. Husband works from home and he know if I say I feel crappy I AM SICK! So kids were quiet and got a snack, did homework and figured out their own leftover dinner! SCORE! When I woke I had Hot tea, iced lemon water, the last of the pumpkin bread and later a dish of coconut ice cream. 100% healthy right?

    Went to bed early last night and husband woke before the alarm and turned it off so I could sleep. I slept in a few extra hours and AM feeling better. No idea what they ate for breakfast or packed for lunch today and truly don’t care!! lolol

  23. We are keeping going, the freezer will be empty by tomorrow evening and the cupboards and fridge are pretty empty too. Had to do some shopping yesterday to buy a few bits to see us through to the move but only spent £24 and that included tea and coffee so I can keep the removal men happy. They always drink gallons of tea and coffee.
    B cup of tea for me and cereal and coffee for hubby
    L tinned soup
    D beans on toast

    B muesli for hubby with cup of coffee, I had tanned grapefruit and cup of tea
    L we ate out as we were out shopping
    D hubby having bacon, egg and chips and I’m having scampi and chips, apple strudel for dessert all from the freezer except the eggs.
    Snack biscuits left from Christmas

  24. Wed.

    B-Cereal, toast w/ homemade blackberry jam (made w/ blackberries from the freezer–but now the jam is in the pantry–Ha!), blueberries, OJ (yay), and coffee

    L-The regular packed lunch for the guys; last of the LO stew and a little bit of LO mango smoothie for me.

    D-Grilled cheese sandwiches, salad, homemade applesauce (Wasn’t the original plan, but the chicken wasn’t thawed yet and I was too tired after son’s swim to even think of anything else.)

    S-Banana bread, yogurt, and pita chips for son; hummus, pita chips, crudités, and trail mix for me; I think hubs had basically the same as I did.


    B-Cereal, toast, etc. (see Wed.–we’re creatures of habit)

    L-Regular packed lunch for the guys (both of them could live on PBJs); salad, hummus, pita chips, and green tea for me

    D-Roast chicken (using the recipe from Jessica’s GCEs cookbook–so easy and so good!), orange-cranberry roasted brussels sprouts (used an orange from our tree and brussels sprouts from the garden that were in the freezer), salad, last of the cranberry sauce, homemade pickles. Banana bread for dessert.

    • Roberta, do you find making homemade blackberry jam less expensive than the store bought jar? I think this is a great idea and never occured to me to use frozen blackberries to make jam. Thanks for turning on the light bulb!

      • I’ve never done a cost analysis, so I’m not sure if it’s less expensive in general. This batch certainly was, as we got the berries for free from friends who let us pick from the wild brambles that grow by their house.

        We often use frozen fruit for our jams. When our fruit trees are producing, we can’t keep up with the canning so we pop the excess into to freezer to make into jam later. It works for us.

  25. I am seeing white space in the pantry YAY thats what I wanted. Our home canned goods & meat in the freezer still on track for the season! Usually butcher a pig every winter to have for the year & doing that tomorrow so will be filling back up the freezer a little but at least I know where most of my meat comes from :).(We also butcher a cow every year to year & half so usually have plenty of beef & pork but I do buy chicken from the store trying to find a local place for that………… Monday nite: last pork roast & made barbecue, Tuesday nite: tenderloin, Wedensday: sausage gravey/ bisquits, Thursday: chicken spaghetti from Pioneer Women, today: Taco Soup yes we were cleaning up some of last years pork. 🙂 breakfasts & lunches our normal. Snowing today on the east coast & they are calling for up to 24″ so trying to stay warm besides the normal farm chores that needs to be done.

  26. I think I’m on day #21 of my challenge. Looking forward to FEB 1st as my grocery list is starting to overflow onto needing two hands to keep track. Time to write things down!!! 😉

    B – waffle and decaf coffee for me; DH is always YOYO. Since we have no bananas for cold cereal, he had Toaster Strudel with coffee.

    L – homemade bean burrito and decaf coffee

    S – Nature Valley Dark Chocolate/Nut granola bar

    D – One topping (penne) pizza* with sausage using leftover sausage from Sunday’s dinner.

    *Penne Pizza is a layer of penne pasta instead of pizza dough. Top with your favorite pizza sauce. Add your favorite pizza topping (I had leftover sausage which I sliced really, really thin) and then cover with mozzarella cheese and sprinkling of parmesan. Heat in oven or microwave until cheese melts and is all gooey like pizza! Use a large spoon to scoop out all that yumminess!

  27. Wednesday

    Breakfast: oats and milk for DH. Rolls and milk for the girls. Rolls and coffee for me.

    Lunch: Packed lunch for DH. Rye bread with lunch meat for the girls and I. Vegetables on the side.

    Dinner: Medister (raw sausage that you fry in a pan). Vegetarian “meat” for DH. Boiled potatoes and carrots. Red cabbage. Gravy

    Snacks: Leftover cupcakes. Apples.


    Breakfast: Oats and milk for DH and DD1 before they left for work/preschool. Rolls for DD2 and I. Coffee for me 🙂

    Lunch: Packed lunch for DH and DD1. Leftover tarteletter for DD2 and I.

    Dinner: Homemade pizzas. One with potatoes, red onion and manchego. One with tomato sauce, tomato slices, black olive and red onion. Gouda cheese and feta.

    Snacks: crackers, apples

    I didn’t have any pizza suce, so I used some concentrated tomato purée mixed with ketchup and spices. It worked really well, DH complimented me on it 😉 I had a piece of gouda in the fridge, which I grated and used in stead of mozzarella. It worked well!

    I am kind of having a hard time remembering what we ate and commenting on everyone else’s posts. I think a big part of the challenge is the community we have through the comments, it is really wonderful to see how helpful and encouraging everyone is. However, I am actually almost 9 weeks pregnant, and I have a bad case of pregnancy brain, so I hope you will forgive my lack of commenting. I read through all the comments though, whenever I have the time to sit down.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and that those of you who are affected by snowstorms are ok. The snowstorms in the US were actually mentioned in the news in Denmark, so they must be pretty bad!

    Kathy in Denmark

  28. Tastycook says:

    Congrats Kathy.
    I titalky agree about the community here on the PC. I love it!!

  29. I made a goal this week 1 eat all dinners from my freezer (all three are so full there is no more space). I’ve done pretty well (last nights dinner was not from the freezer, but I did repurpose leftovers that would have ended up there?). Mon: Lasagna, Tues: Parsley pesto baked cod with noodles, Wed: Chicken and cheese taquitos, Thurs: Ham and cheese rice casserole, Fri: Pesto and tortellini. Breakfasts were pancakes, pumpkin bread, granola, smoothies. Lunches were all leftovers.

  30. Hmmm, can’t remember what we had Wednesday but here’s the rest of the week:
    B: usual toast, oatmeal, fruit
    L: leftovers
    D: lasagna with steamed veggies

    B: oatmeal for the kiddo and husband, breakfast at my mom’s group for me
    L: snacky lunch for the kiddo, husband took leftover lasagna and was still full from the late breakfast
    D: baked tilapia, homemade breadsticks, veggies, quinoa pilaf from a mix that’s been in the pantry forever
    Shopped Sam’s Club today as I was running low on several staples including diapers, milk, frozen fruit, allergy meds, and tortillas. Spent the rest of my January grocery money but we should be good to go with the basics now.

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