Pantry Challenge 2017-1

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.

This month we’re avoiding the grocery store and shopping the kitchen. Here’s how we’re eating. It’s like reality TV, for food.


It has been a super busy day, so busy that I didn’t take pictures except this quick random snap this morning of breakfast. Expect more of that. I will try for at least one image a day, but know that they probably won’t be super fancy. The days are pretty busy.

First of all, though, let me say how EXCITED I am that so many of you are joining this year’s Pantry Challenge. It was such a joy to read your comments and hear your enthusiasm come through the internets. I’m so honored by the Good Cheap Eats community and how you really support each other during these challenges. Thank you!

You are part of the reason I keep doing this, year after year. Did you know that?

So, for today’s kitchen work, I didn’t do a whole lot. I had planned more cooking and prepping for the week, but I went to the gym which takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours, all told, and then we watched Sherlock’s season premiere tonight, another 90 minutes. I suppose I could cook while I watch TV, but tonight’s episode really didn’t allow for that.

Our meals were all really good, though, and I resisted the urge to go to the French bakery for baguette. I haven’t taken an inventory yet since the freezer is so jam-packed and we have plenty to go on in the fridge for now.

Pantry Challenge Meals, Day 1

Breakfast: Hobbit Breakfast Casserole (frozen hashbrowns, bacon, onions, mushrooms, eggs, cheddar, and milk), pineapple for the kids while I ate some leftover roast vegetables.

Lunch: Snacky Lunch, Stuffed Mushrooms, Shrimp Cocktail, Veggies and Hummus, Pigs in Blankets – basically leftovers from NYE.

Dinner: Quinoa, Veggies, and Chicken for the parents; fried rice for the kids.

All in all it was a good day, but I know I’m going to need to get organized.

What did you eat today?

Subscribe to Good Cheap Eats
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. And we’re off! Love, love, love PC!
    I also am not inventoried as I have so much food I can easily figure out meals for the coming week. My goal is to take big things from the freezer this week so I can figure out what’s in there. Day one of no spending money.

    New Years brunch with friends after our NYE overnight party. Tons of food-I contributed homemade cinnamon rolls
    Dinner-turkey rice soup with potato rolls

    I start back at the gym tomorrow. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Wow – a day of snackies into meals, great save for breakfast as I’d eat that with the veggies and dinner a throw together. I did basically the same thing – it was a holiday and I was tired and – well it was easy to eat simple. Breakfast was eggs and last two frozen sausage with a sliced and toasted egg bun I found in the freezer. Lunch was left overs from last night. Dinner was a peanut butter and jam sandwich with a cup of tea. Began making my lists and found a few items in the freezer that were beyond saving so those got tossed out. My frozen chicken is still almost rock solid – tomorrow it moves to the counter to sit for awhile, and hopefully defrosts. I’d love to roast it for dinner and leftovers for the rest of the week.

    • Victoria Miller says:

      I have a tip on defrosting chicken fairly quickly. Get out your clean roasting pan (I use the bottom) and put chicken in pan. Do not remove plastic sealed wrapping. If you are thawing chicken breasts wrapped in plastic wrap from the market, place entire package inside another gallon size freezer baggie….. Now fill the roasting pan with hot water from the tap. Every 15-20 minutes, change the water out, adding more hot water. In about 45 minutes to an hour, it should be defrosted. It’s not a good idea to leave the chicken on the counter (bacteria). Hope this helps! — I have ruined beef and pork doing this, because the packages from the market are not sealed nearly as well as the whole chickens. Water got inside the packages when it was only wrapped with Saran Wrap.

      • You’re right that it’s not good to thaw on the counter, but everything I’ve read also discouraged from thawing in hot water. The temps are just right for any present bacteria to grow. Instead, fill it with COLD water, changing it often. You want the water to always be cool. Believe it or not, cool water will thaw it, it’s like it pulls the frozenishness right out.

    • Victoria is right that it’s not good to thaw on the counter, but everything I’ve read also discouraged from thawing in hot water. The temps are just right for any present bacteria to grow.

      Instead, place it in a COLD water bath, changing the water often so that it is always cold. Believe it or not, cool water will thaw it, it’s like it pulls the frozenishness right out.

  3. Laurie in CA says:

    I haven’t inventoried because the freezers are so full. Ironically both fridges are looking sort of empty. I figured we’ll just start eating what I can grab from the front of the freezers for awhile and then go from there.
    Breakfast- scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon (left from Christmas), toast and biscuits
    Lunch – leftover Senate bean soup and cornbread, orange from our tree
    Dinner – French dip sandwiches using roast from the freezer in the instant pot and homemade sub rolls

  4. Today was easy, I got lucky. My 2 younger kids slept over my in-laws and our oldest (15) can fend for herself. So hubby and I slept in after a NYE party. Hubby and kids spent the day at our second family NY day party (yep- we have TWO parties for every Holiday). We whipped up two dishes- chili-cheese nacho dip and a chocolate cake dessert. After heavy eating (and drinking πŸ™‚ last night, Im taking it easy today on my body, so light eating, lots of rest.
    B- Coffee, Almond Milk Protein drink.
    L- steak salad, grapefruit juice (party leftovers)
    D- Protein Bar, greens drink
    Tomorrow is my last free day before I go back to work, so its inventory, clearing out the fridge/freezer/pantry and some other small things to get the week going.

  5. DH and I were both pretty tired after NYE, since we went to bed late and our toddler woke up early πŸ™‚ We have had a lot of company over Christmas and NY, which we love, but boy am I feeling tired now! Therefore, it was great to have leftovers from our NYE celebration to eat. It’s really the deluxe version of leftovers, so no one minds πŸ˜€

    Brunch: Toast, jams, cheeses, coffee, juice.
    Lunch: Different snacks (crackers, fruit etc.)
    Dinner: Cream og asparagus soup with baguette, Scalloped potaoes, roasted veggies, vegetarian “meat” for DH and leftover roast veal for the rest of us.
    Evening snacks: bananas for the girls, leftover dessert for DH and I after the kids were in bed.

    I haven’t done an inventory yet, but I will take a closer look at my fridge, freezer and pantry later today. I have a much more organized pantry now than I did last year, since we moved to a house with a real pantry in it! I also have a bigger freezer and fridge than before, but I kind of think that makes it easier to see what is in there. Here’s hoping I am right in that assumption πŸ™‚

    Kathy in Denmark

  6. B: I rarely cook hot breakfast. I stock the kitchen with breakfast items and let my husband and kids fend for themselves. Today my husband and I had milk and cereal with fruit while the kids had bagels and cream cheese with fruit
    L: Cube steak, mashed potatoes w/ brown gravy, orange slices and grapefruit halves
    D: Slow cooker pork shoulder, black-eyed peas (for New Year’s good luck), steamed broccoli

    The pork shoulder was 8 lbs. so we have leftovers, which I plan to stash in the freezer for later in the month. Perhaps pulled pork sandwiches, pork enchiladas and posole soup.

  7. Denise Williams says:

    Thank you Jessica, this is just the inspiration I need. My pantry is not too bad, but my freezers, yep freezers, are crazy. It is just the two of us and I have two refrigerators and a huge upright freezer full. Mostly meat I stockpile after vacuum sealing. My goal this challenge is to eat through the meat. Inventory is complete and eye opening! My grown children tease me about joining some sort of 12 step program for food hoarding. Ha! Will keep the group updated on my progress.

  8. B-muffins, HB eggs, pb&j on English for the kids…nothing special just using what we have
    L- a client of ours took all four of us to lunch!!!
    S- endless snacking with two little kids and a sugar craving for me (blech) so we munched on whatever.
    D- uncured pork steak from my sister, roasted mixed potatoes and green beans, plus applesauce. Dessert was a mango that wasn’t very sweet:(

    Last night after dinner I asked for the Families’s input on the month menu. My two kids said spaghetti, I added taco Tuesday and hubs wants French Onion soup. I can work with that! We already do pizza Friday so I only had to fill in a about ten days worth of meals. Planning to use what’s in the pantry for those days so I think we’re pretty well set.

    No fails on day one at least! Unlike some others my fridge and freezer are not too well stocked but I do have a lot of pantry odds and ends that need using up. I haven’t written out an inventory but I did make a mental list of the things that need using up and what we have for preserved foods. This said I’m certain I’ll be in the store today or tomorrow for fresh items. I’ve set my months budget though and I’m going in with a plan!

  9. Breakfast – Pancakes & sausage
    Lunch – Stuffed pepper soup
    Dinner – Pork roast, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes & gravy, corn

    Have leftover soup and dinner items so will be an easy start to the week.

  10. Kids were hoping to sleep in later but I woke them at 9!
    B- cereal w/banana and coffee for me, kids were given a pile of multi grain/seed toast and juice. toppings were peanut butter, jam, honey and chocolate almond spread. Plates of sliced banana and orange segments.
    Late lunch- My mom brought the main dish of kielbasa and sauerkraut(yum)! I made a pot of mashed potatoes ( finished up a box of potato flakes), frozen veg, a loaf of italian bread, and applesauce. Homemade cinnamon bun cake for dessert!
    Evening snacking- kids found stuff to snack on!

    no real inventory done- I have a small list of main dish items I have on hand. mentally planning my cooking days for this week..

  11. tastycook says:

    Time to get serious here again. Like many, I have done the pantry challenge for several years with some success but I always fall off the wagon so to speak before the job is done. Two freezers well stocked and inventoried. Fridge and pantry are both in good shape. It’s good to see some familiar names from last January!

    B – fruit and yogurt for hubby, cereal for me. Both of us had a muffin from the freezer.

    L – egg salad for hubby, l/o quiche for me from the freezer

    S – stuffed pork tenderloin (apricots, cranberries, breadcrumbs etc) with Brussels sprouts and roasted parsnips
    Tapioca for hubby and ice cream for me.

    We have pork leftover and I made a big dish of tapioca – hubby loves it and he doesn’t like the Christmas ice cream I’m working at finishing up so a win/win.

  12. Stephanie M. says:

    Sunday: New Year’s Day

    B – Hubby had eggs benedict and hash browns using up the last of the hollandaise sauce that was in the fridge; I had shredded wheat cereal with strawberries and blueberries

    L – We went to Buffalo Wild Wings today because we had a gift card to use up

    D – We finished up the leftover chicken parmesan, pasta, and stuffed clams from New Year’s Eve

  13. January 1

    B leftover baked banana oatmeal
    L out to eat with friends after church
    S leftovers

  14. Today I’m making enchiladas. I do have to buy onions, but I can walk to the store and get those.

  15. Yesterday was a travel day for us . . . we had packed a cooler though, so had food & snacks with us. One stop for a coffee refill saw us home. Leftover buffet for dinner helped clear out the fridge. Today I will complete the freezer inventory and menu planning for the month.

    Breakfast: French toast from the freezer with fried eggs and fresh fruit
    Lunch: Roast beef sandwich
    Dinner: 15 bean soup with ham.

  16. Yesterday was Sunday when I usually do cook so:

    Brunch: Baked eggs and a butter dip biscuit recipe I wanted to try.
    Supper: Rice and black-eyed peas cooked with onion, carrot, celery, ham broth, ham and bacon.

    I used up most of the buttermilk I bought for making pancakes on Saturday, the ham broth in the frig, the two cans of black-eyed peas from the pantry and the last of the carrots that really needed to be used up. I measured out and froze the last cup of buttermilk for pancakes when I get around to making them.

    I haven’t done a complete freezer inventory, but they are full and for now I’m planning to dig around, locate older stuff and use it up this month. I do maintain an inventory of pantry items on an ongoing basis and will be using up some of the older items there as well.

  17. Stephanie says:

    Yesterday was an odd day. I typically have church but worked a race instead. I walked the 5k instead of running because I wanted to run into work afterwards to get stuff done. I brought oatmeal with me but it didn’t get eaten. I had pork, sc, and broccoli for lunch. A mandarin for a snack. For dinner I had a lot of points left over (follow WW) so I made rice noodle stir fry with shrimp and spring rolls. Had yogurt later.

    Normally I would cook for the family as well but just an odd day all around.

    I typically do more food prep on Sunday but I’m home today so did it today instead.

  18. Started yesterday with
    B cereal,
    L ham and cheese pie with fresh green beans
    S leftover baked potato, slice of pie from lunch,
    So far so good, haven’t inventoried anything. But we have a full pantry and freezers, the refrigators are pretty full. It will be great to get to clean the freezer out.

  19. Inventory would take a week, lol, too much. Yesterday was a lazy day. Frozen waffles for breakfast. Frozen dinosaur chicken nuggets from Aldi and some grapes for Lunch. Dinner was a big pot of homemade potato soup, trying to use up the ham. Froze the last few cups of ham and leftover soup. I have some leftover turkey in gravy, so, tonight will be either turkey soup or your single crust pot pie. I’m trying to use up what’s in the fridge before starting on the freezers. The big goal this year is to reduce/eliminate food waste and to cook more often.

  20. I didn’t finish completing the inventory yesterday but absolutely will today. Last night. we had a roasted chicken, rice and veggies. My husband’s favorite meal. Simple and easy.
    This morning we had oatmeal with cream and brown sugar
    and have planned:
    L- defrosted beef and barley soup
    D-salads and homemade french bread pizzas. I have a huge bag of shredded mozzarella cheese I bought during the holidays and didn’t use as much as I thought I would.
    Cookies from the freezer for dessert.

  21. So glad the PC has started. I have too much to do an inventory right now. I will pull a protein from the freezer and check pantry and fridge for something to go with it. Plan to inventory in a week or so.
    B – egg & 1/2 bagel with cream cheese
    L – LO smoked pork with pinto beans, LO fruit salad
    S – Different LO for each person. Two had a brats with sauerkraut and hash browns, & green beans. Other person LO hamburger patty, hash browns, and green beans. All had LO cheesecake from Christmas from the freezer.
    Tomorrow should just about finish up our LO and we can start anew. I plan on cutting my food budget this month to 25 % of what I usually spend. That will be easy at first but maybe a challenge by the end of the month.

  22. 1/1/17

    B: Cereal, coffee cake, OJ, coffee (Nothing like a sugar/caffeine rush to start the year. Yikes!)

    L: Turkey and swiss on homemade whole wheat bread, clementines, bananas.

    D: Ham and all the fixin’s at the home of some neighbors. We all ate entirely too much, but boy was it good!

    Like many others, I’ve not done an inventory because everything is just too packed. I’ve got a few ideas for this week, and then I’ll just work my way through as best as I can.

  23. Still celebrating! We went with family friends ice skating and came back to our house to hot tub, play games, and watch football. Thankfully with good friends, celbrating does not need to be extravagant. I just used what I had on hand.

    Breakfast: Freezer muffins and yogurt
    Lunch: Freezer BBQ pork and buns, HM applesauce, chips and salsa
    Dinner: Chicken lemon orzo soup, ham and cheese sliders, mac and cheese, and (even more!) Christmas cookies

    Happy New Year!

  24. Sun 1/1
    B – toast with avocado for me, he skipped
    L – mac & cheese pulled from freezer and jazzed up with some extra spices then added diced kielbasa also from freezer and mixed in some peas
    D – baked the ham I bought for Christmas (ended up grilling some lamb instead but as that had been in the freezer about 3 years, it was about time!) plus sweet potatoes and served with caprese salad

  25. Had one last Christmas party to attend, so not much happened in my kitchen except making a huge amount of scalloped potatoes with ham. They were my contribution to the party because I have a lot of potatoes from our garden yet to use.
    B-Embarrassed to say but we all snacked on leftover appetizers from New Years eve.
    L-Huge Christmas party spread of food. Yummy!
    D-Snacky supper from misc. leftovers from various parties. No one was very hungry after eating such a big lunch.
    I’m so ready to be done with party food and get back to normal meals. It’s fun and delicious, but doesn’t make me feel as good.

    • My oldest daughter told me tonight that she really liked the simple spinach and tomato salad I served with dinner, which tells me she too is ready to move on from party food to regular fare.

  26. Sue Diamond says:

    We had Granola from the cupboard for breakfast, cheese and biscuits (leftover from holidays) plus a mince pie and brandy butter then Shepherds Pie from the freezer for dinner, broccoli from the fridge and leftover tiramisu! Starting with a full chest freezer that I am hoping to defrost by the end of January.

  27. I started a bit early so I am a few days into my pantry challenge. Today I managed to organize the refrigerator freezer so I know what needs to be used up out of it. I also made a big pot of marinara with canned crushed tomatoes, onions, zucchini (freezer), mushrooms, and bell pepper. My pantry challenge update can be found here:

  28. Sounds like lots of people have jam-packed freezers. I’m in the same boat, with a jam-packed pantry and fridge to boot.
    Breakfast – leftover breakfast potato skin
    Lunch – leftover turkey enchilada casserole, green beans
    Dinner – chicken, roast vegetables

    Meal prep for today for the week:
    Brown and wild rice pilaf, falafel, slice radishes, vegerific breakfast hash, frittata, sliced vegetables for Tuesday, sauteed veggies
    Should take care of breakfasts and lunches, with a good start on dinners.

  29. January 1:

    Breakfast (it was mostly lunch!): Hotdogs for both of us (used them up, and the last of the buns, from the freezer)

    Snacks: Various Christmas candy (So bad! And we have SO. MUCH. LESS. than last year because we’re trying to watch the weight! But, it’s impossible to endure Christmas without a bit of chocolate!) I also made a blueberry pie, to use up the last of the shortening, butter and a bag of frozen blueberries

    Dinner: Ham and White Beans (crockpot), biscuits (from scratch) and broccoli

    January 2:

    Breakfast: Bacon Sandwich, 2 biscuits and coffee (me), Egg and Ham Burritos (him)

    Snacks/Lunch: Him – snacky christmas/NYE leftovers (Crackers, sausage, cheesball, pickles, olives, cheese, etc) I refrained from snacking!!

    Dinner: Was going to be chicken tortellini alfredo with broccoli, but will probably end up being NYE/Christmas appetizer left-overs from the freezer!!

    Meal plan for the week will be Marinated chicken, enchiladas, Korean Beef and Rice, the pasta we didn’t eat tonight πŸ˜‰ and meatloaf. Leftovers will be lunches for me and the hubs for the week.

    So glad to see so many familiar “faces” back again this year! I love the comments and participation as much as doing the actual challenge! Thank you all for sharing!

  30. Do not faint! I started today at the grocery store! Due to family illnesses, I haven’t grocery shopped since December 22. We had no eggs, milk, bread, cheese, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, etc. NONE! I bought nothing for the freezer or the pantry ?

    My pantry is inventoried. Not my freezer. There are three deers in there from this fall. Trust me, it’s full!

    For breakfast we ate from the fridge.
    For lunch I took the leftover beef gravy, chopped up the left over roast, added a handful of rice, a bag of frozen vegetables and some water. Beef stew, with cornbread from the freezer.
    For supper, I made spaghetti and we had garlic bread from the freezer.

    Tomorrow we head back to work with leftovers for lunch.

  31. We have had bad weather here in GA for 2 days now. Every time I try to post I lose the satellite internet! Ugh!
    We sold our house in SC and moved to GA so I used to be Melissa in SC, I am now Melissa in GA. I am a returning PC participant, having done this a few years now. Since we live in the country now, I don’t shop as often and keep a stockpile. I won’t be using things up completely but more like rotating the inventory and trying to spend less.
    Day 1: homemade blueberry muffins, hotdogs for lunch, onion dip and Fritos for the Falcons game, sautΓ©ed Mediterranean chicken over pasta with a side salad, leftover pie for dessert.
    Day2: homemade strawberry nut bread, sliced fruit, buffalo chicken dip for lunch, homemade bean and bacon soup with cornbread and the last of the pie for dessert.
    I went through the freezer yesterday to make a list of possible dinners. We are trying to watch our weight and there’s only 2 of us. I still cook like my kids are around and that takes some adjusting.
    Looking forward to seeing everyone’s progress.

    Melissa in GA

  32. Well here we go!!
    Jan 1
    Breakfast–scrambled eggs with cheese and onions, toast or pumpkin bread.
    Dinner–prime rib, baked potatoes and roasted green beans
    Snacks–sweet breads, chips and salsa and apples and oranges.

    Jan 2
    Breakfast–scrambled or peanut butter toast and fruit
    Lunch–ham and cheese sandwiches and chips and celery sticks with dip
    Dinner–prime white chicken chili and BBQ pulled pork sandwiches
    Snacks–sweet and cheese tray and fruit

  33. Brenda Lenz says:

    This is my first PC and I’m excited to give it a go. I actually got food poisoning on Christmas Eve – haven’t figured out from what yet as I ate the same as everyone else who didn’t get sick. Anyway, I was out for almost a week and a half and didn’t get a lot of my holiday dishes even made. So, my pantry, fridge, and freezer contain a lot of ingredients for special holiday foods. We’re trying to eat healthy now for the new year, so using these ingredients in a healthy way will be interesting. I’ll just think of it as a process. I’m a little late getting started here, but I’ll be doing my inventory today. I already have dinner planned for tonight – the Schwan’s turkey breast and risotto I had planned for Christmas Eve. That’s an easy one. I look forward to seeing what everyone else does. This is going to be great! πŸ™‚

Share Your Thoughts