Pantry Challenge 2017-17

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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.

Quick update as I’m rewatching old Sherlock episodes. Nursing my cough and a burned off mole on my back. Good times.

My husband got this pesky bug last night, waking with a fever and staying home sick from work. I cannot wait for everyone to be well!

I did run to Costco for some oils, dairy, and bread. No way can I keep up with making homemade bread. I had a $100 rebate check from last year’s expenditures and ended up spending $7 oop, so that’s pretty good, eh?

Pantry Challenge Meals, Day 17

Breakfast: Cranberry Bread (from my freezer book), fruit

Lunch: Fend-for-yourself, including nachos and leftover soup

Dinner: Carnitas Soft Tacos

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  1. I wouldn’t be baking bread either! I am sorry you are all going thru this. Hopefully you’ll all feel well soon.
    We had another day off of school. They called it off early yesterday afternoon and then it warmed up and stopped raining so the kids could have gone to school. Oh well.
    Jan 17
    Breakfast–Husband had his eggs. I had my toast and the boys slept.
    Lunch–hubs boy had leftover soup and pizza rolls. The other had sandwiches.
    Dinner–chicken strips, Mac and cheese and cinnamon applesauce.

    We will need bread by the weekend. I guess I’ll open the bread machine we got for Christmas and see what happens.

  2. Watching back to back Sherlocks is just the thing for when you are sick. Also I just read a study that chocolate is good for coughs.
    Another no spend day! I hope I can keep up these good habits after Pantry Challenge.
    Breakfast today-raisin bran with the darn new kitty trying to jump in my bowl
    Lunch-split pea soup-two more lunches until it’s gone
    Dinner-Omaha steaks, baked potatoes and frozen peas

    • Love the image in my head of the kitty trying to get in your cereal bowl! 🙂

      • When my kids were little they would let the kitten on the table and he would sit there and wait for them to lift the spoon up to their mouth and then smack the hand or the spoon and the cereal and milk would hit the table!

  3. So much for the plan of not purchasing any non-essentials except produce or dairy! The kid was picking up some milk and called to tell me that chicken wings were marked 65% off because the sell-by date was in 2 days. How could we resist that? He picked up 3 packages. One is in the fridge, the other two were crammed in to that very full freezer.

    Tues 1/17
    B – baked pumpkin pie oatmeal
    L – Sausage pancake muffins
    D – L/O ham, L/O sweet potato, salad – finished off all those items

    Thanks to several people for sharing recipes. I enjoyed the oatmeal even though there’s a reason I’m usually not cooking big things early in the morning… I accidentally used baking SODA instead of POWDER. I realized it right after it was in the oven, so I pulled it back out and mixed in the powder and just hoped it would not come out too bizarre. I was thinking the soda was getting old, and apparently I was right as I cannot tell any negative from having it in there. Probably time to replace that.

    Sausage pancake muffins went into the oven along with the oatmeal. Those successfully used up some cups of greek yogurt that were on the top shelf of the fridge and turned semi-frozen (happens sometimes on the top shelf, so I usually put things there that I want to stay a little colder for longer longevity) which turned an odd consistency when thawed back out. I did not want to just throw it away since it really wasn’t bad, but neither of us wanted to eat it like it was, so this was a perfect solution. The kid suggested I should try it with maple sausage next time, which I think would be lovely.

  4. Jessica, you are supposed to be getting better, not sharing the sickness with the hubs. Silly girl! Seriously, do hope the whole family recovers quickly. One of my supervisors got it so bad around Christmas, he honestly thought it was going to kill him. I’m washing my hands like a crazy person to try to avoid picking it up!

  5. January 17

    Breakfast: Me, leftover sandwiches, pickled egg and a pickle, coffee to drink. Hubs had ham/egg/cheese tortillas and Pepsi a bit later in the morning.

    Lunch: I had a fried egg sandwich, hubs ate late breakfast and didn’t have lunch.

    Snacks: popcorn, few more christmas chocolates

    Dinner: I skipped it, not feeling well. Hubs had leftover cheeseburger sloppy Joes on toast (no buns left) and some cheese/sausage/pickles/olives/crackers

    I stayed home from work today, I finally succumbed to this yucky illness. Planning to stay home tomorrow too. When you work with children and the public, it’s best to keep your germs to yourself! At least it’s been easy for the pantry challenge! Both of us have been sick with this now and going out just isn’t in the cards!

  6. Today was back to work after a lovely 3-day weekend. Both hubby and I were not feeling at our best so our plan today was to let our stomachs rest. We managed to get an afternoon gym workout today- trying to get back on track after the holidays. We skipped out too many days last week and we certainly paid for it today-haha….

    B- ham/cheese hot pockets for kids, coffee and green juice for me. Hubby skipped b-fast
    L- teriburgers for kids, protein bar and juice for me
    D- chicken/stuffing for kids, Acai bowl for hubby and me.
    Snack- green juice, almond milk

  7. Hope you feel better soon. My hub is complaining that I didn’t ‘buy any food ‘ last shop. Well that’s the point! What do you want to know about Britain. Ask me ?

  8. I really really hope all of you get over this this week and not go a second round.My doughter said she ended using bleach wipes on everything daily for about a month .I remember those days when they all were home.

    Having scalloped potatoes and ham casserole, bake Wee be little pumpkins and custard pie tonight

  9. Stephanie M. says:


    B – Hubby had cereal; I skipped breakfast

    L – Hubby had a business luncheon; I had chicken burger lettuce wraps

    D – We had beef and bean burritos and leftover roasted veggies from the night before; using up the last of the tortillas, a bar of cheddar cheese, a package of ground beef and the last can of refried beans

  10. I thought if you only interacted with internet friends you could not catch their germs! SO much illness across everywhere! Be gentle with yourselves!
    My kids went back to school yesterday.. Of course my oldest woke up congested! Tossed him a decongestant and thankfully he seemed fine afterschool.. ALL TIME HIGH temps in my area of Ohio yesterday.. and that is not great news… it was 60 yesterday… So no doubt the germs will ramp up and the kids will be falling like flies in the schools over the next week.. JUST WHEN I START TO FEEL BETTER!
    I went to a parent meeting at the middle school and then finally made a grocery stock up run.. His the local discount store and then Aldi. Stocked up on some essentials( baking supplies and produce) and some emergency fall on items ( frozen chicken tenders/fries/cake mix) .
    Husband helped carry everything in and unload and I ended up eating lunch and taking a much needed nap! lol

    B- kids had oatmeal packets and toast, I made a bowl of old fashioned oats with raisin for me
    L- kids had sandwiches, fruit, chips… I had a toasted ham and cheese, yogurt( need more probiotic!) and cukes
    D- TKD cancelled due to illness.. so needed to make a quick family dinner… used those fall back frozen chicken patties to make a quick parm, garlic bread and box of pasta… Kids happy!

    Work meeting.. used more of my freezer supply of blueberries and made a poundcake for my work meeting! Leftovers came home for kids afterschool snack!

    Get healthy my friends!

    • Hi Jessica,
      I’m in Ohio, too, and loving the mild winter so far! Cleveland area. Where in Ohio are you?

    • It does seem like everyone across the country has the same stupid illness! Glad you’re feeling better, sincerely hope your kids don’t succumb!

      • So far kids have remained good! Husband has now taken a dive.. not sure what is going on with him! Such is life!

  11. Awesome but sorry you’re still sick! Do Costco rebates go out at different times? I’m looking for mine in the mail. My goal to defrost our freezer is still moving ahead. I have a quarter of a cow in it that I plan to move to coolers outside to stay frozen, but the Wisconsin temperatures aren’t cooperating! This week is a high of upper 40s! So I’m watching the weather to determine my Great Dethaw Day. We are at 50% of the month’s grocery budget, so that’s right on track!

    • I believe the credit card rebates go out in Feb for everyone but the membership rebates go out around your membership anniversary so that is all year round. Mine comes in March.

  12. Kathy in Denmark says:

    Hope everyone feels better soon!

    Day 17:

    B: Oats and milk for DH. Branflakes and milk for DD1, plain branflakes for DD2 as she was having a fit and wouldn’t sit down to eat breakfast…..Toasted roll for DD2 and me after dropping DD1 off at kindergarten. Coffee for me.
    L: Packed lunch for DH and DD1. Rye bread with mackeral in a tomato sauce for DD2 and me. Veggies on the side.
    D: Beff stew, Vegetarian stew and instant mashed potatoes.
    S: Fruit, raisins, biscuits.

    • My hubby’s grandparents immigrated to US from Denmark so it is cool for me to read your posts. I hear it is a beautiful place.

      • Kathy in Denmark says:

        Hi Audrey.

        Funny about your hubby’s grandparents!

        Denmark has it’s beautiful spots, that’s for sure 🙂 Hope you get to come visit some time.

  13. tastycook says:


    B – fruit and yogurt

    L – soup from the freezer

    S – roast turkey breast from the freezer, mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts

  14. B: apple cranberry bake, tea
    L: borscht, roasted squash
    S: pepperoni pizza pasta with zucchini noodles, salad with radishes and carrots, herb lemonade

    So sorry your family is sick!

  15. B: green smoothie and coffee for me, cereal for kids
    L: L/O chicken enchilada and black beans for me, turkey/colby jack cheese sandwiches, chips, fruit cups for kids
    S: chocolate chip cookies
    D: I wanted to make turkey burgers but was too tired after work to make buns, so I made a turkey meatloaf instead. Found 3 containers of various types of rice in the freezer that I mixed together. Caesar salad.

    My family suffered through the stomach bug (aka: “The Plague”) right before we went on vacation in December. Then, yesterday one daughter woke up with “The Cough”, which means the rest of us will probably get it soon. Hope everyone feels better soon!

  16. Tuesday 1/17

    Breakfast – Oatmeal

    Lunch – Pizza subs again

    Dinner – Parmesan garlic chicken w/roasted potato wedges & honey glazed carrots

  17. Danielle L Zecher says:

    I hope you can all kick the cold/virus soon.

    I didn’t cook at all yesterday. I spent Monday moving furniture and organizing things (I had the holiday off from work). Yesterday I woke up with muscle spasms in my back and neck. I stayed home from work and took some muscle relaxers, and basically tried not to move. Hubby picked up takeout on the way home from work.

    It’s a little better today, so I’m planning something easy for dinner, probably the black bean and tortilla casserole from your 30 minute book.

  18. I am so sorry that most of your family is sick! And so many others still coming down with it. Last night my hubs even made a comment about me still clearing my throat and coughing. I feel fine, it’s just a bit annoying.

    My adventure out and about on the streets of Orlando….found myself going into the parking garage for universal by accident. Funny thing was I wasn’t the only one! Lol. I always laugh that everything is low profile building here with so much foliage that you’re on top of something when you find it and you about cause an accident trying to turn in quickly….screech.

    Ah, Trader Joe’s. Love it. Only spent $25. Got fruit, hummus and pita chips for me and olives, cookies & tahini to take home. Had to stop by cvs for some Otc meds for hubs that he needed and a little bottle of laundry detergent for me to hand wash a couple items – I had forgotten to pack some. They charge $3 per load here at the resort- that’s $6 to wash and dry some clothes in a laundry room, holy cow.

    Hubs felt sorry for me eating snacks in the room and made me buy a small brick oven pizza at the city walk. $13 for a pepperoni pizza, but I had it for breakfast this morning too so I guess not too terrible. I did the same with a sandwich night before, ate the rest for breakfast the next day.

    Going to venture out again today. I found the Whole Foods while having lunch at chick fil a yesterday. So the plan is to get my hair cut at Supercuts that I found yesterday and maybe get a pick 2 from panera since I have a reward coupon. Then check out the WF store. Hopefully I won’t get lost or end up on the news, lol.

    Get well wishes go out to everyone!
    Melissa from GA, currently checking out Orlando 😉

  19. I have been following the posts and sort of following the challenge. I did clean out the kitchen (full-size) freezer on Monday, which led to much baking: chocolate chip cookies, cranberry bread, breadsticks to go with fettuccine Carbonara for dinner. I also unearthed leftover Thanksgiving turkey which turned into enchiladas (frozen sauce) last night.

    I’ve spent a bit more in groceries than I had planned, partially due to a “d’oh” move: I bought egg rolls and mozzarella sticks at Costco to have for our Saturday night snack dinner, then left the egg rolls sitting out in the garage as I rummaged through the deep freezer for something. Discovered them today. :(. Our nights haven’t been the well below freezing they were last week, so those went in the trash. 🙁 Will still replace them, as hubby has been asking about them for the last few weeks and has been patient with the partial challenge I’m doing.

    Still need to fully clean out the deep freeze and the pantry, but need more motivation. Maybe on Friday when everyone is gone skiing…

    Love this challenge, even if I don’t follow completely.

    Get well soon!

    • Anything you do to use up some stuff is a win. Hang in there! Baby steps!

    • Sounds like you’re doing great! We all follow our own set of rules for the Challenge anyway. Cleaning out a freezer and using things up definitely counts a lot!

    • oh, I really really hate when I set things down and then forget about them. I’ve done it enough times now that I always double check and sometimes even triple check now before I walk off. I probably shouldn’t tattle on myself like that…

  20. Jen in IN says:

    B: steel cut oats made in the instant pot
    topped with choice of banana, coconut, chocolate chips, craisins, jam, pb

    L: husband took leftover soup, I took a deviled egg, orange, hummus and carrots. The boys had Jimmy Johns, carrots, orange, and popcorn. The Jimmy Johns delivery people had dropped off samples while I was at Crossfit on Monday, so I grabbed a couple.

    D: My brother-in-law stopped by on his way back to Chicago, so I changed what I had originally planned.
    Spinach cheese enchiladas, rice, guacamole and tortilla chips
    Irish Cream brownies for dessert

    • Hey! I was excited to see that you use an instant pot for steel cut oats. I just bought one and it is arriving soon…,
      Can you run me through how to make them in there?

      • Jen in IN says:

        I do 3/4 cup oats and 3 cups water for three of us, along with a dash of salt.

        Hit the manual button, and reduce the time to 10 minutes.

        I use the timer mode, put in everything the night before, and it’s ready when we are.

        Enjoy your new IP, I love mine!

  21. I opened the fridge freezer last night and I can see some improvement. Not much but it doesn’t look as jam packed. I think I have a big hodgepot of different containers which doesn’t help. I vowed I would not buy more until all the odd ones wear out. Any ideas on a container that stacks good? I would prefer square or rectangle ones. I have a bunch of round ones right now and hate them.
    17 th
    B. I had my usual egg and 1/2 a bagel with cream cheese. Hubby had same but adds a banana. The last ones we got were huge so he shared with me.
    L. freezer grilled pork steak (I don’t even remember when we grilled those so it’s good that they are gone), nacho instant mashed potatoes (bought 10 on clearance about 6 months ago, and have 3 left now). also our last can of green beans.
    D. Sandwiches, cottage cheese, fridge pickles, and the best fruit salad. My dad makes it and his dicing of fruit could win an award. Every piece looks cut so uniform and small.
    S. L/O cupcake from freezer and a cheese roll up. I was hungry.

    You all get well soon!

  22. B: Cereal, boiled eggs, bananas
    L: Leftover lasagna, corn, and hummus and chips
    D: Using leftover pork from New Year’s made pulled pork sandwiches, cottage cheese, blueberries and raspberries

    We are seeing lots of white space and starting to run out of some of our standard fair such as pasta, frozen vegetables and canned beans.

    I did not make a menu plan for tomorrow since I’m scheduled for dental work. The dentist said to allow at least 2 1/2 hours for the appointment

  23. I totally resisted the temptation to use a coupon code and make a Vitacost order yesterday. I filled my cart then walked away and by the time was able to look at it agin I decided I didn’t ‘need’ any of it so I didn’t buy. Total win for me!

    Yesterday we ate granola and yogurt, LO spaghetti with meat sauce, beef/turkey shepherds pie (although I think it’s technically called a cottage pie if not made with lamb?) and mandarin oranges for dessert. Snacks were cottage cheese, goldfish, and fruit.

    I went grocery shopping yesterday for our usual weekly fresh foods and ended up spending $118 on three bags of food:( I did buy $35 of meat… the rest was produce and dairy. Except for goldfish I didn’t buy any pastry items or convenience foods, it was just an expensive trip I guess. Fresh produce in NH is expensive during the winter months…

  24. We had a two hour delay due to icy road conditions which made for very happy girls! At this point in the PC each year, I am so thankful how little my family complains about my meals, even though my cooking skills leave a lot to be desired! It makes my life so much easier!

    B: Smoothies
    L: Leftover chili/beef and barley soup (finally gone) and turkey sandwiches
    D: Chicken (that was actually unlabeled Cuban pork-oops) and biscuits

  25. Hi All – so sorry to hear how far and wide the virus of choice has made it this year – even my parents have passed it between each other- they live closer to you, Jessica, in Del Mar. And I’m currently listening to Pres. Obama’s final press conference and so many people are coughing among the press corps. So many. We are not alone in our illnesses! Anyhow, with me, it’s moved to mainly my asthma being a problem now- though it’s not getting worse. I’m hoping it will improve so I don’t need to go in to the dr or, heaven forbid, ER. My energy level is very low, so anything I get done is a win. On to Day 17:

    B: cereal, turkey sausage, OJ for son, cereal for hubs; I stayed in bed until late morning.

    L: son took turkey/cheese sandwich, clif bar, pistachios; hubs took ham and cheese sandwich and a banana; I had a tuna sandwich and pretzels

    D: salmon, rice pilaf from a box, green beans – all super easy requiring little prep or attention

    Because dinner was so simple, while it was cooking, I finally boiled the aging eggs so we can have them for snacks and salads. I also managed to make banana oat muffins with the almost dead bananas, and threw in a handful of choc chips. It almost did me in, but I survived. Simple is the name of the game right now!

    • Oh Heather, you poor thing! My hubs has asthma so we deal with that as well. He’s had it all his life. We were so glad (and lucky) that he didn’t get my cold.
      You continue to rest!

      Melissa in GA

      • Heather M says:

        You understand, then. I’m lucky in that the asthma usually only gets bad when i get sick- otherwise my daily singulair keeps it at bay. But man, it can zap my energy when it kicks in. Thanks!

    • Stephanie M. says:

      Hi Heather. I hope you start feeling better too soon. What a month for everyone. Yikes!!!!

    • I totally hear you! Zero energy makes getting meals on the table so hard! Simple and quick is definitely on the menu! Hubs is a very relaxed eater and will eat literally anything, so that makes it easy to just throw together the basics and take it easy. So thankful for him!

    • Danielle L Zecher says:

      I hope you feel better soon. I had some breathing issues during all of the fires here, and I can’t imagine dealing with that all of the time. Take care of yourself!

      • Heather M says:

        Thanks, Danielle. Yikes, fires would definitely be a problem for breathing. I’m just glad the asthma is mostly controlled except when I get sick. I can’t imagine it otherwise. 🙂

  26. My potatoes were past the point of use when I checked last night, so instead of potato soup for dinner we had pasta with some sausage from the freezer. It was pretty good, but I’ll see if I can find something else to do with the rest of the sausage. Seeing some white in the freezer and have plans to create more in the next coupe of days. looking forward to it.

  27. Here’s hoping that you all get better….. and soon!

    Today I see big holes in the freezer and in the fridge. Yay! It was a messed up meal day as I laid out cooked hamburger to thaw for a one-pan dish. When hubs opened it to make supper, it was smoked pork. So, they had pizza from the freezer instead. (I was out with my lunch bunch for our quarterly dinner out. We use to all work together, but two are retired now and I work elsewhere.) So glad they still ate from the freezer even though I wasn’t home.

  28. Ran errands yesterday with my 91 year old mother. Got her home and unloaded her groceries only to find that she forgot to buy vinegar. I offered to go back to the store. While there I found discounted double crust pie crust bought 4. Salted caramel sauce bought 2 and seasoned salt bought one. Everything was 75 cents each. Skipped breakfast. Lunch was a green salad with smoked salmon from the freezer. This morning I baked a lemon meringue pie with lemon juice from the freezer. Made hubby his normal breakfast of homemade hash browns and fried eggs. Made myself an apple omelet but didn’t eat it as the dentist could get me in within 30 minutes. Had two teeth pulled breakfast was fed to the dog. I’m on soft foods for 2 days. Cooked potato and some shredded carrots together. Used the immersion blender and added seasoning salt and a bit of gravy mix. Took split pea soup and broccoli soup out of the freezer. Hubby is enjoying grilled cheese sandwiches on fresh homemade bread and a beautiful lemon meringue pie! Any money I save on the pantry challenge will go to pay the dentist

    • Laurie in CA says:

      Bummer about the teeth. Sorry you have to use your grocery savings.

      • Sorry your grocery savings have to go to something so un-fun, but hopefully you will actually HAVE some savings so you don’t have to cut it out of something else.

  29. I hope you all feel better very soon. Coughs are a way of life around here too. Seems everyone has one or is getting over one!
    Breakfast hubby had cereal juice . I also took 2 egg bakes (used up ham and Sausage from pizza party) to his office they were well received . I had a staff breakfast out.
    Lunch was loaded bean and cheese nachos.very filling! Hubby gone til late took snacks with him. I think I have toast and herb tea.
    I was wondering do you guys have walmarts near you? Our has had a crazy price on milk 75cent a gallon and eggs 39 to 49 cents a dozen. For about 6 weeks now. Later I’m going to add my reciets since I started PC. I know I’ve spent very little compared to what I usually spend. What a good feeling.

  30. Laurie in CA says:

    B – baked banana nut oatmeal
    L – I had a green salad w/ l/o baked chicken, hubs had l/o chicken
    D- fajita burritos, guacamole and chips

  31. Laurie in CA says:

    I cleaned out the indoor fridge. It is looking mighty bare in there!

    • Yay! Way to go!

      • Laurie in CA says:

        Ya, but now I’m hearing grumbling from the peanut gallery. The people in my life don’t like it when things don’t hop on their plate ready to eat ?

        • Ah, the peanut gallery. It can be tough when the way they’re used to eating changes! But it’s good for them! Makes them appreciate the good stuff when they get it!!

  32. Today was another busy day. Blah! Tomorrow my husband is off and hopefully I’ll be able to get some things done around the house. I did 4 loads of laundry before 530am this morning and still got everyone out the door on time so we did ok. I had a dr appt this morning and then met an old friend and her adorable new baby for lunch. We went to a Lebanese restaurant and the food was so fresh, healthy, and incredible.

    Breakfast this morning was toasted PB j on English muffins
    Lunches were packed with last nights leftover chicken chili, corn muffins.
    Dinner tonight was chicken taco salads using last nights leftover chili again along with plenty of fresh veg and homemade Catalina dressing. Mangos on the side.
    Poor sour cherries are still in the fridge. Gotta get it done tomorrow.

    • 4 loads of laundry before 5:30AM? Did you even go to bed last night??

    • You’re incredible! 4 loads done by 5:30 is way too early for me. I hate my 5 am alarm. I give you major credit, that’s definitely getting a jump on the day!

    • Heather M says:

      Ok, super impressed with you! I had a hard time dragging myself out of bed at 10 – even though I was awake and had been for a while (but I have a good excuse right now- this asthma has been kicking my butt). Lebanese food is some of my very favorite! Yum!

  33. Day 17
    B-hard boiled eggs or cereal
    L-spinach salad and grapefruit for me, leftover veggie pizza, leftover corn casserole and apple for hubs
    D-pork roast, salad, green beans, homemade dinner rolls and leftover Christmas candy (It’s almost gone, thank goodness)
    I hope everyone starts feeling better! It’s crazy how this nasty bug is country wide. The kids said there was a lot of kids out sick at school. I’m getting nervous we’ll get it!

  34. So sorry the household is down!!! Hoping everyone perks up soon.
    B – hubs had cheese grits & sausage, ds had choc milk & bacon. I had water – not feeling so great.
    L – hubs: chili (thermos), ds: chicken & rice (thermos), me: lettuce wrap
    D: Hawaiian chicken (chicken breasts, pineapples, bell peppers in slow cooker topped w BBQ sauce of choice), served over rice, with broccoli
    dessert: homemade apple crisp with apples that I cooked and froze this fall

  35. Wednesday:
    !/2 of package of frozen fish- tried a recipe poaching it in oil with citrus slices. (tasty).
    had with mashed winter squash, coleslaw, steamed potatoes.
    Thursday: ossobuco with meat from freezer.
    Friday: rest of fish, maybe tacos with the l.o. coleslaw, baby bok choy.

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