Pantry Challenge 2017-20

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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.

Not much else to report. We’re still not completely well. Sigh.

That said, there are only 11 days left in the challenge, so we might do okay!

Pantry Challenge Meals, Day 20

Breakfast: Waffles with Nutella

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: Pizza

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  1. B: Cereal, oranges
    L: Planned lunch out with husband.
    D: Chili, drop biscuits, oranges
    S: I thawed some of the leftover pie from Christmas. The family is getting a bit weary of the challenge so I am looking for any treats or special meals I can make to keep everyone on board until the end of the month.

  2. Laurie in CA says:

    Sorry you still have the crud moving through your house. Praying you are all better soon…VERY soon!

    Ay, yi, yi, I’m tripping merrily along on the pantry challenge and hit a huge road block today. I’m very grateful to have saved quite a bit this month but that is about to come to a screeching halt. Let’s just say the holidays weren’t kind to me. I met with my new medical practitioner and after much discussion and ordering of tests, I’ll be going back to my low carb ways. Bubye pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, sniff, sniff. I had planned to use up much of those things that are stockpiled but that’s not happening now (for me anyhow). I ordered a CSA box for next week and will go to Costco to buy the things I couldn’t get through the CSA. Thankfully, I’m good on the amount of lean proteins in the freezer.
    B – Toast w/almond butter and milk for me, a nut pack for hubs
    L – White chicken chili from the freezer
    D – Crockpot broccoli beef over brown jasmine rice
    S – Lemon cake

  3. January 20

    Breakfast: Me, sausage and coffee, hubs cereal and milk

    Lunch: Me, pickled egg, pickle, olives, dried apple chips, piece of cheddar cheese, one laughing cow cheese. I also took some soup but didn’t eat it. It went back in the fridge for another day. Hubs had leftover chicken Alfredo from the freezer, the last of the sausage, some of the cheeseball, crackers, olives and pickles.

    Dinner: 2 pieces of fish from the freezer, homemade tartar sauce, the last of a bag of edamame from the freezer, and some potato wedges.

    • How does one make picked eggs? I’d love to try it.

      • Hi Karen! Here’s my recipe. It’s adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe.

        12 eggs (hard-boiled & peeled)
        2 cups white vinegar
        1 cup water
        2 tsp pickling spice (I don’t have this on hand, I just use a combo of dill, ginger, peppercorns, red chili flakes, bay leaves (2), garlic powder and onion powder)
        1 tsp salt
        1 tsp sugar
        1 clove garlic (minced)
        1 sm onion (chopped)

        Boil all brine ingredients vigorously for 5 minutes then let cool to room temp. Commit to the fact that your house is going to smell like a pickle jar for the rest of the day!! Divide eggs into mason jars or other sealed container. Pour brine over top (you can strain it or not. I don’t.) Let sit for minimum of 2 days in the fridge before eating, to let them get all pickley! Keep stored in fridge for up to 6 months.

        They’re really delicious and I love them! Hubs thinks I’m weird though!

        • Thank you, Sarah! I have a new instant pot and I’ve read that is awesome for boiling eggs, which is good because my previous endeavors don’t always turn out exactly like I want. I’m going to try it, then make your recipe!

          • Oooh! Instant Pot! I’ve been waffling around whether to get one! I’ve also heard that it makes hard boiled eggs like a dream! Good luck and I hope you enjoy them! I find they’re a perfect addition to lunches or snacks!

    • Interesting! I may try your recipe to Thanks for posting it.o.

  4. Jan 20
    Breakfast was the usual for us.
    Dinner. When I made chili Mac on Wednesday I took half the chili out of the crokpot and saved it for tonight’s chili dogs and chips with applesauce.
    Snacks–l/o taquitos, cheese sticks and or oranges

    Glad to hear things are a little better on the illness front!

  5. Stephanie M. says:


    B – Hubby had cereal; I skipped breakfast

    L – Hubby had a business luncheon; I had crackers and cheese

    D – We had ravioli with meatballs and sausage and sauce; I froze two bags of meatballs and sauce from a large pot of sauce I made several weeks back. With the first bag, I made meatball parmesan subs last week; with this final bag, I made the ravioli. I also cooked some sausage and added that to the sauce since I had it and I wanted the meal to stretch out till tomorrow (Saturday).

    My goal this month was to use up all meat/fish from the freezer. I am getting very close to that and expect to have that goal met by the end of the challenge.

  6. Di in Aus says:

    Im so sorry to hear your still unwell. Not looking forward to the comming flu season in Australia. Hoping things start turning soon.

    Its been a few days here is a summary.
    B:creal abd milk/left over soup
    L fruit home made crackers cheese and cold spuds and gravy for kids. Ive been making my way through a mexican rice bake that has used up lots of little left overs

    D: sausage curry with more odds and ends or soup/noddel bowls

    Tonight im making chicken stock with scrap veg and bones ive colected the past few months. Will be on stand by for winter soup season. God willing this time i will get it in the fridge and not leave it on the bench overnight like i did last time. Was super angry to find it the next morning.

    Finding my self gaining too much weight due to a recent injury slowing me down.will have to reduce carb intake. Think it will be almost end of the challenge for us only a few more odments to go

    Good work everyone.its been great to hear the progress

  7. Friday 1/20

    Breakfast – Granola bar

    Lunch – Hard salami & cheese sandwiches w/applesauce

    Dinner – Beef and cheese stuffed shells, salad

  8. Friday’s tend to be busy for us and this week was no exception. Gymnastics for the little guy, a visit to my daughters former preschool to pick up items (we’ve transferred her to public K and all I can say is, blech) a send off for my sister heading home, visit from the book keeper then Spanish group we host for eight kids. Then I made pizza! Needless to say I as done by 8 and fell asleep watching an episode of Sherlock.

    We ate well though:
    B- bagels with cream cheese for kids, bagel sandwich for husband, I had yogurt with granola
    L- leftover barley, squash, sausage mash for me, husband bought soup at local place (!?!) and kids munched at my parents house and then had pb&j at home
    D- deep dish pizza and spinach salad
    Snacks were pitas with taboule, fruit, cheese sticks, peanut butter and popcorn with coconut oil

    I’m planning to bring my mom to the farm today for a pay-by-week CSA pick up and I might buy a half share for $20 which will get me a gallon of milk, a half gallon raw milk for making yogurt, 2lbs carrots, 2lbs apples and a bag of salad greens. Plus they have their own meat that is lovely…but I need to check the meal plan and the freezer first.

    In the past this is usually the point in the challenge when I fall off the wagon. This time I really want to continue using up the odd things hat are lurking in corners of the pantry. I found a pound of quinoa in the freezer but we don’t really care for it…I found a recipe that uses cooked quinoa for bread so I may try that. Anyone have any fun quinoa recipes?

  9. tastycook says:


    Not a good day for the PC and certainly not a good day for health eating.

    B – bagels and cream cheese

    L – out – Turkey cheese sandwich for me, apple and brie sandwich for hubby

    S – snacky supper at the club. It was fun but I can feel extra lbs this morning.

  10. My family has definitely started to notice that we have “no food” to eat. Of course, I look in the pantry and fridge and see plenty of possibilities! However, I will head to the store today to get some supplies to carry us through the rest of the challenge.

    B: fresh squeezed OJ (which the kids thought was fancy, but it was really because I wanted to use up a big bag of oranges and not have to buy a carton of OJ), scrambled eggs, bagels (from the freezer)
    L: kids bought lunch at school (they only buy on Fridays when it is Pizza Day), I had leftover pizza from the night before
    D: boxed mac & cheese with diced ham, salad
    S: sugar cookies made by 16 YO daughter and her friend

    I’m excited to enjoy some time outdoors today – high of 60 degrees predicted here in the Cleveland, OH area…such a treat in our normally brutally cold January days.

    • Lynne, they are calling for the 60’s in PA too!!! So exciting to be able to go outside in mid January without being bundled up! Enjoy your feels like spring day! That’s our plans.

  11. Jen in IN says:

    B: steel cut oats with blueberries, coconut, walnuts, cinnamon

    L: Husband has soup, I took a random lunch: pita with the rest of hummus and alouette, lettuce and tomato, an orange, some cashews and a piece of chocolate.
    My oldest had a pbj, orange and popcorn. My youngest had soup, orange and popcorn.

    D: Long overdue date night. We grabbed a pint, and then had Korean. Finished up with ice cream.
    The boys made themselves pita pizzas with sauce, cheese, and tomato. They also had some pirate booty.

  12. Omgosh, you poor thing, I’m so sorry you all are sick again. I now have 1 child in a ginormous public school aND 1 in college, I’m waiting for it!

    We definitely had more illnesses when my kids were younger, the picked up everything.

    My best advice is, the younger children wash extra good and don’t touch anything when they are away from home. Also, clean your air at home with a difuser and essential oil, oregano is an antibiotic. Our serious flu season is just starting! I’ve had it twice in the last 15 years and I never want it again.

    I’m praying for your family.

  13. We have made large dents in the refrigerator and the freezer. I can’t believe that there are only 11 days left in this challenge. Pretty sure that we could go another 11 + 11. We did go this morning to buy fresh produce and vegetables, milk and eggs. $110 total this month spent on groceries.

    My mom turned 77 and I had everyone over for a taco bar. I only had to buy sour cream. From the pantry I had black beans, black olives, salsa, taco shells and refried beans. I had taco meat in the freezer and cheese, lettuce and tomatoes in the fridge. I spent less that $2 and fed 8 of us, and sent left overs home with everyone. Instead of doing a cake, I made a peach cobbler from ingredients I already had. $0. I was very proud of myself and my mom was tickled (really just from having us all together). My MIL’s birthday is the 31st. I need to start a menu for that gathering too, based on what I already have. But there are 15+ in hubs family. :/

    • LOVE how you pulled together such a fabulous meal for company! That is a huge huge win. Best wishes for the bigger event at the end of the month!

    • Harriet – That is such a great story! Birthday parties can be so expensive, so it is very impressive that you could pull off what sounds like a feast without going broke. Well done! I hope you get a chance to post what you do for the party on the 31st. I know I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

    • What an accomplishment! The meal sounds like it was amazing, and all from your stores at home! Way to go!!!

    • You are awesome!

    • Excellent job with the party. How kind of everyone to help you along on your challenge. 🙂 I’ll bet you can do something creative for the next party as well!

  14. Hoo boy, the 20th. It was a day. Hubs got up at 3am to head to work (I went to sleep around 12;30 so it was rough), then the alarm went off at 4:30am for son. I had to drive him places and then decided I deserved a donut on my way home. Much as I hoped to sleep again, I couldn’t- the mind wouldn’t shut down. So I watched news coverage off and on, partially to see what part my husband was involved with. And to see where my son ended up (well, generally), since I knew what area his tickets were for. Anyhow, it was a strange day, and Challenge-wise, it wasn’t too great. Hubs had food brought in at work for breakfast/lunch (with major special events they usually feed their people because time to get food (and logistics) makes it pretty impossible to eat otherwise. Son had a bowl of cereal and some bacon at 5am, then grabbed Shake Shack downtown after the inauguration (he was with adult friends of ours, phew!). He relayed an awesome story- They ate on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery and were approached by a woman who was there to protest (peacefully – not one of those who was there to cause trouble). She kindly asked why they were trump supporters. My son responded kindly and apparently a beautiful conversation ensued – my son said it was the neatest experience he’s had in a while (well, except for attending, etc). Even the guard at the museum commented after to them, saying he was so impressed by the civil and kind and enlightening exchange between people with opposing views. Needless to say, super proud mama moment.

    I ate that donut for breakfast and made myself nachos for lunch(comfort food kind of day). Neither my son nor I had dinner because we were way too tired. Hubs ate the random bits of leftovers (1/2 piece of salmon and a few bites of rice/1 thin pork chop and a few bites of couscous & veggies/salad- let me tell you the servings were small!). Then we all crashed.

    We need a new refrigerator, badly, so I’ll be challenging and not replacing much except true perishables(milk/OJ/produce), until we get that new fridge. Using up the condiments and as much of the freezer as I can. It would be nice to not have much to put in coolers when the new fridge gets arranged – hopefully in the next few weeks. 🙂

    • That’s really cool about your son yesterday. Listening and genuine exchange of ideas has been something we’ve not seen enough of these days. Good for him!

    • Yay for civility! 🙂

    • Great story, if we could just get more people on board with civil exchange when ideals are different. Somewhere we’ve lost the concept that you don’t have to hate a person just because they have a different viewpoint.
      You should be very proud!

      Melissa in GA

    • How nice that he was able to have a reasonable conversation with someone of an opposing viewpoint. I think having one’s opinions challenged in a considerate and civil way helps one be able to see the other person’s views and be more understanding even if your own stance does not change. It’s so much more beneficial than just hating on someone and calling them nasty names just because they do not agree with you.

  15. Kathy in Denmark says:

    I’m under the weather again, and since I am the only one who cooks in our house, the meals are simple right now!

    My not feeling well is also the reason for my posting being sporadic at best.

    Day 20:

    B: Oats and milk for DH. Kids and I ate breakfast at DD1’s kindergarten. They invite parents and siblings to come for breakfast every friday 🙂
    L: DH skips lunch on fridays. Packed lunch for DD1. Rye bread for DD2. Leftover beef stew with the last of the mashed potatoes for me.
    D: Rye bread with leftover fish fillets for the girls. Scrambled eggs and toast for DH and me after the kids were in bed. (I was exhausted, so this was the best I could do)
    S: Danish apple cake with whipped cream. Fruit.

  16. Challenge is going good but wish I had never purchased so much. I love sales and from the looks of my kitchen I think they might never come again so I way over buy. That’s what I’d like to work on this year! I know sales come in cycles so I need to just purchase to keep me in stuff until close to the next one.
    B. egg & 1/2 bagel with cream cheese
    L. l/o ham and mac and cheese, l/o peas for 1, l/o salad for 2, l/o fruit salad
    D. l/o pizza and cookies (frrezer cookie dough from after Christmas sale. Cost $ 1.00 for a large tube. Bought 3.) Only reason I didn’t buy 10 was my sister had found the sale and picked up 3 thinking I would want them. Maybe she should shop for me!

  17. Cleaned out 3/4 of our spare refrigerator (completely wiped it all down, etc). Mostly drinks and extra dairy, eggs, etc. A few condiments in there that need to move into the primary fridge and be used up. I’ll finish it up in a day or two, when I clean out our primary fridge. My pantry still looks good, especially the snack area. The kids have done a good job keeping it neat and not opening multiple bags/boxes of things at a time.

    Meals included leftovers and stirfry vegetables from the freezer. The veg was certainly better fresh the first time, so I won’t freeze them again, but it was worth a try and I’m glad it’s gone now. Tonight is spaghetti and meatballs from the freezer.

    Hubby leaves tomorrow for almost 2 weeks on business, so I need to work out a meal plan/list for the kids and I. It’s a good opportunity for snacky meals and eating up leftover and freezer items, since they don’t care if everyone is eating something different. I need to look through the freezers for snack items to add to the list, too. It’s so nice to have some space in the freezer so that most of the items are sorted and visible.

  18. Haven’t posted much, as we were traveling yesterday to see my parents in MS. We are the coast and are away from the tornado damage in Hattiesburg. Storms here and back at home, but we are safe and sound – just water logged.
    I did visit Whole Foods in Orlando and went to the military commissary with my dad today – so I have bought some things on my trip that I will need to add to my spending total for the month. But I got some great pantry items and good deals.
    Reading everyone’s posts is making me want to get back on the PC wagon when I get back home!
    It was my dad’s 80th birthday today, so we had a great seafood meal at a favorite neighborhood place tonight – good times.

    Melissa in GA

  19. Scalloped potato for dinner
    Sandwich lunch

  20. Fri 1/20
    B – Sausage pancake muffins
    L – chili
    D – pork chops

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