Pantry Challenge 2017-4

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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.


Sorry for the delay in getting Wednesday’s meal up. We had our weekly date night and by the time we got home, I was just too tired to sit at the computer.

Yes, we still do date night during a pantry challenge. Years ago, I felt guilty about that. Like, shouldn’t we be saving money and eating at home? But, I made peace with it. The Pantry Challenge is about stewardship, not deprivation. And spending focused time with my husband without the kids is good stewardship of our marriage. 😉

Here’s what we ate:

Pantry Challenge Meals, Day 4

Breakfast: Breakfast Bar of fruit, banana bread, and granola

Lunch: I had the Spinach and Chicken Salad pictured above. We had filmed it the night before. Kids had leftovers and sandwiches.

Dinner: Date night for the parents. Lawnmower Taco and cuties for the kids.

How is YOUR challenge going?

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  1. B: yogurt oats for me
    cereal for the kids
    granola for the husband

    L: make your own quesadillas
    I made mine with leftover ribeye, mozzarella, blue cheese, and pickled jalapenos
    Oldest had a cheese quesadilla, youngest had pb and pear
    Orange slices
    Husband had lunch provided at work

    D: Chorizo Sweet Potato Chili w/cheese and sour cream
    Skillet Cornbread w/butter

    S: hot cocoa (last day of break for the kids and they spent most of the afternoon outside, even though it was below 20!)

  2. Wed 1/4
    B – cinnamon coffee cake
    L – Chipotle-style burrito bowl for me, L/O seafood soup and some cheese for him
    D – burrito bowl for him, I had L/O ham, grilled veggies, and cottage cheese with sliced beets.
    It was a weird day since he stayed up incredibly late last night and I got up pretty early so our times were wildly off. He got up for breakfast just before I made my lunch, then I had to go out to work (was working from home in morning) so he did not want that kind of food just then. A couple hours later he ate his lunch, then at dinner he used up the leftovers from my lunch and I made my own concoction for dinner. I chose sides I like that he does not. Win for both of us.
    Dessert – Christmas chocolates

  3. Stephanie M. says:


    B – Hubby had cereal; I had home made pancakes from the freezer

    L – Hubby had a roast beef and provolone sandwich using up the last of the roast beef and provolone; I skipped lunch – too busy cleaning the house this week

    D – Fish tacos and rice and beans; there is enough fish in the freezer to make these again tomorrow night and just enough leftover cabbage and cheddar cheese and because I will be busy cleaning some more tomorrow and won’t have too much time to cook, this is a good solution and a good way to use up the cabbage and the cheddar cheese

  4. We’ve been off to a slow/rocky start, but yesterday ended well. We both skipped breakfast, and ate lunch out.

    Some redemption came at dinner time. I made a big pot of potato soup, and a loaf of beer bread. I also made a tomato quiche for breakfasts for the rest of the week.

    While everything I was cooking I worked on cleaning out the fridge. Between the holidays, going out of town, and being sick for almost a week it was in really bad shape. I threw away the stuff that needed to be tossed (further proof that we need to do this challenge!) and moved the things that need to be used soon to the front. I now have a plan for the next few days based on what needs to be used soon.

  5. B – egg and 1/2 bagel with cream cheese. I have enough bagels for 8 more days.
    L – Jessica’s red sauce with spaghetti and meat balls. Still have a few meatballs left to use another day. Only made a small recipe of the red sauce since the freezer is so full. I really like that recipe! Also had some french garlic bread. Enough of that left for another day too.
    D – Grilled sandwiches with L/O pasta salad and L/O fruit salad (both are now totally gone) also ate the last slices of our Christmas cheesecake. Hate to see it gone. It was such a good bargain and good taste. I got it for $ 5.00 with a coupon. Kinda wish I had had two coupons. These freeze well.
    Think that today I will start to inventory just one cupboard. It shouldn’t be too overwhelming that way. Going to start with the fullest one as I have no idea what is in the back of it. Will then come up with a couple of menu ideas incorporating those forgotten things.

  6. Jan 4
    Breakfast–Husband had his eggs and whatever he put in it. I had peanut butter toast.
    Lunch–hubs at work ?. I wasn’t hungry. The boys have leftover egg bake in tortillas, chips and salsa and applesauce.
    Dinner was a taco rice bake with shredded zucchini and corn in it.
    Snacks were Christmas cookies and some ice cream sandwiches I found buried in the freezer.

    I made chicken stock from some bones in the freezer so I am off to get that put away in peanut butter jars and rearrange the freezer above the fridge since there is white space in there!
    I am glad you were able to have a date night!

    • Yay to homemade chicken stock! I squirreled away a lot of that in the fall, so we’ll be having soup often this month.

      • We used all the chicken stock in Nov & Dec when I was working slot of extremely hours for the Xmas season. Our Christmas celebration for 30 people was soups and sandwiches and we were in charge of broccoli cheese soup and that took slot.
        I also use it in white sauce and slot of other recipes.

  7. Wednesday 1/4

    Breakfast – Oatmeal

    Lunch – Finished off the hot dogs from NYE

    Dinner – Finished off the pork roast, mashed potatoes and corn from NYD

  8. Breakfast-1/2 of a sandwich thin w/avocado
    Morning Snack-Chocolate Chip Larabar
    Lunch-Leftover Asian noodle salad and Kettle Chips-Dill flavor
    Dinner-Roasted balsamic Brussels sprouts and broccoli over golden beet noodles w/hummus dressing

    Dinner allowed me to finish off the Brussels sprouts and golden beets from my last CSA box, just in time for todays delivery. 🙂

  9. Breakfast: potatoes, eggs, boiled grapefruit with honey
    Lunch: leftover stuffed pumpkins
    Supper: sausages, sweet potatoes, potato chips (I had a headache, so we went with simple)

  10. Wednesday

    B – a cup of English breakfast tea for me and cold cereal and milk for all of us

    S – I had another cup of tea. The kids had various individual bags of snacks. I homeschool, so I keep a bin full of snacks that I’ve individually portioned out. Then when the kids want a snack, they can just grab one from the bin.

    L – various leftovers: lentil soup, cornbread, egg salad sandwiches, Alfredo noodles and veg. I had a green salad made with lettuce, beans, leftover chicken, cucumber, and for the dressing I thinned down leftover vegetable dip.

    S – My kids never stop eating, lol! They had Popsicles for a late afternoon snack, which is helpful since my goal for the challenge is to empty the freezer. I had tea and vanilla Greek yogurt after my workout.

    D – haystacks: leftover chilli over tortilla chips with toppings of choice. I put out bowls of lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream and black olives.

    I’m starting to get over my cold, yay!

  11. I just came across this today and I’m very excited about joining in. I actually made the decision yesterday that I need to do something like this. My husband , who is a pastor, called me yesterday morning to ask me to go through the pantry and gather up a box of food . He told me that a man who attended our church several years ago had contacted him asking for a warm place to sleep and some food to eat. My husband told me this man had been sleeping behind a grocery store in town and had not eaten in three days so the church was going to put him in a motel for a few days. Long story short, when I started going through my pantry and freezers I began to feel so guilty about the ridiculous amount of food we have and every Friday evening like clockwork I still head to Walmart to buy more without thinking about what we really need and don’t need. I gathered up several bags of food for this man and made a loaf of fresh bread for him. We picked him up and took him out to eat with us then to church. After church I told my husband that I was going to start cooking our meals using the food we already have and I would only be buying our milk and fresh produce until I used all of the food we already have. So that is what I’m doing starting today… And I’m very humbled and thankful that God gave me such a blessing in being able to help this man and I know this will be a wonderful lesson for my whole family.

  12. Ours is going good. Tonight is beef and homemade noodles from the pantry along with mashed potatoes and jack be littles pumpkins baked for the side. Tomorrow we decided on baked beans and smoked sausage and corn bread and the weekend will be left overs or eggs….
    Hubby wanted to stop at Sam’s club as there is a few things on that list while we were in the area tomorrow and I veto it. One I don’t want to spend the money this month and the second I could see candy being on sale next month to replace what I will be using to finish the Christmas candy and cookies that I didn’t get done last month that I promised to deliver at the end of this month….

    • That is willpower to veto Sam’s Club! I have a short list for Costco and can’t decide if I should go or send my husband. They are dairy/produce items that I know will be dirt cheap there.

  13. I’m jealous of the date night Jessica! We try for once a week, but it’s usually more like once a month til we fit everything in. It was a hectic busy day here. I had to leave to go with middle daughter to a fair queen competition out of town. Before I left, I hard boiled eggs, made ham and cheese sandwiches with a mustard sauce and wrapped them in foil to go in the crockpot, cleaned relishes and fruit so that everyone at home eats well while we’re gone.
    B-meat grits or eggs with homemade bread, grapefruit or oranges
    L-leftover pizza and tacos for hubby with salad, salad with chicken for me
    D- ham sandwiches, relishes and dip, apples and leftover Christmas cookies for those at home. Daughter and I shared a plate of pulled pork nachos at a restaurant near the hotel.

  14. Not much to report here…Yesterday we ate well:)
    B- smoothie for the kids and I, fried egg sandwiches too
    S- random bits and pieces from the fridge
    L- LO spaghetti for the kids and LO taco salad for husband and I along with some fruit
    S- more snacking…popcorn and cherry tomatoes, muffins
    D- I made biscuits and corn chowder using broth and corn from the freezer along with some of the potatoes from the CSA. I brought a quart of the soup to my great aunt along with biscuits and cookies:) we still had a pint+ to freeze for another day. Some things come out of the freezer but then things go in to take up the space…

  15. tastycook says:


    B – granola
    L – tuna salads
    S – spaghetti bolognese for me. chicken parm with potatoes and broccoli for hubby

  16. Kristina- what a blessing you were to that gentleman! I hope he finds his situation improving soon!

    B- Yesterday I had 2 fried eggs and toast with my coffee, I made eggs, bacon and toast for the kids before school.
    L- I only packed 1 lunch today! She took PBJ, apple slices, some chips and a granola bar. The 2 boys decided to buy- I put X amount of $$ on their lunch accounts and they are responsible for hos it is used- lunches or snacks!
    I had a bowl of cheerios and a banana for lunch.. husband the predictable turkey sammie, ,veggies and hummus.
    D- tossed the frozen beef roast I had into the crock pot with a small can of tomato sauce and beef stock. I shredded that down and put 2/3 of it into a pan with a can of sliced carrots and some of the juice.. The other 1/3 I put into a soup pot with the remainder of the juices/stock, a pint of homemade tomato juice, a quart of frozen shredded zucchini from this summer harvest and a bag of frozen mixed veg. YUMMY!
    Beef and carrots was served with a pot of white rice, steamed broccoli and the last of my homemade potato bread!
    No one is going hungry!

  17. B: Bread, peanut butter, oranges
    L: Assorted leftovers
    D: Hamburgers, baked beans, green beans, raspberries

    Made our first trip to the grocery store today. I spent $12.58 on produce including bananas, lunchbox apples, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

  18. Laurie in CA says:

    Date nights are important! So happy to hear you and hubs are making it a priority Jessica. Besides the pantry challenge, I’m trying to do a minimal spend month (other than fixed bills). I took our entertainment budget down to $20 this month and told hubs we have that money and the two gift cards we have as our date night money. The weather here this month is cold and rainy so we’ll probably have money left over as we would rather stay home and eat homemade soup than go out.

    B – I had almond butter toast, hubs had eggs, sausage and toast (now we’re down to one egg)
    L – Hummus and pita chips for me (I was busy and didn’t want to take time to make lunch), French dip sandwich for hubs
    D – Chicken enchilada casserole (chicken from the freezer), steamed broccoli, French bread from the freezer
    S – Ice Cream my daughter brought me as a thank you for watching her little guy on my “week off”

  19. I am trying to make date nights a priority this year. Last year we barely had time for anything so even once a month will be an improvement. I did a bit of grocery shopping and have that along with the meals in my blog post:

  20. Day 4:
    B – Small grapefruit and strawberry nut bread for me/ yogurt and strawberry nut bread for hubs
    L – grilled cheese sandwiches and hubs also had 2 small pieces of leftover pizza
    S – salami, cheese and olives (finished off these items in the deli drawer)
    D – roast with potatoes and carrots
    dessert- hubs had one of his small pies w/ ice cream and I had ice cream w/ homemade mixed berry jam

    Last week hubs came across the Krispy Kreme display at Walmart and found blueberry and cherry pies – he put about 6 in our cart….maybe he was anticipating the PC, lol!

    Hubs had to drive to town so I checked the sale ad online for Harvey’s – he spent $23.87 on 4 small chuck roasts ($2.88/lb), strawberries ($1.88) and a 5lb bag of russet potatoes ($1.88).

    Melissa in GA

  21. After work, I came home to a wonderful surprise. My oldest daughter had made dinner-without being asked! Even though she hasn’t figured out we are doing a pantry challenge (yet), she made a few substitutions because it was too cold to walk to the grocery store.

    B: Hard boiled eggs, yogurt, bagels
    L: Leftover chicken lemon orzo soup
    D: Lasagna soup

  22. I am on a “spend as little as possible month” and only have bought dishwasher tablets so far. Rite Aid always has their BOGO sale the first week of January.

    Breakfast-eggs with spinach and feta I am very lucky to get fresh eggs from my daughter’s forty chickens.
    Lunch-turkey salad with crackers, orange slices, and three leftover strawberries
    Dinner-oven roasted brussel sprouts, carrots, and potatoes with honey dijon pork chops and applesauce

    I could eat roasted vegetables every single day of my life and be a happy woman.

  23. Our first day of the PC – which worked out well with the weather (negative temps – school was canceled!).

    B- yogurt, fruit, leftovers

    L – misc. frozen meals, DS had a ham and cheese toasted sandwich on a roll leftover from last night

    D – salmon from the freezer, homemade tomato basil soup from the freezer (made with our garden veggies back in the fall), leftover corn, leftover mushrooms, asparagus

    snacks – dill pickle popcorn (from Costco a while back – needs to be used up and DS loves it), clementines, leftover Christmas cookies

  24. Thurs. 1/5

    B: Cereal, toast w/ pumpkin butter, OJ, coffee

    L: Son had PB/pumpkin butter sandwich, yogurt parfait, string cheese, trail mix (packed for school). Hubs and I had the last of the split pea soup and half a grilled cheese sandwich, yogurt parfait (also finished the compote and granola), and Hubs also had cantaloupe.

    D: Ate out (Souplantation) as a family to celebrate good news from my oncologist. (Praise God!)

  25. Didn’t do so well on day 4 already :(. We didnt follow our meal plan at all….. It was just one of those days, where we ate out for lunch and stopped at the store for fresh fish for dinner. Hubby and I snuck in an excercise class and by the time we were done, ran out of time to cook dinner- so stopped at the store for poke. Our excercise class is partly marriage stewardship :).

    B- me- cheese, apples, coffee. Family had cereal.
    L- Me- ate out for lunch at work, hubby and kids had lunch with grandma.
    D- Poke bowls, poke salad for me.
    Snack- Buddha popcorn, green juice for me, leftover cookies/candy for the family

  26. Kathy in Denmark says:

    Day 4.

    B: Oats and milk for everyone. I even found time to eat breakfast with the kids before dropping off DD1 at kindergarten!
    L: Packed lunch for DH and DD1. Rye bread with creme cheese or leftover roast for DD2 and me. Veggies on the side.
    D: Pasta with lentil bolognaise and parmesan cheese.
    S: Rolls with butter, leftover pancakes, fruit.

    Side note: I either load the sauce with veggies or serve veggies on the side of our dinner. I always also serve veggies with lunch. Our girls drink milk with all meals.

    Kathy in Denmark

  27. Stephanie P says:

    Oh I missed seeing this!! I didn’t get an email I don’t think. Anyway, here was my day.

    B: 2 hard boiled eggs
    L: Mushroom barley soup, clementine and yogurt
    D: Lemon pepper chicken with green beans and a salad
    S: Popcorn I believe

  28. I only remember supper from 2 nights ago lol.
    We had smoked sausage, mashed potatoes and red cabbage with apples from Aldi. After I opened and heated up the jar, I looked at the servings. I think it was supposed to be condiment instead of a side, since a serving was 2 Tbs lol. Oh well, it was good!

  29. Breakfast: Me – couple of the aging biscuits, hubs, cereal and milk.

    Lunch: Me – ham and beans, biscuit, pickled egg, christmas orange, couple christm chocolates. Hubs: snacky lunch of crackers, cheese, meat, pickles, etc.

    Dinner: Chicken soft tacos ( we call them chicken tortillas) with all the trimmings. Used up 4 bags of pre cooked chicken from the freezer and now have left over taco meat to eat up.

    Managed to buy the veggies we needed with a Safeway gift card, so only ended up paying $2.25 for broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and 18 eggs. Not too bad!

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