Pantry Challenge 2017-8

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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.


You may notice a slight change in my PC meals from here on out. I’m making some modifications to what I eat, separate from the family.

I’ve been bothered by how much weight I’ve gained over the last year and a half, we won’t even go into what I gained over the five years previous. It was bothering me, but it wasn’t until I was looking at our pictures from our trip to London/Paris/SW France — before I lost the six pounds — and I was astounded at how different I look.Like seriously. I’ve made a few half-hearted attempts at reducing my portions, etc, but I think it’s time to get serious. I don’t like how things are trending.

So, I’m going to be loosely following a program a family doctor recommended which means I’m basically cutting down carbs for myself and avoiding sugar. I don’t want to put a crimp in our Pantry Challenge by buying a lot of fancy foods, so I’ll just be modifying what I have from what the family eats.

That said, I’ve uncovered the top layer of the deep freeze. My guess is we will run out of meat before we run out of grains, but we’ll see. I still have some bagged grains from last winter. Oops.

I didn’t get around to making the Vegetable Bolognese with Eggplant yet, but that’s my plan for tomorrow. I did open a ginormous can of refried beans. It made burritos for everyone and then about 4 to 5 cups of it went into the freezer for another meal.

I made lunches for my husband and I to last through Thursday as well. I roasted some broccoli, green beans, and cauliflower, sauteed chicken with Cajun Spice Blend, and cooked up Spaghetti Squash.

For dinner we had tacos. The girls and I made Homemade Corn Tortillas which is always fun. A bit time-consuming, but always a hit.

Pantry Challenge Meals, Day 8

Breakfast: Oatmeal bar for the family; leftover roast broccoli and a fried egg for me.

Lunch: Bean and Cheese Burritos for the fam; Bean bowl with Fajita Vegetables for me.

Dinner: Chicken Street Tacos; Chicken Taco Salad for me.

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  1. Charyse H says:

    I’m low on veggies but an ice/snowstorm has kept us housebound this weekend. Tomorrow should be just wet and I can get more greens, cuties, onions, and salsa.

    Breakfast: Eggs with bell peppers and salsa and cuties on the side
    Lunch: Odds and ends of five different meals/snacks
    Dinner: Bean and cheese burritos with leftover birthday cheesecake for dessert

  2. Sun 1/8
    B – ham, eggs, cranberry walnut bread
    L – I had a couple potstickers and a Larabar, he had pizza
    D – butternut squash ravioli with crumbled bacon slices (thank you Patricia for the idea), Caesar salad with grape tomatoes
    S – I had ginger cookies, he had cinnamon coffeecake for dessert

  3. B – frozen breakfast sandwiches, cantaloupe

    L – we were planning to go out to eat after church, but DS got a playdate invite; DS had pizza at his friend’s house, I was busy and just had some strawberries and a handful of peanuts

    D (early) – out to eat

    I am trying a recipe for pumpkin pie baked oatmeal right now, to have for breakfasts this week. It’s from the budgetbytes blog, with a couple of tweaks based on what I had. Excited that I used up 2 containers of pumpkin puree from the freezer! 🙂

    I love that the PC makes me think to plan ahead and make recipes that use what I stashed in the freezer back during fall harvest. I always have such great intentions in September and October, freezing lots of veggies from our garden. But I sometimes have trouble with follow-through, to actually use them up before spring rolls around!

  4. Well, the hubs begged for a trip to the store for Pepsi. He’s a bit dependent!! I enjoy it, but I’m ok with Diet. He tries, but really, the man just needs an IV drip of the stuff and he’d be a happy camper!

    We picked up salsa (yet another must-have in this house,) margarine, a small pack of chicken hot dogs on sale for $.99 and 4 pounds of ground beef/pork mix that was dirt cheap (less than $2.00/pound, which where we live is like giving it away.) So we spent some $$ today, but my total so far from January 1 is just under $40.

    Breakfast/Lunch (10:45am): Egg, ham and cheese wraps for the hubs, left over pasta for me. I also had the last 2 biscuits around 6am, with a cup of coffee.

    Skipped lunch because we were still full from the late breakfast.

    Dinner: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli and honey mustard carrots. Dessert was the last of the blueberry pie and a few chocolates.

  5. Sunday Jan 8
    I was gone until dinner time today–I babysat my grandkids. We had pancakes for breakfast and goulash and apples for lunch
    Before I left I put marinated chicken breasts and legs in the crockpot and the guys are that with leftover potatoes and broccoli from last night. I have some leftover taco soup when I got home.

    • Stephanie P says:

      I hope you had fun with the grandkids! My mother in law (and father in law) takes my kids after church for a few hours and it’s a great time for me to get cooking done, or go in to work for a few hours to catch up. OR on a great day – maybe a nap 🙂

      • I do enjoy the time I get to spend with my grandchildren!! The two I watched yesterday are 5 year old boy and 15 month old girl. We read slot of books and played in a tent and played ball. While the baby napped it was Leggos time.

        I also have an 11 year old grandson and he likes trains and Leggos so when those two get together it’s pretty easy to keep then occupied!

        How many children do you have?

        • Stephanie P says:

          They are very similar ages to my two! I have a six year old boy and a 16 month old girl. The girl is at an exhausting age – I am always run. And she is into everything. She definitely ate her fair share of dog food this weekend!

  6. It was an unusual Sunday, 2 little ones were away at a sleepover, I had to leave the house for some volunteer work early in the morning and was gone through the afternoon. Not much cooking today, mostly “fend for your self” for hubby and 15 year old, while I was out.

    B- leftovers/cereal for them, coffee, apples, cheese/crackers green juice for me
    L- leftovers for them
    D- Barbacoa beef mexican bowls/salad
    Snack- green juices

    Using up the last of our avocados, one more to go… there is nothing like “free” avocados here, given that one haas avocado in the store is really never cheaper than $1.50 – $2 each. The avocados from my mother in law are 4-5x larger and really creamy, so we are always excited when she has some on her tree.

    Looking forward to seeing how we are able to stick to our meal plan this week. I have my hubbys and daughters birthdays coming up Thursday and Friday and trying to really minimize purchasing food, but rather shopping our pantry/freezer to create good birthday dinners.

  7. For breakfast I made a Dutch baby in my cast iron fry pan from the America Test Kitchen recipe. It was very impressive when it came out-a good five inches up from the top of the pan.

    Lunch-corndogs (only four left!) applesauce

    Dinner-ham cooked in the crockpot, scalloped potatoes and green beans. We have tons of ham left so I have ham/potato chowder, ham salad, and split pea soup coming up.

  8. Laurie in CA says:

    I stopped by Sprouts today and spent $15 on fruit/veg and large flour tortillas. The organic Fuji apples for .98 a lb are delicious! I’ll probably stop by this Wednesday when it is double ad day and pick up some more.
    B – I had ½ an avocado on toast topped with a fried egg Hubs had another Mimi’s muffin and some almonds
    L – I had the last cup of Senate Bean Soup and a banana. Hubs had a fried egg sandwich
    S – Fuji apple and Christmas cookies
    D – Baked potato for hubs, baked sweet potato for me, pan fried salmon, garlic green beans and French bread

  9. Hi I’m having a bit of porridge each morning on a work week day. Today’s lunch is left over sweet potato, just a quarter, half a tin of sweetcorn and quarter of an avacado. I must avoid office snacks. Supper is tofu on beansprouts with mushrooms. Carb low day and no meat. Let’s see how that goes. Still I enjoyed my low fat sloppy joe yesterday.

  10. Stephanie M. says:


    B – Hubby had French toast that I made yesterday out of plain Italian bread that I had in the freezer and thickly sliced on the bias; he wants it that way from now on – win! I skipped breakfast

    L – We had the last of the home made mini pizza bagels from the freezer leftover from Christmas Eve appetizers

    D – We had leftover stew

  11. B: While we had overnight guests, they decided to get up and leave early to beat traffic. Therefore, they wanted just a quick breakfast—bagels, cream cheese, fruit and coffee.
    L: Homemade egg McMuffins, apples slices, blueberries, grapefruit halves
    D: Crockpot Café Rio chicken, spiced rice, and pineapple spears. The chicken recipe I found online years ago. I understand it is a copy cat recipe from Café Rio, a Mexican restaurant chain, which we do not have around these parts. We have enough leftover chicken to make chicken tortilla soup later this week. I thought I had made enough rice to have leftovers for fried rice, but apparently everyone was hungry — less than a 1/2 cup left.

    • Tiffany R says:

      I googled Cafe Rio chicken and made it for my family tonight. They LOVED it! Normally my chicken tacos in the crockpot are too dry but this was juicy and very flavorful. There were NO leftovers!! Thank you!

      • Tiffany, I am so glad you enjoyed the chicken. If you make it again, you can make a really good side dish using 1/2 cup of the juice in the slow cooker. Open a can of black beans and drain. Mash 1/2 the beans with the 1/2 cup of juice from the slow cooker and add it to the remaining beans and heat through on the stove top or in the microwave for a homemade version of re-fried black beans — very flavorful and no added fat. I particularly like the beans and chicken together on a warm flour tortilla.

    • I had never heard of Cafe Rio either but found the recipe and copied it for later on. Guess we don’t have in in our area (central KS). It sounds delish!

  12. Sunday-
    B- fend for yourself mix of cereal and pop tarts
    l- last of leftovers eaten along with buffalo chicken dip, veggie dippers and corn chips!
    D- Inlaws came over and I made homemade pizza with homemade alfredo, broccoli, cauliflower and diced chicken.
    My daughter saw I had a gallon bag of sliced apples in the freezer and she grabbed a box of pie crust rolls at the store on Saturday.. So she made a spiced apple pie for dessert- opening up some freezer space!!!

    All in all a productive weekend! This morning(Monday) I was able to pull all the deep freeze remainders out and fit into the upstairs freezer. So Deep freeze is turned off and door is opened. It is not very icy so it should defrost fairly quickly and then I can wipe it down and start watching for deals!

  13. Kathy in Denmark says:

    Sunday, day 8!

    B: Toast/rye bread, softboiled eggs, jams and cheese 🙂 Coffee for the adults.
    L: Rye bread with different cold cuts, cream cheese, boiled egg. Veggies on the side.
    Dinner: Oatmeal topped with HM apple sauce and a knob of butter for the girls. Burgers with oven baked potato wedges for the adults.
    S: Fruit, christmas cookies.

    I spent some time organizing yesterday afternoon and therefore didn’t get dinner started at a decent hour. Since we had a late lunch, DH and I decided to feed the girls first and then eat later. It is something we do every now and then, since we never go out on dates on our own. This way, we can still have a nice meal and get to eat it in peace and quiet 🙂

    I went to the grocery store today, because we needed some essentials and one store had 25% discount on their own organic line of products. Since we eat mostly organic, I couldn’t pass this up. At the store, I was in organic produce heaven LOL. The produce looked great and I stocked up on some things. I also bought some clearence items which I know we will use, because they were below my target price and I really couldn’t justify not buying them, PC or not. I feel like I have spent more money than usual during a PC, especially since we are just a week in. I find it hard to balance the PC against really good deals which I know will not come around for a very long time! However, I have tallied up my spending and will keep a close watch on it to make sure I stay under the amount I wish to spend. At least I now have a lot of great ingredients for meals for the rest of the month 🙂

    • There’s a difference between regular sale rotation and one-off special sales. We do still have to be good stewards of our resources, after all. I figure if you find things like that and actually think about it rather than just immediately impulse-purchasing, then PC or not, they can be wise choices.

      Question about the burgers for dinner: isn’t your hubs a vegetarian? or am I remembering wrong?

      • Kathy in Denmark says:

        These were one-off specials, not something I see regularly on sale. I also don’t think we have the six week sales cykle in Denmark. I can’t count on things to come back on sale in six weeks, but I know that some things do go on sale regularly…

        Yes, DH is a vegetarian. I made his burger with a vegetarian patty and mine with one made with beef 🙂

    • Stephanie P says:

      I struggle with the pantry challenge vs deals as well. In my head I know I want to just buy a week at a time. But it is HARD to pass up deals when food is so stinking expensive!

      I also like to eat after my kids/family. I typically don’t, b/c they are very young, and I know dinner together is important. But restful and relaxing it is not….

      • Kathy in Denmark says:

        We also eat most meals with our kids, but sometimes it is best for everyone to get them fed and to bed. If my kids are exhausted, they don’t eat anything at all, so I try to feed them something quick yet nourishing. Luckily the love porridge and snack style meals, so that is what I feed them on these occasions.

        Food IS expensive, so I always look for the best deal. I often think that people who shop from week to week must wonder about the things I buy, since I stock up when prices are low. I have had some comments every once in a while, but I just tell myself that I am saving money and they are not 🙂

  14. Danielle L Zecher says:

    Breakfast: Leftover Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal.

    Lunch: Leftover Cheese Tetrazinni

    Dinner: Turkey & Stuffing Casserole, collard greens, and the last two slices of beer bread. It was a perfect PC dinner. I used some shredded turkey from the freezer as well as using up some things from the pantry for the casserole.

    Dessert: apple dump cake.

    Pretty much a straight up comfort food day since it has been so cold here.

  15. Sunday 1/8

    Breakfast – Bacon, fried eggs, toast

    Lunch – Snackie lunch to use up some of the little bits of cheeses, pepperoni and crackers

    Dinner – Baked cod, baked potato casserole, broccoli

  16. Stephanie P says:

    So it will become obvious that weekends are not as planned as the rest of the week for us. It’s my time to sometimes relax for a hot second and not have something planned every minute.

    Sundays are church days for us, so we never sit down to a nice breakfast like we might on a Saturday, and my husband always eats leftover (from Pizza “Fridays”) pizza for dinner. So we work around that. Once a month we do a family dinner with my entire family (mom, dad, sisters, brother in law, niece), but otherwise it’s laid back.

    This Sunday I had to be there at 7:30 and the rest of the family at 8:15, so we were scattered. I also had to spend money on junk that didn’t make me happy b/c I had forgotten it was my week to help bring food to eat. Methodists come to church to eat I think 😉

    Toddler (1 1/2 almost): 2 eggs, raisins (I told you she eats like a teenage boy, yet is still 3rd % for weight, so the Dr. said let her go).
    Son(6): He convinced my husband to let him have a poptart after I left the house
    Husband: Guessing he had the other poptart?
    Me: Latte I grabbed on my way to church

    Kids – I have no idea – they were at my inlaws house
    Husband – ?
    Me – I briefly went to work after church and then back for a meeting, so I finished my latte for lunch

    Husband – Pizza
    Kids – They always eat at my inlaws before coming home
    Me – Pasta with leftover chicken and green beans
    Snack – Popcorn

  17. Jessica, I feel your pain on the weight issue. I spent most of last year struggling to lose 21.5 pounds. I had my first weigh in of the year this morning and I gained 3lbs over the holidays – back to work for me! I have found that as we age ( 40+) it’s harder to lose and we lose differently than we did when we were younger. I am looking to lose those 3 lbs and 20 more this year. A never ending battle it seems.

    Day 8
    B – cheese grits, bacon & fruit
    L – hubs had a LO slice of pizza & LO Toscana soup, I had a LO slice of pizza & a Italian salad
    This took care of the LO pizza and soup
    D – beef stroganoff w/noodles & greenbeans
    S – hubs had his last little pie w/ice cream, popcorn & chocolates
    Dessert – cookies

    Continuing to rotate some canned goods, some of which is part of our emergency food supply.
    I also wanted to add that finding awesome deals during PC is hard to resist and you should go for it if it saves you money in the long run.
    And to the person w/ LO pepper jelly: you can make a sauce for meatballs with it or add to baked chicken or pork for a sweet hot glaze.

    Melissa in GA

  18. Jessica, I really appreciate your response to me yesterday. It encourages me to keep doing the PC instead of feeling defeat. Thank you! We are a retired couple and I like to cook in bulk and then eat leftovers for several days. That is what we did yesterday, yet again.

  19. tastycook says:

    B – Fruit and yogurt, coffeecake for hubby coffeecake and banana for me

    L – we split a toasted cheese sandwich at the curling club while we worked the bar. Hubby had a banana and I added a cranberry lemon muffin

    S – Haddock, cauliflower potato cakes and peas. Yogurt for hubby and cheese and crackers for me

  20. tastycook says:

    It is great to see so many people taking part this year. Wow!!!

    I must say that I totally agree that a super bargain is not to be missed (if the funds are available to purchase) and I know that I will be going back to the store one day this week to pick up some super sales – TP and haddock to name just 2.

  21. Jen in IN says:

    B: husband had granola, kids had cereal, I had an apple oatmeal muffin. (made a batch on Saturday)

    L: leftover pizza
    My youngest made himself a couple eggs and a toasted pita.

    D: I took the leftover Mexican food and made sheet pan nachos. The leftovers were a combo of eggs with pico, half a carne asada burrito, refried beans, some rice and some chilaquiles. I heated it all up together, put it on top of tortilla chips, and topped with cheese, avocado, sour cream, and hot sauce. It was quite tasty!

    S: ice cream w/homemade chocolate syrup

    I made up a batch of mini frittatas for lunchboxes. I had some sad looking baby spinach that needed to be used, along with a little sausage.

  22. HH will be out of town on business all week. I struggle to cook dinner when he isn’t home. The girls and I often end up at Subway. I am determined not to do that this week, even if it means super simple, quick meals every night.

    Brunch: Waffles and sausage
    Dinner: Roasted potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and keilbasa

    • It can be hard when the hubs is gone…mine is away some this week as well. I have soup, pasta, and breakfast-for-dinner planned so that I know it’s easy and a sure win with both kids. We also like to eat snacky dinners when he’s gone…minimal dishes and something everyone likes. Also uses up odds and ends!

  23. I agree that you shouldn’t feel badly about spending money during a PC if it will save you a bunch of money in the long run. We all have to feed our families the best we can and have to take advantage of super sales when we can!!

  24. Sunday was a weird day, work up MUCH later than I had anticipated, which threw off most of the day.
    B-LO sautéed veggeis with crispy baked tofu and peanut sauce (since I didn’t eat breakfast until pretty much lunchtime I just wanted something quick)
    Snack-Chips and vegan sour cream and LO pico de gallo (man can I not finish that stuff)
    Second Snack-Tofurky “ham” and cheese toasty
    Dinner-Vegan crabless crab cakes over salad with baked potato wedges

    Since I was working on school work all day Sunday I mostly snacked until we had a very late dinner. I did have to make a store trip (ugh) to fill a couple of holes in my dinner recipe. But I am committing to not going to the store for the rest of the week. I am going to Seattle for the weekend on Thursday night so I just need to work with what we have. I have finished a lot of produce, but haven’t made much of a dent in either the pantry or freezer, really been cutting back our grains/carbs. Need to work on that this week.

  25. I agree about to good to pass up deals they are so important to low cost eating. But I also understand feeling a bit guilty .about a week and a half ago I was at Walmart and they clearanced all their shelled Christmas nuts. 8oz bags were a dollar and 20 oz bag 3 dollars . We use a lot of nuts so pecans,mixed nuts ,walnuts ,almonds ,Brazil nuts and cashews for 2 dollars a pound can’t be passed by. Sometimes our Walmart get really insane with markdowns.carts of good stuff for a dollar.might be part of my over flowing pantry problem.hubby and I are so blessed and it lets me share with my kids. My youngest just gave us anew grandson (on my bday dec28) so I really have tried to stock her and her husbands pantry to. Sorry to ramble on.
    Monday meals b cereal,juice banana bread for hubby egg biscuit for me
    L. Beef tips over mashed potatoes carrots cookie pie(hubby)
    D chili nachos. My first goal is to get my fridge freezer empty I don’t think I’ve seen the back of it for years lol.

    • Do not feel one bit guilty about buying nuts for $2 a pound. That is an amazing price! Cashews were over six dollars a pound here at Christmas.
      Congratulations on your new grandson! Our youngest is due to deliver our new granddaughter sometime in the next two weeks. I have been making some freezer meals for them and doing pantry challenge at the same time.

  26. I cooked up a bunch of veggies on Friday to add to our subs. Saturday we had them on bacon sandwiches for brunch. Had it again with dinner and then yesterday I tossed them with sausage and pepperoni to top left over Texas garlic bread as mini pizza’s. This morning I added them to the scrambled eggs and tonight I will finish them off in enchiladas…Hubby says that’s why we don’t do menu’s… I keep adding to the leftovers and provide us with one more meal LOL

  27. Sue Diamond says:

    Jan 8

    B – Bacon, egg and mushrooms then toast and hubby’s hm marmalade (we were starving as we ran/cycled before breakfast!!)
    L – Cheese, lettuce and chutney s/w
    D – Sausage casserole from the freezer (in an enormous pot so left a nice space!), tin of creamed rice plus tinned pears
    S – Hm flapjack

    I’m making good progress emptying the freezer but need to concentrate more on the cupboards. I too need to do some more baking!

  28. I still feel like I am not making a dent in the freezer or pantry. I guess that shows just how much food we have which is a bit silly for a family of 2. Here is my latest pantry challenge post:

  29. It was an easy cooking day for me. Saturday I made 2 pans of an overnight egg casserole to bake while we were at church. Our furnace broke at church so it was only 40 degrees during Mass. When we came home I made a pan full of homemade cocoa to warm us up. Everything else was quick to throw together so it was an easy brunch.
    B-dry cereal or toast quick before church
    L-brunch after church; egg casserole, hash browns from the freezer, hot cocoa and leftover apple pie
    D-leftovers, relishes, grapefruit or apples
    S-misc. crackers and candy left from Christmas

  30. Sunday we were still snowed in.
    Breakfast – biscuits with sausage
    Lunch – oven baked chicken, zucchini with onions, and Spanish rice
    Supper – sandwiches and salads

    I made a lemon cake and hubs glazed it with a lemon glaze. Our son is on a high calorie diet. It will serve him well for a treat in his lunch box this week.

  31. Your salad looks delicious!

    Monday 1/9/17

    B: The usual (w/ blueberries for Hubs and me; Son isn’t keen on frozen berries in his cereal).

    L: Packed for the guys (PB/PumpkinButter sands, yogurt w/ compote and granola, apple slices, trail mix, string cheese, water). Homemade guacamole on multigrain Wasa crackers and hot tea for me. (We’ve got avocados and limes that need to be used up ASAP.)

    D: Turkey and Black Bean Enchiladas (Jessica’s recipe. It’s a real hit in our home.) Used filling I’d stashed in the freezer the last time I made these. Also sliced up the last of a couple of jars of olives (black and Spanish) and sprinkled them on top before heating through. Yay–two containers gone from the fridge. Topped them off w/ sour cream, salsa, and more HM guacamole. Served mixed veggies and tossed green salad on the side. Milk, water, and hot tea.

    S/D: We may have banana bread if the guys are hungry after Scouts tonight.

  32. Hi all. It is so inspiring to see so much creativity!

    Today I made broccoli cauliflower potato soup with zucchini carrot yeast rolls and a big salad. It was delicious and enjoyed by all. I only added 1/3c or so of cream in the batch and it was so creamy. A little cheese is all it needed. Tastes so indulgentbut it was really pretty healthy. I think the secret is blending some of the potatoes and cauliflower. Fools the palate. My 16 year old said it was Better than Paneras broccoli cheese soup. I’ll take that.
    There is enough left for 2 small dinner servings or maybe 3 lunches. Yay!
    I wanted to make a dessert today but with 3 kiddos, the farm and being 25 weeks pregnant with number 4, I was too tired. Tomorrow is a new day.

  33. I am right there with you on the weight issue. I’ve been waiting for our treadmill to be fixed for the last 10 days (hopefully in a day or two), but I decided a couple of days ago that my food intake really needs a bit of an overhaul. My plan is similar to yours, at least to start…limit carbs, sugar, etc and watch my portions. I find that if I increase veggies and other good stuff, it’s much easier for me to limit the bad stuff.

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