Day 11, Pantry Challenge 2020

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This month’s Grocery Savings Challenge is to “eat down the pantry”. By eating up what’s on hand before buying more, I’m stewarding my resources well and saving money. At the same time, I learn how to be a better shopper and exercise my creativity in the kitchen.

breakfast table with berries tea and water

Oh happy day! My niece was born last night, so it was fun to wake up to the news that she’s arrived, safe and healthy. 

Her daddy, my youngest brother, is a cop and an officer in the California National Guard, so I spent the better part of the morning figuring out how to get coffee and pink donuts delivered to the hospital. LOL! I thought that was better than flowers.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Postmates, a delivery service I’d never tried, did a fantastic job. In fact, the driver or Postmate, as they’re called, texted me with a question about the donut order. Once I explained that it was to celebrate a baby girl, she went all out with pink colored tissue paper and a card! 

donut boxes with pink tissues

I highly recommend Postmates, so much so that I gotta share this referral link; when you use the link, you’ll receive a $100 delivery fee credit. That means that you’ll only pay for the food, tax, and tip, similar to what you would when you go out — only you can stay home and someone can bring it to you.

The options of restaurants vary by location, but they also do grocery store and pharmacy pick up and deliveries, so maybe it will work for you.


array of bowls with leftovers


The kids and I raided the fridge for leftovers at lunch. I made a big salad with the rest of last night’s dinner. The kids made a variety of burrito bowls, salads, and mac and cheese.

We’ve still got some containers of leftovers to use up, but we’re doing a good job on food waste.

salad bowl with vegetables and pork


Dinner was beautiful and delicious! I just didn’t get a picture that did it justice. I made a huge salad with mixed lettuces, carrots, green onions, peppers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, and this divine parmesan cheese. I made an Herbed Vinaigrette to go with.

My daughter roasted us a big pan of broccoli and cauliflower while Bryan grilled two pork tenderloins with Homemade Herbes de Provence. I also grabbed a bag of frozen red potatoes out of the freezer. It was a smallish bag, so no one got as much as they wanted, but it was a great dinner all the way around.

Meal Prep

Tonight I also got some baking done: Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips. I didn’t have coconut milk so I used almond milk instead. I also enhanced it with some protein powder.

I hope to get some other breakfast prep done in the morning to get us through the week. 

 How is your Pantry Challenge going?


About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Laurie Gaither says

    I finally cleaned out the two fridge freezers today and organized them. The outside fridge needed a good cleaning. If someone had been watching me l, I’m sure they would have found it pretty humorous. I in my jammies and robe bent over practically doing a headstand to get the lower inside of the little outside fridge with the top freezer clean and put back together (I’m 5’8”). Then I couldn’t get one of the parts back together correctly and was pounding on things and cursing. Finally figured it out and felt like i had accomplished something. There isn’t much other than stock in the outside top freezer. The bottom armoire freezer has mostly leftovers, baking supplies and smoothie supplies in it.
    B – I know hubs had a banana, not sure if he ate anything else. I had scrambled eggs and toast.
    L – i have no idea what hubs had. I had a protein bar, half apple and tangerine and a few almonds
    D – l/o stew with crackers or french bread

  2. Julie Smith says

    Your lunch looks super yummy! Here’s how we fared on day 11…

    Breakfast: pumpkin muffins for kids, PB&banana toast for me, eggs for hubs
    Lunch: kids ate school lunch, I ate chick fil a (free nugget reward)
    Dinner; last minute swap so we ate nachos with the chips I got on clearance at Kroger, which worked out well because everyone ate at different times with sports etc.

    Spent $100 at Kroger, but a good portion of that was hubby’s keto helpers. I meal planned for the next 9 dinners, but need to step up my baked goods game for quick breakfasts and lunch fillers.

    • Heather Lawless says

      Julie, i wanted to share how I stepped up breakfast. I made the quinoa egg bites, a good way to use misc. Produce that i found in fridge and freezer. Very easy and yummy. Started the frozen breakfast egg casseroles. Hubs is duabetic so it is a very filling breakfast. Just have to remember to keep one or two thawing for each day. The other quick baked good is the mix and match muffin kit. We’re having cranberry banana this week. Also good for lunch and snacks. Hope this helps!

    • Love nachos for dinner!

  3. Jennifer says

    B – I cooked and pureed the last of my pie pumpkins on Sunday, so Monday morning I made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for breakfast – yum!

    L – I had a hummus cup with pretzels and tomatoes along with Skinny Dipped Almonds

    D – hot dogs, roasted diced sweet potatoes, orange pepper and we used a jar of pickles I canned 3 summers ago

    • Heather Lawless says

      How did you use the pumkin in the muffins? Is this the mix and match kit? I have pumpkin to use from the extra stuff in my pantry.

      • Jennifer says

        Hi Heather, I have a cookbook with a recipe for pumpkin muffins. I’m sure you can find recipes on the internet. It is much of the liquid in the recipe.

    • Taking care of squash always feels like an accomplishment!

  4. Tasty says

    Tuesday January 14th

    B – our usual mix of fruit yogurt, granola and muffins

    L – leftover tourtiere with baked beans from the freezer

    S – the last of the turkey breast, used up in sandwiches.

    The bottom shelf in the fridge is empty – that’s unheard of here! Time to find some goodies from the freezer and also time to get some bread made.

    I got the fridge all emptied and scrubbed out yesterday – only one thing ended up in the garbage and that was a dreg in a salad dressing bottle.. Quite happy at that. Then I decided later on to do the same thing with the pantry. That was more disappointing, not because anything was thrown away. But before I got started on the PC, I had quickly scanned all the drawers in my pantry to see what was there. So much stuff for 2 oldies to get thru. I thought I had had an extra bag of porridge oats (we are almost out of granola) but had searched and not found it, so when i stopped yesterday to pick up a prescription I bought another bag. Found it when I emptied the shelves. Same thing with a bottle of Dijon mustard. Oh well, nothing i can do about it now (except use them up!)

    • Laura in NH says

      Ugh, I hate when I do that! At least those items aren’t too expensive and will keep!

    • I hear ya! At least the fridge was a win!

  5. Heather Lawless says

    I’m so excited to say I finally used my last casserole from the freezer challenge, not counting the extra lasagna I made last week while using up the ingredients. Had to shop for produce last weds. And finally have to get meat again. Costco is the only place I get meat because of quality and cost savings. Just cant figure the best way to prep it for cooking. Freezer has been my friend. Any suggestions?

    • What kind of meat?

      • Heather Lawless says

        I bought chicken breasts, tenders, ground turkey and pork. tenderloin 8lbs from Costco.

  6. Alice E says

    Sorry I got behind. life has been a bit challenging lately with DR visits and meds for an itchy rash. I’m slowly using some stuff up from the freezer and pantry. Since concentrating on rotating oldest stuff out is my priority I’m cautiously optimistic. However, I don’t really expect to get all of it rotated from some overstock issues, but I’m slowly making progress. We are getting low on veg in the freezer, so I’m hoping for a really good sale soon.


    Brunch – Mixed grain pancakes, hot tea; I had an egg and ham sandwich with mine
    Supper – chicken macaroni one pot dish and California blend veg.
    Cake for dessert and snacks.

    B – oats, eggs, hot tea, toast for hubby
    L – leftovers
    D – baked fish over spinach, baked potatoes

    B – pb and bagels for hubby, I had breakfast sandwich after blood tests
    L – leftovers
    D – Baked turkey thighs over stuffing, green beans

    • Sorry to hear about the itches! Sounds like you’ve been eating delicious things, though!

  7. Karen says

    We had a good day yesterday – for breakfast my daughter and I had smoothies (my husband eats a yogurt and a cereal bar every day). My daughter was supposed to have hot lunch, but school was on a two-hour delay due to icy roads so she had to pack one instead. She took a bologna sandwich with fruit and veggies. I was supposed to have a business lunch but it was canceled so I grabbed a Lean Cuisine and took that with some fruit and veggies. For dinner we had leftovers – a choice of baked penne from Monday night or ham and cabbage soup from Sunday night.

  8. Pat says

    Day 11 brought more meal plan changes. I had to watch my grandchildren and ate tacos with them.
    No one here wants soggy quesadillas so I pulled out frozen enchilada filling and sauce and put those together with a salad and the last of the sauteed apples.

    • What would make the quesadillas soggy?

      • Pat says

        Reheating in the microwave because they don’t always eat when they are ready.

        Congrats on your new niece a little late!

  9. Laura in NH says

    Plugging along here…dinner last night was choose-your-leftovers which was a hit with everyone and used up the random servings of meals from the last three days. I’ll plan to make a trip to the store Saturday for my usual produce haul. Otherwise we’re not low on anything. Sandwiches and soup for lunch today and salmon, rice and veg for dinner.

  10. Carol says

    Lunch today: I am finishing some ham steak and baked beans that was in the frig. Tonight we will have leftovers of the stone soup.

  11. Angela says

    YAY for healthy babies!!!!!
    B: Hubs had a smoothie and more watermelon, I had chia pudding with fruit again
    L: hardboiled eggs (Hubs), salad for me
    D: Jambalaya with chicken, shrimp (found in the freezer), sausage (grilled on Sunday)

  12. Stephanie M. says

    Congrats on the birth of your niece, Jessica!!! 🙂

    Tuesday, January 14, 2020

    B – Paul had oatmeal; I skipped because our grandson slept over and I was busy taking care of him and by the time I got hungry, he left and it was lunchtime, LOL

    L – Paul had a business luncheon; I had a pork salad sandwich on whole wheat; (from the last of the leftover pork roast from last night, I made pork salad) – same as tuna or chicken salad – mayo and celery; enough for two sandwiches – one for today and one for tomorrow

    D – Hamburger veggie soup; using up the only two packages of ground beef I had in the freezer; there is enough soup for the next few days so I’m on a break from cooking

    My challenge is going very well with the freezer rapidly emptying out more each day. I have bins set up in my freezer so that I can organize everything and see quickly what’s in there and those bins are almost empty. The meat is in the bottom drawer and that’s beginning to get low as well. But the best thing I did for myself was in my meal plan book, I made a list in the note section of everything that is in my freezer and as it gets used up, it gets crossed off the list.

    • Thank you, Stephanie. She looks a lot like my brother did as a baby. I was 14 when he was born, so it’s a strong memory.

      Glad to hear that your meal plan book is proving to be so useful!

    • Karen J says

      Thanks for the idea about pork salad! I have two packages of leftover pork roast in the freezer. One’s going to be for bbq pulled pork buns and I had no idea about the other. I still have celery and mayo and might add a little onion. I’m low on bread, but it would be good with club crackers too I think. Or I could just bake some bread. I love reading other PC posts to find ideas!

      • I put pork tenderloin on my salad today and it was super good!

        • Stephanie M. says

          Another great way to eat up the leftover pork. 🙂

      • Stephanie M. says

        Thanks Karen. I really like it. Many times if I have enough pork roast left, I make a pork fried rice but there wasn’t enough so pork salad to the rescue. I hope you like it. 🙂

        • Pat says

          The chicken salad I made had homemade ranch dressing instead of may and it was very tasty–another option instead of mayo

  13. Karen J says

    How exciting about your new niece! And what a great idea to deliver pink doughnuts and coffee-I’m sure it was much appreciated.

    Yesterday I grabbed the mole verde from the top shelf in the pantry that had been sitting there for a long, long time. My meal plan said chicken curry, but we had chicken mole instead. I served it with black beans, rice, and tortillas. I should have added a carrot for vegetables, but figured the mole was green so that counted. My goal has been to use those top shelf items this month, so now I am one down- lots to go!

    I’m making a small dent in the freezer. I just need to plan out my meals so that we are not stuck with those five packages of kielbasa the last week of the challenge.

    • Great way to pivot on the meal plan. Use it or lose it! 😉

    • Stephanie M. says

      Hi Karen, I have a very easy recipe for you to use up some of that Kielbasa. I’ll post it here in case you would like it.

      1 lb. Kielbasa
      1 medium chopped onion
      20 oz. pkg. of fresh refrigerated tortellini (I use chicken tortellini but you can use whatever you prefer)
      2 14-oz. cans of diced tomatoes with juice
      1 14-oz. can chicken broth
      4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
      Fresh baby spinach (I use quite a bit)

      Slice the kielbasa and sautee it with onions in a little oil till brown.

      Add tomatoes, chicken broth, and frozen tortellini (I freeze mine because I don’t usually make it the day I buy it so follow these next directions for tortellini that’s been frozen or reduce cooking time if it’s not frozen). Stir and bring to a boil.

      Add spinach; cover and simmer on low until pasta cooks to al dente; about 15 minutes. less time if the pasta is not frozen)

      Turn off heat; add cream cheese. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes before stirring.

      • Karen J says

        Thank you! I have everything for that. My tortellini is the dry kind, my chicken broth is Better than Bouillon and my spinach is frozen, but I think I can make it work. It’s pantry challenge, right? Make do and adapt.
        Sounds delicious and different-especially with the cream cheese!

        I also have kielbasa with onions and frozen peppers planned for later this month, then maybe some in jambalaya with some shrimp and leftover chicken. Probably a kielbasa and eggs for breakfast too. Not sure how much my husband can stand. 🙂 I’m sure I will be saving some for February (or later). In December I found a killer deal on five pounds of kielbasa. That’s quite a bit for two people. My New Year’s resolution is to not overbuy. Even when it’s a killer deal.

        • Stephanie M. says

          Hi Karen, I was just looking at the previous posts and realized that when I wrote the kielbasa recipe out for you, I left something out. When the tortellini is done, drain it, then turn off the heat and add the cream cheese. I’m sure you must have realized that but I just wanted to make sure so you wouldn’t end up with something that would have been a disaster, LOL.

          • Sandi says

            Thanks for clarifying, Stephanie. I was thinking that I had all those ingredients and it sounds very different than what I would normally make with kielbasa, but I was wondering how about that liquid. Is there a lot left over to drain? I’m wondering if I could just reduce some of the chicken broth and have the rest of it basically be absorbed so I’m not pouring out too much flavor?

  14. Kathy in Denmark says

    Congratulations on the new addition to the family. Doughnuts and coffee sound like a great idea!

    Day 11:
    B: Rye porridge for DD2, yogurt with granola for DD1, oats and milk for DH, toast and coffee for me.
    L: Packed lunch for kids, DH skips, rye bread with toppings for me. I am starting to use the leftover roast from NYE which I sliced and froze.
    D: Tortillas/tacos with the last of the chili sin carne mixed with the leftover rice and a jar of HM chili beans. I also served, shredded cheese, salsa, crème fraiche and different salad fixings.
    Dessert: Pastries from the local bakery.

    I bought a fex boxes of hard taco shells a while ago to try them out, but they are not a big hit in our house, so I am slowly eating them up 🙂

    I picked up another Too Good To Go order at out local bakery, since we were down to the last loaf of bread from the last order. I can tell we are eating things up from the freezer, because I had room to freeze almost all the bread and some cake, which will be nice to have later in the month!
    BTW, the Too Good To Go app is expanding and will be available in NY and Boston sometime in the not so distant future. Hope it catches on!

    • Not sure if you have the same stereotype, in Denmark… here cops are known for eating coffee and donuts. So it was a fun celebration and also a joke on my brother’s profession. 😉

      • Kathy om Denmark says

        We don’t, but most Danes have watched enough American movies to know about that particular stereotype.
        I thought it was a really funny idea :d

  15. lisa s says

    B: coffee
    L: leftover chili tot casserole and molasses snickerdoodles
    D: spaghetti (homemade sauce from the freezer) and garlic bread

  16. Jodi says

    today was a blur! I got a couple of writing assignments and had my head down all day
    B: coffee and IP yogurt for me, DH had usual bagel/cream cheese/yogurt. Boys had cereal
    L: can’t remember what i had! Dh had a frozen meal, oldest boy ate whatever he scavenged and youngest 2 ate at school.
    D: Homemade burgers and fries

    we had some croissants we need to eat up so i had a couple of those while watching some TV. I pick up some product tomorrow, but not sure what it will be so i will likely be cooking something tomorrow!

  17. Sandi says

    Congratulations on the new addition to your family! I love the donuts and coffee idea.

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