Day 15, Pantry Challenge 2020

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Heading into week 3 of the Pantry Challenge, here’s how we’re trucking.

packed fridge

Today was my computer day, so I tried to hide away in my office and avoid people. I’m an introvert mom with six kids. What can I say?

All this means is that food photos are scare today. You get fridge and freezer shots instead!


Bryan made oatmeal. FishBoy17 made fried eggs to eat on leftover pizza. FishBoy15 and I had leftover egg bake. The girls forgot to eat breakfast. Not sure what FishBoy19 did.

bowl of chicken stir fry


Everyone had some combination of pasta salad, hard cooked eggs, and ham sandwiches. I ate the leftover stir-fry from yesterday’s lunch.

The Pantry Challenge may not be glamorous but it is lucrative. 😉


I pulled some more chicken from the freezer and am going to make Fried Chicken Strips with a big salad and whatever starch sounds easiest. I’m excited to get into the kitchen tonight, but for get-ahead meal prep, so I want dinner to be on the easy side.

freezer packed with food

Food storage

Due to the produce I bought/ordered this last week, the fridge looks full. Once I get all that prepped, I think it will look really different.

The freezer is starting to show gaps and I think we will squeak by with just enough proteins for the next 2 weeks. Maybe, maybe not. We’ll see.

I’ve got a fair amount of veg prep and baking to do tonight and tomorrow: sourdough bread, Homemade Hot Dog Buns, Cranberry Bread, more granola, and Protein Waffles.

I’m feeling really good with our $225 spent so far this month; I’m hopeful that we can stay under $500 for the month.

Are you ready for week 3?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Stephane M. says

    Friday, January 17, 2020

    B – Yogurt Parfait

    L – Turkey, Lettuce, and tomato on whole grain rye and 1/2 a banana

    D – Chicken Marsala, mashed potatoes, peas

  2. Tasty says

    Saturday January 18th

    B – fruit, yogurt and the last of the granola + a muffin

    L – a new to us soup, that used up a couple of Italian sausages, some tortellini and a little cream. Definitely a recipe to keep

    S – a few samosas from a pack in the freezer and a ham & pineapple pizza.

    Made a new batch of granola this morning and a couple of loaves of multi grain bread. Tomorrow should be an easy day – friends called and suggested we might like to go out tomorrow for supper – never say no to that.

  3. Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

    1/18/20 Day 15

    B: biscuit, egg, sausage

    L: LO ham bone soup

    D: chicken pot pie, Waldorf salad. When I made pot pies in the past, I made a double crust. But to reduce carb load, I started making only a top crust. But tonight I had baked cheese biscuits in the freezer. After the filling baked a little while, I added the biscuits which I brushed with melted butter and garlic.It was a good substitute and another bag out of the freezer!

    S: black bean salsa and chips

    Yes, I think I’m ready for week 3. Probably going to need to buy a loaf of good bread (sigh) for DH but think I have enough proteins. I’m probably going to need some more produce at some point, but going to see how long I can put it off 😉 If meals get too boring, I’ll change it up! Thanks for everything Jessica.

  4. Maureen says

    Yesterday was an “off” day..I just wanted feeling it for anything. I took a break from leftovers and had eggs and toast for lunch. I really wanted to grab takeout for dinner, but my son wasn’t feeling great so I morphed leftovers into chicken tacos. We didn’t love it, but it was fine. Today was much better all around. I baked chocolate chocolate chip muffins to go with breakfast. My son made pasta for lunch, so we had a bit of that and some leftovers. Dinner was pork loin from the freezer with pasta, leftover sauce, and salad. DH is gone most of next week and it’s the last week of the semester for the kids so they have half days, etc. So, we won’t be eating normally (the kids always have a list of things dad doesn’t like that they want while he’s gone), but we’ll all be home more and I’ll see what we can use up from the freezer.

  5. Alice E says

    Very cold out today so glad we could stay inside Not so itchy, so did laundry and other chores.

    B – l/o egg casserole, mandarins and hot tea
    L – cleaned out a batch of leftover veg and rice, added leftover turkey and make soup
    D – Tongues of Fire beans with a small can of ham from the pantry added and biscuits
    still eating cake for desserts

  6. Julie Smith says

    Really glad we are doing this challenge, it’s teaching me to be creative and is good practice if we ever HAD to eat from the pantry for a long period of time. As a federal employee family, this is sometimes a real concern with shutdown threats.


    Breakfast: peoples choice of pumpkin muffins or oatmeal
    Lunch: peoples choice of sandwiches or leftovers
    Dinner: breakfast

    Easy day here!

  7. Carol says

    We went out to lunch with friends. For supper we had the lamb pilaf that I made earlier in the week along with salad and mashed winter squash. We’ve now had two suppers from the chunk of lamb, not huge, that was in my friend ‘ s freezer. There’s a little pilaf left for my lunch.

  8. Laurie Gaither says

    B – hubs had cereal, I had a berry protein shake
    L – hubs had the last if the stew
    D – I made lentil soup in the instant pot. I used a number of pantry/fridge and freezer items. I’ ll freeze some individual portions to eat for lunches later on. I baked sourdough bread today. I sent a loaf home with a granddaughter and we cut into the other loaf to have with our soup.

    There is a learning curve in getting the bread like I want. The starter was getting passed its prime but I was able to revive it. This one had good tang. But the texture was slightly dense. I’m going to make more on Monday or Tuesday.

    • Laurie Gaither says

      Oops, I forgot to say I had a protein bar and apple for lunch.

  9. Stephanie M. says

    Saturday, January 18, 2020

    B – Yogurt parfait

    L – Turkey and lettuce on whole grain and an apple

    D – Leftover chicken marsala, mashed potatoes, and peas

  10. Terry says

    This week has gone well. I only bought milk salad mix, and a bouquet of flowers for my mom, in the nursing home.
    Every meal this week was out of the pantry and freezer. My instant pot has been getting a work out. Lots of soups, bread, homemade pizza meals this week. Today is a day for repurposing leftovers and using up the bits and pieces that otherwise get lost in the back of the fridge. My fridge and pantry are showing some space. Sadly, my freezers are still stuffed.. Lots of pantry challenge days ahead

  11. Karen J says

    I agree with Terry. Lots of pantry challenge days ahead!
    breakfast-oatmeal with almonds and maple syrup
    lunch-leftover quinoa salad, carrots
    dinner-out with friends before the hockey game.
    Sunday’s goals-baking bread, deciding if I am going to buy the Doritos on sale for $1.49 (last day), oven baking my last pound of bacon

  12. Angela says

    I had to go to the grocery store –
    we were out of eggs, needed fruit & veg.
    B- cheese grits
    L- Hubs had 3 (gasp!) tuna sandwiches (tuna from the pantry, so yay for using that), and I had a big salad w/homemade dressing.
    D – neither of us really felt like dinner…hubs had some chips, and I had a single-serve guac pak with tostones from the pantry

    Hubs has been asking me for something sweet, and I have resisted because we’re all trying to cut back on sugar. Today I gave in and made some (somewhat healthier) brownies with almond flour and sweetened with honey. Life is all about compromise.

    I also made a huge batch of citrus salad and chicken soup.
    We’re out of school on Monday so I’ll do a little more meal prep then also.

  13. Kathy in Denmark says

    Day !5

    B: Softboiled eggs, bread (from freezer), fresh orange/clementine juice, coffee, jams and cheese from the fridge
    Late lunch: Last of the bread from breakfast and crackers with different cheeses or salami. Cake for dessert (from freezer)
    D: Onion quiche and baked spaghetti with mixed salad, sweetcorn and baguette.

    I still have oranges and clementines in the fridge, and since they aren’t getting eaten, I am serving them up as juice 🙂
    The crackers for lunch were from a box of assorted crackers I bought around Christmas. The cake made 4 nice pieces, which was perfect. I still have some left in the freezer.
    I made a large and two small onion quiches, while I was at it. The two small ones are in the freezer. I used some manchego cheese which had been in the fridge for longer than I care to admit, and it worked really well with the onions. I think I will do that again! I baked the leftover pasta, because my youngest really doesn’t like quiche. She did try a small piece, so that was a win! I had two cherry tomatoes left, which I quartered and put in the mixed salad. I laughed a little about putting such a small amount of tomato in the salad, but they needed to go. The rest of the salad was made of lettuce, red onion, kalamata olives and a little crumbled feta and topped with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. DH didn’t even notice the lack of tomatoes LOL.

    We only ate about half of this meal, so dinner Sunday night is easy!

  14. Jodi says

    Day full of meetings, errands and appointments!
    B; I grabbed coffee as I ran out, late for first meeting. Don’t know what DH had. Boys had rest of pizza.
    L: got home late so everyone was grumbly. Made grilled cheese with some thick sliced bread they needed to go. DH and I ate that with LO butternut squash soup. Boys had either grilled cheese or LO French bread pizza from a couple of day’s ago.
    D: baked chicken breast I had marinated for a day in some balsamic dressing from pantry that I have no idea why I even bought! Turned out tasty. Served rice and corn from freezer and made a pack of ramen at middle boy’s request so that moved a little more from pantry. Dessert was more from a huge cookie tray we were given earlier in the week.
    I stopped at Sams to get milk and cheese and ended up spending $71 so I was reminded I just cannot go to a warehouse store for a couple of things. I won’t stick to it! Also had to grab some produce at local grocery along with items DH eats often and that was another $50. Not pleased with my choices but I am pleased that despite the impulse purchases we are just under $300 in spending for month. We generally hit $800 at least for 5 of us. I am most proud of our takeout bill of $100 so far. We had been spending $200-$400 monthly bc of poor planning and me giving in to whining. With me still out of work, I am using the challenge to show boys (and DH) how much we waste and how much our budget has been cut.
    I did pick up several writing gigs this week and FINALLY got paid for a job I finished a couple of months ago so that helps, too. On to week 3!

    • Great job cutting back this month, Jodi. Very nicely done, even if it wasn’t exactly as you’d hoped!

  15. Janet says

    We have one family member who can’t eat gluten and I have been told to remain lactose free for a month in advance of some medical tests. Despite these restrictions, I decided to do some baking for those that can enjoy the results. Today I made chocolate chip cookies, chocolate bread, waffles and pancakes, and banana bread. I told my gluten free daughter I would make some treats for her tomorrow including fudge, chocolate peanut clusters, and chocolate covered cranberry clusters. A few treats mollifies the troops when meals are a bit ho hum.
    B: I had some cashews and fruit while the rest of the family had waffles or pancakes (gluten free)
    L: Hamburgers, waffle fries, pineapple spears, and blackberries
    D: Fried rice, tossed salad

    • Rachel says

      Haha! I love your statement about how treats mollify the troops. That’s exactly what I’m finding too. Our meals might be a bit boring but because we have oodles of choc chips from me overstocking at Christmas for baking and then not doing as much as planned so the cookies and muffins have kept my crew from uprising! ?

      • I pulled out Christmas cookies from the freezer and got huge smiles today. Team Mollified Unite. 😉

  16. Jennifer says

    Well yesterday I was recovering from the stomach bug I knew I would eventually get. Friday was a blur as I went from perfectly fine at work one minute to about to lose my breakfast in the middle of the gym the next. Thankful for coworkers that got me to my car and making it home in time.
    B – pancakes sounded good and bland to me, so that is what I made.
    L – larabar on the go and a bag of peppers when I got home.
    D – I made tostadas and come dinnertime there were only 3 of us here. This used up a box of shells that had been lingering for a while in the pantry and some tomatoes that were looking iffy on my counter. I did buy ground beef at the store as they were having a great sale on the good stuff.

  17. Carol says

    Sun. Jan 18,
    Leftover pilaf for lunch.
    Roast chicken, baked potatoes, carrots and salad for supper with the grandkids and son inlaw. Oh, and cranberry sauce made earlier in the week. I think I will freeze the rest since I can fit a little in the freezer again. Started cooking the carcass.

  18. Pat says

    Day 15
    Because we had plans to go out to dinner I actually cooked breakfast. We had pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs.
    Dinner was bbq brisket, potato salad and baked beans that was catered in for the group. It’s is a football thing where you pick the winners each week and at the end they have dinner and have a drawing for 6 prizes from $$25 to $200. I won $200!!! I am glad I went.

  19. Heather M says

    Saturday, January 18:

    B: L skipped; I had the last of the chocolate chip banana bread a friend had given me
    L: found a package of hotdogs that needed using asap, so we had hotdogs on whole wheat bread (what can you do?), sliced apple, and L finished off the last bit of asian chopped salad and I finished off the last of the gifted homemade tomato soup- both were just enough for a side dish for one person. Definitely a Challenge win, using stuff up instead of wasting.
    D: we ate lunch at 2:30 and went to the movies in the evening, not hungry enough prior. So we ended up at a diner at 11pm. I only had a small sandwich, he had a bigger meal. It wasn’t a bad price, so date night?

  20. lisa s says

    B: coffee, fruit
    L: grilled cheese
    D: chicken curry, rice, peas
    Hubs and I went to Kroger after a recycling run to stock up on produce. 0.99 blackberries, yum! But that also means he throws a lot in the cart I’d wait on. That said, we are still way down for the month at $336.00, and they were all good sale items.

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