Day 17, Pantry Challenge 2020

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This year I’m doing twelve Grocery Savings Challenges, one per month. The first is a Pantry Challenge where we focus on using what we have in order to save money and waste less.

breakfast bowl with tea and bible study

Wow. The days are just packed, aren’t they? Today was a pretty chill Monday holiday for us.

I got up fairly early and started in on meal prep and grocery shopping. While I didn’t get everything done on my list, I got a fair amount sorted. I’m not mentally ready for the week to begin, but at least meals will be a bit easier.

Grocery Shopping

Once I’d had my tea and breakfast, I headed to Sprouts for a small handful of things: Honeycrisp apples (98 cents/pound!), bell peppers (98 cents each!) blueberries, and shredded cabbage and carrots for my salads.

Then I headed to ALDI for the rest of the things I want for the next few days: milk, eggs, lettuce, green onions, cherry tomatoes, half & half, baby carrots, and salt.

I ended up spending $36, which brings our monthly total to $261.

ALDI grocery cart


I had my usual: Greek Yogurt and Muesli. One son had fried eggs, toast, and breakfast gravy. Bryan had his Coach’s Oats. FishChick11 made my Basic Pancake Recipe for everyone else.

veggie chowder in dutch oven


The kids had friends over again for D&D, so I made them a chowder, using my Soup from Leftovers method. I used chicken stock from the freezer, the potatoes from Imperfect Produce, the rest of the breakfast gravy, and a bag of mixed vegetables. 

They also made cucumber sandwiches and tea to serve to their friends. And we thawed some mini cakes we had in the freezer.

Bryan and I went out to Ty’s Burger House for a lunch date, since he had the day off work.


Yesterday I had prepped Easy Vegetable Bolognese with the plan to make lasagna. We had it over noodles and zoodles tonight.

FB15 and FC11 aren’t crazy about the vegetables, so they had a plain bolognese from the freezer on their noodles and veggies on the side.

I actually have so much sauce that I’ll be able to make a lasagna to freeze.

meal prep salads on counter

Meal Prep

I love it when I can get a head start on the week. Meal Prep helps me do that.

This morning I made Oatmeal Waffles and Cranberry Bread. I also made Simple Hard Cooked Eggs in the Instant Pot followed by a batch of Perfectly Poached Chicken, seasoned with the Herbes de Provence.

In the afternoon, I chopped a load of vegetables and made five Meal Prep Salads.

How’s the Pantry Challenge going for you?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Laurie Gaither says

    B – i had a protein bar and tangerine. Hubs had cereal and a banana
    L – hubs had hot dogs and chips, I had l/o lentil soup and sourdough bread
    D – hubs had lentil soup and sourdough bread, I pulled a container of spicy sausage pasta, Parmesan cheese, baby carrots and the last of the sourdough bread.

    I spent a good portion of the late morning/early afternoon on the phone with our travel agent. We’re going on a special cruise for our 50th wedding anniversary this year! I was hoping to get our meals back on a “normal” track today. Trip planning trumped that idea, lol. I think we’ll be eating down that freezer to the bottom so we can save more money for fun things on our cruise.

    • Angela says

      Fiftieth anniversary – Congratulations!!! Not many reach that milestone any more.

      • Laurie Gaither says

        Thank you! Here’s what’s really odd, we have five other couples that we’ve been close friends with since our teens (or before) will all be celebrating the same milestone within a few years of each other.

    • Sandi says

      My parents hit the big 50 last June. We were also planning for them to do a special cruise but I think they may have scrapped those plans. They’ve never done a cruise and weren’t really sure what they wanted to do or where to go. They’ve lived in France for the past 30 years so they’ve already pretty much toured the majority of the usual destinations. Plus they are super-frugal so I think some of the prices scared them off. I still think they should do it, though. Where did you decide to go?

      • Laurie Gaither says

        Cruising is our favorite way to vacation! Unpack and sit back and enjoy the ride. Everything is on the ship, you wake up in the morning with new sites to see or a total relaxation day on the water. Your room is cleaned up twice day and you become majorly spoiled. This will be our 5th Alaskan cruise (we don’t care for warm weather ports). It’s our 8th cruise in eight years, We will be on a 10 day out of Vancouver and we will see several new ports. We have met some lovely people and always look forward to our next cruise. Cruising is one area where we like to splurge but I wait for a good deal to purchase one.

  2. Kathy in Denmark says

    Day 17

    B: Oats and milk for DH, oatmeal for DD1, rye porridge for DD2, roll and coffee for me
    L: Packed lunch for the kids. DH worked from home, so I made us rye bread with different toppings.
    D: Frikadeller (Danish meatballs), Fish fingers, frien eggs, rye bread and cut up veggies
    S: Yogurt with granola and fruit

    I made more granola Sunday, so we are back at eating yogurt.
    I had thawed some ground beef and some ground pork, which I made into frikadeller. I had the intention of serving them with gravy, potatoes and carrots, but time got away from me. So I fried up a few eggs, some fish fingers and veggie nuggets from the freezer and served with rye bread. That made a good variety of toppings for everyone and dinner was ready a lot faster. I have plenty of frikadeller left, so we are having them with gravy another day and DD1 will love to have some in her lunch as well.

    BTW, I know it may sound odd that my kids, and especially DD2, have the same things for breakfast every day. However, when I ask what DD2 wants for breakfast, she always says rye porridge! Since its cheap, healthy and filling, who am I to argue LOL
    In general I try to make sure our kids have a healthy and filling breakfast on weekdays. Cereal is for weekends or afternoon snacks in our house 🙂

    • Maureen says

      My kids are the same way. They’d be happy eating some of the same things EVERY day. Although, I guess I’m a little like that, too…routine simplifies things a bit.

  3. Jennifer says

    We all the day off yesterday as well. After sleeping in I made homemade apple muffins for everyone.

    Lunch I made a smoothie, dh had leftovers, kids had bagels brought home from dd’s work.

    Dinner I dug out some Firecracker Brats bought on sale around the 4th of July. I sliced them up along with the remainder of the carrots in the house and most of the rest of the bag of baby potatoes. Added salt pepper and oil and baked an hour. It was delicious! We finished the cantaloupe and also sliced up a pepper.

  4. Maureen says

    The kids were off of school and DH left on his business trip. The girls lit a 3-wick candle and made s’mores. They thought it was fantastic. My youngest had dance in the evening, so most of us ate 4 small “meals” due to timing. We worked on leftovers a bit and I made a box of mac-n-cheese that I wanted to get rid of. We finished off the night with crepes. I made a bunch of extra for snacking and breakfasts. I didn’t get to the freezer, but I grabbed a few things from the pantry that were open and older, so I’ll work those into the meals in the next couple of days.

  5. Tasty says

    Monday January 20th
    B – I had cereal while hubby stuck with his usual fruit etc
    L – we finished the l/o soup along with a corned beef sandwich
    S – haddock and mushy peas for hubby, fish sandwich for me

    Once again, the fridge is free of leftovers. Time to pull something else from the freezer!

  6. Stephanie M. says

    Monday, January 20, 2020

    B – Bagel, blueberry Greek yogurt, and V8

    L – Salad and a NY garlic bread stick

    D – Farfalle with spinach sautéed in garlic and olive oil and tuna

  7. Alice E says

    B – blueberry baked oatmeal, eggs, hot tea
    L – he took pb sandwich and cookies, I had l/o pasta and a mandarin
    D – Big pot of veggie and beef soup, hot tea, cake for him and l/o baked oatmeal for me

    Very cold here today. Hubby called in to work with little notice to work since someone else was sick. I went grocery shopping, since I don’t think I’ll have time tomorrow. Most veg, eggs, and dairy with a few needed staples. The soup was one of those ‘pantry’ things where I start with a few cans of things and add others from frig and freezer. It turned out well, they usually do. (grin)

  8. Julie Smith says

    Breakfast: pumpkin muffins or eggs and toast
    Lunch: Honestly…I have no idea what everyone else ate! LOL. I ate wheat thins and buffalo chicken dip. It was a make it yourself day.
    Dinner: Turkey burgers with salad and carrots….the salad was past its prime and the canned carrots had no hope of being dressed up. I tried.

    I’m going to make a sprouts run today, but I’m not feeling inspired.I need to make a meal plan…I see the end of our pantry challenge end sight, but I’d like to make it to the end. I did the math and we’ve saved about half our usual budget, so I’m happy about that.

    • Carol says

      Tuesday: We will have home made pizza with some sausages from the freezer as well as leftover sauce frozen from the downstairs freezer. I may have to pick up some mozzarella when I make a milk run today. On the side we will have either salad or leftover soup from yesterday.

  9. We are going to the store for the 1st time this month. I need milk, dog biscuits and dog dental styx. That is it.
    I have a menu for the next 10 days that will probably end up for the next 3 wks with leftovers. Hubby mentioned needing biscuits as we are having sausage gravy and biscuits tonight for dinner… I told him he could just wait the 30 min it takes me to make them from scratch and bake them. He was kind of like DUH moment there.

  10. lisa s says

    I got up early and showered like I was going to work, until I realized I had the day off. Tried to lay in bed until the sun came up, but couldn’t fall asleep, so I got up and made my coffee and binge watched my show until the kiddos got up. Snuggle time, games, all that good stuff. Then I made molasses snickerdoodles and made the vegan ricotta to stuff the manicotti shells for tomorrows dinner. They got stuffed and are already dressed and in the pan ready to bake. Yay!
    B: toast, fruit, cereal
    L: chicken curry soup (made with leftover chicken curry from Sat. night’s dinner)
    D: egg bake w/side salad (to use up some already browned breakfast sausage)

  11. Roberta says

    Three days to report.

    Sat. 1/18/20

    B: Oatmeal w/ blueberries, toast for the guys, OJ, coffee.

    L: Egg salad sandwiches, cantaloupe, orange slices, celery/carrot sticks.

    D: Minestrone and garlic bread; banana bread for dessert.

    Sun. 1/19/20

    B: The guys had cereal, toast, OJ, and coffee. I just had coffee.

    L: Quesadillas, cantaloupe, oranges, home-canned peaches, and carrot sticks. (“This meal has been brought to you by the color orange.” Ha! Too bad son is no longer in preschool. 😉 )

    D: Same thing as Saturday.

    Mon. 1/20/20

    B: Blueberry pancakes w/ maple syrup, scrambled eggs, coffee.

    L: Grilled cheese sandwiches, salad, cantaloupe.

    D: Southwestern Chicken Skillet, salad, orange slices, homemade sweet treats from a neighbor for dessert.

    I also made French bread on Saturday and granola and energy bars on Monday. Prepped some veggie sticks as well for lunches in the week to come.

    • Sandi says

      Ha! I made dinner recently and belatedly realized everything was a yellow-ish orange color. Not really a visually impressive meal. Tasted good though!

  12. Sarah says

    I’ve been lurking and following along happily, so I’m going to jump in!
    It’s just me and hubby in an apartment, so no giant chest freezer to clean out (one day!!)

    I’ve been slowly clearing out everything – I usually have such a stockpile that I was shocked when my only veg besides a bag of frozen corn was a head a cauliflower in the fridge. I wanted to use up everything we had before I bought more -I guess it’s almost time!
    It’s been fun getting creative instead of buying all of the ingredients for whatever it is I want to make all at once. I am realizing that meal planning should really focus on what we have and not what we want. It’s also helping me curate a better shopping list.

    We moved to an area that is a little more remote so I am trying to get used to a bulk shop at Aldi monthly and then filling in as needed. This challenge is definitely helping!

    B: protein shake
    L: lo soup and some cheddar cheese
    D: instant pot coconut curry with chicken, cauliflower and sweet potato & a few (too many) handfuls of tortilla chips

    Tomorrow will be leftover curry for lunch then I’m meeting a friend for dinner after a workout class. Normally I’d invite her over for dinner but she’s allergic to cats and we have two.

    • Hey Sarah! So glad you’re delurking. You’ve done an amazing job. I love your take-aways. Well done, you.

  13. Angela says

    I did some meal prep today as well. I made a batch of jambalaya, using the last of the frozen shrimp, some leftover rotisserie chicken, and some sausage that Hubs grilled when he grilled steaks yesterday. I also made an extra batch of rice to go with peas & rice & cornbread later this week. Rolls and brownies rounded out my baking. Which was awesome because it was freezing all day long, so I was happy to have the oven on.
    B- Hubs & ds#3 met ds#1 for breakfast. I had a quinoa experiment with some fruit. Trying to use up the little bag in the pantry.
    L- Hubs had a tuna sandwich, ds#3 had a salad, I had homemade chicken soup (perfect for a cold day!)
    D- no one was terribly hungry so we sort of snacked our way through dinner.

  14. Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

    1/20 Day 17

    B: cheese biscuit, coffee

    L: HM chicken noodle soup, crackers

    D: pork butt, sweet potatoes, lima beans, ambrosia, rolls

    S: yogurt

    On this very cold day, I did a lot in the kitchen. I made Jessica’s buns! They weren’t very pretty but tasted good. I made 2 small ones to eat as rolls with dinner and froze a mix of hamburger and hot dog buns for later in the week. I also baked sugar cookies along with making dinner. Everyone stay warm!

  15. Pat says

    We were all off Monday too.
    Dinner was leftover pizza and salad that I brought home from the birthday dinner. We had cinnamon butter bread from the freezer l/o from Christmas that my friend got me from Costco for dessert. It was yummy.

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