Day 18, Pantry Challenge 2020

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This month I’m working on using up what’s in the pantry, fridge, and freezer. The Pantry Challenge is one of this year’s Grocery Savings Challenges to help us focus our spending to up our savings.

salad with chicken goat cheese and balsamic vinegar

I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all got content tummies tonight, and I’m starting to see some white space in the big freezer.

Upon reflection, I know that I haven’t really made a dent in the randomness that I was hoping to use up, but we’ve done a good job not buying too much new randomness, so there is that.

Since we have our basic weekly dinner routine, meal planning is fairly simple: 

  • Sunday – big meat and veg meal
  • Monday – some kind of pasta dish
  • Tuesday – tacos of some variety
  • Wednesday – date night so something easy for the kids (this week it’s tamales left from Christmas)
  • ThursdaySoup from Leftovers
  • Friday – Grilled Pizza
  • Saturday – big meat and veg meal

The routines are probably getting in the way of my using up the randomness, so tomorrow I think I’ll do another inventory of those specific things and see what we need to be purposeful about.

As for today….

omelet on plate with cranberry bread


I made a Basic Omelet with leftover zoodles, mushrooms, shallot, and spinach as well as some of the lonely Irish cheddar from the fridge. It was delicious! I also had a slice of cranberry bread.

The kids had a variety of waffles, cranberry bread, avocado toast, and fried eggs.


Lunch was a forage in the fridge kind of adventure for the kids. One made pesto pasta. Another had fried eggs on toast. The others had some combination of sandwich, salad, or pasta leftovers.

I took one of my Meal Prep Salads and added goat cheese from the freezer and some herbed chicken breast from the fridge.

I was craving a sweeter dressing, so I used balsamic vinegar with some of the smoky chile salt that I got from ALDI and olive oil to make a Basic Vinaigrette. It was incredibly good. You will probably see me eat it the rest of the week! LOL

taco salad in silver plate


I had the foresight to get Salsa Verde Beef going in the crockpot this morning. Bryan and the girls made Homemade Corn Tortillas so the fam had tacos.

I took another Meal Prep Salad and topped it with some of the shredded beef, shredded cheddar, hot sauce, guac, and sour cream. That was a very tasty meal.

Sorry no pics of the family’s food. I always forget to snap one.

Only ten days left to our Pantry Challenge!

How was the pantry challenge for you?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Stephanie M. says

    Tuesday, January 21, 2020

    B – Bagel, blueberry Greek yogurt, and V8

    L – Salad, and a NY garlic bread stick

    D – The last two chicken sausages in the freezer, rice pilaf, and green beans

    My challenge is going well, considering that I’m alone this week while my husband and daughter are still away on a trip. There is not as much coming from the freezer as normally but I’m doing what I can by using up things like the sausages I made tonight, the tuna fish I made with last night’s dinner, leftovers of pasta, and bagels from the freezer. They are returning on Saturday morning and then I will be returning to my normal routine of cooking everyday again. At this point during the month, I would normally have spent double of what I have spent so far so I’m doing well with keeping my spending down. And I continue to cross things off my inventory list that I keep in my weekly meal plan book. While they are gone, I am not making a weekly meal plan but rather deciding day to day what I’m going to have for dinner. But my meal plan for next week is already made and it consists of things that I already have.

  2. Kathy in Denmark says

    Day 18

    B: Rye porridge, oats and milk, yogurt with granola, roll and coffee
    L: DH skips, packed lunch for the kids, Leftover soup and a roll for me
    D: Frikadeller (both with meat and vegetarian), boiled potatoes and carrots, gravy and hollandaise.
    S: yogurt and fruit

    There was one serving of soup left, so I had that for lunch. The vegetarian frikadeller were from a mix I had picked up to try. DH liked them, so I will keep an eye out for that mix at a good price. I had some gravy from Christmas in the freezer, which I thawed. I also made a hollandaise sauce (knorr) for DH and the kids, since the gravy is made with pan drippings from the Cristmas roast. I really don’t know why my kids prefer the hollandaise. The gravy is absolutely delicious and one of the best things at Christmas dinner! Well, more for me, I guess 🙂

    • Heather M says

      They’re missing out on that delicious gravy!

  3. Carol says

    Tonight we will have Greek shrimp with tomatoes, spinach and feta. That will use shrimp from the freezer and tomatoes, feta and rice from the pantry. The spinach I bought fresh when I went to the store for milk.
    We are away for a bit and I will continue I get back. I am happy with the space I’ve made and the grocery savings I’ve accomplished.

  4. Jennifer says

    B – I fasted, dh and kids had leftover muffins and fruit
    L – I had a grapefruit, yogurt and almonds. My 15 year old dd had cooked up a veggie cous cous dish for her lunch and then my dh took it! Ugh! Then I had to deal with the aftermath of that one. I quickly threw together some lunch meat roll ups for the kids to take. I don’t normally help with their lunch but it helped avoid a meltdown, so win-win – I think?
    D – french toast, bacon, peppers and carrots

    I had to buy eggs yesterday (we buy from a local farm) and I am sending my dd to the store today for a random assortment of needed items to complete meals this week. She will stick to the list so it shouldn’t cost much money.

  5. Tasty says

    Tuesday January 21

    B – hubby had his usual fruit etc, I had a baked apple and a muffin
    L – a quick coffee shop lunch, planned, while out and about
    S – chilli from the freezer.

  6. Alice E says

    B – l/o baked oatmeal, mandarins, eggs and hot tea
    L – he had l/o soup and a sandwich, I had pizza at a meeting
    D – angel hair pasta with herbs and salmon, hot tea
    dessert was the last of the cake.

    Cold and snowy out this morning. Was going pretty constant yesterday trying to get everything done ahead of this storm which is forecast to last several days.

    With health issues and such I haven’t got as much used as I’d like but have used some stuff up and knew that they pantry was full enough a month wouldn’t clear it out, but I’ll keep plugging away. The challenge postings have inspired me to try some new ideas and keep plugging away.

  7. Maureen says

    My big kids are battling a nasty head cold, while the rest of us are trying to avoid catching it. I grabbed a lunch pizza and breadsticks while out for 3 of us to share for lunch. Dinner was eggs and toast for some, pantry and leftovers for others. And I made a batch of Rice Krispie treats from older marshmallows and cereal. There’s enough for another batch, so maybe next week. We’ll see how long this first batch lasts. We’ve really kept waste to a minimum…I’m VERY happy about that. I need to clean out the fridge and do some meal/freezer prep with some odds and ends before making my shopping list for later this week. We definitely need some frozen strawberries, so that we can have smoothies and use up a bunch of other fruit from the freezer (without strawberries included, the kids would grump).

  8. Terry says

    Yesterday was a leftover day. Leftover ham fried rice and beans for my breakfast. Made hashbrowns from a leftover baked potato, two fried eggs and toast for hubby. Lunch was spaghetti for me with the last going to the animals. Hubby had a big green salad. Dinner I had a fruit smoothie, and a bowl of bran flakes. Hubby had potato soup.
    That nearly takes care of the leftovers. I think I will thaw out some ham stock today and use it to make some split pea soup

  9. Terry says

    Told my daughter this morning that I plan to make a clean out the fridge vegetable soup. Fun fact. She says he kids don’t like that meal title so she now calls it voodoo veggie stew and now her kids look forward to it. I did dump everything in the instant pot including half a can of chili from the fridge and the end of a pasta sauce. Basicly a free meal…my favorite kind!

  10. Still eating mostly from the pantry since Christmas. Spent just under $34 yesterday at grocery store… first time to store since New Year’s eve (Which is a bad time to go when bad weather is also coming in) Won’t be back to the store until Feb. Was out of potatoes and milk

  11. Roberta says

    Tues. 1/21/20

    B: Cereal w/ blueberries (Hubs) or bananas (Son and me), toast for the guys, coffee.

    L: The guys had their usual packed lunches. I had the LO Southwestern Chicken and a mandarin.

    D: We went to a local burger joint to support a fundraiser for Scouts. (Since Hubs is the scoutmaster, we had to go. 😉 )

    A neighbor brought us a huge bag of oranges (actually an orange-grapefruit cross) from their yard, so I squeezed up a pitcher of fresh juice. There are still oranges left; I’ll squeeze more later. Yay! I also made a gallon of yogurt and a loaf of our “breakfast bread.” After taking Son to school, I ran to Smart & Final and spent $11.28, bringing our total to $113.62 for the month. I’m hoping this will be the last purchase for the month, but I may need to grab one more gallon of milk.

  12. Heather M says

    Days 17 and 18 and I finally am getting into a groove with the Challenge.

    Day 17, Monday, January 20, 2020:
    B: both skipped
    L: L had to work but grabbed something at work; I had tuna and avocado on whole wheat and some chips
    D: cut up defrosted chicken breast and sauteed it with my favorite lemon-pepper seasoning, then finished it off with some lemon olive oil and champagne vinegar; steamed frozen mixed veggies and cooked up some quinoa from the cupboard. All tossed together and it was a delicious lemon-pepper chicken quinoa bowl!

    Day 18, Tuesday January 21:
    B: both skipped
    L: L took a main dish salad with the leftover chicken from monday night, clementines, and tortilla chips; I had a tuna sandwich
    D: defrosted shrimp from the freezer and made a thai red curry shrimp. Also used items from the cupboard(coconut milk, spices, etc), fridge)fish sauce, chili paste, green onions, etc, and the last lime. We had it over rice. Also made a quick salad of cucumber, tomato, and avocado. YUM!

  13. Laurie Gaither says

    B – Hubs had a protein bar and almonds, I had a protein bar and tangerine
    L – hubs picked up some Mediterranean food (very healthy choice) and we shared one plate. We had hummus and meat leftover.
    D – hubs didn’t get home with lunch until 3:00 so neither of us was hungry for dinner. About 7:30 I had some guacamole and chips and hubs had a bowl of cereal.

  14. Karen J says

    Your salad looks delicious. I am going to have to go to the store for produce. I do have a cabbage to use still. Planning half for coleslaw with pulled pork and the other half for a cabbage/kielbasa sheet pan meal.
    Meals yesterday….
    B-out of town with friends
    L-homemade bread with sharp cheddar and Branston pickle. I used about two tablespoons of the pickle, but it’s expiration date isn’t until 2021.
    D-leftover spicy chili over Jasmine rice with sour cream and cheddar. I froze the last of the chili. Should be enough for a round of chili dogs.
    I actually do see a bit of space in the freezer and my 27 cans of beans form the first of the month is down to 20.

  15. Pat says

    My taco soup turned into taco mac and cheese so I could use the oven to warm up the kitchen. We also had sauteed cinnamon apples.
    I do have a grocery list for eggs, produce and fruit but have been making do because it is so cold and windy.

  16. Angela says

    We are plugging away. We are eating SO much better at home. Which is always the case – this just reminds me to be more intentional about it.

    B – Hubs had a berry smoothie and an extra bowl of fruit (pineapple, kiwi, strawberries). I had the quinoa breakfast ‘porridge’ experiment. I’ll finish it, but I don’t think I’m a fan.
    L – Hubs had beef vegetable soup leftovers. I had a salad.
    D – Jambalaya made on Monday when we were off. The guys were happy. I had a salad.

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