Day 24, Pantry Challenge 2020

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open freezer half empty

Happy Monday, folks! I hope it’s been a good one. While the day itself felt scattered and overwhelming, I must admit we’ve got full tummies tonight!

The freezer is looking fairly bare. Though there is still a fair bit of stock to burn through, it’s in good shape to be so much more functional!

I found some brownies in the fridge freezer and Oh my! They were from a flourless brownie recipe my daughter tried out awhile back, and wow! are they good.

Some freezer randomness is a blessing is disguise.

We’ve got four more days to go with this month’s challenge, and while I am ready to shift gears, I’m contemplating a weekly freezer dive to finish off the randomness and make sure we’re using that stuff up.

I know I haven’t had time to respond to all your comments recently, but I noticed that theme in the conversation: we could keep going even though we’re ready for change.

Anyone else up for a weekly freezer challenge?

egg bake in casserole dish on red cloth


Even though I didn’t do a full meal prep yesterday, what I did do was so helpful when morning rolled around. The college boys had steel cut oats all ready to go. Everyone enjoyed the muffins I made.

I used my Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins Recipe with a few tweaks:

  1. I made 1 1/2 batches into 24 muffins.
  2. I was out of oil so I used 1/2 butter and 1 cup applesauce. I really like the texture. They baked much higher than they would have with oil.
  3. The chocolate chunks were a very nice touch.

Yesterday I had one of the kids cook up the breakfast sausage I had thawed. I used most of it today in an Egg Bake. I thawed a box of spinach in the microwave, squeeze that dry and used it on the bottom. Sprinkled with sausage, and then topped with a sauté of onions and mushrooms. Poured 1 dozen beaten eggs over that and sprinkled with cheese. Baked at 375 for 4o minutes or so. It was really good! We’ll reheat leftovers tomorrow.

soup and salad for lunch


There were just four of us home for lunch. We did a combination of leftover tomato soup, salad, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

We had one casualty of the day. I cooked two chicken breasts in the instant pot, but due to a miscommunication among all the kids, it got left out too long. Had to chuck it. A disappointment, but since we’ve done pretty well avoiding food waste this month, I’m not going to sweat it.

While I was prepping veggies for lunch, I made a bunch of salads for the next day or two. That really helped me last week, so here’s hoping for more of the same.

meal prep salads on kitchen counter


Dinner felt really crazy. I was rushed to go get one of the boys at the train and should have asked for help. 

I made Baked Rice  but realized that if I was going to make Fish Packets I wouldn’t have enough foil. So, at the last minute I moved the rice and water into a dutch oven.

It worked out okay, but I still didn’t have enough foil for all the fish I cooked. We had three kinds: tuna, tilapia, and salmon. Variety of seasons. Some of us loved the fish; some didn’t. Some filled up on rice. It all worked out in the end.

Food is fuel.

How did today go for you?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Ronnie says

    I’m up for a weekly freezer challenge for the year! I’m also ready to switch food gears. What’s the next grocery challenge coming up? Getting excited for phase 2…

  2. Jodi says

    I went through outside freezer again to sort some things and found a couple of meals we can have later this week. But for today …
    B: same as usual. We are running low in some of our faves but I think we will make it.
    L: I had leftover minestrone that I made yesterday with my huge pile of carrots. Hubs had salad and frozen dinner with some fruit, school boys had school lunch and eldest ate a sandwich.
    D: spaghetti night!
    I also prepped a dozen boiled eggs and the rest of the steel cut oats I had, all in Ip. Trying to get out of my just-coffee breakfast rut Ss it leads to too much snacking throughout day. I baked a couple of loaves of banana bread for kids to snack on with fruit that was about to turn south. Not a bad Monday!

  3. Laurie Gaither says

    I plan to keep going with the pantry challenge to keep me motivated to get these freezers cleared out. I’ll need to go to Costco next month for some supplies. I plan to keep the grocery part to a short list.
    B – I had the one yo today. He and I had scrambled eggs and toast
    L – DD joined baby and me for lunch. We had l/o pork tenderloin, I pulled a package of TJ cauliflower rice and butternut squash risotto from the freezer, green salad and sourdough bread
    D – hubs and I had a frozen chicken nuggets and baby carrots (he ate kind of randomly throughout the day so I’m not sure what else he ate)

  4. Kathy in Denmark says

    I caught a cold from my youngest, so camped out on the couch with a book and a roll of toilet paper for a few days. When I thought I was starting to get over the cold, I got a migraine like headache, which more or less put me down for the count!
    So… the PC has not been on my mind for a while. We did eat, but I didn’t write down much. We mostly had things like scrambled eggs and bread, spaghetti with marinara and soup. Well, I had soup. Lots of it!
    I am hoping to get back in the PC mindset for the last little bit of the challenge. And I think a weekly freezer challenge is a good idea.

    • Laurie Gaither says

      I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been sick. It seems harder when mama is the one in the household that gets sick. Keep eating that soup and get lots of rest!

    • Alice E says

      So sorry about the cold and migraine. Glad you are better.

  5. Stephanie M. says

    Monday, January 27, 2020

    B – Paul had scrambled eggs, toast, and a banana; I had bran flakes cereal, blueberries, and peanuts

    L – We both had roast beef sandwiches; Paul also had a piece of pound cake that I baked yesterday, and I had 1/2 a banana

    D – Grilled pork chops, baked potatoes, asparagus with hollandaise (hollandaise taken from the freezer that I made months ago), and stuffed clams

    I would like to do a freezer challenge. Even though I’m not overflowing in my freezer, doing a freezer challenge would keep me motivated to get it completely emptied out.

  6. Maureen says

    I cleaned out the fridge a little bit, so after school snacks were a bunch of random things. Dinner was spaghetti sauce that I had taken out of the freezer a few days ago and some reduced sale garlic bread (freezer). I don’t think we ate much fruit this weekend, so I don’t need to go to the store yet.

    I’m all in for a weekly freezer challenge. That would help keep me on track.

  7. Jessica says

    I think I am just stuck on the fact that you had so many leftover desserts just tossed into the freezer. Do you initially prepare double/triple batches of these things so that you CAN freeze? Are your people just not that much into sweets? Do you have strict rules about helping oneself to the treats on the counter/in the freezer? I only have 3 teens in our house but they can demolish things like that in a very short time… SO for me its kind of a * when it is gone it is gone mentality*….
    If I specifically announce or label something as NO TOUCHING they abide.. but if it is generally on the counter it is free game!

  8. Tasty says

    Monday January 27th
    I have enough in the freezers to keep going and going, just like the everyready bunny!!! So I plan on keep plugging away. If a weekly challenge works for everyone, I could use that on the little over-the-fridge freezer where most of the odds and ends gather.

    Monday was a use-it-up day. Fruit, yogurt etc for breakfast, cheese sandwiches for lunch. Supper saw the last main meal of roast beef (there’s just enough left for sandwiches), along with cauliflower cheese and a little leftover potato. Hubby had apple pie while I’m working on finishing, albeit slowly, some Christmas ice cream.

  9. Mary P says

    Ran across a suggestion in a comment on another blog that I follow that I am going to try. Make one week each month a pantry/freezer challenge to eat only what you have on hand (and no cheating by stocking up ahead of time).

    Breakfast – my usual fried egg, bacon and toast
    Lunch – chili (from freezer), sourdough bread
    Dinner – homemade yogurt
    Snack – pistachio nuts

  10. Roberta says

    I’m definitely up for a weekly freezer challenge. While the freezers aren’t totally stuffed at this point, with only three of us it takes a long time to get through things.

    Three days to report:

    Sat. 1/15/20

    B: Blueberry pancakes (used up the last of a mix we received at Christmas), scrambled eggs, banana for Hubs, OJ, and coffee.

    L: Breakfast was really late for us, so lunch was light and random. I had an energy bar/bite, string cheese, and a mandarin. Hubs had a bowl of cereal. Son had the two LO pancakes and a bowl of cereal.

    D: We all ate at an awards banquet for Scouts. (Mexican food.)

    Sun. 1/26/20

    B: The guys had cereal, toast, OJ, and coffee. I had toast and coffee (and then an energy bite after church).

    L: Chili, cornbread muffins, salad, cantaloupe, and home-canned peaches.

    D: The guys had cheese sandwiches, salad, and cantaloupe. I had an energy bite and a couple of celery sticks.

    Mon. 1/27/20

    B: Hubs had cereal w/ banana, toast, OJ, and coffee. Son and I had oatmeal w/ cinnamon and brown sugar, toast, OJ, coffee (me), chai (son).

    L: The guys had their usual packed lunches (peach butter this time on the PBJs). I didn’t eat lunch.

    D: The guys had the last of the chili, salad, cornbread muffins, and home-canned peaches. I had peaches and a muffin.

    On Sunday I squeezed up the last of the oranges from our neighbor. On Monday I made up some chocolate/banana/applesauce muffins, a loaf of French bread, and cut up a bunch of carrot sticks for lunches this week. In an effort to add some variety to the guys’ lunches and to use up some sharp cheddar stashed in the freezer, I was going to also make up a batch of Jessica’s cheddar coins. I got the dough mixed up and plopped in the fridge, but then something came up and I didn’t get them baked. That’s on today’s to-do list.

    I will need to get milk before the PC ends, but I THINK that will be it. I am running out of quite a few staples (ww flour, sugar, cereal, chicken, other proteins, etc.), so I will need to stock back up soon. I hope there are some good sales in February.

  11. Terry says

    Monday is always my errand day. I’m only good for a couple of hours. Then I usually come home, make lunch and have a nap. Chemo continues to kick my butt.
    Yesterday as usual I started my day at the goodwill. They have a colored tag dollar day each Monday. Everything in the store that has that color tag is one dollar on that day. I always try to be there when the doors open as the pace is frantic and things get picked over quickly. I always go with at least a mental list and frequently score a great find. I was there an hour yesterday, then on to pick up my ostomy supplies, get milk and veggies then gassed up the car and headed home. All done in less than two hours, and yes I came home for a nap.
    I bought a pound of brats so fixed two of those, hashbrowns and eggs for brunch. Later in the day we both just reheated leftovers.
    I did use my cooked chickpeas to make hummus, and froze the extra chick peas and some of the leftover French onion soup.
    This morning I made burritos for the freezer out of leftover lentils, sharp cheese and leftover homemade sausage.
    My freezers aren’t showing any improvement. My pantry is still stuffed. Only the fridge looks slightly better. I’m over my monthly budget of 100.00 by 29.00. I guess I’m a pantry challenge failure this month so I will just have to try harder next month. I really did not do any stock up shopping this month other than cheese. I do see less of my pantry items like flour, sugar and oats. There is just so much food in this house and like Alice, its just two oldsters, and we don’t eat much. Looking forward to see what Jessica has in store for us next month

    • Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

      Terry, I hadn’t realized that you were undergoing chemo. It sounds like you are getting quite a bit done during the 2 hours when you feel best. Take care of yourself. Sending good healing thoughts and prayers.

  12. Angela says

    Hubs hit the grocery store on the way home from work yesterday – he is fighting with the desire to eat out. He bought tortilla chips, tuna fish salad, chicken salad, and bread. I guess that wasn’t a bad trade for staying in.
    B- fruit for hubs, chia pudding for me
    L- peas and rice for hubs, the last of the chicken soup for me
    D- homemade chili. Over pasta for my guys, over a baked potato for me.

  13. Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

    1/27 Day 24

    B: LO bacon, Swiss, mushroom quiche, coffee
    L: soup, apple (free from work)
    D: turkey sausage in HM buns (thanks Jessica!) with peppers (some from garden and freezer) and onions, pinto beans, tossed salad, orange wedges
    S: LO cinnamon buns

    I’m up for a weekly freezer challenge as I’m going to continue with my stockpile (pantry and freezer) challenge into February. I’ll do a bit of shopping-come Feb-for some needed items (coffee, creamer, mayo). I really want to make a dent in all this food. Like others it is slow going with just 2 people in the house. I have a tiny bit of white space, but am hoping for more. Not planning to spend any more money until Feb. I’ve done best by not even looking at the specials. I keep reminding myself that the specials will come around again

  14. Pat says

    I’m in for a weekly freezer challenge! I’ll be using things from my freezers and pantry probably thru February.
    I remember typing my comment for Day 22 but must not have submitted it. Three days-here we go.
    Day 22 was homemade pizza-we had pepperoni/ salami and bbq chicken and apple slices
    Day 23 was roast, potatoes and carrots
    Day 24 was chicken fettuccini alfredo with broccoli and rolls and salad.

  15. Michelle S. in California says

    I definitely want to do an ongoing freezer challenge! I had major surgery the first week of January so l have been down for the count but have been faithfully following all of you and your progress!. I’m impressed with everyone and their commitment to the challenge! I plan to start up with the February challenge and do the pantry challenge at the same time. Friends have blessed us with lots of meals so l am still under budget for the month and my husband has been pulling out some meals and quick breads l had in freezer to fill in the gaps. Isn’t it funny that l couldn’t even cook but we still ate down part of the freezer? ?

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