Day 27, Pantry Challenge 2020

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oceanside sunset

This Pantry Challenge post is brought to you by 61 degrees and calm skies.

I know those of you inlanders will find this hard to believe, but it’s easy to forget how beautiful the beach can be. Tonight our family got a reminder of how blessed we are to live here.

Bryan got home at 3 like normal and we got to chatting about things the girls wanted to do this evening. We weren’t super keen on the activity, but he came up with an alternative.

Why don’t we go walk along the beach and grab dinner out?

Old me might have said, “Pantry Challenge.”

But, it’s been an interesting few years when kids have been growing up and preferring not to do things with the old parents. Any opportunity to be with our kids is now something we guard preciously. 

And when all the kids who were home this afternoon were enthusiastic about the outing, you know there was a no way I was gonna say no.

We got there about an hour before sunset. We swung on the swings, walked along the beach, talked and laughed.

Usually it’s quite breezy, but tonight it was ultra calm. I’ve never seen the beach so calm. It was really beautiful and peaceful. And so worth jumping ship for.

After the sky turned a million brilliant shades, we had dinner at In-n-Out and I don’t regret it one bit. 

Plus, dinner for 6 of us cost less than $30, so I call that a win.


This morning I cooked up two different egg bakes: one loaded with veggies, the other our standard Sausage Egg Hash Brown Casserole. We had the last of the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins  and the last loaf of sourdough bread.


Lunch was a hodge podge. I made tuna salad — with canned tuna imported from Maui! lol It was just Chicken of the Sea that I bought on vacation and packed home with us.

Some kids had Tuna Melt Sandwiches; others had grilled cheese. I had tuna salad lettuce wraps.


The California supper as previously described.

February’s challenge

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We finish the Pantry Challenge tomorrow. How ya doing?


About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Laurie Gaither says

    B – toast and bananas for both of us, I had peanut butter on my toast and milk
    L – hubs had l/o chicken noodle soup and crackers, I had my l/o Chinese food
    D – hubs had the last of the l/o pork tenderloin and baby carrots, I had a cup of chicken noodle soup, slice of sourdough toast and an orange

    I think we’ve about exhausted the leftovers. I might actually have to cook tomorrow, lol

  2. Pat says

    The beach was and dinner out sounds lovely!
    Tonight we used up the last of the salsa verde beef by turning it into soup. I added broth,onions, celery, a can of Mexi corn, some homemade salsa and orzo. It tasted really good. We also had the last of the salad from the other day.

  3. Stephanie M. says

    You’re family evening sounds so nice!!!

    B – Paul had a bagel and yogurt parfait; I had a bagel, yogurt, and V8

    L – Paul had pot roast and lettuce on whole wheat using up the last two slices of pot roast from the freezer; he also had pound cake that I made last week, cut into slices, and froze; I had turkey and lettuce on whole grain rye and 1/2 a banana

    D – French Toast (I made a lot of French toast a few weeks ago and froze to use when I don’t feel like cooking) and turkey sausage

  4. Tasty says

    A walk on the beach sounds lovely and what a beautiful sunset.

    Thursday January 30th
    B – baked apple, yogurt and a muffin for me, hubby had his usual grapefruit, pineapple yogurt and granola with a muffin.

    L- egg salad sandwiches

    S – chicken, potatoes and peas

  5. Alice E says

    The beach pic was lovely and your outing very reasonable in cost. Thank you for sharing that lovely picture. May this grandma applaud your putting family time as a priority. You can always have an extra pantry day later.

    B – Oats, eggs, hot tea and l/o biscuits for hubby
    L – he took pb sandwich and cookies, I had chicken sandwich
    D – he had hotdogs, I had split pea soup and sandwich

    I lacked the energy to cook much so picked up a pack of sale hotdogs while at the store for buttermilk and mandarins and a couple sale items on the way home from volunteering. These are a rare treat for hubby since I don’t eat them.

    I also stopped at Aldi’s for eggs and frozen veg since we are very low on the frozen veg for us. I like to have lots of veg. I planned to get the mandarins there also, but the quality was terrible so I waited and bought them at my main store. I’m not that impressed with Aldi’s, there are a few things with the price very good but so many things like buttermilk and unbleached flour that they don’t carry. Their price on oats is actually 10 cents higher than my grocery store for generic oats. So, I compare prices and buy a few things with my eggs when I need them but mostly buy on sale at my regular store.

  6. Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

    Jessica, as a fellow coastal girl, you are right. With such beauty all around, it’s important to remember and enjoy it. Children grow up much too fast. πŸ™ Also important to remember and enjoy them! Your sunset was beautiful. We’ve had quite a few gorgeous evenings here as well. I posted a recent sunset picture and no one could believe that I had actually taken it. It looked like a post card it was so lovely with purples and oranges. Here at the beach in NC recently it was SO calm as truly looked like a lake. There were no waves, only tiny ripples lapping on the beach. I’d never seen it like that here before in 20+ years. We get so much wind here on the Outer Banks, that calm can be hard to come by. Whether east coast or west, the ocean makes for beautiful views!

    Our grocery store was having a sale and coupon promotion that made for some sales that were too good to miss. Sometimes with this promo the good items get bought up quickly, so didn’t want to wait til the last day which is tomorrow. So I spent 4.09 which I didn’t think was too bad. πŸ˜‰ I was able to get cage free eggs (normally 6.49) for 1.49 and some short cut chicken strips for .49/pkg. I don’t use many convenience foods at all, but thought they would be good to go on a salad or in a quesadilla for quick evenings, so considered it a good buy. I also picked up a couple of free apples from another promo to add to the produce bin and had gotten a small container of free milk at work. My purchases bring my total to $38.39 for the month. I’m actually shocked I could come in that low, and clearly could have come in a little lower if I’d resisted a few purchases. I’ve participated in the PC before, but not with the fidelity of this one. I’m proud of myself and also really glad to get older items out of the freezer and pantry.

    I am going to go shopping for the things that we are out of (DH is complaining that we don’t have good old yellow mustard. Now we have dijon, spicy brown and stone ground, but NO yellow (!) so that is one of his requests. He’s been a good egg in all this, so I’ll be honoring his requests but not going overboard). He had requested chips and dip for the Super Bowl. Last night as I was freezer diving, I found bacon horseradish dip in there, so now I’m good on that! But creamer for maybe one more morning, so time to replenish that. and mayo, etc. I see that continuing the PC is one of your suggestions with the new kitchen challenges, so that is what I’m going to do.

    It has been a really fun challenge and I’m so glad I went “all in” this time. Thank you so much again for hosting us all. I’m hoping others will continue along with the journey. It’s been great meeting up with old virtual friends here again this year! Such a nice supportive group with good ideas shared along the way, and wonderful camaraderie. .

    I also want to check out the book you referenced. I’m looking at retiring this year, so it might be good to read this one. I’ve done some investigation but the more I know the better! The whole idea makes me nervous!!

    On to meals:
    B: toast, egg, coffee
    L: LO minestrone. There’s about a serving and a half left and DH is tired of it, so I’ll finish it off.
    D: LO creamy chicken pesto pasta, tossed salad, orange wedges. We’ve been eating a lot of oranges since that’s one of the seasonal fruits available at a good price right now. But with all the illness going around, I figure the more vitamin C the better.

    See everybody for the final accounting πŸ™‚

  7. Jodi says

    Our breakfast was standard.
    L: leftover ground beef and cheesy potatoes for me. Sandwich for oldest boy and other 2 ate at school. Hubs had frozen meal and a bunch of fruit.
    D: I chiseled some chicken fried steak patties out of freezer and had those with a random bag of instant massed potatoes.
    Bought cheese and milk today and took advantage of a gift card deal at Target so spent about $60. Will still need to get snack stuff for super bowl as we will have company but looking to come in sound $550 for January, a savings of nearly $400. I am most excited about our eating out budget this month. We usually go out a lot for fast food, spending $400 or so. This month, I kept it to once a week and $200.

    • Heather M says

      Ha! I did the same at Target yesterday (Friday). I went in just for a few things and saw if you spend $50, free $10. so I decided to buy a bit more. πŸ™‚

  8. Kristin says

    I’m going to finish this month about 1/2 of what the USDA recommends at the thrifty level for my family. Woohoo! That’s a big win with 14 people here to feed 3 meals a day!

    And I’m going to keep it up in February!

    Thanks for the motivation!

    • Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

      Kristin, congrats! That’s amazing that you were at half the thrifty level for your family. I can’t imagine cooking for 14! If you’re continuing on in February, I’ll be doing the same. Again,!

  9. Roberta says

    Good choice! Time with family always trumps a PC IMHO. I’ve gotta ask though: How in the world do you manage to feed 6 at In-N-Out for less than $30? That’s about what we spend for just the three of us.

    Thurs. 1/30/20

    B: Hubs had oatmeal w/ blueberries and whipped cream, toast, OJ, and coffee. Son and I had oatmeal w/ cinnamon and brown sugar (and milk), toast for Son, OJ, coffee (me), and chai (Son).

    L: The guys had packed lunches as usual, but I subbed LO pizza for their normal PBJs. (Nobody complained. LOL) Hubs also had yogurt w/ peach butter, but Son opted out of yogurt since we were out of strawberry jam. I had PB toast, string cheese, orange slices, carrot sticks, and a chocolate-banana-applesauce muffin.

    D: Butternut Squash Kale and Quinoa Stew, the last of the cheddar coins, toast (guys only), apple and orange slices. The squash, kale, garlic, and oranges were all from our backyard, and I also used up a couple of containers of HM veggie stock from the freezer.

    I harvested a ton of oranges from our tree (and there are still quite a few more that I couldn’t reach), so I’m looking for ways to use them up (besides just resorting to juicing them). I do want to zest a bunch of them and keep the zest in the freezer because I know they are pesticide free.

    • Our bill was $28 something. We each got a burger. The guys get double meat. We split four orders of fries. And we drink water when we go out. That’s been our MO forever.

      • Jodi says

        Smart! I am amazed at how much sodas add to a bill.

  10. Maureen says

    I’ve been busy the last few days, so it’s a bit of a blur. We ordered pizza one night that was super busy, but I didn’t quite get enough on purpose, so everyone supplemented with fruit, etc. I ran a teacher appreciation lunch at our middle school one day, so I ate lunch there and came home with a couple of small servings of things. We’ve continued to work on the leftovers. Tonight will be stirfry (not much chicken, veggies from the crisper), rice, and frozen dumplings (that I stocked up on, but son no longer loves). The girls will eat some leftovers, too, since they don’t love stirfry. I popped in to the store today because we needed milk. Grabbed a little fruit on sale and some Cheese Itz that I’ve hidden for later. There were some other good sales, but I passed them by. I’m thinking appetizers for Sunday…I have a variety of things already in the freezer. I need to organize the fridge tonight while making dinner and meal plan for the rest of the weekend. I will definitely be shopping the pantry/freezer first for ALL of February.

  11. Janet says

    I always try to finish a pantry challenge month with a few family favorite meals. Thus we had
    B: Just the mix of usual
    L: Pizza (our gluten free child was not eating with us)
    D: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and wilted spinach in hot bacon vinaigrette for dinner!

    Not the healthiest of meals, but lots of smiles.

  12. Heather M says

    I’m just now reading through the entire week’s postings. I was in hibernation mode again this week. My brother’s passing is kicking my rear end and Kobe Bryant’s sudden passing on Sunday, exactly 4 weeks after my brother, well.

    Jessica, I just wanted to say that this post and that pic. Oh so gorgeous. Making me miss home. Add re your kids and time with them? You absolutely made the right call. We value every second with ours and each facetime, text, etc., now that they’re both away at school. And today we are happy because they are in Park City together, enjoying 3 movies together at the Sundance Film Festival. Our son has been there since Tuesday evening(his christmas gift, plus a free place to stay at my friend’s parents’ home) and loving every minute. He called a few weeks back saying he’d bought her tickets to 3 films for them to see together today. Wow, did that make my heart happy, and I do not mind that those charges will show up on my credit card. Any time my kids can spend together developing their grownup relationship is gold. They are in college about 2.5 hours away from each other so see each other only sometimes during the semester. family time is precious.

  13. lisa s says

    B: toast, fruit, cereal, coffee, juice
    L: appetizers
    D: Stromboli: red, pepperoni, olive and white, spinach, ham (had pepperoni and white caesar sauce that needed using up.

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