Day 3, Pantry Challenge 2020

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The first of this year’s Grocery Savings Challenges is the Pantry Challenge, otherwise known as “eat down the pantry” so you can save money and reduce food waste. It’s a great way to welcome the new year and recover from the holidays!

open fridge during a pantry challenge

So, here’s what the insides of the fridge look like at this moment in time. The coffee and the flavored yogurts are for my college son. They make the fridge look fuller than it is.

I’ll confess, it was tempting to go to the store “for produce” today, but I resisted. Or I was lazy. Could be either one.

Seeing as I have a full pan of cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini roasting for tonight’s dinner, and lettuce and cauliflower enough for tomorrow’s meals, I’m thinking we can squeak by for another couple days.

It was a weird day, that first Monday back after what feels like a month of holidays. I feel very unaccomplished.

But, I did eat leftovers. Does that count?


Bryan had his usual steel cut oats for breakfast before he left for work. Our college son clattered around in the kitchen while I was trying to sleep, so I’m thinking he ate something. 😉

When I got up, I reheated some mashed potatoes from Day 1, sauteed some onions, peppers, and mushrooms, and fried a couple eggs. I was hoping that going the veg route would help me fight some of the sugar cravings I’ve been having lately.

Seeing as I baked a pastry later in the day, I’m not sure it worked. Ha!

The kids had waffles, eggs, and cranberry bread when they woke up later.

rolled burritos for the freezer


Bryan has a stash of Chicken Fajita Burritos at work, so that’s what he had for lunch.

The kids made sandwiches. And had leftover donuts. I had the rest of the mashed potatoes and some pork roast.

It all felt so scattered and disjointed. I’m hoping for a more cohesive dinner and tomorrow.

A fun dessert

Today is the official end of Christmas, Epiphany, the day the wise men brought Jesus gifts. And since I had a box of puff pastry in the freezer, we’re celebrating with a French King’s Cake!

I initially read the recipe wrong and thought I was going to be using up some of my stash of almond paste. It wasn’t until I was already committed that I realized that wasn’t the case. Instead, the filling is similar to the topping in my Sweet Almond Toasts (Poorman’s Bostock).

Unfortunately, the puff pastry did not cooperate. I’d never purchased Trader’s Joe’s puff pastry. Turns out it’s narrow and rectangular. I needed square. Rolling it was problematic; after it was rolled and cut and assembled, it shrunk back to its original proportions. And the filling oozed out. 

And it looked like a football when all was said and done. Hmph. I want to revisit this recipe again sometime. We love almond desserts, and it reminded us of Oslo Kringle.


I had purchased several chuck roasts on sale at ALDI a few weeks back, so I made stew with one of them. Kinda of a riff on Boeuf Bourguignon, without all the hassle. Except I used sherry instead of red wine. And cooked it in the crockpot.

So, basically the bacon and mushrooms were the only similarities. Whatevs.

I roasted veggies that will be done in a bit here and cooked Rice in the Instant Pot. I don’t think anyone will complain about beef stew and a cake for dessert. Do you?

How’s your pantry challenge today?


About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Elise says

    Continuing strong!
    B: Eggs and muffins for baby and Dad, oat bar w. fruit and yogurt for Mom
    L: Leftover Greek mac n cheese, muffin, and puree pouch for baby, more oat bar w. fruit and yogurt for Mom, 2 tuna sandwiches for Dad
    D: Round 2 corn chowder for all
    S: Berries for baby, popcorn for Dad, even more oat bar for Mom

    I’ll possibly have to buy yogurt but otherwise, still good!

  2. Julie Smith says

    Our day 3:

    B: eggs and pancakes
    L: sandwiches/salad
    Dinner: leftovers

    I did a freezer inventory yesterday’s, tomorrow’s plan is to do a dry goods inventory.

  3. Tiffany E. says

    Day 3 went great here. Breakfast was more “brunch” because we all overslept (two of us aren’t feeling well). I was going to run into Sprouts for some bananas while my daughter was at ballet, but decided not to because I can hold off a few more days. I put the chicken carcass in the crock pot to make stock for the soup we’re having on Friday.

  4. Laurie Gaither says

    Day 3

    B – hubs had cereal and a banana, I had a small bowl of granola and a protein bar
    L – daughter and I had l/o cauliflower soup and sourdough bread, toddler grandson had roast beef, l/o baked potato and banana, hubs had a roast beef sandwich and chips
    D – orange chicken and brown rice from the freezer. steamed broccoli

    We went to Target for toiletries and I spent $3.49 on King Arthur flour so I can make bread.

  5. Jill says

    I listed out all our dinner, breakfast, lunch, and snack options based on what we had in the pantry, fridge, and freezer, and then wrote out a menu to post on the fridge.

    B: Everyone on their own. Protein shake for me, daughter made malt-o-meal for her, protein shake with a banana for another daughter, and son and husband ate cold cereal.
    L: lunch meat sandwiches with baby carrots and sliced apples, daughter made herself some soup with pasta, frozen veggies, and a box of schicken stock.
    D: I was craving my mom’s shepherd’s pie, but didn’t have the canned stuff on hand she always used. So I just started throwing ingredients in the pot. Mirepoix is a dependable start for many things, right? As I went along my memory would be jogged about what else I had on hand that might work and it did! My own version of shepherd’s pie with lots of veggies from the crisper drawer and some potato flakes from the pantry. For desert I pulled out a box of donuts I had stashed in the freezer last month that a neighbor had given us. Everyone was happy and full and it felt so good! Thank you for starting this.

    • Great job with the pie, Jill! Yes, mirepoix or even just sautéed onions will get the creative juices flowing.

  6. Pat says

    I’m still craving donuts and now I want cake too! I wonder if I could make a donut cake in a bundt pan. Haha
    Breakfast–I ate the last of the egg bake from Saturday and toast. Husband had an omelet with roasted veggies
    Dinner was spaghetti with meat sauce, salad and garlic bread

  7. Kathy in Denmark says

    Day 3:

    B: Oats and milk for DH and DD1, Rye porridge for DD2. Coffee and a roll for me (after dropping kids off)
    L: Packed lunch for kids, rye bread with cold cuts for me, DH skips but has some snacks at work.
    D: Burger and oven fries. Veggie burger for DH, beef burger for the rest of us. Fries were made from scratch. I parboil the potato wedges and put them in a hot oven with a generous amount of oil. I never have any left over 🙂
    S: Fruit, carrots, yogurt

    I think you had a really good day, Jessica! Our kids went back to school/kindergarten on the 2nd and I am still trying to get back to our normal routine! Maybe by the end of this week 😉

  8. Holly Sweet says

    When working breakfast is Cheerios and fresh fruit. Lunch was leftovers. hate buying lunch at work way to expensive. Two of our cats had a vet appointment at 4:30. So dinner was leftovers. Still have some frig for work but it is getting down.

  9. Stephanie M. says

    Monday, January 6, 2020

    B – We both had overnight oatmeal; I also had some peanuts

    L – My husband had sloppy joes, a banana, some Christmas cookies and a piece of chocolate; I had a turkey meat loaf sandwich on whole grain rye and 1/2 a banana

    D – Leftover pot roast. mashed potatoes, and peas

    The pot roast that’s still left will be sliced up and put into the freezer, but all other leftovers are gone; I also divided the leftover sloppy joe mixture into two servings and froze that too for two future lunches

    • Mona says

      HI Stephanie….hope all has been good with you and your family!

      • Stephanie M. says

        Mona!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG! How are you? I’ve missed you so much. Do you have the e-mail address we talk privately on? I’m so very happy to hear from you!!!!!

        • Mona says

          Sure do

          • Stephanie M. says

            I’m so happy to hear that. We would love to have you back with us. There’s just a few of us but I would love to catch up with you. You don’t need to wait till the pantry challenge is over. We are all posting both on the “official” pantry challenge and also on our private e-mail. I would love to hear all about how you’ve been and your grandchildren. We have another grandchild too, a little boy. Please stop by. I frequently post pictures.

  10. Tasty says

    Monday January 6

    B – fruit, yogurt and granola for both of us. Hubby had a muffin and I had a slice of toast.

    L – I had a bowl of l/o h/m cream of chicken soup from the freezer. Hubby was out and grabbed something from a local coffee shop.

    S – chicken cacciatore with rice and brussels sprouts.

  11. Mona says

    Monday January 6

    Breakfast – French toast

    Lunch – Chicken wraps

    Dinner – Alaska pollock fillets, potato casserole and green beans

  12. Karen says

    For January 6

    B: Smoothies
    L: Leftover Chow Mein for hubby and me, my daughter had hot lunch at school.
    D: Tuna casserole and salad, plus my husband’s friend at work gave him a batch of lumpia so we ate those too.

  13. Alice E says

    B – oats, eggs, ww toast and hot tea
    L – he had leftovers from yesterday with cake, I had chicken noodle soup with diced tomatoes
    D – Baked fish, rice pilaf, peas, cake for dessert

    I at least got some rice cooked up. That is one of the things I need to get used up, along with pasta and beans. I’ll need to pick up a loaf of bread, some veg and dairy today. Not going to try baking bread until the weekend at the soonest. Hubby is enjoying the cake so I’ll probably do another one when this is gone.

    It’s so good to have so many of us back. I’m drinking lots of tea lately, for Christmas the grandkids gave me a fancy box of different teas with 8 different flavors and ten bags of each flavor. Of course I keep lots of different teas around anyway so boy do I have tea for now!

  14. we listed 31 meals that we had 80% of the ingredients at home.Going to add a few more winter sq in as they are starting to go bad due to too warm of winter here. I have 3 refrigerators, 4 deep freezers and a pantry that is about 400 sq ft.. Rule for produce is if I have it dried, canned or froze we don’t buy it.

  15. Kara says

    Love reading all the posts and comments.

    I am glad to be back at work. Super busy though and kind of stressful. I brought back my banana and protein bar that I didn’t eat yesterday to keep me from attacking the vending machine.

  16. Roberta says

    Mon. 1/6/20

    B: Cereal, toast (just for the guys), coffee

    L: Packed for the guys (PB/spiced peach butter sandwiches, yogurt, string cheese, apple slices, mandarins, carrot sticks, mini pretzels, olives f/ son, Christmas candy). I had a slice of PB toast, string cheese, and a couple of mandarins.

    D: Carnitas tacos w/ various toppings (guacamole, diced radishes, cilantro, diced grape tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, feta cheese, shredded cheddar), green salad, orange slices, applesauce.

    Much better day meal wise. It was the first time I’d ever made carnitas tacos, and they were a hit (son ate four and probably would have had more if he didn’t have to rush off to swim). I now have 3 or 4 bags of shredded pork in the freezer, so these tacos will show up again this month I’m sure. Used up a baggie of shredded cheddar and was glad to use some of the feta since it had been open for a while. Sprouts had avocados, radishes, and cilantro at decent prices so I was able to offer some fun toppings. The oranges were from our tree (a bumper crop this year, so we’ll be having them frequently). The spiced peach butter was home-canned last summer using peaches from our trees. Applesauce was also home-canned (apples bought at Oak Glen).

    Baked three loaves of bread (two WW for sandwiches and one cinnamon/dried cranberry for breakfast toast for the guys).

    • Heather M says

      Impressive work in the kitchen! it all sounds delicious!

    • Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

      Your spiced peach butter sounds so good. I have a pork butt in the freezer so carnitas may be on our menu sometime before the month is over. We like them too.

    • I love carnitas!! So yummy!

  17. Terry says

    I dashed out early to get the shopping done. Came home at lunch time and made bacon and cheese omelets with some sliced oranges on the side. Later I made soup with turkey broth cooked earlier in the week. Added fresh veggies that had been dying in the veggie drawer, a leftover cooked potato and some turkey meatballs. Of course it made a big pot so we will have leftovers. Late night snack was a meatball sandwich.

  18. Maureen says

    Monday was a quiet day with the kids back at school. I had leftovers for lunch, though. Dinner was gnocchi and sauce from the freezer with the other half loaf of garlic bread from a couple of days ago. I’ve been buying a lot of fruit and veggies and putting them out for snacks and meals – we’ve all eaten more this way.

  19. Kathy from Ohio says


    B hubs had a whole wheat bagel, I had poached eggs and rye toast
    L I had a salad hubs had a Rubin
    D scalloped potatoes and ham corn and green beans, rolls, al from leftovers or pantry.

  20. Heather M says

    Late in coming with my report from 1/6. It was my not-happy birthday, and I was showered with more love than I’ve ever had in my life. I know it was because of my brother’s passing, but it really helped my spirits, even if it was short-lived.

    B: L skipped; I had the last blueberry muffin leftover from Christmas
    L: glad I grabbed turkey and tomatoes at the store Saturday, because our whole wheat bread was still good. So I made L a turkey, salami, and tomato sandwich to take to work, along with an apple(one of the few fresh fruits we have still), tortilla chips, and a slice of the most delicious lemon bread/cake my friend dropped off yesterday(4 slices-perfect for 2 of us). Two of my closer friends took me to lunch at Panera, and I chose comfort food at it’s finest- broccoli cheddar soup and half a tuna sandwich.
    D: we ordered chinese food (L’s idea-I’m not good with those kinds of decisions right now) and got comfort food favorites for the two of us and have lots leftover-pork fried rice, Singapore noodles, and General Tso’s chicken. For dessert I was spoiled- two different friends dropped off 2 slices each of different homemade chocolate cakes. I had one of each and wow. They were so delicious. One was reminiscent of Texas sheetpan cake(which I love) but taller, and the other was a dark rich, incredible bundt. That friend is amazing in the kitchen and the cake did not disappoint.

    No clearing of anything from the cupboards or fridge/freezer, but also no shopping (I don’t count my takeout Birthday Dinner). And somehow managed to send L with a lunch. So I’ll count it as a win.

    • Tasty says

      Heather, glad family and friends rallied around and let you enjoyed your birthday.

      Sorry for your loss.

    • Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

      Heather so glad you felt the love from your friends and that it helped during this sad time.

    • I’m so glad you’ve got people nearby to surround you! More hugs coming your way, Heather! (And yes, I’d say you can definitely count the packed lunch as a win!)

  21. Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

    B: yogurt
    L: LO chicken cordon bleu casserole
    D: beef stroganoff (LO beef from freezer), spaghetti squash (freezer), raw carrots, clementines
    S: crackers

    DH, who is picky about bread, said he was out of “good bread” so I went to the store to buy some loaves of “good bread”. While there, cherries were on sale which I never remember here in Jan. I bought just a handful, along with the bread. This particular store
    was having a coupon promotion where I was able to get 2 small, individual milks, stevia and yogurt for free. This dairy will delay
    my need to purchase any during the challenge. The stevia I will take to work. Total spent so far $8.79. While at the store I started to pick up some ranch dressing, but remembered I had some ranch dip in the refrigerator that I could thin with the free milk and I can use Jessica’s’ recipe as well.

    I’ve got 2 packages of puff pastry in the freezer myself that I need to use up so will be looking at recipes.

    • Great job remembering you can make ranch yourself! There are several recipes here with puff pastry. I’ve got one more box, so I’ll be making jam tarts. 🙂

      • Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

        Thanks, I ‘ll check them out.

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