Day 4, Pantry Challenge 2020

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Looking to save money on food costs? Join the 2020 Grocery Savings Challenges! This month’s challenge is to eat up whatcha got to reduce food waste and spend less on groceries. Here’s how day 4 of the Pantry Challenge went for me.

cup of tea with bowl of berries and yogurt

Slowly but surely, we’re getting back into a groove. We’ve had a cold/cough thing going around the house. Currently, the four youngest are waking up at night hacking. Even when your youngest is 11, night time coughs still wake a mama. What can I say?

Mom’s Breakfast

After a very tasty breakfast of blueberries, Greek yogurt, and muesli, I headed out to Walmart to load up on Vicks, NyQuil, EmergenC, and what have you so we can kick this bug to the curb.

Years ago I did a price comparison and found out that Walmart is not the best game in town for groceries, so I don’t go there often. Since I’m particular about my flours and they’re the only one that carries it, I bought a couple bags of unbleached flour that I know I will need in the next week. I grabbed baking powder, too.

groceries in cart at Walmart

And since my breakfast was soooo very yummy, I bought another container of Greek yogurt. I ended up spending $19, so that brings my monthly total up to $67. I will likely buy more veg tomorrow on my way home from Bible study.

Kid’s Breakfast

Meanwhile, back at home, the kids were having waffles, Cranberry bread, yogurt, and fruit. I like to serve a Breakfast Bar on weekdays to save time.

I usually cook up several different baked goods on Sunday along with hard cooked eggs. Then the kids can easily make their breakfasts while not completely relying on toast and cereal.

Lunch

I pulled several containers of chicken stock from the freezer and whipped up a big pot of Chicken Noodle Soup. It’s a favorite for the kids and really great for colds.

My 17yo who is trying to put on some weight, made himself FOUR turkey sandwiches. LOL

chicken salad sandwich on plate with carrots

For myself I made a Chicken Salad Club Sandwich, using leftover bacon from last night’s stew. Scraping the bottom of the barrel for vegetables, but I took a couple minute to cut carrot sticks.

Even though we’re all eating well, and we’re using up what we have, we haven’t seemed to make a dent in the freezer. In fact, with the marinara sauce and the stuffed shells from the other day, I seem to be filling it more than emptying it!

But, I do feel good about seeing white space in the fridge. It was getting claustrophobic there.

Tonight, in prepping for taco night, I gathered up several random lumps of cheddar cheese and even some slices that were just in a baggy and shredded those up. Feels good to use up the random stuff first. Should probably do that for the small freezer. It’s kinda scary in there.

cauliflower nachos

Dinner

This afternoon I cooked up the last flat of chicken that I bought last week at ALDI, used this Poached Chicken recipe, only used chili powder for seasoning.

I had two boxes of crunchy taco shells, so I made Chicken Oven Tacos, one of our favorites. Basically, layer the meat and cheese into cold shells and bake for about five minutes at 350. Then everyone can top it how they like.

I usually make Cauliflower Nachos for myself (and whoever else wants it) on Taco Night. Roast the cauliflower with some olive oil spray, salt, and pepper. Once it’s tender, add cheese and taco meat and return to the oven to melt the cheese. Then top as you like.

No, it’s not the same as nachos, but it’s filling and gets more veggies in me.

I topped the night off with a cup of decaf espresso and a couple Malted Milk Biscuits. My friend Gale brought them back from the UK last summer and I’m hoarding them in the freezer.

They are hard to find here in the States. Nay, impossible. Another reason to save money on groceries so we can go back to the UK!

How are you doing with your challenge today?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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Comments

  1. Alice E says

    B – Oats, eggs, hot tea and WW toast for hubby
    L – leftovers from frig
    D – Pizza
    evening snack for hubby – last of the cake

    Tired out after volunteering so I stopped and got the 12.99 large pizza special at my favorite place. I’ll probably do more cooking Friday and Saturday. I have more energy every day, but it builds slowly at my age when you’re still recovering from the cold/cough bug. We are eating up the leftovers so at least I’m not losing ground.

    Jessica, hope everyone gets over the bug quick and that it doesn’t lay you low. I’m so glad that when the bug hit I was stocked up on broth and the basics to fight it.

  2. Christina Scarce says

    Breakfast was chia pudding for me, DH had a couple breakfast burritos, and I’m not sure what the boys had. They left early for a Bible study before school. For DH & the boys lunches were leftovers. I tried my hand at falafel and have decided to adjust the recipe and serve it for supper one night this month when we need a quick supper. Supper tonight was frozen burritos baked with enchilada sauce and cheese. I made a quick stop at the salvage grocery store for produce and discovered Tuesdays are not the day to get produce. They get trucks on Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays. Since it is so close to my job I might run by after work tomorrow. I was told I could check Facebook to see what they get before coming in. I think Ill do that. I snagged a loaf of bread, some bagels, some slider rolls, 3 lbs of lemons, and 3 bags of frozen veggies. I spent $9.51 which is my total for the month so far.

  3. Laurie Gaither says

    B- I had a berry protein shake, sh had toast

    L – I cubed up the last of the roast beef from Friday night and made carne asada out of it for tacos

    D – hubs had cereal, I had l/o cauliflower soup and toasted sourdough bread

    Hubs picked up corn tortillas and a loaf of bread this morning and spent $5.50

    • Tasty says

      Tuesday 7tb January

      B – fruit and yogurt with granola. Hubby also had a muffin.

      L – ground beef/mushroom quiche

      S – chilli over baked potato

      The last time I bought ground beef for some reason I did not repackage it into useable for 2 seniors packs. So in the morning I had almost 4lbs of ground beef to do something with.

      The first thing was the quiche. I had pastry cases in the freezer, mushrooms to use and some odds and ends of cheese to use. That is good for 2 lunches for us.

      Next on the agenda was Salisbury steaks. I have a recipe I like but hadn’t made them for at least a couple of years. They are now snuggled into the freezer, well wrapped with the gravy in a separate container, ready for one night soon.

      Then I took a jar of h/m pasta sauce and added some browned ground beef, extra seasonings and let that simmer on the stove for a while.

      The remaining ground beef was turned into a big pot of chilli which simmered away for the afternoon. It too was packaged up and will head back to the freezer this morning but there are several lunches and suppers ready to go

    • I’m always impressed when someone comes out of the grocery store with only two things!

  4. Jennifer C says

    Today I had a fried egg on avocado toast then packed a leftover and snacky lunch. The last of the crackers and the last of the carrot sticks and some hummus. Leftover macaroni lasagna too. Dinner was the last of the poached chicken, cooked into fried rice. I did have to go to the grocery for milk, bread, lunch meat, a treat and yogurt. The kids were complaining there wasn’t anything for their lunches. Leftovers don’t cut it as they have no access to a microwave at the comm college. Spent $28. I’m at $108 for this first week of Jan. I’d hope to spend half of that but it’s still less than we normally spend.

    • That’s too bad about the microwave. Our kids have one in the cafeteria. You’re still doing great!

  5. Kelly says

    I spent a boatload of money at Costco today, but I had to buy different foods for a treatment plan I’m starting Thursday. I saw Wheat Montana flour at Sprouts. We had cinnamon rolls for breakfast (homemade with pantry staples) and chicken with carrots and potatoes. More freezer and pantry staples.

    • If my Sprouts carries the flour, it’s a lot more than Walmart. This is the one thing that Walmart is cheaper at. LOL.

      • Kelly Cook says

        I didn’t pay attention to the price, I was looking for buckwheat flour. They have that too.

  6. Kelly says

    The chicken was dinner. ?

  7. Pat says

    1/7/20
    No one had breakfast at home. Our son had to work and he probably ate there. We had a meeting with our financial advisor that lasted 3 hours. It’s all good and didn’t seem that long.
    Lunch–I had an egg sandwich and an apple.
    Dinner was chicken tacos or chicken taco salad
    Hopefully the adults at your house will stay well and the kids will recover quickly.

  8. Julie Smith says

    Breakfast: cereal for the kids, cranberry oatmeal for me
    Lunch: school lunch/packed lunch/leftovers depending on the person
    Dinner: I made your stuffed shells you posted the other night, using manicotti shells instead. I made some with chicken and some with just the cheese filling, but I added ricotta to that one. (Hubby and possibly 12 y/o have a chicken allergy depending on the brand. I assume it’s one of the fillers. Last nights chicken was store brand which is usually suspect). I didn’t know if it would be a hit but it was! Had a salad for a side and pulled a store bought pie from the freezer.

    I made some homemade cashew larabar balls but they didn’t turn out quite right. I remembered you have a recipe here so I’ll give yours a try next.

  9. Terry says

    Very little cooking here today. A pot of rice, some of that for fried rice for lunch. Chefs salads for dinner.
    I did buy 12 red bell peppers and a dented one gallon can of black olives at cash and carry. 3.18 total. I’m thinking pizza for Wednesday featuring black olives, red bell peppers and some ham and pepperoni from the freezer. I’m off to mix up the dough so it can rise slowly overnight. Groceries for the month are at 57.00.

  10. Stephanie M. says

    Tuesday, January 7, 2020

    B – My husband had cereal and a banana; I had a yogurt parfait (vanilla yogurt, sliced banana, granola) for fruit, I either use banana, strawberries, or blueberries.

    L – My husband had baked ziti from the freezer from when I made it a couple of months ago; he also had the last jello and some grapes; I had the last of the turkey meat loaf on whole grain rye and 1/2 a banana

    D – BLT’s and French fries

  11. Jennifer says

    For breakfast we all had leftover muffins. Who knows for lunch, we all pack our own. For dinner I used the remains of the ham off the bone I got from my sister on New Years. We had ham and cheese quesadillas along with fresh cut up veggies.

    Tonight’s dinner is going to use up the ham bone in a ham bean soup. I am boiling up a turkey leg (from Thanksgiving) right now to make chicken broth to be the base of the soup tonight. We have leftover homemade baking powder biscuits in the freezer I will pull out too.

  12. Karen says

    For breakfast I made up a scone mix (I bought a bunch of scone and muffin mixes after Christmas on clearance from King Arthur Flour). We had those with leftover sausage links and fruit.

    For lunch my daughter and I both took leftover sausage and white bean soup. My husband took his usual frozen entree (that’s his standard unless there are leftovers he REALLY likes).

    For dinner I made rumbledethumps, which is a really fun word to say! Basically mashed potatoes mixed with sauteed cabbage, onion, and some kind of meat (I used some Canadian bacon from the freezer), topped with cheese, and baked in a casserole dish until bubbly.

    Our neighbor brought over some cookies so we had that for dessert! 🙂

  13. Mona says

    Tuesday January 7, 2020

    Breakfast -We had French Toast

    Lunch – He had a turkey sandwich and yogurt, I took my best friend out for her birthday

    Dinner – Chicken tenderloins, pierogies and leftover peas

  14. Elise says

    We had:
    B – Eggs, PB toast for husband and baby
    L – Waffle PB&J for baby, tuna sandwiches for husband, oatmeal bar w. berries for me
    D – Hamburger Helper with broccoli for all three, puree pouch for baby (as she wasn’t feeling her broccoli last night!)
    S – Two Lindor truffles for Mom and Dad, a banana muffin for baby

  15. Kristina says

    I went to the grocery store yesterday. I only spent $40 and that’s it for the week! We’ve been eating a lasagna I made before Christmas this week. There’s some space in the freezer now!
    I really need to bake again soon. My baking supplies cupboard is so full!

  16. Maureen says

    Tuesday was busy, but I planned ahead. I did stop at the store for more clementines (my girls said they were amazing so I had to get more) and found a few other great fruit sales. I had leftovers for lunch. Dinner was chicken tacos – a family favorite that I included in this week’s menu because we had all of the ingredients and there will be a couple of meals that will not be as well received in order to clean out the freezer a bit. I made extra rice to eat with my leftover roast at lunches this week. Everyone ate a lot of fruit. I need to get some veggies prepped for munching on Wednesday.

  17. Karen J says

    Both my Bestie and my daughter have the yucky cold/cough/extreme tiredness thing. Crossing my fingers that I don’t get it.
    B-I pulled some cranberry and banana bread out of the freezer. Also I bake my bacon a pound at a time (thank you, Jessica, for that) and put what I don’t use in the freezer. Easy to grab a slice or two for breakfast.
    L-I picked up the grandson from preschool because mom was sick. We had canned peaches and cinnamon toast for lunch. That boy is a picky eater but loves canned peaches, especially when he has a straw to drink the juice. Grandma also give him milk for a bit more nutrition.
    D-A small pork roast cooked all day in the crockpot and it was fall apart tender. I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute and the house smelled so good! We had that with garlic mashed potatoes, peas, and the last two of the breadsticks from the other day. I portioned out the rest of the meat into two bags-one for pulled pork sandwiches and another for ??
    My current strategy is to pull the big things out of the freezer, like the pork roast, early in the month so I see some progress. I made a calendar with dinners for the month for what we have on hand, however I’m mix and matching the days and just crossing off whichever meal I cook.

    • Sounds like a really great strategy!

    • Maureen says

      That’s my favorite way to meal plan. I find it very helpful to have a list to pull from when I’m figuring out what to make. It doesn’t work for me to assign days and be stuck with that plan.

  18. Roberta says

    Tues. 1/7/20

    B: Cereal, toast f/ the guys, coffee.

    L: Packed for the guys (the same thing as Mon.). Salad w/ a hardboiled egg, string cheese, and a mandarin for me.

    D: Pepperoni and olive pizza, salad, applesauce.

    I really need to work on adding variety to our breakfasts. Cold cereal is pricey and lacks staying power, but it’s just so darn easy. I have plenty of plain oatmeal so I need to make some “instant oatmeal” packets, and breakfast burritos for the freezer sound like a good idea. Your breakfast bar idea sounds good as well. I have bananas that MUST be used ASAP and lots of eggs, so maybe I’ll do something with that for the rest of this week. I’ve got yogurt that needs to be eaten up too. If I make some granola we can have parfaits. Must–get–my–act–together.

    • The Breakfast Bar has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.

    • Heather Lawless says

      Roberta,
      Thanks for sharing. Breakfast used to be difficult for me until i started with thebreakfast options in jessixa’s Freezer cookbook. I make the two types egg casseroles, the quinoa egg bites are very easy after the quinoa is cooked. It adds a lot of protein and fiber along with the easy veggies. I used what I had, spi ach instead of brocolli. They freeze well and are easy to reheat. I also do the oatmeal packets, but iend up nuking them to get done as i like…hope this helps..

      • So glad to hear those breakfasts are working well for you!

      • Roberta says

        Oh, yes! I remember seeing the quinoa egg bites and thinking they would be good to try, especially since son’s swim season is gearing up and that boy needs extra protein!

        Thanks for jogging my memory!

  19. Heather Lawless says

    Yesterdays continuation of empty freezer, made three racks of costco ribs, used Jamie’s spice mix (in freezer) for rub, bought bbq sauce because we like it..fixed potatoes, so glad this is out of freezer.
    Will use up other stuff and make two Spicy Taco Lasagna to freeze for the weekend. So excited.
    Made 2 yogurts w/ fruit. Out of yogurt..time for costco trip to get more for cooking and eating. 48 ounce size is best deal for me.
    Working on using my new planning tools as well.

  20. Kathy in Denmark says

    Day 4:

    B: oats and milk for DH and DD1. Rye bread for DD2. Roll and coffee for me
    L: DH skips, Packed lunches for kids (using the last of the LO pizza), HM pigs in blanket from the freezer for me.
    D: Pasta with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. I also put out some crubled feat for those who wanted that.
    S: Fruit, kransekage (a cake made with marcipan for NYE)

    The pigs in blankets were in the freezer because I had tried a new recipe for the dough, which the kids weren’t fond of, and I don’t blame them. I decided to take one for the team and eat them myself so they didn’t get wasted 🙂 There were only enough for one lunch.

    • I have taken one for the team on more than one occasion. LOL.

    • Heather M says

      Oh the taking one for the team. It has to be done if we don’t want to waste. Good job! 🙂

  21. Jodi says

    Jumping in late!
    Breakfast today was coffee and some leftover eggnog for me, cereal for my 3 boys and the usual bagel with cream cheese and greek yogurt for DH.
    I am feeling the arrival of the annual pollen party we get here in Central Texas, so I skipped lunch. High school boy had chicken nuggets and random snacks in his lunchbox, elementary boy ate school lunch and oldest was heard scavenging through pantry at one point.
    Tonight was D&D night for all the guys, so we used a gift card to eat Whataburger.
    Snacks were leftover holiday cookies and some nuts. Hoping to get it together enough Thursday to cook something out of the fridge. I hope I am putting this under right day! I don’t see dates on the posts so I am guessing. Onward toward the weekend!

    • Sorry about the confusion. I’ll make some adjustments so you can see the latest posts on the front page.

  22. Laurie Decker says

    I took the chicken bones and pieces and have been cooking in my huge roaster, throwing in veggies from several bags, etc..and when finished, jarred it up. I have a small electric pressure cooker which can handle 4 quarts at a time. I made a total of 8 quarts. I’m so lucky my husband loves the soup, throws leftover rice and any stray veggies. He will eat it every day for lunch. I couldn’t do that because I would be totally bored in 2 days of the soup. Tonight we’re having hamburgers with a package of the ground beef I found looking for the chicken caresses. I have to sit down and make a menu plan for the next week. As of today, I haven’t spent any money at the grocery store. My veggie box was delivered yesterday so we’re good for a few days.

  23. Heather M says

    Didn’t get on here earlier so here’s my late report for Tuesday, January 7:

    B: L skipped, I had chocolate chip banana bread a friend dropped off the night before for my birthday
    L: L took turkey/salami/tomato on whole wheat and an apple since it’s all we have right now, tortilla chips, and his last of 2 slices of lemon bread/cake a friend dropped by on Sunday; I had a scrambled egg, turkey breakfast sausage, and a few slices of bacon
    D: L had to work extremely late due to the news of the world and they sent over dinner to him and his colleagues; I had leftover lasagna

  24. Megan says

    I’m comforted to hear you’re having the same experience with your freezer! I feel like eventually it’s going to even out but I was starting to worry that I was just shifting the food from one side to the other. ? The fridge and pantry are starting to look great, though!

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