Day 5, Pantry Challenge 2020

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This month, as part of this year’s Grocery Savings Challenges, I’m trying to stay out of the stores and focus on using up what we have in the pantry, fridge, and freezer. Here’s how we ate on Day 5 of our 2020 Pantry Challenge

breakfast and bible study

Here we are on day 5 of our pantry challenge. Honestly, it hasn’t been that hard. Yet.

I know from experience that I’ll probably be whining and complaining in a few weeks, but right now, I feel so rich with possibilities.

I misjudged how much the family would eat the last couple days, so now we’ve got extra chicken that needs eating before I cook something new. I had planned Lawnmower Taco for dinner (shh! don’t tell the kids), but that’s gonna get bumped for another night while we use up the chicken in Burrito Bowls.


You’ll notice a theme when it comes to our breakfasts. For my part, I eat the same thing almost every day: 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, a batch of my homemade muesli, and a cup of crunchy blueberries.

They must be crunchy blueberries. I won’t buy them if they’re not hard as rocks.

This recent batch of blueberries from ALDI has been amazing — cheap AND amazing. That’s a double win.

In the past, I’ve bought whole roasted almonds and chopped them for my muesli. This month, in order to shave some money off the grocery bill, I bought slivered almonds. I need to toast them to get the same taste and texture, but since I make several cups of muesli at one time, it’s working out.

The kids had the last of the waffles along with smoothies this morning. I stock a smoothie bar in the freezer so it’s very serve-yourself.

ALDI grocery cart pantry challenge

Grocery Shopping

On the way home from Bible Study, I stopped at ALDI for fresh produce, milk, and eggs. I try to time my shopping trips for when I’m already out so I can save gas and time.

I ended up buying blueberries, pineapple, bananas, carrots, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, scallions, coleslaw mix, cilantro, spinach, mushrooms, Southwest Salad mix, crushed red pepper flakes, eggs, half & half, and milk. And yes, they had chicken marked down to $1.19/pound, so I did buy another flat.

I spent $42 which brings my monthly total to $109.

And since someone left their cart in the parking lot, I made 25 cents by bringing their cart back, too. That happened last time I was there as well.

PSA: You do get your quarter back, if you want it. 😉

quarters from aldi


When I got home the kids were wrapping up their lunches. They had Chicken Salad Sandwiches.

I ate leftover Cauliflower Nachos as well as a bag of the Southwest Salad with some leftover chick peas and the last hard cooked egg. All super delicious and it felt good using up containers in the fridge.

southwest salad mix in metal bowl


Tonight Bryan and I have date night, so it will just be the kids. They’re having Instant Pot Rice, Beans, and Chicken in burrito bowls with hot sauce, guacamole, and sour cream. It’s one of their favorite meals.

Tomorrow night I will round up all the leftovers of the week and Make Soup from Leftovers

So far, so good. 

How is the Pantry Challenge going at your house?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Tasty says

    Wednesday January 8th

    B – fruit, yogurt and granola and a muffin for both of us

    L – ham and cheese sandwich

    S – leftover ground beef quiche, leftover scalloped potatoes and some baked beans from the freezer

    Lots of room in the fridge tonight having used so many bits and pieces ?

  2. Lynn from NC Outer Banks says


    B: cottage cheese with pineapple
    L: the last of the LO chicken casserole, mandarin
    D: cilantro lime chicken (chicken from freezer), black beans, taco rice topped with avocado, fruit medley (apple, orange,
    pomegranate arils, a very few cherries, pineapple slices)

    B: cheese toast, coffee
    L: yogurt, orange, carrots
    D: another casserole made from LO chicken and fresh and canned ingredients. The recipe called for cream of celery soup. I made my own using broth, celery, milk, flour and butter. We also had a Caesar salad, but no dressing. Jessica and her recipe to the rescue! Thanks Jessica. Lastly we had orange slices.

    S: brownie at work

  3. Alice E says

    B – Oats, eggs, clementines and hot tea, toast also for hubby
    L – he took pb sandwich and cookies, I took some l/o pizza
    D – he had strip steak and twice baked potato, I had chicken soup

    Not much pantry action or energy on my part. I only cooked breakfast, since he brought his steak dinner home. It’s a Wednesday special at the store where he works.

  4. Laurie Gaither says

    B – I had a berry protein shake, hubs had cereal
    L- hubs ate the last of the cauliflower soup and sourdough bread, I hate some chili I took from the freezer, saltines and a tangerine
    D – we have our 4 yo and 1 yo grandsons on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons so sometimes dinners are something that can be made quickly. Tonight it was chicken nuggets, baby carrots and sourdough bread I made this morning. I also made a loaf for the freezer.
    Jessica, I made some changes to Kate’s sourdough recipe and it was the taste and texture I was looking for. We were very excited. That was a huge win!

  5. Kathy in Denmark says

    Day 5:

    B: Yogurt with granola for all!
    L: Packed lunch for kids. Rye bread with different toppings for DH and me
    D: Bakery bread, scrambled eggs, cheese and cold cuts, chopped veggies.
    S: Last of the Christmas cookies for the kids, bakery pastry for the adults.

    DH had a doctors appointment, so worked from home before and after that. I went with him, since it was in the city were we rarely go and I wanted to see if there were any good sales. There were 😉 I made lunch when we got home.

    In Denmark we have an app called “Too good to go”, which tells you about stores/bakeries/restaurants where you can buy heavily discounted food and pick it up right after closing time. Our local bakery is a participant in this, so DH had placed an order and picked it up while I took DD1 to swim class wednesday afternoon. All I had to do was scramble eggs and pull some things from the fridge, and dinner was ready.

    I froze 2 loaves of bread and we will eat the rest in the next few days.

  6. Stephanie M. says

    Wednesday, January 8, 2020

    B – My husband had cereal; I had a yogurt parfait

    L – My husband had bologna and swiss on whole wheat and some grapes (believe it or not the bologna is definitely part of my challenge because it’s sliced ring bologna leftover from a Christmas party platter I made and it’s divided into sandwich size servings in the freezer and so was the cheese and all of the other sliced cheeses I have in there that were from the party). I had turkey on whole grain rye and an apple

    D – Mahi mahi with a sauce made of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, garlic, paprika, parsley, and black pepper; baked potatoes, and cucumber salad

    My challenge is going well; I still have a nice variety of things in my freezer but not an overabundance of things and each day or so, another thing comes out of there.

    • That mahi mahi sounds delicious!

      • Stephanie M. says

        Thank you Jessica!! 🙂

    • Pat says

      Hi Stephanie–I remember reading your party descriptions in past pantry challenges. Everything was wonderful and thoughtfully put together.
      I hope you and your family are doing well!

  7. Maureen says

    Wednesday was a mess, in general…collision shop, plumber, and evening activities for 3 of us. In the grand scheme of things it’s really a blip on the radar, but I was glad to go to bed. The good news is our evening was supposed to be busy, so I had already promised the kids that we would order pizza. Some of our local businesses have fundraising nights for the local schools, so we supported my daughter’s middle school. I had leftovers for lunch, so I’m staying on top of those in the fridge. And we made smoothies for our after school snack, using up a few bits of fruit from the freezer and some softening apples. I made extra to freeze in my IKEA (UTSPÄDD) popsicle molds, so the girls will enjoy those for breakfasts, snacks, desserts, etc.

  8. Elise says

    B – Toast, Banana Muffins, and Cheerios for Baby and Husband. Baby also has a puree pouch.
    L- Last of oat bake (not as good without yogurt!) for me, tuna sandwiches for husband, and leftover broccoli and hamburger helper for baby. I ended up eating most of her broccoli. Baby had applesauce for dessert.
    D- Homemade naan pizza (from the freezer) for all! Baby also had some more applesauce and husband had berries with cream for dessert.
    S – Popcorn for me! Husband had game night, so may have had snacks but unsure.

  9. Danielle Zecher says

    The last batch of blueberries I bought from Aldi was awesome, too. 🙂 Yesterday was just one of those days, and we ended up going out to dinner. Honestly, it was well worth it for our sanity. Breakfast today was fend for yourself on the way out the door for work. I keep cereal and milk at work for days like this. Not the best, but better than stopping for fast food on the way in. Lunches today are using up leftovers from the fridge. Spaghetti squash with meat sauce for me and Thai chicken soup for hubby. I’m plannning on tacos for dinner. My sister gave us some sauces from her trip to Costa Rica, and I’m excited to try them.

    I’m curious about your southwest salad from Aldi. Do you use the dressing that comes with it? Or do you make your own to make it a little healthier? I’m trying to eat more salads to keep up the weight loss, but it seems like the dressing can undo a lot of the good of the salad.

    • The Southwest Chopped Salad dressing is Greek yogurt based and absolutely delicious. It has lower calories than most of the dressings in salad kits. I usually use half the packet for one bag of salad or add cole slaw mix to stretch the salad for more people.

    • Laurie Gaither says

      Danielle, if you have a Trader Joe’s near you, pick up some Orange Muscat Champagne vinegar. Mix equal parts vinegar and olive oil in a small jar, toss in a couple minced garlic cloves, half a chopped shallot (if you have it), grated orange rind, salt and ground pepper to taste. Shake it up well and let sit for a few hours so the flavors blend. It is an amazing vinaigrette!

    • Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

      Hi Danielle! Good to see you again!

  10. Karen J says

    Still not even hardly a dent in the pantry/freezer…
    Breakfast-eggs with spinach, onion, mushrooms, peppers
    Lunch-away from home, cookies from the car stash I think, plus Starbucks drink with a prepaid card
    Dinner-leftover pork roast, leftover mashed potatoes with added cheese, peas

    I tossed the grocery ads so I wouldn’t be tempted, but may check my Safeway app to see if they want to give me anything free this week…

  11. Roberta says

    Wed. 1/8/20

    B: Cereal (Hubs had frozen blueberries on his), toast for the guys, coffee.

    L: Packed for the guys (the same as Mon. and Tues. except swapped out the sandwiches w/ LO pizza and didn’t send olives w/ son since there were olives on the pizza). I had the last slice of pizza and a clementine.

    D: Orange-ginger salmon, steamed rice, green salad, applesauce, and orange slices.

    I also hardboiled several eggs for future meals/snacks. Son is training for swim tryouts, so he is hungry! (And tired and whiny about sore muscles as well. LOL I think we need to increase his calorie and protein intake.) I still need to do some baking. Maybe today. Went to Smart & Final this morning for bread flour (25 lbs.), some produce, pretzels f/ lunches, frozen OJ, and stuff f/ breakfast burritos. Spent $28.59, which brings my monthly total to $58.15. I THINK we should be able to get through the rest of the month with just dairy, eggs, and produce purchases. We’ll see. (I didn’t get around to inventorying things, so I’m kinda winging it.)

    • Sherry says

      Hi Roberta – can you share a recipe for the orange ginger salmon? Sounds delicious.

      • Roberta says

        It’s actually called Kid Friendly Orange Ginger Salmon :: Gluten & Soy Free! from the Raising Generation Nourished website. ( I’m sure you can find it there. I actually changed up the recipe just a smidge by adding orange zest to the marinade/sauce and using regular canola oil–and just enough of the oil to coat the pan. The recipe also just calls for sesame oil, but I always use toasted sesame oil.

        Our family really likes salmon this way.

        • Sherry says

          Thank you so much for taking the time to share the recipe and adjustments you made. I’m looking forward to trying this! We’ve been blessed with a lot of salmon from a fisherman friend. I’m hoping to win my children over with this. ?

  12. Laura in NH says

    The start to our January has been a little wild – family visiting then two sick kids. I’ve shopped and we’ve eaten, pretty straightforward so far. Idid a pantry inventory while my sister was visiting and sent her home with a huge bag of dried beans, dried figs and couscous we won’t eat. We have staples for baking, frozen meats, plenty of pasta and grains, and frozen or home canned produce. The fresh stuff goes fast and will need to be replenished soon. I’m not too worried about my spending this pc but instead I’m determined not to buy junk or food we won’t ever eat (read dried figs). My November and December spending came in right between USDA thrifty and low cost for my family. If I happen to cut costs this month great, but ultimately my goal is to only buy what nourishes us most. That being said, I love reading how others are being creative with their eating and spending! Thanks for hosting again Jessica.

    • April says

      Hey…chopped dried figs blended with cream cheese make a wonderful spread on toasted English muffins…husband also likes it with bacon…sort of an exotic breakfast sandwitch.

      Figs cost so much here that I gasped when you mentioned you gave them away…lol…lucky sis you have!

      • Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

        I thought the same thing about the figs. I have a fruit cake cookie that requires figs. They were so expensive I reduced the amount needed when I baked them.

  13. Christina says

    Breakfast was cereal or bagels, fruit, yogurt
    Lunch – DH and boys had leftovers, I had a pb & honey sandwich and more fruit. I forgot to grab my leftovers from the fridge so I made due with items I had at work. Cleaning out my work pantry, too. ??
    Supper – Boys eat at church on Wednesdays, DH and I had an at home date night and shared a steak I had bought on mark down, salads and baked potatoes.

  14. Janet says

    Well my doctor just threw a wrench into my pantry challenge meal plans. I have been told to go lactose free for four weeks before some testing.

    Breakfast was eggs, bananas
    Lunch was loaded baked potatoes (no butter, sour cream or cheese for me) and pork chops
    Dinner was sub-sandwiches, chips, and apple slices

    • That definitely throws a wrench, but if anyone can do it, you can, Janet! Let us know how we can encourage you!

  15. Pat says

    I made an executive decision and moved leftover night to Wednesday. Dinner for my husband and son was leftover spaghetti and meat sauce with a side salad and garlic bread. I had a large salad with the chicken taco meat and the last piece of garlic bread. 4 containers out of the fridge!

  16. April says

    So far so good

    B- plain yogurt topped with frozen raspberries, sliced bananas and honey for daughter and i… hubby had a boiled egg and bannana
    L- leftover potato soup and rolls from the freezer I had stashed, carrot sticks and tangerines
    D- cheesy noodle casserole I made adding odds and ends from the produce drawer and some chicken sausage (freezer again)…turned out pretty good, more rolls (hello carbs!), corn and peppers

    Dessert was apple crisp…apples I canned as pie filling this fall…yum!

  17. Heather M says

    Wednesday, January 8:

    Nothing moving yet from the kitchen except food people have brought/bought us, aside from the lunches I’m sending with L. Wednesday was a mess since L got home at 11;30pm the night before and I dropped him at the metro a mere 6 hours later for another long day at work. I had slept fitfully so went back to bed. Got up in time to go to lunch with a friend, who paid for it(birthday treat). and tried to get stuff done but it was a hard day for me.

    B: we both skipped
    L: L took the same as mon-tues except in place of lemon cake he took some chocolate chip banana bread; I had a delicious sandwich and greens out with my friend- brought back half the sandwich. Appetite has been strange since my brother’s passing- I only seem to crave carbs(weird for this major salad lover) and I get full pretty quickly.
    D: Leftover Chinese food from my birthday takeout- I ate at 6:30, L after he got home around 8:30.

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