Day 6, Pantry Challenge 2020

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Looking to save money on food costs this year? Take the Grocery Savings Challenges! This month, the Pantry Challenge has us using up what we have to save money and avoid food waste.

paris mug with green tea bag

January blahs have started to set it. The weather is cold. The school year long. And I just haven’t found my groove.

My alarm goes off at 6 every morning, but I think I’ve got it down to hitting the snooze four times before I truly stir. Then I fumble for reading glasses and “read the news,” aka my email and Instagram feed.

Our thermostat is set for 62 and for some reason my bedroom is colder, so I huddle under the covers for as long as possible. I pine for warmer days because it’s so much easier to get out of bed on those days.

One constant each morning is my cup of Harney & Sons Green Tea with Coconut, Ginger, and Vanilla. I discovered it last spring and it has been a favorite. It’s a little splurge each month in comparison to the 99 cent option I could buy at ALDI, but that 99 cent option tastes like paper.

This tastes like heaven in a cup.

yogurt and berries with planner and cup of tea


I do have a delicious breakfast to look forward to, though. That helps. As you’ve heard all ready, Blueberries, Greek Yogurt, and Muesli is my regular. So very delicious!

Breakfast for the kids was a fend-for-yourself kind of thing. FishChick13 had a smoothie bowl while the others had bacon, toast, and eggs.

cover of Kitchen Counter Cooking School

This year my girls (13 and 11) are doing food science. I bought a 4-H curriculum that is so-so. They like it fine, but I’ve found that if we’re more enthused, the experience goes better.

With that in mind, I busted out my copy of The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. I’m not sure if my 11yo will get into it, but already my teen has read farther than I have.

This book is a gem, a yearly reread on my list of cooking books to keep me motivated. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend that you do!

Be sure to check your inbox this weekend. I’m going to be giving away a copy of the book! If you aren’t on my mailing list, you can sign up here.

salad with tzatziki and chicken


Lunch was again an eclectic mix. My girls made salads with chicken. One son had a Chicken Burrito Bowl while the other had a salami sandwich. I made a Greek salad with leftover chicken, Tzatziki and hummus. 

When I make a salad like this, I don’t need any dressing. The yogurt sauce and hummus add great flavor and keep the salad from being dry. 

bowl of soup glass of wine and plate with roll


Thursdays are my planned soup nights, so this morning I pulled out tubs of Chicken Stock, roast drippings, and Gravy from the freezer. Gravy is a fantastic soup starter, don’t you know.

I sautéed chopped onion, potatoes, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Then added all the stock/gravy/drippings as well as noodles, chicken, and chopped spinach. It was one of the best soups ever!

I also had leftover sourdough rolls from Thanksgiving in the freezer that I thawed and then warmed in the oven. Dinner was great!

So there, we are. Tomorrow ends our first week of the challenge and we’re doing pretty well!

How is the challenge going for you?


About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Christina says

    Made an Aldi run for a few necessities after work. I decided to stock up on produce instead of gambling the other store would be stocked. Spent $49 and found a receipt in my purse from Jan 2 for milk and eggs that I had forgotten to count. So my grocery total for the month is up to $66.02.

    Breakfast – boys had a Bible study at 6am at McDonald’s so they ate there and picked up a biscuit for DH. I had coffee at home and medicine ball tea at work. I don’t think I ate breakfast. (Our senior dog has been getting up every night lately. I am a bit sleep deprived.)
    Lunch – boys- rolled tacos, yogurt, fruit
    Dh and I had sandwiches, potatoes
    Supper was breakfast. Sausage, eggs and pancakes.

    The boys are loving that I have actually written the menu plan on the fridge.

    • Yes! The PC has me plan better and bake more and cook more and communicate better with the fam. Now, how to develop those systems and habits to continue past January?

  2. Heather M says

    I spent the day/evening cleaning up and taking down Christmas, which is a bit of an ordeal. I have to get my house in shipshape for houseguests arriving Saturday-Tuesday. It’s been tough this week getting much done, but now that it’s down to the wire, I have no choice. I will need to stop at a store or two for fresh fruit, milk, bread, eggs, more sandwich fixings, etc. I’ll need to be ready for them.

    B: L skipped; I had chocolate chip banana bread
    L: L ate leftover dinner they brought in at work Tuesday night and left the lunch I sent him with for Friday; I had the second half of the sandwich from Wednesday’s lunch out
    D: another dear friend dropped off three plates tonight- two with creamy chicken enchiladas and rice on them and one with salad. I have half of my plate left and some of the salad too, so that will likely be lunch Friday for me!

    I am so lucky to have so many people taking care of me right now. It eases the emotional pain a little. I’ve been not making decisions super easily so even though I ordinarily love to cook and putter around the kitchen, I haven’t been able to make food decisions well. I’m hoping that changes soon, so once my houseguests are gone I can dive into the PC for real. Meanwhile, another day of cleaning and some errands, then company and touring around with them for a few days. Luckily they are basically family (SIL’s sister/hubby) and are fully in the loop on our current status.

    • Kathy in Denmark says

      I really like the American tradition to bring food for people who have had a passing in the family, are ill or have had a baby.
      In Danmark we visit and maybe bring flowers or a treat, but I think it would be more helpful to bring food so you don’t have to worry about cooking. I have actually done it myself, and it has been well received, but it’s just not something people are used to.
      I am so glad you have friends who take care of you right now, and maybe it will be nice to have houseguests for a little while, especially since they are family.
      Hugs from Denmark.
      PS: I am taking the last of the Christmas decorations down today, so you are not the only one 😉

      • Heather M says

        Hi Kathy. Yes, the tradition of bringing food to people really is a wonderful thing. It has been a really good thing for my parents and other family in California(where I’m from), and is still continuing. It really has helped me more than I can explain. It’s currently friday night at 10pm and I’ve been cleaning and getting ready for the houseguests tomorrow and i finally had to go to the store for fresh fruit and other breakfast/lunch items so they wouldn’t have bad milk(!) and no fruit. I was so glad to have leftovers from friends’ food to feed us. I guess next week I’ll have to start figuring food out again. I’ve also received a few flowers, and treats too. Those are also part of it when someone passes. I LOVE that you have started doing this for people. It really is a wonderful, welcome thing. Maybe one day it will become the norm in Denmark. Feeling your hugs! 🙂

        • Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

          Kathy, I have often provided food in the case of someone’s passing. Once you are on the receiving end of other’s generosity in this situation, you realize what a gift it is. I have been thankful that I’ve had a stockpile so I could provide food in short order. Having the needed supplies already available makes it easier and more likely that I can actually get it done. I lost my dear sweet father in May. In addition to the food, I was quite touched by the cards I received and found myself rereading them frequently. I’ve decided I’m going to be more intentional about sending cards going forward as well.

          Heather, continue to be kind to yourself. It sounds like your company may be a comfort to you at this time. Sending thoughts…

          • Kathy in Denmark says

            Lynn, I am sorry for the loss of your father.

            There have definitely been times when I would have welcomed a meal myself! Including when my mother passed away a little over a year ago.

            I think I will keep sharing meals in these situations, maybe it will catch on 🙂

    • So glad you’ve had friends to help you get through, Heather. Hugs.

      It’s the 18th and I noticed that all my neighbors still have their Christmas stuff up!

  3. Laurie Gaither says

    Jessica, have you tried the Harney & Sons tropical green tea? It has a slight pineapple flavor. The Harney &Sons Earl Grey tea is a staple In our house.

    B – i had avocado sourdough toast with fried egg on top, hubs had cereal. He always gets hungry mid morning when he eats cereal (he wont listen to me when I tell him to have protein) so he had almonds mid morning
    L – we had our big meal for lunch. Pan cooked salmon from the freezer, roasted potatoes from the freezer, the last of the broccoli steamed, sourdough bread
    D – hubs had a fried egg sandwich and chips, I had a salad with orange muscat vinaigrette, a piece of sourdough bread and a protein bar

    • I don’t think I’ve tried that one. I bought a sampler to take with me to Maui. Really enjoyed it and found several that I will start buying, but I’m trying to pace myself. LOL

  4. Kathy in Denmark says

    Day 6:

    B: Oats and milk for DH, yogurt and granola for DD1, rye porridge for DD2 and rolls and coffee for me.
    L: DH skips, packed lunch for the kids, egg sandwich for me using a large ww bakery roll.
    D: Chili sin carne with rice and bread. I also put out crème fraiche mixed with yogurt and some shredded cheese.
    S: Fruit and a Danish pastry we alle shared. Honestly it was so rich that a small piece was enough for each of us, so that worked out fine!

    The chili was made with pantry staples, including home canned kidney beans and black beans. I made and served it in a Le Creuset cast iron pot, which I inherited from my mother. Chili has never looked so chic! I told DH I might serve oatmeal in it, just to see if that would look chic too LOL

  5. Julie Smith says

    That cookbook looks like a fun read!

    We kinda sorta took the day off. 2/3 family members are packed lunches (ham, cheese, veggies, hummus, fruit) and the rest of us ate lunch out at our various places. (School, work, the little Mexican place up the street.) Then I decided in the late afternoon that I didn’t want to cook. ? so we dipped into the “eat out” budget. I’m glad we did because we used that as an excuse to eat up some time between the end of basketball
    Tryouts and when the roster was posted for my middle schooler. (She made the team!) I stopped by Kroger for some produce staples and spent about $15. I need to see my “to date” spending because some of this paydays grocery budget went into a splurge NYE dinner so we didn’t start off with our full amount. I need to do some prep today for the weekend.

  6. Tasty says

    Thursday January 9th

    B – hubby had his usual fruit, yogurt and granola + bread with lemon curd. I had cereal followed by bread and lemon curd.

    L- I was at a potluck (but did not eat very much), hubby finished off the ham in a sandwich.

    S – cheese tortellini (from the freezer) with meat sauce I made earlier in the week. Ice cream for both of us.

  7. Carol says

    We have eaten from the frig successfully for a week. I still do not need to go to the store (yea!)) And we had fresh vegetables, too. There is at least one more supper of leftovers and after that I will have to reconnoiter. ( sausage, rice, tomatoes and zucchini casserole),
    I can eke out one more salad and after that we really need lettuce and greens.

  8. Maureen says

    Leftovers for lunch. I switched up the dinner plans and had my son make his favorite pasta dish (so that there would be leftover pasta to eat with some sauce that I have in the fridge for lunch the next couple of days). We’ve been eating more fruit and less veg, so I made a salad to go with the pasta…we also had fruit. And I pulled a bag of Christmas cookies out of the freezer for dessert. I also got my air fryer out of the basement (DH got it for me, but I’ve never used it) and up on the kitchen counter so the kids and I can see if it’s worth having out all of the time. We did some mozzarella sticks from the freezer after school that turned out pretty well.

  9. Roberta says

    Thurs. 1/9/20

    B: Hubs had cereal, toast, and coffee. Son and I had oatmeal w/ dried apples (the apples were from our tree), cinnamon, cloves, and whipped cream; clementine, coffee, and milk for son. The oatmeal was ok, but it would have been better with more apple flavor. I think next time I’ll try adding either a spoonful of applesauce or some apple butter, which would also up the sweetness level. I should probably measure the spices as well; I just sprinkled them on and found them a bit overpowering, but son said it was fine. (He may have just been being kind. 😉 )

    L: Packed for the guys. (Pretty much the same as Mon. and Tues., although I did send Hubs with an extra sandwich and extra apple since he had games to supervise after school and would get home later than usual.) I had PB toast, string cheese, and a clementine.

    D: Homemade potato-cheese soup, salad, apples/applesauce (son had LO apple slices from lunch).

  10. lisa s says

    1/9/2020: tomorrow will be our first shopping day of the year. we don’t really eat breakfast, and I don’t really know what the kids pack for themselves anymore for lunch and snack (most likely fig bars, kind bars, cheese sticks, fruit, salami, beef jerky, sandwiches, popcorn, blueberry muffins I had made earlier in the week, applesauce). for dinner we were living large on beef tenderloin steaks, roasted potatoes, and sautéed zucchini that was somehow still good from purchase on the 29th of December. the steaks were from the freezer; we had bought a whole tenderloin for Christmas dinner because it was cheaper to buy the whole thing than it was to buy 8 pre-cut steaks. So we are getting three awesome steak dinners out of it rather than one; and paying less! loving it!

  11. not cooking as much as we both get tired of leftovers the 3rd time around. I think (fingers crossed) I have most if down to 2 rounds. Hard to cook for just 2 and splitting recipes don’t always work.
    But so far we aren’t doing bad.

  12. Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

    1/9 Day 6

    B: cheese toast, coffee

    L: finished LO casserole

    D: roasted turkey sausage with roasted broccoli, peppers, onions, mushrooms and potatoes, whole wheat baguette, orange slices

    S: cinnamon bread for me, crackers and cream cheese spread for DH. DH wanted a spread for crackers. I remembered seeing an
    everything cream cheese spread in the deli. I decided to whip up some of my own since I had most of the ingredients. I added
    garlic, salt, poppy seeds, and onion, all to taste. I was going to add sesame seeds, but when I opened them they smelled rancid,
    so I nixed them. The spread still tasted good and would have probably been even better the next day if he hadn’t eaten it all!

    • Great job making your own cream cheese. My son has been buying it for his bible study, but we just had the conversation about how much more he could make for the same price.

  13. Kara says

    Great post! Thanks for the book recommendation. My ten year old son is enjoying learning to cook and I am fairly clueless in the kitchen. Making my store list to supplement our pantry/freezer, which is getting cleaned out.

  14. Stephanie M. says

    Thursday, January 9, 2020

    B- we both had overnight oatmeal and I also had peanuts

    L – Paul had a business luncheon; I had turkey, lettuce, and tomato on whole grain rye and an apple

    D – Grilled chicken, wild rice, and broccoli with olive oil and garlic

    This was the last of the chicken in the freezer

  15. Pat says

    So far so good on our pantry challenge. I did stop at the bread outlet and got 2 huge whole wheat loaves and one white for $.80 each. My total is now $70 for the month. The only thing we will need this week is lettuce.
    Nebraska weather is crazy. We went from 50 and sunshine on Thursday to 20 with snow and wind on Friday. We didn’t get alot of snow but the roads we crap all afternoon and evening.
    For day 6 I made the best white chili ever.I used the last of the pork, cumin and cheyenne spiced Northern beans and broth from the freezer . I also made the garlic biscuits from Good Cheap eats. Hurray for leftovers too.

  16. Pat says

    Ignore my previous post Day 6 was actually pulled pork and the rest of the roasted veggies, sweet potatoes and a relish tray with ranch dip.

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