Day 7, Pantry Challenge 2020

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Here we are winding up week 1 of the 2020 Pantry Challenge, the first of our Grocery Savings Challenges. It’s been a good week where we’ve eaten great meals, spent less on food, and used up some stuff on hand.

sourdough starter exploding out of container

The last thing I did last night before I went to bed was feed my starter in anticipation of Baking Day/Pizza Night. It would appear that I didn’t spread the starter out into enough containers. By 9 am, all three containers were bursting at the seams. Unfortunately, I lost a bit on the counters. 

Sigh. Oh well.

If you’ve read my post on sourdough, you know that I don’t throw away “discard”. Instead I strategically make enough starter and use it up on a weekly basis. One of the recipes in which I use up excess starter is my Sourdough Pizza. (The recipe is coming next week!)

This morning I made enough bread dough for six boules as well as enough pizza dough for six pizzas. Yes, folks, I do know how to live things up on a Friday night. I bake.

grocery cart full of clearance items

Grocery Shopping

But before any of that happened, I headed to Ralphs. I wasn’t planning to do any more shopping, but… I found a coupon for just plain cash when I was cleaning off my desk and I noticed that yogurt was a weekly digital deal.

I had a short list when I headed to the store: yogurt, carrots, celery, and buttermilk, with the permission to pick up screaming clearance deals if I saw them.

Ask luck would have it, there were a few things that were too good to pass up.

  • Starbucks holiday coffees $1.79/package
  • Kobe beef $1.99/lb
  • Bratwurst $1.99/lb
  • bonus: the buttermilk was marked down as well

I ended up spending $22.16 for everything pictured, which I consider to be a pretty good haul. This brings my January spending up to $131. Seeing as the month is 1/3 over, I’m not too worried about it. We should still come in well under the 1/2 budget mark.

blueberries in bowl of yogurt


When I got home from the store, I made my Usual: yogurt, blueberries, and Muesli while some kids had eggs and toast and others had smoothies.

I’ve got another few days’ worth of blueberries. After that I’ll need to get back to the store for apples or more berries.

I know it probably seems uptight to stick to the same breakfast every morning, but it’s worked so well to help me keep the weight off, that I really cherish it. Plus, it’s incredibly enjoyable!

salad with hummus and naan


For lunch I went digging in the freezer for sandwich bread. All the sourdough was gone, so the boys made sandwiches with a stray loaf of rye we had on hand. The girls made salads, as did I. I also grabbed a piece of naan from the freezer and a hummus packet from the fridge.

We used up the last of the chicken from Tuesday in sandwiches and salads. The fresh veggies I bought on Wednesday are already dwindling. 

pizza on the grill uncooked


Our regular Friday night dinner is grilled Sourdough Pizza. I made the dough earlier in the day, but FishChick13 and FishBoy15 did the prep work and assembled the pizzas while my husband cooked them on the grill.

We varieties that got made this week: pepperoni, pepperoni/mushroom, pesto/tomato, and the Kitchen Sink (sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, jalapeños, onion)

We also made Homemade Ranch Dressing for dipping. 

So there we go, done with week 1. We’re still hanging on!

How’s the challenge going for YOU?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Kelly says

    I’m using what we have, but I did a big shopping day on Tuesday. I also don’t remember to come here and share though. For the kids’lunch today I heated up leftover potatoes from a roast earlier this week and added in some leftover cheese sauce after I mashed them. I heated leftover beans and rice and added spinach. Dinner was a chicken from the freezer and the leftovers will likely get used on tostadas.

  2. Jill says

    Not too bad. My stop at the store today did not include food—just toiletries, and dinner was pizza, made using leftover tomato sauce from a salsa recipe from last week. Lunch was leftovers from the last two nights of dinner. The sink is full of dishes, but I kept the grocery spending under budget for the week by not eating out but choosing to come home for lunch. Thank you for posting about the challenge regularly so I remember!

  3. Laurie Gaither says

    B – i had fried egg on avocado toast, hubs had cereal and a mid morning snack of almonds
    L- hubs had some spicy italian sausage pasta from the freezer and the last of the sourdough loaf, i had a grilled cheese sandwich, chips and apple
    D – Cooks night off. After we dropped off the grandsons, we were tired and picked up gyro wraps from one of our favorite Mediterranean places. No cooking and no clean up made for happy grandparents. This is the first time we’ve dipped into the eating out/entertainment fund this month. Ill have to go to the store this weekend for produce.

    I’ll activate my starter tomorrow to make bread on Sunday. I hope mine doesn’t go out of control ?

    • Laurie Gaither says

      That should have been a rotfl emoji and not a question mark at the end of my post. I always forget that emojis don’t post in the messages.

    • Can’t wait to hear about your sourdough exploits!

  4. Stephanie M. says

    Friday, January 10, 2020

    B – Overnight oatmeal and I also had peanuts

    L – Paul had pizza bagels from the freezer leftover from our Christmas party; he also had grapes; I had a salad and a New York garlic bread stick also from the freezer

    D – Burgers and Fries using up the last of the three burgers from the freezer

  5. Tasty says

    Friday January 10th

    B – fruit and yogurt with granola for hubby with a h/m muffin. I had a similar breakfast but added an English muffin.

    L – a breakfast wrap after the gym at a local coffee shop for both of us

    S – roasted stuffed turkey breast (that we picked up yesterday – too good a price to pass up), with carrots, broccoli and yorkshire pudding

  6. Jennifer says

    I thought I did pretty good this week using things up. But with 2 college kids headed back to school soon they needed lots of toiletry items so off to Wal-mart we went. $188 later! Ack!!! I did buy some food items that will either supplement what we have on hand (i.e. we had salsa but no chips) or are cheapest there and I only buy them on my once a month trip there. I really didn’t walk in the door with very much food for our house though, so maybe it wasn’t all a loss.

    B – used up a box of almond poppyseed muffins from the pantry, apples

    L – who knows everyone packs their own. I had a salad and yogurt.

    D – homemade chicken nuggets with diced sweet potatoes and a half a bag of peas that had been sitting in the freezer too long.

  7. Carol says

    When we moved last March, I called a friend in a panic. I had forgotten to empty the kitchen freezer. She kindly helped me by putting the food in her freezer. Fast forward, last fall she reminded me that she still had that food. I took 2/3 of it then. Last night I collected the rest. So that freezer is empty and we will eat that food this week!
    Later this morning I am going to the farmers market for greens and salad stuff. Not necessarily the cheapest, but local, delicious and supporting farmers!

  8. Julie Smith says

    Still plugging along! Yesterday I made tuna salad, pasta salad, pancakes and chicken for the weekend so I don’t have to spend a ton of time in the kitchen the next couple of days.

    Breakfast: eggs/toast/cereal
    Lunch: school lunch/packed lunch for hubby/sweet potato and Brussels leftovers for me plus some of the chicken I mentioned earlier
    Dinner: semi homemade pizza (store bought crusts from the freezer)

    Also my kids are on a banana kick. I bought 15 2 days ago. I think there are 5 left. There are only 5 of us and my hubby doesn’t eat them.

    My next short term goal with the challenge is to eat up what’s in the fridge that we’ve made the last few days, and stay out of the store until Tuesday aka payday aka budget reset.

  9. Christine says

    We already ate most of what we had on hand. I have shopped a little. I figured I could make about six more meals (many meatless) however, due to schedules I will shop tomorrow for the week. Hoping to just get enough that it looks like we have food. Trying to cut my monthly spending by as close to half as possible.

  10. Heather M says

    I finally went to a store Friday(day 7). I haven’t cooked yet since Jan. 1 and I had cleaned out the fridge of old/nasty things. The only fresh produce we had left has been tons and tons of carrots, apples(almost gone), avocados, and a few worse for the wear bell peppers(hope they hang on until I cook again) and a few overripe pears, still juicy and yummy. So with houseguests arriving saturday, I needed fresh fruit and breakfast/lunch fixings. I did hit 3 different stores(one had a prescriptions waiting, and the other two are right up the street from me) so bought the cheapest items by store, and still spent around $60. But, I needed fresh items badly. Bought a box of cereal, bread, pretzels, 3 kinds of berries(Jessica, Aldi was selling blueberries here for $3.29/pint-my more expensive grocery was cheaper at $2.50!), bananas, apples, clementines, kiwis(5/$1!), tomatoes, lettuce, asian chopped salad kits, OJ, milk, eggs, yogurt, sour cream, sliced colby jack cheese, deli turkey and ham. At least now we have breakfast and things to pack picnic lunches when heading out to tour with our friends. And I’ve spent two days/nights cleaning getting Christmas down and the house back in good shape, and I’m still having a hard time with focus, so I kept getting distracted. Well, at least I figured out buying the right food-gives me hope I’ll be able to start cooking again soon.

    Day 7/Friday, January 10:

    B: L skipped; I had a piece of chocolate cake from my birthday deliveries(there is one left)
    L: L ate the lunch I sent him with Thursday-turkey/tomato/salami on whole wheat. tortilla, a slice of chocolate banana bread; I had carrots and dip leftover from Christmas and cheese and crackers
    D: L ate the last of the lasagna and I ate the rest of Thursday’s dropped off dinner-a chicken enchilada, rice, and kale salad. Gifted meals are now gone but we still have a ton of treats, mostly in the form of chocolate which will last months.

    • Alice E says

      I think you are doing amazingly well, everything considered. Enjoy your company. Sending hugs and good wishes your way.

  11. Maureen says

    I shopped more than I would have thought this week, but it’s been piggybacked with other errands and has mostly been healthy purchases. I have purchased some of our favorite snacks that have been on great sales, but I am stashing those away as treats and for after we’ve finished the pantry challenge (that will keep February spending down, too). My biggest success of the week is virtually no waste (which was one of my goals). I had leftovers for lunch and made chili and cornbread muffins for dinner. I’m the only one that really likes chili, but I was in the mood and probably haven’t made it in years. The family didn’t complain too much (they liked the muffins and fruit), but they did supplement by making some pasta. The chili used up a few things in the pantry that I wanted to get rid of, so it was a win. I have a few small lunch portions left that I’ll freeze for lunches for me. We are expecting an ice storm this weekend, so time will tell how bad it gets (north of us will definitely have power outages, etc).

  12. Alice E says

    B – Oats, Eggs, Mandarins and hot tea, hubby also had WW toast
    L – He took pb sandwich and cookies, I had l/o beef and beans from freezer
    D – he had fish and chips, I had chicken soup from a can ( no cooking happened)

    B – scrambled eggs, mandarins, hot tea and toast for him
    L – he took pb sandwich and cookies, I had l/o rice fried up with l/o veg and a turkey sandwich
    D – Ham and Beans with biscuits ( fat-free so I can have them too)

    I’ve been a bit lazy and sidetracked so I have two days to report. The main win for me is cooking up another batch of beans since there are a lot of them in the pantry. It’s Ice and snow time weather-wise so I/’ll be stuck home with time to bake this weekend.

  13. Lynn from NC Outer Banks says

    1/10 Day 7

    Jessica, when I first glanced at your starter, I thought it was overflowing laundry! LOL. And you ran across some amazing deals. Jealous!

    B: waffles (freezer), 4 oz banana-strawberry smoothie (freezer), coffee

    L: pimento cheese sandwiches and corn-potato chowder. I made chicken broth this morning to use in a recipe later this weekend. But DH complained that he didn’t want to eat another turkey sandwich (what he’s been eating often for lunch). So, I mixed up HM pimento cheese from pantry and refrigerator items and then fixed potato-corn chowder, using some of the broth. I was able to use all but one of the potatoes that were getting soft, celery and onion, the chicken bits from the broth, corn from the pantry and most of the oat milk that is approaching expiry date. The soup and pimento cheese tasted good to me as well and my husband was pleased with the variety!

    D: container of spaghetti sauce from freezer stretched by adding peppers, onions and Italian tomatoes over pasta topped with grated parmesan cheese. Also had green beans and leftover baguette (freezer) which was quite hard! May be making bread crumbs from it instead of eating it sliced.

    One week in, we are doing well, having just spent $8.79. But, I’m down to one onion, one potato, 2 carrots (still have baby carrots), peppers, celery and a wee bit of Romaine lettuce for fresh vegetables with a very few frozen options. We have mainly oranges, pom arils, a very few cherries, canned pineapple and dried fruit (craisins, dates). I’ll need to buy produce soon for variety, though I will make sure I don’t overbuy and still plan to use up what I’ve got.

    I was looking at some of the advertised snack packs that have cheese cubes, raisins and chocolate covered nuts in them and thinking that my husband might like them since they include protein. With specials they were very cheap per each, but expensive per pound still, plus I’m doing a pantry challenge! I thought I could copy but without the chocolate covered nuts. Then I had a Eureka moment. I have a bulk bag of whole almonds and lots of baking chips so I can make my own chocolate covered almonds!! So I may ve trying that soon.

    Thanks again, Jessica for hosting us all. I enjoy reading your posts and everyone’s comments!

  14. Christina Scarce says

    I’ve been enjoying the pantry challenge. I started January 1 since I knew I’d miss a few days with being out of town Jan 4-6. But my boys that stayed home did well eating down the leftovers.
    Friday breakfast was like most days. Boys and DH choose from premade items or cereal. I had a bagel and cream cheese and fruit. Lunch – leftover burrito with lots of lettuce and salsa for me, rolled tacos for the boys along with yogurt and fruit. DH was on the road with work so he grabbed something late afternoon that served as lunch and supper.
    Supper at home was pizzas. I tried a new crust recipe and it was really good but I’m looking forward to trying your sourdough crust recipe.

    I’m thankful the weekend is here. I plan to bake today and prep for the week. I’m changing tonight’s supper plans. I had soup on the menu but it’s 76 outside so I might grill.

  15. Karen J says

    One week with no shopping 🙂 Snow is expected in the Seattle area for the first time this winter so wondered if there was anything I had to get, but no, I’m just fine.

    breakfast-eggs with spinach, mushrooms, peppers from freezer, bacon from freezer, and onion. I noticed that my mushrooms are lasting quite a bit longer than usual. When I bought them on December 30th, I rinsed and scrubbed them with a brush, then let them dry before putting them in a paper sack in the refrigerator. I never go to all that trouble but was taking some of them to a NYE party as part of a vegetable tray. It’s extra work, but I think I will continue doing it.

    Lunch-PBJ made by my two year old granddaughter. She really can stack it on and is so proud of herself.

    Dinner-chicken thighs cooked in a soy/ginger marinade, rice from the freezer, and stir fry snow peas, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and onion. I always make a full rice cooker of rice just for the two of us, then portion it into freezer quart bags and freeze. When I need it I steam on the stove. Tastes good as fresh and lots faster. Also those snow peas were bought on December 30th. Those babies stay crisp for a long time!

    Today’s task is to make hamburger and hot dog buns using Jessica’s recipe. I’ve made them several times before and they are so yummy!

    • Pat says

      Karen– I have done the hamburger buns with good results. They are very good.

    • That’s a great trick with the mushrooms. I just bought four containers on clearance and need to deal with them. Might try your trick!

  16. Heather Lawless says

    I need help getting back on track! I have been doing the challenge, but not sending comments etc. I had to go to Costco Friday, which day are we on today, Saturday the 11th? I figure someone else can get me current. I have been using my freezer meals and added a lasagna when I made two this week, with what I needed to use from freezer. Had to buy fresh veggies, stuff for salads for the week. Needed to refresh my Greek yogurt stash, shredded cheese, eggs etc. Just stuff to make lunches this week as well. Also found it best to buy my beans as well, great sale prices. We eat a lot of black beans.

    Looking forward to next week.

    • Alice E says

      Glad you posted. It’s helpful to know how others are doing.

      I think Day 7 was Friday. Jessica just posted day 8 on Saturday about 8 p.m. central time. I just stocked up on some canned beans myself since they were on sale at a great price. I try to always buy enough during the sales that I never have to pay full price. This does mean I buy quite a bit during the winter since they don’t put them on sale in the summer. I like chili all year round, not to mention bean salads and dips. (grin)

    • Sorry for the confusion on dates. I restructured the site so the most current day will show when you go to the home page now. I post by 8 pm Pacific each night.

  17. Roberta says

    Fri. 1/10/20

    B: Hubs had oatmeal w/ blueberries, toast, OJ, and coffee. Son and I had cereal, toast (son only), OJ, and coffee.

    L: The guys had their regular packed lunches (apple butter instead of peach butter on the sandwiches). I had PB toast, string cheese, and mandarin.

    D: LO soup, salad, applesauce, mandarins.

    Snacks: String cheese, ???

    Nothing exciting. What can I say? It was a Friday.

  18. Kristina says

    Our sale flyers come out on a Thursday. I did a quick flip through them but didn’t find one thing that would motivate me to go to the grocery store this week! This is huge for me. Thanks for the inspiration to use what I have on hand. I have lots!

  19. Pat says

    Day 7 where it needs to be–
    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.

  20. Jodi says

    B: me, coffee. DH, usual bagel and yogurt. Kids, cereal or whatever they found in pantry.
    L: me, avocado toast. DH and oldest boy, leftover roast chicken and mashed potatoes. Other boys, school lunch.
    D: me and boys had our Friday tradition of takeout pizza. Think I’ll try making myself next Friday. DH, ate at a work banquet.
    I have mostly bought sodas (DH goes through like mad) and some fresh fruits so far. I’ll total up what I have spent in tomorrow’s post.

  21. Kathy in Denmark says

    Day 7

    B: Oats and milk for DH, yogurt and granola for DD1, rye porridge for DD2, coffee and roll for me.
    L: DH skips, packed lunch for kids, rye bread with different toppings for me
    D: HM pizza.
    S: yogurt, chocolate bun for the kids.

    I made a double batch of pizza dough, which means I made 4 large pizzas. One with pepperoni, two with mixed veggies and one white pizza with potatoes and feta cheese. Pizza is a favourite meal in our house and I like to have leftovers.

    • I make six pizzas every week and even though one kid has moved out, there’s never more than two slices left. Oh to have leftovers someday! 😉

      • Kathy in Denmark says

        I can imagine 😀

        I love leftovers! And luckily, so does my family 😉

  22. lisa s says

    B: coffee
    L: leftovers
    D: It was our first shopping day of the year, and the kids were so excited that their favorite cereal was on sale, and that they each got their own box with their name sharpied on it, that I let everyone just eat cereal for dinner. Lazy me! Gave us time to play a board game together as a family, so I got no regrets.

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