Pantry Challenge 2018: Day 19

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The Pantry Challenge is on! This month we’re focusing on what we have, to use it up and save money.

vegetable soup and rolls

As I’ve mentioned before probably, I’m working on developing sustainable systems for this new year. Rather than feel like I’m doing one-and-done goals or sprinting for a time only to run out of steam, I’m working toward a “new normal” that trends well AND that I can sustain.

One of those systems that I’m currently meditating on is the idea of doing meal prep at night after dinner. I haven’t pulled it off yet, but the last few days I’ve been contemplating the practice. If breakfast were ready to go when I went to bed at night, my mornings, particularly those with an hour of exercise, would go more smoothly.

Now this is nothing new. Since my kids were little, I’ve laid out breakfast before I went to bed. But that was in the days of boxed cereal and lots of baked goods. The more I learn about SUGAR, I realize that those aren’t the best breakfasts for us. (Yes, I know my kids have subsisted on such breakfast fare all month. Ahem.) But, I’m trying to figure out how to turn over a new leaf. At least where HEALTHIER meal prep is concerned.

So, that’s one of the things I’m working on. Today we had one of my favorite breakfast casseroles. It’s basically sausage, potatoes, cheese, and eggs. Super yummy and very make ahead if you precook the sausage and measure out the potatoes and cheese. The recipe is coming soon.

Since the breakfast casserole only contains 1/2 a bag of shredded potatoes and 1/2 a pound of Italian sausage, it’s easy to make a double batch, which is what I did today. I did this for Christmas, too: packaged the sausage, potatoes, and cheese in a little freezer meal kit and just added the eggs right before baking. Easy peasy.

Also on the docket today was a Spicy Vegetable Soup. It was super simple, totally cheap, and plenty tasty. That recipe is heading your way soon as well. Seriously, I think it probably costs a couple bucks to make a big pot of it, and it’s so yummy!

To cap off the day, I did go get burgers. I’d been emptying my inbox for several hours and figured, “It’s Friday; I deserve it.” Since we haven’t had any fast food all month, I figured it was a nice treat. Plus, no dishes!

Lastly, I’ve got a sourdough starter going that I mixed up last night. It’s got a few more days to go, but I’m hoping we’ll have some good home baked bread next week.

Here’s what our day’s menus look like in the simplest of terms:

Pantry Challenge 2018: Day 19

Breakfast:  Sausage Potato Breakfast Casserole (recipe coming soon!)

Lunch: Vegetable Soup (recipe coming soon!), Sourdough Rolls

Dinner: Burgers from In-n-Out

As always, thanks for sharing the Pantry Challenge with your friends. The more the merrier!

What did YOU cook up?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Heather M says

    Jessica, you definitely deserved the In N Out tonight! Love hearing about your systems development and that you’re also always developing new recipes. 🙂

    Day 19, finally a normal day around here. Not sure if I’m excited it was so normal/quiet, since it’s been so much fun and games. And this weekend doesn’t have much exciting on the schedule, so we will actually get the rest of Christmas put away. The tree is gone, but there hasn’t been time enough until now to go to the storage unit, get the bins and put it all away, then take it all back to storage(we don’t have an attic or basement and only a small one car garage we use for a car, so not much long-term storage at home- a storage unit is cheaper than a new house). That will feel good, though it’s been so fun and festive this whole time.

    Friday, 1/19:
    B: son had cereal, bacon, OJ; husband had cereal; I had bacon and oatmeal
    L: son took turkey/cheddar on ww, grapes, pistachios/almonds, clif bar; husband ate a bag of chips at work(we didn’t have time to pack him a lunch, then he was too busy to grab real lunch); I had a turkey/cheddar sandwich and a pear
    D: Good Challenge meal. Took all the flounder filets and leftover christmas dinner rice pilaf from the freezer(i made way too much so tossed it in there since we left town for the week after). Made a nice greek “salsa” of chopped tomato(red and yellow), red onion, kalamata olives, lemon olive oil, s&p, and red wine vinegar, rubbed greek seasoning on the fish and topped it with the salsa, baked it. Also made a nice side salad. Nice healthy end of the week dinner. And it’s all gone. More out of the freezer, yay!
    S: Broke open the macadamia popcorn crunch my sister sent from Hawaii for Christmas- we ate some for dessert while watching a movie. Yum! (we still have so many christmas goodies)

    Hoping for some good meals from the pantry and freezer this weekend. No eating out/takeout since we did our fair share the first half of the month with birthday, visitors, etc. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

  2. Pat says

    It is hard for me to believe that the “official ” Pantry Challenge is 2/3 over. This month is flying!! I spent $5.88 today on 10lbs of potatoes and 5lbs of sweet potatoes. my total for the month is $79.49. We should get thru this month for under $100!! That is half of what I planned. Winner!!!
    My DIL & DD want ground beef from Omaha Steaks so I will get 5lbs for us at $9.65 and that is all I plan on buying this coming week.
    Jan 19
    Breakfast was the same as usual.
    Lunch–My husband took the last prepared lunch from the freezer and I had a cheese stick.
    Dinner was clear out more from the fridge and freezer night. He had baked tilapia and I had steak. We shared steamed broccoli and cauliflower, roasted sweet potatoes and butternut squash and bread sticks.
    Have a great weekend everyone!

    • The month has flown!

    • Brooke says

      You are awesome!!!! I have spent less than normal but not less than $100. That is amazing

      • Pat says

        Not really,but thanks. I am just lucky my freezers are full of meat and veggies. We did foster care working with teenage boys with huge appetites. We stopped in November so I am working with an advantage. I am relearning how to cook for 2..

  3. Stephanie M. says

    Friday, January 19 – Day 19

    B – Hubby had a pepperoni and cheese, and scallion omelet, using up the last of the pepperoni from the freezer and the last of the scallions. He also had a whole wheat English muffin and a banana; I had two poached eggs on a whole wheat English muffin, strawberries/blueberries/blackberries, and V8

    L – Hubby had a business luncheon; I had a chicken salad sandwich on whole wheat with lettuce and tomato, using up the last of the chicken salad

    D – Leftover rouladen, mashed potatoes, peas for me, corn for hubby and a tiny bit of leftover cucumber salad for me; all dinner leftovers gone (I made six rouladen and we ate four of them over the last two nights so two went in the freezer)

    This week my husband wanted me to bake something for his office, which I sometimes do. I had five bars of cream cheese in the fridge, a container of sour cream, graham cracker crumbs in the freezer and a can of cherry pie filling in the pantry so I baked a cherry cheesecake getting rid of all of those things. (I don’t normally have that much cream cheese in the fridge but I wanted to surprise hubby with a cheesecake in the next week so I’m sure he was happy he didn’t have to eat the whole thing all by himself. ) LOL

  4. Terry calkins says

    I had mixed up the peanut sauce from yesterday’s post. Steam cooked some veggies, added leftover pasta and a good squirt of the sauce. Presto. Breakfast. I made the sauce in my sesame oil bottle so I can dispense it on each serving. It as delicious even without the meat. Today I poached some leg quarters and boned them out so I can add the meat to the next batch. Kept the resulting chicken broth to make more of a soup noodle bowl next time. The skin went to the dog. I added the fat from the top of the cooled broth to the pot to cook rice for the dog and chickens. Hubby had eggs, hash browns and two homemade mini baked doughnuts
    Lunch was split pea soup and peasant bread. Hubby had leftover meatloaf. Dinner I had soup broth. Hubby made himself tacos.
    There is still leftover pasta, and now chicken. I think I will bake a chicken and noodle casserole. I have frozen peas to throw in and some parmesan cheese and bread crumbs in the freezer I will mix with a little butter for a topping. Then add a little water to the peanut sauce and squirt it on a green salad. Jessica gives us such great recipes . Thank you!

    • I do prefer Peanut Butter Chicken without the chicken. LOL! Glad you liked it! Great idea to use the sauce as a dressing!

  5. Sarah Gallop says

    January 19

    Breakfast: the last 2 sausage rolls that I unearthed from the depths of the fridge freezer and coffee. Hubs slept through.

    Lunch: I skipped, hubs had a snack of some sweet pickles and a fruit bar.

    Dinner: pork chops with sweet and spicy mustard, skillet gnocchi, and some better-than-yesterday’s steamed broccoli.

    My goal this weekend is to break down the big bag of frozen chicken I was gifted into bags with different marinades, for easy dinners. And some meal prep for next week’s lunches.

  6. Julie says

    Breakfast: fend for yourself
    Lunch: energy bites, oranges, beef jerky…wins the “most random” lol
    Dinner: beans and rice buffet

    Made a small sams run today but I need a strategy going into the next week. No great meat sales anywhere this week and we are low. Our ads come out on Wednesday so if I can make what we have work until then I’ll be happy.

    • Sandi says

      Can you pull off some meatless meals to carry you through? Using mushrooms, or lentils, or veggie soups, or PBJ, or anything like that?

  7. Mona says

    Friday 1/19

    Breakfast – The littles were here for the day since it was an In-service day so
    the girls had nutella toast and the boys had oatmeal

    Lunch – The littles had mac & cheese and cut up fruit, we had our Turkey/ham sandwiches

    Dinner – just made a quick skillet cheeseburger dinner and crashed for the evening. They are so much fun but when they leave we realize how old we are…. trying to do and keep up with every thing they want to do plus there are 3 of them so they out number us. lol

  8. Laura in NH says

    Yesterday we ate oatmeal and fruit, LO rice bowl or tuna salad sandwiches, cheese and crackers with fruit for snacks and homemade pizza and salad for dinner.

    My husband is getting a little twitchy about all the white space in the fridge and pantry but I’m feeling confident I can stick to my $400 budget for the month. I have about $75 left and we are in good shape for another three or four days. A farming friend offered to sell us a half pig that another customer defaulted payment on at a discount. It will still be several hundred dollars though so it’s a big $ commitment up front. Then the first payment towards the summer CSA is due in late February. Those two things would basically eliminate our need for the grocery store all summer though, so a smaller food bill this month and next would go a long way to helping with those upfront costs.

    Keep up the great work with the exercise and PT!

    • Thanks for the encouragement!

      Might be a good time to prep some extra snacks for the troops and store them in the white space. I think if your husband found some easy snacks, the white space might not bother him.

      • Laura in NH says

        Yes, I think you’re right about having snacks and easy meal components in view! He reallly is on board with my efforts, it’s just that he’s used to be able to open the fridge and see several options al ready to grab and go. I’ve spoiled him maybe…

        I have bread dough rising and I’m going to make up some tuna or egg salad for snacking with crackers. I’m out of the house this evening so it’ll be grilled cheese and soup for the troops. Maybe a bit of dessert will soothe some nerves as well ?

  9. Janet says

    Jessica glad you enjoyed the fast food break. We did the same today. Breakfast was the usual assortment, lunch was dirty rice and steamed broccoli. For dinner we went to Smashburgers (yum).

    I need to clear out some space in the pantry, so this weekend I will be baking. On the menu, cookies, muffins and quick breads. I started early by making a batch of Snickerdoodle cookies. My daughter had friends spend the night so most of them were gone by morning.

  10. Lynn from NC Outer Banks says


    B: toast, coffee
    L: HM bean with bacon soup. I’ve not made this before but have wanted to. Found 2 packs of bacon in the freezer (yay!) so used 1/2 of one package, dried northern beans in my storage and other staples to make it. It was tasty and I’ve got plenty for lunches the next few days as our snow continues to melt. Hubby added a grilled cheese sandwich with his soup.
    D: finished up the LO spaghetti and had broccoli salad, fruit

    Did run out of celery. It was on sale for .99 so my total for 2/3 of the month is $42. I’m thrilled with that total and hoping to continue to keep it very low while eating what we have. It may get kind of random in the fruit and vegetable department before the end so we’ll see. I am really enjoying doing this challenge. I haven’t told my husband that I was doing this and so far, he hasn’t noticed which I think is a good thing 😉 Thanks again Jessica for hosting.

    PS I second your continued adherence to your exercise and PT. Yay you!

    • Melissa in GA says

      Bean and bacon soup is on my list to make as well. I just got the beans week before last but haven’t made it. I have made it once before and we liked it a lot.

  11. Alice E says

    Friday was a mixed up day in ways here.

    B – I had a very restless night with sinus allergies, so we had a mixed start to the day. He had the leftover oats from the night before with fried eggs, toast and tea. I started the day with tea and fixed a chicken pot pie about 9 am with a clementine.
    L – He took a pb sandwich for his lunch and I had a Salisbury steak from the freezer.
    D – For evening meal I fixed a big pot of spaghetti with a creamy mushroom sauce and a package of peas. I snacked on chips midday and nuts at night.

    We will have l/o spaghetti for today but it used up the rest of the hamburger I cooked earlier this week for the chili. I bought it in 2 lb. packages and over-wrapped them for the freezer thinking they were the perfect size for meatloaf. But found that 93% lean hamburger doesn’t really make very good meatloaf. So, have been cooking them up and using them for two different meals. This is the last of the 2 lb. packages and that is a bit of a victory in itself. I also used up a partial pkg. of frozen onion mix from the frig freezer, so that too is a happy thing.

    Good luck with setting up sustainable systems, Jessica. My routine has been upset by not having a working oven. I will probably start shopping for a new one today, but am trying not to rush into it and make a wrong pick. Hubby has left it up to me, as it is ‘my’ tool. I miss my weekday routine of making baked eggs. And far too many of the things I think of to use up the pantry would require an oven.

  12. Laurie says

    B-The usual- oatmeal for both of us. Hubs had an apple around 11 and I had an orange.
    L- chicken salad sandwich on toast for me and the usual soup for hubs. I think there might be something wrong with a man that has the same thing almost every day for lunch! LOL
    D- leftover jambalaya from the freezer and rolls from the freezer. A little more white space!
    chocolate cookies from the freezer

  13. Laurie in CA says

    I didn’t take inventory at the start of the challenge because, quite frankly, it was too overwhelming. Today I looked at the pantry, the two refrigerator/freezers and the 10 cu ft deep freeze. Evidently I thought the 5th army was going to be at our house for an extended bivouac! Looks like I’ll be clearing things out for at least a few more months.

    B – toast for hubs, baked blueberry oatmeal for me
    L – I had the l/o Mediterranean food from last night, hubs polished off the lasagne and toasted sourdough bread
    D – i planned on making Mongolian Beef but just didn’t feel like cooking so I made a grilled cheese sandwich out of some assorted cheeses that need to be used up and had a cup of Aunt Sandy’s soup from the freezer, hubs had l/o Fiesta chicken soup and French bread

  14. sha says

    The soup looks delish! Do you still get the produce box?

  15. Jessica says

    Friday morning kids got to sleep in a bit b/c we were dropping them off at school.. They grabbed cereal, milk and bagels for their breakfasts…
    Hubby and I had a breakfast date at a local restaurant after his fasting bloodwork was done….

    Lunch kids had all the basics I packed them! Hubby and I just snacked through the afernoon….
    Dinner – I grabbed sub buns while I was at the store and had homemade meatballs from the freezer, and made meatball subs.. served with french fries and frozen broccoli( heated of course)..

    for weekend snacking I made a large pan of rice krispy treats and 2 loaves of homemade bread.. a mix of wheat pastry flour and white bread flour.. delish!

  16. Trish says

    I am tremendously impressed with your efforts! And glad to see someone feeding healthy things to their kids.

    So is In and Out burger all it is cracked up to be? I live in the midwest, and have only heard of it, never had it.

    • 🙂 I like it just as much as Culvers or Backyard Burger, but they are totally different burgers. I like the Famous Star at Carls/Hardees, the Big Mac, and the Whopper. They don’t really compare since their sauces and prep style are so different.

  17. Terry calkins says

    This has been an interesting use up day. Breakfast for hubby was eggs and hash browns. I had veggie fried rice with a squirt of the leftover peanut sauce.
    Lunch was meatloaf for hubby. I had a veggie noodle bowl with more peanut sauce.
    Dinner time. Hubby made himself tacos. I used the last of the meatloaf, half a red pepper, half an onion, the remaining meatloaf plus a little frozen corn and a package of frozen chili beans and the leftover chicken stock to make taco soup.

  18. Melissa in GA says

    For some reason, my days are all messed up. I’m going to blame the snow. Lol

    January 19th
    B – hubs had overnight oats, dad ate with the old farts and I had a 1/2 French roll w/cream cheese & a piece of bacon
    It smelled so good cooking I just had to have a piece. Rolls and cream cheese gone.

    L – hubs and I ate the rest of the LO cabbage and beef soup with cheese toast, dad skipped

    D – quiche Lorraine and salad
    Used lonely single pie crust from freezer and bacon from fridge

    Dessert – apple slices, orange and chocolate
    Snack – Chex mix

    Was able to clean the 2 produce bins in the fridge, very little left in there. I also cleaned one of the condiment bins in the door. I’ve decided that my fridge freezer wil be strictly for ice, open items that need to be used like bread or veggies and ice cream ( if we have any). It got crammed with stuff over the holidays and that just makes me lose track of stuff.

    • Maureen says

      I’m hoping to do something similar with my fridge freezer, but right now everything is too full.

  19. Karen J says

    I went to the store for the first time this month to get three bottles of wine. Wine is part of our entertainment budget 🙂 I’ve yet to buy any food groceries.

    Breakfast-eggs with mushrooms, spinach, and feta
    Lunch-ham salad with crackers
    Dinner-leftover Million Dollar Spaghetti (husband was out with friends)

    Today (Saturday) I participated in the Seattle Women’s March. What an amazing experience!

  20. Julies says

    B oatmeal , leftover French toast, eggs
    L Dinner rolls, cheese, fruit, frozen homemade baked beans
    D left over brown rice and chili from freezer .

    Still sick.
    B eggs, dinner rolls
    L I was at work , took leftover chili and leftover gluten free bread I made in bread machine
    Family ate leftovers
    D gf pasta, homemade pasta sauce and ground beef from freezer

    I’m making cinnamon rolls tonight per a child’s request . He asked for toast this morning but we are out of bread. I think I’ve spent 115 on produce and dairy this month , plus zaycon meat I ordered and an amazon prime pantry order I used on trial with coupon . I plan to buy coffee this weekend . I buy good coffee and it’s 25% off, baby carrots, and a little cheese.

    • Brooke says

      Yay for good coffee. One of life’s amazing pleasures. Lol

  21. Felicia says

    Saturday – Jan 20

    Breakfast for the past few days has been English Mc Nothin Muffins. Just an egg over easy and a pinch of shredded cheese on a toasted English Muffin.

    Lunches have been an avocado with tuna fish altho today I finished some roasted winter veggies that I made earlier this week.

    Dinner – eggplant parmesan. I made garlic rolls from some leftover Pepperidge Farm dinner rolls. We had turkey croquettes over grits last night. I was able to use up some turkey bits and mashed potatoes by turning them into these delicious patties.

    With 10 days left of January – I have $20 left of spending.

  22. Brooke says

    Well today was busy— in a good way. Today was the first day in over 3 weeks that we had non- subzero temperatures. I promised the kids they could play in the snow once it wasn’t so bitter cold. Cause let’s be honest. Playing outside with -32 windchill is not fun. Lol. So, this morning at 715 we were all outside playing. Temp was about 30 and felt positively balmy compared to what it has been. Lol. Several snowmen were built, lots of exploring, and lots and lots of sled riding.

    I think pulling a 35 pound toddler up a steep 1/4mile long driveway on a sled while wearing a baby should count as cardio for today. So yay me. Haha. I am staring at these extra pounds and so annoyed. Like, go away. lol.

    Breakfast today was the last of the egg muffin sandwiches from the other day. They’re all finished up so I will make another batch tomorrow. I have both smoked sausage and roasted potatoes left from Wednesday’s dinner so that will go into this weeks egg bake for breakfast sandwiches.
    Lunch was homemade tuna salad With lemon, parsley, a little Dijon and mayo, and lots of celery and minced red onion. I used the rest of the sleeve of celery that I was fearing would be slimy but it was still good. We had those on homemade whole wheat cottage cheese herb bread along with sliced oranges and some carrots. Yeehaw.
    Dinner was just picky since no one was starving. Cheese and cracker, one kiddo had pb and j toast, husband and other kiddo had more tuna salad in wheAt. There is a small bowl of tuna left, enough for one sandwich tomorrow.
    I took 6 lb of frozen bananas out of the freezer, I’m planning to make several loaves of banana bread tomorrow. Also, steamed a ton of butternut squash for squash muffins. So I’m hoping to get that all done tomorrow. I am going grocery shopping tomorrow morning for produce and dairy….ALONE. For a mom of many this is huge. Lol. I haven’t been to a store alone in over a year. I’m excited can you tell?! Lol mainly I am hoping to reduce the likelihood of my kids getting sick. We’ve been so lucky and let’s face it- they touch everything. With influenza so rampant right now, I just want to try to avoid the ick if we can.

    Ok that’s all I’ve got night!!
    Jessica, what is the best use for leftover slow cooker pork loin, I have some leftover. Shocked but true. Thank you in advance

    • We don’t usually have leftover, but I’d probably add it to soup or a pot pie, depending on how much you had left. This is a good soup for leftovers;

    • Heather M says

      Yes, that sled pulling definitely counts as a workout. Love reading what you’re up to and what you cook. You give me ideas. I like your creativity. Enjoy the grocery by yourself!!

      I’m not jessica, but I’d put the leftover pork in a fried rice. Or soup-instead of chicken noodle, pork? Or sandwich? I’d use it almost anywhere cooked chicken might go, too. 🙂

  23. Lynn from NC Outer Banks says


    B: grits, coffee
    L: tossed salad
    D: turkey (freezer), dressing (made from HM cornbread and old bread from freezer), mashed potatoes and gravy, LO broccoli salad, mango slices
    S: snow cream! from the 6 inches that still remain after a day of 50 degree temps. Okay, so do any of you who frequently get snow ever fix snow cream, or is that more of a southern thing? Since I’m in a less developed area, without smog and with good air quality, I hopefully didn’t ingest any contaminants 🙂 I didn’t have any condensed milk that is typically used here (and since it’s the PC, I wasn’t going to go buy any!), so I subbed my French vanilla coffee creamer. Good!

  24. Jen in Colorado says

    1/19 – DS finally went back to school on Friday! Between school holidays and illness, he had been home a week!

    B – bacon and asian pear for us both, milk for DS, tea for me
    L – DS ate at school, I didn’t feel great and skipped
    D – out to dinner – Sweet Tomatoes, which is a yummy soup and salad bar place (I had a birthday coupon, plus a gift card, so for us both it was under $8, and that was on the gift card – yay!)
    snack – dinner was early, and DS ended up eating strawberries and carrot sticks as an evening snack

  25. Kathy in Denmark says

    Day 19.
    B: Oats and milk for DH and children. Coffee and HM roll for me.
    S: both kids wanted a piece of crisp bread for the walk to school, even though they had JUST finished breakfast….
    L: DH skipped, packed lunch for DD1. HM roll with garlic cream cheese for DD2. Last of the rye bread with the last of the roast from NYE (kept in the freezer) for me.
    D: Oatmeal for kids. Both were really tired as DD1 has had a hard time falling asleep at night and DD2 didn’t sleep at all during the day. On days like that, they are pretty much done in at around 5 pm.
    Beef stew and veggie stew from freezer served with instant mashed potatoes for DH and I.

    I managed to stir the dough together for rye bread in the morning, so I baked it in the evening. Good thing I did, we had absolutely nothing left!

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