This month, we’re shopping our kitchen in order to use up what we have so we can save money and clear kitchen clutter.
Here we go with Day 1 of the Pantry Challenge. I’ll confess, I did not do any of the prep I might normally do.
We had a belated Christmas combined with New Year’s with lots of family over that just ended this morning. It was fantastic to spend time with both my son and his wife as well as my in-laws this past weekend.
The party ended today, so now we get back to business. I go back to work tomorrow, but the rest of the household has the next day to week off.
In past years I’ve done a fair amount of pantry challenge planning in advance, but that had to wait until today when I inventoried the pantries, fridges, and freezers.
I recognize what a luxury it is to have multiple spaces to store food. It’s a change from years past, to be sure. In November, I cleaned out the cupboard under the stairs, aka Harry’s Room, and installed wire shelving so I could store some of my bulk purchases, like flour, oils, sugar, etc. in there. That has really helped bring a bit more peace to my space in the kitchen.
In the PC of 2021, we got a second fridge which in addition to our deep freeze gives us two fridge spaces and three freezers, the latter of which are all bursting at the seams.
One of my Pantry Clean Out Goals for this year is to give them all a bit of breathing space. I don’t necessarily want to use it all up, but I do want to clear the more infrequently used items away.
Since I cook for a job, I will be buying ingredients for photo shoots and those will work into our meals throughout the challenge, but I’m planning to draw the bulk of our meals from what’s already on hand.
What We Ate Today
Breakfast – We had company spend the night for NYE, but we all kind of slept in. The rainy weather we’ve had in California has leant itself to that. When I finally dragged myself out of bed, basically to feed said company, it was to do it simply.
I laid out a Breakfast Bar of yogurt cups, oranges, and clearance bagels I bought and froze last week. I also laid out cream cheese, butter, and jam. Easy!
Lunch – We had loads of leftovers from the last few days, including but not limited to Vegetable Chow Mein, Cheese Tamales, Poblano Chile Enchiladas, Mexican Rice, and Sourdough Pizza.
We all basically foraged and made our own meals out of different things.
Dinner – After foraging in the freezer and realizing my fam had had a carbo-overload the last few days, we did burgers for dinner with patties and buns I found in the freezer. We had lettuce and tomato and plenty of condiments so it was a really easy meal to prep.
What I Prepped
I took a basic inventory of the freezers and pantries and laid out our meals for the month. I know we will probably veer from it over the next few weeks, but having a Meal Plan for a Whole Month really helps direct our pantry challenge each year.
What did YOU do for Day 1?
PS If you notice comments from last year below, go ahead and disregard them. I’m basically reusing last year’s urls but rewriting each post as we go along through the month.
Hi all! I live near Cincinnati, OH and have been following Jessica and participating in Pantry Challenges for years – and love it!
B: orange chocolate chip cream scones
L: leftovers/find your own
D: homemade pizza
JulieT from MN
Not sure where my original post went so will try again!
B: L/O apple crisp for me (apples and oatmeal). LOL. Hubby had toast
L: hash made from sweet potatoes and potatoes, bacon, and eggs
D: leftover taco dip and chips, leftover cocktail,wieners, leftover shrimp and cocktail sauce and leftover strawberry cheesecake.
I hope to use 40 jars of home canned food this month, unplug my small chest freezer, and only spend $50 on groceries for milk, creamer, and fresh produce.
Lynn from NC Outer Banks
Jan 2, 2023
Hello Jessica and all the other familiar names I recognize from years gone by! I’m so glad to join in again. Thank you, Jessica, for hosting us another year. Like others, I look forward to the PC month every year. Despite the high food prices, I find myself with full freezers and pantries again this year.
I’m a bit off my game thus far. Covid waylaid our Christmas plans, so we waited for my mother to get well to celebrate. We have returned home today after visiting her, along with spending NYE/NYD with dear friends which included lots of party food made and consumed. So, I’ve not yet begun the challenge. I had inventoried my freezers before Christmas, when I was in search of a particular needed item. Were my freezers not so full, I would have been able to find it more easily, so that is one of the reasons I need to eat down all our foodstuffs. I’m hoping to keep my purchases to $50 or less this month. We’ll see how close I can come to that. I always get meal ideas from this group, so I’m looking forward to that as well. I’ll begin posting tomorrow.
Here’s to a successful Panty Challenge for all and a wonderful 2023!
Lynn from the NC Outer Banks
Happy New Year everyone! I’ll get to what my plans are re the Challenge tomorrow or the next day, as I’m very late to posting this on the 2nd. We just got home from our annual New Years trip to my in-laws in New York, so will be starting the Challenge tomorrow, the 3rd, and skipping the 6th, since it’s my birthday. In the spirit of things, we ate leftovers from NYE at my in-laws. but first we got up and hurried into Manhattan to spend a few hours in central park and the upper west side before we had to take our daughter and her boyfriend to the airport(our son had left the 30th). It was his first trip ever to NY (and DC, where we live), so we had to take advantage!
Breakfast: we skipped but I ran early to the bagel store to get daughter a GF bagel, by far the best one she’s ever had, one last time before leaving the land of good bagels(she has celiac) and a plain one for her bf.
Lunch: L and I waited to eat, still kind of full from NYE, until post airport. The travelers had leftover tamales.
Dinner: I had a leftover empanada and pupusa. L had both of those plus a tamal. so much good, but rich food.
Kathy in Denmark
Happy New Year everyone!
Brunch: Scrambled eggs, bacon, HM baked beans and toast. Coffee and juice.
L: Everyone skipped
D: Rye bread and a few LO burger buns topped with whatever we had in the fridge.
S: Sweets and crisps leftover from the Holidays
Hello Kathy! Happy to see you here again and Happy New Year to you and your family! I hope you all had a good 2022. 🙂
Lynn from NC Outer Banks
Hi Kathy. Great to hear from you again this year. Happy New Year!
Kathy in Denmark
Hi Heather and Lynn!
Great to “see” you too.
We’ve had a good 2022, but it’s been interesting for sure! I’ll write a bit more about it when I have time, because the events in Europe have definitely had an effect on our overall budget and the way I shop and cook.
Hi Jessica! This is my 1st year joining the challenge and excited to get started! I cook only for myself and mainly dinners / weekend meals (I eat lunch and occasionally breakfast at our cafeteria on workdays).
My main goals are: (1) find ways to use foods I’ve bought on a whim but rarely used; (2) not waste food this month; (3) bonus points if I can eat out less and eat more fruits/veggies/whole grains;
For Jan 1st
B: whole wheat toast with ham, coffee
L: Napa cabbage and ham stir-fry, brown rice
D: Spicy tofu stew, brown rice
Snack: 2 handful grapes
I actually stopped shopping on Chirstmas Eve so I guess my pantry challenge started then. We got hamburger and a roast that day that we have been eating all last week.
January 1 was strictly a get rid of leftovers day.
B – cereal. I emptied the last of a box.
L- 1/2 a leftover hamburger/mushroom calzone and a side salad for me. SO is taking enchilada casserole to work all week – made purposely for his work lunches Sun to Thurs.
Snacks -finished off an open bag of potato chips and the last of some brownies that I baked last week. Also drank the second half of a smoothie that I didn’t finish the day before (pineapple, mango, banana, OJ) I make a smoothie almost everyday as I get lots of free overripe bananas, berries, fruits, veggies etc from a local food rescue. Great way to get rid of those items that would otherwise end up in a landfill…(I also am swimming in extra day old bakery stuff. Much of it is in my freezer.)
*Wish every town had a food rescue like this – unbelievable what the grocery stores consider unsellable and cull out. Lots of expensive organic stuff ends up in the boxes they give to the rescue. The organization gives the food to anybody that wants it – so no income qualifications – you come get whatever you can use up. They are open 3 days a week with many volunteers.*
Dinner – hot beef sandwiches. Finished up crockpot roast beef, mashed potatoes, and gravy leftover from last week. Froze some broth with a few meat scraps that will be a soup base later in the month.
Lynn from NC Outer Banks
Kathryn, that does sound like an amazing food rescue. SO much edible food is thrown away in the US, with so many Americans in food deserts and food insecure. Glad you (and anyone) can avail themselves of that service, especially with such significant food inflation this year.
Another year and another much needed pantry challenge. It will be interesting to see how many familiar names show up again this year! We sold our house last year and moved into a condo in town. Along with that , went one of the freezers so I had to work hard to get enough food used so that we could give it away – we managed that by the end of July or so .. Success!!! When we took possession of the condo we found out the previous owner had left her small upright freezer in the utility room – bonus! I have to admit that altho it doesn`t hold as much as my other chest freezer, it is full. There`s a little bit of space in each of them but not much. An ongoing story.
Jan 1st 2023
B – Hubby finished of the Christmas pudding, I had a banana and some yogurt and a blueberry muffin.
L – we had some Asian appetisers I had bought before Christmas but not used. Lots left – another couple of lunches maybe.
S – roast beef, potatoes, carrots and brussels sprouts. The last 2 pieces of a cheesecake for dessert – a box gone from the freezer – I call that a plus.
Hello Tasty! You’ve had quite a year with that big move. How nice to have a utility room that can fit even a small freezer. Looking forward to seeing you here this month. Happy New Year!
Lynn from NC Outer Banks
Hey Tasty! So good to hear from you again. Nothing like downsizing and a bit of urgency to force you to empty a freezer, huh? Well done. I’m right there with you though-full AGAIN!
Oh, it’s so much quicker to fill a freezer than to empty one, especially as we get older and don’t eat/need as much food.
Just today for example, I took some of the leftover roast beef from last night’s meal and made a pot of vegetable beef soup. I packaged it for the freezer after supper – 4 meals worth! LOL!!
I have been so looking forward to the pantry challenge to help get more organized. With the kids coming home from college for break and family visiting I was in a buy as much as possible phase for awhile. We have a lot of different needs I am filling.
I have a 20 year old living at home and going to CC as well as an 18 year old home right now until her semester starts. Over the past few months I have found myself just buying new stuff, sticking it on top and then eating that first. Who even knows what is in the depths of my freezer at this point lol.
B – pumpkin scones using the remains of a can of pumpkin my dd opened to make cookies, served with raspberries and yogurt
L – I had a salad, dh had leftovers, ds made 2 ramen packs with a can of tuna and dd wasn’t here
snack – dh and I went out mid-afternoon to meet my oldest ds’s girlfriends family. Odd time of day – I had a pretzel and dh had chili.
D – the tik tok pasta recipe from a couple of years ago. with feta and tomatoes. I got this to make early over break but my dd was never around. I finally pinned her down in hopes of making it together. But she was napping. But everyone enjoyed it for dinner along with fresh veggies and hummus