How to Meal Plan During a Pantry Challenge

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A pantry challenge meal plan is what will get you through the month of eating down your food storage. It will organize you and help you prioritize how to spend your grocery budget.

Pantry Challenge Meal Plan | Good Cheap Eats

So, yesterday I finished my inventory of all our food. Wow! We have some interesting things, including the motherlode of mystery soups and sauces. Apparently, I didn’t follow my own advice when it comes to labeling things for the freezer. Ahem. Because OF COURSE I WOULD REMEMBER. It should get interesting….

After I made my inventory, I printed out a calendar for the month and started plotting our meals. Turns out we should be good to go! I had 19 main dish proteins in the freezers but when you could soup making, pizza night, and a few meatless meals, we can go all month not buying any meat. I’ll just have to put blinders on when the sales ads come out.

I think it would bore you if I listed out all the items in my inventory. If you’ve got good eyesight, you can read the lists in the picture. Proteins are kind of the building blocks of my pantry challenge meal plan, so I’ll make the reading easy for you:

Pantry Challenge Meal Plan | Good Cheap Eats

Proteins I’m working with

  • ground beef
  • ground turkey
  • Italian sausage
  • meatloaf (homemade)
  • fish
  • carne asada
  • pulled pork
  • chicken tenders
  • chuck roast
  • tri-tip
  • shrimp
  • chili (homemade)

Pantry Challenge Meal Plan

Here’s the Pantry Challenge meal plan, or at least the family meals we’ll be enjoying this month. Breakfasts and lunches are going to be varied based on what we have going on each week, but I’ll share those in my daily reports. We eat two family meals each weekend day, so I’ve doubled up my plans on the weekends.

I’ve linked the recipes I’ll be using below. In the instance when the recipe is in a cookbook, I’ve linked to the cookbook on Amazon. If you’ve got that volume, you’ll be able to search the index for the recipe.

Pantry Challenge Meal Plan | Good Cheap Eats

Week One Pantry Challenge Meal Plan

Sunday: Confetti Chili, Cornbread/In-N-Out Burger (this is my Sunday Sanity Saver for Moms – not budging on that!)

Monday: Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Roast Vegetables,Sourdough Rolls

Tuesday: Lawnmower Taco, Salad

Wednesday: Potstickers, Chow Mein, Rice

Thursday: Pantry Challenge Minestrone, Sourdough Rolls

Friday: Pizza Night

Saturday: Lasagna, Salad/Turkey Meatloaf, Macaroni and Cheese, Vegetables

Pantry Challenge Meal Plan | Good Cheap Eats

Week Two Pantry Challenge Meal Plan

Sunday: White Chili, Cornbread/In-N-Out Burger

Monday: Shredded Beef Enchiladas, Beans, Rice, Salad

Tuesday: Tacos, Fruit Salad

Wednesday: Pasta with Red Sauce, Salad or Veg, Focaccia

Thursday: Thursday Night SoupSourdough Rolls

Friday: Pizza Night, Veggie Dippers

Saturday: Carne Asada Tacos (recipe coming soon!) on Homemade Tortillas/Shrimp Cilantro Pasta

Pantry Challenge Meal Plan | Good Cheap Eats

Week Three Pantry Challenge Meal Plan

Sunday: Grilled Tri-tip, Veg

Monday: Corn Tamales, Homemade Pinto Beans, Mexican Rice

Tuesday: Carnitas Tacos, Beans, Rice

Wednesday: Alfredo Noodles, Veg, Sourdough Rolls

Thursday: Pantry Challenge MinestroneSourdough Rolls

Friday: Pizza Night, Veggies or Salad

Saturday: Chef’s Choice/Meatballs, Polenta or Pasta, Veg

Pantry Challenge Meal Plan | Good Cheap Eats

Week Four Pantry Challenge Meal Plan

Sunday: Grilled Fish, Rice Pilaf, Vegetables/INO

Monday: Beef Stew, Salad, Sourdough Rolls

Tuesday: Turkey Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Vegetables

Wednesday: Beans and Rice

Thursday: Thursday Night SoupSourdough Rolls

Friday: FishPapa’s Birthday – he gets to choose

Saturday: Chili – if there’s any food left. 😉

I know that if I’m going to make it through the whole month, I need to have a game plan. While I’m sure we will veer from this Pantry Challenge Meal Plan, I’ve at least got a starting point for our meals and for food prep.

What’s YOUR Pantry Challenge Meal Plan?

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Kim says

    I worked on my inventory last night and menu today. My husband is more than excited to have me let go of my food storage and I’m looking forward to reducing the overfilled pantry shelves and freezer. Whenever I walk in the pantry, I get overwhelmed with the “clutter” feeling, so I know it will feel so much better to eliminate the excess.

    I started today and used the cans of pears to make a cobbler . (Don’t tell my family, but the date on the cans -01-15-13). The pears were the oldest food on the shelf. For dinner I made a tasty balsamic cream chicken over pasta and Brussels sprouts. I hope the rest of the month tastes as good.

    Thanks for the challenge.

    • You’re off to a great start. And when husbands are on board, you can’t lose!

      • Danielle L Zecher says

        My hubby is excited too. He says I come up with the best stuff when I’m using up random bits of stuff, and he loves the idea of having more space in the kitchen. Yay for excited husbands! 🙂

  2. Carrie says

    I must simply do this! I’ve turned into a food hoarder, storing food everywhere. I buy groceries and don’t need to. I probably have 6 mos of food stored up. Please encourage me to make this challenge happen! Thank you!

    • You can totally do this! Check in every day and the folks here will cheer you on!

    • Heather M says

      Hi there! You can totally do this! In fact, you might get so into it, you keep going into February as you see things start to thin out a little, and also see how much you still have! But, for me, the only way to stay sane doing a Panrty Challenge is to still by fresh produce/limited dairy, and those things we can’t live without if we’re out (like pistachios for my son. He eats them every day at school, generally his main source of protein for lunch!). I tend to build my meals around what’s in the house, then add fresh fruit and veg as carefully as I can, so we don’t waste or buy much. But it makes the biggest difference in keeping at a Challenge. Good luck!

    • april says

      I’m so in the same boat. I have so much food. I just ran across this today and am starting the challenge. I’m going to see how long I can go on $100 a month for 3 people. Hope to spend less but to get the hubby on board I have to offer up the $100.

  3. Janet says

    I’m looking forward to the pantry challenge. I have been working on my inventory and trying to figure out how to use some of the stuff in 30 days. How did I end up with 7 packages of cream cheese and 6 loafs of sandwich bread, but no sandwich meat? I started today by using a box of jumbo pasta shells that have been in the pantry for two years.

    Breakfast: Banana muffins from the freezer, milk, and apple slices

    Lunch: Stuffed beefy pasta shells (used up most of the box of jumbo pasta shells and a block of cream cheese). I served the shells with green beans and a fresh berry salad. There are enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow for my husband and myself. The kids are going back to school tomorrow and will brown bag it.

    Dinner: I made Honey-broiled Ham Steaks using the recipe from Jessica’s new cookbook. This was a big hit with the entire family – no leftovers! I served it with smashed potatoes using up the few russet potatoes from Christmas along with steamed broccoli.

    • Remy says

      Yum, I’d eat at your house! We’re still trying to use up party leftovers here… but we had an excess of sweet potatoes so I sliced and baked some chips. (New mandolin for Xmas.) Almost done with my pantry inventory – I think we’re good for at least a few weeks, but I might buy some green beans or broccoli once the veggie drawer is empty.

    • Sandi says

      That’s funny, since I have several things of sliced meat and cheese but no bread. I almost bought some today, then decided to wait. Either I’ll just do rollups, or I’ll bake some of the dinner rolls from the freezer and use those instead for mini sandwiches. Too bad you aren’t my area, I’d trade you. 🙂

    • Great job! So glad you liked the ham. 🙂 You’re off to a great start!

  4. Felicia says

    I’m down with this challenge! I’m beginning my 2nd month as I still have a bountiful pantry to eat down. I saved $100 in DEC. We are a family of 2 adults at this stage of life.

    I began JAN 1st with a frozen pizza from the freezer. Friday, I also made 4 sausages in my crock pot.

    Saturday, we had sausage, pepper and onion sub sandwiches on Cuban Bread. Only used 1/2 loaf.

    Sunday we had penne pasta with one sausage sliced very thin, leftover peppers and onions tossed into the pasta sauce. A side of green beans.

    Monday we will have leftover gumbo soup from the freezer and the other 1/2 loaf of Cuban bread.

    I have a few bananas and apples to get us mid-week when I think I’ll have to shop at ALDI for more bananas, pears and strawberries (if I can work them into the budget). I may opt for more pears and no strawberries. But it would be a treat for hubby to have the berries in his cereal instead of bananas all the time. I use apples in oatmeal.

    That’s as far as I’ve gone so far. Trying to limit my spending to $10/wk. Keeping my fingers crossed as JAN seems to be a l-o-n-g month!

  5. Suze Clark says

    Jessica, Thanks for your inspiration to do the Pantry Challenge. I’m on board and doing my inventory and menu planning tonight. Our kids have flown only home for holidays. But I’m still cooking for more that 2 people. Thanks for helping me to get a grip on the situation. Blessings Suze

    • You can totally rock this. I know that downsizing and breaking old habits is hard. But there are lots of people here to help!

  6. Sandi says

    I’m going for both creating white space as well as reduced expenditures. I’d love to get away with $50 but realistically keeping it to $100 or less will make me happy. So of course I bought some groceries today… but just a gallon of milk, some tomatoes, and some bell peppers. I needed the peppers for 3 different meals (the lamb we had for dinner tonight, some Italian sausages, and a tortilla soup), and I wanted the tomatoes to make caprese salad with the fresh mozzarella cheese (also had for dinner tonight but have enough to make twice more).

    Breakfast: clementines, pumpkin bread
    Lunch: chicken burgers with guacamole
    Dinner: lamb with red & yellow peppers, leftover mashed taters, caprese salad, baklava for dessert – clearly an international meal!

    • Lisa M says

      How did you fix the lamb? We love lamb and I’m always looking for new recipes 🙂

      • Sandi says

        I used chunked up boneless leg of lamb. I seasoned it with black pepper, rosemary, garlic powder, and a little bit of sea salt. (Sometimes I just go with Montreal Steak Seasoning and be done with it, but I was looking for a little more of a Greek feel this time.) I put it in the pan with some oil and the peppers in largish pieces and cooked on a lower heat. When it was nearly done, I squirted some lemon juice over it. I can’t say I actually tasted the lemon, but it probably added a bit of flavor. I think I should have used a little more. I was thinking that if I’d had fresh lemons, I would have sliced some thin slices and thrown them in the pan while everything cooked then taken them out when it was time to eat. Alas, there were none in the house. Quick and easy!

        Notes for those who maybe don’t cook this meat much: On the electric stove, I cook it at setting 4, on the skillet with a temperature gauge I cook it at 225 degrees. Depending on how large/thick your pieces are, it takes 10-15 minutes to cook. Tonight it took 25 minutes from when I took the stuff out of the fridge to when I was ready to serve it, including the time to wash and chop the peppers and carry on a texting conversation at the same time. The meat was done and the peppers were not mushy. If you cook it too hot or too long, the meat gets tough and chewy.

        • Lisa M. says

          Sounds great! Thanks so much for the response :0) We love lamb and I’m anxious to give this way a try.

  7. Remy says

    Worked out the menu for the first week, anyway:

    Sunday: eggs, etc. / sweet potato chips, beets, squash, pesto pasta
    Monday: applesauce, hardboiled eggs, granola bar, orange / baked potatoes w/ fixins, other leftovers
    Tuesday: frozen saag paneer & naan, apple, orange / fried eggs, bacon, crumpets & jam
    Wednesday: turkey barley soup, crackers, orange / out to dinner & movie
    Thursday: crumpets & jam, apple w/ peanut butter / spaghetti & meatballs, peas
    Friday: leftover spaghetti & meatballs, applesauce, orange / lumpia, rice, carrots
    Saturday: hardboiled egg, leftover rice & carrots / out for a friend’s birthday

    (I pack my lunches for work, eat dinner at home unless otherwise specified, and don’t eat breakfast.)

  8. Shannon says

    On board! Although I have started out rough – we had a bunch of kids over Saturday night and I had to make a grocery run for make-your-own-quesadilla night so already spent $50 (also got milk, toilet paper and few other staples). My goal would be $25 a week on fresh produce and milk. I am behind and need to inventory the pantry and freezer and do my meal planning! But I already put a container of frozen soup from LAST winter in the fridge for tomorrow so am on my way!

  9. Jessica S says

    Saturday- stopped into the local grocery outlet after hitting the bank to make deposits. Grabbed the bread I needed for lunches this week. Scored some Organic Chicken breasts so I took them all as we eat a LOT of chicken!
    Got home and tossed 2 packs into my crock pot with some boxed broth and stock veggies. 3/4 of that poached chicken was shredded and sauced with BBQ. I had no buns so I used YOUR recipe for everything buns( minus the everything-lol) and we served the sammies with a can of baked beans, and a pot of homemade mac and cheese( used a partial bag of noodles!).
    Sunday- fend for yourself breakfast before church, lunch was leftovers from New years and last night. Daughter realized that we were low on milk so we took the last 2 cups and made a batch of pancakes for the freezer. Pulled a roll of cookie dough out and used the frozen stash of Hershy kisses to make some cookies for lunches this week! Supper was a Book It reward Pizza for one, the last of the corn dogs in the freezer for the other 2. Sliced apples and leftover fruit dip for all. Husband ate more leftovers and I ate the leftover apples with hot tea!

    I did buy a few groceries today – milk, lunch meat/cheeses ( DH is a creature of habit and it makes lunch packing easier!), mark down bananas, etc. Grabbed and paper and have started working on coupons!
    Sliced down a half dozen oranges and portioned for lunches, along with pretzels and carrots.. Tomorrow is going to be rough for kids and myself( heading back to work!)..

  10. Shannon says

    I’ve only done inventory on the indoor freezer so far. Hoping to do the large pantry and fridge tomorrow. But at least I have a starting off point. Today we had Mickey waffles for breakfast, an assortment of leftovers for lunch and spaghetti for dinner. Made a run to Sprouts today as we were completely out of all fresh produce. Spent just under $34. My goal is $50 a week, which is 1/4 of what we usually average. Already got my son’s lunch packed for school tomorrow and the beef put in the fridge to defrost for dinner tomorrow night (crock pot beef and broccoli with fried rice). Looking forward to a great month!

  11. Roberta says

    So far, ok.

    Jan. 1: Breakfast–coffee cake; lunch–cheese sandwiches, yogurt, and clementines; dinner–at a neighbor’s.

    Jan. 2: Breakfast–leftover pancakes/waffles from the freezer; lunch–potato cheese soup, crackers, clementines; dinner–ham, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, apple sauce.

    Jan. 3: Breakfast–cereal, toast, OJ; lunch–grilled cheese sandwiches, yogurt, clementines; dinner–roasted turkey breast, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, apple sauce, cranberry sauce.

    Hmmm . . . can you tell we had a big bag of potatoes? I think I need to make up a green salad and lay off the carbs this next week. Rain is predicted all week (hallelujah!)–a nice, warm soup sounds good too.

  12. Laurie says

    Came home from four days R&R at the coast and didn’t feel like cooking. I really wanted Panda but went in the kitchen and pan cooked some chicken tenders, steamed broccoli and made a salad. Much healthier than Panda and I saved $20!

    • LeslieT says

      Good for you! You probably also saved 2,000 calories. That took real will-power and those of us who struggle with weight commend you!

      • Laurie says

        It’s amazing how 5 months of careful, healthful eating can be totally undone by 1 month of holiday eating 🙁 We’re trying to get back on track with diet and exercise and eating down the pantry/freezer. Fortunately, I have mostly lean meats stockpiled in the freezer. I found a whole turkey breast in there I didn’t know I had! Good grief.

  13. Heather M says

    It’s midnight Sunday night and we just got home this evening after a week at my in-laws in NY. Will inventory tomorrow, hopefully. It’s doubtful I’ll have much of a plan figured out in the next few days (too much other stuff to catch up on, etc), but I’m pretty good at winging it. looking forward to cooking and eating in. A week at my in-laws used to involve her awesome cooking most days. Sadly she’s mostly given up cooking and tends to order food from either the local Italian or Portuguese place for dinner, and picks up donuts, pastries, and bread. And we eat several meals out as well. So it’s a week of too much restaurant food, junky breakfasts, and no real lunches. tastes good, but I’m ready for home and healthy cooking! Good luck everyone! So far, it looks like many of you are off to a great start!

    • LeslieT says

      That’s a great opportunity for you to give her some home cooking or freezer meals next time you need to come up with a gift idea for her on Mother’s Day or birthday!

  14. Emily T says

    I am looking forward to this Pantry Challenge. I only did this week’s menu as I glanced through our little freezer in the kitchen today. I do have plans to get through our garage freezer sometime this week. This week’s menu: Swedish Meatballs, Chili, Chicken Wings with mashed potatoes, BLTs, and Potato Soup. Each meal of course will have a veg or two served with it. Some of the meals like the Chili, Chicken Wings, and Potato Soup, I actually have all of the ingredients. The rest of the meals I will need to buy a few ingredients. I will also be buying milk, yogurt, and produce throughout the month. Let the thinning begin!!

  15. Jennifer says

    We started this weekend. I have SOOOOO much food in the freezer, it is scary. We can eat for a month with no problem. The first meal was mystery meat stew (venison of some sort). It was great, but tons of leftovers. Been looking through your books for some ideas as well.

  16. Pam says

    I’m trying to balance the pantry challenge with a serious need to clean up our eating after the holidays. Plus, I have a new baby starting childcare in my home today. So I did end up buying some fresh veggies and fruit and a couple of convenience foods (that means not baking bread this week). I’m going to try to use something from my pantry that I’ve had for a while everyday.

  17. I’m in the opposite boat–not needing to clean out freezers as much as needing to stock up meals for when #4 comes in 3 months…and yet, there are totally random bits and bobs of convenience foods I wouldn’t normally get leftover from morning sickness weaknesses. 1/2 packages of ravioli, I’m totally looking at you, but with my stash of homemade marinara, that’ll be an easy kill for AWANA night when we have zero time to eat and get out the door. I’m a bit loathe to tackle my dry good storage I keep in the deep freeze for all of my baking, but I really do need to do something about all of those sesame seeds. My food processor might be working overtime making tahini.

  18. Danielle L Zecher says

    So far I’ve made turkey pot pie (using home-made stock from the freezer from the Thanksgiving turkey, and frozen turkey from a big family dinner during the spring) and vegetable soup (using leftover sauce from our New Year’s Eve calzones, and all of the random veggies from the fridge that needed to be used). I added some cooked orzo and it was delicious. We also had cheese and crackers on the side because I bought way too much for Christmas. The best part is that I don’t have to cook tonight because we have enough leftovers. 🙂

    I also finally used the bread machine again last night. I got into a very bad fast food for breakfast habit during the holidays, so I made a loaf of honey granola bread for peanut butter and honey toast this morning. I also discovered last night that we have four open jars/bottles of honey in the cabinets. 🙁 I have no idea how that happened. I’m trying to work through them from least to most full to clear out space and see progress. Hubby gave me a jar of lavender infused honey for Christmas, but I’m forcing myself not to open it until two of the other jars are used.

    Does anyone else run into trouble with your honey getting had/forming crystals? Is there a good way to prevent that? It seems to happen to all of it; the cheep bottles from the grocery store, and the expensive jars from the farmer’s market. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

    • I have the same problem with honey. I don’t know how to prevent it, but warming it up makes it usable again (at least for smoothies, etc).

      • Danielle L Zecher says

        Thanks! I’m glad to know it’s not just me. I microwaved some of it last night to soften it up and used some of it in the bread. It seemed to work just fine.

        • Laura C says

          Happens to me too! Just transferred my plastic bottle to a jar and had to warm on the stove today to get it to uncrystallize to be able to use it. By the time I use it again, I’m sure it will re-crystallize.

    • Melina Coates says

      You aren’t doing anything wrong! Honey naturally crystallizes, but that doesn’t mean it’s going bad. Heating it gently reliquifies it again.

      • Danielle L Zecher says

        Thanks! I’m glad to know it’s not something that I’m doing.

    • Tasty says

      Heating the honey in the microwave will take it back to a liquid consistency and get rid of the hard granules. That is normal for honey – you’re not doing anything wrong ?

  19. Maureen says

    I’m in, as I really need to clean out. It’s going to take longer than just January, but I’m determined to finish it all off this time. My goal is to defrost an empty chest freezer before our vacation later in February. And have a completely organized (and smaller) pantry…only items we really like/use.

    The fridge is all organized and we’ve been working on New Years leftovers for the last few days. My freezers are so full it’s overwhelming, so I’m just going to work off the top of those for this week. I have a pot roast in the crockpot…planning to use up some potatoes and random salad items with that tonight. I also have a few items from our extra fridge to inventory later today. I’ll pull a few older/random items from the pantry to use in the meal plan this week.

    I plan to organize and inventory the entire pantry later in the week. Then, I’ll start working on weekly meal plans to incorporate what needs to be used.

  20. Patricia says

    I am so into doing this but haven’t done my lists – although I’ve been eating from my pantry shelves and freezer for the past two days. I only bought fresh spinach and a small London broil on Saturday because I couldn’t pass up the beef bargain for $3.40 it will give me three huge meals. Where in the world did you get the three printouts that you used to list your freezer / pantry / menu plan? I’d love to download them (if possible) and use those so I can put it up on my refrigerator.

  21. tastycook says

    I had a container of salad in the fridge that we hadn’t used so one night we had egg and cheese salads with a bowl of mushroom soup. Not exciting but it saved wasting good food. The next night was leftovers from a company meal from a few days before Christmas – chicken and cranberries and some leftover rice. That made for a great meal and no work. On Sunday, got the bread machine going and made some buns. Then I made a mushroom quiche, using a pastry case from the freezer and mushrooms – also from the freezer. That was another winner. Last night I cooked the small ham that was in the fridge and made scalloped potatoes to go with it. Enough ham for several meals and lunchtime sandwiches. I had a small bag of blackberries that has been staring me in the face for several months and decided to use them along with the extra apple sauce from a roast pork dinner on New Year’s eve to make a fruit crumble. Of course it was way too big ffor just the 2 of us so we have dessert for most of the week.

    We have also managed to empty 2 boxes of cereal that had been in the pantry for a while.

    So far, so good.

  22. Yep doing this for sure…posted on my blog
    Thanks Jessica for your annual challenge , sure does get me in gear.

  23. Melissa F says

    I did the Pantry Challenge last year while I was home recuperating from surgery. It helped us eat down the tremendous amount of food we had in the house after the holidays and saved money.
    This year we are planning a move in the spring so I would like to get the outside freezer cleaned out in time to move and the extra food stash I have squirreled away in my den used up. Also trying to keep the food bill down as we face expenditures to build a rural cabin.
    We started yesterday. Used up some remaining bacon and made some cheese grits for breakfast. Grilled ham and cheese for lunch – that was the last of the luncheon meat. Snacks were halos, bananas and nuts. I made chili for dinner. Ice Cream sundaes for dessert – using up the spotted bananas and I made homemade magic shell. I had one Vanilla ice cream left over from Christmas.
    Today, I had grits for breakfast, Hubs had yogurt and a banana. Canned soup for lunch, hubs had oatmeal. For dinner we will make nachos with the leftover chili. Snacks – pineapple, nuts and halos.

    I am looking forward to reading everyone’s progress! Good luck everyone!
    MelissaF (in SC)

  24. Whitney says

    As I look at my overflowing fridge, I cannot ignore the fact that my condiments are taking over! Does anyone have experience with meal planning with a big focus on condiments that need to be used? I have tons of different BBQ sauces, mustards, asian sauces, etc. Suggestions would be appreciated! Oh, and any ideas for using up a carton of eggnog quickly? Are there any baked goods that I can put it in?? Thanks!!

    • Heather M says

      One thought I have is Rachael Ray has done these occasional segments in the past using the last of a specific condiment or jarred item. I think it’s called “bottom of the jar” and you could search it on her website for ideas to use up all that condiment accumulation. 🙂

    • tastycook says

      Hey, Whitney, I have been known to just pick out one of those sauce mixes and decide that’s what I’m using for supper and then find the necessary ingredients, even if that means a trip to the store. Backwards maybe for the pantry challenge, but it does get yet another item used!!

    • the1chery says
    • sylvie torok-nagy says

      as for eggnog, look on for eggnog cheesecake..absolutely a family fave!

    • Laura C says

      French Toast casserole- sub eggnog for milk! Here’s my recipe. Its so good!
      ½ c. butter
      1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
      1 tsp. cinnamon
      12 slices French bread
      5 eggs, lightly beaten
      1 ½ c. milk

      Place butter in a 13 x 9 baking pan; heat in oven at 350 degrees until melted. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Place 6 slices bread on butter in pan. Sprinkle with ½ of sugar mixture. Top with remaining bread and sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture. Combine eggs and milk; mix well. Pour over bread layers. Chill, covered in plastic wrap, overnight. Remove wrap. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

    • Danielle L Zecher says

      Maybe focus on making stir fry dishes and slow cooker pulled meat dishes. If you have access to any older cookbooks, like the church ones from the 50s and 60s, they seem to use a lot of condiments in the recipes. Or check out the website for the actual product/condiment. A lot of them have recipes for using their stuff.

  25. DinaS says

    Looking through my freezer at 10 packages of chicken cutlets, I wonder what I was thinking. Regarding stockpiling (I do know that this is PC month), when something is on sale, what is a reasonable amount to buy? One week/one month’s worth/3 months worth?

    • tastycook says

      If I have the space, I would probably go for 3 months worth, especially if it’s something that I use frequently.

  26. sylvie says

    Totaly freaked out my hubby this past weekend when i bought over 500$ (canadian) worth of food from costco!! Most of it was huge quantities of meat, which i was able to separate into smaller meal sized portions. But, huge but, i need to mske this hoard last as long as possible…. eek

    Armed with my pantry list that i loaded into my Out of Milk free app, i will try to plan a menu to last all month. The last pantry challenge we did with all of you did not end well.

    My hubby feels that empty pantry, fridge or freezer is a death sentence.

    Wish me luck as wish all of you luck!!

    • I posted about this challenge on my blog, and linked it back to you Jessica.

    • Sarah says

      I tend to do that at Costco as well! Their meat is such good quality, and it’s hard for me to pass it up sometimes! We’re still full in the freezers from my last trip there in November for meat! I’m stoked to continue this pantry challenge! (I started mine on Boxing Day!)

  27. Jenn says

    Hi – I’ve been visiting/lurking here for a long time but I think this might be my first or maybe second comment. I’m excited to join you all in using-what-I-have and clearing out some pantry and freezer space in this new year.

    Whitney – there’s a blog called The Kitchn – if you go there and do a search for “using condiments” you’ll get a list of ways to use those up. I hope it’s alright to mention another website here and I hope that the information is helpful.


    • Thanks for joining in, Jenn! Yes, is a great source for good ideas! Good suggestion!

  28. Mona says

    So need this again this year!! Started today with leftovers…

    Breakfast – cereal and coffee
    Lunch – BBQ chicken sandwiches, applesauce (leftovers)
    Dinner – Confetti Chili w/ cornbread (leftovers)

  29. Emily T says

    Always glad to join in your pantry challenges! I’ve just glanced through our little freezer–will get to our garage freezer later this week. Found sausage which I used to make chili for tonight. Rest of the week’s menu will consist of chicken wings with mashed potatoes, Swedish meatballs with cranberry sauce, BLTs, & Potato pancakes. I need to pick up a little bit of produce, milk & yogurt, and eggs.

  30. Sandy says

    So far, so good.
    Saturday: lunch; country fried steak, mashed potatoes and freezer corn from our garden, supper; homemade pizzas with Naan and ham from freezer and veggies that needed used from frig
    Sunday: waffles, breakfast potatoes with peppers that needed used, sausage from freezer and oranges, leftovers from frig for supper

  31. Angie says

    I am really up for this pantry challenge. Meal planning and cooking from my fridge/freezer/pantry are easy for me as I’m pretty good at throwing things together successfully. This is good thing because I have a wonderful/bad habit of buying things at the store that are new and interesting to me and bringing them home to hopefully find a good way to use them. This month I plan to use up adzuki beans, millet, kamut and urad gota that I bought some time ago and need to use. I’ve used kamut and adzuki beans before so that isn’t a problem, but I have never had/made the other items. Wish me luck!

  32. Anna M. says

    Excellent! Thanks! Just FYI I saw a recipe for pizza dough using a single serve plain Greek yogurt mixed with 1 cup of self-rising flour. Mix, knead 5 min until soft, roll out, top immediately and bake at 450 about 10 min.

    Just in case anyone has one thing of yogurt and wants pizza. I haven’t tried it but the commentors said it was good.

  33. Karen J says

    I’ve gone to no stores at all, except to buy one powerball ticket so I can do some dreaming.
    Yesterday I made Jessica’s pizza dough in my bread machine. My crust gave me a bit of issues getting it onto the pan, but it did taste (and look) great with Canadian bacon and pineapple.
    Today chunky vegetable and lentil soup for lunch and turkey feta meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans for dinner.
    My husband thinks we eat better during pantry challenge month.

  34. Vanessa B says

    I have so many odds and ends it is difficult to know where to start. I finally made the Jambalaya that has been on the weekly menu for a month and used up the remaining croissants from Christmas. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone thoroughly enjoyed this meal. I have a list of meals but not committed to a calendar day. I have a lot of baking and snack making in my future.

  35. Hilary J says

    I just finished my menu planning for the Pantry Challenge! I already feel so accomplished ? It’s just me and my boyfriend but I have amassed so much canned food and TONS of starches. One page of my inventory was JUST starches!! So, that’s where I started meal planning. Start with orzo, end with chicken/orzo skillet meal…..

    I am so excited (and a little bit nervous!!) about the challenge. But I know I will feel so good by the end. Thanks Jessica!!

  36. Danielle L Zecher says

    I think I’ve finally come up with a (very loose) plan. I’m currently focusing on using up things that are about to go bad; fresh fruit and veggies, corn tortillas nearing their expiration date, etc., and things that we have multiple open jars/bottles of like honey. I think that plan will take us through the weekend.

    After that I will switch my focus to using things I bought for specific recipes I wanted to try, but haven’t gotten around to yet. Here’s looking at you tomato paste, dried apricots, and cracked wheat. Mixed in with that (because I only want so much experimentation in one week) I’m going to start in on things I’ve stocked up too much on like rice, cream of onion soup, pinto beans, etc.

    I’m not sure if it’s the best approach, but I think it will work for me. I need to see progress and feel like I’m getting somewhere with this, and I think that will work.

  37. Heather B says

    I just found this challenge so I’m starting a little late. My pantry challenge is officially going to start tomorrow. It’s just me at home but I’ve managed to more than stock my pantry, fridge, and freezer for at least two people. Time to cut back and get creative! I know I have plenty between all my spaces to create some tasty meals so I’m hopeful I can stick to it. I did stock up on fresh fruit (No veggies. Lots of frozen varieties in the freezer right now!) at the store yesterday so I shouldn’t have to make any trips to the grocery store for at least two weeks.

  38. Patricia says

    Well its DAY 2 of my challenge…. last night I was exhausted after a senior shopping trip to Walmart… So I had left over beans and bacon from the frigerator and a can of San Pellegrino Grapefruit water… I get water delivery from Poland Spring (15 1 liter bottles of spring water and three 6-pk of 3 types of San Pellegrino fizzy water… Its worth it to me since it becomes a treat that isn’t bad (no sodium, no fats, no chol) – every other day with dinner is my treat. Today I had a couple of left over mini donuts because I couldn’t throw them away and a small pot of cafe vienna.. lunch was a tiny chicken breast with 1 cup pasta and 1/2 cup left over steamed veggies (beans/zucc/summ squash/chopped carrots) and about 1/2 cup left over chopped pineapple… tonight will be 1/2 grilled munster sandwich on a large slice of 12 grain bread from the freezer with a can of veggie beef soup and one of the apples my daughter dropped off. Snack tonight will be a handful of unsalted almonds. That’s day 2 and I’m feeling happy.

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