Pantry Challenge 2019: Week 1 Update

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man's hands pressing on top of giant cheeseburger

Alrighty then! I’m one week into our pantry challenge, and my belly is full. I take that as a good sign.

Bonus: I did spent tons of time in the kitchen as I have done in years past. Over the last year, I’ve gotten into a good groove with Sunday afternoon meal prep; that habit has really served me well this week.

Over the long weekend, I baked a ton of bread (including that giant cheeseburger bun!) as well as cooked up big pots of beans to use in recipes throughout the week. Such a lifesaver!

I have a feeling that weekend meal prep just may be a game changer for the pantry challenge going forward.

My Plans

As I mentioned earlier, my general plan is to spend only half of our monthly budget (currently set for $1000/month for the new year) by shopping my pantry and freezers before I go to the store. I’ve focused on making more things from scratch and making good use of leftovers.

Most meals/days have been wins, but there have been some fails — like the crockpot full of apples and broken glass that had to be chucked. Overall, we’re doing okay, though.

Here’s what we ate this week:

Pantry Challenge 2019: Week 1 Update

collage of pantry challenge meals day 1

Day 1

Brunch: Fried Eggs, Cheese Enchiladas (from the freezer), Hashbrowns, and Seasoned Rice Pilaf (leftover) – I only had 10 enchiladas and a little rice, so I stretched it with the hashbrowns and eggs and everyone was super pleased.

Dinner: Roast Turkey Breast and all the Trimmings – I tried making my Easy Cranberry Sauce in the slow cooker. I did not like how it turned out and neither did the fam. Ho hum.

The turkey breast was way too small to fill people up, so that was a bummer, but the gravy…?

I had stashed a pot of this Mushroom and Onion Gravy Recipe in the freezer after Thanksgiving. It was a hit!

I made turkey stock the next day with the breast bone which I used on Soup Night.

collage of pantry challenge meals day 2

Day 2

Breakfast: Sourdough Cinnamon Twists – I thought these were great, but my family wasn’t overly thrilled with them. Granted it was in the middle of Christmas and New Year’s when we had a lot of sweets about. I froze the extras which I’m guessing will be devoured in desperate times later in the month.

Lunch: Giant Cheeseburger – a fun tradition we’ll be doing again! Bryan gets the credit for the idea. He’d been talking about it for days, so we went ahead and did it. It was so yummy!

I used two pounds of ground beef plus a chopped scallion and some Herbed Seasoning Mix. I loved that seasoning combination and will be doing that from now on for burgers.

I also baked one large hamburger bun from a batch of my Sourdough Hamburger Bun dough (recipe found in this cookbook, but adapted for natural yeast). I will have to do it again soon and write up a post! This was super fun!

Dinner: New Year’s Eve Mocktail Party – As you may know for years we’ve had a “mocktail party” on New Year’s Eve. The kids would each choose a dish to contribute and I would spend half the day helping each one cook.

It was super fun this year as none of the kids needed my help to cook! Life is beautiful, people!

They made a very elaborate spread including fish and chips, homemade fried shrimp wontons,  homemade Buffalo wings, cute fruit skewers, and chocolate marshmallows. Can’t wait to see what they cook up next year!

collage of pantry challenge meals day 3

Day 3

Breakfast: Greek Eggs, Various Baked Goods, including mini bagels and Vanilla Cranberry Bread from this cookbook

Not all my kids like Greek Eggs, so they fried or scrambled their own. No problem. More for me!

Lunch: Hot Dogs, Quinoa Salad, Mom’s Macaroni Salad

I really love to make many side salads at one time and have these to enjoy during the week. I was able to pack my husband’s lunches for Wed and Thursday from this stash. Wasn’t quite filling enough for him, though.

That’s probably because the potatoes for the potato salad I had planned to make ended up getting tossed. I lost my grip on the pot and they all spilled out. Ugh.

Dinner: Cornish Hen & Rice Bake (similar to this recipe, but with Cornish hens), New Year’s Cake for dessert

This Cornish Hen and Rice Bake is one of the first dinners I ever made back when I was in high school. I bought the hens last month at Costco, first time I’d seen them in probably 20 years. My kids and husband had never had this dish with the hens as I’d made this Chicken and Wild Rice Bake with bone-in chicken breast instead.

It was definitely a novelty!

The New Year’s Cake was baked by my daughter. She made a Chocolate Peppermint Cake with a Mint Ganache. I was still off chocolate at the time, but everyone loved it. I disappeared really quickly.

collage of pantry challenge meals day 4

Day 4

Breakfast: Fried Eggs, Toast, and Avocado

Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for kids, Salad for me

Dinner: Leftover Hot Dogs, Mac & Cheese (boxed), Salads, Cookies for dessert

This was a pretty mellow day. One son is out of town, my husband and second son were back to work. That left me and four kids at home. Nothing too earth-shattering to report.

It was also date night so I don’t have a picture of what the kids ate, but they were all thrilled with their hodge-lodge smorgasbord, believe it or not. Two absolutely love hot dogs; one was dying for boxed mac and cheese; the fourth was thrilled to have the rest of the salads to herself.

It all worked out.

For our part, we did a pretty cheap date at Ty’s Burger House. Our grocery budget and date night budget are separate, so we broke no rules in going out. 😉

collage of pantry challenge meals day 5

Day 5

Breakfast: Greek Eggs; Fried Eggs; toast

Can you tell Greek Eggs are a favorite around here? I bought a big container of feta cheese in early December, but I had the foresight to divide it into smaller containers and freeze most of it. This has allowed me to stretch our feta purchase and not let it go to waste.

Lunch: Green Salads for me and girls, boys were at friends’

Dinner: Baked Arancini (made with leftover rice from Day 3), Stone Soup (with lots of leftover bits), homemade sourdough bread from freezer

This was the first time I ever made Arancini. I scanned a bunch of different recipes on the internet and then got creative.

You’re supposed to use leftover risotto. I had leftover baked rice pilaf. Not quite the starchy rice typically used in risotto or in arancini. But, I also had leftover gravy, so I added a bit to the rice along with a beaten egg. That helped things stick together.

Once I rolled the balls, I rolled them in flour seasoned with Herbed Seasoning Mix, dipped them in beaten egg, and then rolled them in panko bread crumbs. I baked them for 25 minutes at 425 degrees. They were really good!

There’s no way my family would have eaten that rice plain, but they gobbled it down in these fun little rice balls.

I had still MORE leftover rice that I mixed with the aforementioned turkey stock, leftover gravy, mashed potatoes, chicken, carrots, celery, spinach, and sausage. The gravy and potatoes as well as the rice help thicken the soup.

FishChick10 and I absolutely loved the soup, but the guys prefer red or brown soups, so they weren’t super crazy about it. No problem. I tucked the leftovers in the freezer for me and my girl to have a yummy lunch next week!

collage of pantry challenge meals day 6

Day 6

Breakfast: Breakfast Bar

Of note: I regularly buy six dozen eggs each week. That’s the limit that you can buy at ALDI at one time, but also the amount of eggs we go through in a week. True story.

I busted out a second loaf of cranberry bread from the freezer (I made three over the weekend). Super yummy!

Lunch: Easy Slow Cooker Chili – this was a chili that I threw together early in the morning: frozen black beans, frozen pintos, frozen chicken stock, a can of roasted tomatoes, seasonings. I skipped the beef and since I had a small packet of frozen sautéed onion and celery leftover from Thanksgiving, I threw that in.

It turned out so good! Plus, adding a few toppings and chips always seems to make it seem like so much more!

Dinner: Grilled Sourdough Pizza

Sometime this month I’ll put together a recipe post of our Grilled Sourdough Pizza. We started making this last April or May. I make the dough on Friday mornings. In the evening I shape the dough and then my girls help me “decorate” the pizzas.

My husband cooks them on the grill. He enjoys the challenge while I enjoy sitting down and resting!

It’s been a little tricky with the grill the last couple weeks since we’ve had a serious cold snap here.

collage of pantry challenge meals day 7

Day 7

Breakfast: Pancakes

My youngest loves to make pancakes so we worked on this project together. I taught her to weigh flour, something she never noticed me do.

I do it every time.

It was a great start to the weekend.

Lunch: Burritos

The day before I cooked beans and chicken so that my husband could make a bunch of extra burritos for the freezer. He and the college kids will take these in their lunches throughout the month.

Dinner: LasagnaMilk and Honey CornbreadLemon Broccoli

I made several lasagnas early last month and we’ve got one left. Boom. Time to eat it up.

I love having cornbread with lasagna. One of my editors gave em the side eye over that combo years ago. I think it’s because Marie Calendars always served cornbread with all their entrees? Don’t know.

But, if you haven’t tried lasagna and cornbread together, you should!

ALDI groceries in cart

Grocery Stops

I made three stops during the week, once at ALDI for a big fill-in-the-blanks shop, once at Ralphs in the hopes that I’d find good clearance items (it was meh) and once at Costco. I ended up spending $156 in total.

  • ALDI – $66
  • Ralphs – $8
  • Costco – $82

The bulk of the spending was, as one might expect at Costco, but those purchases will stretch far into the month. My theory is that spending some money now, front-loading my spending at the start, will help us have success all month long.

We shall see. One week down, only four more to go!

kitchen winners circle bookmark and cookbooks

If you’d like to up your game in the kitchen and get around-the-clock support for your pantry challenge, join the Kitchen Winners Circle, an online community to help you connect with fellow cooks and to equip yourself with resources and support to reach your goals in the kitchen.

Find more details here.

How’s the Pantry Challenge going for you?

Give us an update in the comments section. I can’t wait to hear about the progress you’ve made!

About Jessica Fisher

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

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  1. Patricia says

    I’m trying to find room in my freezer – so far NONE – I pull stuff out and turn around to find it packed to the top once again. Its Jan 6th and I have to pull something out for meals today. Last night I had a small package of tempura green beans and some frozen breaded shrimp. When I woke during the night I ate a stale triple chocolate muffin with a big glass of milk. Breakfast will be waffles with peaches and peach juice, lunch will be soup and salad and dinner will be bbq ribs, mashed potatoes and yellow squash… New Year’s Day I went to Acme for their BOGO sale and ended up with a huge ribeye steak roast and a huge baby back rib stipe – also sweet Italian sausage and a kielbasa. I’ll be eating those for weeks – along with the big package of pork chops and chicken stripes – that’s only the beginning. Tuesday I’ll get my monthly order delivered from ShopRite which will give me milk, eggs, fresh fruit and veggies…

  2. Laura says

    I’ve been taking a similar approach to the shopping at the beginning of the challenge. I also took advantage of two gift cards I had and stocked up on a few items that will help us as the month goes on. Extra pepperoni for the win!! That being said, I rolled $75 of purchases from December into January because they were bulk online purchases, so I’ve spent about $130 of my $350 but I feel confident that we’ll do ok! Dairy and produce will be the necessary purchases I think.

    I’ve also been doing a fair amount of baking and have spent lots of time in the kitchen. I enjoy it and my people like having fresh baked goods…especially when I’m not stocking the shelves with convenience snacks items. My sourdough starter is finally ready to use and I have my first two loaves proofing right now. ? I have also batch cooked beans and frozen some and no one has complained about seeing them in just about every dish.

    I just finished reading The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. If you’re ever feeling ‘deprived’ during the pantry challenge, read that! One or two small loaves of coarse sourdough a day for all six of them and a few potatoes with salt if they were lucky! They ate like that for nearly five months! We are just fine ?

    Thanks for the week’s recap and for sharing your challenge!!

  3. Vanessa B says

    I can’t pinpoint an exact start to the pantry challenge as we were bursting at he seams with leftover food from Christmas and a week of having my brother stay with us from Cleveland. I inventoried everything on Saturday the 29th. Between Christmas and New Years I had the opportunity to finally teach my husband about the leftover rotation, first in, first out, eat the oldest leftovers first, we’re on th same page now. Saturday the 29th was the goodbye dinner for my baby brother and we enjoyed a feast of Prime Rib, mashed potatoes and gravy, honey roasted carrots and more. After all the cheese balls and deli meats were gone, it was time to buckle down. A small portion of leftover prime rib got chopped up and sautéed with a few slices of peppered bacon, cabbage and onion and served over butter egg noodles for a delicious meal one night. A 3lb pork roast was made into sliders on the first night with some “almost” Panera copycat Mac n cheese and green beans. Pork burritos the second night with homemade enchilada sauce from the freezer. There were some other meals mixed in there that were less impressive. Spent $11 on tortillas, bread, a block of cheese, milk, some koolaid packages (not my favorite but it keeps the natives happy) and a random package of johnsonville natural brats that were too good a price to pass up. I have a plan for next week that seem doable, although I may have to get creative with pizza toppings too. I’ll need to shop for eggs and produce at some point in the week.

  4. Amy S says

    I spent $17 this week to restock milk, eggs, and fresh vegetables. I normally spend $300 a month for 4, but that includes paper, pet, and beauty but it excludes meat. We bought a hog last month, so we are good on meat. My husband was out today to return an alarm clock and came home with a 5# bag of roasted peanuts. Whatever. That comes out of his fun money rather than the grocery envelope. Next time he wants a snack I should remind him about the two bags of potato chips in the basement. I bought them in November.

  5. Amy L says

    Hubs smoked a brisket for NYE. I was able to turn the leftovers into tacos one night, and chili another! We had one-pot chicken pasta one night. I used one chx breast for that & cooked therest in the Insta-pot to use later. We had chicken pot pie with it last night (everyone loved it – even the usual chicken pot pie refuser! – but it wasn’t enough for us all. New recipe – I know to double it next time) and will use the rest of the chx up next week.
    I’m enjoying being more intentional with food use – I wonder if that will get harder once regular life starts back up.
    It was hard to NOT stock up on sale items when I went shopping this past weekend! But I think I spent about half what i normally do on groceries – so far, so good!

  6. Amy says

    Jessica – do you take a break from stocking up on items during a pantry challenge when they hit stock up price? Or do you still buy ahead for later in the month?
    Chicken was under $2/lb – stock up price here – and I didn’t get any b/c we still had some in the freezer…but now I’m second guessing myself!

    • If it’s a crazy good deal that won’t come around anytime soon, I buy it. If you think you’ll kick yourself next month, go buy it.

  7. Pat says

    I’m in again. I think I’ll like the posts weekly instead of daily.
    We started our challenge on January 2nd. My husband and I are creatures of habit at breakfast–he has oatmeal or eggs and if I have breakfast it’s usually later in the day and it is almost always peanut butter toast. Lunch is usually leftovers. or something quick from the freezer so I am only going to report on dinners.
    January 2nd. We had mashed potatoes and broccoli. I had a piece of l/o chicken and he had l/o grilled salmon.
    Jan 3rd–I made soup out of more leftovers. I used up old milk, and veggies from Christmas Day’s veggie tray–carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower. I also used a bag of squash from the garden and a l/o baked potato.It was pretty good for just throwing things in. We also had a meat and cheese tray l/o from Christmas.
    Jan 4th–beef enchiladas and Mexican rice and corn.
    Jan 5th–Breakfast for dinner–pancakes, eggs, hashbrowns and bacon.
    I had thought about trying Walmart’s grocery pickup and so I started putting my list in and stopped at the third item. the showed a price of $2.99 for a head of cabbage!! I went to Aldi’s and 1 other store and spent $38. Then I came home and put everything I bought in my Walmart cart. I saved $17.74 by doing my own shopping.

  8. Stephanie M. says

    Hi Jessica:

    I love the pictures of all of your meals. I always look forward to that. 🙂

    The first week of my pantry challenge has gone very well. Right before I started, I picked up some items I knew I would need to make the meals from what I have. I will be doing this on a weekly basis buying only what I absolutely need to make meals that I put on my weekly menu. My menu runs from Sunday to Saturday and I keep it posted on the fridge and each morning cross out the days meals. For example, I found some leftover Thanksgiving turkey in the freezer today and it was just enough to make some turkey salad for sandwiches for lunch for the next few days but I did not have celery so I went to the store and picked up one bag of celery and left with only that. Could I have made the turkey salad without the celery; of course, but I like it better with the added crunch. I also had some roasted sliced almonds leftover from a green salad I made the other night and mixed them in as well. This is what I’m talking about when I say I’m only buying what I need to complete a meal.

    We had quite a bit of deli pepperoni left in the lunchmeat drawer from when I made strombollis last weekend for the final Christmas party. I also had some provolone left too but not as much. With some of the pepperoni and the rest of the provolone, I made pepperoni and cheese paninis a few times for lunches and today I used more of the pepperoni and some grated cheddar cheese to make pepperoni and cheddar omelets for breakfast. Now, most of the pepperoni is gone. Yesterday, I had four green apples in the fruit drawer and a 16 oz. container of sour cream that was partially used. With the apples and sour cream, I made a apple coffee cake, using up 3 of the four apples and most of the sour cream. The remaining apple will be sautéed with butter and cinnamon to go along with a breakfast for hubby this week and the little bit of sour cream that’s left will be used for baked potatoes later in the week. One day, I took the one and only slice of pizza from the freezer from a pizza night last week and I had some plain macaroni in the fridge so hubby got the pizza and some fried macaroni for lunch one day – a true example of a pantry challenge meal, LOL. We also had hamburger/veggie soup using up two packages of ground chicken and the two large cans of beef broth I had in my pantry. I had some thin pork cutlets in the freezer and with those, I breaded and fried them and made hubby sandwiches for lunch along with a couple of strips of turkey bacon, lettuce, and tomato; just a few slice of pork cutlets left in the bag. I had four whole wheat pancakes in the freezer (your recipe) and gave those to hubby for breakfast one morning. And this weekend, on Saturday, I made a pot roast which I had in the freezer, some mashed potatoes, peas, and a salad using up quite a few salad items. The pot roast will provide leftovers for a few days. I had a bag of home made pumpkin/cranberry bread in the freezer that I usually send with hubby in his lunch and now I have only one slice left. I also have a freezer bag in there with slices of home made banana bread using up the two bananas I had in the freezer. I had a handful of pistachios in the snack section of my pantry and they are gone now, courtesy of hubby’s lunch. So there has been a lot of food eaten already during the first week.

    So far with going to the store to purchase only the absolute necessities, I have spent $39.88.
    Today I made the menu for this upcoming week using what I have in the freezer.

  9. Tastycook says

    We started our own version of the Pantry Challenge on January 1.

    We had bought a small ham but not used it over the Christmas holidays so that was a good start to the New year, along with scallopped potatoes and whatever green vegetables we had in the house – a little broccoli, a few sprouts and whatever frozen peas were left in the bag.

    The following day, January 2 we had some leftover turkey breast (from NYE). Along with that we had roast potatoes and roast parsnips, l/o stuffing and gravy. Really quite yummy!

    On the 3rd, I took the turkey bones and made stock, really rich and flavourful, to make a turkey vegetable soup. This used up some onions, carrots and celery that needed to be used. Add some herbs, a few more veggies, some pasta sauce from the freezer – yes, pasta sauce and a few odds and ends, some buns from the freezer and it made a tasty and casual supper for 2. Two containers of leftover soup made it in to the freezer!!!!!

    January 4th, I made a turkey & ham pie, using a few cooked carrots, some fresh mushrooms and some peas and a mustardy sauce (white sauce with added dijon!). I did these in individual serving dishes and topped with pastry! These were hearty enough for another easy snd casual meal for 2.

    Last night we had chef’s salads. That was the end of the turkey, used an avocado that was perfectly ripe and gave us lots of veggies.

    Tonight we needed a quickly prepared meal as we were out all afternoon so I defrosted a container of chicken chili and served that over baked potatoes with a little grated cheese sprinkled over. The top.

    Breakfast for us is usually a mix of fruit, yogurt and granola with maybe a slice of toast or a h/m muffin while lunches may be leftovers, sandwiches or during winter – soup.

    We are both concerned with healthy eating so continuing to buy fresh fruit and vegetables and dairy is a must, even during a pantry challenge.. We have two freezers full and, while I want to use what we have, if I come across a good buy, I will still buy!

  10. Alice E says

    Glad to have another pantry challenge going. I’ve been trying to use stuff up, but with only two of us it is a slow and steady type of thing.

    We usually have scrambled eggs, toast and tea for breakfast. Weekends I have been making baked oatmeal on one day and this weekend I finally emptied out that large bad of blueberries from Costco. They had been around longer than I like, they were originally bought for jam making. I’m still debating buying them again for the oatmeal, since they are a great size for it.

    Lunches are either leftovers, or a peanut butter sandwich for hubby.

    Dinners I try to use up something from the freezer, and then we eat leftovers for awhile ’til it’s gone. In the last week or so that has included chicken and noodles, chili and a one-pot macaroni dish I’ve decided to call Macaroni Stew. We are eating leftovers from it tonight with carrots. I do add a frozen veg as needed. I used up the last of a partial pkg of spinach in the noodles, and felt good about that.

    Over the last month I have been making banana nut bread often as my Mom’s recipe doesn’t have added fat and that works with my dietary needs. Last night I made another loaf and that used up all but one of some frozen bananas that were bulky in the freezer. Felt like a real victory. These were some I ‘inherited’ from where I volunteer and they had just frozen the bananas, skin on, in the bunch they were bought in and put them in a grocery bag. Needless to say this took up a fair amount of space and I have enjoyed seeing them used up. My preference is to freeze them peeled, but I can understand why they couldn’t do so.

    Good luck to all on the pantry challenge.

  11. Sandi says

    Plugging away with eating things from fridge/freezer/pantry. We haven’t had any really odd combos yet. Purchases totaling about $15 have been only milk, eggs, salad, and peanut butter. (The PB is on sale at Costco but sale will be over before end of the month and we have literally 1 sandwich amount left in the jar.) I thawed some ham bits and bones from the freezer thinking I would make soup, only to find that I’ve already used the bean soup blend of dried beans. I had kidney beans and black beans so now the kidney beans have soaked and tomorrow they will turn into red beans for beans and rice. I’m debating chucking in a little ground sausage with it, too. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before but I have the sausage and it might be a nice change, so…

    Tonight’s dinner will be a curry that I know he isn’t going to love, but it will pair so nicely with the garlic naan that I have in the freezer. I thawed out some cheesecake for dessert to appease him. LOL

  12. Lynn from NC Outer Banks says


    Happy New Year and Pantry Challenge to all! Glad to see familiar names joining in again this year. I think I’m getting better at cooking for two. I’m pleased to say that I do NOT have 25+ packages of cheese in my freezer this year for the Challenge:)

    I informally began my pantry challenge in Dec. When my children were home for several days for Christmas (such a blessing) I was able to fix all holiday foods from items in the freezer/pantry and made goodies with pantry staples. As we all traveled to continue our celebration, I took dinner with us. A neighbor smoked a turkey I had in the freezer (SO good) and I took it and sides to feed my husband’s side of the family and the rest of us the day after Christmas. I did minimal shopping in December and finished the year under budget which was good, but I still want to do better. Once again, I need to make white space in the freezer and want to jump start the budget.

    I did buy a few things up front like Jessica, especially when my husband had a menu request (want to keep him happy!) and especially since I had used up many proteins in Dec. So here’s so far:

    Breakfasts are usually choice of eggs/toast/yogurt/oatmeal/grits and occasional sausage for husband

    Lunches have been sandwiches, salads, leftovers and sometimes yogurt if not for breakfast

    1/1: Had traditional New Year’s meal: Pork (freezer), black eyed peas (pantry), spinach salad (no collards or cabbage in refrigerator but still green!), cornbread (pantry). I agree Jessica, cornbread is good with everything and we serve it often in the South!

    Jan 2: Roasted chicken, baked sweet potatoes, spinach salad with oranges, almonds, celery, craisins

    Jan 3: Turkey cordon bleu casserole (LO turkey from freezer, ham, LO stuffing from Thanksgiving as topping). Made my own cream of chicken soup using stock and staples for the casserole. Peas (freezer), LO cranberry sauce and Waldorf spinach salad with apples, celery, raisins, pineapple

    Jan 4: Spaghetti squash with marinara sauce, spinach salad with bacon/egg (trying to use up big bag of spinach), fruit medley

    Jan 5: LO turkey cordon bleu, LO rice (freezer), LO turkey gravy (freezer), pea salad using LO peas

    Jan 6: chicken/spinach quiche, (last of the spinach!), LO pea salad, pear slices. Lunch was tuna (pantry) salad. Made minestrone soup w/ Italian sausage (freezer) and other pantry items to have available for lunches and/or dinner this week as weather is getting colder. Used tomatoes I froze from the summer as well.

    Jan 7: chicken marsala, brown rice (freezer), LO pea salad, cauliflower. I took soup for lunch at work and some tuna. Made broth with chicken bones tonight for future use.

    As far as shopping, I’ve spent $32. But, ~$11 I spent when I ran across a 75% off sale of seasonal items, including candied fruit. I make fruit cake cookies at Christmas and the candied fruit that had been $4/ container was $1 instead, so I stocked up on it and chocolate ;). Other purchases included yogurt, creamer, pears, cabbage, mayo, ranch dressing (hubby doesn’t like HM), a whole chicken and a few staples that were at rock bottom/stock up prices. I’ll be more careful the rest of the month to limit expenses.

    Can’t wait to read everyone’s posts. Have a great week!

  13. Felicia says

    It’s been many months. I just want to say a quick ‘hello’ to my pantry challenge cohort. Miss you. I’ve been off grid for personal reasons. As a result, I don’t foresee myself participating this year 🙁 but will read of your progress as often as possible. All the best this New Year in achieving your goals, wishing good health and fortune to all!

    • Sandi says

      Hope everything’s okay in your corner of the world.

      • Felicia says

        1-11-19 Thanks, Sandy! My health is fine. Traveling to family quite often and not home much.

  14. Terry calkins says

    A week of the new pantry challenge down already. My grocery expenses for the new year so far. 29.83 including the dog food.
    We have been eating up all the holiday foods. Then hubby requested another cheese ball. I had everything in the fridge to make it.
    Most of the fresh veg are gone now. I steamed the last of the spinach and froze it for later. Some nights I just put crudite, dips, cheese ball etc on the table and hubby and I just eat what we want. I’ve made lots of fried rice lately to use up bits and pieces.
    Today is clean out the fridge day as I am rally low on chicken food. 50# of rice is about the same price as 50# of scratch grains so I cook a lot of pots of rice, take out a portion for our meal, and mix the rest with leftovers for the chickens. I used to just freeze leftovers when we got tired of them but that’s why my freezer fills up…..note to self. It’s not wasted if the chickens eat it.
    There’s some tube biscuits left from the holidays and 6oz of pork sausage in the fridge so it will be biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Any leftover gravy will go into potato soup.

    • Laura says

      Yes! We say the same about food scraps going to the chickens! It’s being turned into eggs…

  15. Kathy in Denmark says

    Man, am I late to the party! But, life kind of got in the way this week, so better late than never 😀
    I am starting our pantry challenge in a different position this year as opposed to last year. We grew a garden in 2018 and ate from it as much as possible, as one does when one has a garden 😉 We also had a bumper crop of tomatoes, mainly because we planted a fair amount of plants and we had a record breaking summer in Denmark! This means I have canned tomatoes, passata, tomato sauce and salsa in my pantry, which I am using all the time but have no interest in using up before the next crop comes in. I also have pickled jalapenõs in my pantry and frozen chilies in my freezer.
    I have quite a lot of meat in my freezer and lots of beans in the pantry, so I am guessing we could do a month of meals with minimal spending if I really wanted to.
    However, I ALWAYS shop my pantry first and I NEVER pay full price for staples if I can help it. So depleting my stores doesn’t make sense to me. In past years’ pantry challenges I have learned a lot about which products we use and which we don’t, so I have stopped buying certain things and I have adjusted the amounts I buy of other things. This year I am going to focus on using up the odds and ends from the freezer and on turning things from my pantry and freezer into go to meals, which should free up some time for me on a day to day basis. I can also tell that food is getting more expensive and I don’t want to have to raise my budget, so I am also hoping to discover some ways I can maintain our current budget without sacrificing nutrition and without feeling deprived.
    There are four people in my family, two adults and two children (ages 7 and almost 4). My husband is a vegetarian (he eats dairy and eggs) and we try to buy as much organic as we can.
    Since this is already very long and I have a lot of other things I need to get done, I will skip writing out the meals for the first week, but I will post our meals for week two on Jessica’s next post.

  16. Terry calkins says

    We’re doing great at using up what’s in the fridge. I bought lots of fresh veg and eggs on Dec 31. We’ve since finished up all leftovers from the holidays. I’m trying to do mostly plant based for myself this year so most meals I make one thing for me and something else for him unless it’s soup.
    I have a big pot of green onions growing in front of a window. Too many to keep used up. This morning I trimmed them and chopped them putting a nice container in the freezer. Also cooked a pound of bacon into bacon bits, putting those in the freezer. Used the bacon grease to cook hubbys hashbrowns and eggs for breakfast.
    Cranberries from the freezer and wilty apples are cooking to make juice. I will sieve the leftover pulp to make sauce.

  17. Kathryn M says

    I am definitely in need of defrosting the chest freezer, so we have been pulling a lot of meat out of there over the last 3 weeks. I have been trying to use up stuff in the pantry too… Spending for groceries the last 3 weeks: $6.54, $35.25, and $9.63 which is way below the usual $75 a week budget that I usually do. I think I have enough meat to actually keep this challenge up to the end of February. The grocery purchases have been for dairy, bread, and fresh produce only. The middle week, I did buy some spices and a few canned items that I was completely out of though.

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