Pantry Challenge 2019: Week 2 Update

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Have you ever done a Pantry Challenge, where you focus on shopping your pantry and using up what you have? Here’s how it’s going for me, two weeks in.

Kitchen Winners mug with meal planning notebook

Well, here we are, at the end of our family’s second full week of the Pantry Challenge. It’s been a super busy week for me with co-op and Bible study back in full swing as well as not one, but two doctor’s appointments.

Surprisingly, this did not have an adverse reaction on our Pantry Challenge. So far so good!

I think the abundance of cookies and cakes in the cupboard is partially responsible. Dessert always helps!

My Pantry Challenge Plans

As I mentioned earlier, I plan do to this Pantry Challenge all the way through the end of January. I officially started my reporting the Sunday before New Year’s.

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.

How you can join in:

Here are some of the ways you can participate in the Good Cheap Eats Pantry Challenge for 2019:

  • Get the Pantry Challenge ebook. I’ve put together a quick and easy guide to help you do a Pantry Challenge on your own. Purchase the instant download Pantry Challenge ebook..
  • Sign up for my emails. During January, I’ll be sending out specific tips and tricks to help you make the most of the food you already have in your cupboards. Sign up for the emails here.
  • Follow me on Instagram. I’ll be sharing my pantry challenge adventures on Instagram stories, @jessicagfisher.
  • Watch Kitchen Winning. I’ll also be chatting about the challenge in this month’s episodes of Kitchen Winning.
  • Join the Kitchen Winners Circle. January’s focus in the Kitchen Winners Circle will be the Pantry Challenge. Naturally. I’ll be offering personalized coaching to folks in the circle and sharing my daily menues from our family’s Pantry Challenge. We’ll also be chatting in our private chat forum about what we’re making each day and getting help and inspiration from each other. Our first master class was on how to make the Pantry Challenge work for you so that you can make the most of what you have. The class and its replay is free to all members of the Kitchen Winners Circle.

fresh baked bagels and boules

Pantry Challenge 2019: Week 2 Update

Like I said, it was a pretty good week. Part of what makes it easy is how I meal plan. I make sure to account for different events throughout the week as well as plan similar meals from week to week.

Another key difference to this pantry challenge compared to years past is that I have a good groove of weekend meal prep. This has really helped me front load the week with prepared food.

By the time it peters out on Thursday, it’s time to make soup from leftovers and get ready for pizza night.

I usually do my grocery shopping over the weekend which gives us fresh supplies and a renewed energy to do it all again.

In case you missed it, here’s our Week 1 Update. And here’s what we ate this week:

Day 8

Breakfast: Homemade Sourdough Bagels, Cream Cheese, and Jam – These bagels are so good! Recipe is found in this book.

I’ve been using a natural sourdough starter for almost a year now. My friend Kate sent me some of hers when making my own starter without commercial yeast failed.

Not only have I kept Marilla alive — she, my starter, was born on an island in Canada — but we’ve learned to make all kinds of yummy things, including the boules and bagels from the aforementioned cookbook.

While I follow the dough recipe to a T, right down to weighing my ingredients, I don’t use the same shaping method or the same poaching liquid. I follow the method explained here. I use this barley malt syrup.

The kids are generally thrilled with sesame and everything bagels. The consensus was that Trader Joe’s everything seasoning was too salty. One of the kids got it in his stocking.

Next week I’ll go back to making my own everything seasoning.

Lunch: Snacky Lunch with Tuna Salad, veggies, fruit, bread, and cheese – Normally I have all kinds of lunch meats for our Snacky Lunches, but this time I made do with what we had.

Canned tuna, instant pot hard cooked eggs, and a quick raid of the fridge did the job.

Dinner: Grilled Fish with Herbed Seasoning Mix, Sweet Potato Fries, Salad, and Homemade Ranch Dressing  – Our family has all kinds of preferences when it comes to fish, so we grilled three kinds: tilapia, ono, and salmon.

I buy the bags of frozen fish from Costco. Need to remember that I do not like Keta salmon. I keep forgetting that!

Day 9

Breakfast: Breakfast Bar – this is such an easy way to make breakfast. My kids are all at the age now  that they can make their own eggs. So, when I lay out granola, fruit, and baked goods, everyone is pretty self-sufficient.

This week I baked Banana Bread, the week before Cranberry. This next week I will do Carrot Bread or Pumpkin Bread. I’ve been baking three loaves a week and stashing at least one in the freezer. That last week of the month we should have a nice variety!

Lunch: Also part of my Sunday meal prep was to make a big pot of Cheesy Butternut Squash Soup with herbs. It is so good! (You can find the recipe in my freezer book.) The girls and I love it!

Lunch was soup and salad for me and the girls. Boys had sandwiches.

Dinner: Cheese Enchiladas, Black Beans, Rice – I had made the enchiladas the day before and refrigerated them, knowing I had the Pantry Challenge Master Class that night. It was so nice to let my people make dinner!

pantry challenge meals week 2

Day 10

Breakfast: Skillet Eggs, Leftover Sweet Potato Fries, Avocado (for me) – Eggs and Breakfast Bar for the kids.

Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for the Kids, Soup and Bread for me.

Dinner: I made lots of tamales on Christmas Eve. Lots. I frozen at least half of them. So I divided my frozen stash into two meals and cooked one portion for this night’s dinner.

It took much longer for them to cook, even though they were thawed completely. Not sure why this is. Will experiment when I cook the other portion later in the month.

Day 11

Breakfast: I didn’t get a picture of our Breakfast Burritos this week, so we’ll just pretend that we had Carne Asada to have in them.

We didn’t.

But they were still good!

Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Salads again.

Dinner: Breakfast for dinner! Simple, easy day.

Day 12

Breakfast: Oatmeal Bar – love this meal for how easy and customizable it is!

Lunch: I was gone at lunch for a doctor’s appointment, so I fired up two crockpots and grabbed two pots of soup from the freezer. Different kinds, different kids.

Thankfully, there was some of the Chicken, Wild Rice, and Spinach soup leftover from last week in the freezer and the kids saved me a bowl. I’m going to need to figure out how to make that from scratch; it was worth repeating!

Dinner: Some how I got away with serving soup twice in one day. I made Quicker Minestrone while the girls baked up some Buttermilk Cornbread. Very delicious!

Day 13

Breakfast: Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits and Jam – so good and so easy!

Lunch: I was gone at lunch so the kids made a Pantry Challenge version of these Italian Sub Sandwiches.

Dinner: Friday night is Pizza Night! I made five pizzas, each in some combination of pepperoni, mushrooms, and cheese. Per tradition, we had Homemade Ranch Dressing alongside.

We also had a bagged caesar salad I found on clearance at Ralphs.

Day 14

Breakfast: Mix and Match Muffins – FishChick10 baked these muffins up this morning. So great to have kids who cook!

Lunch: Simple Bean Tostadas – First thing in the morning, I cooked up a pot of Healthier Refried Beans. We topped the tostadas with shredded lettuce, cheddar, and chopped tomatoes.

This was one of our Get-outta-debt meals back in the day.

Dinner: Spaghetti and Meatballs – I had meatballs and sauce in the freezer so this was an easy dinner to end the week with. Lemon Broccoli made a nice side dish.

no kitchen fairies bookmark by stack of cookbooks

Okay, that’s it for our week. It was good and cheap!

I ended up making a small handful of grocery stops during the week which brought our month to date total up to $309. So far so good.

I’m not positive I’ll squeak under $500 at this point, but maybe can still do it if I put in some extra effort this week. We’ll see!

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. Laura says

    Chugging along this past week. I love that you named your sourdough starter! Mine is young still, I’ve only made two batches of bread and one batch of muffins, but they all came out beautifully so I’m pleased. Spending was good this week, $73 on produce and dairy. Total out of pocket since 12/31 is $125, but I did use $83 from a gift card as well. Our pork arrived this week so now our freezer is filled. Expecting that to last a LONG time.

    Meals haven’t changed too drastically, nothing weird yet at least. I made a large bowl of Chex mix with going-stale cereal and it was a hit. I’ll need to dream up another good snack to have on hand this week.

    Hope everyone has a good week three!!

  2. Laura C says

    I ended up stocking up because we were supposed to get 6 inches of snow here in VA which would essentially shut everything down for 4 days but so far just rain. I did use up some lingering things though. Cranberries from 2 years in the freezer became cranberry bread, used up cookies from the freezer and some of the cranberry bread for our church who is hosting homeless women this week. Made mexican rice with tacos last night from a mix that had been in the pantry a long time. And at least I’m stocked up so hoping to avoid the store this week.

    • Julie says

      How much snow did you end up getting? We got 7″ but managed to get to and from work safely during it.

      • Laura C says

        We only got sleet, no snow. I’m in Richmond. School is closed tomorrow though since roads are bad.

  3. Julie says

    We spent 110 , which is typical, but got a lot of produce and milk that should last us into late this week or next week. We still have plenty in our envelope. I’m hoping for 300 dollars or less for the 6 of us this month and then will take 450 out next month. Making good progress on our mortgage after a very emergency heavy year last year.

    • Julie says

      I used up the evaporated milk I bought last month on pumpkin pancakes. I made gluten free bread and hamburger buns. I made banana bread, too. We just got a loaner range after being ovenless since October so I had fun baking.

  4. Joa In Iowa says

    1/6 We went out for a Birthday supper for my youngest son who turned 18 the day before. Too busy on his Birthday to go out with us. We went to his favorite pizza place ( actually it’s all our favorites).

    1/7 Leftover chili had a basketball game to go to.

    1/8. Maidrites (aka Sloppy Joe’s), broccoli, chips and dip

    1/9. Smoked brats, green beans and rice packet

    1/10. Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic toast

    1/11. Husband’s Christmas party

    1/12. Youngest son had a college visit all day. We ate lunch in the cafeteria. Supper was leftover maidrites back at home. It was snowing driving to and from the visit. Not a nice weather day. I ended up falling down on the snow covered sidewalk right after lunch. I’m so glad I fell forward. I have 3 discs in my back that are torn and bulging.
    Landing on my back or bum would of been worse . I did make it for the rest of the visit that lasted till 4pm.

    This coming week is going to be busy with 2 more college visits, Camper Club Supper and Basketball.

  5. Joa In Iowa says

    I forgot to include what we have spent so far this month. We are at $50.43.

  6. Stephanie M. says

    Week 2

    Our pantry challenge is going quite well. I did have to go to the store to pick up some things like fresh fruit and veggies, yogurt, eggs, and chicken and fish. I do not have an over abundance of meat/fish/chicken/pork in the freezer. With that in mind, I’m mostly picking up what I need to make meals with what I do have but this week, I found that my variety is very low and I needed to add a few things. This week we had pasta fagioli for two nights, grilled pork chops, roasted chicken, shrimp scampi and chicken, tomato, and spinach skillet. Of those meal, the only thing I bought was the chicken. The ingredients for the pasta fagioli with chicken sausage, the shrimp for the scampi, and the pork chops I had in the freezer so a nice dent in the freezer and the pantry.

  7. Pat says

    Our pantry challenge is still going well! We did have to make adjustments to the menu plan due to the lack of leftovers.
    Our meals last week were-
    Sunday-pork roast, mashed potatoes,gravy & parmesan crusted green beans
    Monday–Taco soup, cheese & crackers &pineapple.
    Tuesday-Bbq beef on hot dog buns, potato wedges & l/o green beans.
    Wednesday-Asian noodle salad & clementines.
    Thursday-Pork tacos with a veggie tray . I kept the Asian salad, noodles and dressing separate so we used the l/o salad on the tacos and added cheese and tomatoes as well.
    Friday- fend for yourself
    Saturday was burgers with homemade buns and l/o taco soup from the freezer.
    I’ve already shopped for next week. I spent $21.78 on 6lbs of ground pork, 5lbs of clementines and a bunch of bananas.
    Have a great week everyone!

  8. Roberta says

    I haven’t actually tracked our meals (it’s been a crazy start to the year), but we have been eating well from the pantry, freezers, and even a bit from the garden. So far we’ve spent only $32.02. My goal is to stay under $100 this month.

  9. Tasty says

    Week #2 was good.

    7th Jan. I pulled a tourtiere (Canadian meat pie) and home made baked beans from the freezer and added a salad.
    Quick and easy plus the tourtiere did several lunches during the week.

    8th Jan I needed ground beef for the freezer and found some on sale last week which I made into a meatloaf, lots of meatballs etc. So today I pulled one bag of meatballs out of the freezer, a jar of h/m pasta sauce from the pantry and some pasta,made a side salad and called it good!

    Jan 9th Turkey veggie soup from the freezer with some leftover noodles added.

    Jan 10th Made some pizza dough and made ham and pineapple pizzas – really good

    Jan 11th Chilli at the curling club

    Jan 12th It was supposed to be an Indian meal, with some appetisers we found then a chicken curry. Anyway, hubby was doing supper on Saturday and did the appetisers early on and they were really good but filling. So instead of chicken curry, we had crackers and cheese!

    Jan 13th I defrosted the meatloaf I had made last week and cooked that along with roast potatoes, carrots and Brussels sprouts

    We actually have a little space in the upstairs freezer now. Not sure how long it will last tho as often there are leftovers that go back in there ready for a day when we need something quickly. So far, so good tho’

  10. Kathy in Denmark says

    I think week two went well and we made some progress 🙂 As per ususal, a lot of the things I use frequently went on sale during the PC, and I’m not talking normal sales, but the kind of price I only see once or twice a year….So i have been stocking up, because it didn’t make sense not to. However, since I have been working harder to use things up from our freezer and pantry, I am still on track to stay within my normal budget, which I consider a big win! So the pantry challenge is working, because I am rotating stock while still buying things at very low prices 🙂

    I did some batch cooking this week as well. I soaked and cooked around 900 g. (2 lbs) black beans. Some were used in mexican dishes, some in burgers and the last are in the freezer ready to use. I also made chili beans from 900 g. borlotti beans. I cooked it in my slow cooker and canned it afterwards, so I have a lot of chili beans in my pantry now. I actually learned how to make my own chili beans from someone during a previous pantry challenge 🙂
    I also cooked up a bag of black rice, which no one in the family likes, except me. I turned it into fried rice using different veggies and some shredded duck from Christmas I had in the freezer. I seasoned it with some mango chutney which was given to us by a friend. It tastes really nice, but the consistency is a bit sticky, so I will see if I can change that the next time I make something with the remaining black rice in my pantry. Finally, I pulled some stew meat from the freezer and made a beef stew in the slow cooker. It used up some red wine from Christmas, which was a bonus 🙂

    On weekdays, we almost always have the same things for breakfast. DH has oats and milk or yoghurt and granola. The kids have oats and milk, oatmeal, rye porridge or yoghurt and granola. I have a roll with butter and a cup of coffee after I drop off the kids at school and preschool.
    In the weekend we have brunch, which is usually rolls/bread, softboiled or scambled eggs, coffe and juice. We take our time and enjoy not having to rush out in the morning 🙂

    DH and the kids bring a packed lunch every day to work and school/preschool. It is a cold lunch with rye bread and different toppings, such as boiled egg, cheese, different cold cuts etc. I always include cut up veggies for the kids and top DH’s bread with veggies as well. I will usually have rye bread as well, often topped with some kind of meat leftover from dinner or something the kids aren’t crazy about. I will sometimes have leftovers from dinner and this week I have actually had the fried rice for lunch 4 times 🙂
    Since we have bruch on the weekend, I ususally just make us some sort of snack in the afternoon.

    Snacks are cut up fruit or veggies, almonds or maybe crackers. We try to limit sweets, but every once in a while we have cookies, cake or something like that. We have been eating our way through the Christmas cookies and sweets, and they are almost gone 🙂
    Our kids have a banana every night as a late snack.

    Dinners from week two:

    Day 7: Basmati rice, steamed broccoli, chicken breast, veggie pattie, hollandaise sauce (from a box!)

    Day 8: Tortillas with vegetarian filling, cheese, salsa, lettuce etc. The filling was made from a spice mix from the pantry, black beans, leftover rice and home canned tomatoes.

    Day 9: Kids were exhausted, so I made them scrambled eggs. DH and I had risotto after the kids were in bed. I haven’t made it in ages, but we really do love it.

    Day 10: Tortillas again 🙂

    Day 11: I used the leftover risotto to make a fritatta which was part of a hodge podge meal. I put out the fritatta, rye bread, ciabata, mackerel from a can and some cut up veggies, and we all had whatever we wanted.

    Day 12: Black bean burgers and home made oven fries.

    Day 13: The kids were tired after we had two of their friends over for a play date, so they had rye bread. DH and I had instant mashed potatoes. I topped mine with the beef stew and DH topped his with some gravy I had frozen at Christmas and added veggie hotdogs to.

    Hope everyone is still having a good pantry challenge and I am looking forward to the next update 🙂

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