Pantry Challenge Update

With less than a week left in January, this post is a little late, but I’m going to continue the challenge into February. I’ve got a lot more stuff lurking in the pantry and freezer that I’d like to use up. So how have you all been doing?

I haven’t come up with any creative new recipes or anything. But here’s what we’ve been eating…

Vegetables. I’m on a roasting kick, and I’m sticking just about anything in the oven, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and other spices depending on the vegetable. Our current favorites are brussels sprouts, or a cauliflower/broccoli mix, and those both taste delicious tossed with cumin. Another favorite is sweet potato, cut into wedges or sticks, and that one tastes good with thyme. Regular potatoes are great tossed with rosemary. And roasting with olive oil is quite healthy as well as being delicious. If you’re the type who mostly steams vegetables or sticks them in the microwave, I encourage you to try this. This morning I woke up to a note from my husband, thanking me for the vegetables. :)

Pumpkin pie, for a sweet tooth. I had all the ingredients in the pantry, it took about ten minutes to put together, and it smelled delicious coming out of the oven. Voila! Dessert or a snack for several days. Also relatively healthy compared to some other sweet treats.

Kale chips for a salty snack. I didn’t buy any packaged potato chips, and on top of saving money, these are delicious and much healthier. Just chop up kale leaves after discarding the stem, toss with olive oil and apple cider vinegar, and bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes, toss again, and bake another 10 or 12 minutes. They should be browned and crispy. Toss with sea salt. My husband loves these!

Canned meat, including sardines, tuna, and salmon. Mix canned salmon with an egg, bread crumbs, and some garlic or dill, and pan fry for a tasty dinner with vegetables. We’ve also eaten tuna salad sandwiches, and I might still make tuna casserole, a guilty pleasure from childhood.

Curry chicken uses up vegetables, tastes delicious, and just two large chicken breasts gives us 3 meals.

Random items in the freezer like Trader Joe’s potstickers, meatless meatballs for spaghetti, and leftover homemade chili.

One thing I was going to make was Mexican crockpot chicken, but I changed my mind and decided to wing it with ingredients on hand. We’ve got tons of lemons from two different friends, so I’m going to throw in lots of lemons, garlic, and rosemary from our yard into the pot and see how it comes out. I’ll let you know. I love the crockpot! It makes almost everything taste delicious.

If you’re in on the challenge, how is it going? What have you been eating? Have you come up with any new recipes? Please share in the Comments section.


  1. says

    Oh yum…I love pumpkin pie! I always have canned pumpkin on hand, but rarely buy condensed milk unless I need it for a recipe. I guess I need to start keeping a couple cans in the pantry so I can justify making pumpkin pie more frequently. You know, to help clear out the pantry. :-)

    But in all seriousness, it sounds like you’ve been eating great this month. I also love roasted vegetables.

    • Angela says

      Hi Cate, I don’t use condensed milk, I use evaporated. It’s also in a can, so easy to stock up on a couple of cans when they go on sale. I love to bake pumpkin pie – it’s so easy and it makes the house smell great. And it’s delicious! A win/win/win.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • Karen says

        No need to use either condensed or evaporated milk in a pumpkin pie – I just use regular milk – usually skim – and it turns out just fine!

  2. Marie-Josée says

    Ummm. You’re making me hungry and it’s just 10:30 a.m. here! Alas, I have not begun my sprouting project. I’ve been too busy making chard and kale chips!

    • Angela says

      Hi Marie-Josee, Since I love chard too, I’ll have to try it for the chips! No reason any of those greens wouldn’t make good chips. In fact, I might even try collard chips.

      Thanks as always for your comments and participation!

  3. Karen says

    Okay, I’ve got to try the roasted broccoli/cauliflower with cumin thing. I’ve only got fresh broccoli and frozen cauliflower though, so looks like they will have to be done separately, or at least start fresh, add frozen part way through. I keep reading about roasted veg, but so far have only done potatoes. Lots of them because they’re starting to sprout. I’ll make frozen hashbrowns when I can’t keep up.

    Same thing with the kale chips. And now chard chips. I would have to buy those, so might have to wait till the garden is going. I’m not normally a huge fan of leaf greens but know we should have more. This appears to be more of a snacky thing, so I’ll have to mull this over. Sounds really interesting though.

    I do pumpkin pie without the pie crust. I just butter a baking dish and pour the filling in. I have never used condensed milk, but sometimes use evaporated. I have also been known to use regular milk (use less and add another egg) or milk mixed with yogurt or cream to the right consistency. It’s surprisingly flexible. I’ve never had one too runny, but if I did I might make a plain snack cake and serve them together. I might do that anyway. I’ve got a few tubs of ricotta in the freezer, which might even work if I throw it in the blender first and thin it with milk. I’ve got pumpkin in the freezer and butternut squash in storage. I use them interchangeably and everyone likes it in breads, scones, muffins. Just not as a vegetable,

    I can easily do another month of this, maybe two. All I really need to buy is fresh produce and dairy. I will need to make yogurt this week and had to restock tuna last week when it was on sale. I have a 17 year old boy who just opens a can and scarfs it down. I haven’t done anything really out of the ordinary, but have been looking at some ricotta (!) “meatballs” and have some beets I might try roasting. We don’t eat a lot of desserts, but I seem to have a lot of ingredients for them. I’ll have to bake muffins and use up some blueberries, cranberries and red currants from the garden. I’ve been stretching ground beef with red lentils. Currently the ratio is 3/4 pound ground beef and maybe a third cup of lentils. So far, the only one who has noticed is my daughter and she’s happy with it. The macho factor may not be so impressed, but they haven’t noticed. I did try pounding round steak thin, cutting it into single servings and rolling stuffing (like for turkey) in it, browning the rolls (toothpicked so they don’t unroll) then simmering it in broth. Made gravy when it was done. Tasted really good, but the texture of the stuffing suffered, so may use less broth next time. Or maybe tuck the sides in to shield the stuffing. Worth trying again and a change from the stroganoff, goulash, stirfry, stew rotation. We’ve had soup a bit more often since I pressure canned homemade stock and that’s gone in lunches as leftovers. It’s also used a lot of leftovers which has been nice.

    I’m hoping the weather gets better so my husband can get back to work and not accompany me to the grocery store. I haven’t seen as dramatic savings on the grocery bill as I should have and probably would have if I had been alone. I know I wouldn’t have picked up that big bag of beer battered ready to cook fish fillets that he found. All I could talk him out of was the frozen french fries to go with it. He’s just not ready for this. Not knowingly. Sigh.

    Tomorrow I have to decide between a pair of roasting chickens or a ham, either way, I have to pull a lot of other stuff out of the freezer to get at them. I’ll need milk, eggs, apples, bananas and maybe onions by Thursday. I’m having way too much fun with this.

    • Angela says

      Hi Karen, Yes- I’m going to do another month as well. It feels good to use up some of the older stuff and also to spend less at the grocery store. Husbands up the grocery bill, that’s for sure! I had to put my foot down about my husband’s chips and salsa habit – I was buying both every single week, so now he’s going to buy it in bulk at Costco. It’s not that much different, as far as taste. I should make my own salsa since we eat so much, and will probably try that soon. It would also be a lot healthier.

      Muffins with fresh berries sound so delicious! And it’s funny, I was just thinking I should start making a crustless pie, since neither of us really care that much about the crust, and it would be a lot healthier and less fattening that way. :)

      thanks so much for your comments! Let us know how your challenge goes in February!

    • Marie-Josée says

      Hi Karen,

      I serve kale chips and chard chips as the green veggie to our meal. I LOVE the kale chips, and the chard chips are really popular with my husband and son. So popular in fact, that we almost fight over them. I really don’t like kale and chard prepared in any other way. I’ve tried – but no one in my family likes the taste. They are so healthy – I’m so happy I’ve found a way to serve them that we all enjoy. I make them everyday from Monday to Thursday. Yum, yum!

      • Karen says

        Thanks, I guess I really will have to try it now. If I can get us all (including me) eating kale and chard on a regular basis, I will be quite pleased with myself. My husband grew up eating chard as a green vegetable and likes it. My father was very picky and anti-green, so I took my cues from him. Silly.

        And the best thing about crustless pie is that it is really fast and easy.

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