The January Pantry Challenge returns

My sister-in-law gave us this delicious rum cake for Christmas, and I was hoping it would last long enough to fill our dessert needs for January, but it’s so delicious I don’t think it’s going to survive more than a few more days. And my husband just broke into it yesterday. It’s fabulous! Thanks, SIL!

After a fair amount of indulging and imbibing over the holidays, I think another January Pantry Challenge is in order. Sorry it’s 9 days late, but feel free to join in. It’s a great way to start the year with a clean slate, pantry-wise. I’ll be looking at what we’ve already got and mostly just buying fresh produce, dairy, and a bit of chicken and fish to add to what we already have in the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. There’s a lot in there and when there’s too much, it definitely leads to food waste.

Another good thing about the pantry challenge is that you’ll save money. Last January I only spent $215 at the grocery store, compared to between $300 and $400 on average. So if you spent more than you wanted to during the holidays, this challenge is for you.

Since I did this a year ago, if you want to join in, you can start by reading last year’s posts…

In January Pantry Challenge, I share my plan, and in January Pantry Challenge wrap up, I talk about what I learned over the month. And while you’re there, check out the Comments section for lots of great ideas and recipes.

My plan this time is to use up a lot of the dried beans in the pantry for soups and chili, to go through the freezer and incorporate some of what I find into meals, and to buy a lot of seasonal fresh produce to supplement our diet. We’ve been enjoying brussels sprouts lately, and when you roast them in the oven with olive oil and a bit of seasoning, they’re delicious as well as healthy.

One more thing about doing a pantry challenge: don’t be afraid of canned meat. I’m not talking about Spam, which I’m not entirely sure if I’ve ever even tasted. I’m thinking of canned wild salmon, albacore tuna, and sardines packed in oil. We use all of those items on a regular basis. Salmon or tuna can be used to make a sandwich or a salad, and I often make salmon patties to eat with a variety of vegetables. And canned sardines make a wonderful picnic-style dinner, when eaten with crackers and accompanied by things like olives, crispy kale, bruschetta, and anything else you can think of.

Oh, and about our dessert needs: that rum cake isn’t going to make it through the month, but I’ve got plenty of canned pumpkin and evaporated milk to bake a couple of pies, and that should do nicely. I also always have plenty of ingredients on hand to make cake or cookies if it comes down to it.

Let us know if you’re joining the challenge, or any tips you have on the subject in the Comments section.


    • Angela says

      Daryl, It’s the perfect excuse for it, and I always feel better when I know what’s in there. :)
      Glad you’re joining in!

  1. Judy says

    I am joining. I was planning to do this anyway because my cupboards and freezer are full and we will be on vacation the end of January. I did not want to spend any unecessary money before we leave for vacation.

  2. Lilypad says

    I have to laugh about the canned meat—my husband is a huge fan of sardines, canned salmon, smoked oysters, etc. We joke that because I am a vegetarian and my son does not eat seafood, the kitty is the only one who loves my husband when he’s eating that stuff. Bless his heart, my husband eats 99% of the vegetarian meals I prepare without complaint (but boy, he’s not a fan of tempeh!) so I try and not bug him about the smell of cat food (as it seems to me!!) emanating from the table.
    p.s. if you’re going to make a pumpkin bread with your canned pumpkin, this one by vegan author Isa Chandra Moskowitz is my absolute favorite.

    • Angela says

      Oh, that’s funny – cat food. When we had a cat, she would always come running when we opened a can of tuna, and rub against our legs waiting for the juice. It was years before we got used to her absence when we were opening tuna. :)

      Thanks so much for the pumpkin bread recipe, but I have one that is literally my oldest and favorite recipe. I make it all the time for people who ask for it and even mail it cross country and to Hawaii. It is the moistest, tastiest bread ever. So it would be hard to imagine liking one more.

      • Lilypad says

        We had a cat that did that too! She’d come running from the first, tiniest sound of the opener piercing the can. I never could figure out how she could hear it from anywhere in the house. She’s been gone 6 years, but I still instinctively brace myself for kitty attack when I open a can of tuna for my husband.

  3. Lilypad says

    p.p.s. I just saw that I commented on your wrap-up post last year about how we were moving and the stuff I used up. Well, we’re moving again in April. (Rental issues, again!!) Sigh. I guess I’d better get cracking on a pantry/freezer clean-up…
    good luck to you Angela!

  4. Marie-Josée says

    What a great idea Angela. My pantry needs a clean-up as well. We eat mostly fresh produce, but I do have sprouting seeds that were bought several years ago and that I always am planning to sprout. Now I have to do it. They’re a great way to supplement greens in our diet and they are so expensive here in Quebec at this time of year. I have no excuse – I even have an automatic sprouter. I’ll keep you posted.

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