Category: Pantry Challenge

I’m finding myself at the end of this pantry challenge hosted by Jessica of Good Cheap Eats. I have to say that I’m ready to be done with it. Searching for sales is a passion of mine, and although I did a little during this challenge, I didn’t accomplish what I usually do. It was a nice break from major coupon clipping, organizing and shopping though, and did save us some money.

Here’s our menu for this last week…

Sunday – Stuffed pork chops, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas

Stuffed Pork Chops

Stuffed Pork Chops

Monday – Panko, Parmesan, and Italian seasoned baked chicken breasts with olive oil and garlic couscous and Brussels sprouts.

Panko, Parmesan crusted chicken breast

Panko, Parmesan crusted chicken breast

Tuesday – Cube steak “cheese steak” sandwiches, oven fries – regular and sweet potato

This is my aunt’s idea and very delicious.

cube steak cheese steak

cube steak cheese steak

Wednesday – oven baked fish, potatoes, salad

Thursday – Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pies, pickles, wedge salad

My daughter and future son-in-law made this special supper for us. They love to cook together and he feels it creates more of a bond than just going out to eat for a “date night”. I think it’s absolutely wonderful. I used the last of the pretty, colorful bell peppers on our salad as we did not have any tomatoes.

Cheeseburger pies

Cheeseburger pies

Friday – Old Country Buffet with extended family

As we had to head north anyway to drop future son-in-law off at college  we figured we’d head north another half hour and enjoy a family outing. My bonus son (a.k.a step son, but we never use that particular title) has been inquiring when we might visit that particular restaurant again. We used to take road trips and take the children there once in a while when they were young. It’s nice to know that they enjoyed it and look forward to those family outings.

Saturday – Tatertot Casserole, broccoli

Next month will be a month of soups. I don’t plan on having soup at every single supper meal, but, we will be enjoying soup three to four days a week with a few meatless soup meals planned in as Ash Wednesday is on February 13 and will be the beginning of the Lenten season.


We’re still plugging away at this pantry challenge here at the frugal and healthful house. Here’s our week of dinner menus. Be sure to check out Good Cheap Eats. Jessica who is hosting this pantry challenge has tons of great ideas and encouraging words.

Sunday – Pizza

Check here for an easy do-it-yourself pizza crust and here’s a few other pizza recipe ideas.

Meatball and Provolone Pizza

Meatball and Provolone Pizza

Monday – Sausage and bean soup.

Sausage and Bean Soup with Parmesan

Sausage and Bean Soup with Parmesan

A very yummy soup we make quite often with pantry and freezer staples. It’s even better as leftovers because it gets thicker and yummier.

Tuesday – Wicked Chicken Rigatoni

bell pepper and onion mixture

bell pepper and onion mixture

colorful bell peppers I found on sale at Aldi

colorful bell peppers I found on sale at Aldi

These were too beautiful to pass up for the price so I planned to use them for the Rigatoni dish as well as the Chicken ala King, with the remainder chopped into salads and the Shepherd’s pie meatloaf base.

Chicken Rigatoni that we demoted to just spicy instead of wicked..without the chili peppers

Chicken Rigatoni that we demoted to just spicy instead of wicked..without the chili peppers

This recipe was adapted from an episode of triple D (Diners, Drive Ins and Dives)…one of our favorite shows. We kicked it down a notch by not adding the chili peppers. Sautee a third of three colorful bell peppers or one pepper of your choice, a small chopped onion, three cloves of garlic, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried basil, cayenne and crushed red pepper to taste in a little olive oil. Brown 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast pieces cut up in olive oil until done. You will need to boil your rigatoni according to package directions and drain right before serving. To your pepper mixture add a 28 ounce can of tomatoes. You can use whole and break them up and a small can of tomato paste. You may also use your favorite spaghetti sauce.  I was looking for a more rustic dish so I used Wegman’s kitchen cut tomatoes. Add a 1/2 cup of grated Romano cheese.  I also added a couple teaspoons of Spatini. Allow your pepper and tomato sauce mixture simmer for at least 30 minutes and up to 90 minutes. Combine your chicken and sauce. Serve over the rigatoni. Sprinkle with additional cheese.

Wednesday – Dinner out utilizing a gift card left over from the holidays coupled with running errands. Be mindful when planning to run any necessary errands. Make a plan and save some gas. 🙂

Thursday – Chicken a la King

Carrots, onions and celery for chicken ala king

Carrots, onions and celery for chicken ala king

There is also some of that beautiful red bell pepper chopped up in there. I also added the traditional jarred red pimentos..but later in the recipe.

Chicken ala King over biscuits

Chicken ala King over biscuits

This was something new I’ve never made before. It was a little labor intensive, but worth it. We decided it’s a favorite and will be added to our meal plans often.

Friday – Leftovers

Saturday – Shepherd’s Pie and salad

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

This was another recipe adaptation from a triple D episode and was more of a favorite meatloaf recipe topped with a brown gravy, corn and finally mashed potatoes.  We decided we were in need of some comfort food on this lazy Saturday. I also had help in the kitchen which was a nice treat.

I’d say we ate pretty good this week with a nice combination of fresh ingredients and pantry staples.

I know it sounds like a contradiction, but I still do some shopping when we are trying to eat from the pantry. Of course I do not spend anywhere near what I would normally spend during a month of not participating in a pantry challenge.

This week I shopped at Aldi and Wegmans. I find Aldi is a great place to save without having to use coupons. Coupons are usually great, but at times when I sift through my coupon box I may end up seeing a few close expiration dates and buy things I don’t necessarily need. That is a fine practice if your goal is to stock up and not survive on what you have. Wegmans is my favorite go to store for meat deals. I can get boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.99/lb and ground beef for $2.19. It is the cheapest and nicest looking quality meat in my vicinity.

Here’s what we ended up with for a 2 week shopping trip:


$.10 white bread (I know. I couldn’t believe it either. I should have gotten a few loaves to throw into the freezer but didn’t.)

$.49 wheat bread

$1.39 2# carrots

$1.29 large bunch celery

$2.99 3 multicolored peppers

$.99 3pk scrubber sponges

$1.30 2 cans sweet peas

$.49 can creamed corn

$.98 2 cans french cut green beans

$.99 large ripe pitted olives

$1.39 shells and cheese

$5.52 8 canned pasta (My daughter chose this for lunch options and as a Saturday night supper option. We enjoy this private label item better than the brand item.)

$.49 tomato soup

$1.18 2 cans bean with bacon soup

$1.29 dog biscuits

$.69 some sort of chocolate filled cookies on clearance from the holidays. They looked like those expensive yummy pepperidge farm cookies. Guess what! They tasted like them too. 😉 I guess if you are going to give in to an impulse purchase…make it something that’s decadent and costs under a dollar?

$.65 evaporated milk (I made this purchase to help us not to have to run to the store if I’m almost out of milk for a recipe.)

$22.22 Total


$11.94 6# boneless, skinless chicken breasts

$13.58 a little over 6# ground beef

$1.99 2# Mayan sweet onions

$27.51 Total

$49.73 Grand total

We used a holiday gift card to purchase dog food, cat food and cat litter this week. The best part of this shopping trip was the use of the gift card to take care of pet items and the fact that I purchased the club pack of meats to get the cheaper price. It may seem counter productive during a pantry challenge, but we were low on meat and I’ll stretch that meat to last for the entire month. I love a challenge.

Pantry Challenge – Day 6

Have you been following along with the Pantry Challenge hosted by Jessica of Good Cheap Eats ? We are and it’s going well, so far.

A look at the week ahead…

Sunday – Ham Pot Pie and applebutter bread

Ham Pot Pie

Ham Pot Pie

We had a lot of left over ham in the freezer from the holiday. This is one of my husband’s favorite ham dishes. Made from scratch pot pie noodles make it extra special.

Monday – Oatmeal Pancakes, lean smoked bacon, clementines

Oatmeal pancakes

Oatmeal pancakes

These pancakes are favorite and very filling. The bacon in the freezer was left over from a recent anniversary trip to Lancaster, PA, one of our favorite destinations. We’re easily peeling a seedless clementine as a sweet dessert to this breakfast supper.

Tuesday – Louisiana sausages with beans and cornbread

A while back I had some coupons combined with a great store deal for different kinds of sausages. These are the last to use. To help make things more healthful we’re eating a small amount of sausage and pairing them with beans and cornbread.

Wednesday – Leftover Ham Pot Pie and applebutter bread

Thursday – Parmesan crusted Tilapia, roasted potatoes, peas

Fish is a nice addition since we seem to be “swimming in a sea of pork” this week. 😉

Friday – Toasted cheese and tomato soup

This week we needed to switch around a couple of days at the end of the week due to company coming on Saturday, so it’s canned soup on Friday night. It’s meatless night too, and I shouldn’t hear any complaints as we’ve been consuming some very flavorful meat this week.

Saturday – Sausage and bean soup and garlic bread rolls

This is a recipe my dad shared with me right before Christmas. This is already the second time we’ve made it. He even shared some homemade Italian sausage so I could use it for the soup. It’s so good that my daughter’s boyfriend went back to college and made it himself to take for his lunches after having it for dinner at our house. It’s that good.

Stay tuned later on in the week for some photo updates and recipes.

Matzo ball soup

Matzo ball soup

Mac and Cheese with broccoli

Mac and Cheese with broccoli

Here’s a couple of last weeks dishes. Both of these comfort food suppers were a big hit. We ate the lasagna rolls before I got a chance to take a picture. How embarrassing! I guess they were good. 😉 Saturday we ended up out of town visiting with Husband’s brother. As a bonus we used a gift card we received as a Christmas present to enjoy a dinner out.

So far I have only shared our supper menu for this pantry challenge hosted by Jessica of Good Cheap Eats. You may be wondering what we’re doing for other meals. I shared supper because that is the only meal we get to sit down and eat as a family. We do eat breakfast and lunch, but we’re usually all on our own for those meals during the week. Weekends sometimes finds us busy running errands, so we rarely have set times for those meals.

Breakfast choices are oatmeal, eggs, toast, or cold cereal. Typically we have oatmeal, bread and eggs on hand. I buy cold cereal with a coupon or store deal only, so sometimes we are stocked up.

I dare you to try to find a more healthful or economical meal per serving than oatmeal. This is the plain, old-fashioned or quick cooking version in the large canister that I’m talking about. I usually add a little peanut butter and ground flax to mine and finish it off with a splash of milk, and prefer it to be chewy and not soupy. Dried or fresh fruit or nuts are all also good additions, as well as a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Speaking of cinnamon…I use it to sprinkle on toast with a little sugar. It’s a cheap, easy way to snaz up plain toast with something you already have in your pantry. Sometimes we make peanut butter toast. The warm toast makes the peanut butter melted and more yummy. There’s also French toast if you have bread and eggs, or make an egg sandwich with your egg and toast. There are many possibilities to keep these few ingredients from getting boring during a pantry challenge.

Lunches consist of leftovers from the previous night’s supper, a salad (if there is lettuce leftover) or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We’ve also found a few odds and ends around to eat up, such as only five frozen chicken tenders left out of a large family-sized bag and a box of mac and cheese that had been around since summertime. I also enjoy just having yogurt, a celery stalk with peanut butter, or a tuna salad sandwich or tuna salad with crackers.

Attitude has a lot to do with a successful pantry challenge. You can make the most of what you have, or whine and complain that you don’t have what you’d rather eat. I say feel blessed that you have food to eat, as many in the world are doing without today.

Yesterday was the first day of the pantry challenge hosted by Jessica from Good Cheap Eats.

Being invited to my parent’s home for New Year’s Day dinner was a real treat. It was a blessing in many ways. We were given the opportunity to visit with family, play games, eat yummy food and celebrate the new year.

Dinner was delicious…

Pork, Hot dogs, and Sauerkraut

Pork, Hot dogs, and Sauerkraut

Pork and Sauerkraut on mashed potatoes

Pork and Sauerkraut on mashed potatoes

Dessert was served later on after a phone call to my daughter out of state, some board games, football, and a  knitting tutorial.

Double layer cheesecake with cherry topping

Double layer cheesecake with cherry topping

Double layer cheesecake with cherry topping and whipped cream

Double layer cheesecake with cherry topping and whipped cream

We were also blessed with some leftovers, which means our pantry contents will be able to be stretched even further.

Happy New Year!

What is a pantry challenge? It can mean different things to different people. For me it’s a way to use up what we already have in our pantry, frig and freezer, while only buying necessary items to stretch what we have. Being of a frugal state of mind, this is one of my many plans to save money and be a better steward of that with which I have been blessed. When I checked out Good Cheap Eats this morning and found that Jessica was hosting a pantry challenge I thought of it as a welcomed omen to get back into the blogging swing of things for 2013. I love a challenge and am so happy she’s invited everyone to share in this journey.

Our supper menu for the week:

Sunday – Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and broccoli.

We had a lot of left over stuffing and decided to freeze it for a future meal. I have never frozen stuffing, but have frozen bread. I’m sure it will be at least edible. I was lucky to have a five-pound chicken in my freezer. I cooked it in my slow cooker because I find it gives you an awesome broth and also makes the meat super fall-off-the-bone tender, which helps with deboning. I picked our chicken clean and plan to utilize the leftover broth and chicken meat for future meals. Waste not, want not.

Monday – Matzo ball soup and apple butter bread

We are not of Jewish descent but I love this ethnic dish. When I worked outside of the home my office manager introduced me to this and it has become one of my family’s wintertime favorite dishes. Saute a small onion and a few stalks of celery with about a carrot per person in some olive or canola oil. Add your chicken broth. I’m using my leftover broth plus a 32 ounce container of chicken broth. I use a store-bought matzo ball mix and form the balls, drop them in the boiling soup, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. I then stir in leftover bits of chicken meat and heat until warm. Easy, filling, and delicious.

Tuesday – New Year’s Day dinner at my Mom and Dad’s house – Pork and sauerkraut, hot dogs (the jumbo beef ones, usually), mashed potatoes, buns and applesauce

This is one of my favorite meals. I really should watch my sodium intake though, but am always tempted by the hot dog. It goes so well with this meal. Maybe I’ll ask for one “to go” this year and eat it on another day so that I may eventually enjoy that part of the feast. 🙂

Wednesday – Lasagna Roll ups, with Italian sausage meat sauce, green salad, and garlic bread rolls

Same concept as lasagna except you spread your cheese mixture on the noodles, roll them up, place them in your baking dish, cover with sauce and bake.

Thursday – Possible leftovers from the holiday meal OR Chicken, bean and rice tacos with shredded cheese and romaine.

My parents do not enjoy the sauerkraut meal as much as we do. They like it, but not too many times a year. On occasion we are blessed with some leftovers. If so, I will whip up some mashed potatoes and serve those leftovers with them and some applesauce. If not, I have a back-up plan of tacos. To stretch your taco filling add beans (mash with fork or potato masher) and cooked rice with your seasoning mix. It’s frugal, more healthful and quite tasty too.

Friday – Homemade mac and cheese with fresh steamed broccoli in garlic and olive oil.

Yes, this is a meatless meal. Husband is not a fan. Hopefully he will relive the  memory of the yumminess of this mac and cheese recipe I made for a holiday party and forget about not having any meat. There is so much cheese, and butter, and milk anyway. 😉 I’ll be using farfalle for this recipe. It’s the only pasta shape I have on hand at the moment. Mac and cheese with butterflies, who would have thought, but that’s what a pantry challenge is all about. Start by boiling your pasta and drain well. In the meantime melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan. To your butter add 1/2 cup chopped onion. Cook until tender. Stir in 1/2 cup flour. Cook until golden. Slowly stir in a quart of milk. Add 8 ounces American and 8 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese. Stir until melted and pour over your pasta which you have placed in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Feel free to add buttered breadcrumbs or crushed garlic and cheese croutons to the top of the mac and cheese before baking.

Saturday – Bean with bacon soup (from a can), peanut butter crackers and apple butter bread

You may see a canned food trend on some Saturdays. We’ll call it cook’s day off, unless it’s some sort of special occasion of course. Here’s my thought process for why I saved this kind of meal for a Saturday.  I like to have a hot, home-cooked meal ready for Husband when he gets home from work. After working 10+ hours I don’t feel canned soup meets the mark. He would argue that point with the statement, “As long as it’s not liver.” Others may argue too, feeling that he’s lucky to have whatever. It makes me feel better though knowing he works hard and long hours to support our household and deals with the occasional meatless meal, so I’ll work hard to do my part too.

Check back at the end of the week for a recap with some photos, what worked and what didn’t, and what I actually spent on groceries to tide us over for the next two weeks.

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