Eating From the Pantry and Freezer Challenge: Week 3

Welcome to the third week of the Eat From the Pantry and Freezer Challenge! Find out what it’s all about or read my post from Week 2.

My update as I head into week three:

This afternoon, we went to Costco with some friends. Walking around was pure torture for my husband, who kept noticing all sorts of tempting and yummy-looking items. Each time he would look at me and go to put something in our cart, I said, “No, we don’t have any extra grocery money this month”. To which he would reply, “Oh yeah, that silly challenge… mumble, mumble, grumble.” Deep down, I know he loves me and my frugal ways. :)

Now that it’s June, I am giving myself another $75 to spend on some basics: eggs, cheese, raw milk, and produce. Our vegetable drawer in the fridge is looking very bare, and our fruit drawer has precisely one lonely apple.

I will also be setting aside another $150 to complete my total goal of saving $300 over the course of this month. It will feel so good to have that money set aside for the summer!

Getting good at using what you have

One of the biggest challenges at this point in any “eat from the pantry and freezer” month is to creatively use up those things you have in abundance, to fill in the gaps of those things that you wish you could go out and buy.

Here are some real examples of how I’m doing this in my own kitchen right now:

Frozen blueberries- We have oodles of blueberries left from last summer. Apparently I went a little overboard. I’m making a weekly double batch of blueberry muffins, using them in smoothies (like the green smoothie planned for breakfast this week, but also in snack smoothies I often make in the afternoon when it’s warm out), and in Dutch Baby oven pancakes.

Frozen pumpkin- Another thing I noticed in our freezer was plenty of pumpkin puree from the fall. Pumpkin Walnut Bread and Pumpkin Spice Pancakes make use of that, and fill a breakfast need at the same time.

Frozen whole chickens- Last September, I got 12 whole chickens. My plan was to use 1 per month, but now at the 8 month mark, the last of the chickens are getting freezer burnt due to poor packaging (and probably exacerbated by my dying freezer). Instead, I’m trying to use 1 per week before they’re in worse shape, and I’m avoiding the beef we have which will last longer. You can see by this week’s menu below that chicken is a starring player, between roast chicken in the crockpot, chicken pot pie, chicken noodle soup, and chicken pasta.

Dry beans- Since I’m having to use up my chickens, now I’ll have to replace both the chicken and save up for another portion of grass-fed beef at the same time. That means that using beans several times a week to save the little beef that I do have has been a must. I’m trying things out like Chickpea Wraps (my hubby said they were a winner) in addition to our usual bean favorites like Taco Salad and various kinds of burritos.

Strawberry jam- It’s June, which means strawberry season is almost upon us where I live, and so the last few jars of strawberry jam should be used up. I’ve been using it for morning toast, making peanut butter and jam sandwiches at least once or twice a week for the kids, and also for peanut butter and jam roll ups (spread on a tortilla, roll it up, then cut into little pinwheel slices).

What our family will be eating this week:

There are a few meals I’ve recycled from last week. This past weekend, we ran two booths at our local homeschool convention for our family’s music school. It was definitely a success, but from about Wednesday evening onward we were beyond busy, and my carefully planned meals began to fall apart. We ate a few meals out, with some of our staff (who worked SO hard along with us), on the school’s dime. It felt a bit like cheating the challenge, but that’s just life sometimes, right?

Monday

  • Breakfast-  Soaked oatmeal with raw milk or cream and honey
  • Dinner- Okonomiyaki (using leftover shredded beef, instead of bacon like we usually do)
  • Prep- Soak muffin batter.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast- Soaked blueberry muffins (a variation on this recipe)
  • Dinner- Whole chicken in the crockpot all day, while we’re out all day (see below). I’ll ask my sitter to start prepping some rice and veggies before I get home.
  • Prep- Soak black beans.

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

  • Breakfast- Yogurt or milk, homemade granola (I’ve been using the Granola Bar recipe in Healthy Snacks to Go and making it into granola instead), fresh or frozen fruit.
  • Dinner- Chicken noodle soup
You’ll notice that I don’t plan lunches. Basically, that’s because I like to keep them really free and simple. If there are leftovers, we eat those. Otherwise, we make quick basics like sandwiches, yogurt, fruit and veggies, smoothies, quesadillas, etc. The thing with meal planning is that it has to serve you. There are so many different styles and ways to do it, with something to suit every family!

Don’t forget…

During this month-long challenge, all of my ebooks are on sale. Use the coupon code CHALLENGE25 to take 25% off any single ebook, OR use code BUNDLE50 to buy all 3 of my ebooks at 50% off!

*Note, when you go to purchase the bundle, if you put all three books into the cart separately, the code won’t work. You need to choose the ebook bundle option at the bottom of this page to use the bundle code. 

It’s your turn to share your money-saving meal plan with the rest of us!

We would also love to read your savings goals and your progress with those goals as the challenge goes on! Are you starting to get really creative? What specific items have you been trying to use up? Please share!

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

Read Newer Post
Read Older Post

Comments

  1. Although I am not doing this challenge, it is exactly what I have been doing over the last month. Put some in and take some out…

    Freezer is mostly empty and new chicken needs to be divided and packaged for the freezer.

    My sister canned me about a dozen pints of chicken breasts from an excellent sale on natural chicken. I rotate the canned chicken with newest at the bottom of the stack of canned goods boxes.

    Other things in the pantry are being used up and newest goes to the back, just like stocking store shelves so that nothing gets old and outdated. Occasionally I will donate to food share if I end up not liking something or have too many close to pull date.

    I always keep some staples on hand and then add in things from the freezer, the pantry and the vegetables, with a fruit or two every day. It is simple eating but far better than most of the people I know.

  2. We too have an abundance of blueberries in our freezer! There’s a u-pick near our home town and we went as a family last summer. Well, of course, every one had to have their own bucket…so that would be SIX, 1-gallon buckets! It took me 3 days to clean and freeze them all. :) Still, it was so worth it! All year we have enjoyed blueberry pancakes, muffins, preserves, cobblers, and smoothies. I’ve been using the last of them in this challenge because it’s time to go pick again!!

    I printed out the sweet potato burrito recipe..oh my goodness! I’ve never heard of this dish before, but it looks wonderful. Can’t wait to try them.

    Thanks again for the challenge!
    ~Allison

  3. LOL about your hubby. I’m trying hard to keep my hubby out of the grocery stores the weeks of the challenge. If he feels the slightest bit deprived he goes out and buys groceries! Especially meat. So I’ve learned to have a lot of meat available and then we’re usually OK. :)

  4. I’m not doing very well at this challenge. I cleaned a bit out of the pantry and have been more purposeful at using up the meat in the freezer. However I just don’t have any veggies left in the freezer, and only canned tomatoes and mushrooms left. We have been eating lots of fresh asparagus out of the garden and wild onions. The chickens are about 5 dozen ahead of us so I need to get more eggs eaten too. I’ll continue with clearing out the pantry and freezer, at a slower pace than you are. It just makes so much sense to do this and then have room for fresh canned and frozen goods. I did figure out that I’m much too busy this time of year (it’s planting season on the farm). So maybe next year I’ll try this in March or April.

  5. MOM24BOYS says:

    I haven’t been “officially” doing the challenge but I have been more purposeful in using up the older foods in my freezer and pantry. I was raised keeping a well-stocked larder and rotating regularly to keep up freshness so that is automatic for me. However, I have recently become the lone bread-winner in our family due to Hub’s illness and I am no longer sole mistress of my domain! It is wonderful that he chips in where he can and that our children (teens and adults) do also but they just aren’t as particular as I was.
    I am using this challenge and the next 2 months to systematically go through everything and used as much as possible up. In so doing, I am also making up a general list of what and how much to keep in stock. Then, I plan to label shelves with names and “full” amounts and also make a schematic for the freezer with a check-off list. Hopefully, this will help in the future.

  6. Thanks for keeping us posted and on track! I have been following along but not as strictly as you are. I gave myself a $200 budget. We have done well so far. We will see how the next two weeks go! http://thefrugalgreenishmama.com/2012/06/eating-from-the-pantry-challenge-week-3.html

  7. Our “pantry” and freezer are tiny so it’s not quite as well stocked as I’d like. However, we spent $50 less on groceries this week than we normally do so I’m calling it a victory! :D

  8. uh-oh, was there a linky and I missed it? I am trying to stay on my budget and doing pretty well so far, and also so glad it is lettuce and strawberry season here to, yeah!!!
    love the recipes, hoping to make bread later this week, may try the pumpkin bread recipe!

  9. I am currently read Animal Vegetable Miracle and thinking about stocking up on items seasonally.

    We are eating lettuce this week. Lot’s of free, straight from the garden lettuce becuase being a rookie gardener I didn’t stagger my lettuce planting. Now we have two rows to eat before it goes to seed later in the week! :)

    Thanks for the challenge. My husband said “I thought that you got groceries. They fridge isnn’t full?” Nope we are eating from the freezer and the pantry (and the garden!)

    • I think we need to make something special for our husband’s who are being so gracious about the challenge. I was thinking of making mine some cookies, or maybe figuring out a recipe to use up our rhubarb and blueberries (maybe a crumble?). :)

  10. I had to laugh @ the picture of your husband wanting to put stuff in the Costco cart! That would SO be my husband! Haha :)

    • It was pretty funny. My husband ultimately decided to spend a bit of his “mad money” (we both get a small amount of cash each month just to buy something that we like) to buy 4 cartons of orange juice and a yummy but totally unhealthy treat. He must be feeling deprived. I need to find something special to make for that man of mine. :)

  11. Shannon (gidgetnfroggi) says:

    It stinks thay I’m out of this challenge since the fridge broke.
    But on the bright side my fridge is super clean now :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] was hoping to empty one of our freezers by the end of the Eating From the Pantry and Freezer Challenge  but that will probably not happen.  Even so, we’ll keep on trying, because both the eating and [...]

  2. [...] post is part of Eating from the Freezer Challenge, Monday Mania. Share this:ShareFacebookRedditDiggEmail This entry was posted in Miscellaneous [...]

  3. [...] the first two weeks of the challenge, go here.  Also be sure to check out Stephanie’s site, Keeper of the Home where the challenge began!  For those of you that are following along, and I know there are some, [...]

  4. [...] our purpose, well tested!!! So, for week 3 of the freezer and pantry challenge hosted by Keeper of the Home I have created my menu, and am doing pretty well with using things up, and so far it has not been [...]