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Eating From the Pantry: The Final Stretch (Come link up your progress reports!)

Whew! We’ve made it to the last week of Eating from the Pantry. Our stockpile is getting a little thin, but I’m every bit happy to have used up so many odds and ends. I’m also happy that my freezer is almost empty. It had been so full at the end of last month that things would sometimes fall out when you opened it up (wait, did I just admit that out loud on the internet?).

This last week, we’re just aiming to make it through without mishap. So, in other words, I won’t be trying four experiments in one recipe. I will, however, be trying to use up the last little bits of everything so that we start February with a clean slate.

And it’s a good thing, because FishMama and I are planning another big Freezer Cooking Day the first week in February. Truth be told, I’m also really looking forward to using coupons and hunting for deals again. It was nice to take a four-week break, but I have really missed it.

Here’s our plan to use up the rest of the assortment of random ingredients in our house right now:

Breakfasts Ideas:

Cereal x 3 (trying to use up some of our extra boxes of free or $0.50-$0.99 cereal!)

Oatmeal and bananas


Yogurt and granola

Bread-machine Cinnamon Rolls (A reader sent me a winning recipe last week. I made it and we all loved it. I’ll be posting it later this week in case you’d like to try it, too!)

Lunch Ideas:

Tuna Salad, apples

Beans and Rice with cheese and sour cream, carrot sticks

Chicken Nuggets, apples

Fish Sticks, carrot sticks

Baked potatoes with broccoli and sour cream

Leftovers x 2

Dinner Ideas:

Broccoli Chicken Cheese Casserole, Cornbread Muffins, Grapefruit, Chocolate Pudding

Barbecue Chicken Stirfry over rice with Chow Mein Noodles, Slab Apple Pie

Turkey Meatballs, Sweet Potatoes, Bread Machine Buttery Rolls, Corn, Grapefruit

Chicken Tetrazinni, Mixed Green Salad, Broccoli, Homemade Bread

Lasagna, homemade bread, steamed veggies

Dinner at friends’ house

Waffles, scrambled eggs, fruit

Dinner out

Snack Ideas:

Popcorn, Fruit, Cereal, Hot Cocoa

How’s your Pantry Challenge going? If you’ve been blogging about it, be sure to leave direct links to your update posts below so we can all be inspired!

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  • Laura says:

    I’ve really appreciated the encouragement to eat through our stockpile! I will be taking this on for one more month. Things no longer fall out when I open the freezer (okay, it is embarrassing to admit, but it happened to me too!) but I still have plenty in there. Same with the pantry. I am going to go back to stockpiling some great deals, but need to use up my lingering odd and ends.

    Just so I don’t go crazy in crouton-and-chicken-land, I am making two lists: 1) all the new things I’d like to buy once my freezer is empty, and 2) all the new recipes I’d like to try. This was a difficult discipline, but it was good for both me and my grocery budget!

  • Hahha!! Most of the time at my house, you need to be wearing protective equipment to avoid injury from falling stuff out of the freezer! It IS nice to not have that problem right now thanks to using up so many things from there!

  • Paige says:

    What? Food fell out of your freezer? That happens to me all the time. I blogged about my experience and what I learned here:

  • Lana says:

    We didn’t do the challenge but 3 kids came home from college for the holiday break and then took back masses of food (with my permission). Then oldest daughter and hubby arrived home from their overseas ministry for 6 weeks and I went through the cupboards with her and stocked up her pantry at their temporary lodgings for free. So my cupboards got a good cleaning out and I know the kids have what they need for a few weeks. They will all be back for more when that is gone. It is good to be able to this for them by being a couponer.

  • Jennifer says:

    I was doing pretty well…until I got pregnant. We are in the home stretch of pantry cooking, but morning (and noon and evening and night) sickness is making it hard for me to work up the motivation to cook. 🙂

  • samijoe says:

    wow-i’ll have to follow this more closely.
    good work everyone!

  • Grace2882 says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this pantry challenge. I had made a list at the beginning of the month of how many meals I could get from my meat in the freezer. I figure that I will have at least 24 additional meals once this month is over. This made me realize that we really did not need to be buying so much stuff each month. I am definitely changing my shopping and eating habits.

  • Thanks so much for this series. It was the motivation I needed to clear things out a bit!

  • Anjanette says:

    Thanks so much for posting this, Crystal! Sorry I was impatient. 🙂

  • Elisa says:

    We were doing pretty well until Meijer’s One Day Sale Saturday — we were getting low on laundry detergent and with a Scott moneymaker, I just couldn’t resist! Still, I only spent 12.95 for 10 bottles of All, 10 packages of Scott wipes, 4 packages of quaker oats, 1 box of cereal, 1 bottle of o.j. and 8 packets of tuna. Not bad. We weren’t trying to strip our stock pile though — just save some money 🙂 I am thinking we only spent about $100 for the month, if that. I wish I would have been able to resist the super deals this month, but oh well. I think we will start doing this all the time now though — at least for a while. Just get the fresh produce and dairy and live off the pantry for the rest. It’s actually been really fun! And of course, I’ll have to indulge in a super sale as necessary 🙂

  • Kelley says:

    this was a great challenge. I told myself we wouldn’t spend over $150….came in at $143….Yipee! and that included cat food and litter and dog chow!

  • I laughed out loud, my freezer has a troll living inside that throws food out at me every time I open mine.

  • My freezer is the same way. The other day, I opened it up to decide which frozen dinner I wanted, and I decided that I should eat the one that fell on my feet when I opened the door. Ha!

  • Martianne says:

    Thank you for the ecnoruagement to start the new year off right by feeding our family healthy foods, while keeping our budget thin. We have managed to clear out much of our shelf-pantry and upsatirs fridge and freezer, as well as a lot of the stuff from our downsatirs freezer, though I am still stuck on how to get the family to eat all that frozen sliced cabbage from the CSA we take part in every summer. And, I have realized I can get better at sticking at a food budget – still working on that – without depriving my family too much.

  • Such a good challenge! I’ve got enough to do it for another month (or at least a partial month) so I’m going to keep going. Once I’ve finished, I plan to start OAMC!

  • Patti says:

    We, too, are continuing with the challenge… especially since I didn’t seem to make a dent in my freezer (although my panty looks a little bare). My family didn’t think we could do it and we all seemed to think “eating from the pantry” was almost better than our usual fare!!

  • Mar says:

    Wait, are you saying that things are NOT supposed to fall out when you open the freezer door????? Hmmmmm

    We haven’t been perfect about following this challenge, but I have cooked and baked from scratch a LOT more than I normally do. We still have a lot of food so we’ll keep doing this on at least a partial basis – i.e., eating at least 3-4 dinners a week from our freezer and pantry. I will buy any really good specials that I find.

    I like that we have made things I have been meaning to make, such as tonight’s Chicken Fajitas, which were excellent!

  • Nicole says:

    I know this is going to sound like a dumb question, but I noticed you have bean and rice for lunch a lot. Which always sounds great, how do you make them? Is it anything special?

  • Joyagg says:

    I’m still going strong and have more to use in the freezer, so I’m going to keep going as long as I can. Thanks for the push in the right direction.

  • Sarah says:

    I just started reading your blog so I will be doing this in Feb, until all the stuff is gone. Great idea. This will save me me so much!

  • We started living on our pantry food mid-December. I knew because of our circumstances that we wouldn’t be shopping at all in January. It’s been so fun to have other people doing it too! Your timing was a great blessing for me.

    And while I had hoped to be going to the store by February or March, I know now that we’ll still be staying away from the stores completely for at least a couple more months. Of course, with a new baby (very soon!) it will be a blessing to just stay home.

    I saw the first two spears of aspargus poking up out of the ground today! We’re looking forward to what our garden will bring to our meals from the pantry during the next couple of months!

  • I went through my cupboards again today weeding out the stuff I knew my family was not ever going to eat. Yes even if it was the last thing in the cabinet. I gifted it to the neighbor who has 5 kids.

    I also found more expired food so I chucked it. That completely cleaned out one cabinet. So I am down to one cabinet that has 3 shelves, my freezer and my deep freeze.

    I didn’t have a monetary limit for spending but if I had had one I would have beaten it by a long shot.

    It looks like I’ll be continuing on with the challenge for awhile longer.

  • I’m not out of food, but this last week I started to run out of creativity. Like everyone else, we’re short on time and it’s been hard not to be able to turn to some of my standard meals in a pinch. We’ve had some great meals, not total disasters, but I am desperate to buy some things like sour cream, mushrooms, chili peppers, chicken etc… I had no idea I had so much pork in my freezer!

    Next time I’ll probably do this differently. I’ll go through my freezer and pantry and decide what to use up and buy a few ingredients to either try new recipes or make our usual. I’ll still save money and clean out and it won’t make cooking as much of a chore.

    On the plus side, while last week was tough, we’re off to a good start this week and I’m going to rock the homestretch here.

    Thanks for the challenge!


  • Shelly says:

    We have made it through our Eat From The Pantry journey but when I told my 16 year old daughter we were starting she wanted to cry. She thought for sure she’d be eating cereal for meals. She has been pleasantly surprised that I’ve actually cooked better meals by going through what we have on had that is close to expiring or has been in the freezer for a while.

    I have learned that now I must limit myself to only buying 5 of frozen & boxed goods at a time. We have quite a few frozen items that have lots of ice crystals in the boxes and some boxed goods that expired a year ago!! If hot pockets or lean cuisine were on sale I would buy 20 of each. Now I know to only buy 5. We have about 10 boxes of waffles and french toast sticks in our freezer yet and I realize they were free but it’s iffy if they can be used becuase of ice crystal build up – even though they’ve only been in there a few months! Thanks for this wonderful idea! We have loved it and have really learned what the life expectancy is of things! We still have plenty of meat for months and months since we buy a 1/2 pig and a 1/4 of beef each year but we have gotten rid of lots of bagged & boxed goods and the misc. frozen items! I will be a much wiser shopper now!

  • Erin says:

    I didn’t do the challenge competely but I did make an effort to cut down on the shopping trips this month. I am happy to report that I used up a lot of random things in the pantry and freezer that I kept passing up and made space for lots of new things! Its so easy to keep passing over the foods that don’t seem particularly appetizing but when you take the time to use them up it feels good to know you aren’t being wasteful. Thanks for being such an inspiration! This exercise also made me so grateful that we are financially able to buy any food whenever we want – there are so many other who are not as fortunate.

  • aimee says:

    This adventure has taught me several things I blogged about, but most of all it has shown me I don’t plan menus well. I’ve learned that my cooking is usually off-the-cuff and based on my mood and whimsy. I’m also better at rotating stock than I knew. I still have waaay too much venison in my freezer (see photos I posted on FB). Anyone have venison recipes they love?

  • kendell says:

    i am dying for the bread machine cinnamon roll recipe! i’ve made bread machine cinnamon rolls before but they did not freeze well.

  • Miranda says:

    Wow, *sometimes* things fall out of your freezer? 😉 Growing up my sisters and I were well-practised in the art of yanking the door open and simultaneously leaping three feet backwards so as not to get crushed by the resulting avalanche! Actually in all seriousness this has been a really useful exercise in finding the happy medium between having a well-stocked pantry in case something happens (I was brought up to be prepared in case you get snowed in) and unnecessary hoarding. And now, having been forced to learn, I actually know what to do with all those odds and ends I’ve got sitting around, which I’m hoping will cut down on waste. This challenge was a really good idea – when are we doing another one?

  • Elizabeth says:

    Although I haven’t formally been participating in this challenge, it has inspired me to do more cooking from what I have rather than running out to the grocery store to buy ingredients for what I feel like eating. One website has been particularly useful: It allows you to enter ingredients you have on hand and compliles a list of recipes from the Internet for all recipes you can make with just those ingredients. I’m actually making something I found right this minute!

  • I’m a little late checking in here! But we did all right — no $75 grocery bill for the month, mind you! But I met my goal of spending less than $200… I also still have a bit of a stockpile, so I’m going to continue to meal plan around the pantry and hopefully IMPROVE on slowly stockpiling around sales+coupons to lower my grocery budget spending overall. Thanks for encouraging us!

  • chefjuls says:

    bare spots in pantry and freezers. Refrigerators ran over because the 3rd refrigerator died..BUTTTTT we still over spent on NON food items so that is definately coming WAYYYY down. We decided to eat from the panty for Feb.

  • Glad to join the challenge–even if it’s a little late! I had actually thought about doing this before I discovered your own challenge here. I’ve set up a challenge at my own blog to keep things going. My primary goal initially was just to clean out all those leftover random ingredients and/or purchases that never made it into a meal and have my pantry and freezer be more organized, but after paying bills last night I’m even more anxious to save the extra $$ on food bills!

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