Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pantry Challenge

I have got a LOT to blog about, but since it all requires me to upload pictures, and I am super tired and just got back in town, I will get to those blogs later.
For now, I need to blog this so that I will somehow be held accountable. :)
I have started my own "pantry challenge" just for the remainder of this month. If you haven't heard of this, generally it's when you spend a VERY limited amount of money on food for the month and you are forced to use up what you already have on hand. Every little random can or box of whatever that's been lost in your pantry for months can now be found and used!
I've decided to embark on this adventure for the month of August mostly because, well, we need to. Brad and I just booked a 7-day Alaska cruise leaving the first week in September and cruises aren't so cheap. Plus, we have SO much food in this house, yet we constantly find ourselves saying "there's nothing to eat!"
Well, I am going to change that.
I will BE creative.
I will SCOUR my cupboards and freezer.
I will USE all those random cans of cream of whatever, half empty boxes of pasta, and 9 million bags of frozen veggies in the freezer.
I will SPEND no more than $100 on food this month.
CRAZY, right?!
I know it will be tough.
Yes, I am an "accomplished couponer," but sales have not been so great lately. And my new store in Utah doesn't ever double. And someone has been stealing my Sunday newspaper for the last 7 weeks, so I'm a little lacking on coupons.
I also got into a nice little spending groove for a while, since we were no longer poor college students.
But I can do this!

Ok, enough of the rant.
Here's my plan for this week and next.
(You really don't need to read this if you don't want. Seriously. I won't be offended. I won't even know!)
Tomorrow is my shopping trip. I plan on getting:
2 gallons of milk = $3.36 after coupons
4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts at $1.69/lb (An AWESOME stock-up price!!!!!!) = $6.76
1 Kashi TLC granola bars = $0.99 after coupon
1 Knudsen Organic Juice = $2.49 after coupon
2 Santa Cruz Lemonade at B1G1 Free = $2.24 for both after coupon
2 Organic Mangoes (for baby food) = $1.98
2 Bags of M&Ms = $0.25 for both after coupon
2 Boxes of Toaster Strudel = $3.08 after coupon
1 Yoplait Yogurt cup = Free after coupon
1 Box Poise Pads = Free after coupon

I will probably also get a head of lettuce, some broccoli, and strawberries or something, but I don't know the prices yet. Figuring the average prices for these three things, my total rounds out around $25.
Pretty good, I think!
I might end up picking up a few more items, depending on what I find on the clearance rack or on Manager's Special, but we'll see.

As far as the menu goes for this coming week, here it is:
(Brad takes care of his own lunch on most weekdays, and I pretty much just scrounge and feed Katie something, so I won't be including lunches in my meal plan)
Wednesday- Eggs and toast for breakfast with water. Quesadillas with Mexican rice and a side salad for dinner, using up some homemade salsa, and lemonade to drink. M&M cookies for dessert.
Thursday- Toaster Strudel for breakfast with juice. Chicken Pot Pie and water for dinner. Crepes with strawberries and cream for dessert.
Friday- Cereal and milk for breakfast. Pasta with homemade sauce and homemade french bread and green beans for dinner with juice. Ice cream sundaes for dessert.
Saturday- Free for all for breakfast. Mac n Cheese for Lunch. Hamburgers for dinner with chips and soda. (We may be with family instead. Not sure yet.)
Sunday- French toast for breakfast with milk to drink. PB&J's for lunch. Chicken and Corn casserole for dinner with a side salad and lemonade. Homemade cake for dessert.
Monday- Cereal and milk for breakfast. Canned soup for dinner with homemade rolls and broccoli. Brownies and ice cream for dessert.
Tuesday- "Easy Food" day! Ramen, Mac N Cheese, Chef Boyardee, etc. . .

Well, that's all i've got for now. I didn't include things like snacks because those are always pretty spontaneous.
I hope this all works out! I'm thinking that it will force me to do more homemade things and explore more in the kitchen.
If anyone out there has any amazing recipes from things that almost everyone has sitting in their pantry, share them please!


Cynthia Schneider said...

Cool idea, Kim! I have some recipes that might work for you! Our Relief Society gave out a little booklet a while ago featuring recipes that only contain canned goods/shelf-stable ingredients. Here are a few we’ve tried and like (with some of my own personal touches):

Chicken Corn Chowder
1 (15 oz) can cream-style corn
1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn, un-drained
1 (10 oz) can chicken, drained (Or you can use freshly cooked chicken - which tastes better, in my opinion - a heaping cup, chopped.)
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
1 tbsp dried minced onion (or ¼ tsp onion powder)
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cumin
(I also like to add 2 cups of cooked brown rice. Makes it a more hearty meal.)

Add all ingredients to a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes (If you don‘t have the time to simmer, don‘t worry about it. It will still be good). May be served with shredded cheese or chopped tomatoes, if desired (I never do). (This is also delicious with whole wheat toast.)

Pizza Macaroni Bake
1 package macaroni and cheese, prepared (I like to use the squeezy-cheese kind, like, shells and cheese, but you can use the powdered cheese kind too.)
1 lb ground beef or beef TVP (I always use ground turkey.)
2 tbsp dried minced onion (or ½ tsp onion powder)
1 (14 oz) jar pizza sauce (I always use spaghetti sauce and just kind of eyeball it.)
1 (3.5 oz) package sliced pepperoni
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese (I always omit this.)
1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook beef (or turkey) with onion, drain, and stir in pizza sauce. Grease a 9x13 casserole dish then transfer the macaroni to the dish. Sprinkle macaroni with cheddar cheese (again, I skip this). Top with beef/sauce mixture, pepperoni and mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, @ 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through.

Cynthia Schneider said...

Wild Rice Soup
1 lb ground beef or beef TVP (I always use ground turkey.)
¼ cup dried minced onion, re-hydrated (or 1 tsp onion powder)
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth (Depending on how thick you like your soup, you may want more broth than this.)
1 (10 oz) can cream of mushroom soup (I always use cream of chicken ‘cause Jon doesn’t like mushrooms, but I’m sure it’s good this way too.)
1 (6.75 oz) package long grain and wild rice, prepared (Uncle Ben’s brand is best, and it comes in three varieties: traditional cooking method, quick-cook method, and 90-second microwave steam pouch. I prefer the quick-cook variety.)
½ cup bacon bits or 5 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (Sometimes I add this, sometimes I don’t. It’s good either way.)

Cook beef (or turkey) with onion, drain. Add beef and remaining ingredients to a large pot. Heat on medium, stirring occasionally until the soup is hot.

Black Bean, Corn and Turkey Chili (This is actually a Campbell’s recipe, but I thought it might work for you - and it’s sooo delicious!)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped (or 1 tsp onion powder)
1 tbsp chili powder (NOT cayenne pepper! Haha, I made that mistake once. It was still way yummy, but it made your eyes and nose run to eat it!)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano (I always use Italian seasoning.)
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove garlic, minced
1 ¾ cups chicken broth or stock
1 cup picante sauce or salsa (I always run this through the blender before adding because I don’t like chunky vegetables, but that’s up to you.)
1 tbsp white sugar
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, onion, chili powder, cumin, oregano, black pepper and garlic powder. Cook until the turkey is no longer pink, stirring often to separate meat.

Stir in the broth, picante sauce/salsa, sugar, beans and corn. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If you really don’t have the time to simmer for 30 minutes, you don’t have to. It’s still yummy. And, as with most soups/chilis, this is even better the next day.)

(We love to have this over Fritos, with sour cream and shredded cheese.)

There you go. Hope these help! :)

your sis said...

you should check your neighborhood for fruit trees and then knock on doors. Easy way to get free fruit. It's about plum time now!