Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pantry Challenge: Week 4

It's my last week! So exciting!

Day 1. Wednesday:
I originally said steak and shrimp for dinner, until it was 6 o'clock and I realized the steak I bought was not a "slap some seasoning on it and toss it in a pan on the stove" kind of steak. Oops. Because I was frustrated, Bad warmed up a couple cans of Chef Boyardee for dinner instead. Not exactly steak and shrimp, but good nonetheless. Who doesn't like Chef Boyardee ravioli every once in a while?

Day 2. Thursday:
Eggs and bacon for breakfast? Yeah right! I don't know why I make plans for a more-ambitious-than-cereal breakfast. I did put the steaks (boneless chuck steak if you're wondering) in the crockpot with a TON of seasonings and let it go all day. I also made two loaves of whole wheat bread. Mmm! When the meat was done, Brad helped me make some tortillas and then we served the meat with homemade tortillas, beans, mexican rice, cheese and some lettuce. (If you're wondering about how to make your own tortillas, recipe here.)

Day 3. Friday:
Today wasn't half bad for dinner! I wanted to make homemade buns, but after yesterday's day-long trial with my bread dough (it didn't rise and I had to add more yeast again to make it rise) I really wasn't in the mood to deal with more yeast just yet. Instead we had sloppy joes on toasted wheat bread. I browned up some ground turkey and added a can of Manwich to it. I also had a bag of mixed veggies in the freezer that I steamed up and then sliced up 5 red plums to serve with everything. Yum!

Day 4. Saturday:
Hold the phone! You will NEVER guess what I did today! I made breakfast! Because i'd been up since 6:30 to pick up my bountiful basket (which I forgot to take a picture of. Sorry!) I decided to just make some food for the fam! Bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, sliced cantaloupe, green grapes, and milk to drink. For lunch, we actually went to Mimi's Cafe! My birthday is in a week and i've started getting all kinds of coupons in my email for free meals at restaurants, so we used a buy one, get one free entree at Mimi's. SO delicious. I swear, they have the best muffins in the world. For dinner, we went to our ward picnic (which I thought was lunch, but it wasn't. Lol.) Hot dogs and hamburgers and fruit and chips and salads and cookies, etc. . . It was a good eating day.

Hey everyone! I completely forgot to finish this post before we left on our cruise! I can't really remember what we had for the rest of the month, but the pantry challenge was SO fun for me! It was great to make new things from basic staples in my kitchen and to also know exactly what I was going to make for dinner each day. Brad even started asking "what's for dinner" because he knew that I already had it all planned out! Lol.
A few tips if you want to try something similar, or if you just need some help figuring out what to make for dinner:
  1. Understand that it's OKAY to not follow through with the plan. Sometimes things come up, you are extra tired, sick, have company over, etc. . . When my mom and my brother and his gf came for dinner two weeks ago, I had planned on grilling outside, but I ran out of time to prepare anything and we ended up having a station to make our own grilled cheese sandwiches and I heated up some tomato soup. 
  2. Make a list. Grab a pen and some paper and go through your pantry, food storage, freezer, fridge, and cupboards. Write down what you can make a meal out of. List entrees and sides. Mac n cheese, pasta, hamburgers, soup, frozen veggies, fresh corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, etc. . . Now when it's time to make a meal plan for the next week, you already have a list of things you can have for dinner. Just pick and choose which entree you want with which sides and choose a day. Easy peasy.
  3. When you go to the store, HAVE A LIST! Try to only buy staple items (flour, sugar, spices, produce, eggs, milk, etc. . . ) but if you have coupons and sales that make other items SUPER cheap, go for it. Just try to stick to free or less than $1 items. This will make your budget stretch much farther.
  4. I didn't do this, but I wish I had- Use cash. At the beginning of the month get your grocery budget, whatever it may be, in cash. That way, there is no way to go over budget! Darn debit cards make it WAY to easy to spend an extra $10 or so.
  5. Don't be afraid to try new recipes. If you have a ton of top ramen in your cupboard like I do and want to use them up, toss in some peas, peppers, broccoli, whatever veggies you have on hand. Don't use the seasoning packet and make your own peanut sauce or something. If you have 30 boxes of dry pasta in stock, also like I do, you don't have to make pasta and meat sauce every night! Try different pasta salads, bake it with sauce and cheese and pepperonis like a casserole, use it as a side rather than the main course. Hamburger patties but no hamburger buns? Just use them as ground beef to make tacos or something. Think outside the box!

Anyway, I had a lot of fun and hope to continue to be better at using what I have and stretching our dollars. Happy homemaking everyone!

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