Stuff and Nonsense: pantry challenge

Showing posts with label pantry challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pantry challenge. Show all posts


Pantry/Whole Kitchen Challenge: The End

Jessica's Pantry Challenge over at at Good Cheap Eats is officially done now and, although I still have things in my pantry/freezer I'd like to be rid of, I'm quite pleased with how I've done.
The freezer and pantry are tidier than they've been in yonks and I've gotten back to thinking about what I already have on hand before I start menu planning. Sometime in the past year or so, I'd started skipping that step -- I'd just see a recipe I like, add it to the menu plan, and then shop for all the ingredients regardless of what was already on hand. That was bad, obviously. Unless, of course, the plan was to end up with a pantry of triplicates. And bags of freezer-burnt vegetables.
Senseless. Impractical. Wasteful. Ugh.
So, hurrah for Good Cheap Eats! Hurrah for the Pantry Challenge, which has restored a measure of rigor and commonsense to my menu planning and kitchen management. Will I do this challenge again next January? I think I'm going to have to!


Easy Sunday Supper: Pan-Fried Boneless Pork Chops

We were quite the lazybones this weekend and, despite vague intentions to the contrary, never left the house. Instead, we lolled about the living room, reading books, and catching up with CrashCourse videos. Happily, I'm in the midst of a pantry challenge so felt super industrious and organized when I pulled every meal out of the freezer or pantry without having to think (much) about how I could cook and not stop reading Shirley. (Usually, I just say to myself "Book is too good! We don't need to eat yet! One more chapter! Two! Three! Oh, no! It's seven o'clock! Someone, order pizza!").

Anyway, these chops were dead easy and reminded me that I should make pork chops more often. They're a thing I ate quite often as a child, but never really think about when I'm menu planning. The Husband eschews ham and bacon, true, but has no issue with chops or roast so I cannot blame the omission on him.

Pan-Fried Boneless Pork Chops

Serves: 4 (or 2 + leftovers)


  • 4 boneless pork loin chops, each about ¾-inch thick
  • ¼ cup white whole wheat flour
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp dried marjoram
  • ¼ tsp rubbed sage
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil


  1. Place flour, thyme, marjoram, sage, and pepper in a pie plate or similarly shallow dish. Dredge pork in flour mixture, turning to coat; shake off excess and discard.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and cook for 10 minutes or until done, turning pork once. Remove pork from skillet.
We ate these chops with "Outback Steakhouse Mac-A-Roo 'N Cheese" (I used half-and-half and added a bit of smoked paprika) and a simple salad of chopped cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, and vinaigrette.

Pantry challenge ingredients: chops, Velveeta, penne
Glad to see eaten before they went squishy: cucumbers and tomatoes


Pantry Challenge: Weekly Meal Round-Up

Thought I'd do a round-up of Pantry Challenge meals I've made this week! Done really well so far, I think, but the first week is always the easiest as I'm still excited by the challenge and my kitchen seems full of possibility. I don't think The Husband is really aware that there's a pantry challenge going on in our house as it's not impacted the way he eat at all. Again, this was the first week and there's lots of groceries to play with. Week 3 might be a harder sell. (Also, wow, we own a surprising amount of convenience foods. I think I buy the stuff because I'm feeling lazy and then I'm too ashamed to use it so it just lingers in the kitchen).

Supper of "Chicken-Black Bean Casserole" using all sorts of stuff from the freezer and pantry -- Tyson Grilled & Ready frozen chicken breast strips, Trader Joe's salsa verde, Trader Joe's fire-roasted corn, black beans, cheddar, Penzeys Arizona Dreaming, tortilla strips.

While we both enjoyed eating the casserole, we also found it kind-of incomplete -- The Husband thought it was like deconstructed chicken nachos and needed chips for dipping while I felt it needed a bed of rice.

Lunch of nacho cheese fishies (pantry), broccoli (freezer), and breaded chicken chunks (freezer). Not very grownup, but yummy and quite comforting on a bitterly cold and grey work day.

Chicken cacciatore(ish) in my slow cooker. Frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts (freezer), pepper strips (freezer), onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, pizza sauce, noodles (pantrypantrypantry). The noodles were odd "artisan" tubular spiral pasta I'd bought a year ago on clearance at Williams-Sonoma and then found we didn't really like them. Well, they're gone now!

Simply Enjoy Chicken Wellington Pastry Bites from the freezer with a simple cucumber salad (chopped cucumbers, red onion, and grape tomatoes tossed with champagne vinaigrette) made for a nice light lunch:

Supper of Trader Joe's Braised Beef Roast with Demi Glace (freezer) and parmesan butter fishies (pantry) with corn niblets in butter sauce (freezer):

Work lunches of leftover beef and noodles with spinach and a bit of Christmas chocolate:


Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore(ish)

Slow cooker chicken cacciatore(ish) over noodles. Everything but the mushrooms from the freezer or pantry, hurrah. (And it tasted pretty good, too!)

Ingredients: Frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts, pepper and onion strips, sliced mushrooms, Italian seasoning, pizza sauce, glug of red wine, noodles.

I don't like to cook boneless skinless chicken breasts in the slow cooker as I think they tend to come out overdone and mealy-textured. Cooking them from frozen seems to help somewhat, what they're still a bit mealy. They're probably work okay in less time-intensive slow cooker recipes, but I leave the house at 8 and don't return home again until 5:30 and so whatever I'm slow cooking will cook most of that time (my slow cooker has a "keep warm" setting that works for up to two hours and I try to take advantage of that).

Boneless skinless chicken thighs ... now those were made for slow cooking! But breasts were what I had in the freezer and so that is what I used. The sauce was very rich and flavorful, anyway, and helped disguise chicken somewhat.

We ate the chicken over these funky tubular corkscrew "artisan" noodles I'd bought on clearance at Williams-Sonoma last winter. I'd yet to find a dish they go particularly well with and had just taken to ignoring them. Happily, they are all gone now and I can stop feeling guilty about preferring boring ol' grocery store penne to them.


Pantry/Whole Kitchen Challenge

I've been doing a little bit of a freezer challenge since Christmas. Really, it's a whole kitchen kind-of challenge as I try to make better use of what I have on hand before I head off to the grocery store, but the still-over-crowded freezer is what kicked it all off. Happily, Jessica at Good Cheap Eats is hosting another Pantry Challenge through the month of January and I was pleased to join on, rather than go my own way with zero accountability owed to anyone but myself.

As always, when I do a kitchen challenge, I made a Google Doc of the contents of my freezer. And pantry. And the basement shelves full of Amazon Subscribe and Save orders. And what I ended up with was a massive list of Much Too Muchness. Obviously, it's good to have an emergency supply of nonperishables. And there's nothing wrong with stocking up on favorites when the price is good. But that's not really what's going on here.

What I have, is a collection of thoroughly random groceries. Some bought in a spirit of adventure and can-do-ness, because I keep forgetting I am actually a lazy and thoroughly unadventurous cook 85% of the time. Others bought in a fit of Pinspiration, when I thought "Why yes! Making Preposterously Complicated Seafood Recipe on a weeknight would be just the thing!"

So, I have lists. And I have thoughts. And I'm going to whittle my collection of random down to something more manageable. And I'm still going grocery shopping, of course! It's "just" a matter of going to the list before shopping, deciding what ingredient I want to use, and then building a meal around it. Essentially, it's all about getting back to weekly menu planning. And buying less random. And remembering that we already own four unopened packages of HobNobs and don't need any more.


P/F/G Challenge: Chicken Stew Stuff

Chicken Stew Stuff
Yes, that's my lap. Yes, eating in front of the television. No, we're not posh.

Supper was supposed to be "Baked marinated freezer chicken breasts with buttered peas-and-rice and steamed green beans," but I forgot to thaw the chicken breasts ahead of time so we had slow cooked chicken stew stuff, instead. It was pretty tasty, actually, even if it wasn't very pretty. And it kept me from going "Oh, the heck with it! I'm tired. Let's order in."
Slow Cooker Chicken Stew Stuff

2 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup frozen leftover turkey gravy
1 cup frozen chicken stock
½ cup frozen diced onion
2 cups diced peeled carrots
2 cups chopped fresh green beans
1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves and peeled
Salt-free Italian seasoning blend
Dried parsley
Black pepper

Put the carrots, onions, green beans and garlic at the bottom of the slow cooker insert. Add chicken breasts. Top with broth and gravy. Sprinkle with seasoning blend, parsley, and pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 9 hrs. Shred chicken. Stir everything together. Serve over rice.
We've eaten nearly all the garden carrots and I'm going to have to go back to buying them again, soon. Ridiculous.


P/F/G Challenge: Olly-Olly-Oxtails

Many months ago, I bought three pounds of frozen oxtail from The Meat House. I bought them because The Husband is British and, every once in a while, I have the whimsical desire to cook for him The Food of His People. Bear in mind that the man has never mentioned a yearning for oxtail as The Food of His People more likely being pie and chips with lashings of gravy. (Mmm. Gravy). Also, I had never cooked oxtail before. Therefore, what seemed like a great idea at the shop became an awfully intimidating one at home. No surprise then, that I stuffed the oxtail in the back of the freezer and decided to deal with them another day.

Braised Oxtails

Wednesday, I'd seen the freezer was almost empty of meat and I'd have to do some shopping soon ... except there were those intimidating oxtails I'd been avoiding thinking about. It seemed like a total fail on my part to go grocery shopping with a major P/G/R Challenge ingredient still sitting in the freezer. I'd pinned TGI Paleo's recipe for "Jamaican-Asian Braised Oxtail" a few months ago, when I was looking for recipes for braises and for dishes that used coconut aminos (another whimsical purchase of mine), and it seemed like Friday would be a good day to try it out. I had the day off and nearly all the ingredients on hand, after all.

I made two slight adjustments to TGI Paleo's recipe. First, I added a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes because that seemed like it would go well with the peppers and onions. Secondly, I substituted a teaspoon each of Penzeys Berbere (peri peri) and Northwoods seasoning blends for the two teaspoons chili powder called for, because I didn't have any chili powder and didn't want to go to the store for "just one thing." The substitution seemed to work -- the cooked oxtails were rich, beefy, tender, and succulent with just enough heat from the berbere to add a little zing.

Braised Oxtails

The recipe says to cook them for 4-6 hours in a 200F° oven, but I ended up cooking them for 8 because I was busy doing other things and kind-of forgot about them. The extra two hours did no harm -- I imagine it actually made the meat more tender and the sauce more flavorful.


P/F/G Challenge: Salmon Cakes

Salmon CakesI didn't post a menu plan for this week, because I just went through the cabinets and piled up on the counter all the things I thought needed eating up. Monday's supper was a complete disaster (oh, delicious sausage from the Polish grocery, I am so sorry to have wasted you) and we ended up eating sandwiches, but today's was much, much better.

We have a lot of tinned fish on hand, including salmon, so I made Lora at Happy to Stay at Home Mom's "Baked Salmon Patties" and they were both super-easy to make and quite yummy. Maybe not as good as my Mom's, but I don't have my Mom's recipe. (Note to self: acquire ASAP).

I used a mixture of unseasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs and Italian-seasoned panko, because I didn't have enough breadcrumbs. Since Italian seasoning was already in the mix, I omitted the Old Bay seasoning and whacked a little more Italian seasoning blend in.

We ate the baked salmon cakes with buttery parslied potatoes, peas, and ketchup -- just like so many Lenten Friday suppers I ate as a child. Ah, delicious nostalgia.


P/F/G Challenge: Lasagna

Lasagne. It seems fancy, but really it's not. Or it isn't the way I make it, which is as a vehicle for using up stuff (making it the perfect dish for the P/F/G Challenge). I use the directions on the back of the Barilla Oven Ready Lasagne noodles as my guide, substituting whatever sauces, meats, vegetables, and cheeses I have on hand.


This time 'round I used:
  • 32 oz container Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm lamb bolognese, thawed
  • 6 oz pureed fire-roasted diced tomatoes (leftover from making personal pizzas)
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded cheese (combo of light cheddar and various cheese blends)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • 12 Barilla Oven Ready Lasagne noodles
(No vegetables in this one as the barley vegetable soup I made the other week took care of all the open bags and then some).

I served the lasagne with steamed green beans and thick sliced Wave Hill Breads Caramelized Garlic Country Loaf smeared with buttered and toasted under the broiler. It was a yummy meal

And now there's room in the cheese drawer for new cheese! Quick, to the cheesemonger's!


P/F/G Challenge: Dressed-Up Tomato Soup

Bought a few cans of Campbell's Harvest Orange Tomato Soup on a whim last summer and, as with most things purchased on a whim, they've been shoved to the back of a cupboard and pretty much forgotten. The Harvest Orange actually tastes rather nice -- smooth and mellow like the orange tomatoes I grow, with none of the excessive sweetness I associate with Campbell's regular condensed tomato soup -- but not so nice I want to eat it regularly.

Really, canned soup is not my thing and the only soup I regularly buy is Campbell's Tomato Bisque (or Amy's Organic Chunky Tomato Bisque), because it forms the gravy for my mother's meatloaf. However, I didn't have anything hot to take for lunch this week so the Harvest Tomato soup was suddenly very desirable! However, heating it up with milk seemed a bit boring, so I subbed light cream for milk and then jazzed it up a bit more with curry powder, cashew butter, and a little sriracha.

Dressed-up tomato soup

Dressed-Up Tomato Soup
Makes 3 servings

1 tsp unsalted buter
2 tsp curry powder
[Penzeys Maharajah]
¼ cup nut butter [cashew]
1 can Campbell's Harvest Orange Tomato Soup [Pacific Organic Free Range Low Sodium]
1 cup light cream
1 low-sodium chicken broth
Sriracha, as desired

Melt unsalted butter in saucepan over medium.

Add curry powder and heat, whisking, until spices bloom.

Add in nut butter and whisk until combined.

Add in can of soup and whisk until combined.

Slowly whisk in light cream and broth and heat thoroughly.

Season with sriracha as desired.
The soup was good this way -- rich, tangy, and very aromatic -- and made a filling lunch when paired with salad and buttered toast fingers. It's quite thick, so you might want to add a bit more cream if you like a looser soup.


Pantry/Freezer/Garden Challenge: Not Starving

My P/F/G challenge is off to a good start! Went through the cupboards and only had to toss one item -- a six ounce can of pineapple just that was best by May 2012. There are a few other items that are close to their best buy dates, so I'll try to use them up sooner rather than later.

Made three suppers this week primarily from P/F/G items:

Monday Supper

Monday: Tuna steak (F), steamed green beans (F) with garlic and lemon pepper, and slow cooker whipped carrots (G). To make the carrots, I sliced them thin and put them in the slow cooker with some low sodium chicken broth on Low for six hours, then I whipped them with warm half-and-half, melted butter, parsley, salt, and black pepper. I liked them and The Husband said they were tasty but eating them made him feel a bit like a toothless old man!

Really need to eat the broccoli and cauliflower stockpiled in the freezer, but The Husband hates broccoli and cauliflower so that means making a separate vegetable for him and that seems like a pain so I just ... continue to ignore the broccoli and cauliflower in the freezer. Yet I also keep buying the stuff, because I think it's yummy.

Saturday Steak

Saturday: Steak (F), steamed green beans (F) with thyme and garlic, and pasta in tomato sauce (P). Pasta was a Barilla "Italian Entrees Tomato & Basil Whole Grain Penne" split between two plates ... and pretty meh, actually. Pasta, it would appear, does not belong in the microwave. Alas, I have about six more of these "Italian Entrees" in the basement.

Salmon Spudulike

Sunday: Spudulike made with tinned salmon (P), roasted corn (F), 0% Greek yoghurt, dill, black pepper, unsalted butter, and light shredded sharp cheddar. There's a lot of tinned tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines in the pantry so I'm looking for ideas ...


Pantry Challenge Update: Week 4

The pantry challenge is over for most participants, but I'm going to keep going through February as there's still so much of my challenge inventory left. Obviously, with Taste of Hartford going on, I haven't cooked much recently. Made a big pot of soup and baked a little, yes, but made no real headway with the challenge.

That said, I suspect I had unrealistic expectations vis-a-vis the pantry challenge. There's a lot of stuff in my pantry. Even if I'd kept on like the first week, making nearly every meal from pantry challenge ingredients, there would still be stuff leftover.

So what have I been doing, if not the challenge? Completing mini challenges I set for myself:

I ruthlessly culled my closets for charity (and space). Dead electronics went to Green Monster e-Cycling and clothes/household items were picked up by Big Brothers/Big Sisters Hartsprings Foundation. Hartsprings rolls through my neighborhood every few months, picking up donations, but I almost always manage to miss them due to poor planning on my part.

Drive-by charity.

I reorganized my kitchen cabinets (again).

Cheap Storage Solution
Disposable loaf pans, ftw!

I reclaimed my sewing room (again).

Little "helps"

I cleaned my fridge with vinegar and baking soda until it fairly sparkled (and smelled, faintly, of pickles).

Fridge, Post Pantry Challenge

None of those things are part of the pantry challenge and yet they have everything to do with it. I joined the pantry challenge, because there was too much stuff in my pantry. Turns out there's too much stuff all over my house! For the pantry challenge, I opened my kitchen cupboards and asked "Why are you here? What can I make with you?" Now I open closets and ask "Why are you here? What can I do with you?"

I am still going forward with the pantry challenge -- will carry it as far through February as I can before I lose momentum. There's still a cake to be made from the black raspberry preserves and there are all those cans of baby corn waiting to be eaten up, after all.


Pantry Challenge Update: Week 3

Still plugging away at the pantry challenge. Did pretty well, I think, last week -- not only did I made everything on my menu plan, but I was also inspired to make two extra recipes! Admittedly, one turned out pretty pants, yes, but I tried.

Pork chops with Taste of Home's "Gnocchi with White Beans." Pantry Challenge Ingredients: shelf stable gnocchi, canned diced tomatoes, and cannellini beans. Delicious and so simple! Look forward to making it again with the remaining package of gnocchi.

Monday Supper

Taste of Home's "Vegetable Bean Soup." Pantry Challenge Ingredients: canned diced tomatoes, black beans, quick-cooking barley, (very old) low-sodium beef bouillon granules. I know I said this couldn't hold a candle to the pumpkin curry I made (and it can't), but it is still a very good, very filling, very simple soup.


Pasta loosely based on Rachael Ray's "Gemelli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce." Pantry Challenge Ingredients: random open box of whole grain pasta, jar roasted peppers, open jar of tomato sauce, open bottle of wine (admittedly, more of the wine went in me than in the sauce). I liked this a lot, but I should try the real recipe one day.


Cooking Light's "Couscous with Artichokes, Feta, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes." Pantry Challenge Ingredients: canned quartered artichokes hearts, julienned sun-dried oil-packed tomatoes, Israeli (pearl) couscous, low-sodium chicken broth. This was really quite good (and easy).

Chicken Artichoke Couscous

Betty Crocker's "Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders" with Rachael Ray's "Baked Beets" and peas. Pantry Challenge Ingredients: panko, canned beets. Enjoyed the chicken, but thought the beets would have benefited from a splash of balsamic vinegar. (I baked the beets at the same temperature and time as the chicken -- did them no harm).

Chicken & Beets

Campbell's "Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole." Pantry Challenge Ingredients: tuna, cream of celery, whole wheat bread crumbs. This was not a good idea. Even after I jazzed the recipe up with salt-free Italian seasoning blend, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika, and parsley ... it was bland. Boring. Meh.

Bowl of Meh

Plimoth Plantation's "Indian-Meal Pudding." Cornmeal isn't actually on my pantry challenge inventory as it's a baking supply and I'm not (yet) doing a baking challenge, but I'm counting this dish toward the pantry challenge because I wouldn't have made it if I didn't feel inspired by the challenge to try new things in my kitchen. It was really good stuff, too.

Slow Cooker Indian Pudding

Unfortunately, I won't be cooking nearly as often this week and inventory reduction is going to slow right down. It's not a big deal -- there's always next week -- but it irks me because I've been doing so well. However, I must admit I'd much rather fail a little big at the pantry challenge than give up Taste of Hartford!


Pantry Challenge: Clean Out The Cupboards With Soup

Trying to stay on track with the Pantry Challenge, I made a couple soups. There's nothing as comforting or forgiving as soup, after all, and it's always an excellent way to use up odds and ends.

First I made a batch of Pillsbury's "Curried Pumpkin-Vegetable Soup." It was a really tasty, easy soup with lots of good curry flavor. I admit I used 1 tsp more curry than called for and I bloomed the spices with the sauteed onions before adding the remaining ingredients, because that's what I learned from Cook's Illustrated -- always bloom spice blends like curry powder to help develop their rich, complex flavors. I wanted a flavorful soup, so I bloomed.

Did it work? I think so. Certainly, I was so interested in eating it that I never stopped to take a picture of the finished soup! This is one of the best recipes ever! Simple and healthy and yet also so rich and flavorful.

Curried Pumpkin-Vegetable Soup, Ingredients

Ingredients: pumpkin, frozen mixed vegetables, broth, curry powder, paprika, onion, garlic, diced tomatoes, salt, black pepper.
Pantry challenge items used: 1 can pumpkin, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can turkey broth.

Emboldened by my success, I went on to make a big pot of Taste of Home's "Vegetable Bean Soup" which not only allowed me to use pantry challenge ingredients, but also some limp celery and ancient frozen chopped spinach.  Unfortunately, this soup was not quite as tasty as the pumpkin soup. Rich and hearty, yes, with lots of vegetable goodness and I'm sure I'll make it again, but ... the pumpkin soup was just the bomb, you know?

Vegetable Bean Soup, Ingredients


Ingredients: black beans, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, diced tomatoes, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, no-salt powdered beef bouillon, quick-cooking barley.
Pantry challenge items used: 1 can black beans, 2 cans diced tomatoes, partial box of quick-cooking oats.


Pantry Challenge Update: Week 2

I think we're doing pretty well with the pantry challenge. My cupboards definitely have fewer things in them and we're even managing to eat down the freezer a little bit as I try to come up with ways to use pantry stuff. I think, actually, that is what I am most loving about this challenge -- that it encourages me to stretch my cooking muscles and really think about the food I have at home and the ways I can use it instead of running to the grocery store for "just one thing" (which always becomes several things).

Today, I was off from work so I spent the morning puttering around the house, baking cookies, and annoying the cats. Come lunch time, I realized there wasn't anything "lunchy" on hand. I had a choice -- I could get dressed, go down to the corner store, and buy a grinder to split between us. Or I could stick my head in the freezer.

Lo, I stuck my head in the freezer! Found two packages of chicken dumplings we'd bought for New Year's and forgotten about. I made up one package for lunch and they were quite good. Now that's a tiny bit of freezer space freed up and I didn't have to get out of my jammies.

We also had cookies for lunch, of course. There probably wouldn't have been cookies without the pantry challenge. I'd run out of all-purpose flour when I made silver dollar pancakes on Sunday (another thing I tried because of the pantry challenge -- no pancake mix left, but surely I could make them from scratch?) and I didn't want to run to the store for "just one thing" so I looked about for cookie recipes made with white whole wheat flour, found one The Husband would probably eat, and baked delicious cookies.

Now, I know, the charm will wear off at some point and I'll be all "To heck with this! Let's go to Whole Foods and buy all the things!" and that's okay, too, because this challenge isn't about not grocery shopping, it's about making better use of what I have on hand and figuring out what I really use. By the time I have my Whole Foods moment, I'm pretty sure I'll know exactly what I need for an us-appropriate pantry. Right now, it's looking like a lot of Muir Glen tomatoes!


Pantry Challenge Update & Menu Plan: Week 1

I came late to Good Cheap Eat's Pantry Challenge so the first week(end) was mostly just me taking inventory and complaining to myself about my shopping habits. I assure you that, at various points, the air in the kitchen was quite blue and the cats had all taken refuge in the living room as I liberated yet another unexpected canned food from the dusty depths of a cupboard. Some women have a weakness for shoes and cosmetics. I appear to have a weakness for groceries. And it's so easy to justify grocery purchases, you know. Probably much easier than with shoes. A family has to eat, after all, and it would be terrible to open the cupboards one day and find them bare ...

As if that would ever happen in my house.

While I'd written up my weekly menu plan well before deciding to go on the challenge, I still managed to use some things from my inventory:
  • straw mushrooms, 1 can
  • baby corn, 1 can
  • tomato sauce, 1 can
  • bulgur, partial bag
  • boil-n-bag brown rice, 1 packet
Tonight, I had planned to use up two cans of minced clams, an open box of whole grain linguine, and a large can of diced tomatoes to make Betty Crocker's "Linguine with Red Clam Sauce," but my post-work meeting ran long and I was tired so we had Chinese takeout, instead.

Go, me.

Anyway, I just moved Monday's linguine to Wednesday and I'll make a batch of Betty Crocker's "Curried Pumpkin Vegetable Soup" tomorrow morning to take to work since there will be no Monday leftovers for Tuesday's supper.

Pantry Challenge Menu Plan, Week 2:

Betty Crocker's "Curried Pumpkin Vegetable Soup." Ingredients: frozen mixed vegetables, diced tomatoes, curry powder, pumpkin puree, low-sodium fat-free chicken broth, onion, garlic, paprika.

Betty Crocker's "Linguine with Red Clam Sauce" with green beans. Ingredients: tinned clams, 28 oz can whole tomatoes in sauce, garlic, whole grain spaghetti, red pepper flakes, parsley, salt, black pepper.

Leftover linguine with random yoghurt and fruit.

"Betty Crocker's Tex-Mex Beef-Topped Potatoes" with green beans. Ingredients: potatoes, lean ground beef, chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, tomato sauce, chopped green chiles, shredded Mexican cheese blend. (Serve half the filling on two potatoes and save the remaining filling for lunch wraps).

Goya's "Chicken Veracruz" over brown rice with peas. Ingredients: sliced pickled jalapenos, capers, tomato sauce, boneless skinless chicken breasts, adobo, onion, garlic, oregano, cooked rice, lime.

Pantry items to be used this week:
  • tinned clams, 2 cans
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes in sauce, 1 can
  • chipotles in adobo sauce, partial container
  • tomato sauce, 2 cans
  • chopped green chiles, 1 can
  • sliced picked jalapenos, partial container
  • capers, partial container
  • pumpkin, 1 can
  • chicken broth, partial container
  • diced tomatoes, 1 can


Pantry Challenge: I'm On Board

Although I freely admit my lack of sticktoitiveness when it comes to these things, I've decided to join Jessica's Pantry Challenge at Good Cheap Eats because there's just too darn much stuff in my cupboards! Again. I need to start shopping with blinders on so I only see the things we need and not the extra, random things I want. (Although heaven only knows what I wanted with that jar of sorrel packed in brine. I have no idea how to eat it. Heat it? Chill it? Straight from the jar?)

I began this challenge by emptying out my food cupboards and creating a Google spreadsheet listing everything I found therein. While I initially intended this challenge to include the contents of my freezer, too, I found so much stuff in my cupboards that I never made it that far. Indeed, I'm pretty sure there's so much in my pantry that I'll need to do this challenge for more than a month to make a real dent!

And then, maybe, I'll move on to the freezer ...

Looking at my spreadsheet, it's already clear how some things can be used:
Anyway, I'm supposed to have goals for this challenge. Goals ... goals ... goals ...

Yes, cook all the things and end up with a smaller, better-shopped pantry (mostly) full of foods we regularly eat instead of random things that caught my eye.