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January Pantry Challenge - come join in!

post #1 of 80
Thread Starter 

We've had several pantry challenge threads here and in other forums. I thought it might be a good idea to run a monthly challenge so we can encourage each other and get ideas to make it work.


For those new to a pantry challenge, it's basically a challenge to “eat from the pantry” instead of buying more food.  Focus on what you already have and try to build meals and menus around ingredients you've avoided using or are just sitting in your cabinet unused. Sometimes it may be something that takes time to prepare so you may be pushing it in the back of the cabinet to avoid that time drain.  Or maybe it's such a simple ingredient you've had a hard time coming up with what to do with it. A pantry challenge will push you into using those items, clearing out your cabinet, saving on the grocery bill for the month, and help you decide what NOT to buy in the future. 


Personally, I'm going to be taking an inventory of my pantry and my freezer to see what is sitting in there unused to get an idea of what I have to work with. Then I can come up with some meal ideas and try to avoid the grocery store.


Anyone interested in taking the pantry challenge? orngbiggrin.gif

post #2 of 80
Thread Starter 

No one up for the challenge? I'm working on my pantry inventory right now. Hoping someone will join in! love.gif Should we make a contest out of this? orngbiggrin.gif

post #3 of 80
i have had lentils in my pantry that i have been meaning to us forever. so tomorrow its lentil soup with crusty homemade no knead bread smile.gif
post #4 of 80

Cynthia -- I'm IN.


Starting today...I'm going to make an inventory of what is in my freezer and pantry and see how many days I can go without going to the grocery store.


Also -- I'll be listing everything I have in the pantry as of January 17, 2013 and seeing how many days it takes me to cross everything off that list.  (It usually takes me about two months...but my pantry is pretty low right now).  After everything is crossed off, I'll go refill it but with fresh items with longer expiration dates.

post #5 of 80
Thread Starter 

Yay!! joy.gif


I'm still working on my pantry and freezer inventory (keep getting pulled away to other things). This should be fun!! :)

post #6 of 80

Okay -- I need to reassess how I'm going to go about this challenge.


Nix the idea of seeing how long I can go without going to a grocery store...fifteen minutes into inventorying all the things in my pantry I realized I needed to go to the grocery store in order to USE the things in my pantry.


Like I had the clams, but not the linguine.


I had the Thai curry, but not the coconut milk.


I had refried beans and salsa, but nothing else to make tacos.




I did a complete inventory of my pantry, figured out the things I would need to make my pantry meals "whole" and then went to the grocery store.


$200 later....I think I'm ready to tackle this. 

At first I was all grumbling  irked.gif  thinking Cynthia's pantry challenge was costing me MONEY


But our grocery budget is way over $1,000 a month so $200 for a bunch of meals is NOTHING.  And those things in the pantry would have sat there for another few months if I hadn't jumped on board with this. 


So now...let the challenge begin.  I'm ready.

post #7 of 80

I have around 40 items on my inventory list -- my goal for this challenge is to cross all those things off the list.


I have more than 40 things in my pantry...but these are 40 things that just never seem to get eaten.  I don't need to write peanut butter and jelly down, even though my pantry is full of that stuff, because my kids eat that willingly.


Refried beans...not so willingly.


So I have 40 offenders...items that have overstayed their welcome in the pantry and it is time for them to earn their keep.

post #8 of 80

These are all pretty small quantities, but nevertheless...things that have been sitting in my pantry for over six months and this is great incentive to clear out as I have very little food storage space.

Black beans
Pinto beans
Cannellini beans
Red lentils
Wild rice
Pumpkin (also have a second pumpkin cooked and frozen)
Coconut milk
Cornbread mix

I'm thinking meals this week can include beans/cornbread and either pumpkin/coconut soup or pumpkin muffins. Need to find a good recipe for the kasha, though. I am not too excited about the flavor.
post #9 of 80



My Goal =  Cross Everything off this list. 

Start date  = January 17th, 2013   


Canned Pumpkin   1 2 3 4 5

Szechuan Sauce

Thai Curry + Coconut Milk  1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Veggie Stock  1 2 3

Oyster Sauce

Fish Sauce

Yeast Packets   1  2  3 

Sesame Seeds

Champagne Vinegar

White Wine Vinegar



Fridge & Freezer


Pork Chops

Chicken Thighs   1  2  3  4

Turkey Legs in a bag

Turkey Parts in a bag

Ground Turkey   1  2  3  4

Chicken Breasts  1  2  3  4  5 

Peppers in a bag


WW Rotini

Refried Beans

Shiitake Mushrooms

Thin Spaghetti 1 2 3

Canned Clams

Boves Sauce

Spicy Bean Sauce

Ham Bone

Zucchini in a bag

Pie Crusts 1 2




Lentil Hummus

Pork Loin

Pork cut up for Stir Fry

Butternut Squash 1 2

Beef Stew Packet

Sprouting Seeds

Rice Wine

WW Penne Pasta

Edited by Crunchy*VT*Mom - 2/3/13 at 9:35am
post #10 of 80
Crashing the thread to say Pumpkin has featured BIG in our pantry/baking lately... Especially in a GF Pumpkin swirl cheesecake which we've made twice recently and is OUT.OF.THIS.WORLD!

I am totally wanting to try pumpkin pancakes now!
post #11 of 80
we LOVE refried beans here! we had refried bean and spanish rice burritos last night and lentil soup tonight with homemade bread. i haven't taken inventory, but i will try to only shop for the fresh stuff until my pantry is bare smile.gif i know i have a ton of flour, beans, pasta, spices and brown rice. i have a can of beets that has been there for FIVE years!?! and will probably be there for another 5.
post #12 of 80

I LOVE pumpkin pancakes!


Well you all will either think this is very wasteful or very resourceful but the kids and I made wreaths with the dried beans, peas, and lentils.  We cut out the middle of paper plates and brushed glue around them and then added the beans.  I put the all the different beans in different bowls.  It was amazing how many I only had a half cup or so of.  They came out really pretty!

post #13 of 80

Pumpkin pancakes are a huge hit at our house!  And I highly highly highly recommend these muffins: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2006/10/promise-keeper-pumpkin-eater/  Every single person who has ever tried them in the 2 year si've been baking them has loved them and begged for the recipe.  Every kid I've had over the house has adored them.  They are a staple in our house for breakfasts with friends.  I literally still have 28cups of pumpkin to use.  

post #14 of 80

What do you make with butternut squash?  I need ideas.


Used a butternut squash last night -- a squash STILL in our pantry from last summer.  Those things last forever.


But I can't cross it off the list because there is still another one waiting to be used.  My 40 things are categories of things...so when I use all the butternut squashes I'll cross it off.


I'm at a loss.  They sit there forever because other than soup (and I've never found a recipe for that soup that I like) I don't know what to do with them.  We are given these squashes as part of our farm share.  That's why they are there.


Any suggestions?

post #15 of 80
VTmom, i just cut them in half roast them in in a hot oven with olive oil salt and pepper. they lose some of their water so they get less icky (babyfood) and more potatoey. HTH smile.gif
post #16 of 80
Thread Starter 

I make butternut squash soup! I Boil it with some carrots and seasoning as desired or in a vegetable stock. I add a little maple syrup to it sometimes to round out the flavor. Delicious!

post #17 of 80
Thread Starter 

Okay, here's my list of pantry items to use:


dried pinto beans

dried black beans

canned black beans

dried mung beans





brown rice

wild rice

assorted pasta

masa harina


pasta sauce (not that great so needs fixin' up)

can of coconut cream

kitchen bouquet

pineapple chunks



walnuts  (used half)

canned sweet peas

lite fruit cocktail

canned tomatoes

tomato paste

black olives

wasabi sauce

lemon grass paste

spring roll wrappers

corn meal (lots of it)

canned sweet corn

canned creamed corn


To go with this I have:


bell peppers








small pumpkin

butternut squash


frozen vegetable ravioli


Now I have to come up with some meals to use those pantry items. sulkoff.gif

post #18 of 80
Thread Starter 

Forgot to ask - has anyone tried Supercook.com? It's supposed to be a recipe search engine that finds recipes you can make with the ingredients you have on hand. You just start adding ingredients you have. The more ingredients you add, the better results you will get - they say. 

post #19 of 80
mmmm, this looks yummo http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-butternu-15729.

haven't tried supercook. i love everything i have tried from mouthwateringvegan.com and fatfreevegan.com too smile.gif
post #20 of 80
2x oops
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