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cynthia mosher 01-15-2013 06:16 AM

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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

cynthia mosher 01-16-2013 12:37 PM

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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

veganmama44 01-16-2013 07:32 PM

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

Crunchy*VT*Mom 01-17-2013 03:49 AM

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.

cynthia mosher 01-17-2013 04:26 AM

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Yay!! joy.gif


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

Crunchy*VT*Mom 01-17-2013 10:47 AM

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.

Crunchy*VT*Mom 01-17-2013 10:52 AM

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.

maia.springgoddess 01-17-2013 11:05 AM


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.

Crunchy*VT*Mom 01-17-2013 04:21 PM



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

delightedbutterfly 01-17-2013 06:25 PM

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!

veganmama44 01-17-2013 06:42 PM

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.

miso happy 01-17-2013 06:57 PM

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!

justmama 01-17-2013 07:53 PM

Pumpkin pancakes are a huge hit at our house!  And I highly highly highly recommend these muffins:  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.  

Crunchy*VT*Mom 01-18-2013 03:52 AM

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 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?

veganmama44 01-18-2013 06:03 AM

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

cynthia mosher 01-18-2013 11:14 AM

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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!

cynthia mosher 01-18-2013 11:21 AM

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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

cynthia mosher 01-18-2013 11:24 AM

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Forgot to ask - has anyone tried 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. 

veganmama44 01-18-2013 02:55 PM

mmmm, this looks yummo

haven't tried supercook. i love everything i have tried from and too smile.gif

veganmama44 01-18-2013 02:55 PM

2x oops

Crunchy*VT*Mom 01-19-2013 03:10 AM

Originally Posted by Cynthia Mosher View Post

Forgot to ask - has anyone tried 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. 


thank you for this!  joy.gif

Crunchy*VT*Mom 01-19-2013 03:14 AM

Originally Posted by Cynthia Mosher View Post

lemon grass paste



This is SOOOOO something I would have in my pantry.  lol.gif


Lemon grass paste is expensive!  You need to use that up

Crunchy*VT*Mom 01-19-2013 03:16 AM

I made crockpot chili last night, butternut squash from the Moosewood book, and today I'm making taco salad.


Goodbye! dried red beans, butternut squash, & refried beans

cynthia mosher 01-19-2013 04:45 AM

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Stir-fried bell peppers and broccoli with peanut butter walnut sauce and brown rice with lentils.


I'm also sprouting my mung beans.

cynthia mosher 01-19-2013 05:15 AM

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I'm liking!


For tonight I'm going to make some lemon garlic pasta and try the Wasabi-Beet Sauce smile.gif 


I'm also going to try the Simple Black Bean Soup

LoveOurBabies 01-19-2013 05:21 AM

Oooo, can I join too?? I don't have much in my pantry, but my fridge is full of vegetables and fruit.. So for me, it will be a fridge challenge. I want to write up a meal plan for the next 7 days but I don't know how to use up some of the food I've got. Anyone have any good ideas for:


Sweet potato

Green beans (20lbs of them)!


I hope to be back with a rough meal plan soon. This is exciting orngbiggrin.gif

justmama 01-19-2013 08:36 PM

Originally Posted by Cynthia Mosher View Post

Forgot to ask - has anyone tried 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. 



No, but that's EXACTLY what I've been looking for.  Seems easier than just generally googling an item trying to find a suitable recipe.  Thank you for that!

justmama 01-19-2013 08:39 PM

I was just given a TON of cherry tomatoes and 2 peppers by my mom so I'm going to use them along with some items in my pantry and freezer to make and can some salsa.  I'll NEVER go through all these tomatoes before they go bad unless I can or freeze them.  Kinda doesn't help me work my way through the pantry by putting up more jars but i'm always grateful for free food!  lol.gif

cynthia mosher 01-20-2013 02:17 AM

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LoveOurBabies, that's a LOT of green beans! yikes.gif


I make a green bean salad that we eat often. It's just steamed green beans with sliced almonds and olives and a French Vinagrette dressing. It keep well in the fridge too. We also roast green beans and serve them in place of fries when we have any meal that normally would have fries. With as many beans as you have I'd probably blanch some and put them in the freezer or instead of blanching you could try this:


Sweet potato - we love them baked or cubed and steamed. And sweet potato pie is wonderful!


We are making a lot of potato soup lately. Often it's a mix - potato and pumpkin, potato and butternut squash, potato and carrot. And they freeze well so it makes for an easy lunch or dinner. smile.gif

JunebugsMom 01-20-2013 02:09 PM

Jumping in late here because I'd like to make it the rest of the month without going to the grocery store (except for produce and milk, probably).



stir fry veggies

ham pieces

green peas



turkey bacon

shredded zucchini




hard taco shells

dried garbanzos


gf pasta

alfredo sauce

regular spaghetti

GF bisquick

white beans

pinto beans

pizza sauce (2)

crab (2)

salmon (2)

black beans

cranberry sauce


spanish rice mix

GF pizza crust mix (x2)

refried beans

1 butternut squash



dinner ideas for the rest of the month

1. baked chicken breasts, broccoli, rice

2. California rolls

3. pork tacos

4. lentil soup with ham

5. southwestern chicken breasts

6. white chicken chili

7. pasta with alfredo sauce and peas

8. salmon cakes, corn, potatoes

9. honey baked lentils, rice, swiss chard

10. GF pancakes, eggs, turkey bacon

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