A couple of my favorite blogs initiated an "eating from the pantry challenge" for the month of January. When I first read of it, my initial reaction was "Thanks, but no thanks" and I didn't give it a second thought. Then, about a week ago I was wading through our back room. I use the term wading because that it literally what it is like - we have so much food and household supplies in our back room that I can't even begin to organize it. There is just so much stuff. It's all stuff that we use, and it's all stuff that I bought at rock bottom prices, so there's nothing to feel bad about. Plus, our church advises that each family have a year supply of food and household supplies. And we are no where close to a year's supply of food! Well, except for granola bars, we have a 2 year supply of those! So, despite not having space, I still feel the need to stock up when the price is right, after all, it's what the Prophet has counseled. *sigh* But, I have finally come to terms with the fact that our little house simply cannot hold a year supply of food and our family - it's one or the other and we've got no where else to go, so the food it is.
So, I decided to follow my blogging leaders on their culinary adventure. Now that doesn't mean that we are going to strictly live off of what's in our house - I plan on buying fresh produce and dairy this month and that's about it. I will probably succumb to some rock bottom deals and venture outside of the basics, but, the bottom line is that I want to keep our grocery bill under $100 this month.
My biggest goal this month is to use up a lot of the odds and ends we have around here (like the 10 open bottles of different salad dressings in the fridge - I'm not joking!). I've come up with a menu plan for the first 2 weeks and things are looking pretty good so far (no mustard and pickle sandwiches ;) Here's the menu for the first 2 weeks (some we've already made):
Meals already made:
Appetizers (not really part of the challenge, but we grazed on yummy appetizers on New Years Day)
Steak with Baked potatoes (using my $.98 Chef's Request Steaks) and roasted broccoli
Apple Pecan pancakes with pumpkin butter and green smoothies
Macaroni & Cheese with ham and broccoli
Southern Style Chicken Sandwiches
My version of Outback Steak House's Alice Springs Chicken
My version of the Olive Garden Tuscana soup (in the freezer) with sourdough bread (that I will make myself if I ever remember to buy cheesecloth!)
Lemon chicken stir fry with rice noodles
Chicken fingers (with crushed up potato chips) and onion rings
Chicken Poppy seed pasta salad (Not really a winter dish, but I gotta use the salad dressing)
The Best Pot Roast
Spaghetti & Meatballs (Fred's request after watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs last night)
French Toast with pumpkin butter (I made a lot of pumpkin butter!)
Cafe Rio sweet pork salad (I have the pork in the freezer leftover from the last time)
Really, looking at what we have on hand, we could do this eating from the pantry challenge for 2 months before it really begins to stretch us too far. But, I don't want our stockpile to get too low - I'd hate to actually have to pay full price for things. *gasp* Really, the only reason it's possible to live (and eat well) on $100 this month is because I have a lot of food on hand, thanks to some serious couponing. Without coupons $100 would leave us eating a lot of beans and rice. I am so thankful for all the wonderful coupon blogs out there that have helped me save so much money! I've been hard core couponing for almost a year now and it has really paid off. Our family has gone from spending $400 / month for all groceries (food, toiletries, cleaning, diapers etc) and having no food storage. To spending $200 / month for everything and having a size-able food storage. What a blessing!
Sorry for that tangent...back to the point of this post: eating from the pantry - I'm excited for this challenge and the creativity it will take to use up some of the things we have around here. Hopefully I'll stop being a slacker and post some of the recipes over on my other blog (No, there's nothing wrong with your eyes, it really has been 5 months since I've posted). I'm especially looking forward to clearing out some space around here so that I can get my stockpile more organized. Yes, this is going to be good for me.