Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pantry Challenge

At the beginning of the month I read about trying to use things from the pantry as much as possible instead of grocery shopping like I normally would. I looked through my cupboards and refrigerator to see what I could do. A new month starts in one week and my cupboards are almost bare!

I've been thinking about menu planning, grocery shopping, and budgets. We have a monthly combined budget for groceries (all food, paper supplies, etc), eating out, and coffee. With this challenge I know that we've saved money but I'll be curious to see what happens in February when I restock. I typically do my big grocery shopping at Winco and Walmart every other week but I haven't been there since the middle of December. Shopping in town, I am reminded that things are less expensive at Winco and Walmart if I need to buy in larger quantities. I have a menu I plan for two weeks at a time and supplement if I need milk, bread, or produce at local stores.

When I menu plan, there are certain meals I always do: when Ryan has evening class each week I make breakfast for dinner (simple, good, and easy to clean up). I'd like to add a Friday evening "make your own pizza" and that would be one other "I know what I'm making" meal. I usually use my crock pot once a week, sometimes twice. When I can make one meal and split it into two, I do. I keep a whiteboard in the kitchen and change the menu list every two weeks. I also have a list of possible meals like we like and are easy if something doesn't work out--it is taped inside a cabinet door and it jump starts my cooking if I can't think of something to make. Planning has been such a big help because I know what I need to get out of the freezer the night before or when I need to start a meal in the crock pot.

Here is some of what we did this month:

Su:Salsa Chicken (crock pot meal)
M: Italian Salad with fruit
T: Indonesian Chicken (crock pot meal)
W: Sausage and fruit
Th: Lasagna (freeze 1/2)
S: Out of town
Su: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and fruit
M: Breakfast for dinner
T: Chicken Stir-fry
W: Lasagna (the other 1/2 from the week before)
Th: Meatloaf and mashed potoatoes
F: Leftovers
S: Dinner out
Su: Birthday meal
M: Dinner with family
T: Chicken Soft Tacos
W: Breakfast for dinner
Th: Ham, mashed potatoes
F: Salsa Chicken (crock pot)
S: Dinner with family
Su: Leftovers


Courtney said...

I haven't done the pantry challenge, but Mom and I once inventoried all the food in the pantry and I used it up before getting more. Just remember that your grocery bill might be higher if you run out of everything at once, so budget accordingly.

Try out the quick pizza dough recipe I used from allrecipes:
It takes less than 5 minutes to throw together, and you can just divide it for individual pizzas. Dinner in 30 minutes!

I'd like the Indonesian Chicken recipe. I know you sent the salsa chicken recipe a while ago, and I've yet to try it. I'm realizing how much easier it is to throw things in a crock pot rather than stand in the kitchen chopping, sauteing, boiling, etc. while a 1-year-old runs around me.

Danae said...

Oooh! I need to get some of your crock pot recipes. Since we are a family of four now (that's including the house guests), actually having dinner is imperative.

Courtney said...

Mom came over and we inventoried the pantry again- I did not find a wealth of things to use up. All I had was some rice and half a bag of pasta, so I guess I'm doing pretty well!

I did put chicken & rice casserole and pasta w/ meatballs on the menu for this week. :)