Friday, February 5, 2016

Pantry Challenge: The Final Week (And Final Thoughts)

The Pantry Challenge has been a favorite of bloggers included. I hope you've been trying it, too.

The aim: to live just on what's in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry for a month -- implemented on a little extra, if any. In my case, I aimed to stay within $5-10 weekly, to cover milk and dairy stuff. 

Except for one week (and I blame Safeway for that), it's been a success. 

My final receipt:   $7.88. 

      That paid for two gallons of whole milk ($1.99 each) plus a pound of butter. (Just started the second gallon on the final day, so technically, I guess I could argue it doesn't count.) The milk got stretched with the addition of 4 cups of water in each gallon, turning it into 2%, instead.
     The difference between that and the ten-spot meant I covered the Brick's purchases.

Meals done --

     boiled or scrambled eggs with toast (butter and peach jam), bacon, ham or bratwurst
     monkey balls  (roll dough pinched into balls, rolled in butter, then a mixture of sugar & cinnamon, and baked. The name's origin? It's from 'monkey bread'...but the Brick jumped to a different conclusion.)

     the rest of the brownies, flan (from a box), a spice cake (from a Depression Era cookbook -- coming soon to the food blog), ice cream, oranges, cookies (spice thins, from a package in the Brick's Christmas stocking),  frozen burritos, popcorn, leftovers

    Chopped/sliced potatoes, carrots, celery and cheese sausage, simmered in chicken broth and topped with a big spoonful of sour cream (delicious, by the way)
    Hamburger Helper 'cheesy enchilada,' made with venison
                    (not so good -- but the chickens loved it)
    Split pea soup (goodby, hambone) and homemade rolls
    Wet burritos -- made with the remainder of the pork/green chili/tomatoes dish from last week, topped with enchilada sauce and cheese, then baked    (the Brick's contribution - wonderful)
Tonight's meal:  spaghetti with sliced celery, onions and canned clam sauce. Plus crackers and a can of shrimp/salmon pate...which looks surprisingly like cat food. (Charley the dog thinks so, too...but he'd eat anything.)

Our shelves are looking a little empty. Our freezer is definitely looking less crowded. We had a healthy leftover balance in the checking account, once bills were paid, as well. 

     So what did I learn?

*It's easy to trot off to the grocery store when I need 'a little something.' Which often turns out to be more. Operating under the "tomorrow" philosophy helps('I'll get that tomorrow, if I really need it.')

*I am more of a packrat, grocery-wise, than I would like to admit to. Some of the box mixes, especially, were a year or more old. Which also points out:

*I seem to be growing away from using ready-made sauces and mixes. They grow old on the shelf while I'm fooling around with sour cream, cheese, spices and the veggies I have on hand. (The exceptions: nasi goreng, an Indonesian spice mix that does incredible things with hamburger, and Trader Joe's green curry sauce. My family would kill for that sauce.)

*Canned soup, on the other hand, is a godsend. Whack it open, heat it up -- and with a sandwich or cheese & crackers, you've got a satisfying meal.

*The venison's tastier if it simmers for a while. In a strongly-flavored sauce, or with hours of cooking, it's great. If I try to fry it up at the last minute...not so good.

*The potatoes are finally receding. Our dumpster-diving neighbors regularly bring by five pounds or more of these tasty tubers...and they start to add up. Eating a lot of potatoes this month has helped. So has microwaving and taking them out to the chickies. (They loved them.)

*We eat a LOT of eggs. But when they're coming from your own backyard...why not?

I'll probably keep on watching my grocery purchases for a while -- there's still more to use up. But I feel much better about wasting even less of our available Stuff. As cousin Joy says:

It's all good.



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