Pantry Challenge: July 11-31

OK, this one is going to be pretty long since the last time I wrote about July food was the 11th.  Overall I would say that my July pantry challenge went well.  We spent $626 in July, which is a good hundred bucks less than average.  And that’s even with not taking the challenge super seriously.  I didn’t come close to using pantry things up, and I went to the store when I ran out of things.  But even the moderate effort I put out did save us money.

A few things that stuck out to me as I wrote out this list:

— We’ve been eating MUCH more cabbage than usual.  When you harvest a dozen cabbages in one week, you’ve got to do something! Yes, they’ll last several weeks in the fridge.  But even with my family it is a challenge to eat all that.

— Several times I week I deliberately cook enough to serve another meal, so you’ll see repeat meals in quick succession fairly often.  I’m glad my family is OK with leftovers, because they save me a lot of time in the kitchen.  Occasionally something goes to waste, but for the most part we use them efficiently.  (On days when we only have a single serving left of an item, we stick it in the freezer to go into dad’s work-lunch.)

–This month we had a LOT of dessert:  cookies, cake and pie were all over the place!  No wonder I haven’t lost any weight!

–This month we also ate too much cereal, probably because I had boxes and boxes stashed in the pantry.  But now my stash is almost gone, and I’m wishing we’d done a few more oatmeal mornings instead.  It is much more affordable, even compared to on-sale cereal.

OK, so here’s how the meals looked at our house for the last part of July.

July 11

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal, bananas, OJ
  • Lunch: Homemade mac and cheese, carrot sticks
  • Dinner:  Hamburger stroganoff, cabbage slaw

July 12

  • Breakfast: Pancakes and jam, OJ
  • Lunch: homemade mac and cheese (leftover), corn dogs, cookies
  • Dinner:  Beef and snow peas stir-fry on rice, applesauce

July 13

  • Breakfast:  Eggs, toast, OJ
  • Lunch:  Chicken and rice soup, pepperoni pizza muffins
  • Dinner:  Beef/snow pea stir-fry (leftover) and cookies

July 14

  • Breakfast:  Cereal and milk, OJ
  • Lunch: Hummus on tortillas, carrot sticks, applesauce
  • Dinner:  Soft shell tacos with toppings, fresh bread, watermelon

July 15

  • Breakfast:  Eggs, toast, OJ
  • Lunch: Split pea soup and homemade bread
  • Dinner:  Chicken enchiladas, salad, choc. chip cookies

July 16

  • Breakfast: Pancakes, OJ
  • Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Dinner: Beef stew and cornbread

July 17- Sunday

  • Breakfast: cereal and milk
  • Lunch: Hamburgers and oven fries
  • Dinner(FAMILY NIGHT): BBBQ’d ribs, snow peas, cornbread, peach and/or apple pie

July 18

  • Breakfast: Pancakes with jam, OJ
  • Lunch: Homemade split pea soup, pepperoni pizza muffins
  • Dinner: Hamburgers, sauteed cabbage, yellow rice, ice cream and cookies

July 19

  • Breakfast:  Oatmeal with raisins, OJ
  • Lunch:  Beef and cabbage stew, zucchini muffins
  • Dinner:  Fried rice, zucchini muffins, snow peas, raspberries

July 20

  • Breakfast: Cereal and milk
  • Lunch:  Eggs, toast, chocolate milk
  • Dinner:  Garlic grilled shrimp on rice, cabbage salad

July 21

  • Breakfast: Pancakes (from freezer) and OJ
  • Lunch: Tomato tortellini soup, crackers, fresh peas
  • Dinner: Baked potato bar (cheese, sour cream, bacon, etc) and raspberry buttermilk cake

July 22

  • Breakfast: Cereal and milk
  • Lunch:  McDonald’s burgers and ice cream
  • Dinner: Spaghetti, carrots, fresh peas

July 23

  • Breakfast: French toast, jam, and OJ
  • Lunch:  Bagels and cream cheese, Greek pasta salad
  • Dinner (FAMILY NIGHT):  Lasagna, fresh bread, fruit salad, cookies and ice cream

July 24- Sunday

  • Breakfast: Cereal and milk
  • Lunch:  Hamburgers, mashed potatoes, cabbage salad
  • Dinner: Lasagna, salad

July 25

  • Breakfast: Eggs, homemade bread,
  • Lunch: Lasagna, carrot sticks, cookies
  • Dinner: Spaghetti and cabbage slaw

July 26

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal, OJ, toast
  • Lunch:  Peanut butter tortillas, apples, carrots
  • Dinner: Tuna rice casserole, cucumbers, gingersnaps

July 27

  • Breakfast: Pancakes, jam, OJ
  • Lunch: Chinese chicken salad
  • Dinner: Shepherd’s pie, fresh peas, raspberry buttermilk cake

July 28 — Thursday

  • Breakfast: Eggs, toast, OJ
  • Lunch: Chinese chicken salad
  • Dinner:  Sesame peanut noodles and leftover spaghetti

July 29

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal and homemade bread
  • Lunch: Fried rice, watermelon, gingersnaps
  • Dinner: Mozzarella/ tomato/ pasta salad

July 30

  • Breakfast: Pancakes, jam, apricots
  • Lunch:  pasta salad and sesame noodles (leftover)
  • Dinner: Lasagna (from freezer) and salad

July 31- Sunday

  • Breakfast: Cold cereal and milk
  • Lunch: Hamburgers, oven fries, tomatoes
  • Dinner (FAMILY NIGHT): Homemade pizza, watermelon, cucumbers, raspberry cake, ice cream



  1. Mary- I would love to know what food you have success freezing. I do lasagnas/stuffed shells, meat loaf, pancakes, several un-cooked meals for the crock pot, soups/stews…. but would love more ideas! Trying to fill the freezer before #4 arrives this fall.

  2. I haven’t been doing a pantry challenge, but I’ve challenged myself to make a grocery list out a week ahead of time. And it’s working! Woohoo. Not only am I liking the feeling of the plan, my kids (who like to know details of the day) love KNOWING what’s for dinner during breakfast. 🙂
    I noticed that you eat a lot of oatmeal and wanted to pass on this info…which you might already know but someone else reading your blog might be interested in it:
    If you use old fashioned oats, you can soak them overnight to cut down the cooking time in the morning. We use 2 cups oats, so we add 2 cups water and 2 TB of yogurt to soak it in. The yogurt is acidic and helps break down the stuff (haha…so technical) that makes it hard for your body to digest, so it basically starts the digesting for you. All you do in the morning is drain the oats, add the water called for, and cook for a couple of minutes! And the oatmeal just seems to taste even better and fills you up faster.
    Anyway, thanks for your blog. It’s always fun to read what’s going on in your house. 🙂

  3. Mary, I like the idea of keeping a list of the meals served for each day. I can see from viewing your list above that it is easy to spot the variety and the meals served day-to-day, week-to-week.
    For something different with oatmeal in the morning, I started making baked oatmeal every other time I make it. Your morning breakfast resembles ours except for the cereal and milk, can’t remember the last time we had cereal. And I would say we eat farina every third morning.
    The other dish enjoy for supper is Kevin’s casserole (son first made it for family so named after him): one pound browned hamburger (rinse with cold water), one package cooked egg noodles, one can cream of mushroom soup, one can tomato soup, small red onion diced; mix together and serve. Eat with any of your favorite vegetables. Serve with jicama slices (long slices) and melted chocolate for dessert.

  4. I’m just wondering if you make any sauerkraut with all that cabbage? If not, what do you do with it? Can you really eat that much fresh? Do you want my sauerkraut recipe? It’s very simple and it’s actually my mother-in-laws which is why I can’t just tell you right now. I don’t know it off the top of my head. It’s just shredded cabbage and salt in a certain proportion. Way better than store-bought if you’re wondering!

    • Alea, I’d LOVE your sauerkraut recipe!! I’ve made kimchi — also a fermented cabbage– but not sauerkraut.

      • Did you get the recipe? I’ve yet to find one that we like…

        • Yes, here’s the recipe from Alea (haven’t tried it yet.)

          We always use a crock, but you really can use any foodsafe container – 5-15 gallon size. Weigh your cabbage before shredding. Then shred and put in crock. Add 3 tablespoons pickling salt to every 5 pounds of cabbage and mix well (we just use our hands to mix it up). Continue on with more cabbage and salt (and mix all the way to the bottom each time) until the container is as full as you want. It will start juicing on its own as you go. When you’ve got enough you should be able to push down the shredded cabbage and get juice to come up over the top. At this point we usually put a plastic bag over the top of the cabbage and pull it down some over the edge of the crock. Then fill gallon ziplocks with water and put on the plastic bag to push down the cabbage. Store for 3-4 weeks (the book says at 70-75 degrees to allow fermenting). My mother-in-law tests if it’s done by taste, but I think it’s just preference. You occasionally get some mold on the top edges, which we just remove before canning. I know, kinda gross, but it’s from not having a good seal on the top, and the cabbage being out of the juice.

          We cold pack it to can. Just pack the cabbage and juice in jars. We pack them fairly tight and make sure the juice is pretty evenly split between the jars (you can end up with lots of extra juice if you don’t pay attention). Then process in boiling water canner for 10 min (pints) or 15 (qts).

          In Germany they keep it in big barrels in their cellar and just scoop some out when they need it, so canning mostly just stops the fermentation process. The old wives tale part is that you’re supposed to start your sauerkraut at the new moon so that it’s good. Something like that. If it works out we do it that way, if not we don’t!

  5. I am curious what you do on Family Night. We are trying to begin the tradition but having trouble.

    • Hi Angela, We try to get together once a week with our married daughters and their husbands. We eat and watch a movie together, and sometimes play games too. It is my favorite night of the week, just having everyone home together….