May 26, 2016

A June food challenge

In May 2013, Jerry and I realized we were spending way too much money on groceries. Luckily, we have a pretty big pantry, but we were being kind of wasteful with our food, and we only actually used about half the items in the pantry on a regular basis.

At the time, we had a pantry full of food, and decided to see if we could go an entire month without buying any groceries (milk, eggs, and fresh produce were the only things we were "allowed" to buy). It was actually a really fun challenge! We had to get really creative toward the end of the month (by "we", I mean "I", since I was doing the cooking) and made some interesting meals, but we completed the challenge.

(Oooh, I had forgotten about the homemade English muffins I made until I linked to that post above. They were delicious! I think I'll make some of those soon.)

Anyway, we are back in the same predicament--too much food in the pantry, yet we're still grocery shopping. So, we're going to do the challenge again, starting yesterday! I didn't do "one last shopping trip" at the grocery store, stocking up on our favorites, either. What we have is what we'll be using until the end of June.

This morning, I got up pretty early, so I decided to look through the kitchen and start listing some meals I could make right now without buying a single thing. I was surprised at just how many things we could make!

Baked oatmeal
Meatballs with mashed potatoes
Shrimp fried rice
Black bean enchiladas
Beans and rice
Black bean soup
Navy bean and ham soup
Turkey burgers
Parmesan-crusted tilapia
Fish sandwiches
Chipped beef on toast
French onion meatballs
Grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Tuna noodle casserole
Cheese grits with an egg
Cereal with milk
Roasted tomato and garlic soup with barley
Egg scramble
Breakfast burritos
Fettuccine alfredo
Homemade pizza
Spanish rice with sausage
Lentil chili
Baked ziti
Gnocchi with vodka sauce
French toast

...that was just what I came up with in a matter of about 10 minutes. Last night, I made Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal for dinner, because I had some bananas that I needed to use before they went bad--it was delicious! (I've also tried her Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal, and I loved that one as well)

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal drizzled with peanut butter
I might make some banana muffins for breakfast, too. When deciding what to make during this type of challenge, I try to make things that include the perishables first, so we don't waste anything. Toward the end of the month, I can use up the frozen and canned things.

My favorite part about doing a challenge like this is making things that are out of our typical meal rotation. There are foods I love that I always forget about making until I don't really have a choice (like grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches).

I wish I could remember the recipe that I used to make bread during the last challenge (I didn't even buy loaves of bread last time--I made bread from scratch every couple of days!). The bread that I made was really good for sandwiches. I'll have to dig around my blog and see if I linked to it somewhere. (ETA: I found a picture of it that I posted, but I didn't link to the recipe... if any of you know of a good white sandwich bread recipe that looks similar to the picture below, please share!)

When I told Jerry about doing this challenge again, he was really excited--until I reminded him of the fact that we didn't even buy alcohol last time ;) We currently have three bottles of wine and a few beers, so we're going to have to save those for special days.

Looking through my blog to find that bread recipe made me realize that I used to post about food pretty frequently! It's kind of fun to browse through and remember the different things I used to eat, or recipes I tried. Like I said, I had forgotten about the English muffins, and they were so good! Kind of a lot of work for an English muffin, but the recipe makes 10, so they last a while.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to our challenge!


  1. What a good idea! I struggle with letting food go to waste and I like the idea of getting creative and using what's in my cupboard and refrigerator. Those recipes look really yummy too.

  2. Check out Bob's Red Mill bread flour. He has a great bread recipe on the back of the flour bag. It's really good. I use the recipe a lot. -Tiffany

  3. On this 2013 post you explained the bread in the last comment:


    1. Thank you!!! It never occurred to me to check the comments. I'm going to make some this weekend :)

  4. That's a cool idea! I'm looking forward to hearing some of the ways you use up your pantry during the month. lol I can't believe the list of stuff you could make right now. We are fulltime rv'ers and pantry space is at a premium so no way we could live for a month on what I have in my cupboards. haha

    1. I wish that we were like that--it's kind of embarrassing to see how much food we have in the house!

  5. I remember that english muffin recipe -- I made it a bunch of times and they were delicious. I'll have to make them again soon, too. Thanks for the reminder. We start our CSA next week, so I'll be looking for vegetable recipes soon. Lots and lots of vegetable recipes.

  6. This is such a great idea. My husband and I are the same way. We have a huge pantry, go grocery shopping every week, and have a lot of stuff in there. You've inspired me to organize the pantry today (I'll admit it's a disaster!), and make a list of everything I could make without even goi g to the store!

  7. Great idea. Can you share the English muffin recipe? Thanks

  8. I love this idea and have tried to do it in the past but never make it. I just made a huge grocery store trip and think I'm going to give this a try for the month of June. I'm excited to see what you make (especially the french onion meatballs!).

  9. Good timing you're doing this- I've been evaluating how to be better about cooking/not eating out or wasting money on food. Yesterday at work I thought, "crap! I didn't take anything out for dinner" but then I remembered I had some fresh spinach tortellini in the fridge, and if I defrosted some ground beef and added it to a jar of sauce...dinner! I get in a rut of not branching out recipe/meal wise so I'd love if you post more about it.

  10. We'd maybe last a week lol. I don't have much storage space so I don't have a lot stocked up.

  11. I love food post. I get so bored with my meals. This seems like a fun challenge. I cannot wait to see how you do.

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  13. I need to do this too!! We are going to remodel our kitchen and basically need to clean everything out. Good luck on your challenge! xo Kelly

  14. Bravo for your June plan! We are doing the exact same thing here except it's because we will be away for a long stretch this summer and need to clear out the cupboards. I have bags of dry beans, chickpeas, bulgur wheat and canned beets (all of which were bought in a whirl of motivation) to get through as well as a ton of rice - so I'm looking forward to your posts on rice! I discovered a cooking blog called budget bytes ( some time ago and use it as a yummy way to keep the grocery bill down. You might want to check it out if you don't already know it. My only problem with your plan is the lack of access to fresh food - fruit and vegetables mainly - which are a big part of how I tow the line on eating healthily, not to mention I'm making baby food for a ten month old. How do you get around not eating fresh food?

    1. You must have missed up at the top, where I said the only exceptions are eggs, milk, and fresh produce :) By the way, I love Budget Bytes! I follow BB on Pinterest.


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