Pantry Challenge & Menu Plan 07/09–07/15


Baked Potato Soup

I’m sure you all are wondering how we did this past week?  Well, we actually did very well! I went through both refrigerators to see what needed to be used up &, for the most part, had very little that I just could not get incorporated into our meals before it went bad.  The few things that I found to be trying to push their usage, I fed to the chickens before it did go bad.  (No, I do not feed my chickens food that is bad, I promise.  They’re some of the post spoiled birds on the plant!)


So, what did we eat for the rest of the weeks?  Let’s see.  We had: Beef tips & rice, roasted chicken with veggies, wings in homemade BBQ sauce, fresh corn on the cob, homemade seasoned fries, baked potatoes with assorted toppings, & homemade baked potato soup using roasted potatoes!  Yum!

I’m sure you’re wondering, “why all the potatoes?”  Well, I had several potatoes that were starting to look less than stellar that I knew would not last much longer, so I made sure to incorporate them as much as possible. I only had 4 that I had to throw out, & those would’ve had to go out anyway since they were bad in the center.  But, they didn’t actually go out.  They will be going into my compost bin!  See, they still had use, just the original intended purpose.  I was also able to use up the last of our fresh mushrooms!  They meals also made enough for at least Brian to have some to take to work for his, and a couple of times a little more was left so that we, too, could enjoy them the next day.


I did, however, have to go to the store for more milk, bacon, Worcestershire sauce, mixed salad greens, dates, mushrooms & heavy whipping cream.  (I also picked up a water & can of Pringles since Melia was with me & had not eaten – cheaper than drive thru). I spent $45.56 more out of our $400 budget, which leaves me with $224.18 for the month.


Side note:  I forgot to mention that we have a birthday in the family this week, so that many constitute a meal out, which I will not count against us since will we be doing something fun with the birthday girl & will not be close to home.  I will, however, pack snack foods for us to munch on!



Now, that we’ve caught up on how we did, here’s our menu plan for this coming week.



  • smoothies
  • homemade yogurt with fruit and/or granola
  • hard boiled eggs
  • banana bread
  • homemade muffins (?)
  • pancakes/waffles



  • leftovers
  • sandwiches
  • fresh fruits/veggies



  • Homemade Cheeseburger Mac (Monday)
  • Chicken Caesar Salad
  • Tacos with homemade whole wheat tortillas
  • Leftovers
  • Crock Pot ™ Chicken & potatoes
  • Pizza – homemade (for birthday girl & guests)
  • Possible meal out – if not, I’ll figure out something


Now, that week #1 is done & we’ve done fairly well, I’m definitely ready for week #2.  This week, I’ll also have my dehydrator & canner going. I’ll be working on mushrooms, cherries, potatoes, carrots & garlic.  Check back periodically for updates, especially around Monday/Tuesday when I’ll update on how our week went!


Post Linked To: Organizing Junkie

Confessions of our frugal failure & Our Personal Challenge….




I’ve briefly mentioned that our family is working our way to eating more whole/real foods.  Well, I’ll admit that we’re having a harder time than I thought breaking our old habits.  Granted, we had already started  eating less store packaged/canned foods & had been doing this for a while, but over the last year, we’ve managed to fall back into some old habits of not planning ahead enough that we’re not stopping to grab something “quick” to eat through a drive-thru a couple of times a week.  Being a frugal person, this always kills me to know how much we were spending each time our family of 5 did this, but I was  at a loss as how to stop this vicious cycle since our schedule would remain the same for quite some time.  I know better.  I think we’ve all fallen back into bad habits & then felt at a loss as to how to get back out of them again.  Right? 


Well, Brian & I were discussing this very thing yesterday & have decided that we have GOT to change things.  And we’re going to to just that.  Since I do the majority of the grocery shopping & cooking of meals, I know I can do this.  I just have to change my thinking again & get back into my frugal mindset.  I love cooking/baking for my family, so this is not a problem.  The problem comes in when I don’t plan ahead and make the best use of my time to prioritize making sure that dinner is always prepared ahead of time so that I can either throw it together quickly that evening or in the Crock Pot™ in the morning. 

So, for the rest of the month of July, we are going to pledge to not eat out and to keep our grocery budget, including mostly whole/real foods (with as much as possible from the farmer’s market).  Our normal grocery budget for our family of 5 is around $400/month.  I try to keep under this as much as possible and would love to get it down to $300 during the summer months with all the fresh fruits & veggies available playing a more vital role in our meals.  This is always an issue since I have a husband & 2 out of 3 kids that prefer to have meat & potatoes over fresh fruits & veggies.   This amount will no include our bulk food order that we will place at the end of the month.  Since we are still trying to build up our whole grains, healthy oils, etc., this is still planned for separately.   I also do not use coupons since most of what I buy is either Aldi’s store brand, dairy, fresh/frozen fruits/veggies, or from the Dollar Tree™ (toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoos, etc.).  That being said, we should be able to easily stay under our budgeted $400.   So far this month, I’ve spent $105.26 on:

10 lb russet potatoes

10 lb frozen chicken breasts/thighs

10 lb frozen wings

3 gal milk

4 lb carrots

2 bunches of celery

3 lb onions

4 pints blueberries

3 green bell peppers

10 (8 oz) blocks cheese (different varieties)

4 bags frozen peaches(for smoothies)

3 qts. Heavy whipping cream

1 small container of Greek yogurt (to use as starter for my homemade yogurt)

1 bunch romaine lettuce

1/2 gal buttermilk


Yesterday, I went to the farmer’s market & spent $25 on:

fresh corn on the cob




Grand total for the month so far:  $130.26.

What we’ve eaten so far this week:  Taco salad, spaghetti with sauce with fresh mushrooms

Plans for the rest of the week: Still up in the air, but I’m planning to use some of the chicken I just bought as well as some beef we already have (a grass-fed beef we had slaughtered last fall), plus some of the fresh corn, carrots, mushrooms, etc. 

I will need to pick up some more lettuce at some point because I plan to incorporate a few more salads during this hot weather.  I want to keep my oven/stove time down to a minimum to keep from heating the house up any more than necessary.  I will also be utilizing my Crock Pot™ as much as possible, which I will set outside on the back porch to cook so that it will heat up the outside & not the house.


July Goals/Challenge Recap:

  • No eating out
  • All Brian’s lunches will be from home (he will have a small allowance for picking up drinks on the way home this week & next week since he is working 3rd shift & sometimes needs a little boost to get him home – this will not be included, but I will track it)
  • Utilize the Farmer’s Market for fresh fruits/veggies
  • Keeping at or below our budget of $400.
  • Pack snacks to take in the car if I think we’re going to be gone long enough for everyone to become hungry
  • Buy as little prepackaged items as possible, including fruits/veggies in the stores with their plastic packaging, to keep down on waste



One thing I haven’t really discussed, but should, is the fact that our local county FINALLY has a decent recycling program!  Now, instead of just paper, cardboard, some glass, & cans, we can recycle most plastics, glass, etc.  It’s wonderful seeing more than half of our waste going to recycling now like it should instead of just to the landfill.  I always tried to reduce/reuse/recycle as much as possible, but I can only do so much.  Now, we should average about 1 bag of garbage to every 2 bags of recycling.  I also now have a compost bin (Yay!), so I’m hoping to continue to reduce our waste even more!  There is so much that is either recyclable or compostable that our waste should be almost nothing. 

So, follow my family & I as we embark on this journey & challenge.  We’ve done it before & used to be very good at it, so I know we can do it again!

Grocery Challenge Time Again!


After several months of things just being crazy around here, I’m going to try lower our grocery spending once again.  My goal is to keep our spending between $250-$300 for the month of June.  This will include all edible groceries.  Nonedible groceries (i.e. paper product, storage, bags, etc.) should be under $30/month, but that’s all that I’m allowing for that.  I’ll be keeping you posted on how well I do this month!


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July Grocery Shopping – Weeks 3 & 4

My grocery budget for the month of July is $300. So far, I’ve spent $182.44. I did not have to go shopping the week of July 13th, so that really helped me to stretch my grocery budget!

Here’s what I got last week and over the weekend (sorry – no photos this week).

Sam’s Club:

50 lb sugar
5 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
5 lb shredded mild cheddar cheese

Piggly Wiggly:

1 box gallon storage bags
2 (12 oz) bags white baking chips
1 bottle orange extract
4 pieces of candy


5 lb container Country Time Lemonade
2 lb butter
3 (5 oz) boxes Jell-O
4 (2.5 oz) boxes Jell-O
5 Totino pizzas
4 gal. Green Tea
4 gal. Milk

Total (w/ tax): $99.73

Total for the month of July: $282.17

Total left in budget: $17.83

I do still need to get potatoes, but it shouldn’t be too much.

**UPDATE: Brian picked up 20 lbs of potatoes at the store for me last night and spent $6.45.

New total for the month: $ 288.62

New total left in budget: $11.38

Not bad!!

Don’t forget to check out The Grocery Cart Challenge to see how everyone has done this week!

July Grocery Shopping – Week 2

I got to go back to Kroger this week!  It was so nice to be able to get some really awesome deals this week.  


Here’s what I got at Kroger:

4 gal. milk $9.52
6 lb carrots $2.34
10 boxes pasta $8.80
12 (16 oz.) bags frozen veggies $10.56
1 ltr bottle diet green tea (for Brian) $1.25
Subtotal $43.29
Savings (24%) $10.82
Tax $2.52
Total $34.99

Here’s what I got at Wal-Mart:

3 boxes cake mix $2.31
2 boxes snack crackers $2.96
4 packs tortilla shells $4.08
1 bag almond slivers      $3.98
4 containers cream cheese spread      $6.92
4 gal. Green Tea       $11.92
Subtotal:  $30.17
Tax:          $2.26
Total:        $32.43
Grand Total:      


Total so far for July $182.44

I did purchase some food items for Katie’s birthday party, but I budget separately for those so they are not included in the above total. 

It’s going to be a little close this month, but I still think I can pull off a $300 budget!  Our meals should mainly be out of the pantry/freezer, and there is very little else that I really need to pick up for the rest of the month except for fresh fruits/veggies and milk.   So, we’ll see what happens!

This post is linked to Grocery Cart Challenge. Don’t forget to check out how everyone else did this week!

July Grocery Shopping – Week 1 (Update)

I’m trying again this month to feed my family of 5 for $300 or less.

Here’s what I bought this week:




Piggly Wiggly:

  • 1 gallon milk (not pictured) $2.99
  • 10 packages Cream Cheese (on sale for $0.99/each) $9.90

Sam’s Club:

  • 8 lb butter $13.16
  • Glad trash bags $11.88
  • 7 lb powdered sugar $4.39
  • 6 lb peanut butter $7.22


  • 2 gal Milk $5.30
  • 1 gal Vanilla Milk (for ice cream) $8.16
  • 1/2 gal buttermilk $1.95
  • 2 gal Lipton Green Tea $5.96
  • 20 lb potatoes $6.00
  • Vanilla wafers $2.00
  • Napkins $1.66
  • Plastic spoons $2.28
  • 2 bxs Vanilla pudding mix $2.00
  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk $3.12  (Ouch!)
  • 2.4 lb fresh cherries $4.80
  • 2.09 lb bananas $1.05
  • 2 cantaloupe $3.00
  • celery $1.36
  • 6 lb yellow onions $4.56
  • Sour cream $1.06
  • Whipped topping $2.94

Tax: $9.10

Total OOP: $115.02

Saved:  $9.00

It’s more than I had planned on spending this week, but we had a last minute cookout with my mother-in-law and father-in-law, and we decided to make banana pudding and homemade ice cream, so that constituted a few purchases that I had not initially planned on.  Next weekend, we’ll have another get together because it’s Katie’s birthday so some of these items will be put aside for that.  And, 8 of the packages of cream cheese went into the freezer.  I can’t remember the last time I found it that low around here!  All in all, I don’t think that it was too bad.   I should still be able to stay under $300 for the month. 

Don’t forget to check out the Grocery Chart Challenge to see how everyone else is doing this week.

July Grocery Budget Challenge!!

Here we go again! New month = starting over in the budget! I love it when the month starts over because you get a chance to wipe the slate clean and start all over again!

I challenged myself last month to only spend $300 on groceries for the month of June, and I ended up spending $ 296.69. I came in $3.31 UNDER budget! Woohoo! I’m so proud of myself! I’m definitely going to do it again this month!

Here’s what I have planned to help me stay in/under budget:

  • since I make most everything from scratch, coupons don’t do a lot to lower my budget, but I’ll use what I can
  • continue to bake/make as much as possible from scratch
  • continue to plan a weekly menu
  • continue look for marked down items such as fruits, veggies, dairy items, dented cans, etc.
  • shop at home first
  • make do with what I already have on hand
  • use it up and wear it out! let nothing go to waste!

I’m also going to challenge myself to make sure and post pics and the breakdown of what I buy so that way I can keep up with my spending even better. So keep watching this month and let’s see how well I do! Why don’t you join me?! How low can you go this month?