Kitchen Challenge

If you read the blog recently Kalissa and I are working together on a kitchen challenge.  Both of us have full cupboards and full freezers and want to use things up.

Our goal is to only spend $100 on groceries from April 15th to May 15th.  We aren’t allowed to buy meat and we both want to focus on using that money on perishable products like milk, fruits, and veggies.

I’ve been doing good on my kitchen challenge.  I’ve been working hard to try to plan meals around what I have and what I can use up.

I have frozen cut-up peppers and onions that I’d like to have used up before the next garden season.  So…I made some Peppered Steak in the Instant Pot.  Karl was here and we were doing yard work.  Early in the day, I had put all the ingredients into the Instant then a half hour before we wanted to eat I went in the house and turned it on.

Here are the ingredients.  Remember, I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of cook so there is no real recipe.

I put 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot…then I put some of all of these in.  It was likely 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce and 1 heaping tablespoon of Better than Bullion.  The rest to taste.


I cut up four small round steaks and put them in along with my frozen peppers and onions.  You don’t need frozen.  Just cut up peppers and onions.  Cut how many you’d think you’d like.  This recipe is so forgiving.  You can’t do it wrong.

I set the Instant Pot on Meat for 20 minutes.  I don’t think I would have needed 20 minutes.  I think next time I’ll only do 15 minutes.  YES.  It was that good.  There WILL BE a next time.

I served it over rice.  If you read the blog you know the Sandra of the Cresco Ladies quilting group gifted me a bunch of rice.


Sometimes when I’m trying to clean the cabinets out of food I hate it as everything I make doesn’t seem as fun as I “have to eat it to clean things up”.  This was totally not true with this meal.  This was GREAT!!

It smelled awesome too.  Karl came in the house and said, “Holy Crap, what are you making Mom.”

I’ve been using up so many things…a cake mix and a can of pumpkin made a batch of mini muffins.

They are so good and very popular with everyone here.  You can find the recipes HERE on the blog.

I used up Macaroni and Cheese and a can of tuna.  I had to laugh the other day.  One of my childcare moms contacted me and asked, “How do you make Mac and Cheese?  The kids say mine isn’t as good as yours and yours is whiter.”


Bahahahahaha!!  I add tuna to mine.  Years ago when I started childcare and was part of the USDA food program we were required to serve fish every so often.  Well, easy for me.  I went back to my college days when my roommate Stacey and I made Mac and Cheese and threw a can of tuna in it.  To make the whole situation even funnier.  I use generic Mac and Cheese!!

I used a can of Pumpkin Pie Mix.  It’s been in my cabinet for a bit.  I accidentally bought it instead of regular pumpkin.  The mix made so much that I made a mini pie in a pyrex bowl for Craig to take to work.  They are full-on planting crops now so he’s going to need some meals on the go.


I used up a can of cherry pie filling and a bag of marshmallows that was starting to get hard.  This was a great recipe to use them up.  It’s a Black Forest Torte.  Find the recipe on the blog HERE.

It calls for a chocolate cake mix but instead I made my regular chocolate cake from scratch.

It’s not a pretty dessert but super tasty especially if you like chocolate-covered cherries.  It tastes much like that.

I made a batch of my Macaroni Salad…The recipe for that is HERE.  Everyone loves my Macaroni Salad.  I used Spam, noodles, mayonesa, and Queso cheese.  You’ll have to check that recipe out.

I’ve used up other stuff too but these were the main things.

I did get a few groceries.  In my defense, I did not exactly buy all of these.  Kalissa and Kayla went and visited the Amish.  They have grocery stores there that we frequent.  I asked them to get me some cheese and they bought extras.


It’s completely okay…the cheeses were $10 each (no picture of them, they are in the freezer already)…everything totaled $32.


I’m doing really well with this.  I have spent a total of $44 so far.  All I need to do is get to the 15th of May and only spend $56.  At this point, I don’t think that will be a problem to accomplish at all.

It’s going so well that I plan to extend the challenge from May 15th to June 15th.  I still have plenty to use up and it shouldn’t be too hard for me to continue on for another month.

If you’re doing the challenge with Kalissa and I, share some of the things you’ve made in the last week.  Oh…and don’t forget to check out Kalissa’s progress at her blog, The Pink Shoelaces.

8 thoughts on “Kitchen Challenge

  1. Sally Warren

    jo, you freeze cheese? What kind of cheese and is it a block or shredded? I freeze butter all the time (I buy it when its BOGO), but had no idea you could freeze cheese. Please tell us about it. These recipes look great. I always enjoy hearing a new way to use up things.

    Reply
  2. Lori

    Hi Jo,

    I just made a batch of spam salad also. The guys really loved it. One of the guys said, what is in here, it is really good. I said, spam, I hated to tell them it was spam, I think spam gets a bad rap.
    I don’t have Queso or mayonasa, but did add ranch to the basic dressing. I will have to look at Walmart again for the mayonasa, I don’t think I looked in the Mexican section before.

    Reply
  3. Carla

    I’m still trying to stock up over here. Not doing too bad at it. I still have some bare spots, but slowly they’re filling in. Nice to hear how pleased you are with your progress! And your gardens/ planters are going to be lovely.

    Reply
  4. Jean

    My kids (ages 52 and 50) grew up on store-brand mac and cheese with tuna but I add peas. We call it tuna noodle casserole, but it never goes in the oven. My daughter”s husband always called it “cat food”, but all five grands will eat it too. You can’take beat a meal like that!

    Reply
  5. Lorraine

    Thanks for the IP recipe. Jo! Looks delicious. I love my IP.

    I made pumpkin bread to use up a can of pumpkin. Makes two loaves so I will give one to my brother.

    I made waffles to use up the buttermilk and breakfast sausages from the freezer. And peanut butter cookies to use up a jar of peanut butter.

    Sally, I freeze shredded cheese all the time. We use a lot of cheddar so always have it on hand.

    Thanks for the motivation, Jo!

    Reply
  6. Jean

    The hardest thing for me in a cupboard clean-out is to get enough vegetables and fruit. Five-a-day is my guideline, three veg and two fruit, half cup each except lettuce is one full cup. I don’t know if cherry pie filling counts as a fruit, though I’m always happy to count pumpkin!

    Reply
  7. Linda M White

    Something my husband makes in our IP is Stuffed Pepper Soup. We have this rather than actual stuffed peppers.
    It’s basically everything you put in the stuffed peppers only we use the peppers and onions I have in the freezer. Here is the recipe: We half it as there are only two of us.
    2 lb. ground beef, or meat of your choice
    6 cups water
    1 can tomato sauce
    1 can diced tomatoes with juice
    2 cups diced peppers
    2 cups diced onions
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    2 tsp. salt
    1 Tbs. beef bullion
    1 tsp. pepper
    2 cups cooked rice
    chopped fresh parsley, optional

    Cook rice in IP. Remove and brown meat and onions and peppers. Add seasonings to pot and then the tomatoes, stir well. Add the cooked rice. Cook in IP for about 15 min. for flavors to blend and everything to tenderize. That’s it. So good!

    Reply

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