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 weren’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 liked it so much that I’m extending it on.  As time goes by it gets a little harder.  Stocked items decreases and I end up a little more challenged.

When the kids were home I did spend $33.  I know some of that was for milk and soy milk but other than that, it was bananas, butter, sour cream, and other perishable staples.  I didn’t buy anything canned.  That is one of my main goals.

I’m so proud of how I’m doing with the challenge.  I forgot to tell you that when the kids were home over Mother’s Day weekend, I didn’t break from the challenge.  In fact, I cooked every meal and we didn’t order pizza or go out to eat.  We often do when everyone is home but I didn’t.  That was a huge accomplishment and it got a lot more out of the cabinets.

I made another batch of Mini Pumpkin Muffins with this cake mix.  You can find the recipe HERE.


I made a batch of peanut butter Ritz cracker cookies.  These are a HUGE favorite here.  I had lots of crackers to use up and peanut butter.  I finished one jar and then rather than open another jar of peanut butter, I decided that I would use up the jar of sun butter instead.  The kids didn’t mind the difference at all.


Then rather than put the jar back in the cabinet, I just went on and made a batch of Puppy Chow (Muddy Buddies).  You can find that recipe HERE.

As my cabinets are cleaning out I am starting to be able to sort and organize them a little better.  Please tell me why I had 6 cans of sauerkraut??  We love it but don’t use it so often that I need 6 cans of it.  I ended up making a Rueben hotdish.  It’s simple.  Here’s a recipe of sorts…
Boil the noodles, add as much corned beef as you want to afford or prefer.  I had a big pack on hand so I used lots.  Add a can of cream of mushroom, a can of sauerkraut, and a half bottle of thousand island…

Then add swiss cheese, whatever amount you like.  I had a bunch in the refrigerator that needed to get used.  These two were excited and wanted cheese.  I thought no way will they eat swiss…but they did and loved it!


The hotdish isn’t pretty but it was tasty…and was a great cupboard cleaner!!


I went to the big chest freezer and as I was walking there I told myself you are going to pick something out of the freezer that isn’t desirable and you’re using it up.  Guess what I picked?  Beef Heart.  Kramer loved it.  Me…not so much.  I can eat it but…why?

So my plan was to make a batch of Brazilian Feijoada.  A blog reader sent me a recipe for it.  You can find it HERE.  I’ve made this a couple of times.  The first few times I followed the recipe completely only converted it to an Instant Pot recipe.  Now I follow it in general and use whatever meats I have that need to get used up.

We had this over rice.  It’s so good and slightly different eat time being I often make it when I want to use up an undesirable cut of meat.  This one allowed me to use the beef heart up and more dried black beans.  PERFECT!

We had it for Kalissa’s birthday supper.  Everyone loved it and later I told them I used the beef heart in making it.  No one was mad at me and still raved at how good it was.  I call that a success!!  Now my challenge is to figure out how to hide liver.  That one might be a little harder.  HA!!  I do encourage anyone who is trying to figure out how to use up beef heart, to give the recipe a try.

I’m so happy with the progress I am making with the kitchen challenge.  I have kind of changed my outlook and don’t really even need to focus on the amount of money I spend at the grocery store.  My focus now is to use what I have first and purposely work to use what is here.

Slowly I’ll get where I want to be.  The cabinet looks better each and every time I go in it.  I’m loving it!!

Another thing that happened in the kitchen…this…


My 2 cup pyrex measuring cup shattered.  Pyrex is an amazing product.  I love it but then it shatters, oh my word…it makes tiny little pieces!!

I use that cup a lot so that’s one I’ll be replacing!

That’s the latest from the kitchen…

21 thoughts on “Kitchen Challenge

  1. Susan V

    You inspired me by this challenge. I checked my pantry, took a small box of items to the church food pantry, and am working on using up cans. Weight watchers 8 can soup is on the menu tonight.

    Reply
  2. Paulette

    I am enjoying hearing about the creative ways you’re using up your food “stash.” The sauerkraut made me think of the sauerkraut chocolate cake recipe I tried a few months ago when I had a partial jar of kraut left in my fridge. Never mind the kraut, it was one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve had in a long time! I made it gluten-free by substituting a gluten-free flour blend I buy at Wally World. I’ve made it twice now. I don’t fuss with frosting it, just sprinkle some chocolate chips on top before I bake it. Here’s a link to the recipe. https://anaffairfromtheheart.com/sauerkraut-chocolate-cake/

    Reply
  3. Paulette

    Ha! I just re-read my own comment on that cake recipe link, so I guess the first time I made it I used my own gluten-free flour blend, which I described in the comment. The second time, I took the shortcut with the store-bought blend. Anyway, it turned out great both times!

    Reply
  4. Linda

    I make a slightly different Rueben casserole. Like yours, it is Not pretty. lol

    Substitute bite-sized pieces of chicken for the corned beef, diced potatoes for the noodles. I’m generous with the sauerkraut, using at least 2 cans. Add a large can mushrooms, drained, and stir in some caraway seeds. Each person dresses their serving with the amount of swiss cheese and 1000 Island that they like.
    A chunk of dark rye bread and green beans go well as side dishes.

    Reply
  5. annie

    I have read that the properties of the newer pyrex are not the same as the older stuff. Not sure how true that is. Just thought I’d mention it.

    Reply
  6. Margaret. A.B. Canada

    Hi I love all the good things about you’re cupboard stuff to use up. being by my self now
    (hubby passed away) no need for me to buy any more groceries just the basics. it also
    applies to my freezer. I enjoy all you’re sewing stuff & ideas ‘s & video’s.

    Reply
  7. Bonny

    Check where the Pyrex is manufactured. Not all plants in all locales have the same quality reputation.

    Reply
  8. Christina A Coats

    My poor mum had a job getting the 5 of us children to eat liver, she got round it by cooking up rashers of crispy bacon and cooked the diced liver in a beef stock gravy adding onions before it went in the slow cooker (instant pot) once done it was smothered with crispy bacon bits and was accompanied by buttered mash potatoes. Gravy over the top and every plate llcked clean. Ooh I must do it again soon .

    Reply
  9. Kate

    I love the picture of Georgie and Gannon! They are such cuties. I had never heard of that Brazilian dish, but sounds interesting and yours looks yummy. I don’t remember my mother fixing heart, but she may have camouflaged it in a way similar to what you did. We did eat liver (I like it) and tongue. I have fixed both tongue and liver but my husband won’t eat either – or beef period. You are a creative cook, Jo and that is inspiring to me.

    Reply
  10. Ginny Clyne

    How about making a liver pate, like chopped chicken liver pate using your beef liver instead and serve it as an appetizer, snack when your family is there with crackers. I love a good chicken liver pate when it blended really smooth. My dad ate it as sandwiches, sort of like liverwurst on rye bread. You can find some recipes for it on pintrest.

    Reply
  11. Cheryl

    I love your kitchen “destash” challenge! How fun and great for the grocery budget.
    I especially like the pumpkin muffins made from the cake mix. I have a similar recipe if you have more cake mixes to use up. I make cake mix cookies. It takes 1 cake mix, (most any flavor) 2 eggs and and 1/2 cup of oil. (You can add in any kind of goodies you like…chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, dried cherries, etc. I have even used vanilla cake mix and rolled them in cinnamon sugar to make snickerdoodles.) Mix up and bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

    Reply
  12. Linda Lewis

    I cooked liver after slicing it in pieces. Cooled and froze it and stored in freezer bags for dog treats.

    Reply
  13. Nan V.

    I think I would get rid of the liver by giving it to a friend or neighbor who liked it! I was really anemic as a child, and the doctor told my mom to feed me liver. Mom tried to make me liver every different way she could think of — Swiss Steak (liver), Beef (liver) Stew, Beef (liver) Chop Suey, you name it. I could tell the minute I walked into the house, it always smelled like liver. There is just nothing you could do to liver that would make it edible to me. But I would gladly give it to a friend who loved it!

    Reply
    1. Lace Faerie

      Oh man! Am I with you! The very thought of the smell of liver cooking makes me queasy every time. Even now when it’s been 40 yrs!

      Reply
  14. Marie Attew

    Interested to know the recipient for the ritz cracker cookies not heard of them before. Mind you you make lots of things over in the states that I haven’t heard of in the U.K.

    Reply
  15. Elana D Goldberg

    I really admire you for this challenge. I just remarked the other day how my son (23 and still lives at home) cooks this way. He made a wonderful salad from things around the house and in the pantry. It had artichoke hearts, canned corn, chickpeas, avocado, cherry tomatoes and some lemon with spices. Yummy and not something I would ever have made. We can all learn from being thrifty!

    Reply
  16. Elana D Goldberg

    I really admire you for this challenge. I just remarked the other day how my son (23 and still lives at home) cooks this way. He made a wonderful salad from things around the house and in the pantry. It had artichoke hearts, canned corn, chickpeas, avocado, cherry tomatoes and some lemon with spices. Yummy and not something I would ever have made. We can all learn from being thrifty! I love pyrex measuring cups and have several that are constantly used. They don’t chip but when they smash, boy do they go to pieces!!

    Reply

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