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 was 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 continued on with the challenge but decided to quit worrying about the dollar amount I spend and instead focus primarily on using things up.  Now I’m buying what I run out of or perishable products.  That’s it.  I’m super committed and I’m so happy with the progress I’ve made.

Here are some of the things I’ve done this week.  I’ve had this Lentil Soup mix but I haven’t used as once I got home I realized it said Spicy…ugh.  I like spice but a New Orleans favorite that says spicy makes me believe that it will be more spice than I prefer.  I tried to think of how to use it up then realized that the spice is in a separate package inside the main package.  I would just use a little of the spice, taste and then see if I wanted to add more.

I used up some questionable carrots too.

When I went to the cabinet to get chicken broth I ended up pulling out the vegetable version instead.  I had bought it when Kayla was eating vegan but she’s eating a bit of meat now so I don’t need to worry about that.  I wanted to use the vegetable base up and probably won’t buy that again.

So how was the spice on the lentil soup…still a little hot and I only used half of the packet.  Thank heavens I didn’t use the whole pack.  I ended up adding sour cream and it was just fine.

After I last week’s post on my kitchen challenge a blog reader suggested using up cake mixes by making them into cookies.  I ended up doing that and used up two cake mixes.  Yahoo.  Can you believe I still have some cake mixes left…I do.
Blog reader Cheryl shared the recipe.  She writes:
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.”

Thanks for the recipe…that’s two less cake mixes in my cabinet.

Kalissa and Craig hosted a preschool recognition party for Carver.  I volunteered to make some food.  Kalissa said make whatever I want.  She was serving walk tacos.

Rather than think of what to make and go buy the groceries, I decided to make something with what I have.  Being Kalissa didn’t care what I made, it made it a lot easier.

Here’s what I made…Sour Cream Rhubarb pie.  I used my Blueberry Cream Pie recipe which you can find HERE.  The only changes I made was I used sour cream instead of blueberries…I increased the sugar to one cup.  Oops…one more change.  I used plain yogurt instead of sour cream.

I made four pies…two for Kalissa’s house and two for mine.

The reason I decided to make pie…Kelli brought me a half gallon of plain yogurt.  I had no idea how to use that all up.  This pie was the perfect thing.  I used up four cups of the yogurt.  I’m relatively sure I’ll use the rest up by making more pie.

I made a pan of seven layer bars.  I had this pack of Cherry filled chocolate chips that needed to used up.  I thought these bars would be the perfect way to use them.  They were a real success.  They taste like chocolate covered cherries.

If you haven’t made these bars before, it’s super easy.

Melt one stick of butter in the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan.  Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs across the bottom to absorb the butter.  Put a layer of coconut on top of that.  Then used the bag of chips shown.  It was a 9 oz bag then I used regular chocolate chips and filled in the rest.  After that drizzle a can of sweet and condensed milk over the top.

This recipe was PERFECT for a kitchen cleanout as I had the chips, coconut, graham cracker crumbs and sweet condensed milk that was all coming close on their expiration dates.  YAHOO!  That was a success.

The last thing I made was another batch of Calico beans.

As per my usual, I did alter the recipe yet again.  Last week I told you I was working on using up dried beans.  This used a bunch.  I also had three bottles of BBQ sauce in the cabinet.  I used some in this…I also had pork neck bones in the freezer that needed to be used.  I cooked them up and put them in the beans.  I told you about substitutions I made to the original recipe and post the the original recipe HERE.

I’m still sticking with the challenge.  My cabinets are looking so much better.  I have a ways to go yet but I sure feel a lot better about it all.  Stop back next week and see what I’m up to.

18 thoughts on “Kitchen Challenge”

  1. Elizabeth Streeter

    Boy we have different items in supermarkets in Australia to what you have,I am also surprised at the amount of cram used in some of your dishes,I did try a version of your calico beans the other day my husband really liked it except the canned beans were not soft enough when baked,I was surprised again at the amount of sugar and did reduce it.but still really nice,made your fruit salad pizza for Christmas and at my sons 40th went down vey well. Very intrigued and interested in your recipes keep posting please.

    1. Cram? Haha, I think that means how much is in our cupboards? Not all Americans have a lot of pantry supplies. How much we store tends to depend on distance to the grocery stores, if we have wicked winters, along with how much we store on our own shelves. And for some, religious beliefs too! When we lived in town and had easy access to the grocery, we didn’t store near as much, now that we are a ways out from the grocery (on a farm), we store more. I honestly miss being able to run down to the road and get a bag for the night’s dinner. But now, it’s a long jaunt and a waste of fuel. I wish I were able to be as industrious as Jo and grow a garden! But even Jo puts me to shame in the grocery pantry she keeps, but she has four grown children with families, and a daycare, so it’s understandable that she’d have quite a storage of dry goods! Haha I do love hearing about culture/continent differences. I spent a month in France and loved their little specialty shops!! We’d stop at the butcher, the farmers market and the bakery all on the way back to our apartment from the subway. Everything there was quite wonderful! I imagine that’s what New York may be like? Thanks for sharing. :)

      1. The person that I responded to used the term “cram”. She’s from Australia. A google search made me think the phrase refers to stuff stuffed everywhere, as in food “crammed” in pantries, cupboards, or freezers. I’m not quite sure. Definitely no reference to cream. :)

      2. I think reading it again she the original post was referring to all the stuff in the dishes and in my brain it all came from stuffed cupboards. Heaven help me, my brain took a big detour! Lol

  2. Judith Fairchild

    Hi, you’re so right about New Orleans spice mixes. They’re good but some of us can’t handle a lot of heat. Your kitchen challenge has put me into cleaning out the old stuff that got shoves back. So far this month I haven’t done a whole lot of grocery shopping. I will have to pretty soon to get things that I’m out of but still under the $100.00 level. Thank you and Kalisaa for the idea. Lentles are my next project.

  3. Like I mentioned previously, you are a very creative cook, and I think it helps that you have a good family who will eat your foods. You taught them well. Calico beans look wonderful and so does the lentil dish. I had never seen the cherry filled chocolate chips, but sure sound good. I’m going to look for them. Keep up the good work – the challenge!

  4. Last year one of the families in the inner city started a casual food pantry in their front yard — just a large rubbermaid cupboard. Once a month I look through my cabinets and cupboards and donate a few things. Not just cans of pumpkin, either — tuna or soup or veggies or carnation milk or coffee. I’m so thankful for what I have, it gives me much pleasure to be able to give some of it away. Even the good stuff!

  5. So, your 7 layer bars only have 5 layers! We used to make these with nuts as a layer, usually pecans. They were called Hello Dollies! I don’t remember if there was another layer. I will have to look up the recipe. I have sent several of your recipes to my email and will be cooking today!

      1. Butterscotch chips is right. Also the nuts the one I use calls for pecans, from a Southern Living older cookbook, so has to be pecans.

  6. Margaret in North Texas

    Fun reading what you substitute in recipes, and moving ahead with the goal of using up.
    Enjoying following along and doing some of the same in my home.

  7. Linda M White

    Just wanted to mention, any recipe that calls for sour cream, you can substitute your plain yogurt. Greek yogurt works best, and regular might make the dish a little thinner but the taste is good.

  8. Judith Ferguson

    Jo, there was a photo of your Kitchenaid mixer in this post. The paddle has missing pieces of the coating. It should be replaced immediately, if pieces fall off in batter or dough you are mixing, it is NOT GOOD. They can really mess up a digestive system. I had to9 replace mine recently and got a metal paddle without the coating.

  9. It is interesting you are doing the kitchen challenge to use up stuff out of your pantry and I have been shopping to add more to my pantry since I am nervous about the drought that is really going to impact food supplies this year. Between ranchers selling off cattle because of lack of grass and farmers in California not planning this year because of the lack of water. I have planted a bigger garden than I have done in years. With the price of meat locally we are going to be eating a lot more beans and rice so I have stocked up in both.

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