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.

So how did I do….Great!  I did spend a little bit of money.  I bought:
1 pint of buttermilk
1 bag of onions
1/2 gallon of soy milk for Gannon
1 package of pepperoni

That’s it!

I’ve had quite a few people here to feed so the groceries have been flying off the shelf and out of the freezer.

So far being I’ve had a lot of company here, we’ve had spaghetti and a great soup.  A blog reader sent the recipe for Turnip Green Soup.

You can see Georgia was here and she actually ate it.  She can be a picky thing but this day, she ate it!!  Here’s the recipe.  Thanks so much, Margaret for sending the recipe.  It’s helping me use up beans.

For anyone interested, here is the recipe:
1 Large can of Margaret Holmes seasoned turnips
1 large box of chicken broth
1 can of Rotel tomatoes
1 can of black-eyed peas
1 can kidney beans
1 can navy beans-Margaret uses great northern beans
1 pound of smoked sausage
1 large onion

In a large pot add the first 6 ingredients.  Then saute smoked sausage that is chopped into bite-sized pieces and onion until the sausage is browned.  Add to the bean/turnip pot.  Heat for 30 minutes.  Good with cornbread.

For me, I had dried beans so I put 1/2 of a cup of each of the variety of dried beans in along with six cups of water in the Instant Pot on bean setting for 40 minutes.

After they were cooked, I went on with the recipe.

I am so happy I used up a boxed bread mix.  It’s been on my shelf long enough that it really needed to get used.  YAHOO!!

I made Beef and Noodles one day. Gannon and Georgia loved the leftovers.  Georgie calls them “noo-nols”.

I also made pizza.  This one was bacon cheeseburger pizza.  I had all of the ingredients.  In fact, this used leftover hamburgers.  Karl was here and made hamburgers one day.  I chopped up the leftovers and used them for this pizza.

Those hamburgers along with bacon, and onion, dill pickle relish, and BBQ sauce was the perfect mix.  It was AWESOME.

Some of the comments that I have gotten about this challenge almost made me think some might have gotten the wrong impression of this challenge.

I’m not doing it for financial reasons.

I’m not doing it because I’m worried about having too much or not knowing what I have.

I’m mostly doing it because I want to make the best use of my cupboard space.

Having a cabinet that is stocked like this is very common in our area.

For us to get groceries at a reasonable price we have to drive 30 minutes.  I have LONG kept a stock pantry and will continue to do so.  I ALWAYS have one jar of ketchup in the refrigerator and one in the cabinet.  When the refrigerator one is gone, the new one comes out of the cabinet, and ketchup gets put on the list and new is bought the next time I am in town.  I will always do that.

I’m not a crazy prepper.  I am a mom of five adult kids with four partners and nine grandkids who drop in anytime.  When I wake in the morning I have no idea if I’ll be cooking for only me or for 8 for supper.  I have childcare kids here.  I need a stocked pantry.

Back when covid hit and we were unsure of what grocery buying would be like many panicked.  Not me.  I knew I was okay for some time…especially if we’re a little more conservative.

I love having a stocked pantry that for the most part I can open and fix anything that’s in my repertoire.  I always want that and will continue with that.

For me, this challenge is mostly to “see if I can do it”…a way to clean the cabinet and not have to take each piece out of it.  I’ll likely do that in a month or two but not yet.  It’s also meant to put some spark into my cooking.  I’m sure as I get deeper into the challenge I’ll find a can of coconut milk and I’ll have to work to find a recipe to use it up.  I love a challenge like that.

For now, it’s no work at all…I’m guessing if I keep it up for a month or two, it’s going to get harder and harder.  For now, it’s fun.  I’ll see you in a week.  I hope I’m still enjoying it.

25 thoughts on “Kitchen Challenge”

  1. this challenge seems so practical. Makes certain things don’t get shifted to the back of the shelves and get past their prime.
    Have you noticed the resemblance between your photo and Georgia’s ??? How about compaing photos of yourself at her age with her photos ???

    it was nice to see how quickly the children bounded back from their bug. Pretty little smiles. I was concerned Gannons bug would cause some flareups of his other challenges.

    1. I was concerned bout Gannon also. I had wondered if it was not the bug but his other issues. Kalissa and you must have been concerned too.

    2. I’m like you Jo, my pantry is always overflowing. My problem is when something is on sale, no matter how many of that same item I have in the pantry, I’ll buy it again! Congratulations on being a grandma of NINE!

  2. I love the freezer challenge, particularly framed as a fun puzzle to solve! Your post is a wake-up call for me, for sure. Three weeks ago the local boy scouts dropped off a paper bag on my front porch with an attached note saying they would pick it up at 11 a.m. the next Saturday, hopefully filled with food for the nearby food pantry. I went into my pantry and found SO many cans and boxes (i.e., red beans and rice) I didn’t even remember we had. Many, like pasta sauce, had upcoming expiration dates, too many for us to use that fast. I filled the bag and resolved to use up current stock. The recipe for a multi-bean soup is most appreciated! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I live in a rural area where the medium size grocery store is 30 min away and the bigger stores are 3 hours away so it is normal to stock up. I also lived in the Arctic for four years and got our groceries by a sea lift so we a year or two stock on hand. So having extra on hand is normal for me. But I also have things in my pantry that need to be used up.
    I think you are doing a wonderful job with using up your pantry/ freezer items. So inspiring.

  4. I too live in a rural area and must travel a bit to shop – a stocked cupboard and freezer are necessary, especially in winter when it may be difficult to go anywhere! Just like Jo, there’s a bottle of ketchup in the fridge, one in the pantry, and it goes on the list when the pantry one is opened; that concept applies to most staples. During Covid, we stayed home more and shopped less, had fewer people here to feed, plus many items were hard to find, so I stocked up even more – and now I need to take part in this challenge too! :)

  5. We are very fortunate to have 2 major grocery stores within 2 miles of our home and an AF commissary 5 miles away. We are getting ready to have a major rewiring of our entire home to replace aluminum wiring so we have been trying to empty the freezer and not buy anything to go in it because the fridge will be turned off for at least a day. WE do have 2 fridges so likely can transport food from one to another. I am enjoying your process! You might even continue this for more than a month, at least to get the freezer cleaned out more.

  6. Thanks for the soup recipe, Jo! We have a pantry full of food to work through, as well. It’s a tough challenge for me. More so, the fully packed freezer. Who even KNOWS what’s in the depths of it?!?!

    1. Susan the Farm Quilter

      Time to find out what is hiding in the deep, dark recesses of that freezer!! I have 3 of them I need to explore!! I just love this challenge and haven’t shopped since Jo started it!!

  7. Margaret in North Texas

    I am eager to try the Turnip-bean soup. Having trouble finding the Margaret Homes seasoned turnip greens. Checked at our Walmart. Not there. Also what brand or variety of smoked sausage is tasty. I have not used enough to know. Thanks— any ideas would be appreciated.

  8. I’m doing the challenge too although I don’t have anything like your freezer. I like to keep certain things in my fridge and also one in the cabinet, but I have way too many of some things. I think our eating habits changed and I’m going to clean things out by offering them to the food pantry. I wanted to use my cake mixes and found a Duncan Hines pineapple cake mix very expired and apparently they say their mixes are really good forever. I made a triple pineapple upside down cake (pineapple cake mix, pineapple rings and the juice instead of water) and it rose beautifully. I’m going to continue cleaning out my very small freezer so I can scrub it and then I’ll refill it. Even my fridge looks better now. Btw: I think Georgie is the spitting image of her mom.

  9. Hey Jo! Your pizza looks great! Is that a pizza steel thing you are using to get the crust looking so good? Maybe I need a link! Thanks! Susan

    1. Susan the Farm Quilter

      Susan, it looks like a pizza paddle used to safely take the pizza out of the oven. I’m guessing, but I think she probably cooked the pizza on the parchment paper on a pizza stone…I remember seeing a pizza stone in her kitchen at one time.

      1. I liked that pizza paddle too! But looking at the picture I see what looks like a cookie sheet with a side missing on top of the stove. That’s what I thought was a pizza steel thing. I’ve been looking at them but they are pricey. If Jo recommend one I would seriously consider it. Her other recommendations have been great.

  10. Many people living in a rural areas shop like you do. Always have a backup in the cupboard. Georgia did better with the soup than I would have. No beans for me. I have never been able to deal with beans/legumes of any kind. Once for a church soup lunch at a retreat, ahead of time I asked about what type of soups were going to be served so I would know if I had to bring my own lunch. I was told not to worry. I will never forget that lunch. There were three different types of soup with BEANS. Maybe one was Split Pea Soup. So funny. Have a good day with the family.

  11. I am with you on a stocked pantry and freezer. I would miss fresh veg and fruit but we could easily go 2 months without going hungry. Boredom? Well that’s another story-LOLing!

    I love an organized pantry, freezer and cupboard so I understand the goal.

    Yea you! And cheers to the kiddos that love what you’re preparing :-) My heart is happy to see a chipper Gannon and Georgie after the puking benders they were on!!!!

  12. Dorothy Borders

    Hi Jo,
    I do the same thing as you with stocking up. Maybe it comes naturally to those of us who can the food from our gardens and process our own meat. We’re used to larger quantities. I also think that with our parents being raised during the depression, being frugal by stocking up during sales and planning way into the future comes second nature. My husband built three floor to ceiling cabinets that were two feet deep and stretched eight feet long for canned goods. I took a picture of them with the doors open one day. They were packed with food we had canned as well as things bought on sales. I really could have used a challenge like you and your daughter are doing, but we definitely went through it all. We have four children who always had friends tagging along. Food was always available and if friends stayed for dinner it was no problem. Have fun with your challenge.

  13. That bean soup makes me want to make three bean tacos. If you ever need a good vegetarian dish, these are good! I did a quick search and saw a lot of variations. Blessings! Also, loved the airing of the quilts post. What a great event name!

  14. No matter how well stocked the pantry is, or the reason for stocking up, it’s a waste of money and time if it’s full of things so old it has gone bad. Not to mention if it’s full of things you don’t eat in the first place. Oils in mixes go rancid, cans ferment and leak, those mystery items in the back of the freezer get freezer burn, canned starchy peas are nasty even in good times (to me anyway)… Worst is things that you canned or froze yourself and somehow don’t get used. I try to put the new in the back, but sometimes things get out of order or lost, especially if I’m trying not to have the freezer door open too long.

  15. I shop as you do, Always an extra jar in the pantry of the things we use most often. I love being able to put a meal together on the spur of the moment without having to head to the store.

  16. I lived in a small town most of my younger life, with the grocery store 30 minutes away. When we “went to town”, there was always a stock up trip at the grocery store. We also gardened and canned a lot of vegetables, so we had that stock. I’ve lived in the city longer than I didn’t, but old habits die hard. I still keep extra of things we use the most, even with just 2 of us. We don’t have the space that we did previously, but still have plenty. We need to do some sorting and using things up ourselves.

    Keep the recipes coming. It’s good to have fresh ideas.

  17. Ginny Andersen

    I am also a pantry stocker for forever. I was taught to rotate pantry items by a Home Ec teacher trained mom.
    I am so sorry to hear about the bug that is running through the family. I sure hope things improve soon.
    I always Iove the recipes you share. I thought you had a tab/link for them but I am not seeing it. Did I miss it?

  18. I am a “stock-up” shopper, too. One thing that helped me pay attention to the state of my cupboards was my annual clean out. My sons were Boy Scouts who had an annual food drive called “Scouting for Food”. A few weeks before the annual drive, I would empty my cupboards, inventory and assess the contents. If I seemed overstocked in salad dressings, I would whittle that category down. If I had bought a product on impulse and not used it, I would move it along. I would check expiration dates, and see what categories needed to be restocked, since I liked going into the winter months prepared. I got pretty good with this, but i just couldn’t figure out how a jar of pickles ten years out of date survived in my cupboard! Where had that been hiding?

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