Pantry Challenge Update

I told you in an earlier post that I’ve been working on being more mindful of the groceries that are being brought into the house.  I’ve been working on wasting less food and using what I have.

Here are some of the things I’ve done lately…

I bought a quarter of beef from Achen Farms where Kramer worked and Craig still does work.  There was a lot of round steak at the top of the freezer and round steak isn’t my favorite.  It’s typically a little tough.  I decided to take a bunch of it and throw it in the Instant Pot, cook it up, and do some meal prepping.

I added some Italian spices, Better than Boullion, onions, and celery.  I put it on manual for 30 minutes until it was fall-apart tender.

I used part of it to make beef stroganoff.  I used up this half bag of noodles in the making.  They have been languishing in the cupboard for a long time.  I actually needed more noodles than this to go with the amount of stroganoff I had but instead of opening another bag, I have the stroganoff that was left over the heel of the bread.  WIN!

I used the other half of the meat to make some vegetable beef soup with barley.  I immediately froze all of the soup after it was made and will use that for quick meals as needed.

For the soup, I used up the rest of the shredded cabbage that was needing to be used.  I also used up the rest of a bag of corn from the freezer.  All good things.

I had part of the family home for supper and… had made potato salad.  I typically don’t do the best at eating leftover potato salad.  I’ve decided that I don’t like potato salad really cold and prefer to eat it at room temperature.  So I scooped it up, put it in a bowl, went out and watered plants, then came in and ate it.  PERFECT!

I ended up cleaning up the potato salad…no waste.  I’m calling that a win!

I’ve learned that there are other foods that I really like warm vs cold.  I prefer tomatoes warm…pickles warm…and salsa warm.  I’ve learned to take them out and let them be room temperature before I eat them.  Am I the only one like that?

Our family is in love with coney dogs.  Everyone has a different definition of coney dogs.  For us, it means hotdogs, on buns with sloppy joe mix over the top.  I typically just make my own sauce for the sloppy joe mix but when I was organizing the cabinet, I found this and used it up.  I had forgotten that I bought it.

Coney dogs are really a great thing to have when I have a bunch of eaters here.  Some end up just eating sloppy joes…some hotdogs and some coney dogs.  It’s an easy way to please everyone.

A bit ago Kayla was home.  I had some milk that was going out of date so she made homemade yogurt with it.

I had gotten a roasted chicken from the convenience store.  Around here they are $5 on Mondays so if I’m at the store then, I always pick one up.  Plus a pack of buns comes with it for free.  It’s a great deal.  I typically eat the roasted chicken for one meal and then make something with the remaining chicken.  On this day I remember that I had these which had been hanging out in my cabinet for too long.

So, I cooked both packages up and added the rest of the chicken.  It was a perfect way to use them up.

On another day I bought another roasted chicken.  Again I had a meal and used the rest to make soup.  I had leftover greens in the frig and added some tortellini. The soup was awesome!!
I had some Brussel sprouts that needed to be used.

This recipe was in the Nashville Needlework Cookbook.  I gave it a try minus the carrots.

Everyone loved them. (well the adults did)

The garden is producing great things all of the time now so…it might be a bit before there is another pantry post.  We’ll see.

Please share some things you’ve done in a way that has saved some grocery money or helped used some items up.

19 thoughts on “Pantry Challenge Update”

  1. Love all these ideas. I”m a real user upper, eating leftovers for lunch. My husband has evolved after 50 years almost to eat the leftovers too. Tonight is leftover chili. I can turn a leftover into a different meal as well but honestly can’t think of anything. I do like to use the bones from a chicken to make stock, boiling them after they are gleaned. Then use the stock for soups. We usually get chicken salad after a meal from a chicken. Or somethimes I’ll make a stir-fry with it. We dont eat a lot of creamed things. I will also boil a ham bone for stock and use the bits of leftover ham for ham and bean soup. When the veggies get soft and unusable, I fill a pot with them, including soft fruit and cover with water and boil them for a veggie broth. Thanks for sharing.

  2. PS. Last night I made chili. My son won’t eat chili with visable onions and tomato bits in it. So I chop the onions nd a can of diced tomatoes and puree them to disguise them. Last night I added a handful of needing to be used shredded carrots. Only I knew there were carrots in the mix. Thinking about making carrot bread or cake with the rest of needing to be used carrots.

  3. Beef Barley stoup from the freezer: 1 brick beef broth, 2 bricks chicken broth, 12oz sliced roast beef, 4c green beans and 1c fresh cooked barley. (when I make broth I freeze in 2 cup containers, freeze then pop into a ziploc).

    I had 3 bags of fava beans from the CSA share. I cooked those up and froze them. They will go into winter stir-fry. NO waste!

    Head of cabbage and 5 small onions became fried cabbage and then I cooked and tossed in 8ounce buttered vermicelli. This became 2 dinners along with a pound of frozen pulled pork.

    1qt of freezer ratatouille and 6ounce cooked Italian sausage/gr turkey mix became dinner over some thin whole wheat spaghetti.

    I’m trying hard to empty my freezer before my garden comes on. It’s been over 95 too much and I have few tomatoes on my 25 plants. I’m cautiously optimistic for a harvest? Same thing happened last year and I got only about 40# of tomatoes total :-(

    Thawed 4# of last years’ jalapenos that have been waiting for him to take action so I pushed it! Hubster likes them pickled for tuna and assorted dishes. So, that happened Sunday and we have 5 pints canned for him.

    That’s all I can recall for the last week in the moment.

  4. All the foods you made sound very good. I am quite fond of using round steak but I don’t buy it and when I do have it I like to make stroganoff or Swiss steak with it. I usually don’t have many leftovers to use but when I do I just use reheat it. It’s fun to hear what you make.

  5. Debbie Burgess

    I decided in January that I had to get control of my life and health, so I changed my eating habits for myself and my husband, too. This has been a great way of cleaning out the freezers and pantry! If you choose mainly “clean eating” and low glycemic veggies and eliminate the starchy stuff, you really use a lot of proteins and veg. I’m with the previous posters about making homemade stock and turning leftover proteins and veg into soup! I’ve gone from 184 lbs. to 145 lbs. eating like this, and have made a serious dent in the overloaded freezers and pantry.

  6. Ha! I thought I was the only one who didn’t care for cold condiments and such. Cold ketchup…no thank you. Cold syrup…no thank you. Cold grapes, cherries, apples, etc. …no thank you. Glad to know I’m in good company. Took all the little bits of cheese from the frig and did Oven Mac & Cheese tonight. It was a winner with Swiss, cheddar, pepper jack, bacon Gouda, and mozzerella. Can you tell we live in Cheese Country? Last year I ran short of cucumbers for relish and used the big gifted zucchinis to make up the measure. No one knew the difference!

    So glad you had fun at the cross stitch retreat. It will be something to look forward to again next year.

  7. I don’t like round steak either. Ate too much of it as a kid. I am not a big fan of leftovers except for certain things. Someone gave me a small package of short ribs so I made vegetable beef soup adding in worn out vegetables from my crisper. I never have old bags of egg noodles. I boil them until almost done.then fry them in butter until slightly crisp.

  8. hello I use round steak for stew and swiss steak at the moment I am canning green beans so anything I can through into a crock pot is good also the price of beef now is so high a lot of people are buying round steak

  9. I reuse pickle juice for peeled hard boiled eggs or steamed brussel sprouts. Both are great sliced over a green salad.
    I keep celery & onion ends, bones, tough broccoli stalks, kale, stale spices, lettuce & cabbage leaves etc in an ice cream pail in the freezer then make broth. After it’s strained, I freeze 3 cups in quart jars, leaving space to expand. Remove cover & thaw 4 or 5 minutes in microwave, so I always have homemade (low sodium) broth on hand.
    I often have cold cooked potatoes and cold cooked rice in the refrigerator. They are great meal starters. ( BTW Jo – your garlic rice is very good – thanks )
    My husband loves Swiss steak so when round steak’s on sale, I have meat man run it through the tenderizer twice.
    Fruit going soft goes into smoothies with milk, yogurt, peanut butter or whatever is handy.

  10. Lots of good ideas, Jo! We love round steak! But we have ours tenderized when it is processed. We use it for chicken fried steak, stir fry, barbecue swiss steak (in the Insta-Pot), regular swiss steak, steak tampequena, and enchiladas.
    No eating out since we live so far from town so I cook a lot, but my husband has always been a good guinea pig so it’s fun to try new things and he likes leftovers.

    1. I always told my husband that a good eater makes a good cook. He was never bothered by anything I made…even the mistakes.

  11. I had a pound of ground turkey left from early spring of 2020 when the stores were picked clean of most meat items. It’s not my favorite, which is why it’s been in the freezer for 2 years, lol. I make turkey meatballs out of it. I didn’t have any bread, crackers, or eggs, so I just added some herbs oregano, thyme, basil (from my garden), salt, pepper, and onion and made the meatballs. I cooked them in the skillet and they actually turned out delicious! I had a couple of old cans of tomatoes, so I made the sauce from them (same herbs, plus garlic) to serve with the meatballs. I felt very virtuous using up something I would normally have thrown out, and I really enjoyed it :-)

  12. Cut up round steak and make beef stew. Can of tomato soup, onion, carrots, potato cubes, red wine, and basil. Bake at 375 for one hour. I made chimichangas last time I had leftover chicken. Mix shredded chicken with a can of drained green chiles, salsa, black beans and cheese. Wrap in a tortilla. Spray with olive oil spray. Air fry for 8 minutes at 350 or bake. Can be frozen, too.

  13. It makes so much sense to use food up rather than wasting it; you’ve done a great job of it! Have you ever tried the zucchini recipe just above the recipe you shared? The zucchini are coming on in our garden at the moment & I’m always on the lookout for tasty ways (besides zucchini bread) to use it.

  14. I haven’t been getting your blog by email ,so I signed up again today! I don’t know what happened but I miss it your blog is my favorite!!

  15. It’s so funny that you don’t use much round steak because it is the first thing gone here! We get a 1/4 or 1/2 beef at a time too. My favorite round steak dish is sheet pan fajitas. Cut thin strips of the round steak, peppers & onions. Put it all on a cookie sheet with sides (so the juices don’t end up everywhere) and drizzle olive oil over it. Add taco seasoning, cumin, whatever you please. Mix it well with your hands & pop it in the oven. Super easy and you can walk away while it’s cooking. The kids put theirs on tortillas but I just eat it out of a bowl.

  16. For tender round steak, I place the steak on a foil cover sheet pan. Pour a half packet of dry onion soup mix over it. Flip it and cover with the rest of the onion soup. Now seal the steak in foil and bake about 30 minutes. Tender and delicious! Easy clean up, too.

  17. I’m quite certain that if you were to thaw and cut those round steaks into cubes, then pressure can them, you’d be able to use the resulting tender meat in many ways!
    As for refrigerated condiments, my mom never kept ketchup/mustard in the fridge. Her argument was that restaurants kept them on the tables, and she wasn’t wrong. Also, a century ago, pickles would have been sold from a barrel in the country store.

    Linda S.

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