Monday, January 9, 2012

My First Week of the Pantry Challenge

I successfully finished the first week of the Pantry Challenge and found myself spending a lot more time cooking, but I think as I get on track the time will be less of an issue.  My husband has finally, after 5 years, stopped working full time down in Baltimore with only weekends at home and I'm cooking for one more person.

We ate very well and I found myself testing out some of the things I had processed over the summer.  I used  of my dried cubed zucchini in a "Homemade Rice a Roni" (the recipe follows) that the family loved

The next night, I mixed the leftover "Homemade Rice a Roni"(the recipe makes a lot) with browned bulk italian sausage, onions, and some sweet green peppers that were getting wrinkly.   

The family raved about my "Teriyaki Pork Roast" and I got to use up some ginger that has been floating around for awhile. 

After a successful fishing trip my husband came home and grilled Steelhead fillets.

We ate "Pat's Meat Stew" using up some venison shoulder - and a Holiday Bean Soup using a mixed batch of beans and a ham steak.  

On PTA meeting night I made a platter of Havarti cheese cubes, homemade bread slices, carrots, celery, and ranch dip. 

For desserts (because they always want dessert!)  we had coconut drop cookies, brownies, and a homemade apple crumb pie that had been waiting in the freezer.  

How did I enjoy the first week?  I truly enjoyed that we took the time to sit down to meals, talk, and eat good food.  What a pleasure it was to actually use up food rather than disposing of it after it had languished in the pantry and become inedible!

After looking through my pantry and perusing my cookbooks, here's a sampling of what I've planned for future dinners.

Leftover Holiday Bean Soup, homemade biscuits
Manicotti (I made it awhile ago and it must be used)
Roast chicken, pumpkin bread
Apricot Pork Chops
Baked Salmon, corn relish, cabbage salad with asian ginger dressing
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
Pumpkin Ravioli
Salad, every day.


Homemade Rice a Roni

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 Tbsp. oil (olive oil is good)
2 cups uncooked long-grain white or brown rice
1 cup uncooked vermicelli or spaghetti broken into 1-inch pieces or shorter
5 cups beef broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or sage (I used 2 Tbsp. dried basil)
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (I used fresh carrots, odds and ends of assorted frozen vegetables, and dehydrated zucchini)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper or to taste

1. In a wok, or heavy skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat,  When butter begins to melt, add rice and toss to coat well with butter and oil.  Cook until some of the rice starts to brown
2.  Add pasta and keep stirring until some of it has browned bits as well.  When mixture begins to stick a little, add broth, garlic, basil, and mixed vegetables.  Cover and continue to cook until rice is tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If rice starts to stick to the bottom before it is fully cooked, you made need to turn down the heat a little and add 1/2 cup water.  Total cooking time for white rice will be 20 to 25 minutes.  Brown rice will take 40 to 55 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
~Adapted from "Family Feasts for $75 a Week"


  1. Sounds wonderful and will have to give it a try - have you every made it and cut it in half before starting?? It is just me and my freezer really does not need more.

  2. Sounds like you had a very succesful first week! :)
    I LOVE Rice-A-Roni but since I gave up prepackaged foods, we never get it. I'm definitely going to be trying this recipe! Thanks!

  3. Larkspur- I haven't cut it in half, but I imagine it would work fine.

  4. It sounds like you had a great week and some great food. I am going to have to move my challenge to February because of a hospital visit, but I hope to be able to do it then.

  5. I came over from Eco footprint. I am going to add you to my anonymous read! Love the recipe for homemade rice a roni! Thanks for sharing it.