Monday, January 10, 2011

Pantry challenge

I had so much fun participating in the popular pantry challenge last year, that I wanted to try it again this January. For me, the overall goal is a financial one. As I accomplished last year (barely!), I'm aiming to spend half of our usual monthly food budget. If I meet this goal, I want to bless others with the surplus again. It was so motivating to send a gift to Samaritan's Purse following the Haiti devastation last year, knowing they needed the funds far more than we do!

To help pull this off, I did another inventory to list items I specifically need to use up, which will make my menu planning even more strategic. A friend recently recommended a fun show called "Pantry Raid"* that has inspired me to be extra creative and resourceful in the kitchen! I could use your help, though--anyone have any creative ideas for using crunchy taco shells? Also, I scored two really cheap cans of evaporated milk, but I'm not sure what to do with them. Would love to hear your ideas!

Anyone else care to join me for a version of this challenge? Other ideas are limiting what you can buy (such as only dairy and produce), limiting how many trips you make to the store, etc. What a privilege to be able to even do something like this--considering some people's "pantry challenge" is that their cupboards are bare. Thank You, Lord, for Your provision!

I hope to do several monthly challenges this year, and I will plan to keep you posted on all of that. A smaller thing I'm doing this month is getting rid of 32 things before my 32nd birthday on January 24. I'm scouring our house for 32 items to donate, sell, share, etc.

*I was unable to find an active link for the show, though there's a brief description here. I've been accessing it through our gift subscription to Netflix. Speaking of Netflix, it recently occurred to me that they also offer exercise DVDs. Anyone have a fun one to recommend that's neither too long (over 3o minutes) nor too extreme (50 sets of crunches, 2 push-ups)?


angie said...

I make a potato soup in the crock pot using a can of evaporated milk. It uses carrots, celery, and onions, too. Let me know if you would like the recipe. Yummy at this time of year. It is on my menu for later this week.

Stephanie said...

Our favorite chicken noodle soup recipe calls for evaporated milk. You can find it on; search for "Roasted-Chicken Noodle Soup".

For the taco shells, you can crush them roughly and use them as a base for nachos or as a topping for taco or tortilla soup. Crush them really finely and combine with spices to use for a crumb coating for chicken breasts or as a topping for a southwest style bean and rice casserole.

Allrecipes has an ingredient search. I just went on and searched taco shell and many different recipes came up. One was 'mashed potato tacos'--I love potatoes so that intrigued me! :)

I'm looking forward to hearing how your challenge goes!

kelseylynae said...

I try to buy groceries once every month, and sometimes once every other month. I always try to use nearly everything in my pantry before I head to the store [because I have found if I don't...I waste it!]

Because of this I have had to become creative too! I see that Stephanie already commented on the taco shells: But I have crushed them and used them on various types of casseroles and it works well.

Sometimes my mom will stop by and for some reason she'll need something in the refrigerator/pantry. She is always shocked at how "empty" they appear, and comments that I need to go shopping. However, usually when she makes these comments I have enough for nearly two more weeks! :) I like the challenge...and I know you will succeed again this year.

[And yes, I had to wear gloves to pet the puppy! Maybe I will have to try that trick with all dogs and see if it helps :)]

Mom said...

Great idea! I especially like the idea of donating the surplus (money or food) to people who do not have the blessing of a stocked pantry. I did go to the grocery store on Saturday to stock up on some basics before it snowed, but am challenging myself to make it several weeks without going back to the store (except for milk and bananas).

Evaporated milk can be used in any recipe calling for milk by diluting it (one part water to one part evap. milk). I've done this successfully many times for pancakes, cornbread, sauces, etc.

Love you! Mom

Marva said...

We make choocolate syrup (gravy) with evaporated milk. I usually serve it over hm biscuits for b'fast. I would be glad to share the recipe.


thehomespunheart said...

Great ideas! I was thinking taco salads - crunching up the shells and serving with usual taco goodies.

NeedANap2 said...

You could break up the taco shells and dip in salsa much like a tortilla chip. :)

I've used evap milk in mac 'n cheese when we've run out of milk. I think I recently used some in pumpkin pie.

Pamela said...

Pumpkin pie uses evaporated milk. Corn chowder, too.

We crush the taco shells on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with cheese. Dip in picante or sour cream.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

I was also going to suggest pumpkin pie. I have a recipe for an egg casserole with chilies in it (canned, so not really spicy, IMO). It uses evap milk in it. Let me know if you want the recipe, and I'll type it up.

As for those taco shells, you can just break them up into chips and use them for nachos or in a salad or soup or whatever. Or if you don't want to use meat right now, make black bean tacos. I mix a little jalapeno powder into black beans when we do this.

I'm actually doing the opposite of you right now. My husband is on this survival kick, and he cleared off an entire extra shelf in the garage so I can extend our pantry. I'm out of a lot of things, so I'm working on restocking, rather than using things up right now!

Katie said...

How neat Carrie! Love that you are participating in such worthwhile and practical challenges...and I admire what you do with the results! I will be joining you in this pantry challenge for the rest of this month (however I won't be posting on it)...but I'll give you an update over email. :-) I aim not to have to go to the store until hubby returns! (Except maybe for some dairy/produce as you mentioned.) Yummy creativity is calling! :-) Btw, how many items have you purged to dated for other use?