Well hello again - here we are at Day 19 of our no spend pantry challenge - and it's a freezer challenge too. As mentioned in last week's post, in 2019 we're getting more intentional about reducing our spending, producing less waste, and becoming more self-sufficient on our off grid homestead. (Follow the Off Grid Life Instagram account for the latest pics and recipes we're trying.) And what better way to kick things off than with a no spend pantry challenge?
*This is Part #2 of our Pantry and Freezer Challenge.
Except it's only Day 19 of the 60-day challenge. And we've already had to cheat.
Here's a look at what we ate this week (hint, leftovers are our friend), why we had to cheat, and what we're doing to help reduce our future food costs.
Week Three of the 2019 No Spend Pantry Challenge Meal Pan
As we rolled into the third week of our pantry and freezer challenge, we found ourselves constantly adjusting the amount of food we make at each meal so we wouldn't have too many leftovers. Now don't get me wrong - I love serving leftovers because it cuts back on food waste and it's easy. But I don't always want to eat the same thing three or four nights in a row.
Yet we always seem to make a bit too much for dinner. That could be because we're subconsciously still cooking as if our big kids were living at home. It's been almost two years since we've had three or more kids at the kitchen table regularly.
That said, here's what was on last week's menu. We ate leftovers, salad, tuna sandwiches, and tortillas with salsa and shredded cheese for most of this week's lunches.
Breakfast: bacon and eggs and applesauce (from the freezer)
Dinner: roast beef with carrots, peas, and mashed potatoes
Breakfast: baked oatmeal (without apples this time. I didn't think it was as good, but the girls liked it).
Dinner: leftover chilli and rice with shredded cheese and lettuce
Breakfast: Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins. They were so good. I found a leftover solid chocolate Easter bunny in the cupboard. So I took the hammer to him!
Dinner: Big Cheddar Smokie Sausages from the freezer with leftover mashed potatoes from Sunday's dinner and a scoop of coleslaw for each of us. So good.
Breakfast: More Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins, and smoothies made with frozen fruit from the freezer (bananas in their skins, frozen chunked avocado and strawberries), orange juice and almond milk.
Dinner: More leftovers! We had leftover sausages, mashed potatoes, chilli, and coleslaw.
We baked fresh bread today, and also a blueberry coffeecake with frozen blueberries picked this past summer.
Breakfast: homemade bread and jam and applesauce
Dinner: Jambalaya made with more leftover sausages, shrimp from the freezer, a can of tomatoes and onions and garlic from the pantry, some limp celery that was clinging to life in the fridge crisper, and brown rice. It was tasty but a wee bit too spicy for all of us.
Breakfast: pancakes and eggs and orange juice
Dinner: Dan's Beer Battered Fish with Carrots and Coleslaw. We used up package #2 and #3 of frozen pike fillets (we froze them in 3 lb packages. One pack is just the right amount for the four of us, but we had company last night). And we have six more to get us through this challenge!
We also baked chocolate chip cookies from frozen cookie dough I had made before Christmas. Then whipped up some Honey Bran Muffins to use up the last of the baking bran flakes in the cupboard.
Breakfast: cereal (yup, Sugary Cereal Saturday has rolled around once again.)
Dinner: jambalaya and leftover fish with mixed vegetables from the freezer.
We Meal Plan Week-by-Week
I know several families who use a monthly meal plan, but we stick with a weekly meal plan for several reasons.
- Our routines and activities can vary, so we might not be home as expected for all dinners.
- When we aren't doing a "no spend" pantry challenge or freezer challenge, we like to plan meals based on the weekly local store specials. As we become more self-reliant regarding our food situation, this should change.
- We still have a lot of leftovers. And I'd rather use them up for a dinner mid-week or on the weekend than have to throw them out because they're spoiling.
Why We Had to Buy Some Groceries
One day we hope to include goats, chickens, and other animals on our northern homestead. But we're not there yet. So we just couldn't do 60-days of not spending anything. Before starting the challenge we agreed to buy dairy products, eggs, and almond milk only. I'm lactose-intolerant so this is what I drink).
However, once I inventoried our freezer and pantry, I realized that we would probably need to top up our fruit and vegetables by the second half of the no spend pantry challenge.
I'm all for saving money, but we also want our children to have a healthy balanced diet. And I believe that fresh vegetables and fruit are part of that. So this week Dan also bought two cucumbers and a bag of apples that were on sale.
Related #3: Off Grid Costs: 5 Expenses We Didn't Expect
We're Growing Food Indoors With Grow Lights and an AeroGarden
As much as we love fresh vegetables and fruit, we don't love the price. Produce is expensive in town (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories) because it's driven (or flown) up from Edmonton, Alberta, which is about 1600 kilometres or 990 miles south of us.
Last week we started our indoor winter garden, which means growing lettuce and herbs in our Aerogarden. Sadly, the peppers that were doing so well under our kitchen grow lights were done in by aphids. So we'll plant a new batch of veggies this week.
Next week I'll share our adventures with sourdough starter and growing sprouts in mason jars as part of our pantry and freezer challenge. And if you haven't done so yet, take a good look through your freezer, cupboards and pantry shelves. Use up what you can to make new meals, try new recipes, and save money!
This post is part of the Homestead Blog Hop!