Menu Plan Monday – July 22, 2013 – Pantry Challenge Update

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

Last week I surprised myself by actually following the meal plan most of the week.  It wasn’t until Thursday that I deviated, and then it was only for Thursday and Friday.  The deviation meant that I ‘took’ a meal from later in the month and had it this week instead.  One reason was that we are hoping to invite some friends over for one of the meals.  The reason for the substitution of the other meals?

  1. I had used the freezer meal earlier in the month to give to someone needing a meal.  
  2. I just didn’t have leftovers in the house.  Is that a good thing or bad?  Either way, it meant opening the freezer and looking for ‘leftovers’ there.  Technically still leftovers, just not the kind I was thinking of.

This is the flexibility having a monthly meal plan provides – if life happens, you substitute one of the other meals you you already have items for.  Not searching through the pantry for inspiration.

We also tried a few meals last week.  Finally we had another one that didn’t turn out, and so we won’t be trying again.  Another had a good flavor, the cappuccino mousse, but the texture wasn’t one we liked.  I have a better mousse recipe and will combine both recipes to make this flavor again in the future.

Pantry Challenge Update: I have most of the ingredients for this month’s meals.  I still have some fresh produce to purchase this week and next.  I am pretty sure I can come in under $70 per person this month.  

As of today I have spend  $66 per person for the month. This month’s spending is down from my 3-month average of $97.41, 6-month average of $93, and 12-month average of $94.47.  Wow.  Those number really show that on average I spend about the same per person each month, even if some months are much higher/lower than others.  My goal is $60 per person per month.  As you can see, I haven’t been meeting that number.  The question then is, why not?  The answer is simple.  I’ve been keeping track of my spending in my head.  When I see a ‘good deal’ I buy as much as possible to “save gas and time on having to go to the store”, rather than enough to last till the next sale.  Sometimes this is warranted.  (Such as when I found boneless, skinless chicken on sale for $.99/lb due to the store having ordered too much.)  Most times it isn’t.  (The canned vegetables will go on sale again in about 3 months.)  The extra I spend one month gets forgotten the next month, resulting in habitual overspending.  The solution?  I need to start writing my spending down as I shop and checking the monthly totals before leaving to go to the store.

My spending this month as included taking 3+ meals to other families that had a need for one reason or another.  We have also shared several of our dessert extras.  This just goes to show that lending a helping hand doesn’t have to cost a lot or be overly involved.  A few times the dessert we made would have resulted in extras for days if we kept them to ourselves. (Not something you want if you are trying to not gain weight.) Instead, I gave a call to someone whom had been too under the weather to cook and had family visiting.  They willingly took the extra desserts and their guests “suffered through” helping us out.  Later I was told that one visiting family member said, “Wow. That {having dessert brought over} would never happen where we live.”  To which the hostess said, “It happens more than you might think.”  Hinting that we have called them before to ‘help us out’ in this area.  You never know what small action might leave an impact.

Week before last, in Pantry Challenge fashion, I made due with what we had in the house rather than go buy something from the store.  The menu said, “tomato soup”.  The pantry produced enough for one person.  Hmm.  We still had extra cream of celery soup mix so I grabbed that, a kid, and a few items out of the fridge.  Why the kid?  I wanted to use this as a first “cooking” lesson beyond cooking noodles.

To the can of cream of celery, we the kid cut up left over potatoes from the fridge and added them to the pot.  Additionally, bacon crumbles and shredded cheese were added. The little chef was so proud of the resulting dish.





My husband is not a fan, to put it lightly, of melted cheese.  He got the tomato soup.  The rest of us had cheesy potato and bacon soup.  Coming from someone who usually needs a recipe to follow, I was pretty proud of the inspiration and the result.

I don’t usually by cream of celery soup, so I am thinking this was from Thanksgiving/Christmas time last year when these go on sale for a decent price.  There are only a few of my recipes that call for this ingredient and so my pantry doesn’t hold many of these.  I am glad to have found a use for those that may be close to their ‘best if used by’ date.

shake ingredients


  1. Crepes, maple syrup, blackberries, juice
  2. Cereal
  3. Eggs/omelettes, toast, fruit
  4. Muffins
  5. Pumpkin Shakes
  6. Oatmeal (with cooked apples)
  7. Eggs, toast, bacon, fruit

Pot Roast with Bacon and Vegetables collage


  1. Eat Out
  2. Salad
  3. Eat Out – use gift card
  4. Chinese Styel BBQ Pork, rice, grilled veggies
  5. Spicy Pan Fried Sirloin Steak with noodles, peas
  6. Spice Rubbed Pork Chops with Grilled Zucchini, rice
  7. Pecan Stuffed Pork Chops, Marinated Zucchini Salad, Pineapple Buckle

Banana Sunday Puff collage


A note about the Banana Sunday Puff pictured above: There is no picture of the final, put together dish because it was eaten too fast.  Yes, this is a repeat recipe.


  1. Bread, cheese, jam, tea
  2. Red-Currant-Pomegranate Glazed Ham, mashed potatoes, beets
  3. Caribbean Pasta Salad with Tropical Isand Dressing
  4. Salad
  5. Tomato soup, croutons, crackers
  6. Leftovers
  7. TBD


Have you found inspiration in making a dish this week?  Tried a new dish?


Linked up with OrgJunkie.

For more ideas also check out This Week For Dinner.

Also check out Confessions of a Homeschooler’s July’s Monthly Meal Plan.