Friday, April 6, 2012

Life & Style: Pantry + Freezer Challenge, Part 1

For all of April, we're doing a Pantry + Freezer challenge! Join us as we cook up dishes using ingredients on hand. We'll be sharing our experiences with our challenge throughout the month in a special Life & Style series. Check back every Friday for new posts, and check out what our menu plan is each week in our What's for Eats This Week posts on Sundays.

Each week, we try anywhere from two to five new main dish recipes, one to three side dish recipes and one to three miscellaneous recipes (beverages, desserts, appetizers, etc.). All of that cooking and experimenting can take a toll on our time, budget and space. When a muffin recipe calls for 22 and isn't easily halved (if it calls for three eggs for example), we make all 22 muffins. But our family size is only two and even eating a muffin every day leaves us with extra muffins at the end of the week, and muffins can't really be counted on to be good past seven days.

Since our freezer is chock full of extras, we decided to proclaim April a pantry + freezer challenge month. We're going to cook mainly from our pantry and freezer. Our meals will be simpler which will be great for time, and our meals will be mainly from what we already have on hand which will be great for our grocery budget. Plus, at the end of the month, we anticipate to have some extra room in our pantry and freezers.

While I wasn't on board with this idea in the past, I've recently came around to the idea of proclaiming a month or a week a pantry + freezer cooking period. When I recently shared the idea with my husband, Jason, he didn't seem so on board at first. But when he realized how much time he, as head chef, would have and how much money we could accrue in our grocery envelope, he was all on board. We had originally thought June would be a good time for this challenge, but mid-March, he looked at me and said, "We really need to do that pantry thing now."

My main worry, both in the past and now, about a pantry + freezer challenge is that we might get bored with the more limited menu options. I've created our menu for the month, and I'm optimistic we can carry out our challenge. It helps that we're planning to eat dinner at our Nana's house once, we're eating out for lunch for Jason's birthday, and we're planning a special dinner out on Saturday, April 28 to celebrate the end of our pantry + freezer challenge (we plan our menus by entire weeks, and that's the last full week in April).

So far, we've completed the first week of our challenge, and we're doing okay. We have more time because we're making less new meals, and our pantry is very slowly getting a teeny tiny dent in it. We did eat out for a couple of meals, so we're going to try and not do that at all next week.

We would love to have you join us in this challenge, be it for the entire month or one week! If you've done a challenge like this before, we'd love to know how it worked out for you and if you would do one again.


Carlye Jean Rankin said...

This is a great idea! We did the freezer meals last month and it would have saved us money if the meals I made were good. haha I found recipes from another blog and they did not work out for us plus the chicken I got from Sam's Club was terrible.

We threw out 4 meals (so far) - I contacted Sam's Club and they thanked me for letting them know. lol

That being said, I like the idea of freezer cooking and eating out of the pantry. I just will not make them meals all at once. :D

I wish you guys luck! I can't wait to read more!

Jess and Jason said...

Oh no!!!! That's horrible about the chicken and all that. We're mostly just eating things that are in the freezer that we've had before - steak, ground beef, things like that :)

But in trying new recipes, I feel your pain. Sometimes, we have to pitch a meal and just go to Subway. We like to try new recipes because we often find new favorites, but in those, we also find horrible recipes :)