Pantry Challenge: Week 3 Recap

I realized something about this pantry challenge.

I had been planning all year to begin mid-November and hopefully go to mid-March only purchasing dairy products and coffee beans. With the well situation cropping up, however, I felt the wise thing to do would be to start our pantry challenge as soon as possible, and go as long as possible.

This required a great deal of planning, and of faith. Once I made the determination to celebrate what God had provided rather than worry about what I didn’t prepare myself, things started to go much more smoothly.

The Lord provided abundantly, even when I was disappointed in the garden season we had, and the seven weeks of grocery shopping I didn’t get to do before deciding to start the pantry challenge.

He provided in creative, unique, specific ways, and I’m so thankful. How He started the pantry challenge set the tone for us being able to enjoy and appreciate it, rather than resent or fear it.

Turns out my pride was getting in the way of us being taken care of. Once I set that to the side, the Lord moved swiftly, and I am so thankful.

Our Sunday meals started on Saturday. It’s nice to have a day of rest to start the week, and to already have all the following day’s meals prepared and accounted for.

We woke up Sunday morning (10/20) and heated up the breakfast I had made the night before. I call them “mufflettes”. Basically omelette muffins. Eggs, bacon, and cheese mixed together and baked in a muffin tin for individual servings. Those, paired with zucchini muffins for the kids, started our Sunday.

For lunch, the church served tacos and we were happy to be able to stay for that. One more meal we didn’t have to plan or prepare for.

Dinner that evening was a choice of leftover chili skillet or leftover shepherd’s pie.

Monday we had eggs and bacon for breakfast, and the kids each had a zucchini muffin for a mid-morning snack. They’re still excited about the muffins, and I hope that sticks. Goodness knows we have enough zucchini and flour to make these muffins for a very long time. I’ll have to be sparing with the chocolate chips, though…

Lunch was the last of the shepherd’s pie and biscuits, and to have three meals out of that one was such a blessing. A tasty, delicious blessing.

Dinner was tilapia filets sautéed in butter and herbs, and served up with rice, roasted brussels sprouts, and home-canned pears. The brussels sprouts were the last fresh greens we’d have for awhile.

I used our one and only bag of garden green beans in our shepherd’s pie the previous week, and I’m saving our one and only bag of garden peas to use for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Of course we have loads of zucchini, which I suppose counts just as much as any other fresh green.

Tuesday morning was a chilly and windy one, and we enjoyed a hot breakfast of omelettes. I used one slice of bacon, a diced tomato, and a chopped bell pepper along with eggs and shredded cheese. The kids don’t mind the veggies cooked in breakfast, and it’s another way to make bacon stretch across multiple people for a meal.

The tomato and pepper are from the last of the harvest we brought in when we put the garden to sleep before the blizzard showed up earlier in the month.

Lunch was leftover rice from the night before, with some fresh cooked stew meat I needed to use up from when I made the shepherd’s pie days earlier. In fact, now that I’m recapping, I can just tell you – we had leftovers every day this week for lunch. It was yummy every time.

Dinner was home-canned chicken soup with the addition of chickpea rotini noodles. I think I found them at Costco at some point over the summer. They were okay – definitely not a favorite. The soup itself was quite good, though. We added handfuls of almond-flour crackers to our stomachs, and it was all quite satisfying. Dinner had to be something quick and simple, since I was headed to town to facilitate support group that evening.

Wednesday morning it seemed a little harder for me to get going. The kids had zucchini muffins for breakfast, and I had a greek yogurt with a spoonful of collagen powder added. I’ve heard it’s healthy, so… *shrug*

Dinner, thanks to the Instant Pot, was BBQ beef sandwiches, served with home-canned pickles. I put a beef roast in before we left that afternoon, and when we returned home, I shredded it quickly and added some BBQ sauce. We served it up on some hot dog buns we had in the freezer, while Hubs ate just the meat, no bun.

The kids were more than satisfied with their servings of dill pickles, and I wished I liked them. There is only one kind of pickle I have found myself fond of, and even a homemade dill isn’t tasty to me.

Thursday breakfast was eggs, bacon, and zucchini muffins. Hot delicious breakfast is the way to go, especially since we haven’t purchased any cereal since last December.

Dinner was tacos, once again bringing homemade tortillas into the mix. I made sure to double the tortilla recipe so we could have even more on hand to feed my addiction to use for other meals. We used ground beef, home-canned pinto beans, homemade salsa, sour cream, and some colby-jack cheese I shredded.

Friday morning I made breakfast scramble, cooking up two pieces of bacon and chopping small to add in with scrambled eggs, diced bell pepper, and shredded cheese. Hubs and the kids each had the scramble and I turned mine into a breakfast burrito.

Dinner was pork chops, the last of the brussels sprouts (roasted in olive oil and salt and so crispy and delicious) and zucchini, applesauce, and biscuits.

The secret to amazing pork chops is: cast iron skillet. Really, the secret to any exceptional meal is to cook it in cast iron. It was delicious, and everyone approved.

I was feeling especially thankful for what we’d been able to eat the previous few weeks, so I dug some raspberries out of the freezer and made a bit of an impromptu dessert, whipping together the berries and some cream.

There were many smiles and happy conversations shared around the table that night, and as the raspberries had been picked from Farmer John’s raspberry bush, it brought sweet memories of him to mind.

Saturday breakfast was just a light serving of eggs, as we then all headed to Little Miss’ Daddy/Daughter Pumpkins & Pancakes event with her American Heritage Girls troop. (We all went because I help with the troop, and we couldn’t leave Little Man by himself.)

Lunch therefore was a light snack of a few leftovers as well, since we had the pancakes only briefly before.

Dinner was chicken (cooking another of our meat birds), roasted zucchini, and fried rice (jasmine rice, scrambled egg, diced bacon, and Bragg’s liquid aminos), and some leftover biscuits.

I used what was left of the chicken to make our dinner meal for Sunday, and it was one I knew the kids especially would be a fan of. But more on that next week.

The longer we go in this pantry challenge, the more thankful I’m becoming. To see how solely relying on my own preparation and fear was a hindrance, not a help, is quite humbling.

To see how setting aside my pride allowed for the Lord to move in incredible ways, is quite humbling. It’s been three full weeks of our cups running over with His goodness and mercy.

I am so thankful.

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