Seven: “It Is Finished”

Seven weeks. I can hardly believe it even as I type it out. Forty-nine days, 147 meals, eating well from what we have in our cupboards or freezers. The intentionality and discipline this has raised up from within me is worth the challenge itself.

Sunday (11/17) we started the day with a breakfast of leftover quiche from the night before, and I poured two travel mugs full of coffee to take to church. It’s been hard to get going in the mornings lately.

For lunch, there was a Thanksgiving meal served after church, which we were happy to stay for. They served ham and potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, and apple crisp with homemade whipped cream for dessert.

Dinner was a contest, and I loaded up a crock pot of my cheesy potato soup and headed to our friends’ house. I didn’t win, but my soup was my favorite. I should mention no one brought dessert (which is the opposite of what we expected to happen) so the hostess made some peanut butter popcorn – and now I have a new favorite self-harm. I ate so much of that stuff, and was miserable as a result.

Monday breakfast was the usual yogurt, eggs, bacon, and toast. And coffee. I also killed a spider in the house, and while this has nothing to do with our pantry challenge, I feel it deserves to be noted I was brave and courageous one time.

Lunch was leftover soup for me and Little Man. Have I mentioned how much I love my potato soup? Little Miss declared she was not a fan of “potato chunks in soup”. She made herself a turkey and cheese sandwich instead.

Dinner was a little bit of a creative twist. I combined a pound of ground pork with a pound of ground beef and turned it into meatballs with various spices and seasoning. I baked them and served them up with fried rice, roasted and pureed honey baby squash (from our garden) and a jar of pears.

The meatballs were a big hit, thankfully.

Tuesday breakfast was eggs and bacon, because I had a big project to work on and needed a quick fix for the first meal of the day.

Lunch was an open face sandwich, yogurt, and pears for the kids and a havarti/salami cheesewich for me.

Dinner was leftovers (soup or meatballs with the rice and squash) for the family while I had a catered dinner at a fundraising training meeting I attended. Lucky me, being all professional and stuff.

Wednesday breakfast was eggs and bacon, though I used both sparingly to feed us. I started baking two more loaves of bread, because we were all out.

Wednesday lunch was not much of a lunch – I gave the kids slices of cheese, crackers, and an apple. I think I had a few slices of cheese, and got back to work.

Dinner Wednesday night was supposed to be meatloaf, but because of the hectic day and my harried brain, that didn’t happen. We had eggs and bacon and toast for dinner and the kids charted off to Awana with Hubs that night.

Thursday breakfast was eggs and toast. Lunch was grilled cheese (or grilled cheese and turkey) sandwiches. Some days for lunch there is nothing tastier than a grilled cheese sandwich. This is why we go through bread so fast.

Thursday night dinner was mac and cheese for the kids, the last of the potato soup for me, and eggs and bacon for Hubs. The menu thing had fallen apart the previous night, and I had a hard time getting it back together.

Friday morning was more eggs and bacon for everyone. Lunch was sandwiches. Same ol’, same ol’.

For dinner Friday night I made the meatloaf we were supposed to have on Wednesday – and I completely made up the recipe, just like I do every time I cook anything. I threw in some oats, eggs, thyme, garlic, onion, salt, celery powder, and ketchup and Worcestershire. I served it up with mashed potatoes and pureed honey baby squash with butter and cinnamon, and it was delicious!

Breakfast Saturday was scramble, and Little Miss and I had to high tail it out of town because everything under the sun was going on that day. We packed our lunch to go, so we had yogurt and PB&Js. [Hubs and Little Man went bowling while we were gone and had bowling alley pizza.]

Dinner that night was a real treat. Our neighbor heard that we had never had pheasant, and he brought over some he had hunted and gave it to us to try. Eight pieces of pheasant meat were coated in egg/milk, breaded in a flour/cornmeal/Italian seasoning mixture, and cooked up in the cast iron skillet in some sizzling ghee. It. Was. Amazing. We’re fans of pheasant!

We had it with leftover potatoes and pureed squash, and I also served it up with cheese quesadillas made with some lefse we had brought home that day (one of the activities Little Miss and I jetted off to for the afternoon). Homemade traditional lefse is heavenly, and with butter and sugar it’s downright THE BEST THING EVER, but if you skip the sugar and add cheese and fry it up, it’s also delicious!

Pheasant and lefse – our lives will never be the same.

Our menu fell off the rails Wednesday and didn’t quite recover, but here’s the thing – we didn’t throw caution to the wind and just order out. We still made do with what we had on hand, and wrapped up seven weeks of eating from our freezer and pantry (and neighborly gifts).

Seven is a holy number biblically, and usually signifies a time of completion.

Hubs has been a trooper eating what I’ve made this entire time, but he is really wanting to get back to his dietary ways which requires more meat and protein, some of which we’re quite low on. Also, in order to make our own bread and other baked goods (especially cookies or muffins to gift away in the upcoming holiday season), we need additional flour as well.

We’ll be re-stocking with those things in the coming days, but still carry on with the pantry challenge of eating what we have on hand, not eating out, and digging deep in the pantry and freezer to make meals work.

So I suppose while we’ll be continuing, the fact that we’re shopping to restock some staples means we made it seven weeks. Before the freezer is full of more bacon and ground beef, we’ll have gone over 50 days only purchasing milk, cheese, and cream from the grocery store. (We didn’t even have to buy more coffee during that time – we had enough!)

Maybe we’ll go another 50+ days before shopping again. Either way, I’m thankful for the lessons we’ve learned, the money we’ve saved, and the creative, wholesome ways the Lord has provided an abundance of food the last seven weeks.

Our pantry challenge is not at all about a scarcity mindset – it’s about the abundance (of food, creativity, blessing) we have right in front of us.

I am so thankful.

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