Pantry Challenge. I've been doing them for YEARS...
Actually, I used to subscribe to a Yahoo Group by that name, where people supported each other through their pantry challenge weeks - the support was great, even if the suggestions didn't always work for a kosher home! I loved the creativity and the resourcefulness of that group!
What's a pantry challenge all about anyway? It's about not shopping. Instead, you focus on using up whatever is already in your house - the purpose being to reduce spending and use up food that typically sits in the pantry or freezer and doesn't get used, becoming a waste of money AND space.
I do them at different times for different reasons.
Most of my pantry challenges have been inspired by the need to clear out the pantry. Whether pre-move or pre-Pesach, or pre-big event - there are times when you just must use up what you already have!
Then there are the times when I've had to do a pantry challenge due to lack of funds to buy more food, and those tend to be rather... interesting, as those are really designed just to "get by" until there's more cash available, and they don't always coincide with times when the fridge or freezer is full! That's when you figure out how to make the most creative meals, in my experience - when you somehow have to make a meal out of whatever odds and ends you have!
Here's the anatomy of a typical pantry challenge meal in my house - at least at the beginning, when we're still relatively well stocked.
Grains ~ Frozen Veggies ~ Beans or Lentils ~ Cheap fresh veggies ~
So this time here's what it looks like:
Homemade bread (this time it came out of the freezer, but it was made of whole spelt and rye flour (the whole rye flour was really cheap at Rami Levy one day, I think it was under 5 shekels/kg - so I stocked up)
Rice - this was long brown rice, bought in bulk from a dry goods store - I think it was 7 shekels/kg, and this was about 1/2 a kilo of rice...
Veggies - I picked up red peppers at the makolet from the sug bet rack today, so they cost 2 shekels/kilo - I used about half a kilo for this dinner. I simply cut them, tossed with olive oil, and roasted them!
Green beans - these were picked up on sale for 5 shekels a bag (a deal I couldn't pass up - even though we don't eat tons of frozen green beans!), tossed with garlic, black pepper, smoked paprika, and a smidge of olive oil.
Chick-pea Fritters - these were made of chick pea flour, ground flaxseed, and a whole bunch of spices, like salt, pepper, parsley flakes, granulated garlic, and cumin. Pan-fried and a big hit.
I had some spicy sauces around, and some of us mixed up bowls of rice with veggies and spicy sauce. Others prefer to eat everything separately.
I've spent the last decade trying to figure out ways to make meals acceptable to all of my family members - even though there are hardly even 2 things they will all agree to eat at the same time! That's why the majority of our meals are made of of individually cooked foods that can be combined in different ways, including this one. No one has to feel that they weren't thought of, and I don't have to spend all day catering individual meals! It's a recipe for success - even when we're doing a pantry challenge!
Anyone else out there doing a pantry challenge this week? Let me know what you're serving!