Friday, July 27, 2012

Cleaning out the pantry

As I've mentioned before, David and I use the eMeals plan to cook a lot of our dinners. It helps us save money at the the store, and we've learned new recipes and become better cooks because of it. Some of the recipes are so good that we've written them down to reuse later.

This week, however, we took a different tactic. I'd cleaned out the fridge and cabinets to get rid of all the old and expired food, but there was still so much left over. We decided to skip the grocery this week and make dinners using whatever we had, until we'd used up all (or at least most) of what was in the fridge and pantry.

We really only had to do this for three nights this week, as we made a big steak dinner (YUM) on Monday night to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, and we have plans to go out tonight to--again--celebrate our anniversary. (Some people celebrate by going on a weekend trip. We just eat a lot.)  :)

I did go to the grocery on Monday for that night's dinner, and I went back again yesterday to get some basics like milk and cereal. But for the other three nights, we made dinner using only what we already had.

Here's what was on the menu:

TUESDAY: Quesadillas

We already had frozen chicken, tortillas, tomato, shredded cheese, onion, and sour cream on hand. We even had chips and salsa. We used our quesadilla maker that was a wedding gift.

WEDNESDAY: Salmon, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and a Caesar salad

David's brother had come over, so we invited him to stay for dinner. Even with the last-minute extra person, we had plenty of food.

THURSDAY: Chicken and pasta with olive oil/spaghetti sauce, tomato, and cheese

I put some frozen chicken in the crockpot along with some cream of broccoli and a little onion and celery. The original plan was to make it with stuffing, and maybe some more green beans, but we changed plans up at the last minute and instead had it with pasta. The olive oil  was for me, and the spaghetti sauce was for David.

Not bad, right? These were real meals I'd cook even if I had a full pantry. On one hand, it's kind of embarrassing to know we have all that food, yet we still keep shopping every week. On the other hand, it feels great to know we're using up food we already have and saving some money along the way.

Even with purchasing steaks, our grocery bill was lower than usual this week, and it would've been considerably lower had we not gotten the steaks (but hey, you have to celebrate the anniversary, right?). We used up the rest of the pasta yesterday. I can't remember the last time we didn't have some pasta in the house!

Do you ever have a no-shopping week to use up food? What are some of your favorite go-to recipes? How do you celebrate anniversaries and other special occasions?

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