Monday, June 17, 2013

30-Day Challenge...Update!

We are officially on day five of my 30-day food challenge. As a brief recap, I noticed our pantry, freezer, and garden were overflowing with bounty, yet we still had a fairly good-sized grocery bill each month. So I challenged us to go 30 days eating strictly out of our pantry and cupboard, freezer, and garden (making exceptions for things we can't produce: milk, cheese, eggs, some fresh fruits, and the occasional loaf of bread).

Cam has been awfully tempted to go down to the grocery store to purchase something for dinner. And to be completely honest, he's not alone. Some nights, after a long day, all you want to do is get food in your belly; no forethought, no preparation, no mess, very little clean-up. But we have stuck with it and so far, so good! Here's what we found for dinner so far:

Day 2:
 By the end of the second day, I found myself alone, once again, for supper. I wanted something quick and tasty...I was just hungry to be quite frank. I found a few shrimp in our freezer, along with a small piece of baguette, and peas. Along with my homemade rhubarb dressing, avocado, goat cheese, and fresh garden salad fixings, I created a wonderfully tasty shrimp salad. I quickly sautéed the shrimp in garlic and olive oil and placed them atop my salad. It wasn't anything fancy but it was delicious!

Day 3:
We decided to hold a spur-of-the-moment garage sale first thing this morning so we were preoccupied all day. We didn't have time to think about getting anything out for dinner, nor did we have the gumption to try our hand at something new.

So we fell back to a classic: spaghetti with homemade venison pasta sauce. We did a quick microwave thaw of a pound of ground venison. We browned half, and made the other half into burgers and placed them into the freezer for another day (I have a feeling they will appear as our evening meal in the very near future :). I had some homemade pasta sauce in the freezer, so we thawed that and added it to the browned meat. This set atop a bowl full of spaghetti, finished with parmesan and a small salad and garlic toast,..yumm! Quick comfort food, made with our fresh produce and meat! It was scrumptious!

 Day 4: Sushi night!!

 Tonight, we wanted to treat ourselves to something a bit more time consuming and fancier than what we had been doing. But, of course, it still had to stick with my challenge guidelines. We bent the rules slightly - because it sounded soooo good - by going to the deli at our local grocery store and buying 4 imitation crab legs (I know, we're cheap...sometimes, they cant even get it to register on the scale so they give it to us as a 'sample'!). Aside from that, we had everything else.

We had tried a few new ingredients in a few of the rolls. We added mango, created a spicy crab with a wasabi mayo we had on hand, avocado, and the usual veggies. They were so divine!

As a quick side note: we found that Trader Joes carries a premade seaweed salad mix. We bought one a while back and used it with this meal. While it is slightly different from the restaurant salad, it was equally delicious! It mad a decent amount; along with the sushi we made, it was plenty for two...but I could definitely have eaten more:)

Day 5:

 After work, I opened the door of the freezer hoping something would just jump out at me saying 'eat me!' That didn't happen, so I rummaged through the shelves looking for something a little different. I found a pound of ground chicken that desperately needed to be used. That was going to be dinner. Easy enough.

A while back, I made a Thai dish that was easy and really good. Something about the salty-spicy-sweetness of homemade Thai cuisine sounded really good tonight, so I went with it.

I just picked our Bok Choy (yay!!) that I grew from seed early this spring. I chopped up a small head of that and added it to the browned meat. I made a sauce of lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, sugar, and toasted sesame oil, and added it to the meat and veg mix. I made some whole-wheat couscous to be the bed for this beautiful Thai stir fry. I topped it with fresh cilantro and the mango we had left-over from sushi the night before. It was perfect!


So far, so good! We've diligently stuck with it! It can be challenging but I have found it to be fun. It has forced us to be creative with what we have and to make the most of the beautiful produce we are so blessed to have growing out our front and back doors!

Have you joined us in this challenge? If so, what kinds of things have you come up with in these past few days? If you haven't, consider joining me! It's a fun new little journey.



  1. great post Jen! This was so fun to read! I wish I could do this challenge. maybe someday when im not too lazy to start a garden ;)

    1. Thanks Carah! I'll get you in the garden yet... :)

  2. Love that you're doing this, and that you're bringing all of us along with you! When we do it, we usually have a minestrone pot running through the middle of it. The nice thing about minestrone is that you can make it with whatever is needing to be used up, and add whatever is ready to harvest in the garden. Once, during an uber-busy season of canning and missions, we kept a pot going for a whole week! We just kept adding to it every day when we reheated, and the flavor got better and richer. We fed our family of four, plus about ten guests, and managed to keep the chard, zucchini, parsley and basil harvests under control in the process. Oh, and it freezes well, also.

    1. This is a perfect idea! There is nothing quite like minestrone that is full of your own gardens bounty! Cam loves soup so I may have to try this out over the summer when we tend to have a bit more produce than we can eat, preserve, and give away! And I love the suggestion about freezing perfect it would be for the long and cold nights of fall and winter!
      Thanks so much for sharing and thanks for joining me in the little culinary journey!