Since January 4th I’ve spent $192.63 on food and food related items. Unfortunately my total food bill is much higher than I anticipated. As part of the eat from the pantry challenge I honestly expected to spend less than $100 this month.

In the three weeks since the challenge began I’ve faced a lot of success and a little bit of failure. On the positive side I’ve managed to maintain menus and food plans that focus exclusively on items available in my pantry. For example, this week we ate stuffing casserole, (from the recipe right off the back of the Stove Top box), because cream of chicken soup, sour cream, frozen veggies and chicken were all available.

Last Saturday night I prepared buffalo chicken, using leftover sauce in the fridge and cooked it alongside a bag of frozen french fries that had been sitting idle in the freezer. This meal wasn’t the most nutritious, but it did enable us to stick to the rules.

That night I also prepared tacos using a combination of defrosted chicken and leftover taco seasoning mix. We ate Mexican pizzas, (taco meat laid out on tortillas and baked in the oven with Mexican cheese) on Monday and Tuesday.

Using on-hand ingredients my husband and I also made the strangest combination of potato hash. We threw whatever half-used items we found in the fridge into the pan and stirred. We ended up with a combination of leftover hash browns, guacamole, onions, bacon and sour cream, which amazingly enough tasted absolutely delicious.

While I feel like we’ve stuck to the rules in terms of nightly dinners I believe we’ve strayed for lunches, snacks and desserts. This week I purchased Edy’s chocolate ice cream and Entenmann’s chocolate cake. Honestly, I should not have bought either. We have the ingredients on hand to make chocolate cake, brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

I also purchased juice this month to take advantage of Naked Juice’s $10 rebate offer. While we had other beverage alternatives available at home I couldn’t convince myself to pass on the deal. My local grocery store was offering all Naked Juice varieties for only $2 a bottle and I had four $1 off coupons. Bottles typically cost between 3 and 4 dollars, so this was a really good bargain. (I LOVE Naked Juice.) Nevertheless it was not in my initial eat from the pantry challenge plan.

I also splurged on walnuts when I should have turned to the pistachios and pecans sitting idle in the cupboard.

Despite the higher food total I am proud of our progress to date. After all the larger bill is due in part to the purchase of organic and natural foods, which I’ve written about multiple times in the last few weeks.

The other good news is that I do not plan to head back to the grocery store for the next seven days, which means my overall total of $192.63 should get us through until at least February 1st.

Now I just need to focus on the meal plan for this week. I hope to eat down whatever half-opened jars remain in the fridge along with a few more boxes and cans that are left on the pantry shelf.