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New Year's Pantry Challenge: Hosting a Pantry Party, Day 1

Posted Jan 06 2011 4:13pm
Today's Menu
Breakfast -
Smoothie (persimmon, banana, cranberries, pineapple juice, raw milk)
Veggie Egg Scramble (with collard greens and onions)

Lunch -
Leftover Southwestern Bean & Barley Soup
Whole Wheat Quesadillas
Tangerines/Cuties

Snacks Apple slices
Zookies

Dinner -
Salad with
Stuffed Manicotti
Garlic Bread
Zookies

Today was the first official day of cooking through our New Year's Pantry Challenge . The first day is always a fun day in my mind. I'm flush with the thrill of the challenge, surveying my goods and feeling like it's all manageable. Today was especially ripe with inspiration because I hosted the Pantry Party with some of my friends. I invited people to survey their own pantries, make a list of items they would like to use creatively, and pack a few things to share with others at the party. I wasn't sure how the whole thing would go over.




 Susan (who joined me for the last Pantry Challenge), Mary, Carrie and Forest showed up. We were all surprised by the abundance of food there was to share. My 4-year-old Meilani right away started lining up all the goods on a table and we had our own "Trading Grocery Store." We had fun perusing each other's pantry leftovers. Would you like Chai Tea? Would you use Pad Thai Noodles? How about some Organic White Wine Vinegar? Do you need more oats or lemons?

Mary really cleaned out her pantry - even donating Ziplock bags and toiletries - because she is having her hubby build her a new organizer for her pantry space. That benefitted all of us. We even had an extra bag of groceries that we plan to share with our church's food pantry. These items will be given out to people in the community who are in need.
I got out my favorite recipe binder and my binder of Cooking Club faves to share with our friends. We all dove into my cookbook collection and even searched out some new options online. Susan brought her planned month of meals to inspire us. Forest had a great cookbook to share as well. As a group we brainstormed how to use certain items like lentils, sweet potatoes and apricots that different people had in abundance. Can't wait to taste Carrie's Apricot Chutney using frozen apricots she got from a friend's tree.
In the end, I think we all solidified a week of planned dinners, gathered some new recipes and went home with a bag full of "new groceries." I was pretty stoked about pita bread, Trader Joe's barbecue sauce and a bowl full of lemons and tangerines. Talk about living in community! Today I was struck anew by the abundance we all have in our pantries. I know our finances are limited this month but we truly do have so many resources, especially if we share with other families.


For today's meals, I was able to use ingredients I had bought earlier to bless two other families. Our friends, Troy and Allison, just had a baby and my mom just had surgery. I made one of my favorite "Meals for Company," which is Stuffed Manicotti . I generally make this meal with a Tomato-Meat Sauce but this time I made it a  Marinara Sauce . This saves a little money on extra meat and it's really not necessary since there's already meat and cheese in the filling along with spinach. Both of these sauces are great for making in batches and freezing. I was able to give an extra container of sauce to my friends for their fridge and freeze one of my own. I can use Marinara for pizzas at lunch or over pasta for a dinner on a different day.


What's in your pantry? What ingredients do you have that you need to use up? How were you inspired to use what you have or trade with others? Please share your stories.


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