Tag Archives: prudent pantry

As we continue to de-clutter and get rid of things it’s time for an end of the year pantry challenge! My goal is to clean out our chest freezer so that I can sell it. When the house eventually sells we are not planning to move our beloved chest freezer. The freezer is almost empty so what better time to do an end of the year pantry challenge.pantry challenge


For the next two weeks I am going to only purchase items from the grocery store that are absolutely necessary such as fresh vegetables and possibly some dairy. I will give myself a budget of $50 for the two weeks. I will be utilizing food from our pantry and freezer. Hopefully by the end of the two weeks our chest freezer will be empty and I can list it for sale.


There is actually not a lot in the chest freezer at the moment other than some frozen peas and some frozen spinach, a few chicken breasts, some ground beef and a package of sesame seeds. I will work on eating out of the refrigerator freezer as well so any items still left in the chest freezer can be moved. At the end of the two weeks the chest freezer just needs to be empty!


This is what there is to work with for the next two weeks: in the upstairs freezer thare are two containers of applesauce, some cooked chicken meat, two small containers of mushrooms soup, a container of spaghetti sauce with meatballs and a hambone. Plenty to work with!pantry challenge


This challenge begins today! First up on the list is making some homemade split pea soup. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice bowl of soup for dinner? I will use the applesauce to make some applesauce bread. Hopefully I can make a couple of small loaves to give away over the holidays. That is if I have enough room in our upstairs freezer!


Pantry Challenge Menu


Monday: Split Pea Soup

Tuesday: Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Wednesday: Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Thursday: Turkey Meatloaf

Friday: Baked Chicken breasts

Saturday: Meatball grinders

Sunday: Mushroom Soup and a salad


For breakfast we alternate between oatmeal, homemade granola and eggs. If inspired I might even make pancakes or waffles (much to my husband’s delight, he claims they are an excellent excuse to enjoy our local maple syrup!). Lunch will be leftovers or sandwiches from what is on hand. I’m hoping this will inspire me to make better use of the food we do have in stock. I usually cook meals from scratch but don’t always do a good job with using things already in the pantry! Next week I’ll give an update on our progress! If you’re a local reader let me know if you’re interested in a chest freezer! It is still under warranty!pantry challenge


If you’d like any of the recipes I’m going to be making please comment below and let me know, I’d be glad to share them! This challenge is something we’re taking on personally, would any of my faithful readers like to join us in our end of the year pantry challenge?

Yes, our house is on the market and yes I still have a producing vegetable garden! After all I have no idea how long it will take to sell our home and I still believe in having a well-stocked pantry. Plus, I don’t want any of the harvest to go to waste! So how do I preserve our harvest? Here are a few ways.

Garlic: I just pulled our garlic and it is currently drying for a few days before I make garlic braids. I grow just enough to get us through until next summer!Garlic braids

Zucchini – There are many ways to use up zucchini. Two favorite ways are;

Zucchini CakeChocolate Zucchini Cake

Zucchini RelishZucchini Relish

Tomatoes – I have already been enjoying the gold cherry tomatoes, which haven’t made it up to the house yet! When we have too many to eat I often will dehydrate the cherry tomatoes. I also make a terrific Tomato Basil Sauce and an amazing Salsa. Another favorite is my Oven Roasted Pizza Sauce, nothing tastes better on one of my husbands amazing pizzas!Sausage and Pepper PizzaHerbs: I often dry herbs and as a result I have an abundance of dried herbs in my pantry!fresh herbsHerbs can also be frozen and used during the winter.Freezing herbs in an ice cube tray.

Beans: I love fresh garden beans and usually we eat most everything I grow but if there is an abundance I will either can or freeze the excess.Beans for the freezer!Apples: We don’t have apple trees, but there are numerous orchards nearby. I love picking apples and every year will can up enough applesauce to see us through the winter. Homemade applesauce does not compare to the store bought version!canning, prudent pantry

Leeks: I don’t grow leeks every year but when I do they usually do very well in our garden. There are several ways I preserve the leeks, either by dehydrating or by freezing.freezing, prudent living

Kale: Kale can also be preserved much like the leeks.greens, freezing, prudent living

Peppers: If you have excess peppers in your garden or even if you don’t you can buy them during the summer months for much cheaper than in the winter. Buy them now and freeze them to enjoy this winter!prudent living

In addition to these methods of preserving the harvest I also do a lot of canning, both with a water bath and a pressure cooker. Check out my Top 20 Canning Posts for more ideas.rhubarb, cannin

Whether you use your pantry or your freezer take advantage of cheaper prices during the summer months and preserve the harvest!

It’s hard to have a house on the market as I am really trying to eat from the pantry so I don’t have to move it all. At the same time it could take several years for us to sell out home and I don’t want any of that harvest to go to waste! Best way to avoid waste is to preserve the harvest! What are your favorite ways to preserve your harvest?Autumn Harvest

I grew up in a very frugal home, my mom saved everything! My mother would never have thought to throw out food. It was repurposed into soup or used for lunch, but never thrown out. As a result of my upbringing I have always used leftovers. I also wash out plastic baggies and plastic cutlery for repeated use and when I get a chance I shop in thrift stores and garage sales!

Even before pita bread was a common grocery staple my mother was buying it. If we didn’t eat it up the leftovers were used to make pita chips. I often enjoy the pita chips more than the pita bread!

You will find endless possibilities for these simple chips, which are a great substitute for greasy potato chips and a thrifty use of stale pita bread!Start with some pitas.

Pita Chips

Pitas, cut in half crosswise and then split open
Butter or olive oil, at room temperature
Garlic salt
Dried parsley
(Other dried herbs of your choice)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread each pita lightly with butter or olive oil and transfer to a baking sheet. Sprinkle them lightly with garlic salt and parsley.Cut pitas in half and spread with butter or olive oil.

Bake the pitas for about 15 minutes or until browned. Watch carefully so they don’t burn!

Cool the pitas completely on the baking sheet and then break apart into tortilla chip size pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to five days.Homemade pita chips.



What are compotes you may ask? Compotes are fresh or dried fruits slowly cooked in sugar syrup to retain their shape. They frequently contain wine or liqueur. Remember all those sour cherries I picked last week? I have a double batch of Sour Cherry Cordial sitting on our counter and I also wanted to try making Cherry Compote. The suggested uses were serving it over a slice of cheesecake or pound cake. Sounded good to me! Well the recipe was so delicious I immediately made a second batch. We’ll be lucky if this lasts until the winter!Cherry Compote

Hopefully you can find an orchard near you where you can pick sour cherries!

Cherry Compote

1 cup dry red wine
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
4 cups fresh or frozen pitted sour cherries
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp Sour Cherry Cordial or Kirsch

Before you start prepare some jars for canning using a water bath method.

Place the wine, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high het, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cherries and return to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.Cherry Compote

Remove hot jars from your canner. Remove the cherries from the liquid with a slotted spoon and pack into the jars. Continue simmering the syrup until it is reduced to 2/3 cup.Cherry Compote

Stir together the cornstarch and water and stir into the syrup. Return to a boil and boil gently for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the cordial.

Pour the syrup over the cherries to within ½ inch of the rim. Place jar lids on and process 15 minutes for half pint jars and 20 minutes for pint jars.

Makes exactly three ½ pints.

Delicious served over vanilla ice cream!Cherry Compote


Sour cherries grow in Vermont but their season is short, sometimes only two weeks long! If we have an unusually cold spring there might not be any sour cherries. Last Friday my husband and I decided to go on an adventure and find some elusive sour cherries to pick!sour cherries

There was an orchard on the Vermont – New York border, a little more than an hour away that had sour cherries, so off we went!sour cherries

It was a cloudy cool day and the grass was wet from the night’s rain but the cherries were indeed abundant and easy to pick. With my husband and I picking we managed to pick 13 pounds of cherries in a little over an hour! They were absolutely beautiful!sour cherries

You may ask what I’m going to do with all those cherries? The first thing to do was to pit them. The folks at the orchard said not to waste my money on a cherry picker but to just use a paper clip. A little tedious but easy and I put some music on and pitted away!sour cherries

Next I mixed up a batch of my wonderful Sour Cherry Cordial. So easy to make and it is the essence of summer! You must be patient as it takes four months before you can enjoy it. However, it is the perfect drink to enjoy in the middle of winter sitting in front of the wood stove! It’s been years since I made a batch so I doubled the recipe. After all it does make a nice gift when placed in a fancy bottle!

Sour Cherry Cordial

2 ½ pounds of sour cherries
3 cups vodka
3 cups of sugar

Put the vodka and washed, crushed cherries (without stems) in a large container.sour cherries cordial

Let the cherry vodka mix sit in a cool dark place for one month. Shake occasionally.sour cherries cordial

After a month, add the sugar, and let sit another month, shaking when you think of it. Strain, bottle, and let age for four months.

Drink as an aperitif, or digestif, chilled or warm, in small glasses. We enjoy it over crushed ice.

As I sip the cordial I will remember our outing and the warm sunny days of picking sour cherries in the orchard.cordial, prudent pantry, prudent living

I did not use all 13 pounds of cherries in the cordial, I also have two bags of pitted cherries to use for cherry compote and/or a pie! Plus I gave my neighbor two pounds and in exchange she is going to give me a jar of her delicious cherry blueberry jam!

We’ve all got our favorite herbs and spices, but some ingredients are basics. For many, sugar starts off the day in your tea or coffee. Sugar is also a key ingredient in many treats. Salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar are also non-negotiable. As for condiments, many can be made at home and they’ll most likely taste better that way. A few recipes will get you started, but if you’re curious, head to the store and take a look at the labels on items like specialty dips, taco seasoning and cocktail sauce. You might be surprised to learn you have all the necessary ingredients at home.

Here is a list of the basic pantry items:
Olive oil
Vegetable oil
Herbs and spices you use the most
Tea and/or coffee

My favorite Taco Seasoning recipe.
1 Tbsp chili powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepperKeep your red spices in the freezer for maximum freshness.

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

Homemade Cocktail Sauce is another easy sauce to whip up at home. I love shrimp in any form and once you try this homemade shrimp cocktail sauce you will never buy it in a bottle again! Best news is that you can make it up to a week ahead and store in your refrigerator. Makes enough for about 8-10 servings.

Homemade Cocktail Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons horseradish, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 to 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined.

Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and add more horseradish or any of the other ingredients to suite your taste. When you’re happy with the sauce, transfer it to a small serving bowl.

Cook the shrimp by poaching them in boiling water, pan-frying them on the stove, or roasting them in the oven until opaque. Arrange the shrimp around the cocktail sauce and serve hot or cold. Delicious!shrimp cocktail

Homemade salad dressing is another great way to use the ingredients you have on hand. This is my favorite balsamic vinaigrette that only has five ingredients! Store the leftovers in the refrigerator and if the dressing thickens just bring to room temperature before serving.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
6 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp pure maple syrup
2 tsp Dijon mustard
6 Tbsp olive oil

Combine the vinegar, lemon juice and maple syrup in a bowl. Add the mustard and then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Perfect on any salad!Salad dressing

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