Tuesday, 1 July 2014

$21 Challenge - Week One

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As I mentioned last week, this week I am attempting the $21 challenge. I have done a huge clear-out of my pantry, fridge and freezer, and have made a list of items which need to be used up. I will use those items this week to create all of my evening meals, together with what else I have available. My goal this week is to only shop for staples...if I don't have something on hand for a recipe then I will improvise. I started the challenge on Saturday, so when I finish my two weeks it will be my usual shopping day, Friday.

In my post above I showed you the two boxes of produce I sorted from my pantry. The chooks have been enjoying the fruits of the expired items this week. My 'bonus items' that need to be used include the following: panko breadcrumbs, honey soy and garlic packet sauce, 2 x nearly empty bbq sauce bottles, packet of potato mix, 2 x open pasta packets, just expired bread mix, polenta, rice paper wrappers, sushi rice and nori, couscous...and at least another dozen random items.

This weekend I delved into the fridge and followed the same process. Most of the items in my door had expired.

And the above photograph was taken before I sorted out the shelves.

These are my bonus items from the fridge. Sour cream, massaman curry paste, three open jars of home made tomato relish, jaboticaba jam, lemon squeeze, basil pesto, home made mango chutney, some cherry tomatoes and a bag of kale and spinach. There are also my vegies in the crisper to use through the week, and some pumpkin and salad from the garden.

And the amount of produce that I had to discard was once again an eye opener. 

My freezer is fully stocked for work lunches. These were put away on my last holidays and I take them to work when there are no leftovers from dinner.

This is my outdoor freezer which I also did an inventory of. I was pleased to see there are still backup items for school holiday lunches such as pies etc. I am aiming to provide leftovers from dinner for the boys to eat for lunch each day...and make some homemade snacks. So....here is my weekly menu plan.


I started the $21 challenge by sorting out everything in my bonus box, and working out some recipes for the week. I had about fifteen sausages in the fridge that needed to be used so I decided to do a slow cooked sausage casserole (in the crock pot) for dinner on Saturday night.

The boys absolutely loved it and there was plenty left over for breakfast on toast on Sunday, and for the boys lunches. I just used a french onion base, some frozen peas, gravox and pasta.


Last night I used up the three part-jars of tomato relish, together with some pesto, the cherry tomatoes and a tin of tomatoes. I just mixed them together and added them to some chicken legs in the slow cooker. Six hours later we had an easy chicken casserole for Paul and I. As it was my daughter's birthday, I made her favourite lasagne and potato bake which she and the boys had. There are tons on leftovers so tomorrow night's dinner is also sorted.


Leftover chicken casserole and lasagne.


The just expired bread flour will be used to make home-made chicken barbecue pizzas for dinner. Paul and I will have a thinner base and loads of fresh kale and spinach from the garden, plus I will probably use up some of the pesto.


My slow cooker tends to be a little over-zealous so I have bought a timer and will put this on before I leave work to commence cooking at midday. Should be perfect by 6pm. I am going to put in chicken fillets, utilise the stiry fry honey soy and garlic mixes which I was not keen on the flavour of, and add some lemon juice, garlic and a jar of mango chutney I had left over from the Biggest Morning Tea. I will probably serve this with the couscous, using another bonus item.


This packet of mashed potato is close to it's use by date and always makes good patties so I will add it to a jar of salmon, use the leftover spring onions and a couple of my eggs to make patties. I will then crumb them in the panko crumbs which I have way too many of, and bake them in the oven. A quick and easy dinner. I aim to prepare the salmon patties the night before and use salad vegies from the garden.


I think the boys will be screaming out for red meat by now, so I plan to marinate some t-bone steak that we have in the freezer with the leftover sauces in my bonus box - a little hoisin, soy, honey and garlic.We will then serve them with sweet potato, mashed potato and peas.

So, wish me luck with the challenge! My shopping list this week will be milk, bottled water, bread and cheese which should come in under the $21 budget....hopefully anyway. I am already thinking about next week's meals. I think that bonus box will keep me going for a while.

What are you having for dinner this week?

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