Monday, August 17, 2009

menu planning monday: pantry challenge

before sitting down to make my grocery list and menu plan for the week, i like to scan our pantry, refrigerator and freezer to take stock of what we have. that's also usually when i trash all the leftovers.

what i found this week is funny and partly embarrassing. there are 12 cans of refried beans in my pantry. and i didn't buy them in bulk.

and, behind the 2.5lb bag of pinto beans, there are 5 half-full boxes of pasta. shells, spirals, elbow noodles, and more. there's even a box of Cars-shaped noodles.

now, i don't feel super guilty for having this hidden stockpile because almost every can of refried beans and box of noodles bears the bright red Target clearance sticker. i see that and sigh, ahhh...i didn't pay full price.

it doesn't make sense to have all that pasta and all those beans and not include them in the menu plan. so this week i challenged myself to use as much as what we have in the pantry, freezer and refrigerator, and veggies from our garden. in doing so i was able to spend $30 less on this week's groceries. not bad for my first time.

here's my Pantry Challenge Menu:
Monday: Meatball Subs with steamed garden okra
Tuesday: Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup over refried beans
Wednesday: Meatloaf with organic brown rice & mixed garden veggies
Thursday: Tostadas with refried beans, tomato and cucumber salad
Friday: BBQ "wing" flavored chicken (seasoning packet found in the pantry) and roasted red potatoes

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup (from Real Mom Kitchen)

1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can diced tomatoes (i use tomatoes from our garden)
1 packet enchilada sauce mix (i use mild taco seasoning)
1 1/2 C water
1 can tomato sauce
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 C milk
3-4 boneless chicken breasts (i like to use chicken breast tenders)

In crock pot, mix the enchilada packet together with the water and tomato sauce. Add cream of chicken soup and milk and whisk together until smooth. Add chicken. Pour drained black beans, drained corn and diced tomatoes on top of that. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Before serving, take out chicken and shred or dice, then put back and stir it all together. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, lime, avocado, or tortilla chips. (i plan on serving over refried beans. putting the beans in the bottom of the bowl...prob will be so yummy and creamy.)

thanks to Laura @ OrgJunkie for hosting Menu Planning Monday, and to Money Saving Mom for the pantry challenge inspiration and encouragement.

and if you have any recipes to use up my refried beans please share!