It has officially been two months since our last monthly grocery haul. When I went shopping on March 7th it was before the pandemic panic buying and any talk of quarantine at home. It was just a normal monthly grocery haul where I stocked up on the staples that we were running low on. You can see exactly what I got in that last grocery haul here.
I don’t typically shop from a menu, and I don’t buy everything every month. I just buy what we’re low on, trying to stock up on things when they’re on sale or in season. I try not to wait until we’re absolutely out of something before we restock, except for the case of fresh produce where we’re careful to not buy more than we will eat before it goes bad.
In addition to our normal pantry groceries, we’re also eating from our long-term food storage. I have videos that show what we had in our pantry, food storage, fridge, and freezer at the outset of this challenge.
In short, I’d say that our challenge to eat from our pantry and food storage instead of going to the store is going great. We have been eating from home all this time and we still have plenty of food. Of course there are things we miss for sure, but we’re making do and still going strong.
There are lots of good things coming from this challenge and I’ll go into them all in the future.
We were blessed with some fresh produce from a friend who I’m pretty sure has no idea about this challenge. She was going out of state to visit her grandkids (including an adorable new grandbaby) and she had some romaine and a bag of apples she wasn’t going to finish so she gave them to us. We were all thrilled!
What We Ate This Week
Our breakfasts this past week were pretty simple. We had eggs with salsa a couple of times, cream of wheat, oatmeal, pancakes, and sourdough waffles.
Our lunches are pretty routine around here. I have friends who say their kids complain that they are tired of PBJs or don’t like sandwiches. Thankfully all of us love peanut butter and jam. I don’t know what I would do with a kid who didn’t like sandwiches! Every day that I can remember we had sandwiches on whole wheat bread with string cheese and orange or apple slices. Actually I think one day when the bread wasn’t made yet we just sliced up some pumpkin bread to eat (plain, not as a sandwich).
Burritos– We finished off our tortillas with bean, egg, rice, and salsa burritos. We didn’t have any cheese on our burritos, but we had some sour cream, which we all love.
Sweet Potato Curry on Rice with Naan– I used our last two sweet potatoes, a couple of onions, a jar of home-canned tomato puree, a can of coconut milk, some frozen peas, and some spices to make this meatless curry. We served it over brown rice made in the rice cooker. And everyone loves homemade naan to go with it. Our 5-year-old got a kick out of telling daddy, “There’s naan left!” 😂
Spaghetti with Salad– We had regular spaghetti with regular meatless sauce, but having it with salad made it exciting. I made a salad from the romaine that we got from our friend and added pineapple, raisins, and parmesan.
Creamy Taco Casserole– This is a recipe I grew up eating and has been a favorite for generations. I used a half pound of ground beef and less cheese than normal, but it still had that comfort food feel to it. I made another small salad to go with it.
Scrambled Eggs with Refried Beans– Mike makes the best scrambled eggs. He added some cheese which made them even more delicious. We had refried beans with them. That might sound like a weird combo, but when we lived in Guatemala for a while, where it’s totally normal to have eggs with beans, we realized it’s a great combo!
Leftovers– We had leftovers for a couple of dinners (and sometimes Mike had some for lunch too). It turns out the sweet potato curry is even better the second or third time around (and that’s saying a lot because it was good the first time around too!). Creamy Tacos makes great leftovers too!
Crackers with peanut butter— The crackers are high up in the pantry where no one sees them at a glance, so I’ve been able to stretch them out a long time.
Graham crackers with frosting— I love making homemade frosting like my mom always did. Sadly I think we’re on our last sleeve of our last box of graham crackers. I guess we’ll have to just eat plain frosting!! 😂 (I’m mostly kidding!)
Oatmeal raisin cookies— My oldest made a big batch of these yummy cookies. Thankfully we froze some dough in balls for cooking later. Otherwise we would have inhaled them all!
Banana chips— Among some cans of food storage we were given, there were banana chips in a can. They were sliced thinner than the banana chips I’ve had before and everyone liked them.
Rehydrated peaches— We also had some dehydrated cubed peaches that we rehydrated for a snack. They sure did not look appetizing– they were really dark brown even after rehydrating, but they tasted fine. When I saw how unappetizing they looked, I thought I would make them into an easy cobbler with one of the random cake mixes in our pantry (how could the kids resist something like that!?) but our 8-year-old, who can sometimes be a complainer when it comes to food, loves them, so we’ve just been eating them plain.
Apple/Orange Slices— We probably have another week’s worth of fresh apples and oranges left!
Things to Try Next Week
I thought this week I would share a few things that I’m planning to try next week, both to hold myself accountable and to get your input. These are new things for me, so if you have any experience or advice to offer, I would love to hear it!
We use both corn and flour tortillas regularly at our house. With as many things as we make from scratch, it might surprise you that we don’t make our own tortillas. I know lots of people do it with great success. I’ve tried a few times, but it’s never been very time effective for me with a big family and frankly they weren’t as good or useful as the store-bought ones. The homemade version wasn’t as flexible as the store-bought type. They would always break when we tried to roll them up.
But now we are completely out of flour tortillas, and we have about one more meal’s worth of corn tortillas, so it’s time to figure out how to make them well. Do you make tortillas? I would love to hear your secrets!
Making mozzarella cheese
Back in the law school days, I went to a women’s activity at church where I learned to make homemade yogurt in the crock pot and how to make mozzarella cheese. Well, I have made yogurt many many times since then. It’s super easy and cost effective. But I never actually made any mozzarella on my own. I did buy some rennet tablets.
Since we aren’t going to the store or doing grocery pick-up, just eating from our food storage, we’ll be doing this with powdered milk. I have read that it can be done from powdered milk, so now I just need to give it a try! Wish me luck! Have you made mozzarella? Any tips?
Cracked wheat cereal
A friend shared with me a few new ways to use wheat, including cracked wheat hot cereal. You can make it on the stovetop, but she suggested using a rice cooker or instant pot for hands-off cooking. My kids like steel cut oats, oatmeal, and cream of wheat, so I’m going to give cracked wheat a try! She said she tried the same thing with whole wheat berries (not cracked) and it was also good.
I will give it a try this week and report back on how it goes!
Do you have any questions for me (or my family)?
Okay friends, if you missed last week’s FAQ go check it out and leave me any other questions you have regarding the challenge and our experience and I’ll answer them in a future post!
Stay safe out there!
Quarantine Food Storage Challenge Series
Why We’re doing a Quarantine Food Storage Challenge, Pantry, Food Storage, Fridge, & Freezer Tour
UPDATE #1– What we’ve eaten, Food Tips
UPDATE #2– What we ate, Theme Days, Baking Supplies, Snacks, Seeds
UPDATE #3– What we ate, Trying New things, Garden Expansion?
UPDATE #4– What we ate, Food Storage FAQ
UPDATE #5– What we ate, New things to try
UPDATE #6– What we ate, New Things we tried
UPDATE #7– Pantry Update after 2 months of our challenge
UPDATE #8– What the kids think of the food storage challenge
I don’t have any hints for you, just a little story. We love just about everything that’s considered Tex-Mex food, but being the gringos we are I don’t make my own tortillas – my kids grew up on store-bought (and the cheaper store-brand at that). My son married into a Hispanic family, and the first time he ate tacos at his in-laws house he called me to say “I don’t think I can eat a reheated Kroger taco shell ever again!”. Sadly neither he nor my daughter-in-law are too curious about learning her aging grandmother’s ways when it comes to cooking, though. If I’m ever invited to Mimi’s kitchen I will certainly be there, taking notes! And, since I’m homebound like everyone else right now, I may follow your lead and attempt to make some tortillas too:)
Thanks for sharing Karen! 🙂 Now is a great time to give it a try! Your son and daughter-in-law can be your testers. You’ll probably do better that Kroger! 🙂
Homemade graham crackers are really yummy and might be fun for some of your kids to make. We’ve cut them out with cookie cutters before.
Oh that sounds awesome! Do you have a recipe? We would love to try it!
https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/graham-crackers-recipe here is one. I have also made them gluten free with a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen but I am thinking none of you have to be gluten free so I will just recommend the wheat. 🙂
Thanks Julie! Yep, we’re very gluten-friendly around here!
One tip for soft tortillas is to put the tortillas in a plastic bag when they come off the griddle. This creates steam which keeps them soft.
Thanks for the tip Jennifer!
This is the link to the tortillas we make at home. They are good and flexible. If your tortillas are breaking then you don’t have enough liquid in the dough ball. My friend told me that. She said add water just a tiny bit at a time. The ball of dough should be good and sticky (more sticky than bread dough). These turned out great plus they were good the next day after a night in the fridge. I tried a different recipe this weekend and we ate them for dinner…complained about them…and tossed them. I will make my next batch from my tried and true recipe.
Sounds like your meals are getting super creative. I am inspired by your creativity also by your determination. This weekend marked the first time for me to grocery shop. I have been avoiding the stores since the 14th of March (my last shopping day). My daughter has done the pick ups for me.
Good luck on the Mozz. cheese…that sounds like a great blogging story to tell!
Thank you for sharing your recipe. Did you use lard like the recipe calls for or did you use another fat? I don’t have lard.
That’s a long time to stay away from the store! Way to go Rebecca!
We have tried a lot of recipes for flour tortillas and this one has been the best (by far) plus you can make them in the stand mixer which makes it even easier. Good luck with your tortillas!
I tried a new chocolate cookie recipe this week and they were amazing! We needed a recipe that didn’t call for butter or flour since we are trying to conserve those. Tomorrow we are trying a recipe for frozen yogurt using some of my crockpot Greek yogurt.
Thank you Jennifer!!! I’m a fan of the stand mixer! Will you share the cookie recipe too?! 🙂
We got a tortilla press, but I accidentally got a small one, and we like big tortillas, so we don’t use it much. Good luck with the mozzarella, I remember that activity.
It was a great activity! I can’t believe it has taken me this long to actually make cheese! I make the yogurt all the time though!
I don’t understand how that’s enough food (protein) for dinner. A little spaghetti with meatless sauce and a little salad? Everyone in our house would be starving an hour later. And half a pound of ground beef for eight people?
Deb Stevens says
Often people forget that peanut butter and whole wheat have complimentary amino acids making complete protein. Don’t forget that cheese, eggs, and beans add protein to the diet. Our household is stretching ground beef in a similar way, using it as flavor, rather than protein. Take a look at the entire daily menu; Stephanie serves her family a balanced diet.
Hi Deb! Thanks for sharing those articles! They were both really interesting and I learned a lot. I’m definitely not a dietician (by any stretch) and I know there are ways we can improve, but I feel good about the food our family eats.
Deb Stevens says
I took a nutrition course as an undergrad; the instructor said to look at your diet in terms of 24 hours and eat a wide variety of foods. Sage advice and largely common sense. Keep up the good work,
Hi Hazel, don’t worry about us. 🙂 No one over here is hungry or malnourished. We eat meat sparingly even when we’re not in quarantine. We eat lots of beans, eggs, nuts, and other forms of protein. And the portions on the plates pictured are just first helpings (and an effort to get everything in one picture). 🙂 Seconds (and thirds) are available for those who want them.
I have a lot of friends who have been very into making bread products lately (including tortillas) but work has been SO busy for me since this whole thing began that I feel lucky most days to get something basic in the oven for supper. I do enjoy seeing what others are making/eating though 🙂 Good luck with your tortillas (and looking forward to seeing how the mozzarella making goes!)
Thank you Tara! I’m glad you have been busy at work! (That’s a good thing, right?!) Stay safe out there!
I, too, would love to know the secret to making SOFT tortillas. I made some this week for burritos and while they tasted great, I ended up layering the filling in flat tortillas instead of trying to roll them because they would just break. (But the stacked tortilla dish was delicious.)
Sweet potato curry is a favorite of ours. I always add chickpeas — for extra protein and because we like chickpeas.
My friend who makes the tortillas all the time told me to make sure my dough ball is super sticky before I start making them. This keeps the dough wet and the tortillas soft. It worked on my first batch. They were great that night at dinner and even the next day after being in the fridge. Add extra water to the recipe after you mix the original recipe up. Just a tiny bit and mix until you have a super sticky dough ball.
Thank you for the tip Rebecca! 🙂
I’m glad I’m not the only one Cindi! Hoping for more success this time around. I’ll let you know how it goes!
And yes– chickpeas are great in sweet potato curry! I thought I had more cooked and frozen, but I must have used them all last time I made it. Time to cook and freeze some more!
Jen @ Bookish Family says
I’ve been making our corn and wheat tortillas for years (for health and taste reasons, not cost-effectiveness) and while it takes more time, we LOVE the results. Having children cook the tortillas while I roll out or press has been a game-changer for us. Also, children as young as 4 can easily make corn tortillas in a press while another one cooks them. I would say that practice makes perfect and while I make a more authentic recipe with masa and water only, I’ve heard that using a bit of liquid oil will make the corn tortillas more flexible. Same with making mozzarella . . . practice, practice . . . you may need to experiement with how long to let the curds sets. I’ve used new england cheesemaking supply company recipes for mozzarella and ricotta with great success . . . although I’ve never tried with powdered milk 🙂 Good luck!
That’s awesome that you’ve figured out both tortillas and cheese!! That’s great to get the kids involved too! Thank you for the tips!