Monday, October 1, 2018

Pantry Living is complete!

Pantry Living was a success!!!
My documentation of pantry Living....not so much.
July was difficult because I was so consumed with work projects. August was spent on vacation.
For the record, I tried really hard to follow all of my rules while on vacation. I used mostly cash and only cheated with my credit card about 4 times. I actually saved all of my receipts with the intention of documenting it all. But after two weeks on vacation (Disneyland, family fun, mountain hikes, hot air balloon festival, lots of driving and visiting) I was so exhausted I put it off. And then I could never bring myself to actually type about it all.
All my receipts I saved.
My dear niece house sat for us and ate very little of our pantry. I told her she could but she is too kind and was trying to not inconvenience me and my pantry. Because of this we had way more food and stuff at the start of Sept than usual. Just for that I extended the Pantry Living and was doing a soft version. Once David returned to work I began buying food and using my credit card again but not for a full cart just small amounts, the essentials for school lunch and such. Thursday, Sept 27 was the first time since June that I spent over $100 on groceries. That is a huge win in my book.
Our first real grocery trip since June! It is amazing how little $100 buys.

We still have more food than usual in our pantry and honestly, I was disappointed with myself. I started thinking this year I must've made mistakes, not planned our meals well enough, not bought food our family wants, etc. But then the thought came to me....I felt very unprepared this summer but I have grown so accustomed to it all I was actually more prepared than ever before. I have learned how to do it effectively. I have actually been blessed with too much this summer. I wasn't a failure.

Pantry Living after Week 12
Pantry Living Before Week 1




















Cereal before week 1 -60
Cereal after week 12- 14
Items we ran out of entirely- Parmesan cheese, canned corn, tuna, frosting, spaghetti
Items we nearly ran out of- Nutella, toilet paper and paper towels (in July we almost ran out but my in laws resupplied us), green beans, olive oil, cake mixes, marshmallows, flour
Items we have too much of- salad dressing, veg oil, Oreos(I delayed opening them and kinda forgot about them. No fear, we will eat them!), pasta sauce,
Regrets- not eating more Oreos, not documenting Aug and Sept better.

Lessons learned
-my children are becoming less about cereal. They enjoy bagels, toast, and oatmeal. And my oldest loves cooking eggs by herself. Next year I may decrease our start on cereal and see where it leaves me.
-Corn dogs are my kids obsession this summer.
- Lily hates corn and being told what to do, and loves cooking fried eggs.
-Max hates spinach and he eats standing up, but requires Tums every night before bed.
-Katy loves rice and hates corn dogs, and would eat ramen noodles and ravioli daily if I allowed it.
-Levi loves cereal and corn dogs, but hates all over meats especially ground beef.
- the hubs will eat everything I cook and his only complaint is I buy too many goodies and then he eats them.
-I don't eat much. I still hate bananas, but if you eat a spoonful of peanut butter first you can successfully swallow bites of banana without tasting it too much.

Garden lessons- next year my one garden bed will stay empty. It was a huge failure this year, it definitely needs a rest.
In the second bed- The peppers grew well but most rotted before being picked. Best guess is too much rain. My cucumbers were so bitter it wasn't worth it. But I know how to grow a cherry tomato like nobody's business. tomatoes were a huge success again!

Our family is happy and healthy and we survived our 6th year of Pantry Living. Many thanks to our parents and friends who brought us food, supplies and were so supportive of my experiment! Much love to you all and Happy Fall❤️



Friday, July 27, 2018

Pantry Living Weeks 3 & 4

My life was a whirlwind and the dust has finally settled. In the last three months I choreographed three plays, performed in a play, had a dance recital, worked as choreographer for a performing arts summer camp, choreographed and performed in the Ms Senior NJ Pageant for women over 60yrs old,  my in-laws visited, my sister and her family visited, my brother and his family visited.
I played Morticia in "Addams Family the Musical".
my costume for Ms Senior NJ pageant
Seussical Jr. choreographer, assistant director, and costumer
My incredible "Family"
My cute kiddos ready to perform
Stage Managing for Fiddler on the Roof Jr
Recital time



 In the past two days I scrubbed my kitchen floor, changed the sheets on beds, folded laundry, moved furniture, purged my wardrobe of those clothes I never wear but held on to for ages, weeded the garden, actually cooked dinner, went to the beach, swam with my kids in the pool, and watched a chick flick.

These last two weeks I've received so much food and household items as gifts. The Lord has truly blessed us with amazing friends and family who make sure we will never go hungry. My friend made me a "panrty living survival bucket"! She knew we were out of fruit roll ups and wax paper and included a million other awesome treats and cereals for my family. I love and adore her!

My parents seem to drop off food to me at least once a week.I don't think they can go a day without being amazing! This week they added 3 boxes of Life cereal to our pantry.

My dear in-laws came to town and took me to Sam's Club to replenish items I'm low on. They bought me chocolate chips, bisquik, toilet paper, paper towels, milk, grapes, peanut butter, Snapple, water bottles, lemonade and nutella.

Returning the pull ups!
BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK: Levi (my almost 4yr old) is officially night potty trained!!!! So he was potty trained at 2yrs old with little effort. It all just clicked for him during the day. My children have all figured out how to hold it at night all on their own. I don't do anything special at night. Once they keep their diaper dry for a week straight they get to wear underwear to bed. Well. about 3 months after he was potty trained he was night trained. 6 months later it all went downhill. we have no idea why. He just started wetting the bed regularly. I had to re-diaper him and I just kept hoping for a miracle. Well, about a month ago he said he wanted to wear underwear to sleep. of course he wet the bed and was very disappointed. We removed his sippy cups from his room and he was angry with us. well, last week we noticed he was keeping his diaper dry at night. He asked for underwear so we gave it a shot. And boom!!! It has been over a week with no incidents! So that package of pull ups I cheated and bought a few weeks ago were returned to the store. sigh. life is good.

My garden had as many weeds in it as plants. I finally got my hands dirty and got to work. I actually found 2 huge cucumbers hiding in the weeds. lol. This week I harvested 3 cucumbers, a large green pepper, a handful of cherry tomatoes and a handful of green beans, and 1 large zucchini and a small zucchini.  My tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are monsters! My green beans and zucchini plants are dwarfs and I'm disappointed. I was pretty sure that garden bed of the smaller ones was depleted last year so I added a bunch of new rich soil and fertilizer, but it hasn't helped much. I think next year I will not plant anything in that soil and give it a real rest. But the rain this past week has been good for the garden!



Pantry after Week 4
Cereal after week 2: 49
Cereal after week 4: 47 (5 gifts)
Cans, jars, bottles, boxes opened: alfredo sauce, pasta, dog food, ranch dressing, pickles, mayo, peanut butter, nutella, sugar, flour, tuna, onion powder, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, margarine, chips, pretzels, veggie straws, toilet paper, paper towels, glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, juice boxes, water bottles, juice, fruit roll ups, cookies, animal crackers, ziplock bags,
Allowable credit card purchases: gas, ice cream
Cash purchases: blueberries, blackberries, bananas, roses, potatoes, mushrooms, cilantro, lettuce, carrots, goggles, bobby pins, cumin, onion powder, chili powder, bread, cook book, nail polish remover, brush, water bottles, brown sugar, burger king, raspberry danish, cookies, challah(totally amazing fundraiser and the best challah!!), ice cream, french fries, mcdonald's,
Gift card purchases: lots of Wawa hoagies
Gifts: cereal, pantry living survival bucket (see above), Sam's trip with in-laws (see above), milk and pancakes, ice cream,
Trash: I had to throw away a freshly opened box of cereal this week because ants found it. funny how no one wants to eat cookie crisp with the added protein of ants.
Garden: 3 cucumbers, 1 pepper, tomatoes, green beans, 2 zucchini
Cheats: NONE ( I know I'm shocked too)

In other good news I won tickets to see School of Rock on Broadway! That was awesome! I was voted best dancer in a dancing contest at Broadway on the Boardwalk. They taught a simple combo and 9 of us performed it. I was chosen as the lucky winner. I had a slight advantage being many years younger than most competitors and probably the only one with formal training. But the audience was amazing and roared with approval when it was time to vote for me. I couldn't stop smiling for hours!

In the past 2 weeks I lost a small diamond in my anniversary band and my father was in the hospital. We have insurance on my ring so the diamond is being replaced and my father is finally home and he also has insurance so he's getting the care he needs. Many thanks to all who have been praying for him and lending a hand.
Kissing Pop after he made it home from the hospital!


My summer vacation is finally here. I have few obligations and am trying to say "yes" more to my kids and "no" more to everyone else who wants my time. My kids and I have yet to make a new "Tuesday Adventure" but I hope to pick that up in the next week. Last year we started a youtube channel and posted new episodes every Tuesday. I would read stories,we would sing songs, act, tell jokes, dance, and feature our dog, Molly. They were so fun and I am anxious to start them again.

Happy Summer and Happy Pantry Living!







Photo taken moments after they announced  they will take us to Disneyland soon!









Saturday, July 14, 2018

Pantry Living Week 2 (sort of)

Since I didn't really keep track of anything for the first few weeks I'm not really counting them. Pantry Living started on June 22, but I'm keeping track of the inventory from July 6.

For the past 2 weeks my awesome brother and his adorable family were in town. They have 7 beautiful children! My amazing parents hosted them but we sure were together a lot! We ate over there, we ate over here. We played on the beach, in the pool, in the basement, in the yard, had a bonfire, a sleepover, went to the boardwalk, watched fireworks, ate and ate and ate some more! They were sweet and tried hard not to use up my pantry but I plan on feeding others so I am happy to host. I even donate to food drives if they occur during pantry living. "Because I have been given much I too must give."  I cooked Sunday dinner and made Thanksgiving in July. We had a turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, green bean casserole, salad, and pie. Why is this a November tradition only? Uhmmm, this needs to be a regular occurrence because it was dang good! We hosted the BBQ on July 4th, hot dogs and hamburgers and everything you can imagine to go with it. My parents supplied all the meat for both big meals because they are fantastic humans who love me. My parents drop off a little extra after every trip to the grocery store. While typing this my father walked in and set a jar of peanut butter on my counter and walked out again, just cause he's nice.

Also I am still in the midst of my summer of theater. That all ends in one more week. My dear hubby has been awesome with cooking random things from the freezer. Between beach trips and rehearsal I keep forgetting to prep dinner. He doesn't even complain. He is dreamy.

 Here we go:

Unopened boxes of cereal at week 1: 59
Unopened boxes of cereal after week 2: 51(actually 49 but I bought 2 boxes of Honeycombs with cash) Somehow we ate 10 boxes of cereal this week!
Jars/cans/bottles/packages opened: green beans, cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, peanut butter, jam, nutella, goldfish (family pack and they already finished it), toilet paper, toilet bowl cleaner, dog food, juice boxes, rice krispy packs, oreos, chips, cake mix, brownies, marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate, microwave popcorn, 3 different sizes of ziplock bags, soap, shampoo, alfredo sauce,
Items we ran out of: wax paper, fruit roll ups,
Cash purchases: bread, pencils, notebooks, paper, lemonade packets for individual water bottles, tums, blush, card, rash shirt for hubby(gift card), pizza family deal at Sam's (soda, pizza, bread sticks and cookies), ice cream, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, 4 jars of spaghetti sauce,
Yard sale finds(cash purchases): loads of books for my kids, shorts and pjs for my son, a baseball bat,
Gifts of food: peanut butter, box of cereal, milk, pancakes
Allowable credit card purchases: gas, milk, watermelon, bread strawberries, (I made 3 containers of strawberry freezer jam.)
Cheats: I ordered myself a swimsuit online and had no other way to pay for it, but it was on clearance.( I spent $30.), a pack of night diapers for my 3yr old who still struggles to stay dry at night. I didn't run out, but they were on clearance so I took the plunge($12). I didn't have enough cash on me or I would have paid cash.
Garden: 4 cucumbers, 3 cherry tomatoes, 1 green pepper ( I have one zucchini but I haven't picked it yet)


BONUS: received the official word my student loans are PAID IN FULL! I only graduated 12.5 yrs ago. Feels so good!

Bad news: The AC went out in my van and we haven't decided whether or not to repair it. My van has a 145,000 miles on it, a broken windshield, no AC, an array of christmas lights on the dash board(don't worry the mechanic said I wont die by ignoring them), and the suspension in the trunk door is shot. Basically, I worry about putting any money into it. we shall see.













Summer is hot and we are having fun! 
Happy Pantry Living!


Friday, July 6, 2018

Pantry Living 6th time around!

Here we go again! I am Melanie. I am a dancer and choreographer. I am also a mom and wife. My roles in our home include: cook, chauffeur, personal shopper, errand runner, comforter, laundry lady and cleaning woman.  My amazing hubby shapes minds and behavior as a Special Education Self-Contained Behavior Teacher for 10 months of the year. He just completed his 7th year at this school, and this is our 6th Summer in our beautiful home.  We are happy and healthy and blessed with enough. We have four growing children and a dog. Summers are difficult because despite teaching a summer program the teacher’s salary is only a 10 month contract. His district does not offer a 12 month option. I started Pantry Living to help us through July and August. It can be tricky, but I think it is a fun challenge.
 So here are my self imposed rules
  • Live off my pantry stores and my freezer
  • No grocery shopping
  • Allowable purchases with a credit card: Dairy, eggs, bread, produce, and gas
  • Any other purchases must be made with cash (I have a small stash I squirreled away.)
  • Start Date: David’s 1st day of summer vacation
  • End Date: David’s 1st day of school in September (usually 10-12 weeks)
Technically, this started 2 weeks ago. But my life has been a bit intense the last month so I'm late to the game. I've been generally following all my rules, but i have cheated a few times and my dear hubby has taken over as cook in my absence. So our stats start today. 

Pantry on June 26
We begin our journey with
  • 59 boxes of unopened cereal
  • 36 boxes of pasta
  • 9 jars of spaghetti sauce
  • 3 giant tubs of peanut butter
  • 40 rolls of toilet paper (this won’t be enough)

I don’t stock up a ton in June. That would defeat the purpose. I try to space out my shopping all year, shop sales, and keep a good food supply as a just in case. When cereal is on a good sale I buy 6 boxes instead of 2. I buy meat in bulk on sale and then bag it and freeze it in our family serving size.This year I've been consumed with dance so this is a true experiment on how prepared I am.  I usually inventory our pantry, and our freezer, and our bathroom closet. This year I just bought what I thought we needed and I never got around to my filling out my inventory. I have a master list of food but this year we are living off the cuff. My goal is to finish the summer without breaking my rules, without running out of cash, and to have fun!We have a good head start on the fun part, I don't expect to run out of cash, but I have got to buckle down and avoid breaking my rules.


our raspberry bush which was an experiment last year
Our garden June 2
2 peppers, 4 tomatoes, 2 cucumbers


A handful of green beans planted and 2 zucchini


















 My garden is growing! This year I’m growing cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and green beans.
ignore the weeds.
Our garden July 6
our first cucumber!

our cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes


My family is amazing! My parents live nearby and have already dropped off boxes of cereal, pasta and rice. They supplied all the food for our July 4th picnic. They understand why I do this and hope to make our lives easier at every turn.My sister even brought over 6 boxes of cereal when she was visiting. Such an awesome family!

My hubby is fantastic! He supports my cooky ideas and especially loves it when I can go many weeks without swiping my credit card. 
My children are goofballs, but totally understand my rules. They treat our pantry like a grocery store and love to "shop" for the next cereal we get to open or what we get to eat for dinner. 
My friends are awesome! I love all the feedback and encouragement you give me. Thanks for your continued support!!!

Let's get this party started!






Sunday, September 17, 2017

Pantry Living Weeks 11 & 12

I DID IT!!!!!!!

Friday I went to Sam's an spent $100 and felt no remorse. Sigh. These last two weeks were rough. I did have to cheat a bit more than usual because we were legit out of quite a few things. Our bathrooms were literally on their last roll of toilet paper each!! Also my meals were a bit more unusual but extra tasty. My family totally loved them and we may add them to our routine.Here is the skinny:
Pantry after week 12

Unopened boxes of cereal after week 10: 19
Unopened boxes of cereal after week 12: 12
Jars/cans/bottles opened: italian dressing, mac and cheese, coconut, peanut butter, margarine, pasta, spaghetti sauce, alfredo sauce, green beans, corn, olives, green chilies, teriyaki sauce, flour, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate graham crackers, cake mixes, brownie mix, frosting, syrup, ziplock bags, trash bags, marshmallows, chocolate bars, crystal light raspberry lemonade mix, oreos, crackers, cookies
Items we ran out of: oatmeal, jam, canned peaches, margarine, rice a roni, pot stickers, frozen broccoli, frozen green beans, fruit snacks, granola bars, eggs, breakfast sausage, goldfish, nesquik, water bottles
Allowable credit cards purchases: toilet seat, carrots, bread, bananas, yogurt, string cheese, hot dog buns,
Cash purchases: Candy, pens, burger king breakfast, goldfish, powerade, lunch meat, cinnamon buns, bread, fall decor, carpet deodorizer, cloth for halloween costume, basket,
Cheats: small jar of nutella,  disposable aluminum pans, photo prints,hot dogs, frozen pizza, nutter butters(don't judge), Levi's bday meals which were breakfast sausage, oj, a bag of chicken nuggets,fruit snacks, stuffed unicorn head key chains for Katy's bday party which will be in Nov. I just couldn't resist the sale and didn't have enough cash.
Gifts: jam, paper towels, cereal (2boxes from mom and dad), juice,
Free: So ShopRite has a policy if they overcharge you their customer service will refund the full amount to you for the first item and then just return the overcharged difference for the 2nd item. Well they overcharged me $2 for a small bag of pecans and so I was refunded the full amount. That will make this pecan pie that much sweeter!
Will be reimbursed for by church: terra cotta clay for making old fashioned oil lamps
Garden: 5 tomatoes! I'm shocked. Our temperatures totally dropped and made life comfortable but not warm enough for the veggies. We had one or two days get above 80 and that was enough for my last tomatoes to ripen. I'll take that!

Update: Cereal count ended at 62 boxes in 12 weeks!
So Friday was payday for my darling hubby. YA HOO!!! Now I can't go crazy. I have to build up my pantry little by little. We started at Sam's and had a celebratory lunch of pizza and soda. We know how to party. We bought milk, eggs, toilet paper, paper towels, nesquik, nacho cheese sauce, cocoa puffs, pam spray,  lysol wipes, chocolate chips, and Kool-Aid bag drinks that we'll give out to the trick or treaters. Yes, I like to buy ahead. I won't be tempted to break into them after 10pm. And they are cute and called "Ghoul Aid Scary Berry". Not sure why I think that is so funny. But they were on sale and so that is that. Also I'm already planning to be a mummy for Halloween and started buying materials for that. Tomorrow I plan to hit up ShopRite for an epic shopping trip. Levi is excited for that. I'm not even joking. He begs to go there because they give him free cheese. What more could a little boy want?

In a week or two I write my Lessons Learned post and get all sappy about Pantry Living. Thank you for following my progress this year.
Happy Fall and Happy Shopping!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Pantry Living Weeks 9 & 10

Oh Summer, oh Summer, where art thou?
The weather has been in the low 70s these past two weeks. I haven't been to the beach since my last update and as much as I'm loving the reprieve from the heat I still want my summer!!!
The weather might have cooled off but my family's appetite seems to have grown. Our upright freezer full of frozen veggies, breakfast meat and all other meat is looking pretty sparse. We also have a chest freezer which I've somewhat ignored so far. I keep the prepared foods in it, ie chicken nuggets, french fries, perogies, popsicles, fish sticks, fish fillets, shrimp, tater tots etc. I used many of those items these last two weeks.

Unopened boxes of cereal after week 8: 23
Unopened boxes of cereal after week 10: 19 (* note my parents gave me another 5 boxes this week)
We have consumed 53 boxes of cereal in 10 weeks!
Jars/boxes opened: peanut butter, alfredo sauce, pasta, corn, green beans, taco sauce, cream of chicken soup, crackers, oreos, fruit snacks, pirate booty, pastry crisps, pot stickers, mac and cheese, rice a roni, tortillas, sour cream, ziplock bags, sugar, toilet cleaner spray
Items ran out of: nutella, chicken breasts, fish sticks, shrimp, fish fillets, brown and serve sausage, Dr. Pepper, goldfish
Cash purchase: bread, dehydrated apples and peaches, bins, dog food, Comet cleaner, donuts, juice
Yard sale finds: free bike for my Max, Phillies t-shirt for Lilia, Sweater for Levi, bag of clothes for Max for $5 including pants, shorts, shirts and a Columbia lightweight jacket 😁
Allowable credit card purchases: gas, oil change, tire repair, parking in Philly,
Church items that I will be reimbursed for: bulletin boards, ribbons, push pins
Cheats: Date lunch with the hubby to Allan's Clam Bar, lunch with the kids to Taco Bell, diapers(grr Levi still needs them at night), contact solution(ran out, drat!), box of oreos (screamin' deal)
Gifts: 5 boxes of cereal and a bottle fruit punch, 4 boxes of macaroni, eggs, ice cream, hamburgers, croutons, crackers
Garden: 3 tiny cucumbers and a bunch of tomatoes. I'm afraid this is the end. THe weather has been so cool the cucumber plant has retired itself and the tomatoes aren't turning red anymore. My poor green bean plants never produced more than a single handful all summer. The raised bed will need a big revamp with fresh soil and fertilizer before next year's planting.

Well, normally this would be the last of it. My hubby finished the school year 10 weeks ago and starts on Tuesday with the new year. He has asked if I could extend my pantry living as long as possible. He would love it if I could last 2 more weeks until his first pay check.......I shall try. My fear is lunch. This year I will pack 4 lunches 3 days a week, and 3 lunches the other two days a week. (Katy only goes to preschool 3 days.) That means all the snack food (granola bars, fruit snacks, pastry crisps, crackers, chips) , sandwiches or leftovers, fruit(fresh, dried, canned, pouch, applesauce...), desserts(cookies, animal crackers, candy) will rapidly diminish. When we sit around the house my kids get very little of those things. When I send them to school they tend to eat more of those. I can make this work, but it will be work.

Happy Summer! Happy first week of School for us!
Happy Pantry Living!