How to Find Money in Your Freezer/Pantry part 2 – Make a Menu

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Have you joined the challenge yet?  If you missed Part 1, you can read it here

The other day I took an inventory of the contents in my freezer and pantry.  Here’s what I found.



6 ½ bags frozen chicken

3 pkg. pork burgers

2 pork sausage

1 small pork tenderloin

1 ham bone from Thanksgiving

1 big pack hamburger

a few meatballs

chorizo sausage

cooked chicken for casserole




French bread

1 loaf Depression Era Bread

3 bags of cherries, from a friend

1 fillo dough

white wine

a little cooked bacon


5 bags All Purpose Flour (25 lbs)

1 bag Whole Wheat Flour – past date

3 bags sugar

1 brown sugar

3 lbs. powdered sugar

4 boxes crackers

2 ketchups

3 cans pumpkin

3 cans cream of chicken soup

5 cans tomato soup

4 beef broth

6 chicken broth + 1 box

5 diced tomato

2 tomato sauce and 2 paste

assorted amounts of rice, noodles, lentils, beans, stuffing mix…


This is not a complete list of what I found, but it represents the things that I had forgotten about, or have more than I need.  I used the list to come up with a menu.



1.  Ham and beans with cornbread (using the ham bone and bag of beans from pantry)

2.  Chicken and Dressing Casserole with Broccoli.

3.  Vietnam Fried Rice with just peas instead of peas and carrots

4.  Spaghetti and Meatballs with homemade sauce

5.  Pork Tenderloin with Hashbrown Casserole and broccoli

6.  Sausage Calzones or French Bread Pizza (we had the calzones last night)

7.  Chicken breaded with instant mash potatoes (to use up what’s left of those)

8.  Chicken and Dumplings



1) Leftovers – this is our most common lunch

2) Noodles in broth with canned chicken

3) Tomato Soup with Depression Era Bread and melted cheese



1)  Pumpkin muffins

2)  Depression Era Bread

3)  Popcorn

4)  Pretzels



1)  Cherry Cobbler/Pie

2)  Coconut Cream Pie/tarts

3)  Peanut Butter Pie


Not too bad, huh?  I’m sure the second week of doing this would get a bit more interesting.  And you can see that I’m going to have to buy some vegetables.  I only have some peas, corn and a bag of broccoli.  Not enough to get us through.


Tips on putting your menu together

1)  Sometimes as you look at what you have, ideas will naturally come to you.  This happened for me when I realized I had a ham bone and a bag of beans.  The cooked chicken and stuffing mix were another natural combination.  I also have a jar of Hoisin Sauce and a can of water chestnuts that seem a likely pair.

 2)  Concentrate on using up the items you have the most of.  For me, it is chicken and flour.  I don’t know why I have 25 lbs. of flour, but I do know I’ll be doing some baking this week.  No need to buy store bought bread when I’ve got flour to make my own. 

3)  Get a bit creative with substituting ingredients.  I only have 2 cans of tomato sauce, but I also have tomato paste and diced tomatoes.  If I add water to the paste, I can use it for sauce.  I’ve never tried it, but I think if I put the diced tomatoes in a blender, it will make sauce.  I’ll do it if I need to.


 4)  Have a strange ingredient to use?  Do a search online to find recipes that use it.  My “strange” ingredient is the box of Idaho Spuds I bought for Coconot cookies.  I don’t use instant potatoes, so I needed to find a recipe.  The back of the box came through for me. 


Share with me

What did you find in your freezer or pantry?  What kind of menu are you able to come up with?  Do you need help brainstorming ideas?  Let’s share in the comments section.

And if anyone has a great idea for the Hoisin Sauce, water chestnuts, rice and chicken let me know.  It seems that those ingredients are the start of something yummy!









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  1. I had three packages of pancake mix so I made pancakes and eggs last night. Pretty much the rest of my pantry consists of soup or beans so I’ll be making taco soup tonight for supper.

    As for the freezer, I have a few packages of vegetables and some steak. Since it’s grilling season I’ll be able to use the steaks soon.

    That’s the extent of my freezer and pantry. I cook from both quite often so they don’t get full very often.

  2. I once made a 3 week menu of dinners from what we had on hand. My husband (who is retired and does the majority of dinner cooking) couldn’t believe that we had that much food. Living in the country like we do tends to make us buy in bulk.

  3. And I thought we didn’t have any food. This didn’t take as long as I thought! I have a menu for the week. I thought I needed to buy meat but we have 3 pounds of hamburger & an entire turkey. I only need to buy a few dairy and produce items for the whole week!

  4. I just found a recipe using Hoisin sauce!! It’s moo shu pork, but you could use chicken instead!

    1/2 cp. hoisin sauce
    3 lg. cloves garlic, minced
    2 Tbl dark asian sesame oil
    2 Tbl. soy sauce
    1 Tbl. cornstarch
    16 oz. shredded cabbage/cole slaw mix
    10 oz. shredded carrots
    3/4 pound boneless pork loin chops – or whatever
    12 tortillas 6″
    scallions strips/green onions, thinly sliced

    1 – Stir together hoisin, garlic, seasame oil, soy sauce and cornstarch, set aside.
    2 – place coleslaw mix and carrots into slow cooker. Cut the meat into 1/8″ slices, then cut each slice in half lengthwise; sprinkle on top of cabbage mixture in slow cooker. Drizzle with 1/2 cp. of hoisin sauce mixture. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 6 hrs.
    3 – Remove cover; stir in remaining 1/2 cp. Hoisin sauce mixture.
    4 – heat tortillas according to pkg. directions. Place 1/2 cp. pork mixture in center of each tortilla, top with scallion/green onion, if desired, roll up.

    I think chicken would work. You could even add the water chestnuts if you sliced them. You could serve with rice instead of tortillas.

    Good luck. Let me know if you used this or not!


  5. Freezer:

    Two pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
    One pound Italian sausage
    Three pounds ground chuck
    Two pounds coffee beans
    4 eggo waffles
    One 11.5 ounce can of berry juice concentrate
    1 – 16 oz package frozen broccoli
    8 onion buns (hamburger style)
    6 sourdough buns (hoagie style)


    Two hamburger patties (from bbq on Sunday)
    Two bratwursts (from bbq on Sunday)
    Three cups pasta salad
    One cup potato salad
    One cup baked beans

    Various condiments in fridge
    Two dozen Eggs
    Three cups sour cream
    Green Onions
    Head of Cauliflower
    Large bag of fresh spinach leaves
    ½ package of bacon
    2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese


    Three cans green beans
    Three cans chicken noodle soup
    Two cans tomato soup
    One can kidney beans
    One can black olives
    One box minute rice
    Cheerios cereal
    Rice Chex cereal
    5 lb bag of potatoes

    Bottles of various olive oils (some with seasonings and flavors, some plain), Pam spray, and all sorts of dry seasonings, sugar, flour, cornstarch.

    Menus I thought of:
    Baked potato soup (I have a wonderful recipe)
    Meatball sandwiches (need to buy stuff for red sauce)
    Chicken and Rice with broccoli.

    From here, I get a bit blank…

    • I should have also said, I am only feeding myself and my daughter (who is currently about 18 weeks pregnant). We try to eat healthy. We both love vegetables.

      I left out that there is a bag of french fries in the freezer. They may be there until the end of time, as neither of us eats them more than about once a year. Might be time to throw or give them away.

    • carolyn says:

      What about quiche.. eggs, bacon, spinach, cheddar cheese. You can make it crustless if you like.

    • carolyn says:

      What abput quiche. Eggs bacon spinach cheddar cheese. Make it crustlwss if you like.

  6. I use potato flakes to thicken soups sometimes.

  7. We like hoisin sauce on Japanese eggplant. I slice it into small chunks and saute it in a little oil then top with some of the hoisin. We first had it this way in a Chinese restaurant (in China) served with Chinese dumplings. Makes a good side dish.

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