February 1, 2011

My Lucky Day—A Church Potluck!

 DSC_5156 What a great day to start my February Eat from the Pantry Challenge!  Could I have been any luckier than to have a potluck luncheon on the first day of the challenge?

Breakfast today—leftover fruit salad for me and Hubby, fruit salad and cereal with milk for our daughter

Lunch—Sandwich with chips for Hubby, Potluck luncheon for daughter and me

Supper—Tuna Noodle Casserole, a new “recipe”

Notes about today—Today was the Young at Heart meeting of senior adults at our church (Faith UMC).  Because I arrange their speakers, I often attend meetings.  Today was such a special treat because Betsy Peterson of Space and Time, a professional organizer with whom I’ve worked on previous cases but have never had the pleasure of meeting in person.  What a delight she was!  I’ll post more information about what I learned there in tips of the day so stay tuned for that.

For the potluck luncheon, I made a recipe of green bean casserole, made a half a gallon of unsweetened tea, and cooked a pot of pinto beans.  Because I bring our daughter with me, I try to make more than one item.  Sometimes we have a smaller crowd but today 23 people attended, and as you can see in the photo, there was a large table full of food.  There was even a table full of desserts that I didn’t photograph—our church ladies know how to cook! 

I left with a small plate of chicken and dumplings to share with my dad (they are his favorite) and a few desserts to bring home for my Hubby.  Half of the green bean casserole wasn’t eaten, and so I gave it to my dad to enjoy.  The leftover pinto beans came home with us, and I’ll most likely store them in the freezer for a future night.

I went to the grocery store today.  I needed to purchase the food for the children’s program at church and also wanted to pick up a few of the super-duper Mega Event deals at Kroger for the food pantry.  It was a little more difficult than I thought it would be to not purchase a bunch of stuff for us.  I picked up some Voskos yogurts (on sale at our store for $1 each, and there was a recent printable coupon for $1 and 75cts each), some Horizon Milks (free after $1/1 printable coupon), a loaf of whole wheat bread, 3 dozen medium eggs (I had a rain check that made these 98cts each), 2 Starkist Tuna Salad pouches (on sale this week BOGO, used 50ct/1 coupons from Facebook which made each free), and some potatoes.  I spent a little over $9 at Kroger and made a trip to Walgreens and worked some moneymakers.  I “made” a little over $4 there, and so I only spent about $5 OOP today.  Remember that my budget for this challenge is $100 for February or less.

Tonight’s supper was a new one for us.  Normally when I make tuna noodle casserole I use whole wheat pasta, sour cream, cheese along with the tuna, peas, and onions.  Today I tried something different since we don’t have any mozzarella in the house.  I had some white pasta that needed using so I boiled it.  In a separate pan I heated a little over a tablespoon of olive oil and sautéed green onions, chopped carrots, and peas.  When the pasta was done, I drained it and reserved about a quarter cup of the cooking liquid.  I added the noodles to the mix with a can of drained tuna.  I used a microplane to grate some parmesan cheese that we had in the fridge, and we stirred in a bit of sour cream to the noodles to help give them a little more of a creamy taste.  I wouldn't say that it was a home run hit, but we were satisfied.  I felt good to have tried something different and that I didn’t have to buy anything new for us to eat a nice meal at home.

What did I learn from today? 

  • Potlucks are a wonderful way to stretch your budget.  No one brought anything really expensive to the meal, and we all were filled and everyone brought home a little plate of leftovers to enjoy at another time. 
  • Sharing with others makes you feel blessed.  Bringing some leftovers to my dad to enjoy made me feel wonderful.  So often in a challenge like this, I start to feel a little deprived and maybe even a little pitiful.  This was a great way to start off the challenge because I felt like our food was in abundance.  My dad was glad to have the dumplings because they are his favorite.  He didn’t have to cook and had something different that he enjoyed.  We didn’t have to worry about leftovers going bad.  It was a win-win situation.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.  If you don’t have all of the ingredients for a recipe, wing it.  Tonight was a good example of the benefit of knowing basic cooking techniques.  I knew what would bind the pasta, what flavors would go well together, and what ingredients I could substitute for others.  While it wasn’t a gourmet meal, it was enjoyable. 

How about you?  How did your first day of the challenge go?


  1. I just love your blog. Thank you so much for what I learn from you. We started out our day with cereal, lunch is provided at work both jobs ( yes we are very lucky, good job perk) supper tonite was scrambled eggs and cheese in a wrap. Kinda bland but it suits us. Looking forward to what tomorrow brings. Thanks again.
    Michelle P

  2. So far we’re off to a great start! Today I was able to use several open items (that could have easily found their way to the back of the refrigerator - overlooked and eventually wasted) to create chicken enchiladas and Spanish rice with a lettuce garnish. I cooked half of what I made for dinner and froze the remainder for another meal later this month when I’m short on time.
    Summary: no waste – no money spent – and another meal!

  3. Well, my first day was a total surprise because my daughter surprised me with bringing home chinese food that she paid for! :) Better luck today!