Saturday, September 30, 2017

Shelftember - Week 4 and Beyond

Shelftember was intended to encourage meal planning based on what we have in the freezer and pantry while keeping additional grocery shopping to a minimum.  Since I had overspent my August grocery budget by almost $71 and wanted to try and make up some of that by saving on September grocery spending, I decided to observe Shelftember with some others.

I decided to limit my September grocery shopping to fresh produce (vegetables and fruit), dairy (milk and yogurt), and bread.   I started September with a pretty full freezer, fridge, and pantry, partly because I live in earthquake country and I try to have more than the recommended three-days' worth of food and water on hand and partly because I did a big stock up in August.  There was a lot of leftovers in the fridge, as well, so I started out September with quite a bit of food on hand.

Week 1 of Shelftember is here,

Week 2 of Shelftember is here.

Week 3 of Shelftember is here.

Week 4 would have ended on September 28, but I'm taking it to the end of the month.

Friday 9/22:  Lunch: Pasta with Manwich meat sauce:

Pasta with Manwich Sauce

I had a can of manwich sauce in my pantry cabinet, bought after daughter had eaten some at the neighbor's house and really, really liked it.  Manwich sauce is not something I usually buy.  But, daughter liked it so much and asked why we never had any, etc., that I bought a can and it has sat, unused, in my cabinet, until today!  (As I said, it's not something I normally eat.)  It had past its "best by" date and needed to be used up or tossed.  I opened the can, tasted it, and it tasted fine to me.  So, I thawed a packet of pre-browned ground beef in the microwave, reheated it in a saute pan, added the can of sauce, and heated it through.  It made enough meat sauce for at least 4, probably 5 or even 6 meals for me!  I can see myself eating pasta for the rest of this week, unless I freeze it, in portions, for the future!   In the meantime, I boiled a handful of pasta (enough for 2 servings) and sliced one of the Mediterranean cucumber  for a "salad" (no dressing, just a sprinkling of ground black pepper):

Sliced Cucumber

I had some grated Parmesan cheese (from a jar) that I sprinkled on my serving of pasta and sauce.  I packed the rest of the cooked pasta with some of the sauce into a container to keep in the fridge for the next day's lunch.

Dinner: Three more ulundu vadai with green coconut sambol (from freezer).

Ulundu Vadai (old picture)
There are three more ulundu vadai left in the box in the freezer.

Saturday 9/23: Lunch was the rest of the pasta with manwich sauce.  Dinner: the barbecued chicken breast leftover from the restaurant lunch I enjoyed when daughter visited during the Labor Day weekend; I had frozen it; I had it with corn on the cob and a salad (Romaine lettuce, cucumber, grapes, bottled Catalina salad dressing):

Barbecued Chicken Breast, Corn, Salad
Yogurt with palm treacle for dessert.

Sunday, 9/24: Indian style cream of wheat with lentils for brunch:

Cream of Wheat

Half an apple for a snack.

Dinner was curry puffs:

Curry Puffs
Dessert was an apple pastry:

Apple Pastry

Monday, 9/25:  Curry puffs for both brunch and dinner!  Apple pastry for dessert; apples and grapes for snacks.

Tuesday, 9/26: Last of the curry puffs for brunch with sliced cucumber and grapes; pancakes for tea; pasta with manwich and ground beef sauce (from freezer) for dinner; ice cream with roasted cashew nuts for dessert.


I cooked enough pasta for my lunch for the following day.

Snacks included spiced corn nuts:

Spiced Corn Nuts

Wednesday, 9/27: Lunch was pasta with manwich and meat sauce;  dinner was a tuna salad sandwich. Banana and grapes for snacks/dessert.

There's one more container of manwich and meat sauce in the freezer for two more meals in the future.

Thursday, 9/28:  Lunch was a tuna salad sandwich; I had some buttered "mystery" bread for tea.

Mystery Bread

For dinner, I took out a package of the rotisserie chicken I had in the freezer and shredded some of it to make chicken fried rice with the last of the leftover rice I had in the fridge.  Another serving of ice cream for dessert and more grapes for a snack.

Friday, 9/29:  Tuna fish sandwiches for lunch, with a sliced nectarine.  For dinner, I sauted more of the rotisserie chicken with onions and had it with green peas (from the freezer) and two pieces of the mystery bread, toasted and buttered.

Rotisserie Chicken and Onions, with Green Peas and Toast

For dessert, I had a lychee flavored gelatin cup:

Lychee Gelatin
Saturday, 9/30:  Brunch was leftover Indian style cream of wheat (from last Sunday).  I haven't decided what I will have for dinner, but, I do have the last of the thawed rotisserie chicken to be finished and a little bit of the cooked green peas, so I might saute the chicken and have a repeat of yesterday's dinner.  There's another ear of corn that needs to be used up, too (although I need to check if it is still good!)  Or, I can make a stir-fry with the chicken, green peas, carrots, and onions.  I also put two pieces of fish to thaw to cook some fish curry; I could have some of that, with rice, instead.   I don't meal plan, as such, but I like knowing what I have on hand and what I could make with them.  I like having options!

Update:  Yogurt and treacle for a snack:

Yogurt and Treacle

And chicken "stir-fry" of sorts, with the last of the rotisserie chicken, green peas, carrots, and onions, sprinkled with peanuts, served with rice, for dinner: 

Rice with Chicken Stir-fry

After one month of preparing meals from what was on hand with only bread, milk, and produce being bought (along with coffee creamer and ice cream!), this is what I have left of the freezer inventory:

6 4 king fish steaks (2 were taken out this morning to thaw)
3 pieces of salted dried fish
2 packages (approx. 1/2 lb. each) of cooked ground beef
1 package bacon
1 package mini sausages ("Lil Smokies")
3 1 packages of marinated beef steak (uncooked)
1 package sausage meat
1 package sausages
1 chicken breast
2 quart bags, each with 1/4 roast chicken 
5 turkey pot pies
5 4 packages of frozen puff pastry squares
1 1/3 package of something called "ulundu vadai" which is an Indian/Sri Lankan savory snack
3 1/2 1/4 lb. butter
1 bag (5 lbs.) flour
1 package (2 lb) red rice
1 package grated coconut
1 banana bread
3 1/2 packages of sliced strawberries (for eventual jam making)
3 large bags of cooked cashews (for making curry)
1/2 1/4 bag of frozen green peas
- several  one baggy each of frozen tomato, sliced onions, some green chilies, etc.
1 container manwich sauce
2 bananas
4 quart size zipper bags of bread slices
1 package smoked sausage (for prayer gathering dinner)

From my pantry cabinet, I have used up:
1 can of manwich sauce
1 can of condensed milk

I was able to keep my grocery bill for the month to $26.09, although I budget $75 per month, and made up  $48.91 of the almost $71 I overspent in August. 

I am thinking I will continue this grocery challenge in October, too, as I have another $26 to make up for the August over-spend.  However, I do so with the caveat that I will be hosting a dinner for approximately 22 people, which has been budgeted for separately, so I will be buying items for that and those purchases are not subject to the October challenge.

Did you participate in Shelftember?  If so, how did you do?  Is anyone planning to do a Shelftober in October? 


  1. I have never thought of eating Manwich with pasta but it sounds like it would be quite nice. We usually have it on a bun as what some call a Sloppy Joe sandwich.

    I have never heard of Lychee Gelatin - do you buy that already made or is it a flavor?

    1. Sandy, the Manwich sauce made a pretty good pasta sauce, I thought. In fact, I think it would be good on a baked potato, too. I think I first bought the can to have as Sloppy Joes, but I never bought the buns and the can needed using up.

      Yes, this particular lychee gelatin came already made, in a 6-pack; I chose one that had 3 different flavors - mango, lychee, and melon.

  2. Wow, you did great! I have no idea what I spent last month but I know it was below what I usually spend. I tried to be careful, shop sales, use coupons and buy only what we needed or what was too good a price to pass up on.

    1. Thank you, Debbie. I am sure you did very well with your grocery spending. :)


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