2019 Pantry Challenge #1

Welcome, February–I kind of took the month of January off for several reasons. First off I really needed a break from creating content. I refused to just put up blog posts just to put up blog posts. In my mind, I’ve always wanted my blog to remain as good as the really good blogs I follow. I’ve always been like that when it comes to blogging. Admittedly I’m not perfect and I know some of my content could have been better over the last ten years. So my goal for 2019 is to produce stellar content. I’ll be honest that before coming to this decision I thought long and hard during my holiday break about not blogging anymore. I’ve been working hard to promote my business over on IG. But by the end of the year the answer was clear to me–no I did not want to quit blogging. I’m a writer and though not perfect in my sentence structure or grammar, I feel compelled many times a year to write. And so my blog goes on. Some things will change. I may integrate some vlog information and a chance for my readers to see me in action rather than just word. So, I will be sharing a video here and there in my blog posts. I want to engage more with my audience. I have found that making videos can be a great way to accomplish that.

I have many different projects to complete this year. I want my content to be informational on my blog as well as include the lifestyle that goes with it. So I will be focusing more on food, food sourcing, safety, storing, and lifestyle.

Pantry Challenge #1
In January one of the first things I do is take stock of everything. So– an inventory of food on hand, household goods, a new budget created, appointments scheduled, areas decluttered and cleaned and so on. I decided that completing a pantry/freezer challenge was a great thing for my family because it would accomplish several things at once. First, it would help me to put together a menu for the entire month. Because I was taking inventory of food on hand, creating a 31-day menu would be fairly simple. Second, it would allow me not to have to make a big shopping haul this month when I am quite busy with other things (first of the year, tax season, bad weather). Lastly, we could save some money? Possibly $3-400.00 worth of money (win-win) The video below is how I started my pantry challenge and I also have one up about the success of my pantry challenge. With two fill-in shops, I still managed to save $200.00 this month on my grocery budget. I would encourage anyone looking to clean out their freezer, fridge, or pantry to give this a try. I do this four times a year and then take the saved money and buy household items as needed– preferably when they are on sale.

I’ve had a productive start this new year and hope you have had one too. Soon–container garden planning and I’ve got a lot of new ideas for that as well. Until next time—Take Care!

Here’s my pantry challenge YouTube video!


Pantry Essentials for Whole Food Living


When I think of pantry essentials I think of two things right away- homemade bread and homemade pizza or pie dough.

The essentials needed for those homemade goodies are- flour, salt, baking powder, or soda and yeast packets. So just those few things, plus butter or shortening or lard, will get you homemade bread, and pizza or pie dough.

To start stocking your own pantry start with the simple and fairly affordable items like- flour, white sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder, sea salt or kosher salt, and yeast in packets. To bake cookies you’ll need to stock things like raisins, or currants, chocolate chips, oatmeal, peanut butter, honey and jam. Homemade icing can be made with powdered sugar or cream cheese and butter, vanilla and milk to thin the icing. Homemade brownies require you to have cocoa powder on hand. By now your pantry is starting to look stocked.

A well stocked pantry is overflowing with inspiration. You can see all the possibilities in one place- homemade baked beans, pies, pasta, cakes and soups. It’s essentially a mini version of a grocery store- all the staples for good whole food in one place. I began stocking my pantry from a list I found on Food Network some years back and still use this list today. It’s easy to see when I’m out of something, and all I have to do is take a look at what I have and my mind begins to construct the day’s dinner meal, dessert and sometimes the next days set of meals. Here’s the Food Network Pantry Essentials List .

Cooking meals from your pantry helps you in the best possible way to learn how to make whole foods meals for your family. A well- stocked pantry means skipping the processed box and jar ingredients and taking control of the ingredients you want in the meals and desserts you make for your family. No more list of ingredients 20 ingredients long. Soon you won’t remember what it was like to not make your own healthier home-cooked meals.  I’ll be honest the convenience of meal making and meal time for awhile will be gone. But the pride you will feel and the money you will save, not to mention the healthier lives you and your family will live will more than make up for the time you spend preparing them. Get the family involved in meal time and then it won’t be just you in the kitchen. Kids can learn too!

That’s it for now. I have a great recipe for Roasted Tomato Basil soup coming up and  a new recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake. Have a great weekend!

Pantry Essentials


Pantry Essentials – by Kim VanderWerf

7 Days of Meals

Breakfast- breakfast in our house usually consists of juice, fruit and PBJ sandwich for my husband (because that’s what he ate growing up) and a banana, prunes, orange sections, toast and tea for me. We have in the past made smoothies as well as had cold cereal but both are very rarely eaten in our home. Juice is always freshly squeezed, and fruit is nearly always bananas, strawberries in season,  and anything else I can find in the organic frozen fruit section (blueberries, melon, pineapple, cherries).

Lunch- lunch for my husband during the work week is a lunch meat sandwich, applesauce, and a Clif bar. Lunch on the weekends is any leftover in the freezer from during the week- (sloppy joes, pizza, casserole or stir-fry usually). Lunch for me during the work week is a salad with chicken, Luna Bar and an apple. Lunch for me on the weekends is a PBJ sandwich both days with celery, carrot or cucumber spears.

Dinner- as you can see it’s fairly low-key until dinner time. The biggest challenge for breakfast and lunch meals is to be able to buy all of it- organic.

I have a rotating fall/winter menu, just like I have a rotating spring/summer menu. Which means that for two weeks (not in a row) every month in the winter months (Dec, Jan, Feb, March) we eat the same meals each day and then on the other two (also not in a row) we eat entirely different meals. So for meals that include vegetables, we would eat squash, potatoes, beets and carrots in the fall and winter. In the spring as things grow and are harvested we begin to include rhubarb, asparagus, spring onions, beans and so on into our meals. We buy all of our fruits and vegetables from our local cooperative. We buy our meat from a local supplier of grass-fed beef and our milk and eggs from a local organic farm.

Monday- homemade lasagna, small salad, garlic toast

Tuesday- homemade roasted chicken- the sides change out for example sometimes I make mashed potato, otherwise homemade stuffing or brown rice. Vegetables- there is always two- brussels sprout, cauliflower, broccoli, squash or beets.

Wednesday- Spinach and kale salad with homemade chicken soup

Thursday- homemade sloppy joes and home fries

Friday- homemade beef and broccoli, homemade cabbage slaw

Saturday- homemade pizza- my husband and my favorite pizza is always pepperoni. The recipe for my homemade crust is here; the gluten free pizza crust is here.

Sunday- roast, mashed potatoes, gravy and two veggies. I usually make homemade rolls to go with this meal. The recipe for my rolls is here.

Preparation is really the key to being able to make good homemade meals while balancing a very busy schedule. I do a lot of the prep work, when I can, the day before sometimes two days before. Whatever is left over is frozen for quick meals on busy weekends. I start making dinner after work, so about 5:45 pm, and can get most meals made and on the table by 6:30 pm. I usually bake the chicken the night before and then serve it warmed in gravy the next night for dinner. The lasagna is also prepared and ready to go by the time I get home so that all I need to do is pop it into the oven. I rely heavily on tried and true recipes I found through Food Network years ago. I am a faithful follower of Ina Garten, Paula Deen, Tyler Florence, Emeril Lagasse,  and Nigella Lawson. I’ve purchased most of their cookbooks and they are time-worn, food stained and dearly loved. We spend about $650.00 a month on food and household goods. In my next post, I will share some of the ways we save money and also stay organized and on task shopping.