Week 4 has come and gone.  All the other “Pantry Challenger” blogs have gone back to their regular grocery rotations.  Us, not so much.  This may be because we had SO MUCH stuff in the pantry and freezers or because I’m kind of lazy enough to just keep on keepin’ on until we completely run out of food.

Now, lest you think we’ll starve, I’ve still managed to hit the grocery store every single week.  It’s kind of fun, honestly, to only buy produce or stock up items.  It makes grocery trips less stressful and less obligatory.  We missed this past Monday’s usual trip, and although I’m stressing a little about making it this week (for super sweet deals on more cheese … which is a food group unto itself, if you didn’t know) before I leave for work Thursday (and don’t come home again until Saturday … yea, one of those jobs), it’s not the end of the world if I don’t.  I love that.

We are still eating stuff that was already in the house (from my super OCD pantry/freezer inventory list), even though I’ve stocked up on chicken and ground beef in the last few weeks.  Those meal components from this month’s shopping are all packed up and ready to be added to the list that will be the basis for next month’s menus.  It was a little wacky to not include chicken breast in my menu planning the past few weeks, but I don’t honestly think anyone missed it.  The challenge has done a fabulous job of breaking us out of our usual standbys, and forcing a little more creativity in deciding what makes the menu.

And, can I tell you again how much I looooooooooove menu planning that works?  We’ve always had “a menu”, but we weren’t so great at following it for awhile.  Now that we’re working only with what we already have, there are fewer options for wandering off the road.  Dinner is on the table at a reasonable hour now, and I never thought people that used to forget to cook dinner or not cook it until 10 or 11 p, would so suddenly be so dedicated to a meal schedule that waiting for last night’s 8pm dinner created a near mutiny.

Added bonus, we’re mostly eating together (with exceptions for the nights when someone is still at work when we eat) at the dining room table.  It’s like following the menu makes us obligated to also eat like real people, having actual conversations over slowly eaten food, rather than shoveling it down in silence in front of the latest Bones rerun.  This is good stuff, folks.

We are in the middle of week 5 now, and I have a pantry menu planned for week 6 as well.  After that, I’ll do a quick inventory update to see what we actually have, and make a new set of menus based on that.  I love love love love love this set up.  You should try it.  Right now.  No kidding.  It changes lives … ok, maybe not that profound, but still.

This week we’re eating french toast (because the general consensus seems to be Costco wheat bread is not the new family favorite), oven roasted ham with potatoes, chili with corn muffins, grilled sandwiches with soup and salads (this is for sure the last week of this meal … my poor family is so over it), sausage and potato hash, leftover night, and a roasted turkey (assuming I actually take it out of the freezer this time).

What are you eating this week?  Inspire me.