Pantry

Summertime Pantry Challenge: Fridge picture, new mattress, and bedrooms re-arranged!

Today (July 31) is supposed to be the last day of the Summertime Pantry Challenge, but I'm not nearly ready to be finished yet! (I'm moving at a turtle's pace compared to Jessica and the others!) I don't have my freezers organized yet, so I'll share pictures in a few days when I do.

Here's what my fridge looks like right now:

We made beans and rice (a really yummy pantry meal in my opinion!) for today, and this week for dinners we'll be grilling chicken and fish from the freezer, mostly served with rice, salad greens, and vegetables.

See my lovely fresh parsley on the top shelf?! A friend started some herbs from seed this year and shared some with me. My pot of parsley is doing great and I just clipped all the biggest stems. I'm planning to make some Tabbouleh this week.

No, I don't have most of the vegetables for Tabbouleh... so I'm debating asking Joshua to pick up 1 tomato and 1 cucumber when he goes to the store today for bananas. (Joshua takes 2 bananas in his lunch every day so a weekly banana trip on Sunday evenings is routine for us.) :)

See, that's my trouble... I have fresh parsley to use and I am craving my Tabbouleh with ALL the "right" ingredients. Substitute canned tomatoes or leave out the cucumber? That just doesn't seem right! This is why I kinda stink at doing a "real" pantry challenge. :P :)

I also got a little side-tracked this week when my pantry challenge included getting a new mattress and re-arranging the kids bedrooms! With reducing my grocery shopping this month, we spent some of the savings on a new twin-size mattress for Ruth (3).

The bedrooms: Before and after!

Along with demonstrating my lack of photography skills (except in the area of food!),  these "before" pictures are a bit embarrassing because we didn't clean up the rooms first. I figured we could just clean while we moved furniture and stuff, which we did. So anyway, here is how the kids bedrooms were arranged earlier this week:

Moshe's room before

The smaller of the two bedrooms was Moshe's room. He slept in the Pack'n'Play, and the long dresser is my changing table (also has Moshe's clothes and diapers stored in it). I loved having a room just for "the baby" and he usually napped pretty well as a result! :)

Moshe's room before

There was also a futon mattress on the floor in Moshe's room, which I used when I nursed him during the night, or for napping during the day. (The futon frame had broken, but we kept the mattress. It works great for a guest bed when an air mattress is placed underneath it!)

Moshe's room before

And, there is a closet behind the door. (You can also see how small this room really is!) The closet has a few tubs of outgrown kids' clothing and some toys.

The NEW LOOK for this room? Instead of "Moshe's Room", it's now "Ruth's Room"!

Ruth's new room!

Some friends generously gave us this bed frame and matching dresser for Ruth last year. We just needed a mattress, which we got this week! Here is Ruth trying out her new bed. :) The tote bag has all her dolly and Build-A-Bear stuff in it. :)

Ruth's new room!

The matching dresses, which holds Ruth's clothes, hair stuff, and extra bed sheets. (I had gotten a few twin-size bed sheets at GoodWill in anticipation of setting up Ruth's new bed!)

Ruth's new room!

And the other side of the room, we moved the kitchen playset out of the closet and into the room! :) So cute... and it looks like a real little girl's room. :) The kitchen set was a hand-me-down from one of our friends when we moved out of our apartment, and the kids have played with it tons!! :)

Ruth's new room!

The happy girl in her new bed! When I asked her to smile, she scrunched up her face... :P :)

Now, for the boys' room. This is before:

Boys room before

Yehoshua (7), Eliyahu (5), and Ruth (3) shared this room. The boys have bunk beds...

Boys room before

...Ruth slept in the crib...

Boys room before

...they each have a dressers, and the closet doubled for toy storage. (We try to just have one or two "sets" of toys down at a time, to make cleanup more manageable!)

Boys room after

The bunk bed and dressers stayed in the same place, but Ruth's dresser moved (obviously!) and the only really good place for the crib was back in this corner. It works pretty well though!

Boys room after

There's just enough room to squeeze between the two beds. I think there's actually more floor space with this arrangement! :)

Boys room after

I moved the clock radio over by Eliyahu's bed. The boys like to listen to classical music while they're going to sleep or playing. Now Moshe gets classical music for his naps! ;)

Boys room after

And where the crib used to be, we put the changing table. The door *almost* opens. It's a pretty long dresser and tricky to place without covering a floor vent, doorway, etc. :)

Moshe cuteness!

And this is the cute little Moshe who now gets to sleep in a room with the big boys! :) I asked Yehoshua what he thought of the new room arrangements, and he said he was happy because he has wanted to have Moshe in his bedroom too. :) The boys' room is only a little bigger than Ruth's, and a whole lot more crowded, but I was blessed by the big boys' cheerful attitude about making room for the big changing table and a little guy in their room! :)

And I'm extremely thankful we're not trying to squeeze everyone in our 2-bedroom apartment any more! :) Ruth's room will double as a "guest room", as we have a spare crib-size mattress and she can sleep on that on the floor in the boys' room when we have overnight guests. :)

From the past: This post has photos and a video of what the kids' bedroom looked like in our apartment. :)

My final goals for the Summertime Pantry Challenge:

Organize the freezers (they ARE getting emptier!) and take pictures

Make split pea soup with the split peas I bought and never used a while back

Eat beans (or legumes) in some form every day this week

If I were really ambitious (and I might be... or I might not be...): Wipe down the tops of my food storage buckets in the garage. They're kinda dusty!

...and update next weekend with my progress report! :)

Some other great ladies are joining in the Summertime Pantry Challenge! Visit them for more inspiration:

Summertime Pantry Challenge: Clean fridge and cupboards, grocery photos, and what I'm spending our savings on

Okay, I'm overdue for a Pantry Challenge update! Yes, that would be me... chugging along and taking twice as long as I'm supposed to! :P What can I say? Lately I've felt like anything I would write about here is either worthless or boring. I tend to second-guess myself and decide that no one would even care what our menu was or if my fridge got cleaned or if I had self-control at Costco last week...

But, moving along, my fridge did indeed get cleaned. My goals last time were to clear off the kitchen counters, clean out the fridge, and then go to Costco for a few things like eggs, milk, cheese, toilet paper, and lettuce. I spent about $150 at Costco, which was my goal for this month. (Yay!) We did have to make one other trip to Costco to get a few things for dinners we hosted at our house -- burgers, buns, and dessert (strawberries, pound cake, and cream).

Clean fridge

Here is my clean fridge! We've had tacos and used most of the corn tortillas. (Those had been previously frozen, as the big pack from Costco can go stale before we use them all!) And, I've been using the carrots (one of my goals!). This was before Joshua went to Costco for milk, eggs, etc. That ONE Costco trip is lasting all month, thankfully! I can tell our freezers are getting emptier though.

Fridge door cleaned

Here is the door of the fridge after I cleaned it out. The top compartments have my homemade bread dough conditioners.

Pantry cupboard organized

My kitchen pantry cupboard has been organized, also. (And believe it or not, Moshe hasn't gotten back into it to mess it up... yet!) I've used some of the canned corn, finished up a bag of rice, and that's pretty much it, I guess. We seem to eat mostly from the fridge and freezer rather than pantry! The things I do use from the pantry, like beans, rice, or flour, are things that I buy in bulk and which last quite a while. :)

Fruit grocery shopping

Aside from our Costco shopping trip (which I should have photographed!!), Joshua also went to QFC and got bananas, peaches (on sale), and some ingredients for a dairy-free ice cream that we made for company.

What I'm spending my "savings" on:

When I decided to do this pantry challenge, I was planning to stash the money saved in our savings account. But instead, we are going to get a bed set up for Ruth! She's 3 1/2 and sleeps in the crib. Moshe, who is 1 1/2, sleeps in a Pack'n'Play. We have a twin bed frame that was given to us for Ruth last year, but no mattress. So, we are finally going to buy a mattress, set up the bed for Ruth, and move Moshe to the crib! :)

My goals for the next week:

Organize the freezers and take pictures of them

Re-arrange kids rooms to accommodate Ruth's new bed (I'll share before and after pictures -- hopefully this weekend!)

Wait at least one more week before getting more groceries (except for bananas)

Some other great ladies are joining in the Summertime Pantry Challenge! Visit them for more inspiration:

Summertime Pantry Challenge: Messy pantry photos and my budget goals

Thanks to Jessica at Good Cheap Eats, I get to join in with her pantry challenge this month! And boy, do I need this goal-setting incentive. I've got some stuff in the freezer that needs to be used soon, and my pantry (dry storage, fridge, and freezer) could use a good cleaning!

And our food budget. I've gotten a little off-track and could definitely stand to go a month buying just mostly necessities and stashing the extras into savings. We do well on a small(er) budget, but groceries is the one variable that I have some control over and could cut. (Other areas? Not so much.)

Cathy asked:

I would love for you to post more about your general budget.  I always enjoy reading how others budget their household...plus, I tend to learn things from this.

The last time I wrote about our budget was near the beginning of this year (2011). I'm happy to have met quite a few of those goals! Going to Costco every 2 weeks (where we buy most of our groceries) has definitely helped our household grocery budget. Moshe has been in cloth diapers, Ruth has been potty trained for 4+ months now, and a family member generously helped fund my trip to Ohio to see my family!

Of course, as life always seems to, for nearly every goal met, a curve ball was tossed our way as well. ;) Our medical expenses (even with insurance) have been greatly increased this year. Thankfully, we have a savings cushion! God has always provided and continues to do so. With so many unemployed in this country right now, we are blessed with a steady income and health insurance! :)

I don't say that lightly. I feel very blessed! I do get tired of going over our budget trying to find things to cut though.

I could sum up our budget by just saying "We try to spend as little as possible." I know that doesn't really help anyone!

In more detail: We use cloth-everything (except toilet paper), we have 1 vehicle and stay home a lot, we don't go out to eat, we don't have cell phones, we don't have Cable, we do most things at-home -- like haircuts.

What DO we spend money on? Food! We love to eat well. ;) So this month I will be focusing on eating well while spending less -- much less -- than normal. ;) I WILL be spending some money though. Milk, fresh fruit, vegetables, and toilet paper are all things I'll need to buy.

I'll also share my grocery shopping trips for this month, to help keep me accountable. ;) Here is what we've bought so far this month:

Bananas, strawberries (on sale), and corn on the cob (on sale).

Now, I also took pictures of my pantry, fridge, and freezer. I didn't organize anything first. Hopefully by the end of the month things will look a little cleared-out and tidier and we'll have saved a few hundred dollars as well! :)

My dry food storage. Some of this needs used -- like the canned corn. Mostly it just needs organized! I also have buckets of dry food storage -- like wheat, oats, corn, lentils, pinto beans, and black beans. I need to make a more concentrated effort to use those more often! I did get a START on that, though. Last week I ground some wheat and corn flour for the first time in several months. :)

This is our stand-alone chest freezer. You can't see much: mozzarella cheese, turkey broth, buns, the ice cream maker bowl, and some soaked cedar planks. Down below are some whole chickens waiting to be used, and a lot of pollock, which I need to figure out better ways to serve so it gets used! It was a very good price, and isn't old or freezer burned, but if I don't start serving it, we'll be out of our other kinds of fish and just have pollock. :P :)

It's also annoying to have a chest freezer and *still* have trouble finding room for things! :) I know why it's so full (we got a good price on fish in May) but eating from the freezer plus organizing it should give me some "breathing room" in there by the end of the month! :)

This is the freezer attached to the fridge. Some organization is definitely in order for this baby! I don't even know what's in here. That's pathetic! I'm still recovering from my month-long vacation in some ways. (Anyone seen the missing butter dish???) :)

The fridge! I am so lucky to have a huge fridge like this!! It helps stretch those Costco trips. When I come home with 6-8 gallons of milk (a 2-week supply), it's FULL but manageable.

The main thing I need to do (besides cleaning the fridge) is use more carrots. Theyr'e organic and affordable at Costco, but I tend to neglect them. Carrot sticks need to be a more available snack! There's a 10-pound bag in the back (that you can't see). I've already used some from it twice since this photo was taken 4 days ago! :)

Let's see... what else have I done? I cleaned behind the fridge! Does that count for anything?! :)

I also cleaned the coils on the fridge. They were SO NOT DIRTY compared to last time!! :)

And Yehoshua helped me sweep and mop under the stove. We even found a few toys in the process. And, he earned a little money for his savings. I've been having Yehoshua (7) help me with "Spring cleaning" types of projects and paying him for his help. It's been an exciting motivation for him! :)

So that's my start for July's pantry challenge!

Goals for next week:

1. One *reasonable* trip to Costco (I go crazy at Costco!)

2. Clear off the kitchen counters so I can start cleaning out the fridge (This should ideally happen BEFORE the trip to Costco!)

3. Plan my menu and post about it

Some other great ladies are joining in the Summertime Pantry Challenge! Visit them for more inspiration:

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