A cooking challenge. Impress your friends and win a prize!

Today I'm excited to introduce my first ever group challenge that will result in a prize!  To me, the prize is super awesome, but it's not extremely fancy.  I'm paying for it myself using Amazon giftcards I've earned through Swagbucks (you can sign up on the swidget in the right-hand column of this blog), so don't trip over yourself with the idea that I'm makin' it rain with bills at da club.

The prize is one of my newest favorite kitchen tools - the Microplane grater/zester.  This joins a group of things that I list under the title "I know I can cook without this, but for the life of me I can't imagine why I ever did".  I enjoy complicated list titles.

We're moving at the end of April and will be in temp housing for 2 months (another post for another day).  Given this, I'm highly motivated to clean out my freezer, pantry, and zombie/apocalypse food storage in my garage.  Plus the fact that food prices are continuing to skyrocket has me looking for new ways to stretch my food dollars even further.

So enough jibber-jabbering already!  I'm pleased to announce the "Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity Clean Out Yo' Pantry Challenge-extravoganza".  I also like complicated contest titles.

Contest conditions
The actual contest will start on March 15th and will end on April 12th.
1) comment to this post to indicated you're participating.  You don't have to follow my blog or anything like that to participate;  I'm not keen on that kind of thing.  But, if you're a new reader, I would welcome you to follow me if you like what you see!
2) I'm providing a few days of prep time and planning.  This Thursday, participants can list what pantry items they're working with.  (post script edit: you don't NEED to post a list to participate.  It was more of an idea so that others could see what you're working with and possibly suggest a meal idea.  Totally not a necessary task required to "play"!)
3) Every week on Tuesday, I'll post a pantry challenge update.  Respond via comment what you've made the previous week. 
4) Each week you participate, you'll receive 1 entry "point".  Each week I will assign 1 bonus point to the person who made the most creative dish using pantry ingredients.  Using the awesome power of Excel's "random" function, I will randomly select and announce a winner on April 13th. 
5) If you are so inclined, I would welcome you to blog about this on your own blog, and link it to mine.
6) Contest is open to everyone, but I'll only ship the grater within the US.  If you're out of the US and win, I'll send you an Amazon giftcard for the value of the grater.
7) Postscript: you can join at any time by commenting to this post and posting updates in the weekly check in.  You don't have to necessarily participate each time.

Contest rules
1) you need to make (at least) 3 meals a week using mostly pantry items.  I don't care if that meal is breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  But if you're making breakfast, "plain oatmeal with cinnamon" ain't going to win you any creativity points!  I'm not going to be anal about what percentage "mostly" is; honor system people! 
2) participants are strongly encouraged to keep their weekly grocery budget to $50 (+/- a few bucks) including fresh fruit, veggies, dairy, etc.  Because Jack's 2nd birthday party is coming up and I need to increase my grocery shopping that week I'm nice, special occasion foods/meals are exempt from this contest.

So, what do you say?  Are you in?  Let the games begin.

PS, thank god for spell check because I had this originally listed as the "panty challenge".