Tuesday, January 30, 2018

No Grocery Budget? No Worries!

We all know there have been times in our lives, for whatever reason, that we have had no grocery budget.  I can remember a time, before I got enlightened, that I ate lots of crackers and macaroni.  I lived alone, had no money, and that was what I could afford!  Water was my beverage of choice!! LOL!!   I survived (thanks to Sunday dinners at Moms).

Today, I feel better prepared, as are most of you.  We know that bad times CAN happen and that we need to be prepared.  I think most of us can go for a long time, stretching and re-inventing what we have.  At least I hope so.
If you haven't been listening and learning - then maybe you can use some advice.
ALWAYS buy a little extra each week.  Keep extra can goods and frozen goods on hand IN CASE! This is why we talk so much about pantries!  You are always prepared for the worst scenario.

Remember - when you are broke that you can still eat well - just maybe not like the Ritz!  YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIVE ON JUST BEANS AND RICE EITHER (although I love them).

Oatmeal or baked oatmeal
Biscuits or toast (cover with peanut butter and/or jelly)
White gravy - so easy to make and filling
Homemade burritos
Muffins/sweet breads - can use leftover rice. oatmeal, fruits, or cereal as ingredients
Leftover rice - top with butter and sugar or a little syrup
Grits, polenta -  both are cheap and easy to make
Pancakes or waffles (make ahead and freeze to always have on hand)  Keep general baking mix on hand!
Homemade breakfast sandwiches - use biscuits or English muffins (or bread) along with egg/cheese/meat - whatever you have
Eggs if you have them (we always keep some frozen) and I keep instant eggs in pantry
ANY leftover!!!!!!!  I have had soup, pizza, lasagna, you name it for breakfast!!

Tuna salad on bread or with crackers (or any type salad)
Cheese slices w/crackers
Fruit (canned is fine)
Baked potato
Peanut butter/apple/celery

Fried rice (use all kinds of leftovers - veggies and/or bits of meat)
Soup - ANY KIND  Veggie, soup beans, potato - no limit.  You can add rice or pasta to any soup to extend it  GARBAGE SOUP - add anything and everything left in bits and pieces in frig and freezer.  It may be the best soup you ever had!
Beans and rice
Fried potatoes
Baked potatoes
Dressing/stuffing - is easy to make and is filling and a great meal extender
Bean and cheese burritos
Quiche - use leftovers with your eggs.
Salad if you have fresh ingredients or garden
Pasta salad - pasta w/any veggie or meat and any kind of dressing you have on hand

ANY fruit can be sautéed with a little sugar, honey, or syrup for a warm treat
Make a simple crisp
Rice pudding
Bread pudding
Simple cornbread with butter and warm syrup
Cake mix cookies or bars
Jello w/fruit

In the warm months learn to garden (if only a few things) - also learn to barter with others and forage.  There may be fruit trees on empty lots with fruit you can take or nut trees, and learn to forage greens from your own lawn (if no chemicals).

Learn that meat can be an added ingredient and doesn't have to be a main course.  A little can go a long way.

Extend casseroles and soups with rice or pasta and 'cream of' soups.
Learn that just about ANY veggie can be fried, sautéed or broiled/baked.  Gives you some variety to a limited supply.  (Basically the same holds true with fruit)

Use bread crumbs for breading foods to fry - if no bread try cracker crumbs, non-sweet cereal, pretzels, chips, flour, cornmeal, etc. - whatever you have.

Did you know?  You can make soup out of those hamburger helper meals and out of boxed red beans and rice, dirty rice, Rice - A - Roni, etc.  Just add more liquid or broth and throw in anything else you have and you have a nicely flavored soup.  I have done this many times for a nice soup starter.

REMEMBER - a meal doesn't have to involve several courses.  We have had many a meal that consisted of finger foods.  As long as you get full - that is what matters.

Keep some canned potatoes on hand in case you are out of fresh.  They can be fried, used in soups and casseroles, smashed, etc.

We never know what life or the world has in store for us.  We can be thrown a curve ball at any moment.  BE PREPARED - HAVE AN EXTENDED PANTRY!  If you have staples on hand you can live and eat well.
LEARN - read, watch, absorb from others, all the information you can.  It may save your life.

Add a little at a time if you are just starting out - JUST ADD!
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX - it can be beneficial to your family!


  1. Enjoyed your post today Cheryl. We did Low-Spend January this month and saved quite a bit of money while cleaning out our cupboards of foods that would expire if not eaten or given to food banks. Extra benefit is having shelves where we can see what we have at a glance.

    1. Thank you. It is amazing how creative you can get when just using what you have. You are right it also gives you a good chance to rotate supplies as well.
      Oohhh I don't like to see empty shelves! LOL. That's just me - I get panicky if my supplies get to looking low!

  2. Buying canned potatoes are a great hint Cheryl. They come in so handy -I've put them in stews, with roast, or even warmed them up to mash them. Sometimes they are just handy to have when your too tired. Better than eating out I always say!

    1. Canned potatoes can surely come in handy for many a meal. As much as I love scratch cooking, I also like convenience sometimes too.
      Yes, MUCH better than eating out!

  3. Excellent advice, Cheryl, and a great list. We too have had to make meals out of "nothing" as my daughter calls it. LOL She likes it when I can come home and fix something even though she thinks there is nothing to fix. lol

    1. Isn't it amazing how kids and men can look into a frig and see "nothing to eat"? LOL
      A little imagination can go a long way. Sounds like she has a good Momma!!!!

  4. Love your ideas! Thank you!
    I am slowly trying to stock up on things when they are on sale. I bought about 20 cans of tomatoes last week at Kroger since they were on sale for .50 each, and I like the Red Gold brand. I also bought about 10 boxes of pasta for .50 each. I like your idea of thinking outside the box. I found a recipe for pasta primavera that I have never tried before, but it is different from my usual pasta recipes.
    Thanks for your blog. I learn so much!

    1. Kathy good for you. Slowly add each time you go and you will be ready for any emergency. Red Gold is a product of my state - love their products!

      I like trying new recipes, but so often I jus wing it! I throw things together and then when G says "yum, make that again" - I'm thinking oh-oh! I just go with the flow! That's what Mom did.

      Thanks and glad you feel you are learning something new!

  5. Today the book "A Year Without the Grocery Store: A Step by Step Guide to Acquiring, organizing and cooking Food Storage is free on a kindle from Amazon. I have not read it yet but got it to read. If you can make soup from hamburger helper then I guess maybe you could make if up from the hamburger helper mix, do you think? Nancy

    1. Nancy I don't see why you couldn't make soup from the mix. Soup is just about any combo you want.
      Thanks for the info on the book.

  6. I keep an old ice cream bucket in my freezer where pretty much all left overs go into, except mashed potatoes and pasta.When full enough to make a meal I just add some tomato juice or stock( home made of coarse) put all in a pot and make soup. Never have had rhe same soup twice.My family loves it.

    1. I used to do that all the time with leftovers. Now they pretty much get used up with a couple days into something new. I love the idea of leftover soup!

      It sounds like maybe you cook like I do - a little of this and a little of that!!!!

  7. Great ideas and tips my friend! I try to also make extra soups and things so I can freeze soe for future quick meals.

    1. Yes mam, freezer meals are great. Anything extra that we can freeze - sure makes a dollar stretcher and yummy in the tummy!

  8. Back in the day when all the family was eating at home, and money was tight, I made many of these meals. Thank you for reminding me of them.
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage