Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Creative Ways to Stretch Food Budget

I keep hearing more and more people talk about how expensive groceries are getting.  It seems most everything is going up in price, except wages!

People are having to stretch that food budget and we all need to get more creative, so that we use everything and waste nothing.  Waste is such a huge thing today and it really makes me sad.  There are so many people who would think they are being given a feast on what the average person wastes in a week.

The old adage of 'waste not, want not'  is very true.
IF we all learn how to be creative now - we will be fine if things get bad.
IF we all learn how to be creative now - perhaps we can teach others.
IF we all learn how to be creative now - we can save money.
IF we all learn how to be creative now - we can limit our use of resources and not be wasteful.
  • First use anything and everything you can get from your garden or from fresh produce that others may share with you.  Fresh food is always the best and it is very healthy.  Eat it, can it, freeze it.
                      Not this years!!!  So handy to have on hand - in any form - many, many, uses.
  • Keep plenty of tomato products on hand.  Tomatoes are so very versatile.  If you can not afford to have spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce and salsa on hand as well as tomatoes - just choose tomatoes.  You can manipulate them in anything!  A few herbs and spices - a blender - and a little imagination and you have what you need.  If you don't grow tomatoes - watch the stores for sales.  Aldi is a good source of inexpensive canned goods and other stores often have great sales.
  • Shred meat in your recipes.  A small piece of meat, added with veggies or pasta, rice, or soups can go a long - long way.
  • Add rice to scrambled eggs to stretch your eggs.  It is yummy and healthy.  I used to add crushed crackers to eggs (w/a little milk) to make eggs go a lot further when camping.  You couldn't even tell.
  • Stir fry dishes - uses up odds and ends of veggies.  Add to leftover piece of meat (finely cut or shredded) and some rice or pasta.  These are easy, filling and cheap meals.
  • Use peanut butter!  It is filling and a good source of protein.  PB&J sammies are always good.  Think about making a fried peanut butter & fruit sandwich (like grilled cheese).  So yummy, hearty and healthy.  Add to smoothies with leftover fruit, juice or greens.  Makes a filling snack.
  • Add salsa to rice for easy Spanish rice (or tomatoes and seasonings)
  • Keep beans, rice and potatoes on hand.  These 3 items can be turned in 100's of hearty meals.  There is absolutely no limit of uses.
  • Use leftover hotdog or hamburger buns to make mini & individual pizzas.  They toast up great as well - actually they are my favorite toast!  Split and top buns with cheese and tomatoes and place under the broiler for a couple minutes - yum.
  • Bake up a bunch of potatoes at one time and refrigerate.  They can be eaten as baked potatoes, made into soup, potato salad, sliced or diced and fried etc.  If you have them baked already - they are handy and nothing is much cheaper than potatoes!  So filling.
  • Soups and casseroles stretch everything further.  Add broth, tomatoes, cream soup, etc. and you can have a great hearty soup or a wonderful casserole using leftovers.  Add a bit of salad or some sliced bread, cornbread or toast and you have a few meals for pennies.
  • Leftover cornbread - use in the bottom of a bowl of soup.  Soaks up all the goodness and it's filling.  My Dad always used leftover cornbread with milk.  It was one of his favorites.  My brothers and sisters all remember that as  meal when things were tight.
  • Cook up a huge batch of dried beans.  Soup beans, add to rice, mash & season for refried, add to taco meat to extend, add to soups or chili...…………….  the list goes on and on.
  • Stale bread - make French toast, turn into bread crumbs, make croutons, make dressing, bread pudding, garlic toast...…………….. again many uses.
  • Pasta - is the GREAT EXTENDER of anything.  Add to soups and casseroles to stretch minimal ingredients.  Makes great lo mein.  Add to stir fry.
  • Rice - another GREAT EXTENDER.  There are just so many uses - too many to list.
  • Keep meat bones and veggie scraps in the freezer until you have a good amount - add water and 'brew' for many hours.  The best stock you can imagine - all from things many people throw away.
  • Have meatless days.  Meat is not necessary everyday.  Make vegetarian pizza, soup, casserole, etc.
  • Keep a standard biscuit mix or recipe handy.  Biscuits are cheap and filling and YUMMY!  Use with any kind of gravy (love making gravy with pan drippings), can be served with soups and casseroles.  Bread products can truly fill you up when food is in short supply!
I guess I want people to realize that a meal doesn't have to be a traditional 3 or 4 course meal.  It can be something super simple and DIFFERENT.   Heck I have had a meals of fried green tomatoes, fried zucchini, stuffed zucchini, beans & rice, tomato sandwiches (yum), veggie sandwiches, salad, you name it!  Just those items alone and I was filled and happy!!!!
If you like the taste and it is filling - it is a meal!
Think outside the box and creative with those food dollars and supplies.

Just because the money is tight and the pantry is down - doesn't mean you can't still eat well.
Don't worry - be happy and full!


  1. This is a good reminder! Thank you

    1. Sure enough - you are welcome. SO many neat tricks that can save us $$

  2. Hi Cheryl, thanks for this post. As I'd mentioned, a week ago my niece and her husband came to visit and brought me lots of fresh fruit and vegetables from a Farmer's Market she visited: a cantaloupe, 1/2 of a watermelon, cherries, apricots, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, green beans, onions and potatoes. From her freezer she brought packages of strawberries, blueberries and two ears of corn! Such a bounty! I've been eating the fresh plain, with yogurt, in salads, etc. I still had cherries left and I didn't want to lose any and I had eaten a LOT so I pitted them getting 5 cups. I filled two freezer bags with 2 cups each and made a compote/sauce with the remaining 1 cup. Found a recipe for Black Forest Brownies - can hardly wait to try it! Needless to say, I've been fixing meals using up all this bounty! Also, made a loaf of banana-pecan bread using two sad-looking bananas, pecans from my freezer. My son sent me a gallon freezer bag of shelled pecans for Christmas last year. Where he lives in the Southwest they grow all over and go to waste. He gathers them and when they are ready, he shells and packages them using some and barters and gifts the rest. It's been too hot in my 2nd flr apt to use the oven (I discovered)for dehydrating but when it cools down I will try my hand at it with some fruit and vegies from the freezer. Sorry this is so long. But..... :) Needless to say, I definitely on board for the no-spend month starting now!

    1. You go girl. That is so neat that you are still eating on all that wonderful fruit and will be for quit some time. What a huge gift on pecans. I wish someone would send me a huge bag this year!!! Those darn things are very expensive. I still have many that I got marked down last year after the holidays and they are in the freezer as well.
      That sure is a neat barter product!

      You sound like you are in a lovely place right now, and that makes me happy for you!

  3. I noticed that prices are climbing here. I feel sorry for people who don't know how to cook.

    1. I know. An old co-worker of mine stopped by the other day and was talking about how it would be neat to be able to cook something other than hotdogs and eggs. He is a huge book collector and is in his 80's and single.
      I sarcastically said "you can read can't you?" Him - Yes.
      Me - Well then you can cook.

      I have never understood when people say they can't cook.

    2. Lol! Cheryl, you should hear some (too many) women younger than I am talk about their "virgin" ovens!! They look at me when I mention cooking/baking this or that like I'm nuts. Then too the younger ones that moan because everything is so expensive aka processed foods/ takeout/coffee etc. Yes, I'm feeling very blessed. Hugs!

    3. It seems to be we have created a 'take-out' generation. Many think of home cooking as something for the poor. I don't get it either.
      We will just have to enjoy our home cooked goodies ourselves!

  4. Thanks for the tips! I am trying to get better about not wasting food. Dh bought me an instant pot for my birthday last week (he likes gifting me gadgets :D, and since I had a half gallon of milk about ready to go off, I thought I would try making yogurt. It ended up being really runny, but I think I can use it in smoothies anyway.

    1. Cool - happy belated birthday! Heck yes, still use it in smoothies. Maybe freeze it in cubes and use those cubes in your smoothies. Will make it nice and cold and creamy!

      I think we all need work on using up and making do.

  5. All great tips. I cannot count how many times I have made soup for dinner and then the kids ask can friends stay for dinner. I would just add more rice or pasta to it to stretch it further.

    1. Those are the best items to stretch a meal for sure. I love just dumping 'whatever' together and it is soup!
      You are one smart momma!

      I remember my Mom adding things to sides on Sundays, when unexpected company showed up right at dinner time!!!

    2. Your comment made me think how we would drop in to visit others....or they would drop in to see us. You always offered for them to join you for a meal. It wasn't a feast or anything fancy..just a nice balanced meal. You looked in the frig, freezer or pantry and piece mealed together. And it was usually pretty darn good. And if someone else was feeding you, it tasted awesome and it was such a treat to not have to cook one time...you felt so treated. I miss those times. Anymore people entertain....not just visit. Guess I am old...but, know what....maybe I like it that way...ya!

    3. Linda it was always like that at my parents house. Especially on Sunday - it just so happened that many cousins would show up 'to visit' at meal time! Mom was always eager to feed anyone that came to the house. No one every left hungry.
      Things are so different now and like you - I miss those days.
      We had such a good time with family and then we would go out back and play croquet or horseshoes. Hang out under the shade trees and us kids would make our own fun.
      Those were the days!

  6. I'm late in commenting. What a busy week! Your list reminded me of a dish my grandma would make-scrambled eggs with bread and cooked diced potatoes all in one pan. It probably came from the Depression. She also made a potato soup with rivlets made from an egg and flour. One of my favorites!

    1. There are so many ways to stretch eggs that many people don't even know. I love the depression recipes. People sure were smart and knew how to stretch their food and a dollar. They had to. Seems not many care to learn that today.