My Frugal Life: Food On Hand

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I am dependent on a small monthly check for all my outgoings. Recently, I realized that I had absolutely no money left AT ALL and ten days to go before that check arrived. At first I wondered how I would eat. Then I sorted out my cupboards and it was a revelation to me that I actually had plenty of food on hand. I just had to be more creative as to how I used it.


Canned tomatoes have been a great help. Fortunately I had quite a few of those and they have provided pasta sauces, soups, and even a stew (with a small amount of beef I found at the back of the freezer and my last remaining cloves of garlic). Instead of buying bread, I've been using up my stocks of rolled oats and having delicious porridge for breakfast, sprinkled with blackberries I picked last year and froze. Frozen peas have gone into pasta sauces and soup. With my last two eggs, I made a Spanish omelet with onion and potato.

Today for lunch I had red lentils simmered with a stock cube, a bit of the slightly withered leek at the bottom of the fridge, and half a tin of sweetcorn - and it was delicious, with some mint from the garden snipped on top. I've been stewing prunes too from the TWO bags I discovered I had bought at a discount months ago and had forgotten about. When my four year old nephew came round yesterday, we had hot chocolate made with powdered milk - even better than the fresh kind!


I now have three days to go and stores are running low. But I haven't spent one single penny for a week and I've discovered how much wonderful food I've already got and how a little bit of ingenuity is a useful challenge.

By Lucy from Oxford, UK

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April 18, 20110 found this helpful

God's blessings on you Lucy. You are very resourceful. May you always have abundance in your life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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April 19, 20110 found this helpful

Sending you good thoughts Lucy! Hope the 3 days hurry by.

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April 19, 20110 found this helpful

This is a wonderful post, Lucy. it sounds like you really enjoyed the challenge and did a great job of using your creativity. hope that you never have to go without, but now you know what you're capable of. Do they have food pantries there just in case? There's a service I've used called angel food ministries (dot com). They have several options and you pick up at your local participating church. Best wishes!

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April 19, 20110 found this helpful

Thank you for sharing. It's wonderful to know we can get creative should the need arise. I wish you sunshine and much more.

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April 20, 20110 found this helpful

Besides being very frugal, your wording is vivid and pleasant. I hope a "check you forgot about" arrives soon, or if not, that the last bit of leftovers lasts until "payday".

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April 22, 20110 found this helpful

I enjoyed hearing your story not because you were having a ruff time but because you went into survival mode. At one time or another we all might have to rely on that same mode to get us through. Cheers!

Have a nice day. :)

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April 22, 20110 found this helpful

Thanks for a wonderful post. You sound as though you are not only frugal but very smart! All God's best to you.

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April 23, 20110 found this helpful

I have found myself and family in same situation many times, even though I am frugal and try to keep supplies put by. It is because I put by that I have the tidbits which I use in the same manner as yourself. I find we often overestimate how much we need to be full, and am reminded to be grateful for even the smallest amounts.

My favorite story is the time grandsons had friends over, and the larder was almost bare. Several of the young men lived "at risk" lives and wouldn't find food at home either so I took inventory and found: two frozen chicken breasts, one carrot, a piece of onion, clove or two of garlic still usable, dribble of oil in bottle, and maybe an inch of fresh ginger, and about 1 and a half cups dry rice. I started the rice to cooking, with double the water, julliened the veggies, and after slightly thawing the chicken, cut it in approximately 1/2 inch cubes. Sauteed the chicken on high, threw in everything else, dashed it all with soy sauce, thickened the juices with a bit of cornstarch [may have had a chicken bouillon cube]. I divided the rice into 6 one half cup servings into bowls which I compacted and shaped with a half cup measure, and dished the meat/sauce in 1/4 cup portions on top to make sure each got the same amount and then divided up the rest, piece by piece. Chicken Bento in a bowl. Those kids never knew how desperate I felt, but they had a warm meal that night.

Do your best to have a variety of ingredients and things like bouillon on hand to sauce/broth your way to a hearty meal. I prefer Knorr brand above all others. There are 6 large cubes for about 80 cents, very full flavored, and usually I only need 1/2 cube. Also keep cornstarch on hand for thickening for gravies, sauces, broth thickening, cheese or white sauce, or home made puddings which are a nice filler for children.

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April 25, 20110 found this helpful

God Bless you and thumbs up for your positive attitude, lack of self pity and your creativeness! Your essay brought to mind a wonderful old folktale I haven't heard since I was a wee one and it made me smile :-) I just searched for it and found one similar to what I heard as a child here:

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April 30, 20110 found this helpful

I have donated to our local food-bank several times, this is what it's for. Please, if you ever run "really short", pay them a visit.

Because of the tornado's just north of here it has made me realize I need to stash food in a "safe place" (underground shelter), several weeks worth.

Also, admire your creativity. You sound as if you would make a good friend. Good luck and best wishes.

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April 30, 20110 found this helpful

I hear ya lady. I'm glad you found so much to work with. I've been baking my own bread for a few months now and it has really saved me some money. I buy my flour and yeast at Sam's and save a bundle. I use the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book, it has really good bread recipes. I hope things get better for you and all of us.

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April 30, 20110 found this helpful

I know exactly what you mean...I've had to search the cupboards for the same reasons. Ingenuity is our friend. I remember really craving something sweet and realising we were several days away from a payday. Lo and behold! There was a cake mix at the back of the cabinet and powdered sugar. Add butter and there's a frosted cake! It was delicious and we had desert for several nights thereafter!

Thank you for sharing your story.

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May 9, 20110 found this helpful

Looking into my pantry and frig top freezer, I am inspired by this post to try to live out of both for the rest of this month - and it's only the 9th! I will have to purchase a few perishables, but I would like to spend as little as possible. When my children were young and funds were tight, and sometimes very tight, "mother-love" propelled and inspired me to be very creative with meal planning; those are the meals that have become my children's favorites! There were times it seemed a bit like 'the loaves and the fishes,' as there didn't seem to be enough to make a meal, yet I began and by the time I finished, low and behold, dinner was on the table. I mentioned it once to my own Mother, and she knew immediately what I meant. (They raised 9 children thru the Great Depression, WWII, and the lean years following). God blessed them with 20 years of peace-filled, happy and loving retirement together :)

I've been dismayed for years at the unspeakable waste in our country, esp. food while so many still go hungry. While my actions this month won't change all that, it will make a difference to me and to how I choose to live.

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April 28, 20160 found this helpful

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! Good for you - while you were doing all that searching around weren't you struck with the idea that sometimes we shop mindlessly? Look what you made and didn't even go to the store! I've been doing the same because the weather is so rotten & I'm too lazy to shop. I can go for as long as 3 weeks on my stored food remnants. Keep up the good work! I'm cold in Hoffman Estates IL

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