Help Out Your Grocery List

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Okay, this is my first ever tip, but here goes.

For a couple of years, my husband and I had very, very little cash flow and began going hungry at times, here and there. We never had a lot of food, but it only felt bad when we had nothing but dried noodles and water; rice, if we were lucky.


Realizing something had to be fixed, I scourged our local Wal-Mart and found the best deals I possibly could. Especially since we have no working stove top or oven, so we have to get creative with our eating habits. If you ever find yourself in this position, here are my suggestions for your grocery list:

  1. Hamburgers If you have a George Foreman or any other way to cook hamburgers, buy the patties. I found you can get 25 semi-thin patties for 7-10 dollars, depending on your brand preference. For us, we always just did whatever was cheapest! Once you have the patties, you only need to buy some ketchup, mustard, one head of lettuce, and one package of buns at a time, giving you more time to make more cash before needing another package of buns.

    Also, after you've made this initial purchase, you won't find yourself needing to buy ketchup or mustard for a while, which also saves on cost the next time around! If you have enough in your pocket book, pickles make for a nice flavor enhancer, and are still relatively cheap. Just stay away from the cheese! It may be absolutely delicious, but it's also what will kill your check book when it comes to eating hamburgers. Without the cheese, they are a very cheap meal!

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  3. Rice: You can do so many things with rice and it's oh, so inexpensive! I like it just plain with butter, soy sauce is inexpensive. As most of you probably know, you can use other forms of liquid to steam it in in order to give it a different flavor. My husband's favorite was chicken broth.

    Now, we had no working stove top (still don't) but one plug-in burner does the trick! Chicken broth in bulk is so inexpensive and gives the rice a wonderful flavor!

  4. Split Pea Soup: A bag of peas, an onion, a little bacon, milk, and you are ready to go! If you have no stove top, see if anyone has a slow cooker you can borrow, or maybe you're lucky enough to have one of your own. I got one for Christmas! Anyway, I buy the chuck pieces of bacon - not only are they a heck of a lot cheaper, but they are fattier, which is better for your soup, anyway. This costs less than ten dollars to purchase and used to last me a week!


    If you don't like split pea soup, feel free to look around at other soups. They can be some of the cheapest meals if you keep them simple, and adding something like a box of 6 bread sticks for less than $2! Just heat them in your toaster oven, if you have one and no oven, like us.

  5. Dollar Tree: If you happen to have a Dollar Tree in your area, there are some foods they carry that actually aren't that bad. First of all, in my opinion, they carry the best ketchup. You can find stuff there that has no high fructose corn syrup, and it tastes much better than the stuff that has that crud in it. Also, in their frozen foods, you can sometimes find Savory snacks by Pillsbury, yum! I don't suggest going here all the time, but if you have $5 to your name, you can find a little something to hold you over until you find a way to make that next dollar.

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  7. Pork: I am a meat eater and it was very hard for me to stay away from the meat section when we were so poor. We can afford food now, and are ready to move out of this kitchen-less home. Pork is great though. You can have it as steak, in pieces with your rice, or make Chinese noodles (pork, ramen noodles, and eggs topped with soy sauce, add green onion if desired).

I hope someone out there finds this helpful! I know how difficult it can be to work hard, and still go cold and hungry. If any of you out there are in this position or a similar one, just remember to keep holding your head high. God never gives us a challenge we can't handle, scripture promises as much.

If you are out there, feel free to let me know about it. Believe it or not, I most likely know a lot of what you are going through and would like to help in any way possible. Even if it's just an ear to hear and a prayer to pray. I love you, and God does, too!


Have a wonderful and frugal week, all! Here's a cup of cocoa, on me!

By Chelle152 from Coquille, Oregon

A cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream and a candy cane.

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 145 Feedbacks
November 16, 20112 found this helpful

Very well thought out advice. More and more of us are going to need to know how to stretch a dollar the best way we can, and these are good tips. Sweet touch, the cup of cocoa!

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 355 Posts
November 7, 20200 found this helpful

I truly admire and respect you for opening up your heart and words. Knowing right well that there are many people (too many) people who live every day like this and most have children. Thank you for feeding your thoughts.


I hope this hits all that are in need. If not in need, maybe they will donate to their local town food pantry. Thank you so very much for the wonderful teaching post. *Happy soon to be Holidays*

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 846 Posts
November 16, 20113 found this helpful

Good advice, Chelle, and have been there myself. At one time I only had one of those tiny office type refrigerators, one single burner hot plate and a coffee maker. Where there's a will there's always a way to be a creative cook. ;-)

The most important thing in my humble opinion for those who are in need of food and/or are without necessary appliances is not be too proud to open your mouth and let your family, friends, neighbors, church or local food banks know that you need a wee bit of help.

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November 17, 20113 found this helpful

You are so right about the pea soup. So cheap and so nutritious. I buy ham hocks to cook in mine. My other favorite is dried beans, also tasty, very cheap and loaded with nutrition. I started using left over chicken parts to make my own broth when containers of broth got over $2 a container. It is even better than what you buy. I do spend more time than most in the kitchen but we eat well for very little money. Great tips, thanks for sharing and keep posting those gorgeous photos.

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Diamond Feedback Medal for All Time! 1,394 Feedbacks
November 20, 20111 found this helpful

Well said, Chell! I was that poor when raising my four children with a deadbeat who wouldn't work. (I left him, eventually.) Deeli's right, food banks live to help - that's how we were able to get any food for quite awhile. Even with that, we often lived on Ramen noodles, boxed mac & cheese and the cheapest hot dogs I could find. Thank God He led us to a safe haven! We were never hungry once we left that environment. And beans with a nice piece of jowl bacon has become one of my favorite meals - cheap or otherwise. Hugs... JPJ

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 170 Posts
November 28, 20111 found this helpful

Congrats on your win. I also use some of the tips you stated. I love the dollar tree! The picture of the drink with the candy cane in it looks delicious, Please let me know what it is. Thanks, dorothy

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November 1, 20121 found this helpful

I know how you feel and have been there my self. My husband passed away and his company took everything and was bankrupt. The home we had was forclosed after 2 years so I did have a little time there. I got three jobs and was looking for another place when I was given 24hr to move out of our home.

I lived on TV dinners and salad for a long time til I could afford to build up things. Hand washed laundry and hung out to dry. One of the jobs was working in a theater and after we closed I took walmart bags home of left over popcorn and once in awhile there would be left over hot dogs so would have a couple of them. I was once told if you want something bad enough just write it down.

Well, I made my wish list and prayed. God became my strength and courage. After 10 years I accomplished that list and keep striving to help others. No am not working 3 jobs any more but one takes care of me on a modest income. One of the things to remember is even if it's 25 cents, put it in a jar for a savings and don't get into it.

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November 1, 20121 found this helpful

I can relate to this, very well, you sound like me and my husband 40 years ago, we were both working but we sometimes had nothing, or very little to eat, I could not understand it, as we were both working, One time as we had a large meal and were digging in, I realized that we had not thanked almighty god for what he had given us to eat, I told my husband, we have not thanked god for this meal, one of which we had not had in a long time. And we thanked him in prayer for the bountiful meal he had provided, and do you know we have never been hungry again, as we thank him everyday now for everything, an especially for food as he provides all these good things for us, and that was 46 years ago, never been hungry ever again, that is the secret, every meal since then has been a feast.

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November 2, 20121 found this helpful

Thank you for the reminder. Our first home I had a slow pot, camp stove and a toaster oven. I think a toaster oven and a slow pot are the greatest. My very favorite is a mircowave, I didn't have one then. That was nearly 20 years ago and through the years my husband and myself have tried to always thank God and pay our tithes and We have been blessed over and above. What is helping me right now is that Walmart will match other store ad's. I look them all up on line, write down the best deals and try to store up on things when it goes on sale. If I have a coupon that helps too. Our Walmart will match their store brand with other store's brands, besides the name comparison prices on other things.

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November 3, 20121 found this helpful

I want to thank you for your post and for your statement about working hard and still hungry. We are doing the best we can, and food has to be stretched out terribly. I feel sorry for my daughter, but maybe it will make her stronger in future. Hoping to rise above it all. Every little tip or encouragement helps.

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November 19, 20121 found this helpful

My husband and I learned the first year we were married how to overcome hunger, and no food in the house even thought you are working hard everyday. The first time we got around to having a really good meal in a long while, I noticed we had not thanked God for it at the beginning of the meal. So since then we thank God for his generosity, at every meal, and have not been hungry anymore in 46 years of marriage. It was as simple as that.

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September 1, 20151 found this helpful

I enjoyed reading all these notes...and admire the tenacity and courage it must have taken to get thru these hard times...Im afraid my hard times are ahead of me..but I will be fine..and I learn alot thru others this way

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October 21, 20180 found this helpful

Thank you so much for sharing. I have been there and am going through it now. I am thankful for the food pantries available as well as the soup kitchen. It truly does make you humble and thankful and aware of the fact of how many in our country are going hungry or need help obtaining food. The struggle makes me very aware of others who are not as fortunate as myself. God is forever faithful! Blessings to you and your Hubby!

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May 5, 20190 found this helpful

Love your ideas.. and it sounds like you came Out on the other end.. you were strong enough to survive..god bless you

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November 9, 20200 found this helpful

Chelle152, First off I am so sorry you had to endure going hungry in a country where this should never be the case for anyone! Your advice is very good and I too have been in this position where funds were limited and also no oven. Thank you for sharing you experience and tips.

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November 3, 20210 found this helpful

yes, u said a mouth full! All excellent! Been there... Doing good now...

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June 16, 20220 found this helpful

Ive also been there, too.

Early (1972) in my marriage to an army enlisted man, the army said they had over paid him and took his entire paycheck. We got a $25 emergency Red Cross loan. He used $5 for gas, rolled his cigarettes, and bummed rides from friends. I fed us and our 2 year old. Im an innovative cook and had great cookbooks for reference.

From the commissary, I bought rice, flour, beans, yeast, eggs, bacon, canned veggies, canned tomatoes and tomato paste, pastas, onions, dairy products, frozen chicken and hamburger. I already had canned soup and some meat and fresh veggies. All of the rest in small proportions, except for the flour, rice and beans. I made our bread, soup, spaghetti, hamburger stroganoff, chicken pot pies, cakes and lots more that I cant remember. We ate very well and I still make some of my desperation meals today.

Another time after a new job required us to move and the first paycheck was a month away. We couldnt afford to fill up the propane tank ($1,000!!) for the kitchen stove. I made do with a crockpot, toaster oven, electric skillet, and a coffee pot for a full year. The lessons I learned from the previous experience, served me in good stead because we never went hungry.

All of these experiences were before any food pantries were available. I thank God for the lessons I was forced to learn and my Mom for teaching me to cook down, home, country cooking. She grew up in the Great Depression and learned the hard way too.

Blessings on all of us for surviving these hard times and the willingness to share.

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