Getting Creative To Stretch The Food You Have On Hand

Pasta

2022 was a tough year for us financially. I lost a bread-and-butter client who sold his business in December 2021. My significant other lost the use of not one but two work vehicles that his bosses never replaced. Due to him being unable to work as regularly and with me being without my typical income, we were really suffering financially.

Add on top of that the runaway inflation that 2022 will historically be known for, and we were really hurting.

One Saturday morning, I came to Better Half and said, “I have a $25 gift card from Target and $10 in cash. I can go and buy us a couple of steaks.”

“That’s all the money you have?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Well, don’t spend it on groceries.”

“We have no meat.”

“We have hot dogs.”

“That’s true.”

“We’ll be OK,” he said.

That’s my Better Half. He’s optimistic often to the point of denial. But he really does have a lot of trust that everything is OK, always. It’s not necessarily a bad way to go through life, as worry is worthless, and we are supposed to put our trust in God. I’m trying to learn a life lesson from that.

So I decided to do an inventory of the food we did have.

I was surprised to learn that we actually did have some meat. Here was what we had on hand on that Saturday morning:

24 hot dogs (frozen)

3 smoked brats (pre-cooked, frozen)

3 cheddar brats (pre-cooked, frozen)

2 lbs of ground beef (frozen)

We also had open boxes of frozen fish sticks and breaded cod. We aren’t real big fish eaters here, but you know… Any port in a storm.

We also had a number of bags of frozen fruit (not sure why, but OK), and a couple of bags of various frozen vegetables.

We had a variety of cheese slices and Mexican Chihuahua quesadilla cheese. We had some Velvetta. We had onions. We had flour tortillas. And we had some deli turkey slices and a dozen eggs.

The Importance Of Food Staples

What we always have in the house (including that Saturday morning) are the traditional food staples:

Flour (including self-rising, cake, and bread versions)

Sugar (white, brown, powder, and artificial)

Baking powder and soda

Not so typical but also on hand is corn meal.

And of course, we always have various spices of all kinds on hand.

Canned Goods

Even when the fridge is starting to get bare, we tend to have some canned goods on hand.

We always have:

Ready-to-eat soups of all kinds

“Cream of” condensed soups (broccoli, mushroom, chicken, and celery)

Vegetables, such as corn and green beans

Beans

Tomato sauce

Fruit, such as mixed fruit and pineapple

Miscellaneous Foods

Beyond all of the above, we tend to also have the following foods on hand:

Pasta (especially spaghetti)

Pasta sauce

Gravy mix

Ranch mix

Peanut butter

Jams and jellies

The truth is, with all of the above, SOMETHING could be made. With the hot dogs and flour alone, my son’s favorite meal, pretzel dogs, were a definite possibility. Click HERE to see the recipe and make it tonight!

So when times are lean and funds are low, be sure to do a full pantry/fridge/freezer inventory to see what kind of meal you can whip up! Chances are, with a little imagination and effort, you can still come up with a decent meal to serve your family.