Eating What You Have Onhand

One thing that is very important to being frugal is to eat at home, and to learn to make do with what you have.

Today, I wanted to use up my half head of lettuce before it went bad. I don't have a lot of fresh veggies in the frig, because I'm trying to use them up before I go on my Master Cleanse routine. So what I had on hand fresh wasn't enough to really make any decent sort of salad, just lettuce and carrots.

I started looking through my canned goods. We who live in Florida have lots of canned goods on hand during hurricane season. I found some petite diced tomatoes, corn, and water chestnuts. I drained all of them to freeze and use as soup stock later, and put them into the salad. It still seemed to be lacking something. When I went to put the leftover veggies into the fridge, I spied some raw sesame seed I had taken out of the freezer to make space. Perfect! A couple of handfuls of sesame seed, some Rasberry-Walnut vinaigrette dressing, and a few bacon bits on top, and I had a wonderful salad.

Now excuse me, while I eat, then I'll get back to this post.

O.K., back. That was a tasty salad! Now, more about eating what you have onhand.

You can make some very yummy meals from things you would never think of putting together. You should make sure you always keep rice and beans in the house. Canned beans are the fastest, but if you are on a very tight budget, you can cook beans and freeze them in quart sized bags.

Seasonings are also very important

I love Nature's Seasons, but if you don't have it, and don't have the money to get it, mix pepper, garlic powder, celery seed powder, onion powder, and ground oregano together. You can salt to taste. I like to buy those 2/$1 seasonings, and always have tons of them on hand. I also just bought a large jar of bbq seasoning for $1 at the Dollar Tree, which I'll use on some turkey I have in the freezer. Many times, the name brand seasonings can be found at BOGO sales (Publix does this quite often) and at stores like Big Lots at deep discounts.

Health food stores that sell seasonings in bulk are a great place to buy just what you need, or to stock up. Save your empty seasoning containers to use for these.

Potatoes as a Meal


I remember times when the only fresh veggies I had, or could afford, was a five pound bag of potatoes. Thankfully, I like potatoes, and can always find ways to make them into a decent meal.

Potato Soup is one alternative. Of course, I like carrots and bacon bits in my potato soup, so if I have them around, that's what I make. Milk is good, but powdered milk is just as good.

You know those expensive potato skins they serve at places like TGIFridays? You can make them yourself for next to nothing! Bake the potato, cut it in quarters and scoop out the insides. Put a little picante sauce on the skins, cover with grated cheese, and bake until the cheese is melted. Yummy! I usually make these when I'm going to make potato soup, because otherwise, you just peel the potatoes and toss out the skins, right?

Now you have all that baked potato to do something with, right? I like to just mix it with some butter and eat, but you can add all sorts of good things to it. Like I said, I usually use it for potato soup, but you can also make potato pancakes, latkes, or many other tasty potato dishes with it.

Grate some potatoes and fry them as hash browns, serve with thinly sliced and fried pieces of SPAM, and a couple of scrambled eggs, and you have a great meal. Yeah, it sounds like breakfast, but it can be eaten anytime.

My point is, if you're willing to eat what you have and be satisfied with it, you can save a lot of money. Heck, I've had a can of pork and beans for dinner, and been thankful for it. How many students have lived on ramen noodles for days at a time? Lots of them, and they didn't suffer for it.

You just have to do what you have to do, and be thankful you have anything to eat. A lot of people right here in this rich country go to bed hungry at night.

6 comments:

  1. The cup is half full of something I don't likeJuly 18, 2008 at 12:13 PM

    I've actually found frozen shrimp to be a great cost saver. Even though they are expensive (on sale around $14 for a bag - I think it is 1 lb bag) I can use them to make great quick one dish meals. Since I only have to use 3 or 4 shrimp per person per meal, one bag can handle a bunch of meals.

    One of my great quick dishes:

    pull out the shrimp and soak them in cold water (thaws in 3 minutes or so).
    Meanwhile, throw some lettus, cheese, leftover veggies or a can of corn and maybe some nuts and/or raisins into a bowl. Pull the tails off the shrimp, cut to bite size and toss in.

    It takes about 5 minutes, includes a nice range of healthy stuff and is really enjoyable to eat.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The cup is half full of something I don't likeJuly 18, 2008 at 12:13 PM

    I've actually found frozen shrimp to be a great cost saver. Even though they are expensive (on sale around $14 for a bag - I think it is 1 lb bag) I can use them to make great quick one dish meals. Since I only have to use 3 or 4 shrimp per person per meal, one bag can handle a bunch of meals.

    One of my great quick dishes:

    pull out the shrimp and soak them in cold water (thaws in 3 minutes or so).
    Meanwhile, throw some lettus, cheese, leftover veggies or a can of corn and maybe some nuts and/or raisins into a bowl. Pull the tails off the shrimp, cut to bite size and toss in.

    It takes about 5 minutes, includes a nice range of healthy stuff and is really enjoyable to eat.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree! I can sometimes find those bags of shrimp on BOGO, then I get two for about the same price, which works out to about the same per lb. price as the fresh shrimp.

    I also buy those little shrimp cocktail rounds when they are on sale for like 3/$10. One with some nice crackers and cheese is a good quick meal, or it's just enough for a good salad. I like oriental sesame dressing and mandarin orange on my shrimp salad. ummmmmm....good!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't try as hard to save as I should, but I have written a few articles about frugal living or getting out of a sales pitch--Timeshare Condo No Go

    Drop by. I like what you are trying to do, too many of us don't appreciate what we have.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Diva on a DietJuly 23, 2008 at 9:32 AM

    Hi Frugal Wench! I saw the link to your blog on the Google forums and thought I'd stop by. I'm in full agreement about eating what you have on hand - I hate wasting food!

    Here's another idea for leftover potatoes ... it seems that I always overestimate the amount of mashed potatoes I need for Thanksgiving dinner - and I end up with a ton leftover. I use them to make a wonderful potato soup.

    Simply sautée some diced onion in a little olive oil or butter, add the mashed potatoes, then add a mixture of chicken broth and milk (or cream if you're not dieting) to thin the potato mixture to the consistency of a thick soup. Sprinkle in some salt, pepper and whatever seasonings you like and you have a whole new meal!

    I like to serve the mashed potato soup topped with some fresh chives and cheddar cheese. Its delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Savvy, thanks for stopping by. I'll definitely return the visit.

    Diva - I love potato soup. It's such a good, heart, CHEAP way to eat! You know, I never really thought about making it with leftover mashed potatoes. Thanks for the tip!

    ReplyDelete

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