Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Lesson in Frugal Eating

A large, echoing void. A vacant chasm. A strangely luminous abyss. . . .This is my refrigerator today. Can you relate?

It seems like I encounter this image about once a week, usually at 7:30PM right in the middle of four or five exhausting workdays.

Now, normally this results in a dreary errand out for frozen pizza and microwaveable soup. But today I was already in my pajamas. And my feet hurt, I'm tellin' ya!

So I decided I was going to come up with some sort of breakfast and lunch for tomorrow out of the available resources or die trying.

What do we have to work with?

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • a tub of Country Crock spread
  • a colander of thawing strawberries
  • 5 eggs
  • some almond milk
  • a Brita water pitcher
  • a heckuva lot of lemon juice
  • and 2 random jars of half-used spaghetti sauce.
Never mind what's in the door; it's just a bunch of condiments and a couple sticks of butter.

Normally, I don't make it past the depressing refrigerator inventory. I give up, give in, cry uncle, and buy pizza.

This time, I gave the freezer a more searching look.  The most prominent features are a couple bags of pecans, a cup or two of Quaker oats, a frozen banana, too much ice cream, and some wheat berries that I can't find a use for.

Hmmm. You can't bring an ice cream sundae to work for lunch, folks. 

But behind it all, I found one leftover cod filet, some slightly freezer burnt broccoli, and exactly 3/4 of a cup of uncooked wild rice.

*A Fanfare of Trumpets*

Lunch! By George, I think we've got it!

Breakfast was even easier to figure out. A fried egg, and some oatmeal spruced up with strawberries. Boom!

So out of the seeming nothingness of my leftover groceries, I have found meals. Not only meals, but healthy meals.

Healthier meals than if I had gone to the grocery store in a fit of laziness and desperation and bought pizza and microwaveable soup, in fact.

Moral of the Story

When you're looking in your fridge, groaning, "Awww, there's nothing to eat!!" . . .

Square your shoulders, look again, think outside of the box, and don't go out and buy "instant," over-processed, easy food.

Because you probably don't have to.

And hey, by using up your odds and ends instead of making an extra trip out, you've probably saved an extra $10 on your monthly grocery budget!


  1. Good job! I understand your dilema. I've often looked in my own fridge and thought how can there be so much stuff, but nothing to eat in here?!? I've embarked on your same experiment myself and that was how poor man's alfredo was born. Boil some noodles, add a little butter and cracked salt, sprinkle on some grated parm and throw in some Real Bacon Bits for good measure. Not nearly as healthy as yours, but I too did not have to leave the house!

    1. Yum! Bacon bits are the best. :) Thanks for visiting!

  2. Hello! Love this post! I can totally relate. I find that eating out costs so much and often leaves me feeling cheated because either the food is gross and overpriced or the other patrons in the restaurant are gross and creep me out LOL. I love frozen pizza but usually won't go to the store just to get one. The other night I made something great out of just the same sort of experiment. I had some leftover, frozen taco meat in the freezer, some leftover spaghetti sauce in the fridge along with a half bell pepper. I also had some canned tomatoes in the pantry and some cooked white rice in the freezer (which thaws wonderfully in the microwave). I thawed the taco meat just enough to scoop a little out, dumped it in a pot with the little dabble of leftover spaghetti sauce, added a can of diced tomatoes and chopped the bell pepper. I cooked it for long enough to soften the bell pepper and served it over the reheated (micro), frozen white rice. It was SO delicious! One of my best meals ever actually. Kind of like porcupine meatballs without the meatballs. I'll definitely make sure to always save even a tiny bit of leftover taco meat from now on just for making this.

  3. This is great! Such a smart way of thinking!

    I love reading your blog and I nominated you for a liebster award. Check out all the details here:

  4. I had some tomatoes going mushy, a few leaves of spinach an onion and about 2 handfuls of penne pasta, a tomato cup a soup, and just over 1/4 pound of pork mince- easy, diced tomatoes, onion, shredded the spinach, added the tomatoe soup mix, bit of water some ground pepper, few spoons of dried basil lurking in the back of a cupboard-browned mince, added to tomatoe mix, cooked pasta, drained added to tomato mix-20 minutes dinner fir two -something like this always happens on a Friday night before shopping on a Saturday.