Monday 20 June 2016

Running Out Of Groceries Or Grocery Money

Running out of food can be a scary situation to be faced with. What to do ? What to do ? I guess the first question you need to ask yourself is " Have I really run out of food or do I have food but don't know what to cook ? " If you have run out of food just because you didn't buy enough,  then it's time for a new plan of attack. Writing a menu plan for the week might be a good place to start. Then write your shopping list from the menu plan. Don't forget to include breakfasts, lunches and snacks as well as the main meal.    Once you've mastered shopping for a week then you could try fortnightly or monthly shopping.

You might be in the situation where you haven't run out of food but feel like the food you do have isn't going to make great meals. This is the perfect time for experimentation. Grab your cookbooks or use the internet to try something different. There are websites where you can search for recipes with certain ingredients. This could be the making of a new family favourite recipe.

If you have run out of grocery money for whatever reason, you have a few options. Can you make meals out of the food you DO have ? Can you find some extra money from another area of your budget ? I'm not talking about hundreds of dollars. $20 or $30 could last a week or two with a carefully planned shopping list if you have basic ingredients on hand like herbs, spices and a few baking ingredients like flour and sugar

Once again a menu plan will help you through a tough time until money becomes available again. A packet of quick oats will give you a filling breakfast for a week. Two loaves of bread will be enough for lunches. Buying one piece of the cheapest fruit available per person could be a snack. In Winter apples, pears and citrus fruits are very cheap. In Summer it could be stone fruit or grapes.

Dinner doesn't have to be fancy if money is tight. Here are some cheap meal ideas -

* Boiled potato with steamed veggies, seasonings and a little grated cheese on top is very yummy and cheap.
* 300 grams of mince can be bulked out with rice, rolled oats and cheaper vegetables like beans, cabbage or carrots.
* Eggs, baked beans or spaghetti on toast
* Pasta with tomato sauce and cheese
* Pasta with a tin of tomatoes and grated vegetables
* Fried rice without any meat.
* Pancakes

Remember,  water is free ( or almost free ) so drink lots of it.  If you are after a hot drink,  then tea is cheaper than coffee.

Have you ever run out of grocery money or groceries ?  What did you do in this situation ?


  1. Dear Wendy what a great post, yes I gave run out of grocery money a few times and years and years ago when I first moved out by myself I had to ask a charity for help a couple of times. This was way before I became a cheapskate club me,ver and before I "met" you and before your blog. I will never ever run out of food now and my grocery money is stretching further because I am making wiser choices. I also have the luxury/ benefit of sharing the cost of meat and fruit and veg and a few groceries with my parents. They buy one weeks meat and fruit and veg for meals for the three of us and I buy the next weeks meat, etc. my parents also have a fruit and veg garden and herb garden so we save a lot of money that way too. This week is my turn to buy meat and I only need to buy chicken and 2 kg of mince -as mum and dad have some meat in their freezer and so do
    I , I also have some freezer meals pre made. Being prepared is the key and I am now donating to charity instead of accepting it. Thank you Wendy for your encouragement, inspiration and your willingness to pass on your knowledge. Sorry for a long comment but this subject struck a cord with me.take care love BarbW x.

  2. I've sold somethings on facebook for a quick $30 to tie us over to payday.Also if therecis a Food Co-Op in your area you can get a lot of food for a discounted price.These are normally run by churches

  3. Hi Wendy
    By any chance do you have the names of any websites that you can type in your ingredients and they give you recipe ideas

  4. Hi Wendy,

    Great topic!!! I can't say I've ever run out of groceries but I have had to STRETCHHHHHH the grocery money sometimes until the next shopping week/fortnight/month. I've done this by using powdered milk instead of buying fresh, making bread/damper, using leftover meat from the dinner for sandwiches in school lunches and using tinned fruit from the pantry instead of buying fresh.
    When I was newly married, money was very tight. So I would do a Menu plan which had to include all meals, snacks included. I borrowed budget recipe books from the library(no Internet then) to get the best bang for my buck. I also bought, when possible, an extra can of something when I shopped eg: Soup, tinned fruit, powdered milk or UHT milk, baked beans, dry biscuits and tuna. This was put into a box which I stored in the laundry and if something was needed instead of running out to the shops or I didn't have the money(no Slush Fund then), I would dip into this box. It saved us many times especially for school lunches.
    Every now and then, if times were tough, I would do the 'Bare Bones Grocery challenge' from Cheapskates to see us through. I loved the challenge I must admit.

    Great post, xxx

  5. Hi Wendy, when I was at uni when this happened to me. I had $30 for my weekly shop. Luckily i had staples such as pasta, rice etc however had little of anything else. When I had to buy food, i bought a whole chicken half price and bought the cheapest frozen veggies I could find, a cheap bag of oasts, a small can of tuna and some cheap fruit from a farmer's market. The chicken i stretched for about 4-5 meals,i made chicken noodle soup, chicken and vegetable risotto, chicken pasta etc. The small can of tuna was stretched by cooking it with rice and veggies. Lunches consisted of vegemite sandwiches. Breakfast was oats (to keep me fuller for longer) and snacks were bananas and apples. I managed fine and wasn't left hungry. When you don't have much choice and can't buy much, it's amazing how you can think of meals and still get by.


  6. I've lost count of the times we have had 'nothing' in the cupboard only to pull it all out, have a critical look at it and then think laterally. Great post again!

  7. Here are a few links to recipe finders -

  8. Hi, I'm new to your blog via Mr Home Maker. I love what I have read so far. I (or my kids) often look in the pantry and think there is nothing to eat, but in fact what we are seeing is nothing pre-packaged and instant to eat! You are so right, with some simple basics on hand (and they always are in our house) something can always be rustled up. I can't wait to find some time to read all your old posts.

    1. Welcome Cheryl. Phil has a great blog and often comments here.

  9. Great post Wendy. We often have to stretch things and I find this is when you are your most inventive. Recently I got a large pumpkin for $1 so made pumpkin soup - that with homemade bread did us the first night, on the second night I also made some sausages in bread, and on the third night there wasn't enough soup to have for dinner so I cooked it with a little bacon that I had in the freezer, , onion and garlic and served it over pasta - it was lovely. We also make an egg and bacon pasta that is really lovely (we have chickens so we had the eggs). - by cooking bacon, onion, parsley and garlic, then when it is browned , add in some cooked pasta and a few spoons of pasta water and toss, then add in 3-4 beaten eggs and toss until the eggs are cooked - tastes wonderful.

    1. Pumpkin can be used so many ways. It also stores well uncut for many months.

  10. When I was a young single mom, I tried to always have extra food in my pantry. It was something I learned I had to do in order to weather difficult, low income weeks. Early on, I gratefully accepted community-based help at times, and that is what communities are for: helping each other when times are tough. Like Barb, I am now in a position to donate to charities, passing along the blessings that I received many years ago. What so many people need in addition to food and other practical help is actually information and inspiration. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and inspiration with us, Wendy! Blessings to you all, Teresa

  11. Growing up my father was out out work on many occasions so my Mom would buy food first before any other bills were paid. I automatically did the same when I moved out on my own. I did not realize how much I prepared ahead by storing up food until I got a roommate. She would buy only enough for the week ahead and at the end of the week she would have NOTHING left. She was not bothered by this at all but it drove me CRAZY!
    There have been many times when we could not get what we wanted (ice cream, steaks, cokes) but there was ALWAYS dried beans and rice in the cupboard.

  12. Hi I can't say I have ever run of 'food' and often look at last nights leftovers as the start of another meal. Just yesterday I had some left over baked vegetables and a very small amount of gravy so I just added a spoonful of peanut butter and a little water to the gravy and heated it all up and it was really tasty for my lunch the next day. I have started using peanut butter a bit more in my cooking, I know a little high in fat.

    1. I've never run out of food either but we have known some tough times. That's why having basics on hand really helps the budget.

  13. We have never run out of food, but, as many others, have learned to stretch it to the fullest extent. When my husband was in college (as a married man with 3 children), we ate a lot of home-canned fruit and green beans. It is a joke to this day that he cooked so many green beans during that time. I was giving piano lessons late afternoon, and he would put the finishing touches on the dinner, with the help of our 9-year-old daughter, and usually cooked green beans.
    We went through 100 quarts of beans that winter for 4 of us!

    We have lightened up over the years as times were more prosperous, but have been grateful for all of those lessons learned, as we are in another time of life where we need to be wise with our money. I call it "playing the game" when I look into the cupboards and shelves and see what I can cook out of it that is tasty and filling. It's more fun when it's a challenge then a chore!

  14. Thankfully we've never actually run out of food but there have been many times I haven't been entirely happy with the choices available in the pantry. Over the years I've learned better ways of stocking the pantry and in the meantime have practiced being thankful and content with what we do have. I like beckyathome's observation that, "It's more fun when it's a challenge..." because having a good attitude makes such a difference.

    Our church maintains a small food pantry and a benevolence fund for those who may hit a bump in the road. I've also noticed that those who maintain a deep pantry are willing and able to help out on a one-to-one, personal level. And of course those who have had to seek help in the past are often more than willing to pay it forward for someone else!

    Thanks for a thoughtful post, Wendy!

    Blessings, Leigh


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