Day 26: The fridge is getting emptier

I was almost flummoxed at lunch time today. We have almost no pasta. The eggs are gone again. The bread is nearly gone. Peanut butter is gone. Potatoes are gone. Forget about fish sticks or burritos or any other quick food. Actually if it weren’t for the apples off our tree, and a few petrified leftovers in the back, my fridge would be almost empty right now, a highly unusual state of affairs. I do have a lot of meat in the freezer still– must have done a good job buying/conserving that. But nothing quick and lunch-like. (Hmm…was it really just a day or two ago that I said we weren’t running out of much. What was I smoking anyway?) Finally I found some hot dog buns and made tomato melts. We’ve had those quite a few times this month, but tomatoes are something we have in abundance, and we’re not out of cheese yet either.

This afternoon I sent Eldest to the grocery store with $20. She spent $16 and bought potatoes, eggs, sugar, and milk. That leaves $6 til next Wednesday. Basically if it is not utterly essential, we won’t be buying it. But I am feeling highly optimistic about our chances of making it at this point.

It has been interesting to see just how whittled down a grocery list becomes when you only have a certain amount to spend. The food that ends up on the conveyer belt tends to be healthier and simpler.

Breakfast: Cold cereal, milk and our own grape juice
Lunch: Tomato melts, cucumbers and apples
Dinner: Ethiopian food (injera, doro wat, shiro), cucumber salad and tomatoes, ice cream for dessert


  1. I find that lunch is the hardest meal of the day to prepare, because it seems so ambiguous. It’s not breakfast, but it’s not a big meal, either, so…..

  2. I hate lunch time, and it’s only me. I hate sandwiches and leftovers. Doesn’t leave much. I have been eating what’s on hand this month, though just for the 30 days!

    Do you and the kids do sliced apples with peanut butter? My kids love that!

  3. I am so impressed with your 30 days of nothing. I need to do that with my groceries. I feel your pain about the lunch time dilemma. I think lunch is my least favorite meal to make!

    I love hearing about your jelly making adventures. Or any canning stories. I first canned with my mil a few years ago and absolutely love doing it. We did strawberry jelly this year and it is so yummy! We had it on our pancakes this morning. Nothing like home made jelly!! I keep telling myself I’m gonna do a small batch of raspberry jelly and keep forgetting to go pick the raspberries! I’ve also done peach jelly, peaches, plum jelly, pomegranete jelly (yum) apple sauce and apple pie filling.

  4. Wow! You’re doing so well. You are almost there! ~:-)

  5. You are doing amazing! We have stuck to our $300 budget for the month which has shocked me completely! I have 23 and some change left in our grocery envelope and just know that we are going to make it. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be and the kids have pretty much weaned themselves off milk. Yay!!

  6. I have a hard time with lunch as well. I tend to get in such a rut.

  7. I think lunch is a difficult meal too. You want it to be quick yet yummy. I’m hoping you’ll share with us about your first trip to the grocery store AFTER the 30 days of nothing. If it were me, I bet it would be a whopper.

  8. First of all, tomato melts are dee-licious! Second of all, I just wanted to let you know that I linked your applesauce recipe over at my blog, if that’s ok–I’ve been eating it on everything. Seriously. Everything 🙂

    I’ve so enjoyed your 30 days, and basically think you’re a cool cat–thanks so much for sharing!

  9. I have got to tell you that I am impressed with how well you have done. Many people when they go less expensive use coupon buying and end up getting an abundance of Hamburger Helper and such. You’ve done a great job at saving and eating healthy.

  10. Ahh, the dregs of the fridge… I remember that week well. It’s all at once hard and not hard, isn’t it? Hard, because you’ve got to get creative, but not hard because there aren’t any choices! 🙂
    Good luck lady, I’m rooting for ya!

  11. it’s true that spending less means eating better–something we’ve come to appreciate this month.

    i LOVE ethiopian food, but it is one cuisine i’ve not tried to make at home. i think your bottom-of-the-pantry/fridge/freezer dinner sounds amazing!

  12. I am so impressed with you and so not impressed with me – the amount of food that we throw out around here is criminal. You inspire me to do better.

  13. Mary please don’t take this the wrong way, but I just have to say this. We don’t make a lot of money and so many times there has been a bare fridge. It’s scary, and we aren’t doing it for just 30 days, it’s for real. Last week we had our water turned off, and getting to work with the gas and all is a daily crisis.

    At least you all have a garden and all that lovely food you canned and put up. I had the misfortune of being married to a miserable man who constantly was without work and me at home with two little kids, so I have had my share of no money, thank you very much. I am so much better now with a wonderful job and a wonderful new husband and although we aren’t rich in money we are rich in happiness and blessings.

    That said, here are a couple tips from someone who has been out of food for real. There are some easy and quick bread recipes if you are out of bread, and some you only need flour and water to make, like a tortilla (make it with whole wheat and add some soy flour for protein). Or maybe biscuits, that’s easy. Teach your girls to bake. There is nothing more fun than sitting around the kitchen kneading bread together. It’s family bonding! You can even write it up to science and math in your homeschooling (we did that!), or even “social development” if they bring a friend over and teach them how to do it too….oh and not to be sexist, don’t write off your boys!

    Plus there is nothing wrong with just going out and eating things right off the vine from your garden, and it’s probably more healthful too. You could get some chickens. You said you have a cow so why not chickens? They eat anything (healthful for the earth) and you get fresh eggs everyday with little or no expense.

    You have much, and I’m sure you know that. If the purpose of “30 days” was to realize what the better part of the world goes through then it was successful. I can’t tell you how many times I never let on to my kids that I was hungry and gave them the food we had left until payday so they wouldn’t have to feel the same way. That is what moms do.

    Love you Mary. You are a beautiful person.

    Moon in MO

  14. Moon, Thanks so much for weighing in…you made me count my blessings this morning.


  15. Mary-thanks for the inspiration during the month. My fridge is also mighty empty (except for apples that I need to make applesauce with today!) My monthly budget for groceries, paper products, cleaning supplies, etc. is $369 and so far this month I’ve only spent $58.47. The sad part is, I still have plenty in the deep freeze and pantry..I am going to try to continue using what I have for the rest of the year, but will be glad to add in some more fresh fruit and vegetables in Oct (I don’t have a garden). Sure am learning a lot!

  16. Thank you for the comment back Mary. I felt a little sheepish after sending it because I didn’t want you to think I was chastising you or anything. ((hugs))

    That said, look up a great book “Whole Foods for the Whole Planet” and there is also a great book put out by La Leche League that I love but the name escapes me now. Anyhow, the “whole foods” book teaches you how to make just about anything from what you have on hand. I know you don’t have a lot of time but you *do* have a lot of hands. Check it out and let me know what you think.

    There are so many things that can be made at home at little or no cost. Pasta, for one. That’s easy, and even easier if you get a pasta machine. It can even be dried and stored (frozen or in a dehydrated baggie) for later use. I also have a make-at-home recipe for laundry detergent that, at my last count, costs only about $8.00 to make a two-gallon supply that lasts forever — you only use one cup per load, so depending on how many loads you do…you do the math.

    I will post that recipe if you want it.

  17. I see you had cold cereal still. I did break down in week 3 and spend $8 on cold cereal. Which we haven’t run out of but might before the end of the month. It now seems like quite a luxury.