Na Na pinches her pennies

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

What do you see

There have been some readers concerned I might be going hungry and feel sorry for me.  I assure you I’m not going hungry.  Far from it.  I thought I’d do a few posts to show readers other ways I manage with a $10 a week food budget.  My hope is that you get inspired to see possibilities where you never saw them before.

Every couple of months the fridge gets empty enough I can wash it out.  Monday was one of those days along with other household chores.  Its not always this completely empty.  Just happened to be this time.

Someone who doesn’t know me might look into the fridge and wonder how I’m going to eat.  However, its not as empty as it looks.  I’m washing it out while I have the chance because this month’s food bank food and commodity food will fill it up quickly.

Well, not filled completely but a lot of food to me.  I really don’t need such a large refrigerator.  I could get by with just a small apartment sized one but this is what came with the house.   My hope is to someday give this one to a family in need and buy a different one.

You might look in there and wonder what I’m going to eat.  Well, the freezer door has liver, a few slices of homemade bread, and chopped green peppers.  With the addition of only an onion and a jar of home canned potatoes and another of carrots there is enough food for two liver and onion meals with mashed potatoes, carrots, and gravy.

When I’m cleaning out the fridge if there is food that needs preserving I do that.  Meat that has been in the freezer longer than I like will get canned in order to prolong the storage life.  My sister in law had a carton of past date heavy whipping cream she was going to toss.  I rescued it and brought it home.

Cleaning out the fridge meant doing something with that cream.  I made butter which extended the usefulness of what would otherwise be in a landfill and increased my two sticks of butter to more.  When I have the funds I plan to buy a butter stick mold.  There some really nice clear ones with lids very cheap.  I’ll look in stores first before going on line to look.

The door of the fridge also has quite a lot of useful food.  Added to things from my pantry there could be several meals hanging out on that door.  I see rose hip jelly or Vegemite which could be used on the bread from the freezer for a breakfast of buttered toast.

I have both spaghetti and elbow macaroni and cans of mixed vegetable in food storage.  Added to the Italian dressing on the door and I have pasta salad.  On the door is pickle relish and slaw dressing.  Add those to a jar of potatoes and I’ve got potato salad.  The green peppers from the freezer, a jar of carrots, some slaw dressing and I’ve got macaroni salad.  Maybe these are not official recipes but fair imitations.

What did I have for dinner after cleaning all day?  Spaghetti with ground beef, mushrooms, green peppers, and tomatoes.  All from my food storage.  I made enough for the next day too because I knew I’d be gone from home all day running errands.

So do you see what I mean?  You may see only an empty fridge but I see meals ready to cook.

15 comments on “What do you see

  1. carenowplease
    September 11, 2018

    Remember this: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/what-the-world-eats/

    I learned a lot there too, away from advertising pressures people seem to eat more ‘naturally’!

    I can assure anyone that living with a German cockroach infestation is a major weight loss incentive, they seem to sense sugar foods. I am for the first time since I was @17 at my perfect weight.

    However- I am now adapting again based on my A1c results tomorrow because processed and restaurant foods have not been kind to my blood sugar previously…

    Hope you are good with diabetes management?

    Like

    • Anita
      September 12, 2018

      I totally agree, cockroaches would ruin my appetite too.

      I don’t know for sure how I’m doing. My doctor is no longer seeing patients. The next available appointment to see a new doctor is in December. I chose to see someone in the same medical system but closer to where I live now. Instead of an hour long bus ride past where I used to live the new doctor’s office is only ten minutes by bus. I hope he is as understanding as the other doctor was. I’m on only one medication now and hope to be taken off of it when I see the new doctor.

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      • carenowplease
        September 12, 2018

        December, wow.

        I pay for my care cash now where I can, it’s cheaper believe it or not because the doctor always wants me to do several tests then follow ups, though it’s not in my budget and I don’t agree with them half the time. And if I or someone messes up and I end up with the total bill, well I can’t budget for the total deductable. And if I have to go on meds they want me to go back monthly for more tests, it just becomes endless and I get sicker not better: stress makes me so ill.

        An A1c is $50 at a local testing center, sounds high but the doctors always end up costing a hundred with the copay.

        It’s gone up though, 7.4. I knew it would, I can’t eat processed food and even the best fast food is higher in sugar and salt than So I’ll have to go back on metformin until it comes down I suppose.

        I am going to the local $30 doctor, never been before, but I find that they understand better the pressures of poverty and frugal life.

        Another friend told me she pays $75 for the local walk in clinic for the same reason.

        I’m quite stressed right now, been a long two years and it would have been so nice to have a respite but looks like it’s going to be another bad storm season. We are prepared as possible ( and the bond passed to fix the problem longer-term ) but many are still traumatized from last year, I spend a lot of time using free wifi out and about and every other person I talk to was affected, we’re like a mass support community for each other.

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        • Anita
          September 13, 2018

          I’m on medicare so I don’t pay anything until after medicare pays their part. That gives me about two months to set money aside. I used to go to one of those revolving door clinics and my health only got worse and worse. It never got better as it should have. Best thing I ever did for my own health was to find a doctor who was NOT part of a clinic for the poor or located in a low income neighborhood. I saw four different doctors before finding the one I could work with. I will miss her alot now that she’s retired. I’m hoping this new doctor will be as understanding as she was. If not, I’ll keep looking.

          Maybe you need to look into the possibility of insurance with a lower deductible. Of course it means a higher monthly payment but at least you would know the exact amount of monthly payment instead of guessing how much co-pay you will need each doctor visit. Just remember, you get what you pay for also means doctors as well as food and other stuff. A $30 doctor is only a good bargain IF the care given is not revolving doors.

          I have close friends who live in both north and south Carolina. They have evacuated inland and should be safe but none of them will know about their homes until they return. Flooding is their main concern.

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  2. Marybeth
    September 6, 2018

    You always seem to stretch you dollars to make it work. Hope you enjoyed your pantry meal.

    Like

  3. Bellen
    September 5, 2018

    With age, sorry, comes experience. I knew what I would do with your food and it was pretty much what you suggested. I do have a question – why do you need a butter stick mold? Wouldn’t a container with a lid, like a pyrex bowl, be sufficient?

    Like

    • Anita
      September 5, 2018

      You’re right I could use the container I have always used. And I did. It was just wishful thinking on my part. My thought was if I had one of those stick molds it would be easier to measure one stick or half a stick for recipes. I’m a person who falls for new gadgets until someone (like you) reminds me its a want and not a need. Thank you Bellen.

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  4. Margie in Toronto
    September 5, 2018

    You are the exact opposite of those who have a full fridge but hear “there’s nothing to eat” from their families. There is food but it may not be exactly what they want or it may need to be cooked first. You do an amazing job.
    I definitely couldn’t do $10 per week with our prices up here but I have cut this month’s budget to $25 per week after doing an inventory a couple of days ago. Between the fridge, the freezer compartment above the fridge and my small pantry I counted 196 servings of various proteins for meals. This doesn’t include meals made from soups, salads, egg dishes, baked potatoes, risottos or pastas. I was shocked! The only items I plan on buying this month are milk, cheese, eggs, fruit & veg. I’ve made up a binder listing everything and I’m ticking off the servings as I use them up! Like you I’m cooking for 1 and funds will be even more reduced starting next month so I am determined not to waste anything. I love all your great tips.

    Like

    • Anita
      September 5, 2018

      Thank you Margie. I know there are price differences on food for different areas. Does your $25 a week mean only food or does it include non-edibles? The inventory of proteins is a good idea. 196 sounds like at least six and a half months of meals to me. We all have more food than we realize until we take inventory.

      I’ve seen eggs selling for.59 a dozen at one store and .49 at another for the last three weeks. The price of milk has also fallen. Are they lower in your area? I’m thinking a few egg dishes and maybe custard or pound cake is in my future.

      What’s happening next month?

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      • Margie in Toronto
        September 5, 2018

        I’m counting the 196 for lunches and dinner. Sept., Oct., Nov. = 91 days x 2=182 plus I send a few meals a week over to an elderly neighbour so at least 3 months. Of course I don’t want to completely run out but what I’ve done is set up a binder with what I have and what I want – i.e. Cdn. thanksgiving is in early October and I want 1 turkey breast and 1 small ham so those will be the priority purchases in October.
        No, this amount doesn’t include non-food (I actually have a good supply of all those things as well) – I think I could make it through to the New Year easily and even longer with some items. I always buy these sorts of things when they’re on sale.

        I think $3.69 for a dozen large eggs (good quality) is a good price. You can get cheaper occasionally but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dozen eggs for less than $2. Milk is at least $2.50 per litre although there have been some sales lately where even more expensive milk has been on for $2 per litre – which is unusual. I tend to buy 3 bags (about a gallon to you) for $4.27 – this is a loss leader for one particular supermarket. I’m afraid our prices would give you a bit of a heart attack! 🙂

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        • Anita
          September 6, 2018

          Thanks. Yes, the prices there would probably give me a big shock. I use and drink powdered milk but I do pick up liquid milk for my daughter’s kids now and then. When the price of liquid milk dropped to 99 a gallon and eggs to 59 but not as loss leaders I started wondering why. Unusually low prices tend to scare me a bit. Makes me wonder if something is wrong with the product. Fall is the wrong time of year for milk and eggs to be cheap. Especially when other dairy items are still priced high.

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  5. Donna
    September 5, 2018

    It is a good thing you can call on your grandmother’s guidance and knowledge passed on to you to help you stretch your food budget. I imagine most young people today would look at your fridge and see nothing to eat. I wish along with food stamps people should get a class on how to use them. Prepackaged foods are so expensive when you look at stretching your food and not very nutritious.

    Like

    • Anita
      September 5, 2018

      I agree, pre-cooked packaged food is chemicals made to taste like food. There is a movement all over the world to educate people on good nutrition. Its called by many different names in different countries. Here in Kentucky the program is called Farm to Fork. Its classes given in schools, food bank locations, health centers, and various other places. To get people to attend the free classes once a week for 8 weeks they are given a bag of free food to take home and share what’s learned in class. I attended the very first class a few years ago as a tester to give my opinion. I suggested the students should participate in the preparation and cooking instead of setting to watch a demonstration. That was adopted and is now done for every class here in KY. I believe given time it will reach many more people.

      IN MY OPINION I believe many people (not all but many) on food stamps are very good at stretching food dollars as best they can. But how can you explain to someone what a real tomato or a real apple is supposed to taste like if all they’ve ever known is store bought tomatoes and apples picked green then treated with chemicals to keep it looking good many days? How can you explain the taste of real food to a young person what real food tastes like if all they’ve ever had is processed chemical food? I often forget the real taste of food myself because I depend so heavily on food banks and discount bins.

      Like

      • Bellen
        September 5, 2018

        Way back in the early 70s, when I was in my early 20s, I was with the FL Dept of Ag in Deland and developed recipes, taken from current women’s magazines, and made with donated foods. That was what preceded food stamps. I demonstrated at the monthly pickup spots with pretty good responses. Among the monthly food items were peanut butter, flour, dried milk, butter, raisins, dried beans, oatmeal, elbow macaroni or some other shape, corn syrup, corn meal, etc. The older people taught me as much as I taught the younger folks. Many were surprised I knew what cornmeal mush was and how to fix it including frying it for breakfast. Other recipes I made were bean sloppy joes (no meat needed), flowerpot bread (bread baked in a clean flowerpot but we used soup or bean cans) that came out mushroom shaped. Oatmeal peanut butter snacks were a big hit – pb, oatmeal, dried milk, raisins all mushed together and shaped into balls. When donated foods were deemed too demeaning, food stamps took over and in most locales, the classes/demonstrations stopped.

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        • Anita
          September 5, 2018

          So you were an early food pioneer. Very nice. I remember those days before food stamps. Ahh, the good old days. The forties, fifties, and sixties was a time when a family could eat really well with only government commodity food. In addition to the food you mentioned there was canned meat, farina, dehydrated eggs, honey, baking powder, and lard. The commodity food was the very same as given out during and after WW2 to prevent starvation around the world. The problem was getting people to accept it. No one wanted to live off charity. If I remember right another reason for changing to food stamps was because the quality of the commodity food had gotten really bad. The program and no food regulations or inspectors after the war ended and producers soon took advantage. There was found rat feces in the pasta, dead bugs in the grains, and slimy mold on the butter, cheese, and lard. It truly was demeaning to expect people to live on that. To this day I still closely inspect all the commodity food before I use it. Hmm.. I remember using the dried beans to make baked beans as a breakfast food instead of a holiday side dish. We ate baked beans, fried mush, and biscuits with honey butter. Can you tell I’ve been getting commodity food for a very long time?

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