Friday, May 15, 2020

Food These Days (Or, You Can Do This!)

"When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things."   ... Mark 6:34


Oh dear. On Wednesday I discovered this young mom at Youtube. 

Man, I keep telling you I'm not a bigtime crier, but these are mentally harsh days and her words and teary eyes, well, they got to me. 

She barely had any meat for her family of 4 so she told herself--

"'I'll go to Aldi. They're always stocked up on meat ... I'll just get a couple other little things while I'm there'. That was my intention. So I went to Aldi and they had absolutely no fresh meat. Nothing. I did find a couple frozen chubs of ground beef, but when I saw they were completely sold-out of meat, my heart dropped. And I panicked and I can't breathe in those masks anyway. I felt all alone in that moment, very scared, I couldn't breathe and I was trying not to cry. It just unleashed something in me. I got crazy pants and I stocked up like I've never stocked up before... Hopefully you won't judge me harshly--I felt like in the moment I did what I needed to do."

Wow. Suddenly I saw not just her, but thousands of other young moms experiencing the exact same shock and reaction--just being good mama's and gathering food for their babies! Oh my, this still shakes me because God never meant for us to live this hunkered down, frightened way. 

(I left her an encouraging comment.)

I can barely imagine how it feels to be a young mother these days, especially if you don't know Jesus. I mean, God spent years preparing me in all ways for this time of shaking--but still!-- for the sake of others, I have moments when this feels like a nightmare I can't waken from.

Anyway, you'll never hear me say, "Don't stock your shelves with extra food. The Government will fix everything." Ha! I'd choke on that. I won't even say, "God will do it all," either. He will, instead, do His part before/after we do our part.

So today here are some practical hints for stretching food. I'm mostly talking survival here so if you only do healthy? Well Honey, better move on to the next blog.

First, I love to watch cooking videos at Youtube, especially crockpot ones, but uh-oh! You should see me (or not) when a young mom places a whole pound of ground beef and/or an entire packet of taco mix into the pot, pours in a can of tomatoes then doesn't swish a bit of water in the can and add that.

"No way! She didn't just do that did she? A half pound of meat would've been fine, I could've made that taco mix last for a month and what about the last little bit of tomato juice?"

No really. I squeal those words to my computer screen. シ

The last time I used an entire pound of ground been in one recipe? I can't even recall. Instead, I stretch it with extra bits of cooked rice or--

Sauteed vegetables
Bread crumbs
Green chilies
Quinoa, etc.

And the taco mix? I do use those, but just to sprinkle a bit into my meat. Then I seal it up, put it away, and add some cheaper spices like:

onion powder
garlic powder
chili powder
Italian seasoning
lemon pepper...

--and add a little hot sauce/or salsa.

Prices for spices (see what I did there? heh.) are still good at dollar stores, Aldi, etc. and places, also, where you can find them in bulk amounts. But even there? Do the math, yourself. Bulk is not always cheaper. (Aren't you thankful for online calculators?)

And always I add a bit of water to the remains of canned things like--

soup (though we never buy canned soup anymore. My homemade tastes tons better. As I've written before, learn to make wonderful soup! It'll improve your life.)

Oh, and drink lots of water. Your kids don't like water? Dress it up and give it a cute name: Add a tablespoon (or 2) of juice to a glass of water, let them stir it up and then call it something like Stirberry Juice. Or Dizzy Apple Juice. (Start while they're young and you'll more likely get away with stuff like this. heh.)  シ

One of the very best things you can do? Learn about substitutions in cooking. Memorize those and you'll never fear when your shelves look a bit bare. You'll just think of something different to use in your recipes, something you do have.

Almost never must you follow a non-baking recipe precisely! Make it your own, use what you have.

Find recipes and Youtube cooking videos from women who specialize in making 'something from nothing'. The less money they have, the more creative and resourceful they'll be--and more helpful to you.

Tessie is one of those ladies.
So is Lori.
Clara is also.

Now, I've not done coupons since after Tom began working again, but they helped tremendously during the jobless months and while Naomi was young. I mixed them with sales at supermarkets and received many items for nearly free. They're still out there--check them out!

And yes, cooking from scratch is nearly always cheaper than other alternatives. (Darn, right? heh.) But you know? At the beginning of all this stay-home-forever stuff I asked God to give me extra grace for all the cooking I'd need to do--and He did! Whew. I barely mind it now.

Could I go on forever? Sure. But I'm hoping this inspired you (at least a little) to become a pro at making your food supply last longer. 

Does it take much time and experience? Yes. Nothing valuable happens overnight. But you can do this. Watch for the daily improvements and they'll inspire you to keep gathering more!


Last July our Aldi began delivering groceries via Instacart and yay! 

They had a great offer: Pay $99 now and for a year you'd be charged no service/delivery charges.  Just pay a tip (which is like gas money you no longer need so you give it to a person, which is better). 

So I paid the upfront charge, then kept track of the money I've saved after that $99 and wow! In ten months so far it's up to $170. Love it! And I hope they'll let us do this again when my year is up.

Oh, and if you'd like to receive an alphabetized list of the items I'm stocking-up on more than ever, please email me at


And in case you're still wondering if, as Christians, we should speak up during this time of state governmental tyranny, here you go. From Isaiah 58:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I."

And as it says near the top of my blog--

"Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy." --- Proverbs 31:9


Here's a cool idea--

(Thanks again, Marie!)


"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." ... Matthew 6:14,15


Betsy said...

All great tips Debra and many I do myself. I ALWAYS rinse cans out with water to get the last amount. I was watching a video the other day and a Mom used 2 lbs. of hamburger for a dish. I actually said out loud that was too much. She could make it with half the amount. So yes, I talk to the screen too.

Pam said...

I can understand how that young mother felt when she went to Aldi and her heart dropped. I've only ventured out a couple times since the pandemic began, and when I saw bare shelves and the signs limiting our purchases, it was startling to me, too. Life has changed radically for many of us, and there don't seem to be any easy answers. Debra, I appreciate your practical advice. Like you, I have learned to stretch meat and more expensive ingredients, without sacrificing good taste. Even before the pandemic, hub and I decided to eat just two meals a day (of course there are snacks) and that has really been a game changer. We've lost a few pounds, sleep better, and it sure stretches the food supply. With God's help, we can weather this storm, but I think we'll have to hunker down and rely on the Lord and one another. Great post!

Debra said...

Betsy--She used 2 POUNDS of hamburger? And she lives on our planet? Heh. To me, that doesn't even sound tasty. Glad to hear I'm not the only one talking to screens! :)

Pam--I'm so glad you understood how that mom felt--not everyone does. But really, it shook me up and I felt so bad for her and thousands like her. I also like to stick to 2 meals per day, but Tom likes his 3. Though we've solved that problem because I just always (when possible) make sure there's enough leftover from lunch to heat up for a little dinner for him. Lunch is our main meal and I've actually preferred that for years. I sleep so much better that way.

Thanks so much, Ladies! Blessings, Debra