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Are you struggling to feed your family right now? Maybe your family is going through a job loss? A medical crisis? A furlough? Struggling to get by while prices just keep going up? I don’t care why you are reading this post, but if you are here you are probably fighting with the cost of groceries and wondering how you will feed your family.
Maybe you have even given up your own meal so that your husband or kid gets enough to eat? I feel for you mama, and I want to give you a hug. You are doing your best and you are a good mom. Maybe this post will give you a few ideas that will help you feed your family when you have little to no money.
Ideas to Feed Your Family When Money Is Tight
Shop Your Pantry/Fridge
You know that can of mushroom pieces you bought a while back for a recipe that never happened? Pull that sucker out and get creative! Add a little pasta or rice and you are on your way to a meal. Now is the time where you take stock of everything in your pantry and fridge and see what you can do with it. I tend to have things in my pantry or freezer that I forget about when the original dinner plan gets derailed. My freezer especially has random things hiding at the bottom – turkey from after Thanksgiving sales last year anyone? Sure it may have freezer burn, but it will feed you and your kids.
Plan your meals carefully so that you use every scrap of leftover food you may have. If you have some carrots, celery and onion in your meal, you likely have some some scraps you cut off. If you have carrot tops, celery leaves, and onion roots/skin you can easily make a broth for a soup. So that’s the scraps, what about any sides leftover? If you have extra mashed potato you can turn that into potato pancakes. Leftover rice? Add some veggies and eggs and make fried rice. Don’t let even a small portion of leftover food go in the trash. Even the smallest amounts can be added together to make a meal.
Grow or Re-Grow Your Own
I’m going to admit I do NOT have a green thumb at all! But from hours of scrolling on Pinterest, I discovered you can regrow food from scraps right in your kitchen! I am thinking of trying this out with my next sprouting onion or potato. You can also grow food from seeds but that will not feed your family right now if you are in a bind. I plan to put in a vegetable garden next year to supplement our groceries.
Do you possibly have food already growing in your yard or nearby? Learn about the plants in your yard – we are blessed with pecans, walnuts, fig, pears, strawberries, and yucca in our yard. We occasionally find mushrooms, clover, wild onion, and dandelions – all edible! Just make sure you do thorough research so you aren’t eating something that will make you sick! If you or someone you know likes to hunt or fish, ask if they would mind going out with your family in mind. You may find a friend willing to give you a load of fish for the cost of a bit of bait. Or if you have the know how but not the equipment, ask a friend to borrow their rod and get those fish yourself!
Cook From Scratch
It might be obvious to some, but cooking things on your own can save a lot of money! I am currently testing out a new recipe for bread that costs under $0.50 to make. Meal kits can be convenient, but you likely have ingredients on hand that could recreate the same meal for less. One of my favorite places to find frugal meal inspiration is from Depression Cooking with Clara on YouTube. Watching her cook meals she remembered from the great depression really puts things in perspective sometimes, plus she is just so adorable! I also have an entire Pinterest board devoted to frugal meal plans starting at $25 for a weeks worth of meals. Regrettably, some links are from 5+ years ago so prices may not translate but they are cheap plans nonetheless! I also belong to some frugal meal planning groups on Facebook that can help me when I need some ideas. The Internet is a wonderful resource for just this thing!
Find your Side Hustle
I am a stay at home mom, but I also currently work a part time flexible job from home with Appen Global and sell things i’m decluttering on Mercari, I also write this blog which very rarely (through kind people like you clicking on some links in my posts), brings a tiny bit our way. When I say a tiny bit, I mean I make enough to buy a few weeks worth of groceries on a regular basis, freeing up other income for other things. Maybe you are really great at organizing or cleaning – something you can bring a younger kiddo along. Maybe offer to watch a few kids after school until their parents are out of work. Create a mom’s day out program where you watch a couple kids while mom is able to go to the doctor or grocery shop in peace. Do you knit or crochet? Have neat handwriting? Work with your talents and offer a service. You can also have a garage/yard sale or post items on the Facebook marketplace and have cash in just a few hours.
Do your friends and family have any pantry items they just don’t want anymore? (that can of mushroom pieces, perhaps?) Maybe they have recently gone Paleo or Keto, but their cupboards are full of rice and pasta. offer to help them clean out their pantries to support them on their diet! This will require you to divulge a bit about your financial situation, but loving friends and family will not judge. Another approach is to offer to clean up after potlucks at work or church. Ask if they mind you taking home the leftovers. You can do a lot with a meat and cheese tray or leftover spaghetti. Even if its just leftover sheet cake from a retirement party, it is food and your kids will enjoy the special treat!
Look Into Government Programs
Another thing that won’t help in the immediate/short term but can help if your situation is ongoing. Look into your local food stamp program (SNAP) or WIC program to see if you qualify. Most of these programs have websites where you can pre-check your eligibility and find out what paperwork you will need to apply. You can also look into free breakfast and lunch programs at your children’s school. Recently, free breakfast/lunch in schools is becoming more and more a district wide program and not just income dependent. Also, do the math and see if the average lunch you pack is costing you more than a reduced price or even full price meal at your school.
Mama, i’m going to tell you right now, there is NO shame in asking for help. Sometimes this may be the only way you can fill those little bellies. If you are like me, this would feel like a last resort because I struggle with being stubborn and prideful sometimes. When it comes to being able to feed your family, pride may need to get pushed aside. Start with your local churches (ask your pastor if you have a home church) to find out where to go. Internet searches can also give you locations and contact information for local food donations. Here we even have a restaurant that only asks that you pay what you can afford, and kids always eat free. Tap into your community resources to find whats available near you!