20 Foods to make when you have Nothing

Times are tight for many right now.  Inflation is at an all time high.  Expenses have gone up.  You may wonder what to eat when there is no food in the house.  If you are looking for easy food to make when you have nothing at home, there are some great ideas we are going to talk about.

Foods to make when you have nothing

Now, let’s be clear when I say “nothing” at home.  My assumption is that you don’t have absolutely nothing, but maybe very little at home.  Most of us, when we say we don’t know what to make with no ingredients, really mean we have pretty bare cupboards, but we just don’t know what to do with that can of beans at the back of our pantry that we’ve avoided until now.

But now, we have no choice.  We have to be faced with the fact that we need to eat the can of beans.  Or some more frequent meals of potatoes and rice.  Sure, we’ve had rice four times last week, but our options are limited so maybe we need to make more rice this week even though we are so very tired of eating it.

I get it.  I’ve been there.  But there are things you can do with the basics that you do have.

Today, I want to share with you some meal ideas that are super cheap to make.  These are meals that work well when you just have no money, and are limited in what is in your cupboards.  You may not have all the foods I list in today’s post, but if you have some of them then these ideas may tide you over until you get a little  more money and can do a bigger grocery shop. 

Or some of these ideas may have super cheap meal ideas that you are missing just an ingredient or two for, and you might have five or ten dollars where you are able to buy that missing ingredient.

But I realize for some of you, you literally might not have a cent to your name at this time and pretty bare cupboards.  My hope and prayer for you is that there are some basic ideas on this list that you have the ingredients for to get you through.

Now, I’m going to be straight up honest with you – some of these ideas aren’t going to be the healthiest.  Your vegetable and fruit intake at this time may not be as high as you’d like.  These meal ideas aren’t meant to be regular, everyday diet, but something you will just need to eat until you are in a little better place financially.

Some of these meals are not that bad health-wise, but just lack the extra nutrients from produce or meat.  Again, temporarily we do what we have to do, right?

But there are ways to get your vegetables and fruits into your body on a very limited budget.  For instance, we buy a lot of apples because they tend to be the more affordable fruit.  We buy oranges and clementines when they are on sale during the winter season.  It’s not out of place to see a box of clementines on our counter through all the winter months in our house.  It’s an excellent way to get vitamin C and fiber, and it doesn’t break our budget.

But you won’t see strawberries or blueberries at our house in the winter.  You’ll find them here in the summer (sometimes we’ve picked them ourselves for an even cheaper option.  Nothing is cheaper than free wild blueberries!) but they just don’t fit into our budget in the winter as they are priced at their highest at that time of year.

If you have a little extra money, go into the store and find whatever is on sale in the produce section and buy that fruit or vegetable.

Another great way to get your vegetables at a better price is to buy frozen bagged vegetables.  And the bonus is that you won’t waste money by throwing them out because they won’t go bad in the freezer!

Okay, so, if you have no food in the house and no money, hopefully you’ll find something on this list below that you may have an ingredient or two to make.


Rice and frozen peas

Toast and eggs



Black beans, rice, and salsa

Peanut butter toast

Fried potatoes with sliced hotdogs 

Pasta noodles with butter and garlic

Potato soup

Ramen Noodles with sliced hotdogs

Baked beans

Potato Pancakes

Dandelion Salad

Baked potato bar

Spanish rice with ground beef

Biscuits and gravy

Homemade granola and milk

Peanut Butter and Jam sandwiches

Cinnamon toast

Sloppy Joes


If you look at this list and you can’t find any ingredients to make one of these meal ideas, and you have absolutely no money to your name, it might be time to get help.  In Canada we have what are called food banks, where you can go and get canned goods for free when you are struggling.  In the US the system is different, where you have food stamps.  

Look into what your community offers and go get help.  I know it can be embarrassing, but those programs were put there for people down on their luck.  It’s meant to help people out when their cupboards are empty and they have no money.  Don’t go hungry.  See what resources are available to you.

And if you’ve reached that point where you need help, after you get some food, evaluate your situation and see if there is anything you can do to change things.  Can you cut your budget any further?  Cancel subscriptions?  Live more frugally?  Or do you need to find a way to make some extra money, even if it’s just temporarily?

Your situation doesn’t have to be permanent and there is no shame in going through a rough time.  Many people, at one time or another, can remember a season in their life when they were dirt-poor.  Life is expensive, and circumstances can affect our income and our bills.  Be encouraged that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and you can make it through this.


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