What to Eat When you Have no Food

Are you wondering what to make for dinner when you have no food?  Today we are going to talk about how you can still eat even though the cupboards are bare but you can’t go to the grocery store.

What to eat when you have no food

Okay, let’s get something out of the way – technically this post is going to hopefully help you make something out of very little, or be able to make easy meals even though you have the bare minimum.  However, you can’t obviously eat when you have NO food whatsoever.  You have to obtain food somehow.  We are going to talk about that as well.

Many of us have had times in our life when we have struggled financially.  Those are times we need to buckle down and stretch our dollar as far as humanly possible.  But sometimes can’t stretch it out more than we are already doing.

If you are in a situation where your cupboards have absolutely nothing to fill your belly with – I’m talking about there isn’t a single thing in your fridge to make food with and you have a completely empty wallet and you literally have feelings of physical hunger– then you need to go get help.  



There are organizations that help with this sort of thing.  You can get some food at a food bank, or food stamps to shop with.

Whatever you do, don’t go to bed hungry.  There is help out there.

But what if you have a few odds and ends in your cupboard?  Or if you have a small amount of money you can use- even if it’s just a few dollars to buy a few key ingredients. Today I’m going to give you some ideas on what you can make.


Fried Rice


White rice or brown rice is that food you can mix a variety of foods into it, or you can eat it on it’s own if you have nothing else.  Consider mixing things like beans, cheddar cheese, sour cream,  leftover meats in your fridge, or some frozen veggies like peas, etc.  You can drizzle some soy sauce on this.  

It may not be fancy, and let’s be honest, it’s not a well-balanced meal on it’s own, but it will fill you up and it is a good temporary meal until you can get back on your feet again.


Eggs are a cheap food that will also give you the protein you need.  They aren’t just for breakfast.  Eat them for lunch or dinner.  If you have some slices of bread, make some toast with it.  No bread?  Fry up some diced potatoes and onions.  I Or scramble them with whatever loose ends you have in your fridge or freezer vegetable-wise.  Eggs are a great option to try and meet your nutritional needs when you are on a tight budget.

Peanut Butter and Jam

PB & J sandwiches

We all ate them as kids but for some reason as adults we turn our nose up at them.  We shouldn’t though, because they are a cheap thing to make rather quickly, and they will give you a protein boost.  If your cupboards are pretty empty, pull out the peanut butter and jam.  No jam?  Try honey, or bananas instead.

You could also make your own homemade bread to really fancy up your PB & J.  This NO KNEAD ARTISAN BREAD only uses 4 ingredients – flour, salt, water, and yeast.  That’s some cheap bread right there!



Okay, your cupboards are empty, but you’ve noticed some noodles in the back.  Maybe they are spaghetti noodles, egg noodles, or even ramen noodles.  Dig around some more and see if you can find some frozen vegetables, or little bits of meat. 

Cook them up into a stir fry, and pour some soy sauce on it.  No soy sauce?  Check your fridge and see if you have some other kind of sauce or condiment that might go well with it. I’ve added some lemon juice to pasta.  Bonus points if I have parmesan cheese in the fridge as well.

One of my favorite sauces that I make is just mixing some oil, Dijon mustard, and a sweetener like honey, maple syrup, or even brown sugar. I don’t measure it, I kind of just eyeball it. I use this on rice, noodles, and salad.  You could use regular mustard in place of the Dijon if you don’t have any Dijon in your fridge.

fried spaghetti

Fried Spaghetti

This should go under noodles, but it’s so delicious I gave it it’s own category.  This is best made with leftover spaghetti, but it’s so tasty you will make it even when your cupboards aren’t bare. 

All you do is take your cooked spaghetti, mix it in the pan with some garlic and oil, and fry it up.  It’s one of my favorite dishes, even though it’s so plain.  Probably because garlic makes all things amazing. Add some black pepper and it really takes it up a notch.  If you are lucky enough to have cherry tomatoes, that is a delicious addition as well (though, I know when I don’t have a lot of food, my fridge usually doesn’t have tomatoes.)



Look, when you are hungry it doesn’t matter that it’s a breakfast food.  You eat it for whatever meal you want, including dinner.  And frankly, a nice big bowl of oatmeal on a cold day is like a warm hug. 

You can add lots of things you want to it, but if your cupboards are super bare, just some milk and some sugar will do.  It will fill you, and you won’t be hungry in an hour.  Don’t underestimate the power of oats! Also, check out this list of 21 other things you can do with a big bag of oats.

french toast

French toast and cinnamon toast

All you need is bread, an egg, and some milk and you’ve got a sweet meal that will make you forget how bare your cupboards are.  Don’t have an egg or milk?  Toast up the bread and sprinkle it with some cinnamon and sugar.  Bread is an easy solution to help you increase your daily calories when there isn’t much food in the fridge.  There are so many different ways to use bread in dishes.

Fried Potatoes

Poor Man’s Meal

Fry up some potatoes, onions, and diced hot dogs in some oil and you’ve got a filling dinner.  This was one of  my favorite things to make when I was growing up and our cupboards were really empty.  We usually had potatoes, and I’d leave the onions out and cut up the leftover hot dogs in the fridge and I’d be full for hours.  If you don’t have hot dogs but some ground beef you can add that instead.  It’s pretty simple to make, but if you need a simple recipe, here’s one.


You know, some of our leanest times we have eaten the best.  Why?  Because I was forced to think outside the box, spend time in the kitchen and make things from scratch.  

We may not have always had enough vegetables at those meals, but temporarily that was okay because the potatoes and pasta filled us and we didn’t feel deprived.  When we got back on our feet again we would eat more vegetables.

That leads me into my last point – consider growing a small garden if you can.  While it may not help you today, it could help later when you are struggling financially and can’t afford much food.  Even just growing some tomatoes and cucumbers can help.  

It’ll cut costs for your grocery bill and you will be able to walk out into your backyard and pick some healthy food for you and your family.  It’ll help you add carrot sticks, green beans, or a baked potato to your meals.

Remember to drink plenty of water as well.  It’ll help you feel full when you don’t have a lot of food.

Times may be tough, but you can get through this.  As the saying goes, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”  You’ve got this.  God’s in control still no matter what is going on in the world, including skyrocketing food prices and loss of incomes.  

My hope for you is that these ideas listed above will help you get through tough financial times when it’s hard to buy groceries and you don’t know what to do when you have no food.





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