Sometimes things happen and we find ourselves in situations we never thought we’d be in. If that has happened to you and you can’t afford to buy food, we have the answers for you. Keep reading to learn how to feed yourself when you can’t afford food.
Oh, friend. If you’re here, on this page, reading about how to feed yourself when you can’t afford to buy food, I am so sorry you have found yourself in this situation. I know from experience that it is not an easy one to be in.
In fact, it is a downright heart wrenching situation to be in; especially if you can’t afford to feed your kids.
Many years ago, I was there myself. I am far luckier these days, but I will never forget those days of struggling just to survive.
“I Can’t Afford to Buy Food”
While I know how discouraging it can be to say the words “I can’t afford to buy food” to your kids, I can safely tell you that it does not last forever.
I know. That doesn’t help much right now, does it?
The list below will help you start thinking of ways to find food when you don’t have any. While they may not all work for you and your family, hopefully they will give you a good place to start.
What to Do if You Can’t Afford Food
If you have suddenly found yourself in a situation where you can’t afford food, the very first thing you should do is take a pantry, fridge and freezer inventory. Doing so will let you know exactly what you are working with.
If you have never done a full inventory, a printable packet such as THIS one can be a big help to keep you on track.
The next thing you’ll need to do is try to figure out how long the situation will be a problem. If you’ve suddenly found yourself unemployed, you will be at risk for it becoming a very long-term situation. If it’s just a situation where you’ve had a shorter paycheck, it will be a far shorter time that you will need to worry about.
After you know what you’re already working with and have a rough estimate of how long you think it will last, plan as many meals as possible using ingredients you already have.
Make them filling. Make them cheap.
This will give you a head start so you are able to focus solely on finding food.
A Quick Word:
Before we get to the ways to find free food when you have none, I do want to stop and mention that not everyone will be comfortable with all of these mthods.
That’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay and I encourage everyone to only do what they are comfortable with.
If there are any that you would never do, scroll on by and read the rest of the list. I am positive you’ll find something useful on it.
Fishing for Free Food
Ever summer my husband and I – or more likely me and my girls these days – head out fishing fora few dayus. We do this not only for the love of fishing but because it is a great way to feed our family.
In fact, I showed in THIS post that one of our 10-day fishing trips can feed my family for so much less than we could eat fresh fish at the store.
If you are in a situation where you can’t afford to buy food, heading out to the lake can be an easy way to find a meal or three; especially if you already own the fishing equipment you need to fish and that you use fishing lures you already own.
Forage for Free Food
Foraging is another fantastic way to find free food to feed yourself and your family when you can’t afford to buy any. And since there are so many wild edibles in all areas of the world, it’s a great way to eat a variety of free food without too much trouble.
Picking up a book such as “The Idiots Guide to Foraging” is a great way to learn how to identify wild edibles safely. If you’re interested in that particular book, I reviewed it HERE back after it was first published.
Go Hunting When you Can’t Afford Food
Hunting is another thing my own family does to provide food. Yes, even I hunt when I can and when my health allows. One deer can feed a family of four for months. Add small game to that and you’ve got several more meals.
If you’re already a hunter and it is near season, plan to go once season opens if you weren’t already. Other than the cost of your supplies, it’s essentially free food. Since there are many, many different seasons throughout the year, you should almost always be able to find something to hunt.
And if you’re in Texas, you can always hunt wild boar for food. Be sure to double check but last I checked there was no bag limit. They are considered a nuisance at this point.
Side Note: I do not under any circumstances endorse or recommend hunting outside of the appropriate season. Not only is it illegal but it also messes with the conservation efforts that hunting actually provides.
Earn a Free Gift Card
Hear me out before you automatically skip this one.
For years, I have been using free gift cards that I earn online to pay for everything from food to camping gear.
It has – at times – been a true life saver for us and if you have found yourself in a situation where you can not afford to buy food for your family, it can be for you too.
Yes, you’ll have to work the free gift card sites for a bit, but if this is the way you can feed your family the fastest, it is worth it.
For me personally, I recommend and mainly use two different sites to earn free gift cards.
InstaGC is a survey site that pays you for doing quite a few things. You’ll earn points for surveys, completing offers, clicking links and even things such as listening to the radio. I have been a member for years and it’s a huge help! Save your points and cash out with as little as $1.00. Once you cash out the first time, your cash (Paypal or ACH) or gift card (to hundreds of places including Amazon!) are instantly sent! Plus when you sign up you’ll earn 10 points FREE just for signing up!
If you search the web, you need to be a Swagbucks member! Swagbucks literally pays you for searching the web! Plus, you’ll have the chance to earn points in tons of different ways! You can earn for surveys, videos, games, printing coupons and loads more! Prizes are sent as gift cards or Paypal 7-10 days after you request them. I have been a member for almost a decade and have earned several thousand dollars in that time!
Visit a Food Pantry
These days, food pantries are all around and have evolved from the old box of tuna and macaroni. Most simply have you pop your trunk and load it for you.
When you are faced with a situation like this, search the social media networks and Google for the phrase “food pantries near me.”
They will pull up the nearest results for you to choose from.
Make it Yourself
Even if you don’t have the easy, convenient version of what you need, there is a good chance that you have the ingredients to make what you need instead. Again, this is where a full pantry inventory comes into play.
And surprisingly, it may not be as hard as you think to make it. Once you have things made, you can then take a look at putting a meal together.
A few great ideas to get started with are:
- Homemade Bread
- Homemade Pasta Sauce
- Homemade Graham Crackers – Pair these with peanut butter for a great snack
- Homemade Butter
- Homemade Pizza Dough
- Homemade Pasta
- Homemade Lemon Juice
- Homemade Ricotta Cheese
- Homemade Mozzarella Cheese
- Homemade Buttermilk
- or a Homemade Buttermilk Substitute
- Homemade Yogurt
- Homemade Heavy Cream
Visit a Soup Kitchen
If you abolutely can not find food to feed your family, visiting a soup kitchen or a community kitchen is always an option.
While Emma and I were homeless in 2010, we ate at the local soup kitchen twice a day. The food is not great and to be honest it was a hit to my ego, but my daughter was fed.
And that was worth far more than my pride.
Government Emergency Programs
These programs are there for a reason; to help you out when you need them most. There is no shame in using them; especially if it is the line between your kids eating a meal and not eating.
Learn from The Great Depression
This isn’t the only time in history that folks have had a hard time making it. It has happened quite often, but never so much as during The Great Depression.
And those people that worked hard and survived that time period left their lessons behind for us to learn in their money saving tips from The Great Depression and in their Depression Era recipes.
One of my favorite resources is a cookbook called “Clara’s Kitchen.” Ms. Clara was a child during The Depression and shared her recipes; passing them on before she passed on.
They’re tasty and yes, they’re cheap to make.
Ask for Help
Finally, if all else fails, ask for help. If you or your kids are hungry and you’ve exhausted all other resources, reach out to your family and friends.
They are family and friends for a reason and the majority of them will be more than happy to help you.