The Art of Stretching Food: Finding Ways for Surviving Between Meals

Tough times call for making the most out of what you currently have – may it be for food or any other items that are being treasured to avoid in consuming it all out. In order to survive on a day to day basis, some people have tried innovative ways to “stretch” out their food supply in order to make ends meet. This without ever experiencing starvation and to satisfy basic hunger.

Here are some of the ingenious ways based on true events:

High-school kid makes the most of his allowance

“I have a daily allowance of 120 pesos which includes daily fares totaling to 40 pesos. It is supposed to be 50 pesos but I opted not to ride that particular Jeepney route and instead walk for about 10 minutes in going in and out of school. With just 80 pesos budget for meals on a 7am – 4pm school shift, I would say that I cannot save money for myself if I eat full meals for the day.

I devised a way of maximizing my budget by eating during break-time and sleep or play Basketball during lunch-time.

In that regard, I devised a way of maximizing my budget by eating during break-time and sleep or play Basketball during lunch-time. We have a free flowing drinking fountain at school so it won’t be a problem in stuffing my stomach, it can be done by drinking lots of water.

Bread in sandwiches pack enough carbohydrates to keep a full stomach. (Photo by Erin Wang on Pexels.com)


In eating during break-time, I could buy three-layer sandwiches for 20-30 pesos, a mere 20-30 pesos savings against eating during lunchtime with rice meals at a minimum 50 pesos, sometimes go up to 70. At 4pm, where we are now allowed to go out and eat outside the school with all the tipid (budget) meals all around, I could go to my favorite Lumpiang Togue vendor to buy a serving or two for 5 pesos per serving. If hunger calls for more on some days, I would go to a Hamburger kiosk to buy one for as low as 10 pesos.

With all these meal strategies, I manage to save of up to 50 pesos per day.


With all these meal strategies, I manage to save of up to 50 pesos per day.”

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Minimum-wage earner looking to make ends meet

“Though I am still single, I have to somehow provide some funds for my parents as much as I can. But with a net of 4000 pesos per payday, I have to make adjustments to maximize my earnings to meet my targets and even provide for my parents. To save on transportation, I had to pay for rental on a house that is just a few minutes’ walk from where I work. The house rental is of course huge so I had to ask other colleagues and friends nearby to share on the rent by being my roommates.

The ever-present “pantawid-gutom” option

I have a 50 peso daily food allowance at work but that won’t be enough for 3 meals so I have to spend for it myself. While some days I would eat all of my meals at work, sometimes I would buy my meals elsewhere. Instead of paying 50-60 pesos for my dinner, I would go to a nearby Hamburger joint to buy a buy one – take one Hamburger for just around 40 pesos.

Cutting this tasty treat as thinly as possible would go a long way

To maximize my savings, I would buy some canned goods for my dinner. I would buy a can of luncheon meat for around 40 pesos, slice it up 10-ways, and consume it for 5 meals in total. To have a little more variety, I would cook up Instant noodles for me to have some soup. It was really a fun way to make meals stretch.

instead of spending around 500 pesos for 5 days, I would only spend around 200 pesos

That way, instead of spending around 500 pesos for 5 days, I would only spend around 200 pesos.”

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OFWs in Japan find food stretching more fun

“My roommates and I share the food expenses that we need for the month on a daily basis. Since we receive our salaries just once a month, stretching out a food budget for the whole month could be challenging because we might be tempted to splurge on food to fancy restaurants on the first weeks and we would then end up adding more to our budget towards the end of the month.

Salmon Belly Sinigang is a cheap dish if you live in Japan

What we did to ensure that we don’t get over budget is to buy groceries every week and cook our food at home. One trick that we learned back then is that the Japanese really do value freshness, and towards the end of the day, when the supermarket is about to close, the fresh meat that is used to be sold at around 700 yen for 300g could be up to 50% off when you are really patient in waiting. The Salmon belly, for some reason, is very cheap and almost no one is buying, so we stock up on that delicious piece of fish to be cooked as Sinigang, or even deep fried.

Free food samples became necessary as ever

We also buy rice from specialty stores in order to have more ways to make meals stretch, no matter how far it would be from our boarding houses using our bicycles. Our bicycles are our best-friends in travelling – very cheap and would let you go places. During weekends, if we feel a little bit hungry and craving for a snack, we then go to a nearby supermarket and wait until around 3pm to 4pm – that’s where the promo women comes in and offer some free taste of their product! Everything can be offered – from hotdogs, cake, bread, fruit juices, and even alcohol, you can get them for free!

Without doing those detailed but fun strategies for food, we would not end up saving up to 10,000 yen per month

Without doing those detailed but fun strategies for food, we would not end up saving up to 10,000 yen per month.”

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UK Temporary workers doesn’t mind waiting for discounts

“Being a temporary worker in the UK won’t give you the option to use your own transportation for practical reasons. You will rely on their public transportation, which is very good in my opinion. The concern is that you would have to walk a few miles to the nearest bus stop or a train station to go out for shopping or even just buy food. We really don’t mind that as long as we could get the most out of our hard earned money to buy for groceries that we would need to cook our own food.

A pork belly slab that can be prepared in a lot of ways

In the supermarkets, you can say that it is really expensive when compared to where we are used to back at home. So in order to maximize our budget, we buy in bulk. Of course, meat in butcheries are much more expensive so we just go for pre-packed fresh meat in the groceries. However, we still do find it too costly in buying 300g of pork for GBP 3-4, so we always look for the pork belly slabs. Each slab weighs around 3Kg, and it is just a little below than GBP 10! That slab could be cut up in smaller portions and can be cooked with about pork four pork slab recipes that can be served in several meals for several days! Since rice is not a staple food by the Brits, it is hard to find in usual grocery stores rice a 10Kg rice. The largest that we could see is just around 2Kg.

Since we could get more savings from a larger packaging, we would walk further miles away to get that 10Kg rice – just don’t ask us how we managed to take it home without transportation of our own. The most fun part of all during our grocery stints are the waiting game – we would wait for minutes to even hours to get a great discount on food. I think they value freshness here so prepared food or even fresh meat will be discounted before the day ends to keep its freshness or get rid of old inventory and replace it with a new one the next day. If we get lucky, we could get a whole roasted chicken for just GBP 1 from an original price of GBP 7!

With all those tips and tricks that we have done, we have probably managed to spend just GBP 20 per person for a month’s worth of food

With all those tips and tricks that we have done, we have probably managed to spend just GBP 20 per person for a month’s worth of food. It is a satisfying feeling to bring in more money to my family back at home despite with a little sacrifice”

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 A lot of ways and means to save money with food. It may not be healthy and should just be a temporary thing, stretching food can definitely reap benefits and rewards in the long run.

How about you? What have you done to somehow “stretch” the food money you currently have?

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