ver since I can remember, my mother was frugal. From mailing a utility payment to save on the convenience fee to driving store-to-store for the best sales, she could stretch a dollar. As a youngster, I could never understand her ways. But as a single bachelor, I now know why she was perfecting the art of frugality.

Recently, I opened my freezer and pantry, and found only a few random items remained. The simple solution to this problem would be to shop for more groceries. However, I was between paychecks and my food budget wasn’t saying filet mignon or even dollar-menu.

I took the opportunity to be creative and pretended I was on one of those cooking shows with a mystery basket and random ingredients.

At first, the challenge was easy. I had frozen pizza, peanut butter and jelly, a pasta salad kit and breakfast egg sandwiches. Not the healthiest but I really needed to utilize the groceries I had purchased.

It was coming down to the last few days before payday. I only had a few remaining items, which included instant mashed potatoes, frozen ground beef, frozen vegetables and brown gravy mix. When I looked at these items separately, they didn’t seem very appealing. But combined, they turned into an untraditional shepherd’s pie with a brown gravy reduction. This creation made enough for several meals, and I was even able to freeze a few portions. And with those last few meals, I had more than enough to make it to payday. Talk about bang for your buck!

My pantry, freezer and refrigerator are now decently full, but I have a better appreciation for my mother’s frugal tendencies. I work hard for my money and every cent makes a difference in my budget.

Do you need help with your budget? One of our Certified Financial Counselors would love to assist you with meeting your financial goals.