Cooking on an Unemployed Budget

Not having a job means not having money to spend. Not having money to spend means not going out with my friends. And not going out with my friends means that there is a lot of time spent watching cat videos online.

When I was first unemployed and unaware at how difficult it would be for me to actually obtain a job, I was very eager to get out of my house. As a result I was a lot less frugal. A friend wants to go see a movie I’m not interested in seeing? Sure! In fact, I’ll buy the popcorn! Another friend wants to go mini golfing even though my hand-eye coordination is pathetic and I haven’t played a “sport” since 8th grade when my cello stand partner (who I thought was my friend) kicked a soccer ball covered in dirt in my face during gym class? Count me in! Heck, the second round is on me!

But with Fall in full swing and the holiday season just around the corner, I’m getting a little bit nervous. Thankfully my parents are gracious enough to let me live with them and eat their food (hence the only reason why this blog exists…), which helps me save money. So last night I whipped up a meal with some help from my mom that uses an unemployed person’s greatest weapon: leftovers!

Leftovers Chili


2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cans drained beans (any kind: black, kidney, chick peas)
leftover meatloaf/hamburger/ground turkey (at least 1/2 cup)
2 cups tomato sauce (or canned tomatoes)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon clove powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

(**Keep in mind that these measurements are all based on how much leftover meat you have and can easily be changed to accommodate more or less meat.)

Heat olive oil in saucepan. Add onion and celery and sauté until translucent. Add chopped up leftover meat and two cans of drained beans. Sauté until heated through then add tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, and spices.  Stir and add water to cover top of meat. Cook until desired thickness. Taste and add seasoning as needed.

One of the best parts about chili is all the fun stuff you can put on top. We had salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. My mom also likes to cook the cornbread right on top of the chili. You can either bake your cornbread separately, or prepare your favorite cornbread recipe right on top of the chili. Just transfer to a baking dish (we used 9×9) and follow the cornbread recipe as is.

What kind of meals do you prepare on a budget? Any other tips on re-using leftovers? Send ’em our way! (And while you’re at it, it couldn’t hurt to send over some of those funny cat videos too…)


3 thoughts on “Cooking on an Unemployed Budget

  1. Also hang in there im sure with the things are now you’ll get your job in no time!.. i just got hired a few weeks ago. ( actually im typing this while im on my desk. lol ) i lived off on my parents for a bit when i was unemployed and actually cooked some awesome stuff with their leftovers i think ill give them a visit and cook for them.. 😀

    • Thank you!! I’ll definitely keep trying. I feel like my parents would cut off my leftover privileges if I stopped looking for a job and that would be a REAL disaster.

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