should i eat that?
All Blogs, Food, Frugal Living

Should I Eat That?

Psst, I make money on some of the links in this post at no cost to you. It keeps the lights on around here.

Have you ever cooked something nasty and eaten it anyway?

I do this at least once a week. I didn’t think anything of this at first. It wasn’t until I was mouth-deep in a floppy piece of homemade pizza that I thought, “What the hell am I doing?”

The Picky Pincher philosophy is all about living well while cutting costs. Eating moist pizza and burnt peanut butter sauce doesn’t fit into that model.

That leads me to the question…



Should I eat that?

Food was once our number-one budget killer. If homemade meals were remotely undesirable, we’d toss them in the trash and grab takeout.

During our food budgeting overhaul, we sucked it up and ate things we normally wouldn’t like. These were meals that a normal person would happily eat with gusto, like crockpot roast and grilled chicken. To us, though, it was a stretch. But this stretch helped us decrease our cost per meal from $10 to a lowly $3 per meal. Woop woop!

get the free 30 day frugal cleanse

Fast forward to today and I have a different problem. If I make a new recipe and it doesn’t turn out, sometimes I’ll still eat it. That might not sound like a big deal, but when it’s something horrific like peanut butter Rotel chicken (true story), it’s a big deal to your colon.

Trust me.

I fully admit that I cross into “cheap” territory in my pursuit to save a buck or two. After one stomach ache too many, I’m defining the boundary between things I should and should not eat.



New guidelines for what’s edible at the Picky household

It’s funny that I even need to do this, but I’m setting up rules to determine what I should eat. There’s nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries and eating meals you normally wouldn’t try. But I think some days I cross into “cheap” territory by eating things that should not be eaten.

1. Is the meal fully cooked and safe to eat? Nobody wants medium rare chicken with a side of salmonella.
2. Will the taste or texture of the meal make me throw up? Once we made Asian wraps. The idea was good, but the soy peanut butter sauce made me gag. Not good.
3. Will I regret eating this? In my many days of eating, I have only one true regret. I once ate a jar of pesto sauce that definitely smelled “off.” I ate it anyway and had horrific food poisoning.

Fun fact: I had just started a new job and went to my second day of work with food poisoning. It was a dark day.
4. Is this even healthy to eat? I ate burnt two-day old fried crab cakes once. They tasted good, but I would have been better off with a salad.
5. Does Mr. Picky Pincher think me eating this is weird? Sometimes all you need is an outside opinion to see you need to tone down the frugality.

The bottom line

I hope you liked today’s fun little post. The early retirement game is about saving money, but it’s also about correcting yourself and your habits. There’s such a thing as being too frugal, and it’s called being cheap.

We want to know: Have you ever gone a little too far to save a buck?


44 comments on “Should I Eat That?

  1. I never throw out left-overs since they often taste even better the next day and as you’ll find working from home now, last night’s dinner, re-heated for lunch is often unbeatable.

    I will go along with your ‘rules’ though. Number one, if it smells, feels or tastes even slightly dodgy, out it goes. In most cases left-overs don’t usually make it past day 2 but occasionally something gets pushed to the back of the fridge and remains undiscovered for a few-too-many days.

    I have to say, risking food poisoning is going well and truly above and beyond the expectations of living frugally in my opinion.

    Another entertaining post Mrs Picky.

    1. Oh yeah, and we usually eat dinner leftovers for lunch anyway. I do like that I can heat mine up in the oven now. 🙂 Agreed! Food poisoning (or worse!) ain’t worth it, y’all. If your gut tells you it’s ‘off’, then it’s probably ‘off.’

  2. Hilarious! I’ve definitely eaten some food that was questionable at best. My biggest food vice is eating more than I need because the food is about to go bad. Examples: eating way too many ponzkis (donuts) on Fat Tuesday, drinking two extra glasses of milk before it expires.

    Thanks for the laugh!

    1. OMG I have that problem, too!!! “Welp, these cookies will be bad next week, so I might as well eat it.” “Oh! There’s not enough ground beef for a full meal, so I’ll just eat the extras now.” I guess there’s nothing awful about that, but overeating is definitely not great. :/

  3. I once scraped a film of white mould off pumpkin soup and told myself it was just separated coconut milk…

    Didn’t get sick. Did taste a bit off though :p

    1. Bahahahaha! Oh wow! As a kid I ate moldy Cool-Whip and lived to tell the tale. The mold definitely imparts a “tanginess.” 😉

      1. Oh dear – dairy products are dangerous. Although I once had blood orange yoghurt and thought it was odd and I wouldn’t try it again. Turns out it was off and that’s why mum hadn’t eaten it…

        Explains why it seemed a bit fizzy

  4. I don’t tend to eat expired food at least. But I have two young kids, and the younger two year old rarely finishes his food. Sometimes I find myself finishing what he doesn’t eat to ensure it doesn’t go to waste. Unfortunately this is sometimes questionable given my children are disease incubators. Hello flu….

    1. Oh no! I mean, at least you’re really testing your immune system. 😉 I always want to much of my niece’s/nephew’s plates, but the pre-chewed, wet chicken just isn’t as appealing. 😉

  5. This post was very timely for me because last night I made a stir fry that my husband only ate a bit of (which is very unlike him). I asked him what was wrong and he said it was too dry and not good. I told him I knew it was terrible and dry but he should eat it anyway because we weren’t going to waste it. Besides food that has obviously gone “off”, the only thing I haven not been able to eat was a mark down bag of kelp chips–I took one handful and actually had to spit them out into the trash.

    1. Bahahaha! Call me ignorant, but I had no idea kale chips could go rancid like that. Ouch! I’ve had the “dry food” conundrum, too. We had an entire roast chicken that was dry as a bone, but didn’t want to waste it. The bones were used to make stock, and I turned the meat into a chicken salad. The chicken salad added a lot of wetness with the mayo, so it was actually pretty good.

  6. I have a similar problem. I like to try new stuff, everything from produce I’m not familiar with to new packaged snacks which are often free with a coupon. The problem is even if I score the item free and I hate it, I can’t toss it! I confess to eating way too many over-salted tasteless bags of snack food as well as forcing myself to eat fruits and veggies that I find disgusting. I just can’t seem to admit to myself when I have a food fail.

    1. Ugh, I do that, too! Isn’t it silly how we force ourselves to eat things we despise to save money? I need to be better about giving things away, but sometimes food is straight-up nasty to anyone.

  7. This is an interesting topic…I agree with some of the rules. Of course you shouldn’t eat something that’s burnt beyond recognition or old enough to have grown it’s own mold village or under-cooked.

    But I tend to “save” foods. Overcooked chicken gets chopped into tiny pieces and served in soup or with a sauce to moisten it up. Random ingredients about to go bad get thrown into a skillet dish. The burnt parts of toast get scraped off. Really nasty dishes (i.e. chili gone bad, the peanut-rotel conconction mentioned above, etc…) get rinsed in a strainer until the offensive flavors are gone and then the meats/beans/veggies get re-seasoned.

    If I have to eat an undesirable dish to avoid throwing it away, maybe it’ll help me to be more careful next time. I might pay more attention to the cook time so I don’t overcook the chicken. Or I might look at the chocolate-raspberry chili recipe through a more realistic lens before just jumping right in and wasting ingredients.

    1. Oh man, you’re hardcore! I’ve saved some overcooked chicken before by turning it into chicken salad (it was surprisingly good!). I haven’t strained and rinsed foods; I think that would be too much for Mr. Picky Pincher. It hasn’t made you sick in the case of food going bad?

    2. Oh. I meant “gone bad” in the sense that the recipe went very much awry and tastes awful. Not that the food itself has gone bad. That would be unsafe. I hate throwing up, and food poisoning is no fun.

      I should have said “Chili gone wrong,” lol!

      1. Oh good! I was about to say you were the most hardcore food saver ever, hahahaha. Good idea for the “dinner gone wrong” though! In hindsight I could have tried to save the chicken from the peanut butter Rotel chicken incident.

  8. I love the title of this post 🙂

    My stomach is pretty sensitive as is, so I probably throw out more food than I should. Not taking any chances with stuff that my have gone bad or might upset my stomach.

    No amount of money is worth making yourself sick or miserable!

    1. You and Mr. Picky Pincher would get along swimmingly! I had to convince him that it was safe to leave butter at room temperature. He also has a really finicky stomach, so he can’t eat a lot of foods unless they’re fresh. It was a challenge to get him to eat leftovers so readily. 😉 But this is a good point! If you’re blessed with an iron stomach, be grateful you don’t have a sensitive constitution! Two-day-old pizza could make you sick.

  9. Thankfully, my husband will often eat almost anything that didn’t turn out quite as planned (unless it’s really terrible or smells off). I tend to be on the better safe than sorry side! But, even if a meal doesn’t turn out quite as planned, we can usually save it. Cheese makes everything better.

    1. Hee hee hee hee, I’m totally guilty of piling cheese on a soup that didn’t work out. 😉 You’re lucky to have a hubby with an iron stomach!

  10. Rick having 23 years of experience as an EMT – and transporting LOTS of food poisoning victims – has made us extra wary of possibly ill-prepared foods. That, and having a really bad experience (read: it required a visit to the ER) at Subway once.

    Funny that you mention peanut butter, I’ve found myself becoming more and more disgusted by it as the years go by, and I’m not sure why. I’ve even made a house rule that the kids aren’t allowed to leave their peanut-butter covered knives in the sink for me to rinse off. I can’t handle the smell or texture. Now, if you use it in cookies or pair it with a great jelly, I’m all in. 🙂

    1. Oh nnnoooooo. Mr. Picky Pincher’s dad is an EMT and Mr. Picky Pincher worked in food service for years, so they’re very conscious about food prep safety. It’s definitely not worth a trip to the ER if you’re trying to save 50 cents on spoiled ham. That’s funny about the peanut butter! I was put off from it after the horrifying chicken-peanut butter-rotel incident, for sure. Eh, tastes change over time I suppose. 🙂

  11. This is a funny post but there is a good, serious message in there. Like FinanceSuperHero, I tend to eat too much because otherwise those last bits will be “wasted”. Since someone in my family once told me that she “finished off the plates” to add 50 extra pounds when she was raising kids, I don’t want to go there! I have to always remind myself that if I don’t actually need to consume the last 3 ounces of milk or four bites of carrot, then it’s wasted on me, too. If I can’t think of a way to use the last bits, I need to compost them or give them to my dogs, assuming it’s healthy for them to eat it. It’s funny that I worry more about whether my dogs should have it than whether I should!
    If it’s going bad or really is a failed meal, it should just GO. I’ve salvaged a few failed meals, but often, there is no hope for them. Since I trench compost, except for bones, I can bury almost anything out in my back yard and not worry about it. At the very least, that ruined food is enriching my soil.
    The PP rules are good ones to go by, I agree.

    1. Wise words! Sometimes things just need to GO. I’m on the Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group and too often I see people trying to save money by doing things that are straight-up dangerous. Don’t drink the expired milk that comes out of the jug in chunks, y’all.

  12. I’ll try to doctor something up if it’s dry but if it really looks or tastes bad I won’t eat it. Sometimes when I make something new I’ll ask Mr. Groovy if it’s “a keeper” and if he says no, I won’t make it again. If it’s not delighted our palates but tastes OK, we’ll finish it and that’s it.

    Just this week I had some raw chicken thighs with an almost weird odor. I thought maybe if it were pork or beef that might be more normal but I wasn’t taking a chance with chicken. Especially not after there were reports of botulism deaths this week from nacho sauce, of all things.

    1. Ew, botulism from cheese sauce. The horrific images that evokes… Do you have tips for how you spruce up your dry dishes? My go-to is making it a “salad” by tossing it in mayo and veggies.

  13. At this stage of my life, I’m with the school of: nasty is just plain nasty and out it goes. I was raised to clean your plate and wasting food is a sin.
    Apparently, I got over it.

    1. Bahahaha! Me too! I wish the lesson were “Eat until you feel full” because I think that’s healthier, but I get where our parents were coming from. Sometimes it’s okay to waste food (as much as it sucks to say it) because the alternative isn’t worth it.

  14. HA! This made me laugh. I’ve eaten some weird things (Guinea Pig in Ecuador), but I try to keep it somewhat ordinary.

    As we’ve cooked more and more, I’ve found that we like a certain style of food, so I usually stick to that. It tends to make it a lot easier, plus you get a lot of practice with it.

    Keep it up and keep away from the food poisoning. Sounds awful!!

    1. Oh man! How did the cuy taste? That’s def not my thing (used to have them as pets), but I admit a curiosity lol. That’s true, though! It’s easier to avoid costly mistakes after you go through some cooking growing pains.

  15. I’m so sorry you got food poisoning and had to work! It must have been horrible!

    I’ve also gone too far sometimes with the food, but thankfully nothing bad ever happened. Strong stomach 🙂 But that’s not an excuse to ‘abuse’ it… so both my other half and I agreed it’s time to be more careful when it comes to food. If it smells weird or has been sitting in the fridge/kitchen for too long, then it’s toss-away time!

    However, since I take food waste seriously, I always ask my significant other to be the bad guy and throw the stuff away. I’m seriously unable to throw food in the trash! I feel so bad when having to waste food, I sometimes feel the urge to just let it sit there, even if it stinks the place up. I may have a problem…

    1. Oh man, that was up with my Top Ten Worst Days ever. I had a client meeting and had to politely say I was going to the restroom, where I puked my guts out hahaha. I had to chew gum all day to mask the smell. It was not a good day. I love that you ask your partner to through the food away! It’s like asking them to do the dirty deed so you can be the innocent one, hahaha.

  16. Funny you write this now. My boss, who is cheaper than the two of us combined, just found some banana bread that had been sitting in his office for far too long and ate it anyway. As he approached the end, he turned it over to find green fuzzies. Yummm!

    1. I read your comment and said “Nnnnoooooooooooooo” out loud just thinking about the fuzzies, oh my god. Although I’ve eaten fuzzy bread before by accident too, so…. lol

  17. I must admit that I will occasionally just add a ridiculous amount of olive oil to dishes to get lots of cheap calories. $0.40 gets you about 600 calories.

    I don’t recommend this especially if married. Sorry hun.

    1. Hahaha! I love my fats as much as the next guy, but that’s a lot of oil. 🙂 You could always fry food in olive oil for big calorie bombs (if you need them, of course). I used to do that because I didn’t know any better and Mr. Picky Pincher thought I was insane. Oops.

  18. Hi, I once made a celery soup out of the inner white part and the green leafy tops of the celery so as not to waste those parts of a whole celery. Well, it was aweful, bitter and just yuk, I had taken a serve of it to work along with some bread to toast to have with it. I managed to have a few spoonfuls and gave up, I just had toast for lunch that day. Lesson learnt.

    1. Oh noooo! Had the celery gone bad? I’ve included those bits in soups before but never noticed an odd taste.

  19. Agreed! Don’t be cheap at your tummy’s expense. We have nights like this too. Luckily for us, the food never goes to waste. There are 5 pigs outside who are happy to destroy all evidence of my dinner failures. Especially if it comes with a side of bread. I think everyone should have a pig. It eases the guilt of throwing out food. 🙂

    1. Oy, I’m jealous that you can toss it to the piggies at least! We have to really, really think about it before we toss something in the trash. The pigs don’t mind when a dish is burnt. 😉

  20. I’ve eaten some discusting stuff over the years, but as I’ve become a more accomplished cook it happens more rarely these days.

    That said, a more frequent problem is that one person in the family thinks it’s OK, but another person doesn’t like it.

    Ultimately I end up eating more than my fair share of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *