Cheap Eats — Dirt and Buttons

by Katy on July 18, 2008 · 6 comments

Every family has their own private and weird language, in use for so long as to seem normal.

In my family, we make a meal made out of random ingredients called, “dirt and buttons.”


Umm . . .  I forget.

But it goes a little something like this:

“What for dinner?”

“I dunno, dirt and buttons I guess.”


This descriptive term casts a wide net. From fruit cobblers made with bruised/mealy apples to stir-fry’s, soups and casseroles, dirt and buttons is any food dish concocted from otherwise unappealing ingredients.

Some of these meals have been huge successes, others aren’t exactly slotted into the regular rotation. Either way, a meal gets made though. (Which can sometimes be a miracle.)

Mouth watering yet?

I didn’t think so.

The point of a dirt and buttons meal is to use up food that would otherwise go to waste. Also, to deter a trip to the grocery store, something I try to avoid at all costs. Literally.

So next time you’re staring hard at the bizarre medley of foodstuffs in your refrigerator, think this to yourself:

“Maybe it’s the perfect night to serve dirt and buttons to my family.”

Because sometimes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Want to know more about the issues of food waste?

Make sure to check out Jonathan Bloom’s Wasted Food blog!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca July 18, 2008 at 6:33 pm

We do this, too. I learned this from my DH. I would see nothing to eat, he’d peak in the same fridge and pantry and see *ingredients*.

I’ve learned that pasta, eggs, or potatoes make a great base for all kinds of things.


nichole3 July 19, 2008 at 6:17 am

I’ve been doing this for 34 years of marriage. We call it “Stuff” then assign a number to it.


Burbanmom August 6, 2008 at 6:15 pm

Wow! I cook this all the time and now it has an official name! “Dirt and Buttons” sounds so much nicer than “crap I found in the fridge that looks like it’s going bad so I tossed it in a skillet with some olive oil and tomato sauce”. Thank you!


jean August 16, 2009 at 6:59 pm

At our house, we call it “stuff.” Now, stuff can be leftovers, the stew pot, or the odds and ends left in the pantry near payday. Stuff can be good, stuff can be less than tasty, but it’s always edible.


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