I can eat bread without butter, but I can make a lot more meals with these few things in my refrigerator. Bought on sale, none of these are very expensive--in fact, they are very inexpensive additions to your pantry that make a lot more meals possible.
Apples I like apples because they are long keepers. If you get a lot of them for cheap and they start to get mushy on you, run them through the grater and stick them in pancakes, muffins, and breads.
Margarine Cheaper than butter, spreadable margarine is a good way to get all that homemade bread down.
Eggs Powdered eggs work in many recipes, but not in anything that has souffle-like tendencies. (You can, however, substitute powdered egg whites in that case). Eggs are a good, inexpensive source of protein. When they go on sale, I buy 12 dozen at a time (Yes, that's 144 eggs at a time!) When we sit down to eat, my family can easily eat 18 eggs for breakfast, along with toast and fruit salad. Eggs are good past their date, too. If you want to hard-boil eggs, use the oldest ones; they peel easier. I keep my opened can of powdered eggs in my refrigerator.
How Long Do Eggs Stay Fresh?
According to the American Egg Board (www.AEB.org):
"The oil coating which seals the shell's pores helps to prevent bacteria from entering the egg and reduces moisture loss from the egg. RAW SHELL EGGS REFRIGERATED IN THEIR CARTONS WILL KEEP FOR ABOUT 4 TO 5 WEEKS BEYOND THE PACK DATE WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT QUALITY LOSS. (The pack date is usually a number from 1 to 365 representing the day of the year starting with January 1 as 1 and ending with December 31 as 365.)"
"Properly handled and stored, eggs rarely "spoil". If you keep them long enough, they are more likely to simply dry up! But, don't leave eggs out at room temperature. They'll age more in 1 day at room temperature than they will in 1 week in the refrigerator. Room temperature is also an ideal temperature for bacterial growth."
Sour cream If you can afford to put sour cream in your budget, you can make a whole lot more meals. It also substitutes nicely for heavy cream in many recipes. It is usually just fine past the expiration date as long as it hasn't been opened--even 2 months past the date. I buy mine on sale and don't buy more until the next sale.
Powdered buttermilk You can keep powdered buttermilk on the pantry shelf until you open a container. I keep it opened in the refreigerator after that because because of the fat content. I have kept one container in the fridge for years without it going rancid. It makes a nice addition to certain recipes. It does not have the same leavening abilities as fresh buttermilk, which is important in many recipes.