Sunday, February 12, 2012

Food Stretchers -

Let's make our food stretch a little farther by adding to it and making a meal.  Here are some ideas that can help you make more for your money and feed your family for less.

The #1 food stretcher is pasta. Does anyone not like pasta? It is cheap (super cheap) and it comes in so many shapes and sizes. Pasta can make meat stretch into several meals. One pound of ground beef, pasta sauce and some pasta could feed a large family (or a small family for 2 meals). How about elbow macaroni, cheese and chopped bacon or sliced hot dogs for another super cheap meal. Ramen noodles with an egg added to it is super, super cheap!!

Fish can be costly (especially here in the U.S.). Remember when we thought it was "a poor man's food"? Potatoes are a great way to stretch the food budget. Here is a recipe from my good friend half way around the world The Happy Housewife. It takes fish and makes it into a meal for the family instead of just a serving or two.
I encourage you all to check out her page. It is so nice to have my coffee in the morning while she has her tea and learn about a culture that is so wonderful.
Rice is great for stretching your food dollars. A bed of rice for veggies can make a very filling meal. Use it to stretch things such as chicken teriyaki (which requires not a lot of chicken). Beef stew over rice can make it last much longer. Pour a can (or homemade) of beef soup over rice and it can feed a family instead of one or two people. Rice can also make a great filler for tacos and burritos too. Makes that pound of ground meat go so much farther.
You can even use canned chicken in this recipe if you find it BOGO or really cheap. I am thinking of trying this with tuna too!
Canned tuna or salmon can be stretched to feed several people too. Tuna casserole is a real dollar stretcher. Canned salmon can be added to chowders, put in omelets, made into patties (which I love on a bun like a burger). Add to a salad too....with lettuce and other veggies it can go a long way and be very filling.
Here is another recipe from The Happy Housewife (today is our lucky day). This has two food stretchers in it...potatoes and canned salmon!! The Happy Housewife also says to check out Delia Online for other great tried and true recipes.
Frozen vegetables are another thrifty way to stretch your food. They are even healthier unless you grow your own or can get produce that has been picked within that day or so (perhaps from a farmer's market). Frozen has more nutrients being frozen soon after it is picked. It is a great thing to add to casseroles, soups and rice dishes and more. Look for sales at your store. Don't be afraid to buy large bags because you use what you need and keep the rest frozen for another meal.
Beans are an amazing food stretcher because they have so much protein that they can replace meat in a dish such as soup or chili. Get some canned red beans and mix them up with rice for a wonderfully filling meal. Mash some pinto beans and use them as filler for tacos and burritos. I love refried bean burritos with guacamole and sour cream. Dried beans go a long way and are super inexpensive. Today I made a big pot of black turtle bean soup....yummy! It will last me for at least 3 meals for my husband and I, and cost about $4. to make
Quinoa is a good food stretcher too. A little more expensive then rice, but it goes a long way. Very high in iron for those of you who may be anemic.
This is a good way to use those rotisserie chickens you can buy for around $5 at the grocery store. Already cooked and ready to go....can easily make 2 meals when stretched out. Don't forget to save the bones for stock!!
Eggs are one of the best values for your money. They also can give you a very healthy meal too. They can be stretched in so many ways. Make French toast with stale bread, make a breakfast casserole - maybe add a little ham or bacon. A quiche is wonderful with brocolli, cheese, ham, bacon, sausage....whatever you want to throw in. Hard boil eggs for egg salad or add some to tuna salad. a 3 egg omelet can feed 2 people if you fill it with other things. Fried rice or add it to a cup of Ramen. I love eggs! To me, they are the perfect food.
Potatoes can stretch out a dinner too.  They are great in casseroles.  A bed of hash brown potatoes for eggs is a very cheap meal.  Add Italian sausage to AuGratin potatoes for a filling meal.  Shepherds pie is a delicious way to strecth some ground beef and veggies.  Don't forget potato soup too, it's a meal in itself, or serve with a sandwich. 
I hope this has given you some ideas as to making your food and money go a little bit farther. 

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