Now, a few disclaimers. First, I have five children age six and under, girls who eat like birds. That makes a big difference. Secondly, we have two deer and a cow in the freezer that were free (aside from labor). Another huge difference.
Nevertheless, every woman can find creative ways to stretch the food budget and feed her family for less without sacrificing too much nutrition, especially in lean financial times.
I normally make a grocery trip once a week. But this week, our budget was tight and so I determined to “make do” with what I had bought last week, with the exception of a small run for a few perishables.
It has been really fun and challenging to see how far I could stretch everything. As a side note, a little pre-planning can help to ration out things better.
I’ll share a few “tips and tricks” I used in the hopes it encourages and inspires you to be able to make cuts, when necessary, in the kitchen department!
Approximate spending: $180 for two weeks (including one night with 4 other guests)
I had 2 small, frozen chicken breasts, a wilted stalk of celery half an onion, 4 mushrooms and some rice.
Boiled the chicken in water with celery stalks, a bit of oil/butter and onion. I sauteed the (finely chopped) mushrooms with some garlic, then made a creamy sauce in that pan with oil, some of the broth and milk (I think I used half and half). Browned the chicken and put it in the blender, chopping rather finely. I poured everything over rice (which I cooked in the chicken broth) and it was SO yummy. Served with salad. I had cheers all around. (I set about 1 cup of excess rice in the fridge for later.)
*Deer roast stew
One night I made deer roast in the crock pot (with potatoes), served with left over pinto beans and green beans and cornbread.
I only had a fist-sized portion of meat left over and some broth and potatoes, but the stew I made the next day was delish once I added that leftover rice in the fridge, with a few stalks of celery and some garden-canned tomatoes. It fed us all with some still left.
*Homemade hamburger helper
I like this one because you can stretch it with so many things. I used a little ground meat (can’t remember, deer or beef), cooked with a sliver of onion, and mixed it with cooked macaroni noodles and 2 or 3 cooked, diced potatoes. I also sneaked just a handful of cauliflower in for health Made the sauce with ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar and seasoning.
On some occasions, I have found that instead of using all of an item, half gets us by and the other half is saved for another meal. For example, we stir-fried vegetables several times this week using a small pack of zucchini, squash and cauliflower. A half of each, a half onion, a few mushrooms and it stretches pretty far instead of cooking it all up and then having the soggy leftovers grow old in the fridge.
I stretched the milk with some half and half and water one day, used more water than milk in the cornbread (there was no difference), and honestly, we could all do with less meat and more bean protein, so I’ve tried to remember that a small portion of meat is OK with other sides in abundance.
A few of our breakfasts this week:
Oatmeal casserole (oatmeal, honey/molasses/brown sugar, butter/coconut oil, flavoring, eggs, milk, etc….virtually anything you want to put in, and bake.)
Oatmeal cereal: oats, milk, yogurt (plain), frozen fruit, flavoring (optional), granola (optional) Mix and store in fridge overnight.
Oranges slices and raisin bread.
Breakfast casserole: eggs, sausage, grits, milk, cheese (optional), onions/bell pepper (optional)
Cereal. It’s cheap at Aldi.
I’d love to hear your fun, frugal ideas! Sometimes I know I repeat the same ones, but if you’re like me, I need reminded!
For more ideas, check out Simple Cooking to Save You Money