Cooking On A Budget: Stretching Your Food Dollars

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stretching Your Food Dollars

If you are cooking on a budget, stretching your food dollars is necessary. Following some of the examples I have outlined below will keep your food costs down and provide you with more dinners than you may have thought of. Use your grocery stores weekly flier as a way to plan your shopping list. Below are some examples of what you can do to stretch your food dollars.

Chicken is on sale - Boneless skinless breasts 3 lbs. or more. Generally there are about 6 breast halves per pack. After washing and removing any remaining tendons, you will prep the chicken in this manner:

Slice off the thicker end of each breast. Laying your hand flat on top of the thicker side of the breast, cut lengthwise (right to left) in half. Thinner ends can then be cut into cubes, or sliced in strips depending on what your meal plan is. Yield: 12 pieces to make 2 different dinners and enough cubes or strips for a completely different meal. Three dinners total.
    Ground Beef is on sale - 4 lbs. or more.
    Separate the pack into two sections of 2 lbs. each. Two dinners total. Depending on your menu plan, a 4 pound pack may yield more.
      Pork Loin Roasts

      Center cut boneless Pork Loin Roasts that go on sale can also be considered for cooking on a budget. Pork is easy to cook and a very versatile protein. When you purchase a roast that is more than what you think your family will consume in one dinner, here is what I would suggest:

      Depending on the size of the Roast, cut it in half to make two roast dinners or, cut off enough for 1 pork roast dinner and slice the remainder into individual pork cutlets to be used in another meal. Keep the pork wrapped well in the refrigerator and plan your dinners so that you do not have to freeze the pork.

        We often look at the price of seafood and consider it too costly.  However, that is not always the case.  For instance, our local grocery store will put a 2 lb. bag of shrimp on sale and the cost is $13.98.  The shrimp count varies at this price. However, depending on the size of your family you can get 2 meals out of it. Cost = $6.99. It easily feeds 3-4 people (again, depends on the size of shrimp and what you are making.) For four people the cost is roughly $1.74 per person.

        • If you are making Stuffed Peppers, slice them lengthwise to yield 2 servings versus cutting off the tops and filling only one pepper. The same premise for a Stuffed Tomato recipe.
        • Explore new recipes that will help use the dried or ground spices you currently have in your pantry. Use that poultry seasoning in more than stuffing at a holiday meal! Add it to soups and stews for boosting up the flavor. Spices are pricey - so use them!
        • Utilize Rice and Egg Noodles and Pasta as meal stretchers.
        • If your family enjoys rice, stay away from purchasing boxed rice mixes. Instead purchase 1 box or bag of long grain rice and simply cook the rice in chicken broth and add your own dried spices and maybe finely diced onion for the flavoring. One box of white rice yields far more for less money than purchasing the boxed varieties. Also, you control the sodium level. (Look up some of my recipes within this food blog for flavoring rice.)
        • The same applies to to the boxed egg noodle mixes and pasta mixes. It's easy to flavor up noodles and pasta in a variety of ways. (Look up some of my recipes within this food blog.)
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