Cooking On A Budget: Feed Your Family Well

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Feed Your Family Well

Not everyone shares the same economic woes - some are better off than others. There are many families that continually struggle and live paycheck to paycheck.  Something I learned from my mother eons ago was when she gave some advice to one of my relatives.  She said, "pay what you can on the utilities; feed your family first." That has stuck with me to this day.
It's important to send your kids to school having had something to eat in the morning.  Some school systems are helping out with that and offering children something in the morning for breakfast. I saw in the not too recent past an episode of Chopped on the food network.  These special women who cook in the schools have brought the level of "cafeteria lady" or "lunch lady" to a whole new level; they are indeed chefs. They have learned how to stay within the school food budget and at the same time cook these children healthy, nutritious and great tasting lunch meals. Not everything is out of a can, or a box or frozen as it was when I went to school or my children went to school.
If you are struggling to make ends meet, and by all means you are not alone - take some relief off your grocery budget by going to your local food bank and getting items to round out what you may have purchased in the grocery store.
Throughout this site I have given out tips that help make each and every dollar of your grocery budget count.  I have said it's planning ahead; taking stock of what you have in your pantry, freezer and refrigerator first.  Really go over the grocery store flyer to see the weekly specials.  Begin to see what you can make using what you have and go from there.  Then you must make a menu plan and a grocery list.
Here is an example of what I did today. I had 1 can of clams, celery, onion, and last week had picked up some fresh thyme so that was in my frig and still fresh.  In addition, I had some bacon wrapped up along with onion, celery, flour and butter and half and half on hand. Therefore tonight's dinner is homemade New England clam chowder.
I needed to get Yukon Gold potatoes, 2 more cans of clam and 3 bottles of clam juice and I splurged and got heavy cream (you could use milk and skip the cream). Oh yes, and of course some oyster crackers.  It made a fairly large pot of soup and would feed a lot of people.  It's hearty (yes, fattening) and very filling. The soup can be reheated for another night.  If you were making it then it could be put in a container or thermos and warmed for someone's lunch the next day. 
Here's a picture of how much it made:
Approximately 3 1/2 quarts of soup

 This is what I mean by stretching your food dollars.  Soup is always a good choice.  And soup can be created from just about anything you have on hand.
I was lucky also that the baby clams were on sale! The grocery bill for the soup - $17.23.
With the amount of soup I made, up to 10 people could be fed a nice warming bowl of the chowder for a cost of $1.72 per person. And then go from there, if you're a family of five, you get two dinners out of it.

So scope out what is on hand.
Check your weekly flyer.
Plan a weekly menu.
Make a grocery list.
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