1 Trick to Stretch a Meal (and look super fancy)

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The easiest way to stretch a meal (and look super fancy): make a soup. If you are working on a tight budget and need to stretch your food or budget just a bit… make a soup. 

Hey, super frugal people! Whether you are frugal by choice or frugal-not-by-choice: this is the number one hack to make your meal and food stretch a bit further!

Groceries and food make up a large chunk of my family’s expenditures. We also love having people over and love to entertain. But we also don’t love having to spend a lot of money (which we don’t have) on a lot of chicken, meat or fish to feed all the people who we love who have come to our house.

So it’s a bit of a conundrum. We need to stretch our meal and food budget a bit to make it work. We want to cut down on the expensive foods we are eating and increase the cheap foods. This is the best way to do that.

If you live extremely poorly or cheaply, this is really the best way to get the most bang out of your buck when it comes to food.

We also are a growing family, so I am constantly looking for cheap recipes to feed a large family. An easy way to do this is to really figure out ways to make your leftovers last as long as possible.

I do this with chicken a lot- make a big chicken or chicken soup and then use various chicken leftover recipes to make different meals all week.

Have you ever found yourself in the following position?

You ever are making a meal and need to make it stretch for more people?
Are you ever strapped for money and are trying to make your main dishes go a little bit further?
Do you need to turn a regular supper into something a bit more fancy?

Then this is the easiest way to do it!

You can turn a regular supper into a two-course extravaganza with one of the cheapest foods out there.

Make a soup to Stretch your Meal!

Adding a soup to the beginning of a meal has a few advantages:

1. It makes you seem more “fancy” and put-together because two courses are fancier than one.

Think about it: if you go to someone’s house and they serve supper with two courses, you automatically assume that they put a lot of thought and effort into it. It’s a great hosting trick that is really super easy to implement.

2. People fill up on soup when it is served first. A soup is nourishing and filling, and after eating a bowl (or two!) of soup, they will eat less of the main dish. This is great if you are trying to get away with serving less of the main dish.

(If you have a crowd, here are some hacks to making a feast on a budget.)

The Easiest Soup Recipe Ever

The easiest soup in the world is the extremely versatile cream of whatever vegetable you have soup.

This is the recipe (or lack thereof- like I said, it’s the easiest soup in the world!) This can be added to the “A Dime Saved Cookbook”!

Cream of Cheap Vegetable Soup

This soup is one of the easiest cheap recipes to feed a large family.

Take onions and sweat them. Take an in-season vegetable. Zucchini, sweet potato, carrot, potato, parsnip, mushroom, and butternut squash all work really well. Whatever is in season at the time! Chop and add to the pot. Cover with water. Cook. Blend with an immersion blender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Adding a soup, especially an easy and cheap one, is really the easiest way to stretch a meal. Serving it as a first automatically turns your meal into a 2-course affair, and stomachs will be filled with the soup (cheap and healthy!) before serving the more pricey main course.

Since an in-season vegetable is cheaper than most (all?) chicken, fish, or meat dishes, you can further stretch the main course because you can serve less. A bonus is that vegetable soup is really healthy!

1 trick to save money on food. stretch a meal

You can do this every night!

I know families who do this every night for supper. A cheap soup fills bellies without having to ration food. If you are constantly looking for cheap recipes to feed a large family, this idea should help you.

If you want, you can also add grain to make it a little more hearty- think rice, barley, etc. You can always check out Budget Bytes for tons of great cheap recipes to feed a large family.

Soup also freezes really easily, so leftovers can be reused for lunch or another night. I always try to have soup in the freezer to pull out when needed. There is nothing like a hot soup to warm you and make your house smell good. The bonus is that it is so ridiculously cheap, so you do not need to break the bank.

I love soups! Wintertime in my house means lots of soups for lunch and supper. Here are some of the best and easy soup recipes that I have found.

Soups freeze really well, so anytime I come across an easy soup recipe that we love, I make double and freeze it. Here are 25 of the best and easy soup recipes you can make. 

You can also serve it while waiting for other food to heat up or cook. It takes the edge off your hunger and will make you less likely to order take-out or go out to eat, both of which are very common budget busters!

Do you have any cheap recipes to feed a large family?

Are you looking for even more free recipes to help you decide what to make for your family? Check out these free recipes now!

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Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.

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