The easiest way to stretch a meal (and look super fancy)
This is the number one hack to make your meal and food stretch a bit
Groceries and food make up a large chunk of our expenditures. We also love having people over and love to entertain. 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 having coming to our house. So its a bit of a conundrum.
If you ever are making a meal and need to make it stretch for more people….
If you ever are strapped for money and are trying to make your main dishes go a little bit further…
If you ever need to turn a regular supper into something a bit more fancy..
this is the easiest way to do it!
Turn a regular supper into a two course extravaganza with one of the cheapest foods out there:
Here is the thing with frugal recipes: it really is very seasonal and regional.
There is nothing inherently frugal about a certain recipe or a food item. They are frugal if they cost less than other things. If you are in a place or position where you get certain items for cheap or free than those things are frugal for you.
Make it Frugal for You
That being said, there are certain foods and food groups which are usually cheaper and more filling than other foods. The “classic frugal foods”. The important thing is to be flexible when cooking and planning meals. If there is an ingredient that is expensive FOR YOU, then don’t purchase it. Substitute it with something cheaper or more readily available. Keep in mind the season and region that you are in when planning a meal. I also try to stay away from store-bought chicken and vegetable stocks by making my own out of scraps.
A Dime Saved Cookbook
With all these caveats in mind, I find that soup is usually a great, frugal food. There are some soups that use only “frugal” ingredients like the Wheat Bean and Barley soup, but there are some soups that are just cheaper than making a traditional meal. For example, the Asian Chicken Noodle Soup is cheaper than making chicken and a side dish. It uses less chicken than if you were to serve a piece of chicken to each person.
So, serve yourself a bowl of these delicious soups and don’t forget to freeze the rest so you can have a delicious lunch or supper (or breakfast- who cares?) without any work. These are all soups that I regularly make. They are all kosher (or can be easily adapted to be Kosher).
Part of this post originally appeared in an article on Student Loan Hero’s Blog. Read the full article here.
My Unconvential Advice to Help You Grocery Shop on A Budget
This one shopping hack will save you money at the grocery checkout!
We’ve all heard the common advice about shopping on a budget: make a list and stick to it. We’ve all heard it. Plan out what you need and then only buy what you need. Meal plan, meal plan- we’ve all heard it! However, when it comes to food shopping however, I say: do the opposite!
Don’t Meal Plan!
When shopping on a tight budget, I go to the store, see what’s on sale and then plan my meals around what I buy. So I do meal plan- but based on what I bought, I don’t buy based on what I plan. Tomatoes are on sale? Go home and google tomato recipes. Canned corn is on sale? Look in your cookbooks for recipes with corn. Some of my favorite food recipes I found because I was searching what to do with food that I bought. And you will discover new foods that you like. I had a memorable two weeks where I tried tons of beet dishes because beets were dirt cheap. Turns out my kids really like beets! Really. My 6-year old will down a whole serving of beets for a snack. Who would have guessed? Not me. I would have assumed that he wouldn’t like them and I would probably have never though to ever include them in a meal. It would never have made my way onto a grocery list. Once I bought the beets I had to research how to serve them and I realized that there were so many ways to prepare them. They are also great plain- just roasted or boiled. They are also super, super healthy so score!
Obviously don’t buy two pounds of a random grain just because it was on sale if you never tried it before. You may not like it and that would be a huge waste and not particularly budget friendly! But once you do try it and love it, run out and buy some more- some for eating and some for stocking up.
Stock Up on Basics
It’s a good habit to buy one extra thing that is on sale to keep in your pantry. When a staple or a favorite goes on sale, buy it and put it in your closet. If you have basics in your pantry, you will be less tempted to buy takeout or run to the store when you are hungry (a notorious budget-buster!).
Remember, prices on food are very seasonal and location-dependent so not every cheap and budget-friendly recipe will be cheap and budget-friendly FOR YOU. That is why you have to know what you can afford before you plan what to make. See what’s on sale before you decide what to make. When you have a preconceived idea of what you MUST make for dinner or what you NEED to buy its very hard to leave the store without it- even if its more than you want or are able to spend.
When you plan your meals around what’s cheap and available you can stay within your budget and eat deliciously even when you’re tightly budgeted. Don’t fall into the trap of finding delicious recipes online that have exotic or expensive ingredients and then go buy them. Buy the ingredients and then go find the delicious recipes!
The easiest way to do this is to not meal plan at all but to create Building Blocks with all the great deals you find shopping. Its sort of meal planning with a twist.