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I was looking at the archived chat from Thursday about stretching food to feed hungry bellies. There were lots of really good ideas. One of the reasons for this topic was stretching food now, in order to stretch money for more preps. Someone made a comment about poverty cooking (I think Mt. Rider). I was hoping to get ideas and recipes listed in this forum. If you have ideas, links or recipes on how to stretch food as far as it can please add to this topic.

Edited by dogmom4
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These are the meals I cook when money is tight. Some are a little thin for dinners, so serve them for lunch, or else round them out a bit with a salad or homemade dessert. Almost any meal can be rounded out with homemade biscuits or bread and/or homemade dessert (not so good for the low-carbers or diabetics, but better if you use whole grains). I also round out some meals by setting out a jar of my homemade pickles. When the homemade bread gets a little dry, I make garlic toast. Spread butter on bread slices, sprinkle VERY generously with garlic powder, add a dash of oregano and toast in the toaster oven. Also, I use eggs a lot because we have poultry, so I have eggs.


The 'formula' I use for a healthy meal is the one that I learned years ago: 1 protein, 1 grain, 2 fruits/vegetables, and 1 dairy. Most of the meals below contain all of those components.



*Slice of homemade bread, hard boiled egg, apple, milk

*Homemade soup with little meat & lots of potatoes, carrots, homemade pasta and/or rice

*Pizza beans, homemade bread, juice

*Chili with macaroni

*Stuffing/dressing made with bread heels

*Eggs, pancakes and fried potatoes or fruit

*Baked potato, topped with a bit of something with protein (cheese or chili, usually)



*Homemade cookies



*Homemade granola


*Zucchini or banana bread/muffins

*Boiled egg


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When cooking with mince -(hamburger?) you can extend the meat with rolled oats. doesn't change the flavour, but be careful because it can stick to the bottom of the pan.

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You can add almost anything to ground beef, like veggies, or rice or noodles, this stretches it too. You would want to add some soup with this too, and maybe cheese on top or fine crackers or chips.

SueC, about how much oatmeal do you think maybe 1/4 cup per pound? I think I might try that next time I make something with ground beef other than tacos. thglitterthanks.gif for the idea. :)

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Save everything! Scrub fruits and veg, use the peels to add to bones for making broth. Seafood shells can be turned into bisque.

The best French cuisine is made with otherwise unused scraps.

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I am sorry I cant remember, it has been a while since I used it too. But that sounds about right, just experiment with how much you can get away with before people notice!. The problem occurs in that it sticks to the bottom because it is a starch, and you need to add some water as a starch will thicken. Probably better in a crockpot than the frying pan

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The oatmeal hold the juices *and* the grease.

Which really isn't *that* bad, unless you're watching the fat intake.

Lots of people mix it into their meatloaf mix, because it makes it nice & moist. ;)

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Of course we all know chili is a great and cheap meal! Always make chili when you have left over meat. This is where freezing that wee bit of left over meat comes in handy. Chili doesn't care if you put in ground meat and chicken and pork!

Cook one of those pork shoulder picnic roasts (or two). Have roast for dinner, slice for sandwiches or mashed potatoes and gravy, leftovers including the bone.. split pea soup or white beans or lima beans!

The second roast I would crock pot and then shred. This becomes tacos, burritos, enchiladas, BBQ pork sandwiches and more.

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Something you can do now for later is ask at the supermarket for beef bones (usually free), take them home and boil them for broth and etc. to can, then give the bone to the dog for a treat.

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My food when I'm broke:

- Lentils & rice (cheaper than ramen, can season however you want)

- Frozen ravioli ($3 for a bag that will feed me for ten meals) & spaghetti sauce

- Tunamac - cook noodles, drain, add cream of mushroom soup and a can of tuna (packed in water, drained)

- Mushmush - brown ground beef/turkey combo (still tastes like beef to me!) with some minced onion & garlic, then add a can of mushrooms & a can of cream of mushroom soup. Can eat it with potatoes, noodles, rice, toast, etc. A pound of meat done this way will feed me lunch at work for a 5 days.

- Chili - a pound of ground beef/turkey, I normally use ranch beans & canned tomatoes & green chiles, but will vary to use what I have on hand

- "Baked" beans - cook a bag of beans, add in tomatoes, garlic, a good couple spoonfuls of molasses (yes, as a matter of fact, I do have molasses in my cupboard)

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We have started using TVP to help stretch things like ground beef/ground sausage. The bulk food store near us sells it (I'd like to order a big batch of it online, as the store only sells small bags of it).


We have had many meals that seemed skimpy until we pulled out canned fruits and veggies. This is totally where canning comes in handy! Any *samll* meal can seem big with 3 or 4 kinds of fruits and veggies on the table.


And ITA with the *save everything* motto. I keep two bags in the freezer that get that last couple tablespoons of peas, carrots, corn, whatever out of a jar or can....also goes in whatever shnitzels of meat are left..broths, you name it. They make the best soups! Add some more broth, maybe some noodles or rice, beans or barley, and you have a great soup. That and some homemade bread or cornbread, yum yum!!


Do check out the hillbilly housewife site. SHe has great ideas for cheap meals. Very basic, but tummy-filling grin



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Try asking the owners of the bulk food store if they'd sell you a "big bag" of the TVP. Who knows, they might get some sort of bonus with their supplier if they sell more, so they might be happy to help you.

Doesn't hurt to ask! :)

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I do a LOT of stretching here-almost all of my cooking is poverty cooking LOL. I have to feed at least seven for dinners, six for breakfast and 4 for lunch (if all big kids eat at school) on our food budget, plus prep, which is $105/wk right now. When we get our refund check, I stock up quite a bit, which really helps. I am looking at having to decrease my food budget if DH doesn't get on permanent at work.


Every dinner meal has at least one protein, usually 2, because for most meals I use 1 lb of meat or less for casseroles, so I add beans or eggs or cheese.


Almost Every dinner also has two veggies, a bread, and either potatoes, rice, or pasta. Again, not so good for diabetics or carb counters, but the only one overweight in our family is me. My kids don't have video games, they play outside, so they aren't spending time sitting around glued to a monitor.


Every lunch has a veggie, a protein (again, sometimes two) and a starch.


Every breakfast has a protein and a starch and a veggie (sometimes just juice).


We try to have one meatless meal per week. That doesn't always work, cause DH doesn't do meatless very well (although on those days I make sure his lunch has more).


I save everything, too. Veggies go into individual containers right now cause I'm saving them for baby food. Normally I put them together, cept corn separate, because it literally makes me hurl LOL. When I get enough corn, I just reheat it. Fruits leftover eithre get frozen for fruit breads, muffins, or put into one container for "fruit cocktail" with breakfast.


I will admit to buying some processed foods for "baby preps" so we'd have easy meals to cook when it's "one of those days" that happens so often in the first few months. Haven't had to use them much though. At other times, all meals are cooked from scratch.


My kids see cereal as a treat. I only buy it if it's $2.00/box or less, and they only eat it when it's been "one of those nights" or when mom is sick. Otherwise, bfast is home made. When I make pancakes or french toast or muffins, I usually make a HUGE batch so I will have some in the freezer for a quick breakfast. A usual batch of pancakes is 80, french toast is 8 loaves of bread (I do buy bread for sandwiches, which we don't have often, and for french toast), and muffins is 48.


We don't buy treats, either. In the spring I have a huge list of stuff I bake and freeze, then I supplement that with no bake treats for the summer when it's too hot to bake. Fall, winter, spring, I bake treats. I'll do huge batches of cookies and muffins for the freezer then, too, if I have time.


Breads for dinners are baked fresh. It's my goal to do two loaves of bread per day in the bread machine, but I think it will be awhile before I get there. We need more freezer space for that, anyway. Then when I have "one of those days" or on errand days, I can just pull some out of the freezer.


I do have some processed stuff in my pantry, but that is for preps. It's rotated out or given away as needed.


I buy as far down the food chain as I can get-no salad mixes, it's cheaper to buy individual stuff. No chopped veggies, cheaper to do yourself. I'm p utting in a garden which will save us hugely on potatoes alone, much less the other stuff I plan to plant.


I use my dehydrator for leftover fresh fruits and veggies that need to be used up. Takes up less space than freezing.


I don't can yet, but plan on starting soon.


I do buy fruits in those individual servings for kids' school lunches, because when I tried sending fruit in containers the containers never made it home. This is more cost effective than replacing containers every week LOL.


I use powdered milk for cooking. There is always a pitcher of it in the fridge. Vanilla really helps improve the flavor if you're using it for drinking.



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I didn't even think about cereal....I can't tell you the last time I bought cold cereal. It's waaaay to much and most of it would be more nutritious if you ate the box! LOL! My dd doesn't even like it (maybe 'cause she can count on her two hands the number of times she's had it, I dunno), and would rather have a bowl of oatmeal (she is an oatmeal freak!). I make pancakes/waffles/eggs/etc for breakfasts.


Right now it's cheaper for me to buy regular milk. I buy whole milk and use half milk half water. To me it tastes like 1% milk, so that's fine. Milk is amazingly 1.88 a gallon right now for us, so for about .94 I have a gallon of milk. I was using powdered milk alot when milk was almost 4.00 a gallon (!), but since the price wars are going on amongst our grocers, I just buy regular milk.


I made all of our baby food too when dd was little. I cannot believe what they charge for a jar of food! Outrageous! It was alot easier to do it myself, I thought. And, like you, we don't buy cookies, muffins, cakes, etc. I make those. Way cheaper!



**Cat...I'll have to ask them about that. I am sure they'll sell in a bigger bulk size. They've done it for me with molasses before, so I imagine they'd do it with anything. I'll ask next time!! Thanks Momma for the site....amazingly, the bulk food store I shop in has it much cheaper (like 1/2 the price!). I think I paid .98 a pound for it, which I guess isn't too bad! :-) Thanks for the link!



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Let's see.... poverty cooking/eating.... I'd say the first year we were married (1988) would definitely qualify as a crash course for the 18 year old I was then about poverty and making do with nothing at all. :)

A double box set of 6lb. Bisquik boxes cellophaned together, a 5lb. box of dried milk, a large bag of rice and two cheap stewing chickens could quite literally feed us for two weeks. (Add in stick margarine which is usually STILL found for 48 cents a lb or less.) We usually got these items from Sam's.

We would make Chicken and dumplings. Pancakes or biscuits for breakfast. Biscuits with creamed chicken over them. Many nights we had pancakes (butter with no/little syrup) for dinner. Trust me - a thick, heavy Bisquik pancake for dinner can fill up even a hungry man very nicely.

There was also a recipe on the back of the Bisquik box about making a breakfast casserole with Bisquik, eggs, milk and cheese. I don't remember what it was. But if I could afford or had the eggs and cheese I would make that and we would eat on it for two days or more.

We also used to make a Bisquik-like shortcake (almost like a drop biscuit, really) and add a can of cheap pie filling as topping for a treat. For some reason I could almost always find a dented can of pie filling for next to nothing in the sale bins.

Creamed chicken (if any was left) went well over the rice, or sometimes we saved some of the chicken after boiling for dumpling broth and made a rice and chicken baked casserole.
Sometimes I had some sugar or brown sugar to make one of the other coffee-cake-like items listed on the back. They were always plain, but very filling. Let me stress that I made different Bisquik recipes according to whatever else I might have on hand or could afford - cinnamon, etc.

In today's prices according to my pricebook:
Costco - ONE 6lb. box of Bisquik - $4.35 (x2 = 8.70)
Aldi's - ONE 5lb. box of dry milk - $7.95
Chicken - varies by store, but ranges from .49 -.99 a lb for various cheap chicken parts- I'll go overkill/protein-heavy and say spend 10.00 on chicken.
Rice - medium bag for $2.50
Margarine - $1.00 for 2 lbs.

Total - $30.15

There wasn't much variety, that is true, but we sure didn't starve. I STILL keep Bisquik on hand - I know I can make the same thing from bulk ingredients, but it's great in a pinch to have on hand. Sorry for the long, wordy post!

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Wow! How resourceful for a young bride to find so many uses for Bisquick!


DH is the youngest of 8. His mom would serve any kind of stew, even beef stew with taters in it, over rice.


Rice and pasta are great money stretchers. I still get giddy when I make tuna casserole using TWO cans of tuna - woo hoo! I used to make one can feed four! LOL!

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Originally Posted By: Fiery_Wench

There wasn't much variety, that is true, but we sure didn't starve. I STILL keep Bisquik on hand - I know I can make the same thing from bulk ingredients, but it's great in a pinch to have on hand. Sorry for the long, wordy post!

Don't be sorry! This is exactly the kind of info I was looking for. It can be helpful to someone just starting out as well as give new ideas to those who have been cooking for years. Thanks for all the great ideas that everyone has been giving! thanks
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Originally Posted By: Cricket
Wow! How resourceful for a young bride to find so many uses for Bisquick!


errr...ahhh.. actually...I can't take credit for that strategy! Good ol' Mom taught me most of that while I was growing up. If dad wasn't on strike, he was off due to an injury- stretching and improvising was a way of life for her, I think!

Bisquik items were not the only thing we ate, but in recalling those really tough times, that was the strategy I remembered. Most often we had many other things already in the apt that I could add or stretch with it.

And... Cricket.... Two cans make you giddy, eh? Have you ever just thrown all caution to the wind and thought about making something with THREE cans? :o

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