3 Easy Food Budget Stretchers

Waste not, want not…I grew up hearing and living by wise folk sayings like this one. Putting it to work helps reign in a runaway food budget, too. How? Here are three easy and delicious ways to make our food dollars stretch a bit further.

egg and forks

Boiled eggs. As you might recall from an earlier post, I am a fan of eggs. They make an excellent snack: inexpensive, low calorie (70), low carb (1 g), high protein (5 g), and high in Omega-3 fatty acids (100-200 mg).

But, egg genius doesn’t stop there. Use them to lower your meal cost! For instance, prepare two boiled eggs, peel, cut in half, and set aside. Then, prepare a meatloaf. In the middle of the meat loaf, sandwiched between top and bottom, place your row of half-cut eggs. Cook as usual. You can use less meat and still feed your family plenty.

A third use of eggs is to slice chilled boiled eggs and place atop a green salad. Again, an inexpensive, nutritionally powerful way to provide more good, healthy food for your family.

glass canning jar

Freeze leftovers. As parents, we sometimes have the bad habit of tossing the kids leftovers from their plates into our mouths as we clear the table, right? Admit it, you do it. Well, instead, do this: get a quart canning jar and put those bits into your freezer. Whenever you have any leftovers of such tiny amounts they’re “not worth saving,” save them!

A tablespoon of mashed potatoes? Into the jar. The leftover green beans? Corn? Into the jar. Spinach, bacon, bits of onion or celery (when you chopped too much), that 1 oz. of leftover tomato paste, the half-cup of macaroni-n-cheese, half a leftover hot dog, a single ravioli or quarter cup of salad dressing…toss it all into the jar, which you keep in the freezer section of your fridge.

When the jar is full, make soup. Add some broth (see below), spices and seasonings as needed, and savor your nearly-free meal. Of course, no two soups will be the same, but, hey! That’s the fun part. I’ve made some delicious, truly one-of-a-kind soups this way.

pork chop and veggies

Make stock. When you’ve got all the meat you can get off a chicken wing, drumstick, or carcass, toss it into a pan with water, salt, peppercorns, onion, garlic and dill (my favorite combo); bring to a boil and boil full-on for about 10 minutes, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer an hour or more. Strain off the broth and toss the rest into the garbage. Cool the broth, put into freezer containers (canning jars, food-grade plastic containers, or quart freezer bags), and use as needed.

Use for soup or gravy base, and in place of water (or flavor the water) when cooking rice, quinoa, or pasta. And, of course, nothing is better when you’ve got a cold than hot chicken broth! This also works with pork, beef, or lamb bones. Why buy stock when it’s so simple to make your own?

Okay, there you have it. Three easy, delicious ways to stretch your food budget. You really can feed your family healthy, organic food using a little resourcefulness and creativity. So, tell me, what clever and frugal ways have you discovered to elasticize your food budget? Let me know in the comments. Thanks! ~ Deb

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