04 April 2014

Don't let unexpected mouths to feed bust your budget


It doesn't matter what your grocery budget is, for most people visitors for dinner means extra spending, especially if those visitors are unexpected, like ours were last night.

Wayne called me during the afternoon to say friends were in unexpectedly town (they live in country Victoria) and wanted to know if it was alright to pop in for a cuppa. Of course it was!

That had me scrambling though, to find something for afternoon tea. There's been no baking for a couple of weeks and while I was out doing Mum's shopping yesterday, and I  did look at the biscuits, I didn't buy any.

I did have flour, sugar, butter and a little cream. I thought about scones but didn't have lemonade and rubbing in butter seemed too hard (and messy - I had visitors coming!). Instead I cheated and made cinnamon scrolls, using the flour and cream to make the dough, spreading it with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and baking them in a round tin. A drizzle with coffee icing when they were done and oh my but they were good.

As it turned out Wayne was home from work before our visitors arrived. Cups of tea and scrolls all round while we chatted away for a good hour. Thursday night is MOO Pizza Night in our house as per my meal plan, an easy dinner that we all enjoy.

It was getting late so D and K were invited to share our MOO pizzas with us. It was then I remembered there would be seven of us and only four small pizzas. It was too late to make another batch of dough, those four would have to do.

K helped put the toppings on them. We had pizza sauce (of course), salami, ham, diced onion, pineapple pieces, mushrooms, olives, jalapenos, capsicum and grated cheese. We made all the pizzas with different toppings, popped them in the oven at 160 degrees for 20 minutes and waited.

Going through the fridge I found tomatoes, feta, cucumber, red onion, celery, grated carrot and some Kalamata olives, the toppings for a Greek salad. Lettuce straight from the garden was the base. There was more than enough fresh vegetables to make a nice big salad.

A jug of iced water and sliced lemon and a bottle of rhubarb champagne were delicious, cool drinks to have with our dinner and already chilling in the fridge.

When the pizzas were done I cut them into slightly smaller than usual slices, and together with the salad everyone had more than enough to eat and four small pizzas fed seven hungry people, all without having to buy extra ingredients or resort to buying takeaway or eating out.

It would have been easy to jump in the car and run to the corner shop for a packet of exorbitantly priced biscuits for afternoon tea. It would have been easy to rush out to buy more pizza bases or even order pizzas and have them delivered. It would have been easy to suggest eating out too. Instead a little creative thinking and using up what was already in the house stretched a meal for five to feed seven, with a couple of slices of leftover pizza for the boys' lunch today.

Unexpected mouths to feed don't have to bust your budget. Think creatively, don't try to dish up a dinner to impress and use what you have. That old saying about adding more water to the soup is true - you really can stretch your meals when you try.

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1 comment:

  1. This happened to me yesterday! It was Family Dinner Night, which means my Mother In Law would be coming for dinner, but usually my daughter and her husband are working and never show. So, I planned for the 5 of us plus 1 more for my MIL... but it turns out my daughter and her husband came as well as both the teenagers' boyfriends! So, the 6 turned into 10! I had a crock put full of bbq pork that had been going all day, but it's not a large crock pot, so there wasn't a huge amount of food. So, I made a huge bowl of instant mashed potatoes from the box I had in the pantry, then found cans of baked beans, green beans and mustard greens, but only one can of each (tomorrow is shopping day). So, we had lots of different things but small amounts of each. I should have made some quick drop biscuits to go along with, but I was in the middle of spring cleaning my laundry room and had a bunch of stuff pulled out (I didn't think it would take as long as it did!). In the end, we all had a great time talking and eating, and everyone got enough to eat, though there were no leftovers at all. It was pretty good too! I couldn't have come up with that much extra more than once a week though, so thankfully Family Dinner Night is just once a week haha! I am going to try to keep extra cans of veggies and a spare box of instant potatoes on hand just in case from now on.

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