24 October 2018

Stretching the Food You have 'til it Fits Your Budget

Last week I challenged Cheapskaters, in the weekly newsletter, to trim 10 per cent from their grocery budget.

This week's challenge is to trim another 10 per cent from your grocery budget, but you're probably thinking there's no way you can do that without causing a riot.

Well there is, and it's simple: stretch food the food you have; and I don't mean by pulling!

Think about the food you have on your shopping list, and the food you have on hand. Now think about how you can stretch those foods, and still eat well, and enough.

I always start wiht meat. Meat is the most expensive component of most meals, so to me it's the obvious place to start with the stretching.

Then think about vegetables and fruit. Do you use all the fruit and veg you have? Or do you find, come garbage day, that you're dumping fuzzy or slimy or stinky or hairy fruit and veg? Because if you're buying it, and then dumping it, you may as well just put the money straight into the bin!

 Some simple ways to stretch food to produce more serves are:

1. Add an equal quantity of TVP, rolled oats or cooked rice to mince when making rissoles and meatballs. You'll get double the quantity, giving you and extra meal for less than half the price.

2. Stretch mince based pasta sauces and taco fillings by whizzing a tin of baked beans per 500g mince in the food processor until the crumbs are the same size as the mince crumbs, and add to the dish. You're adding bulk, and fibre, and doubling the recipe for a fraction of the cost of the same quantity of mince . When the baked beans are whizzed, they can't be detected in the pasta sauce or taco filling. Mince is $7/kg (the cheapest around here right now), while baked beans are around $2/kg. The saving is obvious isn't it?

3. Add a tablespoon (or two) of milk to mayonnaise jars and bottles when they are getting low. Shake well to combine and no one will know the difference.

4. Add a little water or stock to pasta sauce jars, swish and pour into pasta sauces. You'll get every drop of sauce from the bottle and stretch it at the same time.

5. Use a silicone spatula to scrape out margarine containers, peanut butter, jam, honey, cream and Vegemite jars. You'll be shocked at just how much is left in the jar if you use just a knife to scrape it - easily two or three sandwiches worth, and that's money you'd be putting in the bin if you don't scrape. I bought a set of 3 silicone spatulas from Big W for uder $5 about 10 years ago and they're still going strong and have saved many times their cost.

6. Instead of serving whole chicken fillets, dice them into 2cm cubes. Two medium chicken breast fillets will then easily serve four (or five in our case!). The diced chicken can be used in casseroles, enchiladas, apricot chicken, sweet'n'sour etc. 

7. Don't pound meat to make it thin. Slice chicken fillets and steaks in half through the middle, creating two full fillets or steaks from each one. Cut larger steaks down so they're about the size of the palm of your hand - that's all that's required for a serve, anymore and you're just overeating and over-spending.

8. Always take the tenderloins off chicken breast fillets and use them for a separate meal. Save them in the freezer until you have enough to make crumbed chicken wraps or dice them use them in curries and stews.

9. When mashing potato use some of the water it was steamed or boiled in instead of milk. The potato will be lovely and fluffy, no added fat and no extra cost.

10. Always make stock from roast bones. Chicken carcasses and lamb bones make lovely stock which can then be used to make soup, gravies and risottos and cook rice or pasta.

These are just some ways I've managed to keep our food bill down over the years. It was a learniing curve, and  I'm still on it.  I'lm always looking for ways to trim the grocery budget, without compromising nutrition and taste.

If I can do it, you can too!

1 comment:

  1. Save the chicken carcasses in the freezer till you have a few then when thawed put them in the oven as it's warming for something else - they caramelise which adds even more flavour to your stock and then to your soup, for no extra cost but so much more flavour.


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