Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How To Stretch Your Food

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There are a lot of reasons to have a well-stocked pantry.  It seems logical that the way to having a well-stocked kitchen is to buy food and spices.  Buy an extra package of dried beans, rice, or pasta every week.  Buy an extra chicken one week and a box of powdered milk the next.  Buy some dollar spices and rotate them so you always have a whole bottle on hand.  If you don't have a deep freeze, start saving and pick up a good used one off of Craig's List. 

Another way to increase your food supply is to learn how to stretch the groceries you already have.  Today we're going to learn about those meals that will stretch your meat, and how to increase your leftovers thereby making your dinners pull double (or even triple) duty.   Your family will walk away from the table full and they won't be missing out on any nutrients eating these meals.  A housewife constantly needs to have a plan for everything.  Into every life a little rain must fall, and when it storms in your neck of the woods you'll be prepared so that you will be able to skip a grocery shop altogether and your table won't suffer much because of it.
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Always have a loaf of homemade bread on the table to accompany every supper.  Homemade bread is healthier than store-bought and is more filling besides.  I'm not saying man should live on bread alone, just that it needs to be an option.  Also, if you're having something your children don't like (the proverbial liver and onions), they won't leave the table hungry not getting anything else to eat until the next day.  (A short word on this, your children need energy, too.  Don't deprive them of this telling them they need to eat that liver and onions or starve for 15 hours til breakfast the next day.)

Bread doesn't have to always be your standard loaf of white bread.  Take pita for example.  You can stuff it with just about anything or make pita chips.  Tortillas are good for this also.  In the summer when it's hot sandwiches are great for not heating up the kitchen and making your air conditioner work overtime.  (Saves on your electric bill.)  Cornbread goes great with most meals featuring a bean dish.  Look at what other countries eat and this will help expand your repertoire.  Here's a good list.  

Something good to have just sitting on the counter waiting to be eaten for breakfast or a snack are homemade bagels or doughnuts.  Just set a large jar out on the counter filled with them. 
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It's a good idea to have a salad with every meal.  It doesn't have to be of the run-of-the-meal lettuce and tomato variety.  Fruit salads fairly sparkle like jewels and go great with yogurt.  Have pasta salad and/or potato salad on that night that you grill out.  Learn to make coleslaw.  Hot salads are also an option especially in the fall and winter.  Salads can also be the main dish.  In the summer a scoop of tuna salad, chicken salad, or ham salad on a bed of shredded lettuce goes great with a slice of watermelon and with a croissant can be a great light meal.  A word here on lettuce, iceberg isn't doing you any favors.  Romaine and green leafy lettuce stretches just as far or farther.

My mother always had a starch on her dinner table for every meal.  There is so much you can do with potatoes and they contain 70% of the days Vitamin C, 30% of the days B-6, and 25% of the days potassium.  They're healthy when they aren't fried, though who can resist a plate of home-fries with hash and eggs!   To keep from getting burned out on potatoes (if that's possible) serve a pasta or rice dish.

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The vegetable dishes you serve should be appetizing.  I mean, who wants to eat a bowl of corn?  Try making a corn casserole or a corn and bean salad.  At least add a few bacon pieces to that bowl of peas.  And don't forget your vegetables are perfectly capable of being a main dish.

Dessert is another thing not to be overlooked.  An apple pie doesn't really cost that much to make.  Some apples, flour, and sugar and you have an extra side dish.  Change it up with some baked apples or apple turnovers.

With bread, a salad, a starch, and a dessert your meal will stretch into tomorrow night and you'll also have lunches.

Now let's look at some dinners you can make that will double and triple themselves with some planning.  (After you grocery shop, plan your dinners so you get the most out of them.)

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On Sunday you have chili, cornbread, and a green salad.  Of course you can have reruns the following night, but no.  Let's get creative and freeze that chili.  You'll see why in a minute.

On Monday you decide to have Broccoli and Cheese soup with a sourdough bread and Spinach Salad with a warm, brown butter dressing.  Put the leftover soup in the fridge tightly covered for a couple of days.

Tuesday you have bacon, eggs, home-fries, and pancakes for dinner.

Wednesday you are really tired and maybe not feeling well.  Take that chili out of the freezer.  Tonight you're having Potato Bar.  All you have to do is throw some potatoes in the oven and heat the leftovers.  Toppings include chili, broccoli and cheese soup, and real bacon bits.

Thursday's dinner is a roasted chicken and you used your leftover cornbread and sourdough bread to make a homemade stuffing that's to die for.  The sides can be mashed potatoes and gravy and a corn casserole utilizing any cornbread you might have left over.

Friday you prepare a chicken stock which will be finished tomorrow.  For dinner you have knishes or pirogi with your left over potatoes with a nice big pasta salad and some spicy black eyed peas.

Saturday your chicken stock is done and you make a homemade chicken noodle soup with leftover salads and some fresh homemade bread.

Sunday we come full circle with a beautiful chicken pot pie.

For the weeks lunches you can put chili on some hot dogs and have leftover dessert.   For breakfast use your leftover bread to make French toast.  For dessert use your leftover bread again to make bread pudding.
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After all of this I guarantee, you will STILL have leftovers.  As long as you are creative this is a good thing.  Don't let them get thrown out!  Constantly make new meals using them.  Keep some cream of whatever soup on hand (or make it yourself) so that a casserole can always be made.  Toppings for a casserole can be mashed potatoes, cheese, fried onions, bread crumbs fried in some olive oil or butter, or biscuit dough dropped on top before baking.

Here is a list of some basics of what you can do with some leftovers:

Roasted chicken or turkey- chicken noodle soup, chicken pot pie, barbecue chicken sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches, chicken fried rice, chicken lo mein, chicken and cabbage egg rolls, hash, southwest creamy pasta bake (in Recipes section on side bar under Fowl)

Pot Roast - chili, open-faced sandwiches with gravy, barbecued beef sandwiches, pot pie, stew, goulash, most any ground beef casserole recipe (you can find a few in the sidebar here in the Recipes section under Beef)

Pork Roast - pulled pork sandwiches, stir fry, Thai Pork Noodle Bowl (recipe in sidebar under Pork), you can even use it to make hash

Ham - hash, ham steaks, souffle (recipe in sidebar under Pork), in split pea soup, bean and bacon soup instead of bacon, in broccoli scalloped potatoes, ham and cheese potato casserole, ham salad

Chili - topping for a potato bar or mashed potatoes, or on hot dogs, filling using biscuit dough (roll it out, fill with chili and cheese, close it up and fry in some oil

Mashed Potatoes - cruellers, knishes, pirogi, twice baked with toppings, add some flour and egg and fry flat circles of them, to thicken soup

For anything you have leftover do a Google search using the phrase "what to do with leftover ____".   Be resourceful.  Take some time and write down some of these recipes.

Don't forget about beans.  Start making a meal at least every month using them.  Boston Baked Beans (recipe in sidebar under Beans) is a good one to begin with.  Display a nice cornbread on the table with a jar of honey or make honey butter.  Don't forget the dessert!
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Lastly, learn to "put up" food.  This involves freezing, canning, and drying.  By purchasing items in season in bulk you will save money in the long run.  Remember to price check things by the pound and factor in your supplies.  Don't forget to factor in the electric or gas you will use along with your vinegar and sugar and such.  Buy your tomatoes by the bushel and use them to make enough pasta sauce and salsa for the year.  Buy your fruit the same way and make enough jelly, syrup, preserves, and canned fruit for the year.  Go to a butcher and purchase a meat package or get a whole pig.  Your oven can be used to dry food just as well as one of those new-fangled food drying thingies.

With a well-stocked pantry you will save money in the long run and when a blizzard hits you won't be at Walmart panic buying.  When your husband is laid off the food bill won't be a concern for some time.  Perhaps you will want to give some of the jelly you made away for Christmas presents and you will save some money there.  A kitchen full of food is peace of mind.

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