I am looking for a inexpensive way to feed my family of nine. Our ages range from my 69 year old mother to my 18 month old grand daughter. Any suggestions? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Bekah from Millington, TN
Are you looking for ideas, recipes, or both?
I'm sure you've realized that cooking from scratch is by far the cheapest solution. And that the good old standbys will be the frugalist of all: dishes containing pasta, rice, beans, etc. I especially like large recipes so we have left-overs for lunches the next day or so. Some of my favorites are:
1. Spaghetti--With plain tomato or meat sauce, or even with pesto. Another way I like to make it is with swiss chard or spinach sauteed in olive oil and garlic, and topped with parmesan cheese.
2. Beans--Pintos cooked and mashed into refried beans to be used in nachos, burritos, tostados, or a variety of mexican dishes. They can also be used cooked with ham and served with cornbread, in a vegetarian chili, to stretch meat chili, in several salads (some that can be served as main dishes), or the Internet has some great recipes for bean burgers that aren't too bad.
3. Rice is a great food stretcher. Stir frys work great, add to burritos for extra filling. I remember as a child eating sloppy joes that had rice in them in several places. Works great especially in casseroles, where you can double the recipe by adding more rice and not any more meat--think the rice-chicken-broccoli casserole here.
4. Think "dough." Chicken pot pie, chicken and dumplings (I also add veggies to make healthier), creamed tuna over biscuits, shepherd's pie, pizza, stromboli, etc. Let the kids or your mom help you knead dough for loaves of bread, rolls, buns, pizza shells, etc. My family will eat homemade bread rather than junk for snacks.
5. Do breakfast for dinner: Omlettes, fritatas, waffles, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, french taost, etc. Eggs have lots of protein and are cheap. One of my standbys is Texas hash --Scrambled eggs with a little diced ham, sauteed peppers and onions (add what ever else you have on hand, like zucchini or tomatoes) in a hogie roll, topped with cheese.
6. Potatoes make great meal extenders fried in olive oil, mashed with toppings over them, used in casseroles (ham and potato augratin to name one), or baked with several toppings for the main meal itself (cheese and broccoli, ham and cheddar, taco meat with cheese, lettuce, tomato and sour cream, chili, the possibilities are endless.
7. TVP (Texturized vegeteble protein) is often used as a meat extender. My family does not like plain TVP mixed in with meat dishes (everyone says you can't tell since it takes on the flavor of what it's mixed with, but that's simply not true). I can get away using the flavored TVP. I regularly use beef flavored (it's not really beef since it's used by vegetarians, but it's flavored especially well) . I reconstitute it and put some in soppy joes, chili, tacos, meatloaf, and other dishes to extend the meat that I'm using. It's cheap and works well.
8. Forget cold cereal for breakfast. Fix oatmeal, kasha, cream of rice, farina, or any other cooked cereal, cornbread, amke whol grain pancakes or waffles, or biscuits. They're healthier, will not leave them feeling hungry an hour later, and lots cheaper. I make a huge batch of waffles and freeze the for quick meals. You can do the same with pancakes, biscuits, cornbread, or breakfast burritos.
9. Waste nothing. I have a container in my freezer for leftovers, which makes the best pot of soup. All those tiny portions of leftover veggies, gravies, and meats go into it, along with the flavored water from veggies. Cook all bones for stock, and freeze if you are not going to use immediately. Juices from fruits, yogurt, jam, etc can be used for smoothies, popsicles, or in jello.
10. Never buy anything ready-made. Check the Internet for recipes for homemade Bisquick baking mixes, taco mixes, chili mixes, salad dressings, pumpkin pie spices, cleaning stuff, cream-of-whatever soup mixes, laundry detergent (soap really), puddings, etc.
11. Do NOT waste money on carbonated drinks. Get the family used to drinking water, iced tea, koolade (where you can control the amount of sugar), or small glasses of juice.
12. Shop at Aldis or Save-a-lot if you have them, if not, buy store brands, use coupons only if it's really the best buy on something you'll use or your stores double or triple them. Check out the marked downs, outlets and warehouses. Stockpile loss leaders. Use the Angel Food if it's available where you live.
I've found that having a garden is the biggest money saver one can have. Even if you live in an apartmant, grow in buckets on the baclony or patio. Kids love to help, and it's basically free food. If you have room, can and/or freeze to save even more. I've interplanted veggies in my flower beds. Looks neat and tastes great. Good luck. Understand that this is an on-going battle that changes, so be determined never to give up and flexible enough to change.
Soups are wonderful winter fare. Make a big potful with a pan of cornbread. Wonderful.
Do you have a food bank? Most states do. I go to a food pantry where I pay 35 cents for a lb of food. They don't limit it to people that are poor either. They encourage people who are not poor to pay 50 cents a lb and that helps with the people that can't afford it.
How about hamburger and gravy, or with milk gravy on top of toast or bisquits.
No meat spanish rice, small amount of oil and add rice, heat and stir till rice changes colors some. add peppers (I use green or red and green), onions, all in large one inch pieces, when cooked some add water, stir, add some water then tomato products to keep from going dry. Cook till done. Don't let burn. Add salt and pepper.
There is a site called hillbilly housewife. She has some really great ideas and recipes. I've used this site many times since I found it 2 yrs. ago.
Look up Hillbillyhouse wife.com This is an awesome site that even has recipes and ideas for a healthy diet. The site covers everything you need to know about eating cheaply in the kitchen there is even an emergency food plan listed (you have to dig for it) in case you have less than a normal amount of money to spend on groceries. A simple way to get started in buying ahead is buy your normal amount plus one or two things. That will not break the budget too much then after awhile you can have a lot of food set aside. Try angel food ministries or share if they are in you area. They each have there own website. We use angel food ministries and have been very happy. They sell you food in units about 25.00 will give you food for 4 people for a week. We have 6 in our family and we buy 4 units a month and some of the meat packs. Good luck it can be done. Fall in love with cooking from scratch, bulk cooking, and most importantly, divide the labor. cooking cheap does take time, but it is so worth it
If you haven't yet, check out the trial for the grocery game (you can google it, it should pop right up). Our grocery bill for a family of 5 (7, 8, 9, 28 and 29yo) went from $600 a month to just under $300, and we have WAY more food in the house. No more running out at the end of the month.
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