Stretching Your Food Budget

Category Meal Planning
There are many ways with smart shopping and planning that you can make your grocery money go farther. This is a page about stretching your food budget.


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October 7, 2010

I had a dilemma. I needed to make a single whole chicken feed my family of five for two days. We had been going through some thin times and I had been as creative as I could while trying to stretch every dollar to it's limit. Well, as it turned out, we had more than enough for 2 dinners, we had enough leftovers for lunch on the third day!



Here's how I did it:

I rinsed the chicken under cold running water and placed it in a small roasting pan that I sprayed with cooking spray. I poured 1/4 of a cup of cold water over the chicken and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Then I put in in the oven at 350 degrees F and roasted it just until the juices ran clear.


After letting the chicken rest for a little while, I cut off both legs, both thighs, and both breasts. Then I put 1/4 of the bag of noodles into boiling salted water, cooked them until tender. Drained them and served them with the chicken after tossing them with a little butter and salt and pepper. I also served them with a can of peas I had in my cabinet. (This made 6 servings).

I saved the chicken carcass with the wings intact and left them in the juices in the roasting pan and stored them in the fridge overnight.

The next day, I put the chicken carcass along with the cooking juices in a Dutch oven on the stove top and added 4 cups of water. I boiled the chicken for 15 minutes to make a good broth and then removed the chicken from the water. I let the chicken cool enough to handle and removed all of the meat from the bones and put it back in the dutch oven. I chopped the celery, onion and carrots and added them to the water. I brought the chicken mixture back to boil and reduced the heat, allowing the mixture to simmer until the vegetables were fork-tender. Then I stirred the remaining egg noodles into the broth and continued to cook until done. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. (This made 10 generous servings).


Servings: 16
Time:15 Minutes Preparation Time
2 Hours Cooking Time

By Tammy from Berea, Kentucky

Comment Was this helpful? 7

Me and my husband went grocery shopping for meals for the week. He bought a roast for $15 and a big pack of hamburger for almost $15. I complained that it was too much money in our food budget for two packs of meat. Well, as it turns out it was not.

The roast scored us three meals. I switched it up with variations, such as hot beef sandwiches. The hamburger scored us three meals: hamburgers, chili, and meat for goulash. So that $30 in meat got us six total meals for the two of us, not bad at about $5 a meal for two!

Now, I will not balk at the price with this in mind. Of course I had other things on hand to complete the meal, so it was truly affordable to make these meals for not much money at all.

Comment Was this helpful? 1

Trying to make budget meals exciting can be a challenge these days. I use a three prong approach:

  1. To stretch meals, I use a metal meat tenderizer tool to pound the meat. It tenderizes the cheaper cuts of meat and makes the portions seem larger.

  2. To bring some excitement and color to meals I use diced colored bell peppers, parsley, red onions, canned mushrooms: whatever seems to be on hand and is colorful to bring some sparkle to the dish. These additions also help stretch the dish without too much added cost.

  3. Adding a little extra seasoning helps to fool my tongue into thinking I'm having a larger portion because the taste is intensified. A happy tongue means a happy tummy.

By Leslie Textor from New Orleans LA

Comment Was this helpful? 1

January 30, 2005

We have always been on a food budget and 2 of our 5 kids were boys who had hollow legs, especially when they started playing football. I always buy dry beans to soak for chili, burritos, soup or whatever.


I get twice as much for more than half the price. I also to find farmers who sell them at bulk amounts. Then I can store them for quite awhile. I put them in seal a meal type bags and vacuum seal them.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

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