Feeding your Family

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Turn Your Kitchen into a Food Factory

Inexpensive Meals Kids Love

4 Secrets of Home Cooking

Inexpensive Food Variety?

I am a mother of four young children who is on benefit and finding it extremely difficult to cook foods for my family that will stretch and have variety. I would very much appreciate some good help.

Many Recipes Available Online

Type in frugal recipes on your search line. One site alone lists hundreds of frugal recipes. In our family, we have learned that beans and rice and pasta are great basics because of the low cost. They cook up to a lot of food and you can do so much to vary the meals. We make very tasty soups for little money. Often the recipes on the back of the packages the beans come in provide good tasting meals.

We buy chickens when they are cheap and one thing we do is cook parts to make our own chicken stock. We also make vegetable stock and beef stock. All are easy to do and the result is so superior to the taste of ready prepared. We buy packages of ham scraps (pieces of irregular shape, etc, but still good eating.) We cook them down about three hours after bringing them to a boil and then simmer. This would be in enough water to a little more than cover them. Let it cool. Refrigerate overnight and in the morning you can easily remove the fat that has risen to the top. You scoop it in to ice cube trays and freeze "seasoning cubes". You have an amount of fat that is negligible and you simply take out a few cubes when you need them to season beans, soups, rice, whatever you desire. This last suggestion I leaned in a recipe from a nationally recognized nutritionist and expert in low-fat cooking. I've never gone wrong with her suggestions.

Meals With Very Few Ingredients

This is a website called Meals.com that offers a huge variety of recipes and many with five or fewer ingredients. I use it regularly to help plan my menu and to help plan shopping trips.

A Great Resource Magazine and Website

Taste of Home and Quick Cooking magazines from Reiman Publishing have wonderful fast recipes for anyone on a budget and for those not on one. Included in the article titles are the prices it will cost per plate for a family of four. I have yet to see a price above $1.94/plate after three years of subscribing. If you'd rather not purchase the magazine, there are recipes available on their website at tasteofhome.com. One last thing, I have found several cookbooks at my library specifically for budget meals and stretching what you've got. You might try that too.

Creative and Cheap Ideas

I am a mother of three boys ages nine, five and two; however, you would think that they were all teens by the way they eat! Here are some ideas that I use with tortillas that cost hardly anything for a pack of 10-12 to cut down on costs:

1. Thin crust personal pizzas.

Take a tortilla, spread a thin layer of your favorite spaghetti sauce on the top, sprinkle with cheese and any other topping (don't make it too heavy). Place in a large frying pan and cover until the cheese is melted. Let cool then eat.

2. Pizza-tillas (made like a pizza only fold it like a soft taco).

Take a tortilla and spread a thin layer of your favorite spaghetti sauce on the top, sprinkle cheese on half of the tortilla and fold in half. Place in frying pan and cover for 5-10 minutes or just browned, and flip and do the same for the other side. Let cool and serve.

3. Refried bean burritos.

Made exactly like #2 above, except use refried beans in place of spaghetti sauce.

Can also place lettuce, salsa, and sour cream on top when finished.

4. Sugar Tortillas.

Cut a tortilla into four equal sections (like you would cut a pie), put enough oil in a

frying pan just to cover the bottom and heat, place the tortilla pieces (1-2 at a time) into the pan and fry evenly on both sides until light brown. Remove and drain well.

Coat tortillas in powdered sugar on both sides. Let cool and ENJOY! These go well with ice cream too. We have enjoyed them for a breakfast treat.

These are inexpensive and my kids love them. Tortillas can be used for just about anything. Experiment, have fun, and find other ways to use them!

Quick and Easy Chicken Recipe

I have a recipe I would like to share with the lady writing in about fixing meals for a large family. This meal tastes good and goes a long way. This is one of our favorites and we usually always have leftovers even with a family of nine:

  • 4-6 chicken breasts or whole cut up chicken (baked or boiled)
  • 2- large packs Mahatma yellow rice
  • 2- large cans cream of chicken soup

Put chicken in oven to bake around 2hours.About 30 minutes before it is time to take out of oven, cook yellow rice. When chicken is done, cut into small pieces and pour yellow rice over chicken and mix well. Then add cans of chicken soup and put back in oven about 10 minutes. Stir and it is ready to eat!

I can usually make this for $7-8 if I am on the lookout for weekly sales.

Easy to make Foods Online

I have three children and five grandchildren at my house all the time. I found the website campbellsoups.com to be very helpful.

Interesting Website

Try NotJustBeans.com. It has tons of recipes and are printable on your computer.

Crock-Pot Uses

Crock-pot is the word. Slow cooking makes the toughest meats tender. Start the night before or early in the morning. Have all the ingredients that require longer cooking ready. As the time goes on add the remaining ingredients. Instant coffee adds a lot to stew and soups. Try it.

Home Extension Office Has A Great Cookbook

Check to see if you have a Home Extension Office in your area since they have a cookbook with wholesome foods that are very good. It even has a meal planner. The ingredients are things you already have on hand or very inexpensive.

Take the Next Step:

  • Once you trim the grocery budget, don't waste that extra money! Consider opening a savings account to start an emergency fund or save for some other financial goal.
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
  • Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!

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