The Art of Meal Stretching – Part 2, by Nurse Michele

(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)

I learned a long time ago that when the budget was particularly tight around our house if I stressed over it, I would see that stress reflected in my children. I tried, of course, to take the opportunity to display faith and trust in the Lord. There were times, I confess, that I stood firmer on my faith than at others. I remember one night in particular our car had broken down. There, in the freezing cold, on the side of a major highway in New Jersey, my kids and I stood waiting on a tow truck. The kids were 8 or 9 years old at this time and it was the same year that we lost everything. The additional loss of the car felt daunting. I can still hear the anguish in my daughter’s voice and the weariness in my own as she cried, “Now we don’t have a car! What are we going to do now?” and I answered, “I don’t know honey, the Lord will provide.” That was met with a grumbled, “You always say that!” Humph. Well.

As a woman of Italian heritage, raised in part by my immigrant grandmother, what one puts on the table has great significance. Food is how you say, “I love you.” Well-prepared, intentionally presented food says, “welcome to our home.” And good food at dinner time says, “I’ll take care of you.” For Italians, the kitchen is the heartbeat of the home and food is life itself. My goal then became bigger than just low-cost meal preparation. I deeply desired to put a meal in front of my family that made them feel secure and stable. And I honestly believe seeking Him during those times helped me to find some creativity in the kitchen, enabling me to go beyond just feeding my family ‘something’ but gathering them around the table to enjoy a wholesome, tasty and inviting dish that defied its dollar value.

Which brings me to Part 2 of Meal Stretching. As discussed in Part 1, meal stretching is the learned art of taking simple, inexpensive ingredients and turning them into not just one but several meals to satisfy one’s family. The basic premise usually focuses on a low-cost meat option and some accompanying food items, creating a menu for several days. In Part 1, I utilized chicken leg quarters, rice, beans and a few add-ons to make entrees for a family of four for 5 nights with a total cost of less than $18.

The following menus are meant to build on one another so I may utilize some items purchased for Part One’s menu. I have decided to list all of the ngredients needed upfront as a shopping list and then will repeat each one individually as they are utilized in the recipe. 

Shopping list
  • Smoked Ham, shank portion (just bought one at my local grocer 7.37 lbs for $10.17)
  • Russett Potatoes, or whatever is on sale (5 lb $2.57 at Walmart)
  • 1 small to medium Onion (50 cents – if you have the added budget, get a 3lb bag for around $1.99, then you are free to add additional onion to any recipe, if desired)
  • 18 pack eggs ($1.60 at Walmart – sometimes Aldis has even better prices. Now, I’m blessed to raise my own chickens!)
  • Dry Pinto Beans (2 lbs bag $1.79 at Target)
  • Cornbread mix 4 oz box x 2 (.47 each or 94 cents)
  • 1 lb Pasta (78 cents at Walmart)
  • 8-Ounce block sharp cheddar cheese, shred and divide into 3 portions of 2/3C each ($1.48 at Walmart)
  • Whole Milk ½ gal ($1.69 at Walmart)
  • 1 Bag frozen vegetables ($1)
  • 2 cans mixed vegetables (2 x 50 cents)
  • Celery stalk/ carrot (if you followed last weeks’ menu, should still have some left over, if not, then omit)
  • Salt (also purchased last week)
  • Oil, margarine, etc (either on hand or purchased last week)
  • Garlic powder (optional but desirable, if you don’t have it on hand, then 98 cents Walmart)

You will notice that I spent a little bit more this week. For Part Two, my intent is to design a menu for those that may need to feed a larger family, say 6 or 8 people. Still, the total comes in at just under $25. That’s assuming you needed garlic powder but only bought one onion. Yes, those are the types of decisions that are carefully considered when the purse strings just don’t seem long enough! Not to fret, we will make so much wonderful food, no one will be the wiser! Let’s get started on making some delicious meals…

 

Baked Ham Dinner
  • Approx. 7 lb shank portion ham ($10.17)
  • 6 med potatoes, washed and quartered (5lb bag $2.57 Walmart)
  • 1 bag frozen vegetables ($1)

A great dinner to start off the week or to serve after church on Sunday. My family loves the taste of ham so I honestly do very little to it. I put it in a large roasting pan, pour a little water over it, loosely cover the top with aluminum foil and bake it according to the suggested cooking times! During the last half of the cooking time (about 90 minutes) add the quartered potatoes around the ham, baste, remove the foil and finish cooking. Baste the ham at least once an hour. Once cooked, remove from oven and let it ‘rest’ for about 20 minutes before carving. Then carve the ham in ¼” slices and lay the slices back in the same roasting pan with the drippings in it. Prepare the vegetables per package directions (my husband is partial to green beans) and serve alongside the ham and potatoes. A filling and wonderful dinner.

Now, it’s hard to know exactly how much meat will be left over and available for ‘stretching’. Take the leftover slices and then pick off the bone any extra and dice that up. Based on the numerous times I’ve done this for our family of 5, even when my ‘boys’ were big (over 6 feet tall, and more than 200 pounds) we’d always have multiple slices of ham left and at least two cups of diced ham.

So, I’m planning the rest of the meals assuming you have about that much reserved. And, remember to keep that ham hock, with all the lovely tough pieces of meat stuck to it! Wrap that up and stick it in the fridge. We’ll make good use of it in a few days.

 

Mighty Ham Casserole
  • 1 lb box pasta (elbow, corkscrew, or shells work well, 78 cents at Walmart)
  • ¼ onion, diced (one small to med 50 cents, save remainder for other entrees)
  • 1 rib Celery finely diced (should still have a few ribs from last week, if not omit)
  • Carrots, finely diced (if left from last week, if not omit)
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups diced ham (already paid for)
  • 2 cups milk (1/2 gal 1.69 Walmart)
  • 3 Tbsp flour (assuming you have on hand)
  • 2 Tbsp oil, margarine, butter, etc. (on hand or purchased last week)
  • 2 cans vegetables, I prefer I can of corn and 1 can of mixed veg (2 x 50 cents)
  • 1 Tbsp mustard (if not on hand, 75 cents)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (purchased last week)
  • ¼ tsp Pepper (if on hand)
  • 2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar (8oz block 1.48 at Walmart)

In a large saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp oil, butter or margarine. Add 3 Tbsp flour and stir continually for 2 minutes (this is called making a roux). Slowly whisk in the milk. Add salt, pepper if available and mustard. Add shredded sharp cheddar and continue to stir until combined and sauce is thickened. You have now created a cream soup. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Boil pasta per package directions and drain. Place pasta in a large mixing bowl. Add celery and carrot (if available), diced onion, and 2 cans of vegetables (drained) and diced ham. Pour in soup mixture and stir until combined. Turn entire bowl into a large, greased oven-proof dish. Frankly, this makes such a large amount that I always use my roasting pan because even my 9 x 13 pans are too small for this! Bake at 350 deg F for about 40 minutes. Serves 8 hungry souls!

This is a very flexible recipe. If you don’t want to make a roux, then you can omit all of that and use a can of condensed cream soup (cream of mushroom, cream of celery, cream of chicken… add 50 cents). Add can of soup and a can of milk and the mustard to the other ingredients (omit the salt if done this way) and you will still have a tasty meal. Though, I encourage you to try ‘the long way’ because the flavors come together beautifully.

Also, you can be flexible with the vegetables. What do you have on hand? One can of corn and one of green beans? Sure! That will work. One of the best ways to successfully meal stretch is to use what’s on hand!


Potato Soup
  • 2 to 2-½ pounds of potatoes (already purchased, just leave about 3 potatoes for another recipe)
  • Enough water to cover potatoes
  • 2 cups milk (already paid for)
  • 1 to 1-½ Tbsp salt (adjust per preference; already paid for)
  • ¼ onion minced (already paid for)
  • If you have any celery left, finely dice a small amount
  • 2 T oil/margarine/butter (already paid for)
  • 2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (already paid for)

Wash and peel potatoes and dice into about ½ inch cubes. Heat oil in large pot and add onion. Add celery if using. Stir over med heat for one to two minutes. Add diced potatoes. Add enough water to cover the potatoes by about an inch. Add salt. Simmer for 45 minutes, breaking up the potatoes with a wooden spoon as they cook down. Add milk and cheddar cheese. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until most of the potatoes have started to break apart. That’s it! You have a delicious, easy to make on a weeknight soup that serves up to 8. Great choice on a cold day.

I know what you’re thinking: You forgot to add the ham! While, yes, that is certainly an option I promise: it’s not necessary. This is a wonderful, simple dish just as it is. Of course, once again, I present you with a very flexible recipe and if you want to add ham and have enough on hand… go for it! Just dice some up and put it in the pot right after the onions. The possibilities are plentiful. Some green onion on top would be delicious. Or, perhaps, adding additional types of cheese, like Colby or American. As for me, I prefer my potato soup just like this. And, if you didn’t use up the ham in this soup you can stretch it into our next dish…

 

Ham, Egg and Potato Frittata
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and shredded (already purchased)
  • 12 eggs, scrambled (1.60 for 18 pack at Walmart)
  • 2 Tbsp oil/margarine/butter (already purchased)
  • ¼ onion diced (already purchased)
  • 1 cup ham, diced small (+/- what you have left)
  • ½ cup milk (already purchased)
  • Salt (already purchased) and pepper, if available, to taste

After peeling and shredding the potatoes, squeeze the extra liquid out and discard. Scramble the eggs and add milk, salt, and pepper if available, set aside. Heat oil/margarine in a large ovenproof pan and add onion and ham. Stir over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add potatoes and stir. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it dries up too much, then you may need to add some additional oil/margarine. Once the potatoes are well softened but have not started to brown add the scrambled eggs mixture. Stir to combine. As it cooks, pull the cooked egg away from the bottom to let some of the liquid egg firm up. Then, while the eggs are still partially liquid, stop stirring and let the eggs start to set. When just the last bit of egg is uncooked towards the top, take off the stove and place under a broiler for just a few minutes until the top is cooked through but barely starting to brown. Remove from oven. Cut into 8 slices and serve like a quiche. Good for breakfast or dinner!

 

Great Big Pot ‘O Beans
  • 2 lbs dry pinto beans ($1.79)
  • Salt (already purchased)
  • Whole ham hock (left over from Sunday dinner)
  • Garlic powder (optional, but very desirable. If not on hand, about 98 cents)
  • Cornbread mix 4oz box x 2 (47 cents each; total 94 cents)
  • Enough water to cover everything
  • 2/3 cup Shredded cheddar cheese (already purchased)

Okay, honestly, my mouth is watering just writing this. Hopefully, most of you have had the pleasure of making a big, beautiful pot of beans. If not, you have been missing out and it’s time to rectify that! I like using my crockpot for this recipe. I throw this together in the morning and the crockpot does most of the work!

Start by picking through the beans to eliminate any small stones or debris. Then rinse them and put them in a large crockpot. Shove the ham hock in among the beans and push it down so it’s partially ‘buried’. Add enough water to cover beans by about 2 inches. HINT: Do NOT add salt yet. In case you’re not familiar, beans will not soften if you prematurely add salt. We will adjust the seasoning at the end.

Set the crockpot on low, cover it, and leave it be. I don’t stir it until at least 4 or 5 hours have passed. At that point, using a big wooden spoon, stir the beans and roll the ham hock over, recover and let cook for another few hours. As it cooks, the beans will soften and glorious hunks of ham that were stuck to the bone will fall off.

Meanwhile, make cornbread per package directions, which will require 1 egg and 1/3 cup milk per box.

When most of the water has been absorbed and the beans have sufficiently softened, turn off the crockpot and remove the bones. The ham hock may have stayed whole but be careful as some pieces of bone may have splintered off. I use a slotted spoon and tongs and I spoon through the beans, setting aside the chunks of ham and discarding any pieces of bone.

Now, to season! I usually start with 1-½ tablespoons of salt and a ¾ teaspoon of garlic powder and go up from there. I add more until I love it! Adjust per your taste buds. Now, salt and garlic powder are all I put in my Pot ‘O Beans but other popular seasoning choices could include onion powder or cumin.

I serve this in a deep bowl with a hunk or two of the ham that broke off, a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top and a nice square of cornbread on the side. Absolute yumminess.

To say this recipe serves 8 is an understatement. It will easily do that, and then some. If your family does not eat this all at once, it reheats well for a lunch or two and it freezes well for a later date. Or, we can stretch it a bit farther…

 

Refried Beans

Reserve 2 cups of the beans and mash them with a fork. Add a bit more salt and garlic powder. Heat oil/margarine/butter in a pan and fry the mashed beans = a side dish of refried beans (and you didn’t add any cost).

Well, that’s it folks! With a bit of creativity, and some careful planning, those were another five large entrees (and a possible side dish) for just under $25. Assuming eight servings per meal that comes to about 63 cents per person, per serving.

Thank you for allowing me to share a bit of my family’s history and some of the challenges we’ve faced. I have seen the Lord’s hand of provision through this simple act of meal stretching and am grateful for the opportunity to share it. My hope: it will find a way into another mom’s kitchen just when she needs it most.




49 Comments

  1. I volunteer with a ministry to homeless and low income. After serving a full Thanksgiving dinner, there were 2 turkey carcasses and 3 ham bones left over. I boiled them up separately. Got several quarts of broth, 4c of turkey pieces and a bit of ham pieces. Made turkey soup this week. So much better than buying canned soup. Lasted 4 meals for 1. Most of the rest will sub for chicken broth in recipes. Ham will reappear in red beans and rice, 15 bean soup, and maybe some new recipe.

  2. We often complain about the cost of groceries. Truth is, we have it a lot better than our grandparents did.

    In 1900 the average American family spent 41% of the household budget on food.
    Today, less than 15% of the average household budget is required to feed our family.

    1. WyoDutch you’ve made me think. Though I can easily calculate what each meal costs, off the top of my head I can’t say exactly how much of the total budget it represents. Interesting. I’m going to have to look at that and see what the numbers are.

      I won’t tackle that quite yet though..I just got off a 13 hour shift. After the last 2 days at work I’m dead on my feet! Budget interests will have to wait until I get sleep. I was just so excited to see that my articles got posted I just had to read through everything!

  3. Great article Michelle- i love crock pot and dutch oven food. to me, spices are everything to cooking. i love dry mustard, it transforms so many dishes. for those who arent aware of them, the Meta Givens’ encyclopedia of moder cooking (2 volume set, published in the 1950’s) supports all you just outlined, including sectons on wild game. they are a great source of recipes including holidays and gatherings.

    im going to try your baked beans this weekend, thanks again!!

  4. White beans like the Great Northern and Cannellini Beans are great meat extenders. Mild taste unlike the earthy flavor of pintos and lentils. Dried beans are a wonderful extender along with pasta and rice.

    Blended you can use them as thickeners in your soups-stews and casseroles.

    Plus you can plant most of them with great success in my garden. Try that with a frozen pizza eh?

    I heard that Tuscan region of Rome was known as the Bean Eaters 🙂

    If you ask nicely I find most produce managers have unsellable veggies that you can take for your “Chickens”. A friendly gift of some eggs or a cup of coffee is often well accepted by them.

    Carrot tops, IF you wash-scrub your carrots before peeling the peels and other normally thrown away parts can be cooked and blended up to add bulk and nutrition to your soups-stews and casseroles. Fried potato peelings in leftover bacon or chicken fat is a nice acquired taste treat for breakfast. Just avoid green potato’s and rotten veggies folks.

    Bok Choy can be regrown from the stub you normally toss away (hopefully to the compost or chickens) by placing first into a shallow bowl of water, change the water daily to avoid mold-slime issues. Once roots show up transplant into a pot of good compost-soil. I’ve even let some go to seed and those seeds grew quite nicely next year. It’s a cool weather plant and bolts to seed once it gets warm. So at least here in NH a Spring-Fall crop with some windowsill winter pots.

    Food is about to get a LOT more expensive as the Socialist-Democrats throw more money into the Bread and Circuses EBT Cards yet they cannot create a single loaf of bread to buy with those “Electronic Digits”. INFLATION is best described as Too Many Dollars chasing that Loaf of Bread. Fixed Income and low payed folks will see the stressors of MOAR Expensive Foods pretty soon.

    1. I regularly regrow celery and cabbage from the store-bought nubs. It’s like getting a whole extra free cabbage. The only caveat is that cabbage likes the cold, while you’ve got to replant celery into dirt the moment the nub starts to send down roots or it will rot.

    2. Thanks for the bok choy tip! I buy a big batch of beets when they are 39 or 49 cents a pound and plant them in my garden. I choose the ones with tiny sprouting leaves in the crown. They will leaf out and grow until you are ready to harvest and cook them.

      I have also bought kangkong (a type of Chinese spinach) at the local Asian grocery, rooted it similar to what you did with the bok choy, and planted it in my garden. It is best when cooked with belacan, a type of fermented shrimp chili paste.

  5. Absolutely great article. Also thank WyoDutch for the spending stats. Consider also an estimated 30% to 45% of food is wasted. That includes wasted food at restaurants and institutional settings such as schools. Americans also spend significantly less than other countries currently plus we have the convenience of all in one grocery stores rather than having to visit several different markets or stores. As a result, we take much of this for granted. I

    1. An ungodly amount of food is wasted at schools. If a student gets “free” lunch, they have to take the entire meal, if they only want to take the entree they have to pay for it. (I take issue with the current policy of free lunches for all students, but that’s another story) Because of this, students get the entire lunch, eat their sandwich, cheese sticks, nachos, pizza, or whatever the entree is (which is usually something very unhealthy as you can see) and throw away their fruits and vegetables. Since they now have to come back to the classroom and eat due to all of the “social distancing policies” most of them bring the vegetables to me instead of throwing them away. There are almost always apples, oranges, pears, broccoli, okra, pinto beans, available. The chickens, pigs, and turkeys at school get some good food out of the mix, and if I didn’t have any leftovers from supper the night before, hey, the school vegetables aren’t half bad.
      It’s a crying shame that tax dollars support such a wasteful program, even if it does make the chickens and pigs happy.

        1. I would have never believed it if I hadn’t seen it. It’s a crying shame too that most of the kids have grown up on mcDonalds and Dominos and they throw away the best and most nutritious of their food and eat the junk.
          I will say that a lot of the kids who I know grew up on farms bring their own lunches and eat better food, and don’t waste much. The kids who live in the trailer park a couple of miles from school seem to be the worst about wasting food and eating junk.

      1. re:
        waste at government institutions

        Seconded!
        I worked at the penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington the state.
        Each day after supper, my charges loaded — a tiny fraction! — of the kitchen discards in those indestructible institutional garbage bags for me to haul home to our swine.
        An eight-foot pick-up truck filled daily.
        Our pigs were in hog heaven.
        In return, my charges got First Dibs on the fresh pork I brought from home.
        .
        .
        I know this may come as a shock to some readers, but based on my observations, institutional waste can occasionally leach into departments beyond the chow-hall…

      2. My two younger kids are currently getting mandatory free school lunches and breakfasts for every kid in the school, as well as a take-home bag on Fridays for their “off” week as they’re rotating one week in, and one week by remote learning. They go to a blue collar technical high school, so there’s not a lot of snobby kids turning their noses up what goes into the bag. It’s mostly reasonably healthy stuff, plus one “junky snack” item each day. Most of the parents are like “my tax dollars PAID for this, so you’re going to EAT it, or else!” Tightwad-prepper me sees all those individually wrapped servings and cringes at how expensive it must be versus just sending home a bag of beans and rice, but I “get” that the school is trying to help. Sometimes, you’ve just got to say “thank you”.

      3. I can confirm wwes’s comments. I am a school secretary and the amount of wasted food is a crying shame! As stated, so much of the fruit and vegetables (and even milk!) go directly in the trash. According to the Director of Food Services, it is against policy for anyone to take the discarded food as it jeopardizes funding of the program. The monitor of the after-school homework club has defied orders and collects what she can to serve to students after school.

  6. These videos may give people some frugal cooking ideas:

    Great depression era cooking with Clara https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=great+depression+cooking+pizza&sp=eAE%253D
    Clara’s grandson decided to video his 90+ year old grandmother cooking modest meals from her youth, which he loved to eat. There is a cookbook available, but there
    are many videos on youtube. She also talks about her life from that era as she cooks.
    https://www.amazon.com/Claras-Kitchen-Memories-Recipes-Depression/dp/0312608276/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=clara%27s+depression+era+cooking&qid=1607094262&sr=8-2
    Her book reads like a preppers handbook. Growing food, found food, saving seeds, preserving food. Adapting to what is around you.

    1. I love Clara, her cooking is simple food that most likely people during the depression were very grateful to get. Her grandson did everyone a huge favor by filming his grandma cook depression recipes and put them all on YouTube.

  7. To this, I would heartily recommend we all take a few days off from eating and devote it to God, or health, or appreciation what have you. Today is a non-eating day for me, and I will try and have at least three fast days next week. My fasts are at least 36 hours long. Cleanses body, mind and spirit all in one. During that time, I only consume plain coffee, tea, water, a multi vitamin, and a couple daily fiber gummies.

  8. I love this article series. There was a time I did such cooking and I won’t ever forget it. One of my favorite dishes to do with the ham bone is split pea soup. My kids learned to love it and to this day, Split Pea Soup is one of their favorite meals.

  9. Beans and rice are simple proteins but eaten together creates a complex protein like meat. Great article ,keep writing. There is a several part series on you tube about how people in England scrimped and substituted with meals during Ww2 . It was interesting as well as informative.

  10. Hi Nurse Michele, a great Part 2, thanks for sharing.

    Your comment about having your slow cooker on for 8 hours made me think that must use a lot of electricity. I’ve never used them for that reason. So I decided to see if my assumptions were correct and they were… 100% dead wrong. Again. 🙂

    A friend has one stored in my garden shed so I took a look at the watts on the bottom, and long story short, at the U.S. average of 13¢/kilowatt hour, it only costs 26¢ to run it for 8 hours. That’s on high setting which uses 250 watts on this particular slow cooker, the cost is 19¢ on the low setting. For me, with my grid-tied solar panels and the power company giving me 2¢ per kWh, I can run a slow cooker for 8 hours and it only costs 4¢. I ran the propane numbers for doing a batch of my chili and using a price of $2.50 a gallon, it costs 31¢ to make a batch. While that may not seem like much, it adds up over a year’s time and most importantly, post-SHTF using solar panels to run a slow cooker (one solar panel would do it) is a great way to save propane, which will be worth its weight in gold when there’s no more propane deliveries. That would allow us to prioritize propane for other things where a slow cooker won’t work, such as for canning.

    So, thanks for mentioning slow cookers in your article today.

    Also, for those who mentioned food waste today, one of the big wastes most of us do is to peel vegetables like carrots and potatoes instead of just scrubbing them. Every single calorie will count if the grid ever goes down. I even use unpeeled in my mashed potatoes. When grating, like my hash browns, the peels aren’t even seen. When canning, I just scrub and leave the peels on.

    To get an idea of how much waste their is, weigh a batch of potatoes before you peel them and then weigh the peels. It’s a huge percentage. If the peels are going to be a eaten separately as some have mentioned, by frying or otherwise, then there’s no waste. When potatoes are peeled slowly by pulling the peeler towards your thumb, the waste isn’t as much. But most people them quickly with the peeler going away from them. When you look at those peels, they’re 90% white potato with a thin sliver of peel on them. Just an observation from an ultrafrugalist.

  11. This article is the first one a long time that has hit home. While growing up my mom was the master of meal stretching…my wife is too. The Covid virus had me out of work and my wife’s mastery of all things frugal kept our belly’s full and our children as happy as always. In our area everyone is welcome at the table no matter your color…we feel we are ALL in the same boat. This is the blessing of a small community I suppose.

  12. Living on an Air Force Sgt pay, my stay at home mom would throw together all the leftovers into a soup, any and all leftovers, all six of us kids hated it. I guess we were spoiled. Otherwise I remember her cooking and baking very good.

  13. Outstanding article! Thanks for taking the time and effort to share. This used to be taught in Home Ec (remember, boomers?) Remember wood shop, folks? My brothers made me wonder stuff.

  14. I love that you make your “white sauce” and cheese sauce from a roux and not just from “cream of” whatever soup. It costs 1/2 to 1/3 the price to make it from scratch. We make tuna noodle casserole and macaroni and cheese with ham and peas every week using a similar recipe out of the 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook. You can also use bone broth instead of milk and make cream of chicken soup instead for pot pies and casseroles. Thanks for publishing this very practical series.

  15. I tackled this by starting an instagram that focuses on how to get food to your table and not waste. I know it’s social media, but I started it for the younger generation. You’re welcome to follow along and try out the hints. Savingfoodforeating is the instagram.

    Great article. Many families are going to be needing these skills in the future unfortunately.

  16. @Nurse Michelle- Thank you for posting these recipes. They are right up my alley. I have archived this page and the previous one for reference. Thanks !

  17. I remember meals from my childhood. My mom would get the ham bone from my grandmother and make a big pot of pinto beans. We ate that every night until it was gone. If we had money we’d also have tortillas to put the beans into. Sometimes we had cheese from the USDA commodity program (pre-food stamps era) we could shred and add. Another favorite meal I remember was we went fishing once with rolled up bread and caught about 100 carp. We cleaned them and filleted them and had them deep fried with potatoes. My mom bought a 100 lb bag of potatoes and we cut them up for french fries. We had fried fish and french fries every night for weeks. The rest was frozen and then eaten at least 2-3 times a week until it was gone. It was very good and I never got tired of eating the same thing. Another meal we would have was vegetable soup with or without a ham bone or ground hamburger. We ate it every night until it was gone. Another meal we would have was called Hungarian Goulash but I don’t think it was really goulash. It was more pasta and tomato sauce like and I didn’t care for that at all. But we would eat it every night until it was gone too.
    I like a big pot of beans it’s real comfort food for me. Other cheap inexpensive foods are grits (with cheese if you have it), homemade biscuits (with pieces of ham or sausage baked in if you have it) and gravy (nice if it has ground sausage but not necessary). You can also use left over Irish or sweet potatoes to fry the next morning to go with your home grown chicken eggs. You can use the sweet potatoes to make sweet potato biscuits. Yum! Pancakes for breakfast or dinner are very good. Instead of syrup you can have applesauce (use your home grown apples) or cooked down blueberries (blueberry bushes produce quickly and take up very little space).
    Anything you can do to grow your own food will increase variety, nutrients and decrease what you spend in the grocery store. Raspberries will produce the first season they are planted. We often take money from our grocery budget to buy a fruiting bush or tree. When that fruit tree/bush starts bearing you can pay yourself a small amount out of the grocery budget for the fruit you get to purchase another bush or two. This makes it easier to purchase fruiting plants within your budget. Same for vegetables and eggs.

    1. Once a Marine – to find a post by a particular commenter, hold down the control (ctrl) button and the letter “F” button. A box will pop up and you can type in the commenter’s name. It should show you how many comments the person made and take you directly to the comments.

    2. Once a Marine- look in the upper right corner of the screen and you’ll see a little box that says ‘Search’ on the left and a magnifying glass on the right. Type the name of the author or the topic you’re looking for. Then either hit your ‘return’ key or click on the magnifying glass.
      Haven’t a clue as to how you archive a page. But there is a way to Print. Look for the little printer icon/shape in the line near the article date near the top/middle of the page. Once you have your printer cable attached to your computer/laptop, then click on the little printer shape and you should be good to go. Don’t forget to put paper in your printer..smile…ask me how I know that one..
      Hope this helps.

  18. I have enjoyed your posts and all the comments so very much! Brought so many wonderful memories to mind!

    My dad was born and raised in the Appalachian mountains where there was a lot of love and not much else. Dad left the mountains as a teenager to find work as there was very little work in the area. Although he only had an 8th grade education, he and Mom worked hard, saved their pennies, and lived humbly and with dignity. Mom was an excellent cook and cook stretch food and make cheap meals fit for a king. (She is still with us but unable to do much cooking due to deteriorating health.)

    Dad was the oldest of six children and we went to his homeplace several times a year. What a way to grow-up! Going to the mountains to see my grandparents and meeting up with aunts, uncles, and COUSINS! As someone else commented, MawMaw always had a feast laid out in no time. Biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon or sausage, and homemade jams and jellies for breakfast. Leftovers were kept in the warming closet on the old cookstove. Every dinner and supper included a bowl of beans (pinto beans, cranberry beans, Great Northern, etc.) often with cornbread, and all manner of home-canned meat and vegetables, fresh game, etc. It was glorious and her love for us was poured into the meals she presented.

    Now at 90, Dad still cooks a pot of beans every week or two. I am so thankful that I come from a long line of love and although I don’t cook as well as my mama or grandmother, I still try and do the same for my adult children who come often. Food doesn’t have to be expensive to taste good and be nutritious, it just needs to be seasoned with a little onion and a lot of LOVE!

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