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Post  Printessa / Admin on Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:55 pm

Here is a great artical I come across today, that I think would be very helpful. Its really a great artical...

Stretching your food dollar
When you cook for a bunch of people, there are a lot of things you can do to make great meals for less money...and still eat well. At the top of the list is to reduce the amount of meat you use. Sure you can have that roast and vegetables on Sunday. But make that your "feast" day. If you use meat more as a seasoning, rather than a main ingredient, you can eat well for a whole lot less. And your stored food will last a longer time, by far.

If you can plant a garden, or enlarge the one you already have, great. The garden will not only help feed you, pretty much for free, but it will let you store up tons of food for feeding your "larger family" during the winter months as well.

Don't discount wild foraging. We may have been new on our wild homestead, but every morning in June and July, I'd get up and go out with my little bucket and pick wild blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. These would go on plain cold cereal, or in pancakes and muffins, making them seem like a special breakfast. And they cost absolutely nothing.

I pick wild greens, such as lamb's quarter, asparagus, and pigweed. We have fished for many a supper and hunted upland birds and big game for many more. Home-canned venison really helps us stretch our food dollar.

Bake regularly. By adding home baked biscuits, rolls, breads, pies, bars, cookies, cakes, and doughnuts to your menu, people will scarcely miss abundant meat with all those special treats on the table! If you haven't learned to bake, do so. You can start with biscuits, cookies, cakes, and rolls and work your way up to breads, pies, and doughnuts as your confidence increases. Baking is really easy and fun, too, once you get the hang of it. And your family will profusely thank you. And guys, you can learn to bake, too. My oldest son, Bill, has been baking for several years now and is certainly no "sissy." (Remember Bill, who built his own log home a few years back?) Well, he can make a killer apple pie from scratch.
A productive garden makes cooking for many easy and inexpensive.

You can also use your own home baked bread for other things, such as slicing it up to use as French toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, making stuffing or croutons from older bread (before it goes stale or molds), and slicing a long loaf lengthwise and making garlic or herbed cheese bread from it; a complete meal in itself...even better served with a hearty soup.

Stay away from packaged, processed foods. The more packaging and processing a food has, the more expensive it is. Who would spend $1.29 for four or five medium-sized potatoes and a little cheese sauce? Not me. Even if you had to buy 10 pounds of potatoes for $7.99 and added cheese powder and milk, you could make double the amount of potatoes au gratin that you could from the little boxes. And the potatoes would actually taste great, too. If you grow your own potatoes and have cheese powder and powdered milk in your storage pantry, the same recipe would cost pennies. And if you have a couple of dairy goats and make cheese regularly, you've essentially got yourself a free meal.

Vary your menus
Everybody gets tired of beans, beans, beans. Or potatoes, potatoes, potatoes. To keep a happy group, don't repeat meals often. There are enough choices out there, even with a limited amount of the basics. Read some Amish books, including recipe books, for inspiration. The Amish may be plain people, but they eat really well. It is good to follow their lead.

At meals, offer plenty of choices. Old time farm wives weren't so dumb. They may have set the table with cornbread and beans, but they also had jams, several kinds of pickles, vegetables, and fruits as well, not to mention farm-made cheeses and butter. The main "dish" of cornbread and beans wasn't big or fancy by any means, but with the extras, everyone at that crowded table left satisfied.

When you do splurge and make a roast or bake a roasting chicken, make it big enough to use for a second big meal. For instance, when I make a roast, I grind up the leftover potatoes, onions, and trimmed meat and make a big pan of hash the next day for lunch or supper. Or I pick the meat off the roast chicken, boil the carcass, strain off the broth, add the meat, and make a big pot of chicken and dumplings. I hate leftovers...you know, the same meal served over and over. How boring. When times are tough, you don't need that.

If you have to buy meat, don't always pick the cheapest cuts. I look at a piece of meat and figure about how many people I can feed well from it, and how much further use I can get out of it. I've passed by $1.19 chuck roasts in favor of a $2.99 rump roast, trimmed and defatted. But out of that roast, I've gotten two large, good meals instead of one poor one.

Use plenty of vegetables and other "fill" in your recipes, such as rice, beans, pasta, and noodles. These will help round out your comfort food. In times of economic crunch, you want food that will satisfy a family, not leave them feeling hungry as they leave the table.

Shopping wisely
Ideally, we would be able to raise nearly all of our own food and would seldom need to go to the store. But, unfortunately, this isn't usually the case. What can we do when we're feeding a larger group of people? Shop smarter.
When you have a fully stocked pantry, you won't panic when you suddenly have more people to cook for.

No, I'm not a coupon clipper; usually they are for items I don't buy anyway. I do keep aware of the prices of different "main ingredient" foods, such as flour, sugar, hamburger, beef and pork roasts, etc. If you can't remember, take notes. I mean it! There can be a huge price difference between stores. For instance, take common table salt. At Sam's Club, I bought four-pound boxes of salt for 88 cents. The next day, store brand one-pound boxes of salt in our local WalMart were 59 cents on sale. That equals $2.36 for four pounds—a big difference.

But watch it! Not all things at big box stores, such as Sam's Club, are a good buy. Seldom is anything on sale, and sales are what usually save you big bucks.

If there is a local farmers' market nearby, shop there. Buy from local farmers when possible. Not only is the food fresher and better, but you can often get great deals if you ask. Try "Gee those apples look great, but I'm on a limited income and can't afford them. Do you maybe have some that aren't as nice? My family would sure enjoy them..." instead of "Hey man, your apples are priced too high." Often you'll be rewarded with nice food for a lower price, plus you'll gain a future friend. If you shop at the end of the day you'll often find great deals because nobody wants to load up and take produce back home.

Okay, you've got your pantry, some fresh vegetables, fruits, and a few things from the store from time to time. Now to the nitty gritty—using them to your advantage. Just for kicks, we'll assume you are feeding eight people...maybe you, your spouse, two teenaged children, your mother, and your adult daughter and her two young children. I had eight children at home at once, so I've cooked for a bunch a whole lot of times. Check out the Cooking & Recipes Forum for a few recipes and ideas of how to do it well: Under the Topic Stretching your Food Dollars w/ economical recipes FOR LARGE FAMILIES
Printessa / Admin
Printessa / Admin

Posts : 96
Join date : 2009-04-09
Age : 40
Location : Texas


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