Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Stretching Your Money - Meals for Pennies

We have all had lean times financially.  We have all had to stretch our food reserves a little further than normal.  Could you?
No income.....life changing events....severe weather situations...financial downfall...
There are so many reasons to have to really watch your dollars and stretch them further than you ever imagined.
I think we are on the edge of times, that we will have to get creative with WHAT we have and ONLY what we have.  I think our deals and grocery options will be very limited in the near future.

If you haven't figured it out yet, this girl likes simple dishes!!!!  If a recipe has 10 steps and a dozen ingredients - I am probably not even going to entertain the idea of fixing it!  I like simple - but I like variety - and I like stretching my food and money.

Following are many, many ideas for dinners (or other meals) that can be made with foods on hand and for little money.  Just remember - not EVERY meal has to be nutritionally sound!!!  Some meals can be just for fun!
Being full is the main objective when resources are low.  Many of these options can be used for more than one meal.

Think breakfast - any time of the day
Oatmeal, biscuits/gravy, pancakes, waffles, French toast, egg biscuits, breakfast burritos, quiche, any breakfast item at all is yummy!

Baked potatoes - top with whatever you have in the frig (or a can of soup)
Goulash - different in every region.  Here it is mac, gr. beef, tomatoes and cheese
Cheesy mac with hotdogs or sausages cut up in it

Tuna salad, egg salad, pasta salad, chef salad - you can make a salad from about anything.  Bread pudding (it can be made as a hearty dish instead of dessert) - homemade stuffing.

Bean, rice, cheese burritos, chicken (or other meat) enchiladas (make your own sauce), tacos or taco salad, Mexican soup or casserole

Potato soup, ham and bean soup, split, beef and lentil, veggie soup (load up with veggies - doesn't need to have meat), chicken and rice or noodle  (can add pasta or rice to any soup to stretch it)
Serve with bread. toast, or biscuits or cornbread to help fill everyone up.
There is no limit to what can be added to soup.  Jazz up plain ingredients with spices and herbs.

Anything you have leftover - whatever you have on hand, add a can of cream of soup, maybe a little meat and/or cheese and bake.  Top with some crushed crackers, crushed croutons, etc.  Again - no limits to variety.

Fried rice (add whatever you have on hand), stir fry (definitely stretches a tiny bit of meat) and serve over rice
Lo Mein (spaghetti and veggies/meat (or not)  & seasonings)
Homemade pizza
Savory beans and rice - with or without meat
Have a veggie night - meatless meal
Sloppy Joe
BBQ any meat

Serve sides of veggies, salad, biscuits, tortillas, cornbread, fruit - fresh or cooked, rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.

Think about getting a roast whenever affordable - they can make many, many meals (use smaller servings to help stretch).  Cook with potato and carrots, then use for pulled pork/beef, BBQ, in tacos, burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, stir fry, soups................the list goes on and on.

Use much less meat than normal.  If you use a pound of burger in soup - use a half pound or less.  Stock it up with other items.  Add lots of filler items.

We have been known to have chips and salsa/dip, veggies & dip, cold cut sammies, cheese and crackers, etc. for a meal.  We eat to fill our tummies - so it doesn't have to always be fancy!

There are so many ways to stretch the food budget, the dollar, and yet have a variety of good and fun meals.
Never under estimate the value of simple ingredients and a limited budgets.

Do you have any meal ideas for those tight budget days?  Please share with us!!!!!


  1. When all the kids were home and there was always at least one boyfriend, I did a lot of meal stretching.

    1. It really is easy. I learned from my Mom - raising a bunch of kids on no money and my sister who had 6 & friends all the time.
      A little of this and a little of that and it's all good!

  2. Good advice! I love how your stretch your meals. It seems like so many recipes call for a pound or two of meat. I usually cook a pound of ground beef or beef roast and add extra beans and tomatoes to chili. Or add extra potatoes and carrots and veggies to stretch the meat. My family doesn't notice any difference.
    Is there anything in particular that makes you think that times are going to get worse soon? I keep feeling a nudge to stock up more myself.

    1. You can make those simple changes and nobody notices much. Better for everyone. Saves money and stretches that food. Nothing wrong with that!

      I just do not like the political climate of the nation or the world for that matter. I think we could be heading into some scary territory if we aren't careful.

      ALSO - the weather. Floods, droughts, cattle - pigs (tens of thousands) died last week because of the flooding I just think we need to stock and grow and plan much more than normal. Hunt out those deals and stock up.
      I am not willing to leave my families well being in the hands of others. I want to be prepared.

  3. Love your ideas. My husband said he grew up on beans and whatever they harvested out of the garden. There was cornbread and biscuits too. Bologna was their only meat many times...fried bologna is still a favorite. Simple it was and it was good.

    1. Thanks Vickie. We had a simple menu as well growing up. Lots of garden veggies. Daddy fished, squirrel hunted, and chicken was very cheap.
      I love bologna! I know it isn't the best thing for you - but it is good!
      Simple is my life!!!!!

  4. I love black beans mixed with a little cumin, then fried with cheese in a tortilla. A can of soup with a grilled cheese is always our stand by cheap, quick meal. It's because if you that I have a "pantry book", with quick meals listed in it. I have sub categories of pantry meals. I think it was one of your blog post over 1 year ago. I glean so much info from you. Thanks. Cindy Jane

    1. Thank you Cindy Jane. You are very kind.
      It is amazing of the little things we pick up over time that we remember and use.
      I love tomato soup and grilled cheese - YUM. It takes me back to childhood.
      The tortilla sounds yummy. There is something about the flavor combo of beans and cheese - I love that combo.

  5. My grandma's end of the money meal was noodles in homemade broth server over potatoes. It was filling and oh so comforting. Still make it today.

    1. That sounds good and hearty. I know people have made fun of me because at times I make a lot of starches. Noodles or dumplings with mashed potatoes - then dressing and sweet potatoes too at Thanksgiving. That is how I grew up too.
      I always have my noodles over mashed potatoes.


  6. Great list. I find soups to be big money stretchers. I always have enough leftovers to make a pot of soup. If there isn't enough, I throw in some rice or pasta to stretch it. I always make stock from the bones.

    1. Soup is a wonderful money and food stretcher. There is just so much variety. Love bone stock/broth. It just has such a rich flavor and you aren't wasting a thing!

  7. I eat so simple that DH & I had taco's the other day and I said to him "Did you know that people consider this a simple meal?" He looked at me so astounded that taco's was a simple meal, lol.

    I love your list because it looks like my meal planner. :) I don't do the ten ingredient recipes either.

    Simple foods with a few of your favorite spices can make a grand meal.

    1. LOL - I love it. Tacos is just plain good eating in my opinion too.
      The list above is pretty much my go to list. I like real food and want to taste it. A few spices can jazz it up - but I love the taste of FOOD!