Monday, February 2, 2009

Mom Tip Monday: Stretching your Fridge

And I don't mean by packing it full of leftovers that will turn into your third grader's science experiment in the next month! I mean making what is in there go further. I know I kind of blended budgeting and menu planning last week but I want to focus a little more on that budgeting part this week.

Two weeks in a row now I have managed to cook once and make at least three meals out of what I made. And for both weeks the starter was only $10. Have I gotten your attention now? Would you like to know how I did it? Of course you would! Because if you could feed your family for 3 days on $15 (including sides and extras) who wouldn't do it?

Week #1.
I made a four pound beef roast (which I got on sale for $10) on Sunday. I dropped it in a pot of beef stock and let it simmer all day. I know it's not the traditional way to cook a roast but I had a plan because I had my menu laid out ahead of time. I made some mashed potatoes and steamed veggies to go with it (all pantry items at my house) and we were set.

Monday - I took the reserved beef stock, now thoroughly flavored from the onion soup spices (also a pantry item) I had added to the roast, and sliced two Spanish onions ($1.50) into it and again let it simmer away. I made some homemade bread to go with it - but even that is only a few dollars at the grocery store if baking isn't your forte. Day Two!

Wednesday - The leftover roast itself was up for grabs. I pulled it off into pieces and put it to (everyone together now) simmer with a bottle of barbecue sauce ($2.59). We served it on the rolls I had thought to make with half of the bread dough and had dinner for Day Three.

Thursday - If you can believe it, Beloved took leftover BBQ for lunch, and we had leftover soup for dinner.

I fed my family for four days on $14.

Week #2
Sunday - Baked chicken ($10) with trimmings.

Monday - Rigatoni with chicken, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes and spinach. (This is a Zookeeper original so you may need to play with it a little to get the flavors you like.)

Rigatoni & Chicken
1 box rigatoni
2 cups chopped chicken
1 jar sundried tomatoes (reserve oil)
1 cup mushrooms (or less to taste)
1 sm jar artichoke hearts (drain and rinse)
2 cups fresh spinach
2 Tbsp four
1 cup chicken bullion
1/2 cup milk

In a large skillet toss together chicken, tomatoes, artichokes, and mushrooms and heat through. At the same time prepare rigatoni according to package directions. When meat and veggies are heated through remove to a bowl. In your skillet add reserved tomato oil and blend with flour to create roux. Whisk in bullion and bring to a boil. Whisk in milk and allow to thicken. Toss chicken and veggies in sauce, add spinach and allow to rest over low heat while draining pasta. Toss all together or serve by spooning sauce over pasta.

Tuesday - Chicken veggie and noodle soup.

The chicken didn't get me as far because there wasn't as much concentrated meat to work with but I still managed to get out with the $10 chicken and emptying my pantry.

There are a million meals you can make with leftovers like this. Pita pockets for lunches in place of those $7 fast food meals that you (and your behind) don't really like anyway. Grab a flour tortilla, a leaf of lettuce and some thinly sliced roast beef with your favorite dressing or some tomatoes and you have an easy and cheap beef wrap. Chik-fil-A makes the most wonderful chicken wraps. But imagine how much you could save making them at home from LEFTOVERS? It's not a dirty word if you know how to say it!

I haven't had any takers on the Pantry Challenge yet so if you stumbled across something this week that had you saying, "Hmmm?" pass it over. I don't have a mission for Mom Tip Monday for next week so if you have a challenge for me feel free to zip it to me at ineedthezoo(at)yahoo(dot)com and I'll be happy to give you my two cents.

Have a great week and happy leftovers to all of you! Your wallet will thank you!


TheXMom said...

I love these ideas but we never seem to have leftovers.. which leads me to believe that I either buy to little or the other members of my family (not ) eat too much...

SavvySuzie said...

I *heart* this post! And I could totally freeze the day 2 and day 3 fixings ahead of time for future meals if we didn't feel like eating everything the same week. Great tips!

Christy said...

Having a menu planned out saves me a ton of money, but with 9 people in the house there is seldom any left overs lol.

My grocery store has big bags of chicken breast for $15 a bag and there is probably 20 breasts in it, I used to be able to grill it up and use that for many days...
1) Grilled chicken
2) Cube it for chicken casserole
3) Slice it up for chicken fajitas
4) Shred it and heat it with BBQ sauce for sandwiches