Monday, March 16, 2009

Money Monday -Stretching Food

People ask me all the time how in the WORLD our grocery budget it so low...$200 per month or less for the 3 of us. That includes toiletries and random things like stamps.

Today I can give you one tip that has helped.

Tonight's dinner was the third and final meal we were able to eat on ONE POUND of taco meat. How is that possible? (Or, you're asking HOW CAN YOU EAT LEFTOVERS TWICE?? - I don't know..we just don't mind!)

Well, sometimes I'm not so sure. But one thing I can tell you is that one can of 67 cent refried beans and a can of black beans (of which there is still a half a can of each left) makes ALL the difference. 

Hannah and I had taco salads and Matt ate regular hard tacos. I got the bag of mixed greens for $1.50 per bag. That's a good filler. The refried beans and a little sour cream acts as dressing and the protein in the beans stretches the meat. You can also line taco shells with them as well. It's amazing how far it makes ground meat go. We had all the other toppings, cheese, sour cream, etc...and I made some home made corn muffins.

I figured out that total, the meal cost $12.50 for 3 dinners. That's $1.48 per person, per meal. Now THAT's impressive.

I think it's important to look for those fillers. Extra bread crumbs in meat loaf, rice in ANYTHING with ground meat. If you're looking to cut corners...add more of the cheap stuff and STOP thinking about having HUNKS of meat as part of your menu...Break it can use less and it goes further.

It has also helped us to pre divide portions before we eat. One of us usually makes the plates all at once to make sure we all get enough :) 

And, since I've stopped eating seconds for health reasons, our food lasts longer and my waistline is smaller.

Happy stretching!


  1. Alright Melissa - I have to turn you on to this. I like to do my cooking for the week on Sundays. For example - last Sunday I took 3# of boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed the fat and marinaded in a lime, molasses, onion, and worcester sauce for like 5 minutes put into a sprayed 13X9 baking dish (pour marinade over the top) and baked @ 400 for 30-35 minutes. I served 1/3 of the chicken with rice and vegetables. That was meal #1. Meal #2 later in the week cut 1/3 of the chicken into strips and serve over mixed greens (your choice to heat chicken or not). Meal #3 Take corn tortillas and cut into quarters, take last 1/3 of your chicken shred it and mix it with cream cheese and salsa. Layer in the bottom of a sprayed 13X9 pan a row of tortillas, spoon some chicken mixture, another row of tortillas, I put a layer of refried beans or black beans and continue until you are out of chicken mixture - top with shredded cheddar and bake for 30 minutes at 350. So you have successfully gotten at least 3 meals and maybe some lunches out of 3# of chicken and meals #2 & 3 only took you minutes to prepare because your chicken was already done!

  2. Melissa TerebessyMarch 18, 2009 at 3:13 PM

    That's AWESOME Michele! I'm SO BAD at doing things in advance. That all sounds delicious though, so I need to try thinking more in advance so I can stretch my food, but not eat the same thing three nights in a row! Thanks for the tip!


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