Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Stretching Your Grocey Budget With Multipurpose Food

When was the last time you left the grocery store and said to yourself, 'Wow! I purchased everything I needed and  had tons of money left over?' I'm guessing never.  At least not in this decade.

 Admit it. Grocery shopping is painful for most of us. I go shopping armed with a plan, a budget, my list and some coupons. My intentions are good and I'll even go so far to say I do a pretty darn good job of feeding my bottomless pits known as children. However, there's always that painful sting I feel at the cash register when I see the total.

The best defense at preventing sticker shock is to purchase as many multipurpose foods as you can. I began doing that in college and have relied on it ever since. These are foods that can be used in a variety of ways without getting boring and are mainly on the healthy side.  Combined with sales and coupons, you will stretch your budget into infinity even further.

Apples: Raw, chopped in salads and yogurt, sliced with melted cheese on top, dipped in peanut butter or other spreads, thinly sliced on pb &j's or bagels, baked, applesauce.

Roast beef: Main meal, roast beef au jus sandwiches (Meat, cheese, sub sandwich bread, gravy for dipping), thinly sliced in tacos, fajitas and omelets, homemade soups and stews, with rice and spices in lettuce cups/wraps.

Rice: Fried rice, chicken and rice soup, rice pudding, mix with warm milk and add honey/maple syrup, etc. for a nutritious breakfast.

Potatoes: Mashed, baked, oven fried, potato pancakes (add onion, egg, salt and pepper), can use as a thickener in soups and stews (mashed) for added nutrients, baked ones can be sliced and pan fried.

Tortillas: Soft tacos, burritos, baked chips (savory or sweet), shaped and baked to make salad and chili bowls.

Lettuce: Salads, sandwich fillers, lettuce cups and wraps.

Canned chicken: salads, homemade chicken noodle soup, omelets, tacos, burritos.

Eggs: Basic breaksfast dishes, deviled, sandwiches, salads, hard boiled and chopped in Asian noodles or broth bases soups, protein snack before work outs.

The options are endless. Your job is to find basic and simple foods with three or four (or more!) uses. Leftovers are always appreciated in a frugal kitchen but it's also a good idea to ask yourself  how much variety you can get from some of the ingredients you already have on hand. Cultivate that list and you won't go hungry.

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