Sometimes you need a meal to cover unexpected company. Or a second meal. Or leftovers the next day. What can you do, other than eat less?
My grandma was a famous cook, known for her fried chicken and apple pies. But her specialty was soup. When cousins stopped by — and generally it was conveniently at mealtimes — she’d say cheerfully, “I’ll just add some water to the soup!” Grandma was right — you can add a few cups of water to stretch the soup to an additional serving.
Other ways: Add more flavor, along with the water — a bouillon cube or a few tablespoons of sour cream, a cup of milk or vegetable juice. Mashed potato flakes give soup a nice thick consistency.
And of course, there’s STUFF — an extra cup or two of chopped vegetables like potatoes, celery, carrots, beans. Add and simmer for ten minutes. Or pour in 1/4-1/3 cup rice, and cook on low 20 min.
Try the same techniques with stews. Another trick: serve smaller amounts in bread bowls. The delicious juices flavor the bread…and the starch will fill your mealtimers up!
There are lots of great recipes out there for casseroles. Box mixes are out there, as well, and most are quite good. (Hamburger Helper, for instance.) Follow the directions…but add an extra cup of noodles, or if you’re watching calories and carbs, a can or frozen package of vegetables. Bingo – you’ve just added up to two servings, with no fuss. Try this trick with dishes like macaroni & cheese, as well as stroganoff.
You’ve got two pork chops…or chicken breasts…or a large steak…and 4-6 people are coming for dinner. Take the cue of Edith Schaeffer’s clever frugal living book, The Hidden Art, and cut!
“Chicken for six people become enough for twelve if you cut it off the bones and make it into a Chinese meal by adding onions, peppers, almonds and pineapple wedges. Or it can just be cut into large pieces and put into the gravy to serve over hot biscuits…which themselves can be made when the influx of people is discovered to be coming in the front door!”
“It is not necessary to have a large food budget to make meals interesting,” Schaeffer says. “In fact, it is often the other way around. The need to ‘stretch’ the money often gives birth to ideas in cooking and serving.” She speaks from experience — for decades, she and her husband fed dozens of students, using a very small budget, at their conference center L’Abri in Switzerland.
Make it stretch — and it will still be delicious.
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