Growing up, we always had bread on the table and for good reason, we were a family of five and my parents knew that bread was an excellent “filler” food to supplement the meal.
Biscuits are just as cheap and help fill you up so even if there’s not enough of the main course to get seconds, at least you’re not leaving the table hungry. The generic biscuits are not only much cheaper than name brand, but surprisingly they’re flakier and better quality, plus my kids really do prefer them to the more expensive choices.
If you only have a few dollars for breakfast, buy a box of Malt O Meal or similar product. All you need is water to cook this up and it expands enough to sufficiently fill up everyone.
It’s almost painful these days to toss leftovers because they don’t get eaten so I like salvaging the little amounts of uneaten food by incorporating them into new meals. Whip vegetables into mashed potatoes. Little kids will like the color and you’re also getting them to eat their veggies on the sly. Toast and crumble bread ends to coat your meat or fish to seal in the juices. If you have bananas that no one wants to eat because the peeling looks too ripe, don’t toss it in the garbage! Throw them in the freezer until you have time to make banana nut bread.
You can extend the amount of some foods so the portions increase to fill up at least one more person by adding to it. Mix in a little whipped cream to any frosting. This idea also makes it lighter, fluffier and sweeter. Add an extra can of water to your frozen juice. Nutritionists would probably recommend against diluting because you’re watering down the amount of vitamins and nutrients per serving, but if your family doesn’t have a surplus of available fruit juices, this will at least allow everyone to get some, which is better than none. Add any leftover vegetable and/or lone serving of meat to Ramen noodles. Dice it up and mix it in for a lo mein type of meal. Toss chopped up hot dogs or a can of tuna into your macaroni and cheese.
Don’t just grab generic products when you’re shopping. They’re not necessarily cheaper. Take the time to compare. Not too long ago our local store had name brand sugar for considerably less than the generic store label right next to it on the same shelf. Same scenario with Parmesan cheese. Stop blindly reaching for your same old tried and true out of habit. Actually glance around and see what else is available and at what cost. Give an alternative a try.
Buy the big, huge containers of peanut butter. It might not seem like such a good idea when you’re paying for it, but you actually are getting more product for your money and as long as you have bread and jelly, peanut butter gives you the feeling of being full. It’s a very cheap lunch and you’ll have enough to last quite a while.
If you have the space, plant a garden. Even if it’s just a small one with only two or three vegetables. Anything that grows will supplement your meals, it’ll be fresh and considerably cheaper than purchasing it at the store.
Red or white potatoes are easy to grow. Just let one sit on the counter until it sprouts little roots. Cut it into as many pieces as there are roots so each chunk has one. Dig a hole, put it in and water occasionally. Space them about a foot apart. The potatoes will grow underground and after about a month a couple will try and push up through the dirt. Just pile a little more dirt on them to cover them back up, into a mound around the plant or they won’t be edible. You’ll get around a dozen or so from each plant. They’re ready to dig up when the leaves growing above ground start turning brown, but you can certainly dig them up sooner if you want.
You can buy a pack of vegetable seeds for around $1.00. Considering how expensive tomatoes are right now, this would be a very good choice and you get a lot of growth on just one plant. If you don’t want to spend $2.00 on a tomato cage, just cut up the roll of wire fencing you have and put it around the plant or in a pinch just gently brace the plant with some stakes or sticks. If you don’t prop it up somehow, it may get top heavy and droop or snap the stalk.