DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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22 June 2015

Getting value for your food money

It's always good to get value for money, no matter what your income level or age bracket. However, if you're in a low income group or on an average income with high costs, getting value for the money you spend in essential. I think you have to get into the habit of always looking for ways to save and not wasting what you already have. When you develop that habit, there is a long list of things you can do.

For most of us, apart from rent/mortgage payments, food is our biggest expense. So it follows that if you can save money on food, you've been making a real difference to your own budget. I'm taking it as a given that we're all cooking from scratch, even though there will be some who don't, it is the best starting point for all of us - for our finances, our nutrition and our health. This is one of the ways I use to stretch a chicken so that it not only gives us meals we enjoy, the meals are easy to make and instead of a small chicken feeding us for one meal with leftovers for lunch the next day, this one covers our main meal for three days.



I started off with a small free-range chicken, of 1.5kg/3.3lbs. On the first day I made a stuffed roast chicken with vegetables. The stuffing was stale bread, a small onion with sage, parsley and an egg from the backyard. It was delicious and satisfying. The following day I had one half of the chicken left, still on the bone. I removed the leg and breast, then chopped the carcass in two and put it in a pot with about 1.5 litres/quarts water, salt and pepper and with the lid on brought it to the boil and simmered it for about an hour. The herb stuffing seasoned the stock perfectly and gave it a real boost. For about the last 5 minutes of the simmering, I put the chicken in the stock and warmed it up. Two teaspoons cornflour in the stock thickened it slightly and on the second day we had skinless chicken mashed potato with onion and parsley, some pumpkin from the previous say, peas and a little of the chicken gravy made with the stock.

On the final day of the chicken, I noticed the chicken stock was set like a jelly in the bowl because so much magnesium, collagen and glucosamine had leached out of the bones. A truly nutritious broth. So, all the meat was stripped from the bones, the thick gelatinous stock reheated with the chicken pieces, parsley, salt and pepper added and boiled with a hand full of small shell pasta - a delicious satisfying soup on a cold winter's day. And that was the end of the chicken. It was only a small bird had it been a bit bigger it would have done us for four or five days, but then I would have frozen a couple of meals for later.

It's a simple thing to stretch out food like this. It doesn't take any extra time but you have to have the idea to do it and know what you're doing. Making a list of ideas to stretch out chicken, fish, beef etc. is a great way to start. There must be a hundred ways to serve a chicken but I hope you add this to your repertoire because it will give you value for the money you spend on the chicken and you'll know you're providing healthy and nutritious food, with no waste. How do you stretch your food dollars?

31 comments:

  1. That's exactly what I do when I have chicken for Sunday lunch. I find it very satisfying to make it go as far as possible. It's a personal challenge which I really enjoy :-)

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  2. Hi Rhonda, I do love the way a chicken can stretch so far, but I just have one query about how you treated the leftover meat. I was always taught by my mum and at school that meat should never be reheated more than once. Correct me if I am wrong but I resd it as though you reheated the meat on the carcase teice. I have noticed that American websites often suggest rehating meat more than once, I wondered if this was also common practice in Australia too?

    The picture ofvyour beautiful jellied stock does look deliciously tempting doesn't it?

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    1. Hi Karen, I don't know if it's common practice here but I've been doing it this way for many years and I'm still here to tell the tale. :- )

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  3. Hi there Rhonda, I really enjoy your blog and I agree that these ideas for using a chicken are helpful for the budget and delicious! I was wondering, though, about your ideas for saving money on breads and baked goods, when just baking for 2. Our children are grown and live very far away, but I find that I would like to make baked goods for just my husband and I...however, I can't seem to settle on a way to do it that is frugal and provides variety. Especially as it relates to sweets...I would enjoy having cookies and cakes on hand, but don't want to have to eat the from the same batch for several straight days...do you have any tips for how to do that, and do it frugally? Thanks so much!

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    1. Hi Toni, it can be done if you have a freezer. Almost all cakes can be baked and iced then cut into quarters or halves, and frozen. If you're going to include a cream filling, add that when the cake is defrosted. Biscuits are similar - make the cookie dough, take off the portion you can to bake and bake it. The remaining dough can be portioned, rolled, wrapped and frozen until you need to bake another batch.

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  4. Hi Ronda....I reheat meat twice and I am also here to tell the tale...for example.....roast lamb. The first day I will roast the lamb with potatoes, pumpkin and onion....a,ways making extra. The second day I cut thin slices of lamb and put it in a pot with the left over gravy, gently reheat and serve with the left over potato and pumkin from the day before. I then place the cooled pot with the leftover lamb and gravy mix in the fridge and reheat it the following day with some curry powder added and serve with rice. I also use the left over meat in a frittata as well as lamb as sandwiches. I get a kick out of seeing how many meals I can make out of a roast...the possibilities are endless.

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    1. I do this with roast lamb too! From one leg of lamb, we get a beautiful roast dinner, another roast the next night, lamb and salad or sandwiches for my husband's lunch for work and then, whatever's left, is used to make shepherd's pie! I saw my mum cook this way when I was growing up and I'm so glad I learnt how to do it.

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    2. Oh, and leftover roast veggies are fantastic in bubble and squeak the next morning too. Delicious and adds extra serve of veggies into the diet for the day!

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  5. With a family of 2 adults and 5 ravenous children I am finding it hard to eat within a budget. If I buy a large chicken I do like to cook it in a slow cooker. Remove the meat and use half to make 2 chicken pot pies and the other in some other type of dish. I also then return the carcass to the juices in the slow cooker with some vegetables to make delicious chicken stock that can be made into chicken noodle soup or frozen in portions for future cooking. I'll have to do this more often.

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  6. I've never heard of not reheating meat twice. As long as it is heated to a hot temperature there should be no problem. I have however heard of not defrosting meat then refreezing it.

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  7. I do the same - perhaps it's more of an issue to be reheating vegetables so much, as they can get mushy and lose flavor and vitamins, but with meat, I've not had a problem

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  8. Well, I've no problem with reheating more than twice, so long as it comes to temperature. Be honest, I think there are rules for frugal times and rules for affluent times,

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  9. I don't think that repeated reheating of meat is harmful either.

    It's all about the bacteria and as long as the toxins they produce aren't at too high a level, the heating will kill the bacteria each time.

    The USDA also says food can be thawed and refrozen as well - which I also haven't had a problem with, but it hasn't really caught on in Australia yet.

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  10. It's my understanding that reheating meat is fine as long as the meat reaches a high cooking temperature as it would for a soup or stew.

    Rhonda I have a 1.6kg chicken for dinner tonight which will feed the three of us tonight provide leftover meat for risotto another night this week and for toasted sandwiches tomorrow, then the carcass and bones will give me stock for at least another three meals.

    If I could add a suggestion to readers looking to save: buy your meat on the bone. It tastes better, is better for you and gives you broth/stock at the end.

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  11. Another suggestion for leftover meat, I have a meat grinder (some have an attachment on a mixer) and I grind the smallest, toughest, least attractive cooked pieces with hard boiled egg and mayo (maybe a little pickle) it makes a wonderful sandwich spread and goes even farther!
    As long as you make sure you reheat to a bacteria killing temp you can reheat until the meat breaks down and it is still edible just the texture is unpleasant (that was a fun 4-H project! Learned the lesson though - it was 40 years ago and I recall the texture - blech!)
    You are so right though, it is a mindset, and like any habit you have to practice it, and then you find yourself thinking in terms of meals instead of just dinner!

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  12. In general, people who are healthy would not have a problem with reheating meat and my family have eaten reheated chicken and meat and have never had a problem, however, I have a chronic immune disorder and have had many severe bouts of campylobacter infections, among others and cannot risk eating eggs that are not well cooked or reheating anything. Chicken and eggs are among the worst for this. This puts anybody who is immune suppressed at risk and people with other medical conditions, also pregnancy in some situations.

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  13. Buying a whole chicken, the four of us can get about 4 meals from it, Roasted Chicken, soup, and chimichangas it is one which I enjoy making because I'm getting the most for our money. It just good practice to cook from scratch and make that food budget stretch.

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  14. I do this each week with a roast chicken. We have the main meal and then leftover chicken is served as chicken salad sandwiches, chicken pot pies, or even served again with mash and veggies. A great way to use up a lovely chicken!

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  15. And let's not forget delicious chicken tacos!

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  16. I do this with chicken, beef, lamb and turkey. Even pork on occasion. Usually a roast, or slow smoked, then soup for the bone in pieces. If there is anything left, (we have 3 children,12,14 and 16) we use the meat for tacos, stir fries, a different soup or lettuce wraps.

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  17. I did the same thing with a whole chicken recently, except our 3rd meal was chicken salad since it is summer here. I still have some broth in the freezer.
    I will thaw raw meat, cook it , then refreeze the cooked products

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  18. There's so many uses for leftover chicken. An old-fashioned recipe is chicken croquettes, if the chicken is sparse we add mushrooms. Interesting discussion about reheating meat. Never heard there was a problem with it and have been doing it forever. We also use the leftovers unheated for chicken sandwiches, which is a favorite. Guess we're lucky to be alive! LOL! But seriously, food safety probably has a lot to do with how you handle and store your food.

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  19. Well it is a relief to know that you have all survived a supposedly dangerous practice! I wonder if it is a generally British thing or only something a few of us worry about. I can't think it would be an affluence/austerity thing as my mum grew up in a large family during the war so she would have been taught not to waste food. I might have to do some research to see if I can find out more.

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  20. Well research on several British food safety sites all say the same thing, do not reheat food more than once! Interesting national differences. Not sure I would be able to change the habits of a lifetime!

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    1. You don't have to change, Karen. There are many differences between countries. It's okay for all of us to do what we're comfortable with.

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  21. Interesting. I try to be careful about reheating meat too often. I have food poisoning and I never want to be that sick again.

    Tonight I stripped the carcass of Saturday's chicken and made chicken and ham pie for dinner. I hate how much we waste.

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  22. I can usually get 4 meals and some lunches out of a roast chicken for us (1 adult 2 teenagers). Although I tend to cook my stock for longer...I then strain off the clear broth to make a soup and then grind the bones etc and add to the dogs food...so the dog gets a couple of nights dinner from the roast chicken too!

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  23. Hi Rhonda and all I think the biggest tip for me is shopping in your pantry first. Being aware of what you have and what needs to be used means that very little gets tossed out. Also I make juices out of any questionable fruit and veg which I think helps a lot with our waste. We still toss out some pulp after the juice is made but I get a nutritious breakfast and less waste. Thanks Rhonda x

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  24. I love to make a chicken s-t-r-e-t-c-h- too! Roasted on a Sunday then the carcass stripped, some meat put to one side to make a chicken pie (sometimes two pies if I pad out with leeks and mushrooms), then a small amount of meat for a risotto and some for a soup (with stock for both made from the chicken carcass). I'm in the UK and will reheat chicken, I make sure it is reheated thoroughly and we have always been fine.

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  25. The same goes with vegetables. Often a recipe calls for 1 onion but you can achieve the same flavour with half an onion. I once read a blog where the woman was eating frugally and she stretched that onion to about 5 different meals.
    When I was little, Mum used to roast a chicken on Sunday and 3 of my sisters and I, Mum and Dad would have a delicious roast lunch trimmed with potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and peas and gravy. There always seemed to be a bit leftover...perhaps chooks were bigger back then?

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  26. I adore the way you see use for every part of a food. Seeds to grow, scrapes to compost, bones for healthy soup base and gravies. It seems as if nature was designed to be used to it's fullest, doesn't it? Even grass clippings can provide a cool bed for plants then decompose to add nutrients to soil. I'm enamored with what nature provides us.

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