Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stretching Meat to Feed Your Crew

We've all heard this tip, right?

To save on groceries, be sure to serve one (or more) meatless meals each week.

It's good advice. And, truth be told, going meatless doesn't really bother me a bit. My family's game for just about anything too but, let's face it, I have guys under my roof. And you know what most guys like?


Our budget doesn't lend itself to serving up a big slab of meat and then little piles of side dishes. So, that's not how I tend to cook. The way I cook enables us to eat lots of "meaty" meals without buying a whole ton of meat.

Next week, I'll be sharing how I feed five people five nights' worth of dinners made with a grand total of five chicken breasts. You can check out the meals and read more about that right here. Now, lest you think I'm just tossing together a handful of casseroles, let me assure you that that's not the case! The following are all excellent ways to make your meat go that extra mile:

Cut in smaller bites. Lots of recipes call for 1" - 1 1/2" cubes of meat as "bite-sized". Go ahead and knock that down to 1/2" - 3/4". You'll still get noticeable bites of meat to chew on... but you'll get a lot more of them out of your piece of meat!

Butterfly. Slicing your slab o' meat into two thinner slabs obviously doesn't magically create more meat... but it creates twice the surface area and that goes a long way to "fooling" the eye and tummy!

Stir-fry. Small pieces of meat tossed with tons of veggies in a flavorful sauce can be super fulfilling!

Make soup! It's a no-brainer, but soup doesn't require much meat and the piece you add can be relatively tiny. Especially if you're using stock, you'll have plenty of authentic meat flavor without using much meat.

Vary your starches. Egg noodles, rice, pizza crust, various pastas, potatoes... they can all be mixed and layered and laced throughout your meat dish, making it go just that much farther.

I'll be using all of the above methods to feed my family of five off those five chicken breasts for the whole week... and you know what? We won't be suffering a bit and I guarantee my husband won't ever have to grumble, "Where's the meat?"

Linked to Frugal Friday.

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