Thursday, January 13, 2011

Frugal Tip: Rarely Serve Whole Foods

Photo by rexipe

If you, like me, are trying to save money on groceries, this tip will surely help:

Rarely serve whole foods.

Now, I'm not talking about whole as in unprocessed. We should be sure to have plenty of whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in our diet. What I'm talking about is a whole meat serving per person.
For example, serving chicken breasts one night, pork chops the next, salmon fillets midweek, hamburgers the day after that, and a steak dinner on Friday will be quite expensive.

A monk, as paraphrased in Miserly Moms, once said that to economize resources, try not to eat a whole serving of any one thing. Stretch your food dollars by combining small amounts of each ingredient to make a meal. While this may not always be practical, I think there is wisdom (and plenty of savings) to be found in this approach.

To clarify further, instead of making a hamburger for each member of your family, which can easily use a pound of ground beef or more, brown that pound, and use half in spaghetti and the other half in perhaps a vegetable-beef soup. Instead of serving a whole chicken breast per person (fine on occasion, of course, or if you want to serve it that way), use half the amount of chicken and make white chicken chili, a casserole, a stir-fry, fajitas, or any number of other recipes where you combine several other ingredients with the chicken to stretch the meat as far as it will possibly go. Another meat-stretching option is a pot roast. It can easily provide three meals (roast, stew, Shepherd's Pie, burritos, etc.)
Since I have been shopping and cooking this way, I find the meat I buy stretches for quite awhile. This saves our family a lot of money, since meat is one of the most expensive purchases on one's grocery list. I encourage you to get creative and find ways to reduce meat servings at any given meal.

Do you have any combo recipes you love? I'd love to hear about them. They may give us all new ideas!

Visit Frugal Friday for more money-saving tips!


  1. I have a couple of combo recipes on my blog that you might like, as your boys are so little you could halve them for your family and save even more...Each recipe feeds my family for 2 meals and I am feeding 3 adults and one child.

    Friday and Sunday's are my challenging nights as hubby works late and I have to make sure I cook something that holds over well.

    Blessings Kelsie

  2. Great ideas! We are nearly completely cutting out red meat and chicken from our diet except for rare occasions. Instead, I'm trying to serve more vegetables and fish.

  3. Catchy title and great post! :)

  4. I definitely find this to be true. In fact, just this week, I turned one tray of boneless, skinless chicken breasts into two meals. I will say, though, that I am only feeding four: me, hubby (does physical labor so is super hungry!) and two little girls (ages 7 and almost 4.) The chicken was purchased when on sale for $1.99/lb and the package was less than $4 ($3.82 if I remember correctly.) The first night, I took 2 breasts (they were really thick) and butterflied them to make 4 cutlets. These were dipped into homemade ranch dressing and then into crushed cornbread stuffing mix. I then drizzled with melted butter and baked at 400 till done (about 30 minutes.)

    The next night, for meal #2, I took the remaining breast and cut it into small bite-sized pieces and turned it into a cashew chicken stir fry. Lots of veggies and the nuts help to stretch the small amount of meat.

    This works well for our family, but I am sure it would not work for bigger families or families with children with bigger appetites.

    Another thing that we do to stretch meat costs involves pork. At the Kroger where I shop, boneless pork chops are incredibly expensive (this week, they are on "sale" for $4.49/lb!) However, every few weeks (including this week) they put bonelss pork loin halfs on sale for $1.99/lb. So, tonight we will purchase a pork loin for probably around $8 - they tend to weigh between 4 and 5 pounds. When we get home, I cut the loin into chops and one small roast. I usually end up with 10 chops and the one roast for $8 -this makes about 4 meals for our family for $2/meal meat cost.

    Sorry for the too long comment!

  5. Such a good tip - I rarely serve meat as a main course anymore. I don't like handling it anyway, so it's easier to cook up a pound or two of ground turkey or beef and some chicken at the beginning of the week and then divide it for recipes as the week progresses. It's also better for my family's health!

  6. Amanda,
    I think Kroger (or any meat department) will cut the pork loin for you the way you want for free, if you ask (if you want them to!). I sometimes do that, too, and get a roast and boneless chops. Thanks for the tips!

  7. I do this same thing! I'll roast a chicken and it makes 4 meals for the 4 of us - I wrote about how I do it here:

    Same idea with 7 meals from a 6 pound pork roast: