The little birds...
If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.
Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.
Sunday, 3 May 2015
Stretch a meal and use it up. Substitutions.
Last time I talked about Crumbles (Crisps) and general meals that are great for using things up.
Mimi posted a really wonderful comment (I will let you just read that) about how she saved lots of what seemed like excessive ingredients from a recipe, made a few substitutions and got two dinners out of it instead of one. One of the things she did was use broccoli stalks sliced finely through the first recipe instead of celery and carrot. The celery and carrot then made it into the next meal. This is a perfect example of substituting and stretching!
This can be just amazing, a few substitutions and a few changes can result in big savings. Many times recipes are actually produced to promote an ingredient. Most times recipes do not have your families budget in mind. But we can outsmart them! Also we can build up our recipes that are flexible and have variations. Straight away you are able to use things up, use what's on special and save money.
My simple method to stretch something is very often to simply double the recipe but not the expensive component. So I have made blueberry muffins, doubled the recipe thus getting two dozen, used one lot of blueberries and a tablespoon of berry jam instead of the second amount of berries. This works so well. They are beautiful and you would never know. If you think about it blueberries are the expensive component. You could leave them out altoghether and use apple. Or half blueberry and half chopped apple. You could decide to make another kind of muffin althogether!
Many ingredients that add a ton of flavor are only needed in small quantities. Sun dried tomatoes, nuts, fancy cheeses, chorizo, salmon etc are great as you actually only need a really little bit. You can well and truly double the recipe but not these without losing much at all. Or you can add a little chorizo to a pasta dish and give the impression it is a meaty dish with very little meat in fact! Clever use of ingredinets can bolster up flavour and stretch plainer (and cheaper) ingredients. Recipes using these type of ingredients are easy to stretch without needing to use more of the expensive components.
Most casseroles, fried rice, meat and vegie dishes and soups you can substitute the vegies of your choice and use far more than the recipe calls for. We probably all do that. There are times certain vegies are crazy prices. Like here Caulifowers are $8 each at the moment. No recipe will have me buying one just now. I'll make something else! If we can just swap our recipes around to suit the price and season we are half way there.
Some of the substitutions I use are:
Blanched almonds in the place of pinenuts in pesto.
Vegetable oil instead of butter in cakes (it works in most, they also keep fresh longer)
Yoghurt or milk with lemon instead of buttermilk.
A plainer cheese isntead of a fancy one.
Evaportated milk instead of cream (in quiches, tarts etc)
A cup of pureed fruit instead of a cup of butter or oil in a cake.
I crush or break up chocolate from a sale of left overs rather than buy chocolate chips.
Chicken thighs for chicken breasts or a whole chicken as it is often cheaper than two chicken breasts!
The meat thats marked down for the meat in the recipe.
There are times when you can just skip something all together without any disasterous effects. Or add heaps more of something that you do have to stretch the overall number of serves. Many recipes call for one carrot or something like that and I add four. More vegies are a good thing, at a cheap price... the meal will go further.
One of my favourite highly interchangeable meal is pizza.
First of all the base can be so many things...
Make your own dough using yeast and flour.
Make your own dough using yogurt/milk and flour.
Use some kind of bread as the base. I love to use turkish bread cut in half lengthwise.
Use bread and make as toasties for the lunch boxes.
Split muffins and make mini pizzas.
Lebanese Bread or flat breads.
Pre made pizza bases.
On the weekend I made my dough with yeast but other times I have used all of the above. It depends on what I have.
Next the sauce can be...
Tinned tomatoes, a jar of tomato pasta sauce, homemade tomato sauce, BBQ sauce (this works great with chicken topping) also onion jam or Mimi's Onion Confit, Pesto...
Mine this time was just a jar of tomato pasta sauce...
Then toppings can be..
Tomato bolognese sauce with or without mince, bacon, ham, cooked chicken or lamb, tomato, capsicum, onion, capers, anchovies, pineapple, salmon, prawns, salami, mettwurst, soft or hard cheese or a mixture, sun dried tomatoes, roast pumpkin, sweet potato, onion, mushrooms... I am sure there are so many more things I've missed! But the idea is to look and see what you have that you can include.
Mine was salami, bocconcini, pineapple, grated cheese, bacon...
The last layer, after the pizza is cooked could be mixed hers, rocket, fresh soft cheese that then melts gently, a sprinkle of herbs.
We all get to end up with our favourite combinations. Andy likes salami and strong flavours like that. The thing is you only need a really little bit to get that effect and these peopele are happy!
Now my combinations would proabbly give an Italina Chef a heart attack... but the flavors are yummy, you use up all kinds of left overs and make meals that are good hot or cold! I would never made one pizza. I usually make three or four, at least. If you are doing this you might as well end up with lunches, lunch box food, maybe an easy dinner in tow nights time...
This is such a chance to make an inexpensive dinner and use up all kinds of things.
I made half a dozen smaller pizzas that went on a fishing trip and made lunches...
On the subject of stretching meals and using things up Stephanie on her blog posted an idea on avoiding food waste. It was one of those "WHY didn't I think of that moments!" I will let you read it for yourself here Avoiding Food Waste. I am implementing this idea.
If you have excess bread I have a great use it up recipe here which is a beautiful bread and butter pudding that cuts like a cake and looks spectacular. Hilde reminded me that if you go to many bakeries at the end of the day you can often get bargain bread, buns, croissants etc. All of these make wonderful bread and butter pudding. You adjust the sweetness ie if using sweet buns you wouldn't need to add sugar to your eggs, milk/cream and vanilla mix. This adds even more substitutions!
If you have excess fruit this is a cake that uses up plums, peaches, nectarines or apricots... the recipe is here. This also makes great muffins. Pictured here with nectarines and at the top of this post using plums.
What are substitutions you use to save money, make a meal stretch or make it healthier? The more confident we are with substitutions the more we save.
I am working on a post on how to stretch meat meals. I am married to a meat eater and a lot of ladies are, I know from comments! My Nana elevated stretch meat in meals to an artform and so well I never realised until recently. Meat is one of the most expensive parts of the food budget. So making it go as far as possible is a big help!
Have a great week! I am heading off to grocery shop and have zucchini soup to make from my bargain zucchinis. I hope to get a good start to the week! xxx